maps • volume xvi number 2 • Autumn 2006
Peter Gasser, M.D.

Research from the 1950s and 60s provides encouraging evidence that the spiritual experiences and deep insights that LSD facilitates can be great help when one is confronted with one’s own imminent death.

Planning LSD Research in Switzerland

Peter Gasser, M.D.

A few days before the wonderful international symposium on the occasion of Albert Hofmann’s 100th birthday, “LSD: Problem Child and Wonder Drug,” I had the opportunity to go on a walk in the snowy Jura mountains with MAPS President Rick Doblin, Ph.D. As we walked and talked, we discussed the possibility of re-starting LSD-assisted psychotherapy research, and decided that this year is the right time.

A few months later, we are now in the protocol design stage for a double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study with 12 subjects. Along the same lines as Charles Grob’s, M.D., psyilocybin/cancer anxiety study and John Halpern’s, M.D., MDMA/ cancer anxiety study, this study will investigate LSD-assisted psychotherapy as a potential treatment for subjects who suffer from anxiety related to advanced stage cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Research from the 1950s and 60s provides encouraging evidence that the spiritual experiences and deep insights that LSD facilitates can be great help when one is confronted with one’s own imminent death. For this study, we seek to empirically examine the potential of LSDassisted psychotherapy to relieve anxiety and improve the quality of life for these subjects. We also want to evaluate whether LSD-assisted psychotherapy is a safe and reliable treatment, so that if the results are promising, the data from this study can be used to develop LSD into a legal prescription medicine.

The tentative plan is for a doubleblind, placebo-controlled pilot study, in which the experimental group of eight subjects will be administered 250mcg. LSD and the control group of four subjects will receive a low dose/placebo of 25mcg. LSD. The tentative plan is for an open-label, double-blind study, in which one control group will be administered 200mcg. LSD and the other will receive a placebo of 25mcg. LSD. The subjects will undergo two or three sessions of LSD-assisted psychotherapy, in addition to eight conventional non-drug psychotherapy sessions for preparation and integration of the experiences. After their final follow-up evaluation, subjects who receive placebo will have the opportunity to participate in an open-label Stage 2 in which they would receive two LSD-assisted psychotherapy sessions and associated non-drug psychotherapy sessions for preparation and integration.

There has been no legal LSD psychotherapy in Switzerland in over a dozen years. Suddenly, it seems that the ice age is over, now that Peter Oehen, M.D., has received full government approval for a MAPS-sponsored study in Switzerland investigating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for subjects suffering from chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Following the LSD symposium in Basel, the organizers of the event sent an appeal–signed by all of the speakers from the conference–to the political authorities in Europe and the US, urging them to facilitate scientific investigation into the medicinal and therapeutic potentials of LSD and other psychedelic drugs. The Secretary of the Swiss Health Department replied to this appeal by writing that the Swiss authorities will give permission for LSD research if ethical and scientific requirements are fulfilled.

MAPS has pledged to donate $50,000 for this study, which MAPS has already raised from the sale of art and books signed by Albert Hofmann. MAPS is also in the process of seeking to raise an additional $100,000 for this study; please contact MAPS if you are interested in donating. Rick Doblin was enthusiastic enough to state that we will have government approval for this study by Albert Hofmann’s 101st birthday in January 2007. I am happy to be infected by his enthusiasm. Once approved, this study will be the first LSD psychotherapy research to take place in about 35 years!

Spring 2010 Vol. 20, No. 1 Special Edition: Psychedelics, Death and Dying
Autumn 2009 Vol. 19, No. 3 MAPS Financial Report: Fiscal Year 2008-09
Summer 2009 Vol. 19, No. 2 MAPS Research Update 2009
Spring 2009 Vol. 19, No. 1 Special Edition: Psychedelics and Ecology
Winter 2008/09 Vol. 18, No. 3 MAPS 2008 Financial Report
Summer 2008 Vol. 18, No. 2 Phoenix Rising: A Review of MAPS Research
Spring 2008 Vol. 18, No. 1 Special Edition: Technology and Psychedelics
Winter 2007 Vol. 17, No. 3 MAPS 06-07 Fiscal Yearly Report
Autumn 2007 Vol. 17, No. 2 Special Edition: Psychedelics and Self-Discovery
Spring/Summer 2007 Vol. 17, No. 1 The Chrysalis Stage
Winter 2006-7 Vol. 16, No. 3 Low Maintenance/High Performance
Autumn 2006 Vol. 16, No. 2 Technologies of Healing
Spring 2006 Vol. 16, No. 1 MAPS' 20th Anniversary
Winter 2005 Vol. 15, No. 3 MAPS final year as a teenager
Summer 2005 Vol. 15, No. 2 Israel Conference: MDMA/PTSD Research
Spring 2005 Vol. 15, No. 1 Accelerating flow of work and time
Autumn 2004 Vol. 14, No. 2 Rites of Passage: Kids and Psychedelics
Summer 2004 Vol. 14, No. 1 10 stamps and $250,000
Winter 2003 Vol. 13, No. 2 Holy Fire
Spring 2003 Vol. 13, No. 1 60th Anniversary of the Discovery of LSD
Autumn 2002 Vol. 12, No. 3 Vision
Summer 2002 Vol. 12, No. 2 "From celebration to frustration, and back again."
Spring 2002 Vol. 12, No. 1 Sex, Spirit & Psychedelics 2002
Autumn 2001 Vol. 11, No. 2 "In the future, it will be called Despair."
Spring 2001 Vol. 11, No. 1 "A Tidal Wave of Ecstasy!"
Autumn 2000 Vol. 10, No. 3 Creativity 2000
Summer 2000 Vol. 10, No. 2 Endings and Beginnings
Spring 2000 Vol. 10, No. 1 Making History in Slow Motion
Winter 1999/00 Vol. 9, No. 4 To the Ends of the Earth for MDMA Research...
Autumn 1999 Vol. 9, No. 3 MAPS' long-standing efforts to conduct...
Summer 1999 Vol. 9, No. 2 MAPS has come full circle...
Spring 1999 Vol. 9, No. 1 Patience, persistence and passion
Winter 1998/99 Vol. 8, No. 4 One of special pleasures of directing MAPS...
Autumn 1998 Vol. 8, No. 3 The Ayahuasca Issue (with Hofmann interview)
Summer 1998 Vol. 8, No. 2 Emotionally Powerful Anecdotes...
Spring 1998 Vol. 8, No. 1 Death Has a Way of Focusing One's Attention
Autumn 1997 Vol. 7, No. 4 Celebration is in Order
Summer 1997 Vol. 7, No. 3 Time Horizons
Spring 1997 Vol. 7, No. 2 Synchronicity
Winter 1996/97 Vol. 7, No. 1 Learning to Crawl
Autumn 1996 Vol. 6, No. 4 An Invitation for Dialogue
Summer 1996 Vol. 6, No. 3 Budding Research
New Year 1996 Vol. 6, No. 2 Sending Down Roots
Autumn 1995 Vol. 6, No. 1 Baby Steps
Summer 1995 Vol. 5, No. 4 Opportunity Amidst Obstacles
Winter 1994/95 Vol. 5, No. 3 Clinical Trials and Tribulations
Autumn 1994 Vol. 5, No. 2 Building Towards Clinical Trials
Summer 1994 Vol. 5, No. 1 Politics and Protocols: In Search of a Balance
Spring 1994 Vol. 4, No. 4 Laying the Groundwork
Winter 1993/94 Vol. 4, No. 3 A Time of Tests
Summer 1993 Vol. 4, No. 2 So Close Yet So Far
Spring 1993 Vol. 4, No. 1 Remembrance and Renewal
Winter 1992/93 Vol. 3, No. 4 Forging New Alliances
Summer 1992 Vol. 3, No. 3 Building on Common Ground
Spring 1992 Vol. 3, No. 2 Small Steps, Gradual Progress, New Opportunities
Winter 1991/92 Vol. 3, No. 1 The Rekindling of a Thousand Points of Light
Summer 1991 Vol. 2, No. 2 MDMA protocol development with cancer patients
Winter 1990/91 Vol. 2, No. 1 MAPS' Swiss pharmacologically-assisted psychotherapy conference
Autumn 1990 Vol. 1, No. 3 What and Who is MAPS?
Summer 1989 Vol. 1, No. 2 Switzerland Leads the Way
Summer 1988 Vol. 1, No. 1 MDMA can become a legal medicine