Credit: Andonian Timothée / Iméra
The renaissance of psychedelics for the treatment of mental diseases: Sharing experience, building perspective.
Summary of the research project
Due to a crisis of innovation in the pharmacological treatment of mental disorders, psychedelic substances (`psychedelics´) like psilocybin and LSD are living a renaissance of public interest, both inside and outside the medical and scientific community, and belong to the most innovative and promising treatment approaches in contemporary psychiatric research. While their individual and societal harm ranks lowest among many illegal legal substances, and their addiction potential seems negligible, most psychedelics are regulated by the Controlled Substances Act from 1971, which makes research and use in treatment very difficult. As the largest publicly funded clinical trial on psychedelic therapy, the EPIsoDE study started 2019 to investigate the efficacy and safety of psilocybin therapy in patients with treatment-resistant depression. In France, many clinicians and researchers have a strong interest in setting up similar clinical trials for the treatment of depression and addiction, but institutional obstacles made it difficult so far to realize them.
The project for the Iméra residency has two parts:
1) The organization of a workshop in march 2023, inviting psychiatrists, psychotherapists and researchers from France and Germany with a strong interest and/or experience in the implementation of clinical trials with psychedelic therapy. Among the invited guests will be leading researchers and clinicians of the German EPIsoDE trial. This will give opportunity for a knowledge transfer regarding trial design, regulatory and funding issues, as well as clinical considerations (i.e. patient selection, therapist training and patient trajectories) to support and inspire the creation of clinical trials with psychedelic therapy in France.
2) The co-creation of an interdisciplinary seminar on the topic “Mental Health”, together with the program director Gabriella CROCCO and local researchers, psychiatrists, psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers and other related academics. The seminar group aims at re-thinking the definition and complex interactions of mental health and mental disorder with society and cultural norms, the functioning of European mental healthcare systems, the relationship between therapy with chemical compounds and psychotherapy, as well as contemporary and traditional perspectives on mental health. The current renaissance of research and therapy with psychedelic substances serves as an example for new perspectives on mental health.
Michael Koslowski is psychiatrist, psychotherapist and researcher at Charité University Medicine in Berlin, Germany.
After his studies of philosophy and medicine (2000-2007), he specialized in psychiatry, pedopsychiatry and neurology, with clinical residencies in Berlin, Paris, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille. He did his PhD in neuroscience about the dopaminergic reward system in schizophrenic patients and the impact of different antipsychotic medication, using fMRI neuroimaging methods (2005-2009). His psychotherapy training was in analytical psychotherapy.
Since 2018, he is co-principal investigator in a clinical trial on the biological functions of dreaming (BFT study) at IPU and Charité Berlin. Since 2019 he works predominantly on the implementation and realization of a multicenter study Psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant depression (EPIsoDE trial), as trial coordinator and therapist at the Berlin study site, in collaboration with the University Psychiatry Mannheim, the MIND Foundation and USONA Institute. His special research interest lies in new approaches for the treatment of psychiatric disorders with psychedelic substances in combination with psychotherapy, as well as questions at the intersection of psychology, philosophy and cognitive sciences, like free will and the mind-body problem, and contemplative practices.