‘Medicating Normal’ Film Screening & Panel Discussion with Dr Ben Sessa, Dr Emma Robinson, Wendy Ractliffe and Angela Peacock

  • Wed 3rd Feb 2021, 7pm – 9:30pm UK time (UTC +00:00)
  • United Kingdom
Hosted by The Psychedelic Society
Activity Psychedelic Science & Mental Health
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Enquiries to mags@psychedelicsociety.org.uk
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Medicating Normal is the untold story of what can happen when profit-driven medicine intersects with human beings in distress.

As we grow our understanding of the healing potential for “alternative medicines” in helping us to unpack deep-rooted trauma and complement psychotherapy, this raises the question: is the current system working? We can be quick to prescribe a tablet or pop a pill in response to a mental health diagnosis, but do we really know what these psychiatric drugs are doing to us and the long-term effects they are having on our health and well-being?  

Medicating Normal weaves the stories of five people impacted by prescribed psychiatric drugs and leading experts - it follows the journeys of a newly married couple, a female combat veteran, a waitress, and a teenager – whose doctors prescribed psychiatric drugs to help with stress, mild depression, sleeplessness, focus, and trauma. The film unveils how our medical system too often misidentifies discomfort, stress and trauma as diseases to be treated with drugs - frequently worsening outcomes for misinformed consumers. 

Many studies have proven that, while psychiatric drugs can provide effective short-term relief, adverse effects and long-term harm have been hidden from both doctors and patients. This film exposes a larger underlying systemic rationale for how this can be happening - a story of medicine infiltrated by profit-driven multinational pharmaceutical companies seeking to expand markets. Medicating Normal is a wake-up call for anyone taking or prescribing prescription medications regularly.

Our post-screening discussion will cover the reasons behind the making of the film, the first-hand experience of Angela Peacock (one of people focused on in the film) - then perspectives on our current culture of prescribing medication in modern society, with a look ahead to which alternative therapies and medicines might provide hope for mental health treatment in the future.

Link to trailer and website: https://medicatingnormal.com/ 


Dr Ben Sessa

Ben Sessa is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist who has worked with young people and adults in the field of addictions and trauma-related psychiatry for over 20 years. For the last 15 years Ben has been working in the field of psychedelic research in the UK through his affiliations with Bristol University and Imperial College London, under the auspices of Professor David Nutt. He has taken part as a study doctor and as a healthy subject both receiving and / or administering MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, DMT and ketamine in multiple UK research  studies. He runs a weekly UK-based medical cannabis prescribing clinic. Ben is the Chief Medical Officer at AWAKN Life Sciences, a new start-up opening Europe's first psychedelic medical clinic, in Bristol, which will be providing psychedelic therapies, therapist training courses and conducting independent psychedelic research. Ben is the co-founder and former president of Europe's largest psychedelic conference, Breaking Convention.


Dr Emma Robinson

Emma completed her BSc(Hons) and PhD in at the University of Bristol. After working with Prof David Nutt in the Psychopharmacology Unit in Bristol for 5 years, she was awarded an RCUK Academic Fellowship. During the fellowship she worked at the University of Cambridge, Experimental Psychology Department with Profs. Trevor Robbins and Jeffery Dalley before returning to Bristol to establish her independent research group.  Now based in Bristol’s School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience, some of Emma’s research seeks to understand the mechanisms which underlie rapid acting antidepressants effects, whilst she is also part of a project with COMPASS pathways investigating the effects of psychedelic drugs as potential antidepressants. Alongside research, Emma is involved in teaching across the science and professional programmes and is actively involved in public engagement in science including organising the biennial Bristol Neuroscience Festival.


Wendy Ractliffe 

Wendy is Director and Producer of ‘Medicating Normal’, and the documentary is her first feature-length film. Previously, she was associate producer for the documentary Beyond Measure by Vicki Abeles. She has been involved in regenerative agriculture and alternative education for two decades. She has a B.A. in History from Yale University and an MBA from Duke University, and a diploma in Waldorf Education.


Angela Peacock

Angela Peacock, MSW, former U.S. Army Sergeant, and subject of the film, Medicating Normal. A recent graduate with a masters in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, Angie is part of the film’s outreach team for the film, facilitating discussion of the film’s issues for communities worldwide. Her past awards and positions include- George C. Lang Courage Award from Wounded Warrior Project, Policy Fellow for Veterans of Foreign Wars and Student Veterans of America, outpatient mental health therapist intern, and a finalist for Student Veteran of the Year in 2019. She is a mental health advocate, a writer, and a YouTube creator who travels in her RV across the United States in an effort to improve the mental health care system and bring voice to patients who have been harmed by it.


If you would like to attend this event but are unable to afford the ticket price, please do get in touch with us directly at mags@psychedelicsociety.org.uk. At the Psychedelic Society, we believe that everyone should be able to access our events regardless of employment or health circumstances, so we will do our best to accommodate where we can.



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