call for papers). It's interesting to look at what motivates this focus.
As I said in my book chapter in Liberatory Psychiatry, Tom Wolfe's book The electric kool-aid acid test acknowledged the expansion of the limits of immanent experience through psychedelic drugs. Ken Kesey who, with his Merry Pranksters drove across America in a brightly painted bus, was the author of One flew over the cuckoo’s nest. This accomplished novel depicts Randle McMurphy’s attempt, apparently on behalf of the counterculture, to overthrow the bureaucratic control of Nurse Ratched in the psychiatric institution. It was made into a successful film starring Jack Nicolson.
The blurb for the conference states that "Neuroimaging studies are revealing how changes in brain function can lead to the particular changes in emotional and cognitive experiences produced by psychedelic drugs. These findings may be relevant to our understanding of psychoses and other abnormal mental states." I'm not sure what neuroimaging studies it is referencing, but I agree that the overlap with psychosis is what makes the topic interesting. The blurb goes on that psilocybin and LSD "have been used on a trial basis in a range of psychiatric disorders including depression, PTSD and ‘existential anxiety’ in people with terminal illnesses". R.D. Laing, perhaps the most famous of the anti-psychiatrists (see eg. previous post), used LSD in treatment.
It is interesting how the strands of anti-psychiatry were interwoven with the 1960’s counterculture. Laing's perspective that civilisation represses transcendence and so-called ‘normality’ too often abdicates our true potentialities cannot be completely divorced from the use of psychedelic drugs.
The interest in psychedelic drugs came not only from anti-psychiatry but also from mainstream psychiatry, such as William Sargant. He reviewed The doors of perception by Aldous Huxley for the British Medical Journal. It seems likely he was involved with trials of LSD as a truth serum at Porton Down between 1953-5 (see BBC News story).
These historical aspects are of interest and require further elucidation. I'm not quite sure what the relevance of psychedelic drugs are to current psychiatry.