Phenomenology and Content of the Inhaled N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (N, N-DMT) Experience

This study (2022) analysed 3,778 DMT experiences posted on the r/DMT Reddit to better understand the phenomenology of the DMT experience. Common themes that were identified include physical and somatic experiences, content of visualizations and imagery, entity encounters, structural characteristics, scenery of the “DMT world, emotional responses, and more.


Background: Understanding the phenomenology and content of the inhaled N, N, dimethyltryptamine (N, N-DMT) experience is critical to facilitate and support ongoing research and therapeutic models targeting mental health conditions and central nervous system pathology.

Methods: Qualitative analysis of all N, N-DMT experiences posted to the r/DMT Reddit community over a 10-year period from 2009-2018.

Results: A total of 3778 experiences from 3305 posts were included in this study. A median dose of N, N-DMT of 40.0 mg [interquartile range (IQR), 27.5 to 50.0] and a median experience duration of 10 minutes (IQR, 5.0 to 15.0) were identified. The most common somatic effects were somaesthesia (n=1415, 37.5%) and an auditory ringing (n=583, 15.4%). Visualizations predominantly consisted of fractals, shapes, patterns (n=1231, 32.5%) and vivid colours (n=953, 25.2%). Entity encounters occurred in 45.5% (n=1719) of the experiences and involved predominantly a feminine phenotype (n=416, 24.2%); aliens (n=281, 16.3%); deities (n=238, 13.8%); creature-based entities (n=158, 9.2%, including reptilian and insectoid beings); mythological beings (n=138, 8.0%, including machine elves); and jesters (n=112, 6.5%). Entity interactions were predominantly positive (n=600, 34.9% of encounters) involving benevolent, comforting, protecting, or outwardly caring interactions. A companion-type, pedagogical, or guide-type interaction was identified 32.4% of encounters (n=557). Common typology, architectural, and structural features of the “DMT world” were descriptions of alternate or higher dimensions (n=952, 25.2%); room(s) [n=582, 15.4%, including the “waiting room” (n=105, 2.8%)], and a tunnel (n=390, 10.3%). Features of mystical and ego-dissolution experiences were common and additional rewarding aspects were reported, including familiarity and acceptance/removal of the fear of death. Challenging and difficult responses were less frequent but also documented. Statements of profundity were identified in 232 experiences (6.1%), including pronouncing the experience or an aspect of the experience as the most “beautiful” or feeling the most “beautiful” of their life (n=47, 1.2%).

Conclusion: This study identified common phenomenological themes and content of naturalistic inhaled N, N-DMT experiences. Major thematic domains included (1) physical and somatic experiences; (2) content of visualizations and imagery; (3) entity encounters including entity phenotype, descriptors, attributes, disposition, and characteristics of the interaction; (4) typology, architectural features, structural characteristics, and scenery of the “DMT world”; (5) emotional responses (including positive, rewarding, difficult, and challenging); and (6) statements of profundity.”

Authors: David W. Lawrence, Robin Carhart-Harris, Roland Griffiths & Christopher Timmerman

Study details

Compounds studied

Topics studied

Study characteristics

3778 Humans


Authors associated with this publication with profiles on Blossom

Robin Carhart-Harris
Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris is the Founding Director of the Neuroscape Psychedelics Division at UCSF. Previously he led the Psychedelic group at Imperial College London.

Chris Timmermann
Chris Timmerman is a postdoc at Imperial College London. His research is mostly focussed on DMT.

Roland Griffiths
Roland R. Griffiths is one of the strongest voices in psychedelics research. With over 400 journal articles under his belt and as one of the first researchers in the psychedelics renaissance, he has been a vital part of the research community.

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