Aussie psychiatrists McGorry and Hickie—More Brave New World Tricks—Tripping Out Autistic Young Adults with Psychedelics

Australian federal funds have been funneled into these psychiatrists’ study to test psychedelics even though the Therapeutic Goods Administriation (TGA) doesn't recognize MDMA and psilocybin as legitimate medicines to treat psychiatric conditions. The RANZCP admits that when misused, psychedelics could cause psychosis.

MDMA and psilocybin psychiatric research is a bad “trip” for mental health in Australia, U.S. and globally.

By CCHR International
The Mental Health Industry Watchdog
April 4, 2022

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Foundation has embraced the latest unconscionable trend in psychiatry—psychedelic drugs. The college congratulated psychiatric researchers who have received grants from the Australian government’s “Innovative Therapies for Mental Illness Grant” to study psychedelic drug use as a treatment for mental disorders.[1]

This includes psychiatrists Patrick McGorry and Ian Hickie who were awarded AUS3.8 million (US$2.75 million) to study using MDMA, which acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen, on autistic young adults with “social anxiety.”[2] McGorry has been internationally criticized before for his “Brave New World” theory called “Psychosis Risk Syndrome” that claimed pre-drugging teens and adults with antipsychotics could prevent the onset of psychosis.[3] However, antipsychotics cause psychosis. Likewise, Hickie conducted a clinical drug trial giving antidepressants to the elderly who were “at risk” of depression but not actually depressed.[4] Now the two are taking another controversial step: hallucinogens.

AUS$14.8 million (US$10.6) has been awarded across seven psychedelic drug projects, of which six involve experimenting with MDMA (street name, ecstasy or “Molly,” slang for “molecular”[5]) or psilocybin. The largest of the grants goes to RANZCP Fellows, Professor McGorry (University of Melbourne) and Professor Hickie (University of Sydney) and colleagues Professor Andrew Chanen, Chief of Clinical Practice, Orygen research, and Professor David Coghill, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Developmental Research Group within the Division of Neuroscience. Based out of the University of Melbourne, their trial is of “MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment resistant social anxiety in young adults with autism.”[6]

Take a moment to read that again. An autistic young adult will be prescribed a drug that can act as a hallucinogen![7] Autism alone may already manifest in unusual mood or emotional reactions, anxiety, stress, excessive worry, obsessive interests, unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, being non-communicative, and more.[8]

Common treatment for “social anxiety” includes serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, such as paroxetine (Paxil) or sertraline (Zoloft). The serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) venlafaxine (Effexor XR) is another option prescribed.[9]

Consider the following potential antidepressant side effects to the already vulnerable person’s state of mind: “Anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania.”[10] There’s also suicide, as “antidepressants double the occurrence of events” even in “adult healthy volunteers that can lead to suicide and violence,” according to one study.[11] Today, if an antidepressant doesn’t “work,” an antipsychotic may be added to the mix.

The U.S. Alliance for Human Research Protection reports: “Thanks to years of litigation during which [pharmaceutical] company documents have been uncovered, the truth has been revealed. We know that SSRI antidepressants and the ‘atypical’ antipsychotics have failed decisively to demonstrate therapeutic benefits in clinical trials and in clinical practice. Instead, these drugs have triggered debilitating, chronic illness and even life-threatening risk: antidepressants increase the suicide risk and trigger serotonin syndrome, which is potentially fatal. Antipsychotics undermine normal metabolic, cardiovascular, hormonal function, resulting in cardiac arrest, obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.[12]

When none of the drugs “work,” the autistic young adult may be told that if he feels worse, it’s because he is the problem: he is “treatment-resistant,” even though this is not a scientific fact but conjecture. The truth is that his prior psychiatric treatment has utterly failed him.

Under a hope of “Innovative Therapies,” it is now asserted that there is “an emerging body of evidence on the use of hallucinogens or stimulant drugs” for “treatment resistant mental illness.”[13] In other words, falling back on hallucinogenic drugs that failed in the 1950s to 1970s.

Now, the “medication” will be changed to the mind-altering MDMA that commonly causes anxiety, jaw clenching/tight jaw, impaired balance/gait, and difficulty concentrating, while it can also cause “acute nervousness or anxiety” during psychotherapy.[14]

MDMA is also a drug of abuse. In fact, Australia is the leading user of ecstasy, with 3% of the population abusing the drug at least once per year, compared with 1% of Brits and Americans.[15] An estimated 600,000 Australians use illegal MDMA each year, and an average of about three deaths per year since 2000 have been associated with MDMA toxicity alone, according to a May 2021 Medican Health article.[16] A study titled, “MDMA-related deaths in Australia 2000 to 2018,” published in the International Journal of Drug Policy in 2020, identified 392 deaths, with a median age of 26 years. 81% were male. Females were significantly younger than males (24 vs. 27 years). Two-thirds (62%) of deaths were attributed to drug toxicity (48% multiple drug toxicity and 14% MDMA toxicity alone), and one third (38%) to other causes (predominantly motor vehicle accidents) with MDMA recorded as a contributory factor.[17]

In May 2021, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)—equivalent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—considered rescheduling psilocybin and MDMA from their current classification as Schedule 9 prohibited substances to Schedule 8 controlled substances. This was so that psychiatrists—after years of delivering a failed biomedical model such as drugs and electroshock treatment, and despite AU$11 billion spent on mental health between 2019-2020 alone—could use psychedelics in combination with psychotherapy for the treatment of conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In February 2021, the TGA had not wanted to reschedule MDMA, citing limited evidence of therapeutic benefit, safety concerns, potential for abuse, and lack of suitably trained psychiatrists.[18]

But that hasn’t stopped psychiatry, especially when there’s a prospective psychedelics market that is already anticipated to be a $7 billion (AU$9.7 billion) by 2027.[19] Worldwide, there are currently about 100 psychedelic trials for the treatment of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug-use disorders, dementia, anorexia and chronic pain. Psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression and MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD have been given “breakthrough therapy” designation from the FDA in the U.S.[20]

It takes 10 to 15 years and around US$1 billion (AU$1.4 billion) to develop one drug. Despite this significant investment, 90% of drug candidates in clinical trials fail. A 2016 analysis found between 40% and 50% of failures were due to a lack of clinical efficacy, meaning the drug wasn’t able to produce its intended effect in people. Around 30% were due to unmanageable toxicity or side effects, and 10%–15% were due to poor pharmacokinetic properties, or how well a drug is absorbed by and excreted from the body. Lastly, 10% of failures were attributed to lack of commercial interest and poor strategic planning.[21]

Australian federal funds have been funneled into these psychiatrists’ study to test psychedelics even though the TGA doesn’t recognize MDMA and psilocybin as legitimate medicines to treat psychiatric conditions. The RANZCP admits that when misused, psychedelics could cause psychosis.[22]

The “innovative study” is going in the wrong direction. There are global concerns about a growing dependency upon the ongoing biological approach to treating mental health issues. In 2017, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dr. Dainius Pūras, a psychiatrist, reported: “There is now unequivocal evidence of the failures of a system that relies too heavily on the biomedical model of mental health services, including the front-line and excessive use of psychotropic medicines, and yet these models persist.”[23]

McGorry, Hickie, et al., must have missed the memo.

Not surprising. McGorry and Hickie are steeped in conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry and psychedelics are the next new frontier for garnering profit from psychotropic drug sales.

Professor Andrew Chanen is the Deputy Director of research at Orygen: The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health,[24] a McGorry research group that receives hefty funding from the pharmaceutical industry.[25]

Professor David Coghill’s department has had research support from pharmaceutical companies, Eli Lilly, Janssen Cilag and Shire. He has served in an advisory or consultancy role for Lilly, Janssen Cilag, Pfizer, Shire, Flynn and UCB global pharmaceutical company. He received conference attendance support or was paid for public speaking by Eli Lilly, Janssen McNeil and UCB.[26]

Other studies that the “Innovative Therapies” grant is funding include using psilocybin with psychotherapy to treat eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa. “It is hoped that this psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy trial will be able to demonstrate improved clinical outcomes, especially in those patients where other treatments have failed,” a Sydney researcher stated.[27] (Emphasis added)

“Failed”—that’s the operative word here, yet in the face of such failures, more biological models are being developed using more past failed and negated dangerous methods: hallucinogens.

Australia has a frightening history when it comes to hallucinogens.

Hallucinogenic “Therapy” Creates Harm

In the 1960s, LSD had become the drug of choice for the global counterculture movement, after it had been used by psychiatrists and psychologists as an adjunct to psychotherapy. LSD was discovered on April 16th, 1943 in a Sandoz pharmaceutical lab in Switzerland.  Sandoz would eventually provide LSD to intelligence agencies for mind control studies. In the 1950s it sold and provided the U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) with LSD for its clandestine mind control research.[28]

MDMA was first made in Germany in 1912, when scientists were trying to make precursor chemicals for treating bleeding disorders. It was used with psychotherapy (as were psilocybin and LSD) in the U.S. in the postwar era to treat a range of “mental disorders” coupled with psychotherapy.[29] MDMA gained a small following among psychiatrists in the late 1970s and early 1980s, despite the fact that the drug had not undergone formal clinical trials nor received approval from the FDA for use in humans. In 1985, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) declared an emergency ban on MDMA, placing it on the list of Schedule I drugs, defined as substances with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. However, in the early 1990s, the FDA approved the first human trial exploring whether MDMA could help relieve pain in terminally ill patients, as well as serve as an adjunct to psychotherapy.[30]

In the 1980s, CCHR in Australia worked with a group of individuals who had been subjected to LSD at Newhaven private psychiatric hospital outside of Melbourne, Victoria in the 1960s and 1970s. Psychiatrists obtained LSD through the Victorian Department of Mental Hygiene and carried out bizarre LSD experiments.[31]

The mastermind was psychiatrist, the late Lance Howard Whitaker. After Sandoz took LSD off the market because of its abuse and risks, Whitaker pleaded with federal and Victorian officials to allow for LSD use to continue under special warrant.[32]

One of his colleagues involved was British-born physicist and psychologist Raynor Johnson, master of Queen’s College at the University of Melbourne.[33] He was part of a sect called “The Family,” which used LSD as part of its rites.

Rosalie McPherson, describing her LSD experience at Whitaker’s hands to The Herald in 1988, explained how under the influence of LSD she had felt like an observer standing outside her body, seeing her own conception and development as a fetus, as the article reported: “She is transported back in time to being a gypsy dying in childbirth, with a husband kneeling nearby. A doctor is hovering over her, saying, ‘you have to die’ and ‘She is ready.’” Rosalie stated: “In a fog, I’m thinking, I don’t know how to die—ready for what?”[34] She helped form the Newhaven Victims Action Group to expose what had happened during these experiments.

McPherson maintained that her ongoing suffering had ultimately been Whitaker’s fault. “It makes me so angry that I was utterly manipulated but, in those days, people thought doctors were God.” She declared: “It is a disgrace that doctors who conducted these experiments are allowed to practice while patients suffer many years later without any compensation…. These doctors have to be probed as to their fitness to practice and those found guilty of medical malpractice and experimentation should be deregistered, with possible criminal charges laid.”[35]

The probe at the time amounted to no action being taken against those involved.

Another Newhaven hospital survivor, Barry Mulconray, reported he had been used as a human guinea pig in LSD and psilocybin experiments. In a statement to CCHR, he described how psychiatrists, “pushed me onto the bed. I was screaming and yelling. I was held down… (and a) needle was pushed into my arm, I felt as if I was in a tunnel…I was not of this world. I felt as though I had physically died and was brought back…I was terrified I would die…I thought that I was Jesus Christ chosen by God.”[36]

Diana Elder was given LSD “therapy” at Newhaven in the early sixties. Under the influence of LSD prescribed by Newhaven hospital psychiatrist David Barnes, she said, “I wanted to murder…. When you are this down and trying to seek help, it’s a very humiliating experience. I have often tried to think that I am not a freak because of this (LSD). Then you keep trying to get help and you just end up hitting your head against a brick wall. For those who have died because of this treatment, their next of kin should know. And for those whose conditions have been worsened, like me, or who have gone crazy, something must be done.”[37]

LSD experiments were more prominently associated with clandestine mind control experiments conducted by U.S. and Canadian psychiatrists funded by the C.I.A.[38]

A 1977 U.S. Congressional Hearing heard from Adm. Stansfield Turner, the Director of Central Intelligence, who said the C.I.A. covertly sponsored research at 80 institutions, including 44 colleges and universities, from 1953 to 1963.[39]

The dangers of the drugs were exemplified in the Charles Manson’ “hippie” cult, “The Family” (unrelated to The Family in Australia) whose members in 1969 gruesomely murdered the eight-month pregnant actress Sharon Tate. Celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and Folger’s boyfriend, aspiring writer Wojciech Frykowski, were also victims of the heinous crime, as well as eighteen-year-old Steven Parent.[40] In his 2019 book, Chaos: Charles Manson, the C.I.A., and the Secret History of the Sixties, author Tom O’Neill extensively researched the Manson family and its use of LSD.

While not on any way excusing the grisly crimes committed, Manson was dropping acid on a daily basis when he lived in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco from late Spring of 1967 to June 1968. O’Neill points out that researchers David and Roger Smith, associates of Manson, were both studying amphetamines and LSD, the latter being the crucial component of Manson’s “reprogramming” process with Family members.[41] The Smiths had received funding from a federal institute later revealed to be a C.I.A. front.[42]

Less than a year after they began to take LSD, “Manson turned a group of peaceful hippies, mainly young women, into savage, unrepentant killers,” wrote O’Neill.[43] Further, in the two years preceding the Manson murders, several articles in the Journal of Psychedelics and other periodicals explored the increase of psychotic violence in the Haight-Ashbury and its potential link to amphetamines, LSD, and population density.[44]

After the 1977 hearing, Congress shut down the C.I.A.’s mind control research. This should have spelled the end of, not a rebirth, of such drugs being researched as we are now seeing in the U.S., Australia and globally.


[1] “RANZCP Foundation congratulates psychiatrists awarded MRFF funding,” RANZCP Foundation, 11 Feb. 2022,










[11] citing: Andreas Ø Bielefeldt, et al., “Precursors to suicidality and violence on antidepressants: systematic review of trials in adult healthy volunteers,” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Oct. 2016, Vol. 109, No. 10, p. 381,




[15] “Ecstasy use in Australia, a world high,” myDr, 31 Jan 2019,

[16] “Why Australia should reschedule MDMA and psilocybin for the treatment of mental illness,” Medican Health, 22 May 2021,

[17] “MDMA-related deaths in Australia 2000 to 2018,” (Abstract) International Journal of Drug Policy, Feb. 2020,

[18] Op. cit, Medican Health

[19] citing: Derek Beres, “How will psychiatrists administer psychedelic treatments?” Big Think, 1 Feb 2021,

[20] Stephanie Dalzell, “The federal government is funding research into using psychedelics to treat mental illness. So, do they work?” ABC News, 16 Mar 2021,

[21] Duxin Sun from The Conversation, “90% of drugs fail clinical trials. Here’s a method for selecting better drug candidates,” Medical Express, 24 Feb. 2022,

[22] Stephanie Dalzell, “The federal government is funding research into using psychedelics to treat mental illness. So, do they work?” ABC News, 16 Mar 2021,

[23] citing “World needs “revolution” in mental health care – UN rights expert,” United Nations Human Rights Officer of the High Commissioner, 6 June 2017,


[25], citing: David Webb, Melissa Raven, “McGorry’s ‘early intervention’ in mental health: a prescription for disaster,” Online Opinion,


[27] “Innovative mental health grants awarded to Sydney Researchers,” Mirage, 17 Jan. 2022,


[29] “The nexus between mental health treatment and psychedelics,” QRIUS, 21 Oct.

[30] “What is the History of MDMA?” U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse,

[31] Megan Kristine Lomax, “Beyond the aetiology debate: the ‘great LSD scandal’ at Newhaven Private Hospital & the social foundations of mental health legislation in Victoria, Australia,” Department of History & Philosophy of Science School of Historical & Philosophical Studies Faculty of Arts, Oct. 2017, pp. 183-84,

[32] Ibid., p. 170


[34] Op. cit., Megan Kristine Lomax, p. 225

[35] Ibid., pp. 226-227.

[36] “Beating the Odds,” CCHR Australia report, 1993

[37] Op. cit., Megan Kristine Lomax, p. 224


[39] citing: “Extent of University Work for C.I.A. Is Hard to Pin Down,” The New York Times, 9 Oct. 1977,


[41] citing: Tom O’ Neill, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, (Little, Brown & Co. New York, June 2019), pp. 284, 311, 317

[42] citing: Tom O’ Neill, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, (Little, Brown & Co. New York, June 2019), p. 317

[43] citing Tom O’Neill, “Making a murderer: did the CIA’s secret LSD labs turn Charles Manson into a killer?” The Telegraph (UK), 31 July 2019,

[44] Tom O’ Neill, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, (Little, Brown & Co. New York, June 2019), p. 311