The Shadow Side of Ourselves -- and Psychedelics

Most of us wear masks at some point during our lives... sometimes we know we are doing it and sometimes we don't, but the one common theme is that the mask helps us hide the darker side of ourselves -- the part that has been hurt, the part that carries shame, the part that harbors anger, the part that conceals guilt and trauma, the part that includes fear.

This dark side is also called the shadow self, and it's something we try very hard to push down deeply inside ourselves... to repress at all costs. Who wants to relive past traumas -- so we repress them -- and bury them so deeply that many are forgotten by the conscious mind. Everything negative and shameful becomes part of the shadow. Addictions, low self-esteem, and mental illness are often associated with a strong shadow self.

Dealing with the shadow self -- discovering the past traumas and learning how to deal with them -- can lead to a much happier, healthier, and more successful life. Talk therapy is one method of dealing with the shadow self, but increasingly, psychedelics are being seen as a more effective and efficient tool for unmasking and healing -- as long as those psychedelics are followed by intensive integration.

But we also need to be careful... psychedelic medicines can lead to great discoveries about ourselves and the healing of our shadow selves, but in some rare instances, psychedelics can actually lead to empowering our shadow selves and actually enhancing and boosting our egos and the negative side of ourselves.

Psychedelics and Ego Death/Dissolution

At higher dosages, these psychedelic medicines (such as LSD, ayahuasca, psilocybin, DMT, mescaline) can lead to a splitting of the mind and body -- even a sense of the soul leaving the body behind while on a journey -- leading to what experts refer to as ego dissolution, ego loss, or even ego death. The loss of ego results in a better understanding of where we fit into the universe, a stronger sense of self, more positive feelings, and a more encouraging outlook on life -- and death.

My own anecdotal experience with ego death came with a high-dosage journey on psilocybin when I had an intention of surrendering to the experience and having the mushrooms show me what I needed to know... the effects were powerful; I felt physically lighter, as if gravity had been reduced; everything around me was distorted and seemed much larger than life -- while my 6' 4" frame felt tiny. I realized how small we all are in the grand scheme of things and how so little of these ego-gratifying things don't really matter. There was -- and is -- an overwhelming sense of peace.

Psychedelics and Ego Expansion

There's a joke that we need to get all our political leaders to take psychedelics so that their egos can be dissolved and they can actually come together and work on solving the country's problems. The only problem with this theory is the shadow side of ourselves and the portals that psychedelics opens within us.

Dr. Clancy Cavnar, writing on (the Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines) states how psychedelics can increase ego: "the ego reinforced by witnessing its own glory, believing it has a dominant role to play in the unfolding drama, that can become full of certainty to the point of arrogance. The hungry ego, once fed, becomes ravenous and marvels at itself."

Final Thoughts on Psychedelics, Ego, and the Shadow Self

We are all victims; we all have past traumas. Some of us are just better at handling those past bad experiences -- burying them deeply into our shadow selves. But that pain, hurt, anger, rage still stays within us -- limiting our ability to love and live our best lives.

Psychedelic medicines are proving to be an amazing tool for helping people face their shadow selves and move beyond those traumas and negative feelings. Along the way, psychedelics can also help dissolve our egos -- and help us better understand ourselves and where and how we fit into the world. But, for some who are unwilling to face their shadow selves, psychedelics can actually enhance their egos.

It comes down to intention and integration. We have to have the intent to heal from our past and we have to have the commitment to do the work necessary to integrate our psychedelic experience into changing our lives for the better.

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Additional Resources Related to Psychedelics, the Shadow Side, and Ego Death

Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.