Nicole Amada

City University New York

Dismantling and Reconfiguring the Narrative Self: An exploratory qualitative study


An individual’s narrative self-construction is generated from the organization, interpretation and unification of experience, and represents a fundamental process of human development. The content of the narrative self (i.e. the story and characteristics of the agent interacting in the world) serves to guide decision-making and the investment of motivational resources. While an adaptive narrative self is active, integrated and authentic, a maladaptive narrative self is passive, fragmented and alienated. Experiences that may target and catalyze change in narrative self-construction remain largely unexplored. Psychedelic substances have been found to alter self-related cognition, generating altered states of consciousness characterized by a loss of an independent, stable and coherent sense of self. The present study investigates lasting psychedelic-induced changes to narrative self-construction through a qualitative analysis of retrospective reports. Results indicate that the psychedelic experience can have lasting effects on the narrative self, with the potential to alter introspection and generate self-insight, facilitate positive shifts in self-evaluation processes, enhance sense of connectedness, and promote psychological and behavioral autonomy.


I currently teach Introduction to Cognitive Psychology at Brooklyn College and Introduction to Psychology at Queensborough Community College

I have two major research interests. The first line of research I’m pursuing is the long-term effects of psychedelic experiences on self-representation (on both minimal and narrative levels) and the role of these experiences in shaping developmental trajectories by targeting self-representations. Specifically I am interested in the links between self-insights (kinds of epistemic gains) generated by the experience, shifts in self-attitudes (such as self-compassion and self-esteem) and autonomy (volitionally regulating internal states and behaviors).

The second line of research I am interested in is the practice of mindfulness and the role mindfulness could play in promoting adaptive development throughout the lifespan. First covering adolescence, a literature review pairs specific mindfulness-based practices with psychological and behavioral trends present during this period. By targeting self-representations and changing introspective processes, mindfulness may promote the development of self-regulatory and socio-cognitive skills.

I am interested in self-related cognitive processes and their role in the narrative construction of experience. This interest is embedded in the larger context of the lifespan, with a developmental approach to elucidating the transformative potential of psychedelic experiences and mindfulness-related practices. Experiences and practices that target the self-related processes may generate a window of opportunity for change in developmental trajectories



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