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A history of the European Medical Society for Psycholytic Therapy (EPT) 1964–1974

a black and white image of a doctor and patient in a room with lots of weird things in the room


Torsten Passie


February 22, 2024


The emergence of a so-called psychedelic renaissance has been proposed to characterize the revival of research into (psycho-)therapies using psychedelic drugs. In Europe, the most widespread approach employed in the 1960s and 1970s that involved the use of drugs like LSD and psilocybin as an adjunct to psychotherapy was named according to its main theoretical framework, that is, psychoanalysis as psycholytic therapy (psycholysis). Psycholytic therapy involves the use of serial low-dose sessions embedded in conventional long-term psychotherapy. However, this approach seems to be neglected today in favor of the psychedelic peak therapy paradigm with the use of just one or two high dose sessions to induce symptom reduction and personality transformation with a minimum time of psychotherapy. A review of the history and activities of the European Medical Society for Psycholytic Therapy (EPT) shows that it was a significant institution at the time. The EPT was founded as a professional society in 1965 aiming to coordinate European efforts of LSD therapists and enable professional exchange to further the development of psycholytic therapy. It also aimed to disseminate psycholytic therapy as an innovative treatment, and encourage international cooperation to develop standards of therapy and training. Up to now, there is virtually nothing available in the literature about the EPT and its activities. The author reconstructs the history and activities of the EPT based on unique archival resources to learn from past experiences and to help inspire the development of standards for treatment and training in the future.

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