Evolutionary Considerations on the Emerging Subculture of the E-psychonauts and the Novel Psychoactive Substances: A Comeback to the Shamanism?

Laura Orsolini, Paul St John-Smith, Daniel McQueen, Duccio Papanti, John Corkery, Fabrizio Schifano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Evolutionary research on drug abuse has hitherto been restricted to proximate studies, considering aetiology, mechanism, and ontogeny. However, in order to explain the recent emergency of a new behavioral pattern (e.g. 'the e-psychonaut style') of novel psychoactive substances' (NPS) intake, a complementary evolutionary model may be needed.

OBJECTIVE: A range of evolutionary interpretations on the 'psychonaut style' and the recent emergency of NPS were here considered.

METHOD: The PubMed database was searched in order to elicit evolutionary theory-based documents commenting on NPS/NPS users/e-psychonauts.

RESULTS: The traditional 'shamanic style' use of entheogens/plant-derived compounds may present with a range of similarities with the 'e-psychonauts' use of mostly of hallucinogen/psychedelic NPS. These users consider themselves as 'new/technological' shamans.

CONCLUSION: Indeed, a range of evolutionary mechanisms, such as: optimal foraging, costly signaling, and reproduction at the expense of health may all cooperate to explain the recent spread and diffusion of the NPS market, and this may represent a reason of concern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-737
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Neuropharmacology
Volume15
Issue number5
Early online date12 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017

Keywords

  • evolutionary models
  • Novel Psychoactive Substances
  • NPS
  • entheogens
  • psychonauts
  • shamanism
  • evolution
  • psychiatry

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