The Past Lives of Betty Eisner: Examining the Spiritual Psyche of Early Psychedelic Therapy through the Story of a Outsider, a Pioneer, and a Villain
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In this thesis, I argue that early LSD research was imbued with a sense of mysticism that was constructed to be commensurable with concurrent scientific epistemology. I demonstrate how mysticism entered psychedelic research and therapy through the history of a pioneer LSD psychotherapist named Betty Eisner. Since the late 1940s, Eisner was a key member of a bible study group that emphasized the psychological foundation of mystical experiences. When she entered psychology in the 1950s, she imported this influence into her research and therapy. As an active member of the small international LSD research community of the 50s and 60s, she participated in ongoing discussions about the place of mysticism in LSD psychotherapy. However, following malpractice accusations in the 1970s, Eisner lost her clinical license. Using records from her license revocation hearings, I will contextualize her work within the larger psychology professions attitudes toward mystically inspired therapy.