OPEN Foundation

Ayahuasca and Spiritual Crisis: Liminality as Space for Personal Growth

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

Abstract

There is an increased controversy surrounding Westerners’ use of ayahuasca. One issue of importance is psychological resiliency of users and lack of screening by ayahuasca tourism groups in the Amazon. Given the powerful effects of ayahuasca coupled with lack of cultural support, Western users are at increased risk for psychological distress. Many Westerners who experience psychological distress following ayahuasca ceremonies report concurrently profound spiritual experiences. Because of this, it may be helpful to consider these episodes “spiritual emergencies,” or crises resulting from intense and transformative spiritual experiences. Although the author warns readers to avoid romantic comparisons of Western ayahuasca users to shamans, ethnographic data on indigenous shamanic initiates along with theory on liminality may be of some use to understand difficult experiences that accompany ayahuasca use. Given that psychotherapy is culturally sanctioned, therapists trained in treating spiritual crises can help Western ayahuasca users make meaning of their distress. Three case studies are offered as examples of individuals working through various sorts of crises following ayahuasca ceremonies.

Lewis, S. E. (2008). Ayahuasca and spiritual crisis: Liminality as Space for Personal Growth. Anthropology of Consciousness, 19(2), 109-133. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00006.x
Link to full text

OPEN Foundation

INTERESTED IN PSYCHEDELIC RESEARCH AND THERAPIES?

Subscribe to the OPEN Foundation’s newsletter to stay in the loop, hear about our events, and become a part of a community dedicated to advancing psychedelics.

By clicking subscribe, I confirm to receive emails from the OPEN Foundation and agree with its privacy policy.