“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.

Sources and further information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin

‘Magic Mushrooms’ Can Improve Psychological Health Long Term

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-006-0457-5

http://jop.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/09/28/0269881111420188.abstract

http://jop.sagepub.com/content/early/2008/07/01/0269881108094300.short

Mushrooms and Mystical Experience, Dr Roland Griffiths interview (excerpt)


6 Responses to ““Magic mushrooms” can cause durable changes in personality”

  1. Tane Hunter says:

    Hey Tulio,
    Great post! The idea that some illicit drugs (such as MDMA, marijuana, and mushrooms) could have therapeutic effects definitely gets controversy going…but there is a lot of evidence to support it. Just curious, have you completed any self-induced scientific experiments in regards to mushrooms?
    Cheers,
    Tane

  2. Broni says:

    Well, I daresay this research is in early days yet, but results seem very encouraging. There were some very encouraging results in the use of psylocybin in the treatment of depression in a pilot study in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, I think because of drug interactions, there may be some time before such things would be made available to the public. I have a greater concern in the fact that depressive and mental illness is rising dramatically, and this (according to WHO) is a worldwide trend. My personal view, and one that is substantiated by considerable clinical experience, is that, unliess we experience some paradygm shifts in society values, we will only be able to improve symptoms, rather than causses, for patients.

  3. Tulio Campos says:

    @Rodrigo: Thanks, Rodrigo! In my opinion, true science and scientists should seek the truth in everything.

    @Renata: Thank you very much, Renata. I had a look around and there are other scientists looking at Psilocybin with this approach. I believe it is possible that this substance can be used to treat several psychological problems. Have a look at this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jan/23/magic-mushrooms-psilocybin-depression-drug

    @Marco: Cheers, Marco! Yes, several psycho-active substances have shown great potential to treat diseases, not only Psilocybin. These regulations are relatively new and unfortunately have limited scientific experiments that could improve human life and our understanding of mental disorders. But of course there are many factors to consider.

  4. Marco Papageorgiou says:

    Hey Tulio, great post!
    There are benefits with exploiting these drugs to combat some common disorders, like you have mentioned.
    Medical Marijuana is also another ‘potential’ drug that has several therapuetic outcomes in patients with cancer, HIV and depression for example.
    Unfortunately it comes down to regulating these drugs which i guess can be difficult in todays society.

  5. Renata Lins says:

    Congratulations on your initiative. I am very happy with the new possibilities and that natural sources are useful for combating diseases. I admire your talent and opened eyes to the world’s problems.

    Not giving less importance to cancer, is there a possibility of creating a psychotropic drug with psilocybin for people with depression, panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder?

  6. Rodrigo says:

    Greetings and Great!

    Articles like this are ESSENTIAL! Science often omits great results because of traditional social pressures….CONGRATULATIONS!