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Mindful Journeys: A Careful Exploration of Psychedelics in Eating Disorder Treatment

Edited by:
Aaron Keshen, MD, Dalhousie University, Canada
Stephen Touyz, PhD, University of Sydney, Australia
Phillipa Hay, MD, Western Sydney University, Australia

Submission Status: Open   |   Submission Deadline: 30 September 2024

Journal of Eating Disorders is calling for submissions to our Collection on Mindful Journeys: A Careful Exploration of Psychedelics in Eating Disorder Treatment.

Image credits: © Deep Roots /

New Content ItemThis collection supports and amplifies research related to SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being.

Meet the Guest Editors

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Aaron Keshen, MD, Dalhousie University, Canada

Dr. Aaron Keshen is Medical Director of the Nova Scotia Provincial Service for Eating Disorders and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University. He regularly publishes in the eating disorder field and is a primary investigator in five grant funded studies related to eating disorder treatment. One area of interest includes the use of medications to treat eating disorders. He has published a book chapter on this topic and a recent review article on GLP-1A agonists and eating disorders. Additionally, Dr. Keshen has completed a feasibility trial examining the safety and preliminary efficacy of treating bulimia nervosa with stimulant medication, and has written a review article on the topic of stimulant medication and eating disorders. Recently, he has started a prospective study examining the impact of stimulant medication on loss-of-control eating in children with ADHD.

Stephen Touyz, PhD, University of Sydney, Australia

Stephen Touyz is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney and Director of the Inside Out Institute, a joint partnership between the Sydney Local Health District and the University of Sydney. He is Editor in Chief of the Journal of Eating Disorders which he co-founded a decade ago. He is a past president of the Eating Disorders Research Society. He is a member of the Commonwealth Government of Australia’s Technical Advisory Group for Eating Disorders and a member of the steering committee of the National Eating Disorders Collaboration. He was presented with a leadership award in research by the Academy of Eating Disorders in 2012, the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award by the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Eating Disorders in 2014 and the Ian M Campbell Prize in Clinical Psychology from the Australian Psychological Society in 2014. He has edited/co-edited 6 books and published over 480 scholarly papers/book chapters.

Phillipa Hay, MD, Western Sydney University, Australia

Professor Phillipa Hay is a leading mental health researcher, educator, and practicing Psychiatrist. Her research has been translational, guided policy and practice, and award winning, e.g., in 2015 she received the Lifetime Leadership Award from the ANZ Academy for Eating Disorders, and in 2020 she was awarded the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Senior Research Award. She laid the foundations for mental health programs in two new medical schools James Cook and Western Sydney.  She has a DPhil in Psychiatry from the University of Oxford and MD (Medicine) from University of Otago, is a Fellow of the RANZCP, and Fellow of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED).

About the Collection

In a recent Journal of Eating Disorders editorial, Touyz and Hay (2022) argued for greater innovation in the field of eating disorders, calling for urgent paradigm shifts. Whilst many have benefited from existing evidenced-based therapeutics, research shows that up to 40% of individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) will still be ill at 20 years. 

AN maintains the highest mortality rate of all the mental disorders and is the leading cause of mental health related hospitalisations. Repeated hospitalisations and inpatient feeding are often the only life-saving intervention available when psychotherapy fails. The high mortality rate and costs of AN reflect a conspicuous lack of treatments, as there are no recognised or effective pharmacotherapies for AN. A variety of trials have reported notable therapeutic potential in a range of severe refractory psychiatric illnesses following 2-3 spaced exposures to psilocybin embedded within a carefully managed psychotherapeutic regime, so called psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. Ambivalence, cognitive rigidity and amotivation are central to AN and are important predictors of treatment response and relapse prevention. These features prove extremely hard to impact with conventional therapies. Participants given psilocybin report lasting increases in open-mindedness and psychological/cognitive flexibility, readiness to try and engage in new activities, and improved ability to dismantle rigid and habitual mental templates in several psychiatric disorders that are often co-morbid with AN. Trialling psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in AN is a logical next step and such trials are already underway in several countries including the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia. Brain circuitry dysregulation may prove to be the root cause of this devasting disorder. Neuroscience provides an almost perfect model upon the to explain why psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy may change the minds of those with persistent AN. 

This article Collection will be devoted to this new frontier in better understanding the potential role of psychedelics in the treatment of eating disorders.

  1. Clinical trials using psilocybin therapy to treat anorexia nervosa (AN) are currently underway. The safety and tolerability of psilocybin is of utmost importance in individuals with AN who may present unique m...

    Authors: Amanda E. Downey, Anita V. Chaphekar, Joshua Woolley and Marissa Raymond-Flesch
    Citation: Journal of Eating Disorders 2024 12:49

Submission Guidelines

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This Collection welcomes submission of case reports, commentaries, original research, reviews, and study protocols. Should you wish to submit a different article type, please read our submission guidelines to confirm that type is accepted by the journal. 

Articles for this Collection should be submitted via our submission system, Snapp. Please, select the appropriate Collection title “Mindful Journeys: A Careful Exploration of Psychedelics in Eating Disorder Treatment" under the “Details” tab during the submission stage.

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all the journal’s standard policies. Articles will be added to the Collection as they are published.

The Editors have no competing interests with the submissions which they handle through the peer-review process. The peer-review of any submissions for which the Editors have competing interests is handled by another Editorial Board Member who has no competing interests.