Important informations

Altered states of consciousness: Implications for assessment and treatment of mental health problems

Sixteenth annual Jewish General Hospital Psychiatry Research Department’s Research Day held virtually on April 1, 2022.

104 people attended virtually the Jewish General Hospital’s (JGH) Department of Psychiatry Research Day on Friday, April 1, 2022 from 9:00 AM to12:00 PM through Zoom.

The theme for this 16th annual research day was “Altered states of consciousness: Implications for assessment and treatment of mental health problems.” Distinguished researchers from the Lady Davis Institute (LDI) at the JGH addressed the importance and therapeutic promise of altered states of consciousness such as those induced by sleep, meditation, hypnosis and psychedelics, for maintaining and restoring mental health.

Three speakers presented:

  • Eva Libman, Assistant Director of the JGH Department of Psychiatry’s Behavioural Psychotherapy & Research Unit and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University, talked about sleep as an important altered state of consciousness and about what happens when the sleep system is not working perfectly. View/download the presentation.
  • Michael Lifshitz, Investigator in the Culture and Mental Health Research Unit of the LDI and the JGH Department of Psychiatry, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University, touched on the practice of training the imagination to cultivate dialogues with invisible companions called “tulpas” – illustrating how imagination-based techniques can open new modes of subjectivity and pattern fundamental aspects of human experience. View/download the presentation.
  • Dr. Kyle Greenway, senior resident in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, discussed the mounting evidence suggesting that drug-induced altered states of consciousness hold psychotherapeutic potential, under certain conditions, and the re-emergence of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to treat a variety of psychiatric conditions. View/download the presentation.

“Entering an altered state of consciousness makes it possible to disconnect from reality once in a while and is crucial to maintaining our mental health, especially at times of great stress such as a pandemic,” said David Dunkley of the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry at the JGH, who coordinated the Research Day. “Our speakers presented salient research on how altered states can help disrupt the inflexible models that govern our thoughts and behaviour, opening a window of opportunity for relearning and overcoming the thought patterns that underlie many mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or addiction.”

Dr. Elizaveta Solomonova, Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychiatry at McGill University and Affiliated Research Scientist at YHouse in New York City, acted as the discussant. Presentations were in English and the session concluded with a question and answer period.

The complete program is available at http://ladydavis.ca/en/psychiatryresearchday.

View the video recording of the 16th Annual JGH Psychiatry Research Day.

The conference was supported by a grant from the Gustav Levinschi Foundation.