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    Ayahuasca-induced personal death experiences

    Ayahuasca-Induced Personal Death Experiences

    15.12.2023

    Ayahuasca-induced personal death experiences: prevalence, characteristics, and impact on attitudes towards death, life, and the environment

    Authors:
    Jonathan David, José Carlos Bouso, Maja Kohek, Genís Oña, Nir Tadmor, Tal Arnon, Yair Dor-Ziderman, and Aviva Berkovich-Ohana.

    Journal:
    Frontiers in Psychiatry

    Year:
    2023

     

    About the study

    This paper investigates Ayahuasca-induced Personal Death (APD) experiences during ayahuasca ceremonies, using two cross-sectional studies. Study 1, with 54 participants, examines the prevalence, demographics, intensity, and impact of APDs on attitudes toward death, psychopathology, and environmental concerns. It finds that APDs are common and transformative, typically linked with an increased sense of transcending death and no association with participants’ demographics, personality, or psychopathology. However, these experiences correlate with heightened environmental concern.

    Study 2, involving 306 participants, seeks to generalize Study 1’s findings and also explores the relationship between APDs and self-reported coping strategies and life values. It reveals that APDs are not only prevalent but also significantly influence one’s ability to handle distress and enhance the sense of fulfillment derived from living according to personal values. The study highlights that experiencing APDs is associated with a certainty in the continuation of consciousness after death.

    Overall, the paper underscores the prevalence, safety, and transformative power of death experiences in ayahuasca ceremonies. These experiences are seen as potential mechanisms for the long-term beneficial effects of psychedelics in nonclinical populations, contributing to the broader understanding of profound subjective experiences in acute psychedelic states.

     

    Abstract

    Introduction: Despite an emerging understanding regarding the pivotal mechanistic role of subjective experiences that unfold during acute psychedelic states, very little has been done in the direction of better characterizing such experiences and determining their long-term impact. The present paper utilizes two cross-sectional studies for spotlighting – for the first time in the literature – the characteristics and outcomes of self-reported past experiences related to one’s subjective sense of death during ayahuasca ceremonies, termed here Ayahuasca-induced Personal Death (APD) experiences.

    Methods: Study 1 (n = 54) reports the prevalence, demographics, intensity, and impact of APDs on attitudes toward death, explores whether APDs are related with psychopathology, and reveals their impact on environmental concerns. Study 2 is a larger study (n = 306) aiming at generalizing the basic study 1 results regarding APD experience, and in addition, examining whether APDs is associated with self-reported coping strategies and values in life.

    Results: Our results indicate that APDs occur to more than half of those participating in ayahuasca ceremonies, typically manifest as strong and transformative experiences, and are associated with an increased sense of transcending death (study 1), as well as the certainty in the continuation of consciousness after death (study 2). No associations were found between having undergone APD experiences and participants’ demographics, personality type, and psychopathology. However, APDs were associated with increased self-reported environmental concern (study 1). These experiences also impact life in profound ways. APDs were found to be associated with increases in one’s self-reported ability to cope with distress-causing life problems and the sense of fulfillment in life (study 2).

    Discussion: The study’s findings highlight the prevalence, safety and potency of death experiences that occur during ayahuasca ceremonies, marking them as possible mechanisms for psychedelics’ long-term salutatory effects in non-clinical populations. Thus, the present results join other efforts of tracking and characterizing the profound subjective experiences that occur during acute psychedelic states.

     

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    Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

    Categories: Studies & papers , Ayahuasca , Iboga and ibogaine
    Tags: hallucinogens , coping , death , self , environmental concern , life fulfillment , ayahuasca , scientific research , study , psychedelics