What a Terror Attack in Israel Might Reveal About Psychedelics and Trauma


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One Israeli said that being high on LSD during the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 prompted a spiritual revelation that helped him escape the carnage at a desert rave. Another is certain the drug MDMA made him more decisive and gave him the strength to carry his girlfriend as they fled the scene. A third said that experiencing the assault during a psychedelic trip has helped him more fully process the trauma.

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Some 4,000 revelers gathered on the night of Oct. 6 at a field in southern Israel, mere miles from the Gaza border, for the Tribe of Nova music festival. At dawn, thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed Israel’s defenses under the cover of a rocket barrage.

About 1,200 people were killed that day, the deadliest in Israeli history according to the Israeli authorities, including 360 at the rave alone. Many of the ravers were under the influence of mind-altering substances like LSD, MDMA and ketamine as they witnessed the carnage or fled for their lives.

For a group of Israeli researchers at the University of Haifa, the attack has created a rare opportunity to study the intersection of trauma and psychedelics, a field that has drawn increased interest from scientists in recent years.

The survivors of the Nova festival present a case study that would be impossible to replicate in a lab: a large group of people who endured trauma while under the influence of substances that render the brain more receptive and malleable.

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