Torsten Passie

Academic, Author, Clinician, Scientist

Dr. Torsten Passie (born 1961) is a German psychiatrist, professor at Hannover Medical School, and an internationally known scientific expert on altered states of consciousness. He earned his Master’s degree in philosophy and sociology from Leibniz University-Hannover and his M.D. from Hannover Medical School.

From 1997 to 2010, Dr. Passie conducted research and clinical work at Hannover, where he led the former Laboratory for Consciousness and Neurocognition. He studied with the famed professor and psychedelic therapy pioneer Dr. Hanscarl Leuner at the Zürich Psychiatric University Clinic. He was a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry from 2012 to 2015 and later taught as a visiting Professor at Goethe University–Frankfurt/Main.

According to an interview with Kyle Buller of the Psychedelics Today podcast, Dr. Passie’s interest in psychedelic substances was prompted by a spontaneous, non-psychedelic-induced mystical experience. The experience altered his previously atheistic, materialistic personal philosophies and challenged his identity development.

Over his decades of clinical research, Dr. Passie has investigated altered states of consciousness associated with breathwork, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), cannabis,1 ketamine, LSD, MDMA, and psilocybin. More specifically, he has studied psychedelic microdosing,2 LSD-assisted psychotherapy for terminal illness,3,4 psychedelic treatment for PTSD,5 the psychopharmaceutical and sociopolitical histories of MDMA use,6 LSD analogs/lysergamides,7-9 and effects of subanesthetic doses of ketamine.10

He summarized psilocybin’s effects in a 2002 review article,11 and LSD’s effects in a 2008 review article.12 In 2010, with the support of The Beckley Foundation, Dr. Passie and colleagues uncovered BOL-148’s (a non-hallucinogenic LSD derivative) potential to treat cluster headaches.13 He also supported Roland Griffiths’ team at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on clinical trials that found that meditation combined with psilocybin use produced sustained positive changes in participants.14

Dr. Passie has authored several books, including Healing with Entactogens: Therapist and Patient Perspectives on MDMA-Assisted Group Psychotherapy (2017), The Pharmacology of LSD (2010), and The Science of Microdosing Psychedelics (2019). He also wrote chapters on the history of self-experimentation with psychoactive substances15 and hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), a rare phenomenon wherein perceptual distortions persist up to months or even years following a user’s psychedelic experience.16

At ICPR 2016, Dr. Passie presented on the historical waves of psychedelic research with a focus on the renaissance emerging in the 1980s. He spoke at ICPR2020 on the history of low-dose psycholytic therapy in relation to the emerging prominence of high-dose psychedelic therapy. His 2019 talks at Tech Open Air on psychedelic therapy and at Breaking Convention on microdosing can be viewed online.

More information on Dr. Passie’s work can be found via his ResearchGate profile.

  1. Passie T, Emrich HM, Karst M, Brandt SD, Halpern JH. Mitigation of post‐traumatic stress symptoms by Cannabis resin: A review of the clinical and neurobiological evidence. Drug Testing and Analysis. 2012;4:649-659.
  2. Passie T. The Science of Microdosing Psychedelics. Psychedelic Press; 2019
  3. Gasser P, Holstein D, Michel Y, et al. Safety and Efficacy of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With Life-threatening Diseases. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 2014;202:513-520.
  4. Gasser P, Kirchner K, Passie T. LSD-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with a life-threatening disease: A qualitative study of acute and sustained subjective effects. Journal of Psychopharmacology (Oxford). 2015;29:57-68.
  5. Krediet E, Bostoen T, Breeksema J, van Schagen A, Passie T, Vermetten E. Reviewing the Potential of Psychedelics for the Treatment of PTSD. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2020;23:385-400.
  6. Passie T. The early use of MDMA (‘Ecstasy’) in psychotherapy (1977–1985). Drug Science, Policy and Law. 2018;4:205032451876744.
  7. Karst M, Halpern JH, Bernateck M, Passie T. The non-hallucinogen 2-bromo-lysergic acid diethylamide as preventative treatment for cluster headache: An open, non-randomized case series. Cephalalgia. 2010;30:1140-1144.
  8. Grumann C, Henkel K, Brandt SD, Stratford A, Passie T, Auwärter V. Pharmacokinetics and subjective effects of 1P‐LSD in humans after oral and intravenous administration. Drug Testing and Analysis. 2020;12:1144-1153.
  9. Brandt SD, Kavanagh PV, Westphal F, et al. Return of the lysergamides. Part VI: Analytical and behavioural characterization of 1‐cyclopropanoyl‐d‐lysergic acid diethylamide (1CP‐LSD). Drug Testing and Analysis. 2020;12:812-826.
  10. Passie T, Karst M, Wiese B, Emrich HM, Schneider U. Effects of Different Subanesthetic Doses of (S)-Ketamine on Neuropsychology, Psychopathology, and State of Consciousness in Man. Neuropsychobiology. 2005;51:226-233.
  11. Passie T, Seifert J, Schneider U, Emrich HM. The pharmacology of psilocybin. Addiction Biology. 2002;7(4):357-364. doi:10.1080/1355621021000005937
  12. Passie T, Halpern JH, Stichtenoth DO, Emrich HM, Hintzen A. The Pharmacology of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: A Review. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008;14(4):295-314. doi:10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00059.x
  13. Karst M, Halpern JH, Bernateck M, Passie T. The non-hallucinogen 2-bromo-lysergic acid diethylamide as preventative treatment for cluster headache: An open, non-randomized case series. Cephalalgia. 2010;30(9):1140-1144. doi:10.1177/0333102410363490
  14. Griffiths RR, Johnson MW, Richards WA, et al. Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2018;32(1):49-69. doi:10.1177/0269881117731279
  15. Passie T, Brandt SD. Self-experiments with psychoactive substances: A historical perspective. In: Maurer HH, Brandt SD, eds. New Psychoactive Substances: Pharmacology, Clinical, Forensic, and Analytical Toxicology. Springer International Publishing; 2018:69-110.
  16. Halpern JH, Lerner AG, Passie T. A review of hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) and an exploratory study of subjects claiming symptoms of HPPD. In: Halberstadt, A, Vollenweider FX, Nichols, DE, eds. Behavioral Neurobiology of Psychedelic Drugs. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg; 2018:333-360.