LSD-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with a life-threatening disease: A qualitative study of acute and sustained subjective effects
by Peter Gasser, Katharina Kirchner, and Torsten Passie.
Objective: A recently published study showed the safety and efficacy of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in patients with anxiety associated with lifethreatening
diseases. Participants of this study were included in a prospective follow-up.
Method: 12 months after finishing LSD psychotherapy, 10 participants were tested for anxiety (STAI) and participated in a semi-structured
interview. A Qualitative Content Analysis (QCA) was carried out on the interviews to elaborate about LSD effects and lasting psychological
Results: None of the participants reported lasting adverse reactions. The significant benefits as measured with the STAI were sustained over a
12-month period. In the QCA participants consistently reported insightful, cathartic and interpersonal experiences, accompanied by a reduction in
anxiety (77.8%) and a rise in quality of life (66.7%). Evaluations of subjective experiences suggest facilitated access to emotions, confrontation of
previously unknown anxieties, worries, resources and intense emotional peak experiences à la Maslow as major psychological working mechanisms. The
experiences created led to a restructuring of the person’s emotional trust, situational understanding, habits and world view.
Conclusions: LSD administered in a medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting can be safe and generate lasting benefits in patients with a life threatening disease. Explanatory models for the therapeutic effects of LSD warrant further study.