Self-Entropic Broadening Theory: Toward a New Understanding of Self and Behavior Change Informed by Psychedelics and Psychosis

Academic Article


  • The extremes of human experiences, such as those occasioned by classic psychedelics and psycho-sis, provide a rich contrast for understanding how com-ponents of these experiences impact well-being. In recent years, research has suggested that classic psychedelics display the potential to promote positive enduring psy-chologic and behavioral changes in clinical and nonclini-cal populations. Paradoxically, classic psychedelics have been described as psychotomimetics. This review offers a putative solution to this paradox by providing a theory of how classic psychedelics often facilitate persistent increases in well-being, whereas psychosis leads down a “darker” path. This will be done by providing an overview of the overlap between the states (i.e., entropic proc-essing) and their core differences (i.e., self-focus). In brief, entropic processing can be defined as an enhanced over-all attentional scope and decreased predictability in processing stimuli facilitating a hyperassociative style of thinking. However, the outcomes of entropic states vary depending on level of self-focus, or the degree to which the associations and information being processed are evaluated in a self-referential manner. We also describe potential points of overlap with less extreme experi-ences, such as creative thinking and positive emotion-in-duction. Self-entropic broadening theory offers a heuristically valuable perspective on classic psychedelics and their lasting effects and relation to other states by creating a novel synthesis of contemporary theories in psychology. Significance Statement——Self-entropic broadening theory provides a novel theory examining the psyche-delic-psychotomimetic paradox, or how classic psychedelics can be therapeutic, yet mimic symptoms of psychosis. It also posits a framework for understanding the transdiagnostic applicability of classic psyche-delics. We hope this model invigorates the field to provide more rigorous comparisons between classic psychedelic-induced states and psychosis and further examinations of how classic psychedelics facilitate long-term change. As a more psychedelic future of psychiatry appears imminent, a model that addresses these long-standing questions is crucial.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Dourron HM; Strauss C; Hendricks PS
  • Start Page

  • 984
  • End Page

  • 1029
  • Volume

  • 74
  • Issue

  • 4