The process of reintegrating psychedelics into psychiatry has sparked intriguing philosophical questions about the nature of consciousness, selfhood, the interconnectedness of humans and their environment, as emphasized by Dr. Vuk Vuković in his lecture “Phenomenological-Psychiatric Considerations of Psychedelics.”
In the lecture held on August 3rd, 2023, in the Grand Hall of the Institute of Social Sciences, psychiatrist from the Clinic for Psychiatry at the Clinical Center of Serbia “Dragiša Mišović,” Vuk Vuković, traced the points of intersection between psychiatry and phenomenology, both in historical context and in relation to numerous recent neuroscientific findings.
The past decade is often referred to as the “psychedelic renaissance” due to the renewed interest in the application of psychedelics, especially in the fields of neuroscience and empirical psychiatric research, including their use in various therapeutic indications (depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, terminal stages of cancer).
The application of the phenomenological method in this area is of crucial importance because it provides insights into the fundamental structures of altered experience and their clear methodological differentiation. This, on one hand, points to potential etiological mechanisms of different disorders (such as depression), and on the other hand, clarifies everyday modes of experience (imagination, fantasy).
Critiques directed at this field point to a tendency towards medicalization of incomprehensible experiences under these substances, epistemological extractivism, cultural appropriation of indigenous peoples, and the development of psychedelic tourism. However, Dr. Vuković believes that through an interdisciplinary approach to psychedelics, primarily through a phenomenological understanding of their effects on human consciousness, we can achieve a more precise therapeutic application of these substances.
Dr. Vuk Vuković’s lecture is the second within the seminar “Philosophy and Psychiatry” organized by the Center for Philosophy at the Institute of Social Sciences.