In 2002 a cultural-psychological research project startet at Heidelberg University (Institute of Medical Psychology, Medical Faculty). It is part of the Collaborative Research Center “Ritual dynamics” and sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

According to the project coordinator Dr. Jungaberle (see picture on the left), “We are interested in biographical and long-time developments of the drug users in order to define the regulative functions of ritual. The paradigm guiding our research is the assumption that there is an “integrative drug use” — one which is more than just the control of intoxicants — that includes also the positive functionality of some drugs. Concerning “integrative use” we are stressing the role of resilience and resources. These resources certainly include ritualized settings in which cultural rules and motivational orientations can be acquired and firmed. Our work is comparative in the sense that it covers three very different contexts of drug use:

(1) young drug users; (12 school classes on the edge of experimenting with alcohol, cannabis and other drugs);

(2) psycho-therapeutic use (LSD, Psilocybin and MDMA used in Psychotherapy by doctors of the Swiss Association for Psycholytic Therapy between 1988-1993);

(3) religious and spiritual groups (Santo Daime in Europe, non-organzed Ayahuasca use and Peyote groups).

The project is using both quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative material (interviews). A couple of doctoral and diploma thesis in German Language have been or are in the process of being finished.

The group is also organizing an expert conference in 2008 on the role and position of religious and spiritual drug use in the European/German context. It focusses on cultural, medical, psychological and juridical issues of Ayahuasca/Santo Daime. Brazilian and European Santo Daime leaders are involved in the conference planning along with the Heidelberg researchers. The focus will be: “Potential, security and risk aspects of the religious use of Ayahuasca in Europe/Germany – legal and health issues”. A volume on German and English on the results of the RISA-Study and the conference is expected.

To get in touch: Henrik_Jungaberle@med.uni-heidelberg.de
Information on the Web:http://www.risa.uni-hd.de/ (German)
www.ritualdynamik.uni-hd.de/en/index.htm (English)

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