Home > Global bioethical challenges of medicalising psychedelics.

Miceli McMillan, Ricardo (2021) Global bioethical challenges of medicalising psychedelics. Journal of Psychedelic Studies, 5, (2), pp. 57-64. (In Press) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1556/2054.2021.00188.

External website: https://akjournals.com/view/journals/2054/aop/arti...

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is an emerging psychiatric treatment that is attracting significant scientific, medical, and public attention. Whilst preliminary results from empirical studies are promising, the medical use of these compounds is highly controversial. Surprisingly, and despite the current controversies caused by the re-medicalisation of psychedelics, bioethicists have remained mysteriously silent. This paper aims to stimulate further bioethical reflection regarding the re-medicalisation of psychedelics. The current paper aims to do this by applying a normative phenomenological lens of analysis. Namely, this paper applies Martin Heidegger's critique of modern technology, and Fredrik Svenaeus' extension of this critique, to the re-medicalisation of psychedelics.

I argue that when this critique of modern technology is applied several normative issues become apparent. Specifically, it becomes apparent that the re-medicalisation of psychedelics risks turning the ecological sources, cultural contexts, and experiences induced by psychedelics into resources to be exploited for human goals; all of which risks endangering ecosystems, appropriating traditional knowledge, and reducing the therapeutic effects of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Furthermore, I suggest that preserving non-reductionist, non-instrumentalising traditional ways of understanding psychedelic compounds is essential in mitigating these consequences. More discussion by bioethicists is necessary as these consequences represent important global challenges for the psychedelic renaissance that require immediate addressing.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
CNS stimulants, New psychoactive substance
Intervention Type
Drug therapy, Treatment method
September 2021
Identification #
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1556/2054.2021.00188
Page Range
pp. 57-64

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