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Philosophy of Psychedelics

Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press (2021)

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  1. Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy for the Treatment of Major Depression: A Synthesis of Phenomenological Explanations.Riccardo Miceli McMillan & Christopher Jordens - 2022 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 25 (2):225-237.
    Psychedelic-assisted Psychotherapy combines the use of psychedelic compounds, such as psilocybin, with psychotherapy. PAP has shown some promise as a novel treatment for Major Depressive Disorder, and empirical research suggests that its efficacy turns on the altered states induced by psychedelic compounds. In this paper we draw on the literature of phenomenology to explain the therapeutic potential of psychedelic experiences. Svenaeus characterises mental illness as a form of suffering that entails three distinct but related experiences of alienation or “unhomelike being-in-the-world”: (...)
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  • Mysticism.Jerome Gellman - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Psychedelic Therapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder.Shevaugn Johnson & Chris Letheby - forthcoming - Journal of Psychedelic Studies.
    In this opinion piece we propose the investigation of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD is a psychiatric disorder characterised by appearance-based preoccupations and accompanying compulsions. While safe and effective treatments for BDD exist, non-response and relapse rates remain high. Therefore, there is a need to investigate promising new treatment options for this highly debilitating condition. Preliminary evidence suggests safety, feasibility, and potential efficacy of psychedelic treatments in disorders that share similar psychopathological mechanisms with BDD. (...)
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  • Stepping Through the Psychedelic Looking-Glass.Aidan Lyon & Anya Farennikova - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    What makes psychedelic psychotherapy work? Is it the induction of psychedelic experience, with its distinct patterns of hallucinations and insights, or is it the neural ‘shakeup’ that moves the brain out of its regular mode of functioning and into a more disordered state? We consider the role that attention-related phenomenological changes play in psychedelic transformation and psychotherapy. We review Letheby’s account of psychedelic psychotherapy, which appeals to increases in phenomenal opacity as the central mechanism of psychotherapeutic transformation. We argue that (...)
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  • How Level is the 'Cognitive Playing Field'?Joshua M. Martin & Philipp Sterzer - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    In Philosophy of Psychedelics, Letheby provides a convincing basis for the idea that psychedelics primarily derive their therapeutic potential through mediating favourable changes to self-related belief systems. In this commentary, we take a closer look at the role that contextual factors play in Letheby’s two-factor account of psychedelic therapy. While Letheby acknowledges that psychedelic effects are highly context-dependent, the exact role that context plays in self-modelling during the acute experience is not entirely clear. We argue that context plays an essential (...)
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  • Naturalistic Entheogenics.Chris Letheby - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    In this précis I summarise the main ideas of my book Philosophy of Psychedelics. The book discusses philosophical issues arising from the therapeutic use of “classic” psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and LSD. The book is organised around what I call the Comforting Delusion Objection to psychedelic therapy: the concern that this novel and promising treatment relies essentially on the induction of non-naturalistic metaphysical beliefs, rendering it epistemically objectionable. I begin the précis by summarizing material from chapters two and three (...)
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  • Self and Knowledge in Psychedelic Therapy.Chris Letheby - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    Much of my book Philosophy of Psychedelics is devoted to elaborating and defending two basic claims: that psychedelic therapy works mainly by changing mental representations of the self, and that it has many epistemic benefits consistent with a naturalistic worldview. The commentaries in this symposium generally focus on one or the other of these claims. On the mechanistic front, the commentaries by Hoffman and by Martin and Sterzer seek to supplement my account by drawing attention to factors it does not (...)
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  • Introduction: Psychedelic Science Needs Philosophy.Matthew Johnson - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    I highly recommend Philosophy of Psychedelics by Chris Letheby to both the public and academics who want to dig deeper into the modern therapeutic science of psychedelics. In this piece, I will draw attention to key topics covered in the book that I judge as particularly compelling and likely to influence psychedelic therapy and our understanding of it going forward. Clearly, the importance of philosophy in the modern psychedelic therapy renaissance will increase, and Letheby’s Philosophy of Psychedelics will hold a (...)
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  • Positive Affect and Letheby's Naturalization of Psychedelic Therapy.Sarah Hoffman - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    Letheby’s naturalistic theory of psychedelic therapy argues that the therapeutic power of psychedelics lies in their ability to allow individuals “to discover the contingency, mutability and simulatory nature of their own sense of identity and habitual modes of attention.” The general shape of this project is persuasive; it is hard to see how the claim that successful therapy must involve changes to the self could be objected to, and Letheby sketches a consistent, if speculative, picture of psychedelic experience. But the (...)
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  • Psychedelics Favour Understanding Rather Than Knowledge.Sascha Benjamin Fink - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    Chris Letheby argues in Philosophy of Psychedelics that psychedelics and knowledge are compatible. Psychedelics may cause new mental states, some of which can be states of knowledge. But the influence of psychedelics is largely psychological, and not all psychological processes are epistemic. So I want to build on the distinction between processes of discovery and processes of justification to criticise some aspects of Letheby’s epistemology of psychedelics. Unarguably, psychedelics can elicit processes of discovery. Yet, I hold, they can hardly contribute (...)
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  • Serotonin, Predictive Processing and Psychedelics.Matteo Colombo - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    Letheby’s "Philosophy of Psychedelics" relies on Predictive Processing to try and find unifying explanations relevant to understanding how serotonergic psychedelics work in psychiatric therapy, what subjective experiences are associated with their use and whether such experiences are epistemically defective. But if Predictive Processing lacks genuinely explanatory unifying power, Letheby’s account of psychedelic therapy risks being unwarranted. In this commentary, I motivate this worry and sketch an alternative interpretation of psychedelic therapy within the Reinforcement Learning framework.
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  • Belief Now, True Belief Later.Chiara Caporuscio - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
    Chris Letheby’s defence of psychedelic therapy hinges on the premise that psychedelic-facilitated insights about the self are in a better epistemic position than those about the external world. In this commentary, I argue that such a claim is not sufficiently defended. More precisely, I argue that one element is underexplored in Letheby’s otherwise compelling picture: namely, that unlike new beliefs about the external world, beliefs about oneself have the capacity to turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. Recognising the psychedelic experience and the (...)
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