Researchers from the UK have found that psychedelic drugs can positively affect narcissistic personality traits- by reducing them.
Previous research has found that psychedelic substances enhance feelings of social connectedness, improve mental well-being, and, under therapeutic supervision, help depression and resolve mental health conditions like PTSD. As such, researchers were curious to see how they may impact narcissism too.
“We read recent research findings suggesting that the use of some classic psychedelic drugs can boost levels of empathy. Lower empathy is pivotally implicated in narcissism and, in particular so-called maladaptive, or exploitative-entitled, narcissism, so we were interested to see if there might be links between psychedelics use and levels of maladaptive narcissism,” say the authors.
For their study, the researchers surveyed 414 people who had experienced serotonergic psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin. Answering questions about their most awe-inspiring or emotionally intense psychedelic experiences in the last five years, participants also completed assessments of connectedness to others, empathy and narcissism.
While ego death- or the loss of one’s sense of self during a psychedelic experience- has been linked to more positive changes in relationships with nature and oneself, this experience was unrelated to narcissistic traits. Instead, experiencing more awe during psychedelic experiences was more linked to lower levels of maladaptive narcissism. This was also associated with more feelings of connectedness to others and empathy.
The researchers also found that people who recently had a highly significant experience on psychedelics tended to score lower on maladaptive narcissism, especially if they experienced high levels of awe.
While the results from the study suggest that psychedelic drugs may be able to decrease traits linked to low empathy, such as exploitative-entitled narcissism, the researchers say that their results are limited. As they were only able to gather their data via a self-reported survey as opposed to in a more clinical setting, further research is needed to establish a conclusive link.