11 Insightful TED Talks about Psychedelics

Posted on Jul 28, 2021 12:00:00 AM

Years of work by scholars, scientists, guides, and advocates has given the psychedelic space increased recognition from the mental health community, the business world and the public in general.

The TED Talk platform has become an informative destination for increasing awareness and education about recent research and insights from leading experts on the potential of psychedelics. 

To highlight some expert knowledge, our team has hand-selected 11 fascinating TED talks about psychedelics.


1. ‘The future of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy’ by Rick Doblin | TED

In this talk, the first-ever about psychedelics on a TED main event, Rick Doblin highlights past and present landmarks in psychedelic science and foresees a bright future for therapies assisted by substances like LSD, psilocybin and MDMA to treat PTSD, depression, substance abuse, and many others.

Rick Doblin, PhD, is Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for the Study of Psychedelics (MAPS) and a long-standing advocate for psychedelic research and therapeutic use. 


2. ‘The psychedelic future of mental healthcare’ by Mendel Kaelen | TEDxCambridgeUniversity

Psychedelics have shown great potential for the future of psychotherapy and how we make meaning in our lives. Research on the role of music in psychedelic psychotherapy has found that the emotions attributed to music and sound can greatly influence the vivid and personal journeys in a psychedelic experience. In this talk, Mendel explains how curated music can impact a psychedelic journey and how that framework could radically change lives and contribute to the future of mental healthcare.

Mendel Kaelen, PhD, is a Neuroscientist from Imperial College London and Founder of Wavepaths. His research explores how music and psychedelics are powerful tools to change consciousness.


3. ‘Can Magic Mushrooms Unlock Depression?’ by Rosalind Watts | TEDxOxford

Based on the Psilocybin for Depression trials at Imperial College London, Rosalind Watts explores how psychedelic therapy can help people with treatment-resistant depression, where medical offerings over countless years were not able to help treat their mental illness. Remarkable results showed a reduction of depression symptom scores: high dose of psilocybin in a therapeutic setting helped the participants immediately, and results lasted for months, not only addressing the symptoms, but also working at the root cause of their depression.

Rosalind Watts, PhD, was the Lead Clinical Psychologist at Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research. She now works at The Synthesis Institute leading the Clinical Track of the Psychedelic Practitioner Training Program.


4. Psilocybin, love and the meaning of life by Mary Cosimano | TEDxKC

Exploring the promising results from clinical trials guided psilocybin sessions, Mary Cosimano shares hope for effective treatment to heal the hearts and minds of people with smoking and alcohol addiction, PTSD, alzheimers, eating disorders, depression and cancer. One essential observation is the importance of love and connection.

Mary Cosimano, MSW, is a researcher and Director of Guide and Facilitator Services at the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, working there since 2000 when they began research with psilocybin.


5. Psychedelics and Psychology: Modern Medicine Meets Ancient Medicine | Anthony P. Bossis | TEDxMarin

At the New York University School of Medicine, Anthony Bossis investigates where the sacred meets the scientific. A mystical experience occasioned by psychedelics can induce subjective features such as unity, sacredness, transcendence, and a greater connection to deeply felt positive emotions, including that of love. In NYU’s scientific study on psilocybin and mystical experiences, they found an alleviation of end-of-life emotional distress, enhanced psychological well-being, treatment of myriad mental health disorders and a deeper understanding for the study of meaning and spirituality.

Anthony P. Bossis, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine conducting FDA-approved psychedelic research. 


6. The science of psilocybin and its use to relieve suffering | Roland Griffiths | TEDMED

In this talk, Roland Griffiths discloses leading research at Johns Hopkins University on how psychedelics can induce spiritually meaningful and personally transformative experiences for many, including the terminally ill and those addicted to smoking. With decades of experience and results from hundreds of clinical trial participants, this talk is an important explanation of the enduring life-changing and positive effects of psychedelics.

Roland Griffiths, PhD, is a leading Psychopharmacologist and Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.


7. Psychedelics: Lifting the veil | Robin Carhart-Harris | TEDxWarwick

The leading expert Robin Carhart-Harris has been conducting pioneering brain imaging studies of psychedelic drugs LSD, psilocybin and MDMA, and clinical trials looking at the potential of psilocybin to treat major depressive disorder. The term ‘psychedelic’ literally means ‘mind manifesting’. This talk explores how we understand the realms of the human unconscious mind from a neuroscientific and philosophical perspective.

Robin Carhart-Harris, PhD, leads the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London. Robin is an advisor for many psychedelic organizations including The Synthesis Institute.


8. Psychedelics: Exploring the Brain | David Erritzøe | TEDxAarhus

When talking about psychedelics, David Erritzøe approaches his work with fascination, comparing psychedelic exploration to space science. Taking stock of the characteristics of psychedelics, David shares the potential of psychedelic states for treating mental illness, increasing neuroplasticity and for powerful spiritual experiences.

David Erritzøe, PhD, is a Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist at Imperial College London, conducting Neuropsychopharmacological and psychedelic research and lecturing psychiatry. Consultant Psychiatrist at St Charles Hospital, CNWL Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.


9. Is MDMA psychiatry’s antibiotic? | Ben Sessa | TEDxUniversityofBristol

Ben Sessa alludes to the real potential for MDMA as a treatment in psychiatry for people with psychological trauma, anxiety and addictions, stating how this research discovery is as important as antibiotics were for general medicine a century ago. Focusing on his research area of the physiological and psychological impact of child abuse, he ellucidates the importance of psychedelic psychotherapy for those with PTSD.

Ben Sessa, MRCPsych, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Psychedelic Psychotherapist, and Researcher.


10. Ayahuasca - Visions of jungle medicine | Adam Oliver Brown | TEDxUOttawa

Sharing his story of taking the potent psychedelic brew Ayahuasca with shamans in the jungles of Peru, Adam Oliver Brown illustrates the importance of nature conservation for a biodiverse, sustainably ecological future. Looking specifically at the Amazonian psychedelic Ayahuasca, this talk shares some interesting insights on ceremony and nature conservation.

Adam Oliver Brown, PhD, is a Researcher and Science Lecturer in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa.


11. The neuroscience of psychedelic drugs, music and nostalgia | Frederick Streeter Barrett | TEDMED

Looking at the deep connection between music, nostalgia and memory, Frederick Streeter Barrett’s research explains how music has the ability to evoke meaningful and connecting responses during a psychedelic experience. With controlled psychedelic substances under the right conditions, there is a potential to alter the brain for a period of time and thus provide relief from mood and substance disorders by opening our minds and connecting us with our most authentic selves. 

Frederick Streeter Barrett, PhD, Psychedelic Cognitive Neuroscientist, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.


In the psychedelic space, it’s clear that research is advancing quickly. These TED Talks are an inspiring way to dive into the heart of leading developments in neuroscience, psychology, philosophy and more. 

While these talks offer a distinctly scientific approach to the discussion on psychedelics, we would also like to see speeches from a more diverse group of thinkers including more women, people of colour, and those within communities where psychedelics have been a tradition for centuries. 

By offering a variety of viewpoints, we can collectively better understand and represent the multiple ways of knowing, and the importance of reciprocity for the role that psychedelics could play in the future of our global society.

Tags: Insights