Last weekend, between the 10th and 12th July 2015, the University of Greenwich hosted Breaking Convention 2015, one of the biggest conferences in the world specialising on psychedelics and consciousness. Over 800 experts, artists, academics, and members of the civil society and the general public took part in dozens of panels, talks, concerts, film screenings and workshops exploring the different facets of psychedelics and the psychedelic experience.
Drawing from her experience with psychedelics in the 1960s and her lifelong dedication to the scientific study of psychoactive substances, Amanda Feilding‘s talk reviewed the quickly evolving landscape of global drug policy reform and psychedelic science, highlighting the pioneering role that the Beckley Foundation has played since 1998 in achieving progress.
The presentation also provided an overview of the latest findings emerging from the Foundation’s prolific collaboration with Imperial College. The Beckley/Imperial Psychedelic Research Programme is currently analysing the results of the first-ever neuro-imaging study on LSD, partially funded through a very successful crowdfunding campaign which took place in March/ April of this year. The work of the Programme, co-directed by Amanda Feilding and David Nutt, not only provides insights into the neurological underpinnings of the psychedelic experience, but it also suggests a wealth of potential therapeutic applications for these compounds. On this matter, the Programme’s Lead Researcher, Robin Carhart-Harris, explained in detail how psilocybin could help treat mental health conditions such as depression, the subject of our ongoing research.
Concluding her talk, Amanda outlined some of the 12+ research projects that the Beckley Foundation is currently undertaking in collaboration with leading experts in renowned institutions around the world; such as a study on the acute effects of MDMA on PTSD patients or an investigation into the potential of LSD to treat alcohol dependence.
Michael Pollan, author of the Botany of Desire and the celebrated New Yorker piece The Trip Treatment, joined Amanda on stage for a one-off exchange discussing Amanda’s motivations and expectations for the future of psychedelic research. In Amanda’s own words, psychedelics not only have the potential to increase the perception of beauty and to facilitate introspection, they also help with creative problem-solving and could be used in the treatment of intractable health conditions.
Amanda’s talk, Research at the Frontiers of Prohibition: Moving Forwards, took place on Sunday 12th at 10:30am (Hofmann Hall). The text of the talk is available here.