A Phenomenologically Grounded Ethnographic Study of the Life-World of Ecstasy Users

Sean Leneghan


Abstract: This is a phenomenologically grounded ethnographic study of the life-world of ecstasy users in the socio-cultural contexts of raving and clubs in Sydney, Australia. The thesis espouses existential-phenomenology as a framework for describing and understanding these experiences. I argue against and reject the widespread mechanistic-materialist paradigms that inform biomedical and biopsychological interpretations of drug use and non-ordinary states of consciousness. As an alternative, I draw on a holistic organismic approach and the application of phenomenology to ethnographic field research. Through this endeavour I also argue for a phenomenological foundation of the study of drug-use and non-ordinary states of consciousness in general.

As an alternative to these dominant reductionist perspectives I draw on a holistic organismic approach and the application of phenomenology to ethnographic field research. More specifically, my exploration of the experiences of ecstasy is based upon a dialogal phenomenology which enabled me to generate a processual morphology of the varieties of ecstasy experience and the users’ mode of being-in-the-world. Through this endeavour I also argue for a phenomenological foundation of the study of drug-use and non-ordinary states of consciousness in general. Read more in the book, The Varieties of Ecstasy Experience

Dr. Sean Leneghan completed a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Sydney in 2011. He continues to work and write on drug use, altered states of consciousness and establishing clinical trails with ecstasy in Australia.


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