, Volume 235, Issue 2, pp 551–560 | Cite as

The 21st century psychedelic renaissance: heroic steps forward on the back of an elephant

  • Ben SessaEmail author


Given the plethora of new studies and published papers in the scientific press and the increasingly emerging presence of articles about positive psychedelic experiences appearing in the popular media, there is little doubt that we are in the midst of a Psychedelic Renaissance. The classical psychedelic drugs LSD and psilocybin and the entactogen MDMA are showing promise as tools to assist psychotherapy for a wide range of mental disorders, with multiple pilot studies demonstrating their safety and efficacy. In this article, the author describes how MDMA in particular has inherent characteristics that make it well suited for assisting trauma-focused psychotherapy in a population of patients who have experienced child abuse. But despite these advances, there remain many obstacles ahead of the widespread mainstream acceptance of psychedelic medicines. The author argues that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is one such obstacle. Other impediments include a prevailing attitude of pseudoscience and rigidity from within the non-scientific psychedelic community itself. Resolution of these conflicts must be sought if medicine and society are to see psychedelics gaining a place in mainstream culture and science.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Consultant Child and Adolescent and Addictions Psychiatrist Imperial CollegeLondonUK

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