Aphantasia (“blind imagination”) is a poorly described condition with an uncertain etiology, characterized by reduced or lack of voluntary visual imagery. Preliminary evidence in humans suggests that hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs that act as agonists of cortical 5-HT2A receptors [lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT)] enhance visual imagery.
Interview and description of the case are presented in this study.
A man self-diagnosed with long-lasting aphantasia that he attributed to a traumatic separation from his father when he was young and to a difficult relationship with him described sustained improvements in his visual imagery following ingestion of a single dose of the South American botanical hallucinogen ayahuasca, which is rich in DMT. Although improvements were modest, they were sustained and significative for the subject.
It is suggested that the described improvements were possibly attributed to biological and psychological processes, including stimulation of cortical 5-HT2A receptors, subsequent increased activity in the visual cortex, enhanced imaginative and imagery capacities, and psychosomatic resolution of a previous psychological trauma. Further trials could elucidate the role of 5-HT2A agonists, especially ayahuasca, in aphantasia.