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  • Author or Editor: Stephen Bright x
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Abstract

There is increasing evidence that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is effective for a range of psychological conditions. There are likely numerous mechanisms of action that contribute to these clinical effects. One such mechanism of action might involve psychedelics increasing levels of empathic functioning. This paper synthesises research concerning the relationship between psychedelics and empathy, emphasising neuroscientific and clinical contexts. We conclude that neuropsychological and clinical evidence imply psychedelics could lead to increased empathic functioning. The effects of psychedelics on the 5-HT system, default mode network, neural connectivity and ego dissolution are implicated in these changes. Changes in empathic functioning also likely relate to increases in the personality trait of openness associated with psychedelic drug use, which is well documented. Increased empathic function likely has clinical implications, leading to increased social connectedness as well as prosocial attitudes and behaviours more broadly.

Open access

Abstract

Ibogaine is a psychoactive alkaloid contained in the West African plant Tabernanthe iboga. Although preliminary, evidence suggests that ibogaine could be effective in the treatment of certain substance use disorders, specifically opioid use disorder. This narrative review concentrated on the pharmacological, cultural and psychological aspects of ibogaine that contribute to its reputed effectiveness with a specific focus on the ibogaine state of consciousness. Although the exact pharmacological mechanisms for ibogaine are still speculative, the literature highlighted its role as an NMDA antagonist in the effective treatment of substance use disorders. The cultural aspects associated with the use of ibogaine pose questions around the worldview of participants as experienced in the traditional and western contexts, which future research should clarify. From a psychological perspective, the theory that the ibogaine state of consciousness resembles REM sleep is questionable due to evidence that indicated ibogaine supressed REM sleep, and contradictory evidence in relation to learning and memory. The suggested classification of the ibogaine experience as oneirophrenic also seems inadequate as it only describes the first phase of the ibogaine experience. The ibogaine experience does however present characteristics consistent with holotropic states of consciousness, and future research could focus on exploring and potentially classifying the state of consciousness induced by ibogaine as holotropic.

Open access

Abstract

Backround and aims

Having entered the recent public and research zeitgeist, microdosing involves consuming sub-perceptual doses of psychedelic drugs, allegedly to enhance performance, creativity, and wellbeing. The results of research to date have been mixed. Whereas most studies have reported positive impacts of microdosing, some microdosers have also reported adverse effects. In addition, research to date has revealed inconsistent patterns of change in personality traits. This prospective study explored the relationship between microdosing, personality change, and emotional awareness.

Methods

Measures of personality and alexithymia were collected at two time points. 76 microdosers participated at baseline. Invitations to a follow-up survey were sent out after 31 days, and 24 participants were retained.

Results

Conscientiousness increased, while neuroticism decreased across these time points (n = 24). At baseline (N = 76), neuroticism was associated with alexithymia. In addition, neuroticism correlated negatively with duration of prior microdosing experience, and extraversion correlated positively with both duration of prior microdosing experience and lifetime number of microdoses.

Conclusion

These results suggest that microdosing might have an impact on otherwise stable personality traits.

Open access