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Psychedelics Use Predicts More Positive Emotional Reactivity and Greater Self‐Awareness: The Mediating Role of Ego Dissolution and Mystical Experiences
Some of the dominant, subjective aspects of a psychedelic experience are acutely altered emotionality and perception of “self”. At the same time, however, it is unclear whether regular, naturalistic use of psychedelics can be linked to more persistent, trait‐level changes in these domains.
The study tested two hypotheses: i﴿ that psychedelics use is related to higher positive and lower negative emotional reactivity, and to greater introspection; ii﴿ that the intensity of past ego‐dissolution and mystical experiences mediates these relations.
Data from 2,516 participants ﴾1,661 psychedelic users﴿ were collected via an online survey. The survey included questions about the history of psychoactive substance use, retrospective assessment of psychedelic experiences intensity, and questionnaires measuring trait levels of emotional reactivity and self‐awareness. Data were analyzed using robust linear regression models and mediation analysis.
First, a higher number of psychedelic experiences predicted greater positive‐ and lower negative emotional reactivity. Second, it also predicted greater introspection, reflection, and private self‐awareness, as well as reduced rumination, social anxiety, and public self‐consciousness. All these effects could not be accounted for by demographic factors or history of other substance use. Finally, the ego‐dissolution and mystical experiences during past psychedelic sessions mediated almost all observed emotionality and self‐awareness changes.
More positive emotional‐reactivity and greater self‐awareness might potentially explain previous observations of positive well‐being in the psychedelics users group. The past mystical and ego‐dissolution experiences are essential in explaining the long‐lasting psychological effects of psychedelics use.