Psychedelic Experiences Can Change Our Beliefs


  • A psychedelic experience is caused by the absorption of hallucinogenic drugs and consists of a delirious overflow of ideas and a distortion of real facts and images, which can go as far as psycho-sensory hallucinations.
  • Among the so-called “psychedelic” or “hallucinogenic” drugs, we find LSD, the DMT contained in particular in ayahuasca, mescaline, psilocybin, PCP, cannabis, ecstasy, ketamine, Salvia and many others. ‘others.

In a recent study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers from the Center for Psychedelics and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University explored belief changes related to psychedelic experiences. They found that a single psychedelic experience increased a range of beliefs, including about consciousness and the meaning of life.

Psychedelic experiences make you believer

For this study, the researchers analyzed data collected between August 2020 and July 2021 on 2,374 people who had a psychedelic experience that changed their beliefs. The participants were on average 35 years old and were mainly men (67%). Almost half of the volunteers (43%) indicated that it was their first psychedelic experience. Participants rated how they felt about 45 belief statements, before and after the psychedelic experience.

The percentage of study participants who identified themselves as “believers” (e.g. believing in a higher power and/or God, etc.) increased from 29% before the psychedelic experience to 59% after.

Beliefs have been divided into five types by researchers.
First, “dualistic” beliefs: a philosophical position that mind and body are separate.
Second, paranormal/spiritual beliefs: such as the belief in telepathy, ghosts, continuity of self-existence after death, communication with the dead, reincarnation, or predicting the future.
Third, beliefs in “non-mammalian consciousness”: believing that insects, trees, and rocks are capable of conscious experience.
Fourth, beliefs in mammalian consciousness.
And finally, superstitious beliefs: for example, believing in 7 years of bad luck after breaking a mirror, in luck or bad luck linked to the number 13 and black cats that bring bad luck.

Hallucinogenic drugs don’t make you more superstitious

The results of the study revealed an increase in the first four types of beliefs after the psychedelic experience. On the other hand, this was not the case for superstitious beliefs.

Among the beliefs that have increased are the following assertions: “mind is another kind of existence, a spiritual way of being”, “the universe is conscious”, “there is a hidden purpose or deeper to life and all of existence that many people are unaware of”, or “there are hidden or deeper meanings to everyday events beyond simple factual explanations and more complicated scientific explanations for understand the world”.

“Until now, we have undertheorized and underestimated psychedelic-induced belief shifts”said psychiatrist Sandeep Nayak, lead author of the study, in a communicated. Johns Hopkins Center researchers say they want to continue studying the effects of psychedelics on spirituality and well-being.

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Psychedelic Experiences Can Change Our Beliefs

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