Abstract

This dissertation presents six articles investigating experiential characteristics and perspectives on the health ramifications of psychedelics use, predominantly on a basis of interviews and data from the Cannabis and Psychedelics User Survey. The first article (Johnstad, 2015) analyzes interview data pertaining to respondent-assessed mental health consequences of psychedelics (or hallucinogen) use, finding that most interviewees regarded such use, which among other things reportedly facilitated a break from habitual substance use, as having a positive impact on their lifestyles. A few respondents ended up with mental health problems possibly resulting from their psychedelics use, however. The second article (Johnstad, 2018b) extends this investigation to the use of psychedelics in very small doses (or microdoses), which some interviewees found helpful for purposes of (self- directed) therapy or enhancement. A third article (Johnstad, 2020a) investigates the putative therapeutic potential of these drugs via a historical review of the experimental psychedelic treatment program at Modum Bad during the years 1961–76. The subsequent three articles focus on the experiential characteristics of psychedelics use, including ostensive telepathic experiences (Johnstad, 2020c), challenging experiences or “bad trips” (Johnstad, 2021a), and the impact of personality structure on different characteristics of psychedelic experiences (Johnstad, 2021e). These articles are also relevant for the question of health ramifications, especially in the sense that psychedelic “bad trips” have a reputation for triggering psychoses; one interviewee regarded his own challenging experience as a temporary form of psychosis.

The introduction to the dissertation first reviews extant literature on the putative therapeutic value of psychedelics use as well as the putative harms related especially to psychedelics use in non-clinical settings. In relation to the latter review, a methodological critique of research into drug harms under a criminalization regime is presented, tentatively concluding that there are reasons to believe criminalization policies serve to alter the composition of the drug user population as compared to its pre-criminalization counterpart, and that this effect in turn serves to exacerbate findings of negative health outcomes. The introductory chapter thereupon proceeds to a discussion of how psychedelic drugs have been received by the academic community that draws upon perspectives from the philosophy of science. Finally, it discusses methodological and ethical issues and presents some descriptive statistics of survey respondents that the economy of the article format does not leave much space for, and briefly discusses the six articles included in the dissertation in relation to each other.

 

Publisert 23. aug. 2022 19:02 - Sist endret 23. aug. 2022 19:39