Spirituality enhancement

Spirituality enhancement is the experience of a shift in a person’s personal beliefs regarding their existence and place within the universe, their relationship to others, and what they value as meaningful in life. It results in a person rethinking the significance they place on certain key concepts, holding some in higher regard than they did previously, and dismissing others as less important. [1] These concepts and notions are not limited to but generally include:

  • An increased sense of personal purpose. [2]
  • An increased interest in the pursuit of developing personal religious and spiritual ideologies. [3] [4]
  • An increased sense of compassion towards nature and other people. [3] [4] [5]
  • An increased sense of unity and interconnectedness between oneself, nature, "god", and the universe as a whole. [1] [3] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]
  • A decreased sense of value placed upon money and material objects. [5]
  • A decreased fear and greater acceptance of death and the finite nature of existence. [1] [10] [11] [12]

Although difficult to fully specify due to the subjective aspect of spirituality enhancement, these changes in a person's belief system can often result in profound changes in their personality [5] [7] [13] , which can sometimes be distinctively noticeable to the people around those who undergo it. This shift can occur suddenly, but will usually increase gradually over time as a person repeatedly uses the psychoactive substance inducing it.

Spirituality enhancement is unlikely to be an isolated effect component but rather the result of a combination of an appropriate setting [3] in conjunction with other coinciding effects such as analysis enhancement, novelty enhancement, perception of interdependent opposites, perception of predeterminism, perception of self-design, personal bias suppression, introspection, and unity and interconnectedness. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of psychedelic compounds, such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline. However, it can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of dissociatives, such as ketamine, PCP, and DXM.


There have been a number of in-depth scientific studies that unanimously support the legitimate existence of the spiritual effects induced by hallucinogen usage. [1] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] New psychedelic users frequently rate their experience to be either the single most meaningful experience of their life or among the top five most meaningful experiences of their life. [4] [6] [10] [13] Psychedelics or hallucinogens intentionally used for religious or spiritual purposes are more commonly known in literature as entheogens. [3] [22] The ritualized usage of entheogens for religious or spiritual purposes dates back thousands of years and is well established throughout both anthropological and modern evidence. [3] [4] [5] [13] [17] [19] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29]


  1. Gasser, P., Kirchner, K., & Passie, T. (2015). LSD-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with a life-threatening disease: a qualitative study of acute and sustained subjective effects. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(1), 57-68. | https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881114555249
  2. Peterman, A. H., Fitchett, G., Brady, M. J., Hernandez, L., & Cella, D. (2002). Measuring spiritual well-being in people with cancer: the functional assessment of chronic illness therapy—Spiritual Well-being Scale (FACIT-Sp). Annals of behavioral medicine, 24(1), 49-58. | https://doi.org/10.1207/S15324796ABM2401_06
  3. Trichter, S., Klimo, J., & Krippner, S. (2009). Changes in spirituality among ayahuasca ceremony novice participants. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 41(2), 121-134. | https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2009.10399905
  4. Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2011). Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects. Psychopharmacology, 218(4), 649-665. | https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-011-2358-5
  5. Lerner, M., & Lyvers, M. (2006). Values and Beliefs of Psychedelic Drug Users: A Cross-Cultural Study. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 38(2), 143-147. | https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2006.10399838
  6. Griffiths, R. R., Richards, W. A., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2006). Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology, 187(3), 268-283. | https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-006-0457-5
  7. MacLean, K. A., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2011). Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(11), 1453-1461. | https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881111420188
  8. Kometer, M., Pokorny, T., Seifritz, E., & Volleinweider, F. X. (2015). Psilocybin-induced spiritual experiences and insightfulness are associated with synchronization of neuronal oscillations. Psychopharmacology, 232(19), 3663-3676. | https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-015-4026-7
  9. Lyvers, M., & Meester, M. (2012). Illicit use of LSD or psilocybin, but not MDMA or nonpsychedelic drugs, is associated with mystical experiences in a dose-dependent manner. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 44(5), 410-417. | https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2012.736842
  10. Ross, S., Bossis, A., Guss, J., Agin-Liebes, G., Malone, T., Cohen, B., ... & Su, Z. (2016). Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 30(12), 1165-1180. | https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881116675512
  11. Richards, W., Grof, S., Goodman, L., & Kurland, A. (1972). LSD-assisted psychotherapy and the human encounter with death. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 4(2), 121. | https://www.erowid.org/references/refs_view.php?ID=6424
  12. Grob, C. S., Danforth, A. L., Chopra, G. S., Hagerty, M., McKay, C. R., Halberstadt, A. L., & Greer, G. R. (2011). Pilot study of psilocybin treatment for anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer. Archives of general psychiatry, 68(1), 71-78. | https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.116
  13. Studerus, E., Kometer, M., Hasler, F., & Vollenweider, F. X. (2011). Acute, subacute and long-term subjective effects of psilocybin in healthy humans: a pooled analysis of experimental studies. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(11), 1434-1452. | https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881110382466
  14. Richards, W. A. (2008). The phenomenology and potential religious import of states of consciousness facilitated by psilocybin. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 30(1), 189-199. | https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2013.785855
  15. Griffiths, R. R., Richards, W. A., Johnson, M. W., McCann, U. D., & Jesse, R. (2008). Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later. Journal of psychopharmacology, 22(6), 621-632. | https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881108094300
  16. Bakalar, J. B. (1985). Social and intellectual attitudes toward drug-induced religious experience. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 25(4), 45-66. | https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167885254008
  17. Móró, L., Simon, K., Bárd, I., & Rácz, J. (2011). Voice of the psychonauts: Coping, life purpose, and spirituality in psychedelic drug users. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 43(3), 188-198. | https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2011.605661
  18. Nichols, D. E. (2016). Psychedelics. Pharmacological reviews, 68(2), 264-355. | https://doi.org/10.1124/pr.115.011478
  19. Luke, D. (2012). Psychoactive substances and paranormal phenomena: a comprehensive review. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 31(1), 12. | https://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1097&context=ijts-transpersonalstudies
  20. Luke, D. P., & Kittenis, M. (2005). A preliminary survey of paranormal experiences with psychoactive drugs. Journal of Parapsychology, 69(2), 305-327. | https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/42bd/1b8c1734a0bf31b57af957228052b6819cce.pdf
  21. Carl A. P. Ruck; Jeremy Bigwood; Danny Staples; Jonathan Ott; R. Gordon Wasson (January–June 1979). "Entheogens". Journal of Psychedelic Drugs. 11 (1–2): 145–146. | https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.1979.10472098
  22. Guzmán, G. (2008). Hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico: An overview. Economic Botany, 62(3), 404-412. | https://doi.org/10.1007/s12231-008-9033-8
  23. Bruhn, J. G., De Smet, P. A., El-Seedi, H. R., & Beck, O. (2002). Mescaline use for 5700 years. The Lancet, 359(9320), 1866. | https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(02)08701-9
  24. El-Seedi, H. R., De Smet, P. A., Beck, O., Possnert, G., & Bruhn, J. G. (2005). Prehistoric peyote use: alkaloid analysis and radiocarbon dating of archaeological specimens of Lophophora from Texas. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 101(1), 238-242. | https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2005.04.022
  25. Pettigrew, J. (2011). Iconography in Bradshaw rock art: breaking the circularity. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 94(5), 403-417. | https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1444-0938.2011.00648.x
  26. Carod-Artal, F. J. (2015). Hallucinogenic drugs in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures. Neurología (English edition), 30(1), 42-49. | https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nrl.2011.07.003
  27. Wasson, R. G. (1971). The soma of the Rig Veda: what was it?. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 169-187. | https://doi.org/10.2307/600096
  28. de Rios, M. D. (1977). Hallucinogenic ritual as theatre. Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, 9(3), 265-268. | https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.1977.10472056


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