Jani Pestana, MSC
Sailors Of The Mind And Soul: Investigating the motivations and modalities of psychedelic substance use in the Reddit psychonaut community
The article investigates the motivations and modalities of psychedelic substance use in the psychonaut community that is hosted on the Reddit platform. Psychonauts are sometimes described as responsible drug users and investigating their substance use can highlight what this means for them. It can also help inform best practices for the use of these substances. Quantitative content analysis of the posts and the comments on the r/psychonaut subreddit was done to inform the investigation. A combination of deductive and inductive methods was used to both structure the research but also allow room for novel information. Fourteen principal motivations for psychedelic substance use were used as a starting point. After analysis, the list was expanded by four categories to fully capture the data. To examine the modalities of use, an open coding process was used where the data and keywords emerged out of the analysis itself. Twenty one unique substances were used during the examination; with Psilocybin, LSD, DMT, cannabis and MDMA occurred the most. Motivations for use ranged from self-knowledge, self-investigation and self-medication to increasing artistic expression, curiosity and recreation. Concerning modalities, keywords were coded for ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ the experience, ‘mode of ingestion’ and ‘other’. From the data emerged that psychonauts put a high emphasis on preparation, set and setting, integration, dosage, and gathering and sharing information through research, articles and trip reports. These elements are identified in the literature as being part of responsible drug use.
Jani Pestana has a master in anthropology and a master in European Alcohol and Drug Studies. He is further studying to become a licensed therapist. His early research focused mainly on the use of ayahuasca, both in Europe and in Peru. Hereafter, he directed his focus to the broader use of psychedelic substances. His interest stems from psychedelic experiences early in life that left him wondering about their ceremonial and therapeutic power, qualities, use and cultural significance. His main interests are the influence of psychedelics on culture and of culture on psychedelics, and the ceremonial, therapeutic use of these substances. Jani is also a board member of Psychonauten In Gesprek, a Belgian group that aims to break down the stigma around the responsible use of psychedelic substances.