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LSD, Madness and Healing: Mystical Experiences as Possible Link Between Psychosis Model and Therapy Model

PUBLISHED September 30, 2022 (DOI: https://doi.org/10.54985/peeref.2209p9281218)



Isabel Wießner1 , Marcelo Falchi1 , Fernanda Palhano-Fontes2 , Amanda Feilding3 , Sidarta Ribeiro2 , Luís Fernando Tófoli1
  1. School of Medical Sciences, University of Campinas, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
  2. Brain Institute, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
  3. The Beckley Foundation, Beckley Park, Oxford, United Kingdom

Conference / event

IInterdisciplinary Conference on Psychedelic Research 2022, September 2022 (Haarlem, Netherlands)

Poster summary

Psychedelics have been investigated as psychosis model and therapeutic models. We sought to explore these models and their potential relationship. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design, 24 healthy volunteers received 50 μg D-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or inactive placebo. We assessed psychotic-like experiences (Aberrant Salience Inventory), therapeutic potential (Creative Imagination Scale; Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire; Mindful Attention Awareness Scale; Experiences Questionnaire), and psychedelic experience (Altered State of Consciousness, Mystical Experiences, and Challenging Experiences Questionnaire; Ego-Dissolution Inventory). LSD induced psychedelic experiences (alteration of consciousness, mystical experiences, ego-dissolution), increased aberrant salience and suggestibility, but not mindfulness. LSD-induced aberrant salience correlated with mystical experiences. The LSD state resembles a psychotic experience and offers a healing tool. The link between psychosis and therapy model might lie in mystical experiences. The results suggest an importance of meaning attribution for the psychosis model and that psychedelic-assisted therapy should better explore therapeutic suggestions fostering mystical experiences.


Aberrant salience, Ego-dissolution, Mindfulness, Mystical experiences, Psychedelics, Suggestibility

Research areas

Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Medicine, Neuroscience


  1. School of Medical Sciences, University of Campinas, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
  2. De Gregorio D, Comai S, Posa L, et al. (2016) D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) as a model of psychosis: Mechanism of action and pharmacology. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 17(11): 1–20.
  3. Kapur S (2003) Psychosis as a State of Aberrant Salience: A Framework Linking Biology, Phenomenology, and Pharmacology in Schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry 160(1). American Psychiatric Publishing: 13–23.
  4. Reiff CM, Richman EE, Nemeroff CB, et al. (2020) Psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychiatry 177(5): 391–410.
  5. Carhart-Harris RL, Kaelen M, Whalley MG, et al. (2015) LSD enhances suggestibility in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology 232(4): 785–794.
  6. Eleftheriou ME and Thomas E (2021) Examining the Potential Synergistic Effects Between Mindfulness Training and Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy. Frontiers in Psychiatry 12(August). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.707057.
  7. Clarke I (2010) Psychosis and Spirituality: Consolidating the New Paradigm: Second Edition. DOI: 10.1002/9780470970300.
  8. Griffiths RR, Johnson MW, Carducci MA, et al. (2016) Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology 30(12): 1181–1197.


  1. Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) (No. Finance Code 001)
  2. Beckley Foundation

Supplemental files

No data provided

Additional information

Competing interests
No competing interests were disclosed.
Data availability statement
The datasets generated during and / or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Creative Commons license
Copyright © 2022 Wießner et al. This is an open access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Wießner, I., Falchi, M., Palhano-Fontes, F., Feilding, A., Ribeiro, S., Tófoli, L. LSD, Madness and Healing: Mystical Experiences as Possible Link Between Psychosis Model and Therapy Model [not peer reviewed]. Peeref 2022 (poster).
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