What’s my whole deal?
At the moment, my whole deal is psychedelic bioethics. Psychotherapy assisted by psilocybin seems poised to significantly alter the shape of mental health treatment in the future. I think that’s great, for a number of reasons. It really does look incredibly promising, and I think the excitement is largely justified.
You know what else was exciting in mental health treatment, and was so promising it won the Nobel Prize? The frontal lobotomy. In the fullness of time, consensus has generally agreed that this was a bad call. Look, I’m not saying psychedelics are the next frontal lobotomy. I’m saying – let’s not get carried away with our enthusiasm about how promising this all seems. Let’s make sure we have thought – carefully, critically, and deeply – about the ethical significance of giving people trips in a medical context (I outline why here).
Measure twice, cut once. Or something.
For three years from October 2020, thanks to the generosity of the Wellcome Trust, I’m undertaking a PhD at the University of Oxford trying to map out a bioethical framework of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. What are the ethical challenges involved in psychedelic psychotherapy, and how do we best accommodate them and minimise risks?