Contemporary psychedelic research and theory is bringing a new level of inquiry into such psychoanalytic concepts as narrative identity, defense mechanisms, transitional phenomena, implicit relational knowing, and early attachment. Psychoanalytic theory and practice can shed light on psychedelic therapy concepts such as the inner healer, connection, ego death, spiritual, unitive, and challenging experiences. We will read relevant papers from contemporary writers from both the psychoanalytic and psychedelic fields, with the intention of understanding psychedelic experience and therapy using the psychoanalytic framework. In turn, we will inquire into the ways contemporary psychedelic research and theory may bring about a revision or extension of contemporary psychoanalytic theory. An experiential component of the course integrated with the readings invites us to share our reactions to select pieces of music, art, film, and poetry as states of absorption that enable contact with experiences similar to those facilitated by the use of psychedelic medicines.

In addition to reading and discussion, students will be encouraged to develop a project of particular interest to them, and the class will be a forum for sharing and deepening ideas.

A limited number of Diversity Fund scholarships are available, please complete this application, in addition to the course application.

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze prior dynamic concepts of the psyche, consciousness, and the process of psychotherapeutic transformation with DIED.
  • Compare and contrast the concept of “connection” as described in the psychedelic-assisted therapy literature with the psychoanalytic concepts of attachment, object-relatedness, and transference.
  • Apply the core elements of subjective change identified in psilocybin-assisted therapy for cancer-related existential distress to concepts in psychoanalytic theory and practice.
  • Discuss the psychoanalytic perspective on the “reduction in defensiveness” commonly reported as an effect of psychedelic therapy.
  • Apply Winnicott’s concept of transitional phenomena to psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
  • Describe how a transitional space can support the psychedelic-assisted therapist’s approach to working with drug-induced non-ordinary experience.
  • Describe how Donnell Stern’s concept of “partners in thought” applies to the psychoanalytic and psychedelic processes.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of using eyeshades, music, headphones, and the couch in psychedelic-assisted therapy from a psychoanalytic framework.
  • Explain how “implicit relational knowing” and “moments of meeting” may be experienced in psychedelic therapy.
  • Describe what is meant by “native healing intelligence” and “inner healer” in contemporary psychedelic therapy.
  • Explain how these concepts are utilized in Randomized Clinical Trials using psychedelic-assisted or MDMA- assisted therapy.
  • Analyze the components of “flight instructions” commonly used in contemporary psychedelic-assisted therapy with the explicit goals and unconscious effects of these instructions.
  • Discuss how these concepts contrast with psychoanalytic approaches to psychedelic therapy.
  • Compare ethical guidelines for the use of touch in recent psychedelic-assisted therapy trials to guidelines in psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapy.
  • Describe the many meanings of physical touch and emotional touch.
  • Discuss the implications on transference and countertransference from the use of touch.
  • Compare shamanic models of psychedelic healing to “flight Instructions.”

As someone who recently completed psychoanalytic training, I found the seminar on Analytic Explorations in psychedelic therapy to be an excellent bridge towards broadening both my psychoanalytic knowledge as well as deepening my understanding of psychedelic psychotherapy. The course was extremely well taught with expert instructors who offered a wealth of wisdom regarding their own experience in the field as academics and practitioners. Highly Recommend this course.

Fred Gioia
Fluence Student