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Ayahuasca Tourism: Participants in Shamanic Rituals and their Personality Styles, Motivation, Benefits and Risks

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Ayahuasca continues to attract tourists to South America, where there has been a growth in the number of centers offering hallucinogenic ayahuasca experiences. The aims of this study were to (1) discover the reasons foreigners seek this type of experience; (2) define what an ayahuasca experience entails; (3) discover subjective perceptions of ayahuasca’s benefits and risks; and (4) describe personality styles of participants using the personality questionnaire (PSSI). Participants (N = 77) were persons who had travelled to South America to use ayahuasca. Among the most frequent motivations were curiosity, desire to treat mental health problems, need for self-knowledge, interest in psychedelic medicine, spiritual development, and finding direction in life. Frequently mentioned benefits included self-knowledge, change in the way one relates to oneself, spiritual development, improved interpersonal relations, overcoming mental and physical problems, and gaining a new perspective on life. Stated potential risks included lack of trust in the shaman or organizer, inaccurate information provided by the shaman or organizer, and exposure to dangerous situations. PSSI results showed that people using ayahuasca scored significantly above the norm on the scales of intuition, optimism, ambition, charm, and helpfulness and significantly lower on the scales of distrust and quietness.

Kavenská, V., & Simonová, H. (2015). Ayahuasca Tourism: Participants in Shamanic Rituals and their Personality Styles, Motivation, Benefits and Risks. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 1-9.

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