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Points Bibliography: Interpreting Psilocybin and Peyote

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen. They were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. For more information, contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Ego Death Resulting from Psilocybin Experiences: Exploring the Concept Within Mysticism

Author: Bobbett, Michelle

Abstract: The concept of ego-death was explored as a possible subset of mystical experience resulting from psilocybin mushroom ingestion. Participants in an online self-report study were asked to describe their most personally meaningful psilocybin experience, which they also must have deemed mystical or profound for inclusion in the study. Of the 350 total participants, 272 (77.7%) reported having an ego-death experience. This group had significantly higher scores on 27 of 30 items on the Mystical Experiences Questionnaire (MEQ: Maclean, Leoutsakos, Johnson, & Griffiths, 2012) and significantly differed in the form of psilocybin they ingested X 2 (1)= 11.02, p = .004 and dosage of psilocybin X 2 (1)= 13.58, p =.004, compared to those who did not report ego death. An exploratory factor analysis of the MEQ revealed similarities to the factors presented by MacLean (et al., 2012). Lastly, in line with the hypothesis of the study, the ego-death group had significantly higher scores than the non-ego-death group on the Time and Space and Mystical factor loadings. The results of the current study have implications for the practice of clinical psychology in general as well as the specific niche of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies. The experience of ego-death and its potential for personal change, as revealed in the qualitative analysis, is especially relevant for practitioners of psychotherapy.

Publication year: 2017

ISBN: 9781369822151

Advisor: Heide, Frederick

Committee member: Gerson, Samuel; Swope, Alan

University/institution: Alliant International University

Department: Psychology

Peyote and the Native American Church: An Ethnobotanical Study at the Intersection of Religion, Medicine, Market Exchange, and Law

Author: Feeney, Kevin Michael

Abstract: Peyote, a psychoactive cactus native to parts of Texas and Mexico, has been used in human rituals in North America for several thousand years. During the Spanish Conquest the first law prohibiting peyote’s ceremonial use was introduced. Conflicts between colonial powers and indigenous peoples over the use of peyote have continued into the present; with peyote access and possession strictly regulated in the United States. While exemptions have been established for the religious use of peyote by Native Americans, U.S. laws on peyote remain clouded by misunderstanding and stark divides in notions of sacrament, religious practice, addiction, medicine, and general differences in worldview. Peyotism, the religious use of peyote, emerged among the Plains tribes during the mid to late-1800s and spread rapidly on the reservations where peyote came to be revered as a holy medicine, a symbol of resistance, and also helped to rebuild communities broken by ethnocide. Peyote continues to play an important role within various tribes as a religious sacrament, a medicinal treatment for addiction, spiritual maladies, and historical trauma, and as a source of indigenous confidence and pride. The legal status of peyote is a precarious one, one that is exacerbated by diminishing supplies of the cactus in the United States and by the appropriation and exploitation of Native American religious practices by non-Natives seeking legal protection to both use and profit from peyote. The relationship between people and peyote is complex and multifaceted, and this study attempts to examine the major cultural threads at the heart of this relationship, particularly the sacramental and medical use of peyote by Native Americans, its market exchange, and the various legal controls imposed on peyote, and tie them together in a comprehensive and pertinent manner.

Publication year: 2016

ISBN: 9781339951904

Advisor: Quinlan, Marsha B.

Committee members: McKee, Nancy P.; Tushingham, Shannon; Weber, Steven A.

University/institution: Washington State University

Department: Anthropology


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