“It’s like shrooms times a million, plus aliens”: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of experiential accounts from recreational Ayahuasca users

Johnny Ryan, Lesley-Ann Smith

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

DMT the ‘spirit molecule’, is one of the active ingredients in the botanical brew ‘Ayahuasca’. Shanon’s (2002) cartography of Ayahuasca reports of users entering a ‘fourth-dimensional realm’ characterised as enchanted and magical. Users also commonly report increased empathy towards other humans. We are beginning to see Ayahuasca communities set up across Europe where the plant medicine is not only used for religious purposes but or ‘recreation’ too (Prayag, Mura, Hall & Fontaine, 2015). Although there is emerging research on the use of Ayahuasca in western civilisation, the literature is scarce and imbued with epistemological shortfalls (Tupper, 2009). In particular, there is minimal consensus on the social aspects of taking Ayahuasca, particularly within the social sciences. Society has neatly constructed people who take psychedelics as having particular characteristics such as ‘deviance’, ‘loss of control’ and being ‘socially and psychologically unstable’ (Johansen & Krebs, 2015). These kinds of negative social positions have conjured up a ‘moral panic’ around the use of psychedelics. With limited data surrounding recreational usage of Ayahuasca in private settings, there is a growing need to understand the social consequences of these activities. We argue that the ingestion of Ayahuasca (whether taken alone or within a group setting) is far more complex and multi-layered than dominant frameworks would suggest. Drawing from the premise of Process Philosophy, this research paper will explore the multiplicity and fluctuation of people who ingest Ayahuasca; to provide a more factual narrative of recreational Ayahuasca users in Britain. We aim to explore identities around ‘anti-establishment’ group identities and the ‘spiritual and/or psychedelic’ identity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2015
Event19th Annual Transpersonal Psychology Section Conference - Cober Hill, Scarborough, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Sep 201520 Sep 2015

Conference

Conference19th Annual Transpersonal Psychology Section Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityScarborough
Period18/09/1520/09/15

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