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Researchers Explore Whether Ayahuasca Ceremonies Could Reduce Narcissistic Behavior

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A study published in the “Journal of Personality Disorders has suggested that participation in ayahuasca rituals may reduce narcissistic behavior. The research explored the connection between ayahuasca, a psychedelic brew with a rich history of spiritual, healing and religious use in indigenous Amazonian communities, and narcissistic behavior.

Ayahuasca is typically brewed from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of plants containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT) such as Psychotria viridis. The brew triggers a potent hallucinogenic experience once ingested and is usually consumed in ritualistic ceremonies under the guidance of experienced shamans. A typical guided ayahuasca ceremony is meant to put participants into an altered state of consciousness, encourage spiritual insights and self-discovery, and potentially boost mental and physical healing.

The psychedelic brew has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially in Western countries that are currently undergoing a “psychedelic renaissance” and have seen a surge in psychedelic-related research. On top of anecdotal accounts from users and endorsements from celebrities, an increasing number of studies have found that psychedelics can be effective at treating mental disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even eating disorders.

According to the researchers, ayahuasca ceremonies can induce profound psychological feelings of clarity, awe, heightened introspective capacity and love that have been connected with reductions in neuroticism. The research team recruited 314 participants, all of whom were at least 18 years old and had attended ayahuasca ceremonies at three retreats in Costa Rica and Peru. The participants filled out three surveys that included the Psychological Entitlement Scale and the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. This was followed by the Ego Dissolution Inventory to assess ego dissolution during ayahuasca ceremonies, the Mystical Experience Questionnaire to assess the psychedelic experience’s mystical aspects, and the Multidisciplinary Iowa Susceptibility Scale to assess suggestibility.

Self-reported narcissism measures pointed to a minor reduction in participants’ sense of entitlement as well as a willingness to exploit others. The participants also showed a slight increase in the tendency to seek leadership positions and assert authority during a three-month follow-up. However, the researchers did not observe any significant change in grandiose narcissism, and informant reports did not find any change in narcissism levels among the participants.

In addition, 6% of participants reported experiencing negative side effects such as brain fog, difficulty concentrating, distressing dreams and auditory hallucinations.

While the recent study adds to the scientific literature on ayahuasca, the fact that it relied on self-reported data, did not have a control group and only collected data at three time points limits its findings’ usability.

Entities such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) are conducting psychedelic drug-development activities adhering to stringent preclinical and clinical trial standards. These will avail a lot more rigorous data on the benefits of various hallucinogenic compounds.

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