Psychedelic experience and the narrative self: An exploratory qualitative study

Nicole Amada, Toby Lea, Chris Letheby, Jacob Shane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

It has been hypothesized that psychedelic experiences elicit lasting psychological benefits by altering narrative selfhood, which has yet to be explicitly studied. The present study investigates retrospective reports (n = 418) of changes to narrative self that participants believe resulted from, or were catalysed by, their psychedelic experience(s). Responses to open-ended questions were analysed using inductive and deductive thematic coding and interpreted within agent-centred approaches to development and well-being. Themes include decentred introspection, greater access to self-knowledge, positive shifts in self-evaluation processes, greater psychological and behavioural autonomy, and enhanced connectedness with others and the world. While this explorative qualitative study offers some initial support for the explanation that changes to narrative self are a cornerstone of psychedelics’ therapeutic and transformative potential, methodological and recruiting limitations preclude the ability to make objective claims and generalizations. Future scientific research is necessary to further elucidate this hypothesized mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-33
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Consciousness Studies
Volume27
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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