Torsten Passie
Professor of psychiatry

Lower-dose Psycholytic Therapy: History and Features of a Neglected Approach.

LSD and similar psychoactive drugs have been used in psychotherapy since 1949, when the first clinical study with lower-dose LSD showed therapeutically relevant effects. At a 1960 conference, the use of serial lower-dose LSD/psilocybin sessions in a psychoanalytical framework, which was dominant at the time, was named “psycholytic therapy”. Psycholytic therapy was usually conducted in clinical environments, on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. Psycholytic therapy was developed and established over a 15-year period on the European continent, where it was used at 30 clinical treatment centers and by more than 100 outpatient psychotherapists.

Psycholytic therapy was employed minimally in North America, where the psychedelic approach (one or two high-dose sessions for “personality-transforming mystical experiences”) became the dominant method in use. The lecture provides historical contexts and background information and outlines the essential features of psycholytic therapy. A review of the evidence for the efficacy of psycholytic therapy is given and a possible future of the psycholytic approach is discussed.

Torsten Passie MD, PhD is Professor of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Hannover Medical School (Germany). He studied philosophy, sociology (M.A.) at Leibniz- University, Hannover 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 hallucinogenic drugs.

His research at Hannover Medical School covers the psychophysiology of altered states of consciousness and their healing potential, including clinical research with hallucinogenic drugs (cannabis, ketamine, nitrous oxide, psilocybin). He is an internationally known expert on the pharmacology of hallucinogenic drugs and the psychotherapeutic use of psychedelic drugs. He was Visiting Professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston (USA) 2012-2015. His publications appeared in Journal of Psychopharmacology, Neuropsychobiology, Addiction, CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease and others.