Dissertation Title:

The Efficacy of Relationality in a Psychedelic Community Healing Ritual: A Research-as-Ceremony Inquiry


Noah Kramer

Date, Time & Place:

April 15, 2022 at 10:00 am


Relational ontologies have been prioritized within the discourses of community, liberation, eco, and indigenous psychologies. How do relational ways of knowing and being come to be felt within the context of Euro-American modernity? This qualitative research study explored whether a relational-participatory form of communal psychedelic healing ceremony, as practiced by an intergenerational Washington D.C. community, could support the emergence of ontologically relational forms of self-experience and knowledge. It investigated why participants considered their practice healing and whether access to ritual relationality, vis-à-vis felt or experienced meaning, informed that perceived efficacy. This was accomplished by collaborating with co-participants, using a research-as-ceremony approach, to describe the nature of the healing dynamics they experienced within their ceremony and examine the role of ontologically relational perception in their accounts. Drawing on new materialisms, affect theories, and indigenous research methodologies, this study understood meaning and meaning-making as intrinsically creative, affective, and dynamically enacted world-making activities at the center of experienced relationality—understandings the investigated practice appeared well suited to support. Furthermore, as both the study and informed use of psychedelic medicines become part of the North American mainstream, it is important to consider modalities that are neither based solely on psychiatric medical models, which may subtly perpetuate individualized paradigms of illness and healing, nor are blunt appropriations of indigenous spiritualities that do not address the psychological context of Western practitioners. This research explored one alternative approach, which attempts to generate authentic and culturally appropriate ritual knowledges within urban North America.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Community Liberation Ecopsychology, P, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Helene Lorenz
  • Reader: Dr. Bayo Akomolafe
  • External Reader: Dr. Gabrielle Agin-Liebes
  • Keywords: Psychedelic Ceremony, Ritual, Community Healing, Relational Ontologies, Meaning-making, Affect, Feeling, Relationality