“Magic mushrooms” can cause durable changes in personality
A group of researchers, led by Dr. Roland Griffiths at John Hopkins University, are undertaking serious studies on a psychoactive substance called psilocybin, found in several species of “magic mushrooms”. Researchers believe the effects of experiences with psilocybin have potential to cause positive and durable changes in personality, creativity, sensibility and values.
Excerpt of an interview with Dr. Griffiths. Source: Youtube
A study was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology stating that a positive change in personality is possible even after only one dose of psilocybin in a supervised therapeutic environment. Changes were detected in 61% of 36 volunteers who participated in the study and never had an experience with psilocybin before. They were measured using a scientifically validated methodology. Personality surveys were applied one or two months after the experience and also after 14 months after the experience. Even more than one year later, several people considered the experience greatly significant, suggesting that the changes in personality can be permanent.
Dr. Griffiths points out that some of the volunteers reported feelings like fear or anxiety on some of the sessions, since the hallucinogenic effect can last several hours. But none of them had severe negative symptoms. Griffiths states that negative effects can be more intense when the hallucinogen is used without supervision.
The study points out that personality change was observed more often in people who reported mystical experiences, or a sense of connection with the whole, while using the substance. Almost all participants considered themselves spiritually active. More than half of them had postgraduate diplomas and all could be considered psychologically healthy.
Griffiths believes psilocybin can have therapeutic utility. He is currently studying the possibility of using the hallucinogen to help cancer patients cope with anxiety and depression after diagnosis, and smokers to quit.
It is not easy to conduct research with psychedelic drugs. After banned in the late 1960s, as a result of public policy to combat psychotropic substances, they only became possible due to prestige, talent and persistence of scientists like Dr. Griffiths, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at John Hopkins University for more than 35 years.
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