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Phenomenal Qualities of Ayahuasca Ingestion and its Relation to Fringe Consciousness and Personality

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Abstract:

Ayahuasca, a hallucinogen with profound consciousness- altering properties, has been increasingly utilized in recent studies (e.g., Strassman, 2001; Shanon, 2002a,b). However, other than Shanon's recent work, there has been little attempt to examine the effects of ayahuasca on perceptual, affective and cognitive experience, its relation to fringe consciousness or to pertinent personality variables. Twenty-one volunteers attending a seminar on ayahuasca were administered personality measures and a semi-structured interview about phenomenal qualities of their experience. Ayahuasca ingestion was associated with profound alterations of temporal- spatial experiences including expansive space and slowed time. Ayahuasca use was also associated with positive emotional states, higher levels of fantasy proneness and psychological absorption and a greater openness to mystical experiences. Conversely, quickened time was associated with negative emotionality. The results are discussed within a multi-faceted model of fringe consciousness with a particular emphasis on Hunt's (1995) models of cross-modal translation as the basis for higher-order symbolic cognition and support James' (1890/1950) contention that fringe consciousness is essential to human cognition.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Psy.D & Ross Levin, Ph.D., Ferkauf Graduate School of Psycho- logy, Albert Einstein College of Medicine Campus, 1165 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461, USA., Email: tbresnick@yahoo.com

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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