If the alien abductees are to be believed, there’s a race of insectoid beings with a passion for anal exploration, who should by now have a pretty solid grasp of the human bowel. Naturally, such cliched reports of close encounters tend to be written off as hallucinatory nonsense, despite the fact that those making the claims often insist on their authenticity. According to a new study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, these odd confrontations with otherworldly creatures may have a rational explanation after all, thanks to a psychedelic compound called N, N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT.
Famously found in the Amazonian brew ayahuasca, DMT is an extremely potent psychoactive molecule that generates an intense yet short-lived trip when smoked. Intriguingly, it is also thought to be produced within the human brain, although its function is not properly understood.
One of the leading theories states that the brain releases DMT in order to protect neurons when oxygen levels become dangerously low, leading to suggestions that this may cause stereotypical near-death experiences such as seeing a bright light or encountering spiritual beings. Some have even posited that alien abduction delusions may also stem from this mind-bending molecule.
Intriguingly, similar meetings with strange entities are often reported by people who smoke DMT, with certain archetypal creatures appearing with striking regularity. This phenomenon was first pointed out by the famed psychedelic explorer Terrence McKenna, who wrote about his encounters with “machine elves” during his DMT trips. Since then, numerous other people have claimed to have met these very same beings after taking the drug, while other common DMT entities recorded in the academic literature include “praying mantis alien brain surgeons and jewel-encrusted reptilian beings.”
To learn more about these strange apparitions, the study authors conducted an online survey of 2,561 people who claimed to have encountered an entity while on DMT. Of these, 95 percent said that they believed these entities to be “conscious and intelligent”, while three-quarters remained convinced that these beings really existed even after the effects of the drug had worn off. As a consequence, 80 percent said that this experience fundamentally altered their perception of reality.
Digging deeper, the researchers learned that most people were able to communicate telepathically with these entities, and predominantly experienced positive emotions such as joy and love. “Respondents attributed to the experience persisting positive changes in subjective well-being and life satisfaction, life purpose and meaning, social relationships, attitudes about life and self, mood, behavior, spirituality, and attitudes about death,” write the authors.
After collating these trip reports, the team then examined other studies involving non-DMT users who claimed to have been abducted by aliens or had a spiritual encounter. Their analysis revealed that “[DMT]-occasioned entity encounter experiences have many similarities to non-drug entity encounter experiences such as those described in religious, alien abduction, and near-death contexts.”
For instance, in addition to the attributes described above, some two-thirds of respondents reported receiving some sort of message or prediction about the future – something which is also commonly reported by alien abductees or people who claim to have had a religious experience.
The nature of these messages varied greatly, with one person being informed by a DMT entity that they were going to die on June 27, 2067.
Others, meanwhile, conversed with their DMT entities about more prosaic matters, including one respondent who described an encounter with a mystical being who “was teaching me the rules/regulations of the NFL.”
While the researchers don’t go as far as to name DMT as the cause of alien encounters and near-death experiences, their findings do at least provide some rationale for this argument.