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Home » Could Psychedelics Help Patients in Therapy? – Benjamin Lewis (Transcript)

Could Psychedelics Help Patients in Therapy? – Benjamin Lewis (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of psychiatrist Benjamin Lewis’ talk titled “Could Psychedelics Help Patients in Therapy?” at TED Talks 2024 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


The Loss of Connection and Mental Health

Many of the mental health struggles that we see in our world come from a loss of connection — a loss of connection to ourselves, to each other, to our communities, and to the Earth. This loss of connection is so profound that the United States Surgeon General has called it a public health crisis. Thich Nhat Hanh said, “We are all connected. When you touch one thing, you are touching everything.”

Whatever we do has an effect on others. Therefore, we must learn to live mindfully, to touch the peace inside each of us. Psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms,” is an emerging treatment that is about reconnection.

As a psychiatrist at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, I have been running clinical trials with psilocybin-assisted therapy, working specifically with two groups: patients dealing with symptoms of depression associated with a cancer diagnosis; and frontline health-care workers experiencing burnout and depression related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Common Thread of Disconnection

These two groups appear very different on the surface, but their suffering is related to a loss of connection. Each person dealing with a cancer diagnosis is unique. However, patients face some common challenges: the uncertainty, the treatments, the impact on family and friends. This can result in symptoms of loss, grief, depression, anger, feelings of hopelessness and isolation.

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