Why Is Everyone Obsessed With Psychedelics All of a Sudden? A Panel discussion with Matt Shea, Amanda Feilding, Zoe Cormier, Dr Ros Watts and Ben Sessa
The UK is experiencing a psychedelic renaissance.
Young people in England and Wales are taking three times more LSD than they did five years ago, scientists at top universities are claiming hallucinogens can revolutionise how we treat mental illness and the use of magic mushrooms has been increasing by around 40 percent year on year.
What is making this new generation of drug takers so interested in self-transformation? And as the self-help trend grows, what happens when thousands of people start trying to solve their mental health problems themselves by taking powerful hallucinogens in unregulated settings?
Amanda Feilding has been called the ‘hidden hand’ behind the renaissance of psychedelic science. She is the founder of the Beckley Foundation, through which she has been a pivotal player in global drug reform and initiated and directed much of the recent scientific research that has shed light on psychedelics’ therapeutic potential and the nature of consciousness.
Zoe Cormier is an author, journalist and science writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Times, Nature, New Scientist, Rolling Stone and Wired. Her book, “Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll: The Science of Hedonism and the Hedonism of Science” was hand-picked by The Guardian as a “must-read science book.”
Dr Rose Watts is a clinical psychologist in the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College (led by Robin Carhart-Harris), where the first modern study looking at psilocybin as a treatment for depression took place. Ros was a “trip-sitter” for participants in this study, and has published research exploring participant accounts of the impact of psilocybin, focusing on the theme of ‘increased connection to self, others and the world’.
Matt Shea is an award-winning documentary director and presenter who has made numerous films about drugs, crime and mental health, including the Emmy-nominated ‘Gaycation with Ellen Page’ and the Grierson-nominated feature length documentary ‘Chemsex.’ Matt produces and presents the drug documentary series ‘High Society’ on VICE, which has been seen by millions of people worldwide.
Ben Sessa is a Consultant Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist, currently working partly in adult substance misuse, in-patient CAMHS, in private practice and conducting human psychopharmacology research. He gained his medical training from UCL, London and specialist training from Oxford. He is interested in the developmental trajectory from child maltreatment to adult mental disorder and drug abuse and is researching the potential role for drug-assisted therapy in the treatment of psychological trauma and addictions. He is published in the academic press for his research and in the popular press for topical and fiction writing. He practices in the field of Family Law as an expert medical witness, providing court reports and attending court providing psychiatric assessment for children in complex cases of child maltreatment and custody issues. He is a research fellow at Imperial College London, Cardiff University and Bristol Universities.