Perceived attachment history predicts psychedelic experiences: A naturalistic study

Aaron D. Cherniak, Mario Mikulincer, Joel Gruneau Brulin, Pehr Granqvist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and aims: Emerging research indicates that psychedelics may have therapeutic potential by fostering meaningful experiences that act as "inflection points"in people's narratives of personal development. However, psychedelic research has largely failed to address pertinent developmental considerations. We investigated whether attachment-related variables were associated with psychedelic experiences and whether psychedelic experiences moderated expected links between perceived attachment history and current adult attachment orientations. Methods: We administered an online survey to an international Jewish sample (N = 185) with psychedelic experience. The survey included measures about recollection of attachment interactions with parents (perceived attachment history), adult attachment orientations (anxiety, avoidance), and psychedelic phenomenology (mystical experiences, challenging experiences, emotional breakthrough, ego dissolution, sensed presence) associated with respondents' most memorable psychedelic experiences. Results: Perceptions of an insecure attachment history were positively linked to all measures of psychedelic phenomenology (r's = 0.19-32, p's mostly < 0.01). In contrast, adult attachment orientations were unrelated to psychedelic phenomenology. Also, psychedelic phenomenology mostly did not moderate the links observed between perceptions of an insecure attachment history and adult attachment orientations. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that perceptions of early attachment experiences may be relevant to psychedelic phenomenology. However, subjective experiences associated with naturalistic psychedelic use do not typically attenuate links between a perceived insecure attachment history and attachment insecurity at present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-91
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychedelic Studies
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s).

Keywords

  • adult attachment orientations
  • attachment history
  • earned security
  • phenomenology

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