Ben Sessa is a consultant psychiatrist in adult addictions, working part-time at Addaction in Weston-Super-Mare and is senior research fellow at Bristol, Cardiff and Imperial College London Universities, where he is currently taking time of clinical medical practice to study towards a PhD in MDMA Psychotherapy. He has specialist training as a child and adolescent psychiatrist and is interested in the developmental trajectory from child maltreatment to adult mental health disorders. Dr Sessa’s joint interests in psychotherapy, pharmacology and trauma have lead him towards researching the subject of drug-assisted psychotherapy using psychedelic adjuncts. He is the author of two books exploring psychedelic medicine; The Psychedelic Renaissance (2012) and To Fathom Hell or Soar Angelic (2015) and is currently conducting research with Imperial College London and Cardiff universities studying the potential role for MDMA-assisted therapy for the treatment of PTSD and alcohol dependence syndrome. Dr Sessa is outspoken on lobbying for change in the current system by which drugs are classified in the UK, believing a more progressive policy of regulation would reduce the harms of recreational drug use. He is a co-founder and director of the UK’s Breaking Convention conference.
Child Abuse, Trauma, MDMA Therapy and The Future of Medicine.
In this lecture, Dr Sessa will describe the developmental roots of adult mental disorder and addictions as they arise from childhood trauma. He will discuss the relationship between a child’s fearful environment and the adaptive generation of post-trauma symptoms as a survival mechanism for the isolated child. He will describe how the difficulties in managing PTSD and trauma with current psychiatric practice, the scourge of psychiatric over-prescribing and the inefficiencies of our current best psychotherapies, has lead him to embrace MDMA Therapy as psychiatry’s best new innovative approach to tackling mental disorder. Exploring the pharmacology of MDMA, he will relate its psychological effects to its receptor profile and describe how MDMA is the ideal drug to assist trauma-focused psychotherapy for the stuck patient who is too traumatised to engage in traditional psychiatric approaches. Sessa will illustrate his talk with reference to the Bristol-based study currently underway exploring MDMA Therapy as a tool to overcome the notoriously difficult to treat condition of Alcohol Use Disorder. He will conclude with a focus on the global psychedelic renaissance and a call to arms for people everywhere to get involved with what is medicine and society’s most exciting new development of the last fifty years.