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Professor of Psychiatry

Torsten is Assistant Professor for Clinical Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Hannover Medical School, Germany and currently Visiting Professor at Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA). For more than twenty years he has been conducting research on the use of hallucinogenic drugs, altered states of consciousness and shamanic practices in psychotherapy and healing. He studied philosophy, sociology (M.A.) at Hannover University and medicine at Hannover Medical School. His medical dissertation was on existential psychiatry. He worked at the Psychiatric University Clinic in Zürich (Switzerland) and with Professor Hanscarl Leuner (Göttingen), the leading European authority on hallucinogens, and with the leading European psychopathologist, Professor Christian Scharfetter, on the conceptualization of states of consciousness. His psychotherapeutic education was in psychoanalysis and psycholytic therapy.

He has done extensive research on the psychophysiology of altered states of consciousness and their healing potential, including clinical research with different induction procedures including hallucinogenic drugs (cannabis, ketamin, nitrous oxide, psilocybin). He is an expert on the pharmacology and clinical/therapeutic use of hallucinogenic drugs. His publications appeared in Journal of Psychopharmacology, Neuropsychobiology, Addiction Biology, Addiction, CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics and others. He is one of the very few European experts on the pharmacology and clinical/therapeutic use of hallucinogenic drugs. He is also an experienced addiction therapist and researcher, and the chief physician of the German model-project of heroin-assisted treatment for opiate addicts.



A recently published study showed the safety and efficacy of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in patients with anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases (Gasser et al. 2014). Participants of the study were included in a qualitative psychological study including 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 changes.
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. As a key feature of the effects a change of perspective and a triggering of trust into the world and oneself was uncovered. The experiences created led to a restructuring of the person’s emotional trust, situational understanding, habits and world view. The presentation will outline the neurobiological and psychological mechanisms possibly involved in LSDs therapeutic effects with these patients.


Gasser P, Kirchner K, Passie T (2015) LSD-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with a life-threatening disease: a qualitative study of acute and sustained subjective effects. J Psychopharmacology 29: 57-68

Gasser P, Holstein D, Michel Y, Doblin R, Yazar-Klosinski B, Passie T, Brenneisen R (2014) Safety and efficacy of lysergic acid diethylamide-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with life-threatening diseases. J Nerv Ment Dis. 202: 513-20