Psychedelics and the Prevention of Interpersonal Violence: the role of emotion regulation

May 26, 2022
10:00 am

Psychedelics have long been used as traditional technologies by Indigenous peoples and have contemporarily emerged as novel psychotherapeutic agents for stubborn and debilitating conditions. Their potential to decrease antisociality and problematic substance use while concurrently increasing positive interpersonal functioning offers hope to many. The proposed talk will review three papers published within the past five years that were inspired by these themes, and which build on one another. A 2016 prospective study followed a high-risk sample of incarcerated men (N = 302; M age = 26, SD = 7) for 118-months and found that a history of hallucinogen use had a protective effect against partner violence perpetration. Indeed, men with a history of hallucinogen use were less than two-thirds as likely to be arrested for perpetrating violence against their partner than those without a history of use. These findings were extended in a community-based sample (N = 1266; M age = 23, SD = 8) which revealed that emotion regulation mediated the protective effects of psychedelic use against partner violence. These findings add to the growing body of research that suggests enhanced emotion regulation and mindfulness underlie some of the benefits of psychedelic experiences. The past decade has seen growing empirical support for third-wave behavior therapies that share mechanisms of action with psychedelic experiences such as enhancing mindfulness, decentering, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. The third paper will present a rationale for using third-wave behavior therapies as the framework for psychedelic healing as they are particularly well-suited to amplify the beneficial effects of a psychedelic experience.