Can psychedelics change your political views?

by Bill Kovski May 26, 2017 0 Comments

Can psychedelics change your political views?

This article discusses the possible link between psychedelics and political orientations. 

A recent study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs investigated the relationship between psychedelics, personality, and political perspectives. The findings showed that psychedelics are associated with liberal and anti-authoritarian political views.

How can the act of experiencing ego dissolution and connecting to nature change your stances on political views?

Lisa Evans, a study author from Imperial College London, said personality has been traditionally regarded as stable and unchanging once you hit adulthood. "However, data from a few studies in the last decade have shown that a single psychedelic experience can lead to an increase in one of the 'Big 5' personality traits—openness," Evans told Motherboard.

How did the study work?

To conduct the study, the researchers collected responses to an online survey from nearly 900 people. The survey asked questions about their experiences with psychedelics and other drugs, personality, their relationship with nature, and their political orientation.

Problem: To properly prove this, you would need to run a study where you notate non psychedelic users political orientations, administer the psychedelic, then see if in a year later, they still have the same political leanings. 

The data suggests a causal relationship between psychedelics and personality change that could help people grow, or even heal from trauma, Evans said. In the study, she and fellow researchers Matthew Nour and Robin Carhart-Harris found a link between using psychedelics and more open personalities.

When tripping, people have often described transcendent mythical states of consciousness and oneness with themselves and others. What does this have to do with liberalism and conservatism?

Just because someone experiences feelings of internal and external unity, transcendence of space and time, ineffability and paradoxicality, a sense of sacredness, a sense of ultimate reality ('noetic quality'), and deeply felt positive mood doesn't mean that it will change your political view, or does it?

When tripping, people have often described transcendent mythical states of consciousness and oneness with themselves and others and the typical sense of self disappears. When one goes through ego dissolution, the study found that people who reported the most intense past ego dissolution experiences on psychedelics also rated higher on openness, liberalism, and nature-relatedness. This is important because it shows that it may be something about the psychedelic experience itself that is related to these personality traits and attitudes.

Correlation doesn't equal causation

It is possible that liberals are just more likely to try psychedelics. However, conservatism, which attempts to keep the traditional and familiar intact is in flat contrast with the psychedelic experience as it moves away the traditional and embraces new and novel ideas. Psychedelics can cause the user to break out of regular modes of thought and my own anti authoritarianism seemed to develop during those experiential years. 

Think for yourself, question authority. 

Additional Sources
Madison Margolin from Motherboard 


Bill Kovski
Bill Kovski