Therapeutic Use Of The Abreactive Effect Of

Many observations from early LSD research clearly indicated that the drug can facilitate reliving of various emotionally relevant episodes from infancy, childhood, or later life. In the case of traumatic memories, this process was preceded and accompanied by powerful emotional abreaction and catharsis. It seemed, therefore, only logical to explore the value of LSD as an agent for abreac-tive therapy in a way similar to the earlier use of ether, short-acting barbiturates, or amphetamines, in the same indication.

From the historical and theoretical point of view, this mechanism can be traced back to the early concepts of Freud and Breuer. (29) According to thein, insufficient emotional and motor reaction by a patient to an original traumatic event results in "jamming" of the effect: the strangulated emotions ("abgeklemmter Affekt") later provide energy for neurotic symptoms. Treatment then consists in reliving the traumatizing memory under circumstances that make possible a belated redirection of this emotional energy to the periphery and its discharge through perceptual, emotional, and motor channels. From the practical point of view, the abreactive method was found especially valuable in the treatment of traumatic emotional neuroses and became popular during the Second World War as a quick and effective remedy for hysterical conversions occurring in various battle situations.

There is hardly a single LSD therapist who would have doubts about the unique abreactive properties of LSD. It would be, however, a great oversimplification to approach and understand LSD treatment only as abreaction therapy. This was clearly demonstrated in a controlled study by Robinson. (86) Present opinion is that abreaction is an important component of LSD psychotherapy, but it represents just one of many therapeutic mechanisms resulting from the complex action of this drug.

Continue reading here: Use Of The Activating Effect Of Lsd On Chronic And Fixated Symptoms

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