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Study Finds Psychedelics Can Ease the Fear of Death
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Study Finds Psychedelics Can Ease the Fear of Death

Seraiah Alexander
Seraiah Alexander
July 02, 2024
1 min

The fear of death is a natural part of the human experience, yet according to a recent study, psychedelics could help alleviate this anxiety. Researchers have discovered that these substances, including LSD, DMT, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and mescaline, can cause profound changes in our beliefs about life and death, leading to a major reduction in fear of mortality. 

The study involved a survey of 155 people who have undergone significant psychedelic experiences. Overall, most participants reported feeling less anxious about death after taking psychedelics. Although some experienced increased anxiety regarding death, the majority saw improvements.

The findings of the study suggest that the overall trend of death anxiety reduction was closely linked to changes in metaphysical beliefs. Participants reported a substantial shift in how they viewed reality, often moving towards more spiritual perspectives. Many found an increased belief in panpsychism, the notion that all things possess a form of consciousness, which provided a comforting framework for understanding life and death. By viewing death as a natural transition instead of an end, the participants found significant relief from their anxiety about it (1).

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Although the study is based entirely on subjective reports, the data points to a remarkable trend: psychedelics can lead to a profound reconceptualization of life and death and reshape our deepest fears. The direct mechanisms that cause this phenomenon remain unknown, but the consistency of the findings across many participants provides a deeply human perspective on psychedelics. 

And these findings aren’t entirely unique. For instance, a 2022 Johns Hopkins study compared psychedelic experiences to near-death experiences and found that both could lead to remarkably higher ratings of death acceptance and reduced death anxiety.

Psychedelics have recently become more popular for their potential to reduce existential distress and anxiety for those with terminal illnesses or in end-of-life care. As more evidence backing the therapeutic potential of psychedelics continues to grow, scientists may soon be able to determine them as effective treatments for helping patients address these fears, providing them with a sense of comfort and acceptance as they approach the end of life. 


References

  1. Moreton, Sam G, Noah N Barr, and Kayla J Giese. 2024. “Investigating the Relationship between Changes in Metaphysical Beliefs and Death Anxiety Following a Significant Psychedelic Experience.” Death Studies, May, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2024.2352726.

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science
Seraiah Alexander

Seraiah Alexander

Content Editor

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