A Quantitative Analysis of Narrative Reports of Drug-Induced Ego Dissolution
A number of psychoactive compounds are known to produce disturbances of self-consciousness, described as a dramatic breakdown of one’s sense of self, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as ‘drug-induced ego dissolution’ (DIED). It has been suggested that the study of DIED could contribute to the scientific understanding of self-consciousness. However, clinical studies are limited by their small sample size. We used computer-assisted data mining techniques to analyze narrative reports found on Erowid.org. A quantitative analysis revealed that between 13% and 16% of trip reports concerning mushrooms, LSD, Salvia, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT and ketamine involve the description of DIED, associated to the loss of self-awareness, the feeling of dying, the loss of self/world boundaries and the loss of sense of bodily ownership. Our analysis confirmed that DIED is highly dose-dependent and can occur with serotoninergic hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics and kappa opioid receptor agonists.
Raphaël Millière is a PhD student in philosophy at the University of Oxford. He is also affiliated to the Center for Subjectivity Research of the University of Copenhagen, and to ARTEMOC, an interdisciplinary research group on altered states of consciousness based in Paris.
His philosophical interests lie mainly within empirically-oriented philosophy of mind, phenomenology, and cognitive science. His PhD thesis tackles the issue of pre-reflective self-awareness, investigating the legitimacy of this concept through an interdisciplinary study of the boundaries of self-experience in a variety of anomalous cases – ranging from psychosis to drug-induced ego dissolution.