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Subproject C8

Ritual Dynamics and Salutogenesis in the Use and Abuse of Psychoactive Substances

Department and Research Field: Medical Psychology, Youth Research, Drug Research, Prevention Research, Social and Developmental Psychology

Subproject Management

Prof. Dr. med., Dipl. Psych. Rolf Verres
Dr. Henrik Jungaberle
Institute of Medical Psychology
University Hospitals Heidelberg
Bergheimer Str. 20
69115 Heidelberg

Phone:  +49 (0) 6221 - 56 81 50
Fax: +49 (0) 6221 - 56 53 03

>> Website Subproject C8 (German)


Dr. Dipl. Psych. Jan Weinhold
From Oct. 01. 2002 till June 30. 2009 in the subproject C8, since July 01, 2009 in the subproject C11!


Beatriz Labete

resigned Oct. 15, 2011


Dipl.-Psych. Christina Wippermann

Dipl.-Psych. Jens Ullrich 

resigned Jan. 31, 2012

Prof. Dr. Fletcher DuBois

Project Program

In summer 2002, we designed a prospective longitudinal research project to collect data over a ten-year period. The focus of this subproject is to investigate the origin and the dynamics of ritualizations in the use of legal and illegal psychoactive substances and their significance to Developmental Psychology.


In addition to 320 students, whose biographic development is being monitored by methodologically integrative means, we are examining a random sample of 50 adults drawn from heterogeneous subcultural contexts in longitudinal section.


These contexts represent examples of ritual transfer, invention and transformation in the field of a globalized economy of drugs and rituals. They allow the comparative analysis of the complete spectrum between rudimentary and complex ritualization in the consumption of drugs. In addition to people who belong to a party scene, we have chosen participants of groups that are geared to religious examples (the Peyote religion, Ayahuasca shamanism, or European Santo Daime churches).

The study combines participatory observation and subject-oriented psychological methods to collect both quantitative and qualitative data.

In the second project phase, the aspects retraditionalization and syncretistic adaptation styles will complement our central set of questions about risk and protection factors of ritualizations.  Videographic data will play a central part in the analysis of the participatory observation.

Based on the already developed dimensional matrix (DIMAX), we will expand the systematization of field observation as a socio-scientific method.

Main Topics

Contrastive description of ritualizations developed in drug consumption


Evaluation of the protective and risk-reducing potential of rituals (best practice), viz. evaluation of effectiveness based on random samples

Investigation of ritual transfer and invention of rituals and their stability


Comparative biographical analysis of drug consumption patterns in different generations in modern and retraditionalization contexts (e.g. subculture vs. Santo Daime church, research participants aged between 20 and 65 years). Description of ritual competence acquisition (learning during and through the ritual)