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Exploring the Transformative Power of Ayahuasca-Induced Personal Death Experiences

Article Title: “Ayahuasca-induced personal death experiences: prevalence, characteristics, and impact on attitudes toward death, life, and the environment”

Authors: Jonathan David, José Carlos Bouso, Maja Kohek, G. Oña, Nir Tadmor, T. Arnon, Yair Dor-Ziderman, Aviva Berkovich-Ohana

Publication Date: December 19, 2023

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2023.1287961

Ayahuasca, a traditional Amazonian brew known for its psychedelic properties, has gained international attention for its potential therapeutic benefits. Despite growing research, the understanding of subjective experiences during ayahuasca ceremonies, especially those resembling a personal death, remains largely unexplored.

Study Overview
The study conducted two cross-sectional investigations focusing on Ayahuasca-induced Personal Death (APD) experiences during ceremonies. These experiences are characterized by participants’ subjective sense of encountering death. The research aimed to document the prevalence, characteristics, and long-term impacts of APDs on individuals’ attitudes toward death, life, and environmental concerns.

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Key Findings

  • APDs were reported by over half of the participants, suggesting a common occurrence during ayahuasca ceremonies.
  • These experiences are described as intense and transformative, leading to a greater acceptance of death and a belief in the continuity of consciousness after death.

  • No correlation was found between APDs and participants’ demographics, personality types, or psychopathology. However, a significant association was observed with increased environmental concern.

  • Participants also reported enhanced coping abilities with distressful life events and a heightened sense of life fulfillment post-APD.


The findings underscore the safe and profound nature of APD experiences, contradicting common misconceptions about the potential dangers of psychedelic experiences. The absence of negative psychological effects and the association with positive life changes highlight the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca.



This study suggests that ayahuasca ceremonies, particularly those inducing APD experiences, could offer significant psychological and existential benefits, offering new perspectives on life, death, and our connection to the environment.

Potential Application

The insights gained from APD experiences could inform psychotherapeutic practices, especially for dealing with death-related anxiety and fostering environmental stewardship. Moreover, it opens new avenues for research into consciousness and the psychological mechanisms underlying the transformative effects of psychedelics.


Ayahuasca-induced personal death experiences have a notable impact on individuals’ outlooks on death, life, and the environment. The prevalence and transformative nature of these experiences call for further exploration into their therapeutic potential and the role of psychedelics in psychological well-being and environmental awareness.



  • Jonathan David et al. “Ayahuasca-induced personal death experiences: prevalence, characteristics, and impact on attitudes toward death, life, and the environment.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, December 19, 2023. 

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