Intensification Of Conventional Therapeutic Mechanisms

The only factors of therapeutic change available in the initial stages of a psycho-lvtic series arc (lie mechanisms that have been described in the contcxt of traditional psychotherapeutic schools. However, even in superficial psychedclic experiences these mechanisms are greatly intensified. Under these circumstances the defense systems are considerably weakened and psychological resistance decreases. The emotional responses of the subject are dramatically enhanced and one may observe powerful abrcacli/m and catharsis. Repressed unconscious material, including early childhood memories, becomes easily available, and this may result not only in enhanced recall but in genuine age-regression and vivid, complex reliving of emotionally relevant memories as well. Unconscious material also frequently apears in the form of various symbolic phenomena with a structure similar to dreams. The emergence of this material and its integration are associated with emotional and intellectual insights into the psychodynamics of the patient's symptoms and maladjustive interpersonal patterns.

The therapeutic potential of the reliving of emotionally important episodes from childhood seems to involve two important elements. One of them is a deep release of pent-up energies and their peripheral discharge in the form of emotional and physical abreaction. The second is conscious integration of the content that is now devoid of affective charge. This is made possible by the double orientation or dual role that individuals can assume in the LSD state, either simultaneously or in an alternating fashion. On the one hand, they experience full and complex age-regression to early life periods when the traumatic events took place; on the other hand, they also have access to the position corresponding to their chronological age at the time of the LSD session. In this way, it becomes possible to reevaluate from an adult point of view the relevance of events that were once overwhelming for the immature organism. The replay of early biographical events is thus experienced by a subject svho represents an interesting hybrid between a naive, emotionally totally involved child and a more-or-less detached adult observer.

This dual role is also reflected in the therapeutic relationship. The subject can perceive the therapist and interpret objective reality in a way that reflects unresolved material from the past. However, on another level, he or she can also maintain adequate reality-testing and study in detail the origin and mechanism of these distortions. The transference relationship is typically intensified and is experienced in a vivid pictorial form. As indicated in an earlier chapter, the distortions of the therapeutic relationship are frequently exaggerated to the point of caricature, so that the transference nature of the phenomena becomes obvious to both the patient and the therapist. The intensification of the relationship produced by the drug not only facilitates the transference analysis, but also offers numerous opportunities for corrective emotional experiences. It is essentia] that the therapist remain understanding, unperturbed, and consistently supportive, without regard to the nature of the emerging material and the patient's behavior. This can have a very powerful therapeutic impact on the patient who frequently has fantasies of disapproval and rejection, or even catastrophic expectations about the therapist's reaction to certain aspects of his or her experience. Any departure from this approach, unless explicitly designed and agreed upon as therapeutic role-

playing, can reinforce the impact of the original traumatic situation rather than act in a corrective manner. The demanding and often difficult task of the therapist is somewhat facilitated by the fact that the patient under the influence of LSD is usually less defensive and more open. As a result, he or she may often accept and utilize insights and interpretations that would be impossible or untimely in drug-free psychotherapy.

Suggestibility is usually markedly enhanced and a therapist who uses suggestion in psychotherapy can take advantage of this fact; however, this approach should be used with utmost caution. In my experience any departure from honest and open interaction with the client, or use of various devices and ploys, is ultimately harmful to therapeutic progress.

Continue reading here: Changes In The Dynamics Of Governing Systems

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