Narrative Self and the Psychedelic Experience: An exploratory qualitative study
Modern research into the mechanisms of therapeutic action of psychedelic substances have led investigators to the constructed narrative self. The beneficial effects of having psychedelic experiences may be rooted in a multi-step process of integration, centered around the way individuals situate and make meaning out of these experiences in the larger context of their narrative selves. The present study investigates retrospective reports of acute and lasting changes to narrative sense of self that psychedelic users believe resulted from, or were catalyzed by, their psychedelic experience(s). Themes that emerged from the data were interpreted within a theoretical framework of agent-centered approaches to human development and well-being and reflect a shift towards adaptive narrative construction post-psychedelic experience. Emergent themes include decentered introspection, greater access to self-knowledge, positive shifts in self-evaluation processes and contents, greater psychological and behavioral autonomy, and enhancement of connectedness with others and the world. This large-sample qualitative study lends support for the hypothesis that the psychological benefits of the psychedelic experience are potentially rooted in integrative changes to the narrative self and its construction processes.