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Bessel van der Kolk: Transforming Trauma with Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
March 2, 2023

In this recent talk at Esalen Institute, delivered February 16, 2023, to a packed audience, Bessel Van Der Kolk discusses the efficacy of psychedelic psychotherapy. Van der Kolk is a renowned psychiatrist and researcher who has dedicated his career to studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences. He is well-known for his 2014 book “The Body Keeps the Score,” widely regarded as one of the go-to books on the effects of psychological trauma on mind and body.

Van der Kolk is an expert in the field of psychedelics as well, having been the principal investigator in a phase III clinical trial whose object was to evaluate the effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in patients suffering from extreme Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

As Van der Kolk told Newsweek in an article about the study, “What the MDMA clearly did, is it allowed people to go into dark places where ordinarily they did not want to go. Sometimes they were quite upset during the sessions. But they always came up with unexpected attitude changes, insights that were more than just intellectual, that often gave them an entirely different orientation towards themselves. Self-forgiveness became a very important part of it also, replacing self-blame for what happened."

Van Der Kolk's talk is followed by a lively Q and A where he and his partner Licia Sky hold forth on a host of topics, including bio-babble, ketamine, LSD, MDMA, antidepressants, eating disorders, the bodily effects of trauma and more.

Read the transcript

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