JPD, Volume 41, Number 4, December 2009, pp.  309-315.

Anette Kjellgren, Ph.D.; Anders Eriksson, M.Sc. & Torsten Norlander, Ph.D.

Abstract—Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew used by the indigenous populations of the Amazon. The aim of this qualitative study was to gain insight into the experiences of western users of ayahuasca, as well as to ascertain the experienced meaning that participants felt by their participation. Twenty-five people from Northern Europe with experiences of group sessions with ayahuasca wrote anonymous descriptions of their experiences. The Empirical Phenomenological Psychological method was used for this analysis. The analysis resulted in 33 categories which were assembled into six general themes: (a) motivation and aim, (b) contractile frightening state (c) sudden transformation of the experience, (d) limitless expansive states with transcendental experiences, (f) reflections, and (g) changed worldview and new orientation to life. These themes provided a new structure, called the transcendental circle. Participants reported many positive psychological and physical improvements that indicate that ayahuasca could be of potential interest in the development of new medicines and therapies.

Keywords—altered states of consciousness, ayahuasca, personal development, psychedelic medicine, spirituality

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