Psychedelic therapy from an existential psychological viewpoint : a theoretical analysis
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- Institutt for psykologi 
Clinical research into the therapeutic applications of classical psychedelics has slowly but steadily resumed over the last couple of decades. Continuing the research that went dormant in the late 1960‟s, modern trials are looking into the use of high-dose „psychedelic therapy‟ for various psychological issues. Although it may be too early to conclude on its efficacy, research is finding the therapy physiologically and psychologically safe. However, there is little theory to fit the practice. This thesis attempts to explain theoretically how psychedelic therapy exerts its effects by applying an existential psychological model of psychopathology. Psychedelic therapy is based on the observation that positive outcomes are related to strong spiritual experiences, called „mystical experiences‟. This eluding concept is examined in depth, with its phenomenological characteristics described. Experiential research on mystical experiences is reviewed. An existential psychological model is presented, and it is discussed how mystical experiences can be therapeutic as explained by this model. Growth in adaptiveness of defenses toward existential conflicts is highlighted as a possible change-mechanism of psychedelic therapy. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.