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Psychedelics and neonihilism: connectedness in a meaningless world

The resurgence of psychedelic research explicitly targets treating mental health conditions largely through psychedelics-assisted psychotherapy.

Psychedelics and neonihilism: connectedness in a meaningless world

Current theories about mechanisms of change in psychedelics-assisted psychotherapy focus on mystical experiences as the main driver of symptom improvement. During these mystical experiences, participants report an enhanced sense of salience, connectedness, and meaning. Simultaneously, a growing psychedelic culture is also cultivating the use of psychedelics as medicine for relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression and promoting cognitive functions. We argue that an integral part of the excitement around the resurgence in psychedelics is in response to a meaning and alienation crisis that correlates with rising rates of anxiety and depression. Framing the absence of meaning as neonihilism, a contemporary correlate to the 19th-century phenomenon with unique features present in a neoliberal cultural context, we explore whether psychedelics combined with group therapy can provide answers to modern experiences of meaninglessness. Based on this exploration, we suggest concrete next steps both in the theory and practice of psychedelic psychotherapy toward what we are calling neonihilistic psychedelic group psychotherapy..

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