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Special event: Dr. Bastiaans' LSD therapy

16/07/2022, Rialto VU (New University Building) from 7PM - 9PM

by Leo van Bergen (PhD) & Dr. Eric Vermetten

3 min

Event description
Join us for a special event about Dr. Jan Bastiaans (1917-1997), the famous and often controversial Dutch psychiatrist who gained international recognition for his use of LSD in the treatment of traumatized concentration camp survivors during the 1960s and 70s. Later in his career, he would also use psilocybin, ketamine and ibogaine to facilitate psychotherapy. In the Netherlands, Bastiaans was best known for the documentary “Begrijpt u nu waarom ik huil?” (1969) which documents the treatment of a traumatized concentration camp survivor using LSD. While figures such as Timothy Leary, Humphrey Osmond and Stanislav Grof are considered household names in the history of psychedelics and psychotherapy, Bastiaans is equally deserving of recognition and discussion, despite the substantial criticism he has received from the psychiatric community.To highlight the historic, medical and societal aspects of Bastiaans’ work with psychedelics, we are joined by two speakers with extensive knowledge on this subject: medical historian Leo van Bergen and professor of psychiatry Eric Vermetten. After their talks, there will be a film screening of the aforementioned documentary (runtime: 1 hour - English subtitles), followed by drinks. You don’t want to miss this event!

Leo van Bergen
Dr. Leo van Bergen is a medical historian and author who has studied medical history of the modern era, specializing in the relationship between war and (tropical) medicine. He wrote his PhD (Erasmus University) on the history of the Dutch Red Cross: “The severely wounded first? The Dutch Red Cross and the question of war and peace 1867-1945” and has since published several books on the subject of wartime medicine, for which he has received the Dr. J.A. Verdoorn award. He is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University Medical Center.
His most recent book “Bevrijd: Het concentratiekampsyndroom en de LSD-behandeling van Jan Bastiaans” (2022) describes the history of Dr. Jan Bastiaans, his treatment of traumatized concentration camp survivors using LSD, and the societal impact of his treatment, which gained notoriety due to the airing of the documentary “Begrijpt u nu waarom ik huil?” (1969) by Louis van Gasteren.

Eric Vermetten
Prof. Dr. Eric Vermetten is a clinical psychiatrist working with veterans and other uniformed officers as Strategic Advisor (COL) of Research at the Military Mental Health Service with the Dutch Ministry of Defense and ARQ National Psychotrauma Center. He holds an endowed chair in Psychiatry at the Department Psychiatry at Leiden UMC. He has clinical as well as a research positions with a focus on medical/biological as well as psychiatric aspects of complex psychotrauma in military as well as civilian populations. His research is in the field of stress, trauma, complex PTSD and neuroscience. He is interested in the history of war and has special focus on combining biological-based interventions in psychotraumatology with novel technology and novel drug developments, in particular MDMA, psilocybin, ketamine and medical cannabis. Last but certainly not least, he is the principal investigator of the MAPS-sponsored clinical trials in Europe, investigating the efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.

Documentary: Begrijpt u nu waarom ik huil? / Now do you get it? (1969)
“Begrijpt u nu waarom ik huil?” is a 1969 documentary film by Dutch director Louis van Gasteren, documenting Dr. Jan Bastiaans’ treatment of concentration camp survivors through LSD-assisted psychotherapy. In particular, the film documents the treatment undergone by former concentration camp prisoner Joop. After facing the horrors of surviving in several concentration camps between 1941-1945, Joop returned home to his wife a different man. He had nightmares and was incapable of ordinary human contact. With two cameras, Van Gasteren shot over six and a half hours of the first treatment session Joop underwent, which was edited to over one hour of film. The film paints a deeply emotional picture of the depth of human trauma endured during the holocaust, shown through the eyes of one man. At the time of its release, the film made a big impression on Dutch society and even led to questions in parliament.

Location: Rialto VU (New university building), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1111, 1081 HV Amsterdam
Date: July 16, 2022
Time: 7PM - 9PM
Price: €7,50 (APRA members) / €15,00 (non-members)

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