Rationale and objectives
Differences among psychedelic substances regarding their subjective experiences are clinically and scientifically interesting. Quantitative linguistic analysis is a powerful tool to examine such differences. This study compared five psychedelic substance report groups and a non-psychedelic report group on quantitative linguistic markers of psychological states and processes derived from recreational use-based online experience reports.
Using 2947 publicly available online reports, we compared Ayahuasca and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT, analyzed together), ketamine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin (mushroom), and antidepressant drug use experiences. We examined word frequencies related to various psychological states and processes and semantic proximity to psychedelic and mystical experience scales.
Linguistic markers of psychological function indicated distinct effect profiles. For example, MDMA experience reports featured an emotionally intensifying profile accompanied by many cognitive process words and dynamic-personal language. In contrast, Ayahuasca and DMT experience reports involved relatively little emotional language, few cognitive process words, increased analytical thinking-associated language, and the most semantic similarity with psychedelic and mystical experience descriptions. LSD, psilocybin mushroom, and ketamine reports showed only small differences on the emotion-, analytical thinking-, psychedelic, and mystical experience-related language outcomes. Antidepressant reports featured more negative emotional and cognitive process-related words, fewer positive emotional and analytical thinking-related words, and were generally not similar to mystical and psychedelic language.
This article addresses an existing research gap regarding the comparison of different psychedelic drugs on linguistic profiles of psychological states, processes, and experiences. The large sample of experience reports involving multiple psychedelic drugs provides valuable information that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. The results could inform experimental research into psychedelic drug effects in healthy populations and clinical trials for psychedelic treatments of psychiatric problems.