Not such a fun guy? Single dose of hallucinogenic mushrooms ‘may alter personality forever’
By ROB WAUGH
Perhaps a new academic study might help explain some of the weirder outfits worn at raves and rock festivals.
A single (high) dose of so-called ‘magic’ mushrooms was found to change people’s personalities, not for a few hours, but for at least a year – making people more ‘open’, said researchers.
The personality disruptions were so intense they were equivalent to the slow changes that occur in people over entire decades – and the researchers found that even after terrifying drug trips, the changes were the same.
Hallucinogenic fungi containing psilocybin can change your personality ‘forever’ according to a new study – effects were measurable a year after consuming them
A single high dose of the hallucinogen psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called ‘magic mushrooms’ – which grow wild in the UK and parts of the US, as well as countries such as Mexico and Thailand – was enough to bring about a measurable personality change lasting at least a year in nearly 60 percent of the people.
Study leader Roland R. Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said that so many of the study participants still exhibited changes after a year the changes were ‘likely to be permanent.’
The study participants completed two to five eight-hour drug sessions – where they were encouraged to ‘focus’ on the drug experience.
During each session, participants were encouraged to lie down on a couch, use an eye mask to block external visual distraction, listen to music and focus their attention on their inner experiences.
‘Psychedelic’ mushrooms were found to have a lasting effect on people’s personalities – making them more ‘open’. This could be used in future drug treatments for depression
‘Lasting change was found in the part of the personality known as openness, which includes traits related to imagination, aesthetics, feelings, abstract ideas and general broad-mindedness. The changes were bigger than what one might normally expect to occur over decades.
Writers such as Carlos Castaneda experimented with the drug – and the controversial Sixties figure Dr Timothy Leary famously launched the Harvard Psilocybin Project to study their effects.
Dr Timothy Leary Phd attempted to set up an institute to study the effects of psilocybin mushrooms
Researchers in the field say that after the age of 30, personality doesn’t usually change significantly.
‘Normally, if anything, openness tends to decrease as people get older,’ says study leader Roland R. Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The research, approved by Johns Hopkins’ Institutional Review Board, was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Griffiths says he believes the personality changes found in this study are likely permanent since they were sustained for over a year by many – and speculated that controlled use of the substance could lead to treatments for the depression suffered by cancer patients. He also speculated that the drug could help people give up smoking.
Nearly all of the participants in the new study considered themselves spiritually active (participating regularly in religious services, prayer or meditation). More than half had postgraduate degrees. Volunteers were considered to be psychologically healthy.
‘We don’t know whether the findings can be generalized to the larger population,’ Griffiths says.
Griffiths also notes that some of the study participants reported strong fear or anxiety. He cautions, however, that if hallucinogens are used in less well supervised settings, the possible fear or anxiety responses could lead to harmful behaviors.