Entheogen-Assisted Self-Transcendence & Psychospiritual Development: A Study of Positive Psychedelic Drug Use

  • Author / Creator
    St. Arnaud, Kevin O.
  • This dissertation examined the relationship between psychedelic-facilitated self-transcendent experiences and positive adult development. Although anthropologists note that humans have an extensive history of using these psychoactive substances to induce transformative states for beneficial purposes, only recently have psychologists begun to approach them through an empirical lens. In a similar way, while childhood development has garnered considerable research, adult development has received significantly less attention. Thus, the principal aim of this study was to examine whether psychedelic use predicts self-transcendence and psychospiritual development in contemporary users.

    Although psychedelic substances were often socially integrated in previous eras, legal use is a divisive topic in contemporary Western society. The question of whether these drugs hold potential as developmental tools for psychospiritual growth in adulthood is understandably contentious. Thus, the secondary aim of this dissertation was to examine the spectrum of recreational psychedelic use, and thereby determine baseline parameters predictive of deleterious and salubrious use amongst contemporary users.

    This dissertation utilized an international sample of drug users and non-drug users drawn from various online communities. Self-report measures from developmental and transpersonal psychology, analyzed with statistical methods, were used to evaluate the questions of interest. Findings revealed that contextual variables, such as lifetime use, frequency, dose size, use in a group (vs. alone), use intention, and post-use integration were critical for predicting use outcomes. Psychedelic use—particularly with entheogenic intentions—was shown to predict an openness to self-transcendent feelings of awe, which, in turn, was shown to predict various indices of positive adult development.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.