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Lunch-Talk: Re-emerging Magic Molecules: The Medicalization of Psychedelics in the United States

30 Mai 2018

We are delighted to announce the Lunch Talk by Dr. Claudia Schwarz-Plaschg.

Title: Re-emerging Magic Molecules: The Medicalization of Psychedelics in the United States
Date: Wednesday, 30.5., 12.30 – 14 PM
Location: MCTS, Room 270

Since their broader introduction into Western science and culture (1950s-60s), psychedelic substances such as psilocybin (the psychoactive compound in so-called “magic” mushrooms) or LSD have been highly controversial. Although research from this early period indicated promising psychiatric applications, Western governments (starting with the United States) began to see psychedelics as a threat to public health and the existing social order during the 1960s and placed many psychedelics into the most restrictive drug category, ascribing them a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. After coming to an almost complete standstill for several decades, psychedelic research is slowly re-emerging since around the millennium, highlighting again their potential for treating widespread and hard-to-treat mental health issues such as addiction, depression, or PTSD.

In this talk I will give an overview of this revival and present the research plan for my upcoming Marie Skłodowska-Curie project. In this project I will explore how scientists and other societal actors currently re-frame psychedelics in a scientific model to make them into licensed medicines—especially in the United States, which is the country at the forefront of these developments. I am interested in tracing how the responsible re-integration of psychedelics is fostered through the interplay of actor constellations, the production of scientific knowledge, and broader socio-technical imaginaries. My research focuses on three molecules that are at the center of contemporary psychedelic research in the U.S.: MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine. My aim is to contribute important insights into how psychedelic science and society are co-produced, and provide timely recommendations for aligning drug and public health policies with scientific evidence and public health needs.


30 Mai 2018


München, Deutschland