Researchers use linguistic analysis to uncover differences between psychedelic drug experiences

New research sheds light on the different types of subjective experiences produced by five different types of psychedelic substances. The study, published in Psychopharmacology, used computer algorithms to analyze thousands of anonymously published reports about the effects of psychedelic drugs.

A growing body of research indicates that psychedelic drugs like 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and psilocybin hold potential for the treatment of psychiatric conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. While it is known that psychedelics induce profound changes in perception and consciousness, little research has quantified the different experiences associated with consuming these substances, especially in a naturalistic context.

“Though it has not been my main research focus previously, I was often fascinated by promising findings from studies examining psychedelic treatments for various mental disorders in patients who were unresponsive to standard treatments,” said study author Adrian Hase, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Fribourg.

The psychiatric research group I am now part of focuses on stress and psychopathology, but also conducts basic research into the effects of psychedelic substances. We often talk about the topic and one day came up with this idea of analyzing online experience reports to compare various psychedelic substances.”

The researchers used software called Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) to analyze the content of 2,947 online reports from the Erowid experience vault. The sample included 971 reports about psilocybin-containing mushrooms, 671 reports about LSD, 312 reports about DMT, 163 reports about ketamine, 68 reports about ayahuasca, and 236 reports about antidepressant medication.

Read more: PsyPost