Psychedelics and Attachment Styles: Exploring the Intersection of Mind and Relationships


As our understanding of mental health and therapeutic interventions continues to evolve, the integration of psychedelic substances into psychotherapy has emerged as a promising avenue for healing and personal growth. One fascinating area of exploration in this field is the interplay between psychedelics and attachment styles, shedding light on how these powerful substances may impact our relationships and emotional well-being.


Understanding Attachment Styles

Attachment theory, developed by British psychologist John Bowlby, posits that our early relationships with caregivers shape our attachment styles, which in turn influence our adult relationships. There are four main attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized.

  • Secure attachment: Individuals with a secure attachment style feel safe, supported, and comfortable in their relationships. They have a positive view of themselves and others, and they trust that their needs will be met.

  • Anxious attachment: People with an anxious attachment style tend to worry about their relationships and fear rejection. They often seek reassurance and validation from their partners and may become clingy or overly dependent.

  • Avoidant attachment: Individuals with an avoidant attachment style value independence and self-reliance. They may avoid emotional intimacy and struggle with commitment, often maintaining emotional distance in relationships.

  • Disorganized attachment: This attachment style is characterized by conflicting behaviours and emotions. People with a disorganized attachment style may exhibit both anxious and avoidant tendencies, often due to past trauma or unresolved issues.

The Potential Impact of Psychedelics on Attachment Styles

Psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin (found in “magic mushrooms”) and MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy), have shown promise in therapeutic settings for treating a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. These substances can induce altered states of consciousness, leading to profound experiences that may have lasting effects on one’s perception of self and others.

Research suggests that psychedelic-assisted therapy may have the potential to positively impact attachment styles. For individuals with insecure attachment styles, the integration of psychedelics into therapy could prove transformative, potentially shifting them towards a more secure attachment pattern. This is significant because attachment styles are generally considered stable over time, with limited opportunities for change.


Exploring the Science: Psychedelics and Attachment Theory

Numerous researchers have begun to explore the relationship between psychedelics and attachment styles, seeking to understand how these substances may influence our emotional bonds and relational patterns. One such study conducted by Stauffer et al. (2020) focused on psilocybin-assisted group therapy and its potential impact on attachment insecurity.

The study involved older, gay-identified long-term AIDS survivors, a population known to have higher rates of attachment insecurity due to past trauma and societal stigma. Participants underwent a preparatory phase of group sessions followed by an individual psilocybin session and subsequent integrative group therapy sessions.

The researchers measured attachment security using the Experiences in Close Relationships scale and assessed the participants’ psilocybin experiences using the Mystical Experience Questionnaire and the Challenging Experience Questionnaire. The results revealed interesting findings regarding the effects of psilocybin on attachment insecurity.


Anxiously Attached Individuals and Mystical-Type Experiences

Anxiously attached individuals, who tend to long for closeness and connection, showed a pronounced proclivity for mystical-type experiences during the psilocybin sessions. These experiences, characterized by a profound sense of interconnectedness and unity, have the potential to alleviate attachment anxiety and foster a greater sense of security in relationships.

The researchers hypothesized that anxiously attached individuals, driven by their desire for closeness, may be more open to and accepting of experiences that reinforce their need for connection. The transformative power of mystical experiences may help them develop a more secure attachment style, reducing their reliance on external validation and reassurance.


Avoidantly Attached Individuals and Challenging Experiences

On the other hand, avoidantly attached individuals, who value independence and self-sufficiency, showed a propensity for challenging experiences during the psilocybin sessions. These experiences often involve confronting difficult emotions and facing unresolved issues.

The researchers suggested that avoidantly attached individuals, accustomed to maintaining emotional distance, may benefit from the challenging nature of the psychedelic experience. By confronting and working through their emotional barriers, these individuals may have the opportunity to develop a more secure attachment style, fostering deeper emotional connections in their relationships.


The Therapeutic Potential of Psychedelics and Attachment Styles

The findings from studies like Stauffer et al.’s highlight the potential therapeutic value of incorporating psychedelics into attachment-based interventions. By creating a supportive and controlled environment, therapists can guide patients through transformative experiences that may reshape their attachment patterns.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy provides a unique opportunity for individuals to explore their attachment styles, heal past wounds, and develop more secure and fulfilling relationships. The altered states of consciousness induced by psychedelics can facilitate deep introspection, emotional breakthroughs, and a heightened sense of empathy and connectedness.


Integration and Long-Term Benefits

Integrating the insights gained from psychedelic experiences into one’s daily life is a crucial aspect of the therapeutic process. This integration may involve reflecting on and making meaning of the psychedelic journey, exploring how it has influenced one’s attachment style, and consciously applying the newfound insights and perspectives to relationships and self-care practices.

Long-term benefits may include greater emotional resilience, improved communication, enhanced empathy, and a greater capacity for vulnerability and intimacy. By addressing attachment insecurities through psychedelic-assisted therapy, individuals may experience significant personal growth and lasting positive changes in their relationships.


The Importance of Professional Guidance and Support

It is important to note that psychedelic experiences can be intense and potentially challenging. Therefore, engaging in psychedelic therapy should always be done under the guidance of trained professionals in a safe and supportive environment. These professionals can provide the necessary expertise, support, and integration strategies to ensure a meaningful and transformative experience.

For professional support and guidance see more here. 


Future Directions and Implications

As the field of psychedelic therapy continues to evolve, further research is needed to better understand the specific mechanisms through which psychedelics impact attachment styles. Additionally, exploring how attachment styles influence the therapeutic process itself can provide valuable insights for therapists and researchers working in this field.

Furthermore, considering the cultural and societal contexts in which attachment styles develop and are expressed can enhance our understanding of the interplay between psychedelics, attachment, and personal transformation. This consideration can lead to the development of more culturally competent therapeutic approaches that address the unique needs and experiences of diverse individuals and communities. To learn more, check out the online course.



The intersection of psychedelics and attachment styles presents an exciting frontier in the field of mental health and psychotherapy. Through carefully guided and supported experiences, individuals with insecure attachment styles may have the opportunity to cultivate greater security and resilience, leading to more fulfilling and satisfying relationships.

As research progresses and our understanding deepens, the integration of psychedelics into attachment-based interventions has the potential to revolutionize how we approach and treat attachment-related challenges. With professional guidance and support, individuals can embark on a transformative journey towards greater emotional well-being and connection.

[Additional Information: It is important to acknowledge that psychedelic substances are still largely illegal in many countries and their therapeutic use is restricted to clinical trials and research settings. It is essential to stay informed about the legal and ethical considerations surrounding psychedelic-assisted therapy in your jurisdiction and to seek professional guidance from qualified therapists and researchers.]


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