Psychedelics for Healthy People

How psilocybin, LSD, and other psychedelic drugs could increase wellness in people without mental illness

Tessa Love
Elemental
Published in
6 min readOct 29, 2019

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Illustration: Théophile Bartz

WWhen psychologist Martin Seligman became president of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1998, he did something radical. Over the years, he had grown tired of his fields’ constant focus on the negative (mental illness, trauma, suffering, pain) and felt that more attention should be paid to the other side of the coin: happiness, well-being, and flourishing. He called this “positive psychology,” and made it the theme of his one-year term as APA’s leader. Instead of focusing solely on reducing ill-being, Seligman organized researchers and practitioners around the idea that people should also be given the tools to thrive.

According to experts, psychedelics could be on the way to becoming one of those tools. The past few years have brought a renaissance of research into the role of LSD, psilocybin (aka “magic mushrooms”), MDMA, ayahuasca, and other psychedelic substances in treating depression, PTSD, addiction, and other forms of mental illness. Now, there is a growing interest in bringing the purported benefits of these drugs to “healthy” people — those without diagnosed mental health disorders — in order to help them attain more aspirational levels of well-being.

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