Ritual ayahuasca use in Estonia
Motivations for use, subjective effects, and activities and experiences related to ayahuasca use were described. Personality, quality of life, and mental health of users were compared to those of non-users. 30 ayahuasca users (15 female) and 30 matched non-users completed questionnaires, psychometric tests and psychiatric interviews. In Estonia ayahuasca is used by people of diverse backgrounds mainly in group ceremonies. Main motivations for use are spiritual development, self-knowledge, spiritual experiences and psychological healing. No deterioration of mental health, abuse of ayahuasca or addiction to it was found. Life satisfaction and happiness about life were higher in ayahuasca using group. Personalities of ayahuasca users were characterized by moderately lower neuroticism, higher openness and agreeability. Indicators of depression and anxiety were lower in users. Users reported mostly positive influences on their mental health, social adjustment and personal development.
Helle Kaasik is an academically trained research geek with a long-standing interest in varieties of mystical and ecstatic experiences. She met ayahuasca in Santo Daime. This big leap for her became also a small step for research of ayahuasca: she infused ayahuasca as her research topic drop by drop into her academic environment.
Helle recently defended her master’s thesis about psychology of ayahuasca users in her homeland Estonia. She will present results of this work at the ICPR.