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Press Release
Single dose of hallucinogen may create lasting personality change
Thursday, September 29, 2011


Mushroom Man image Courtesy of Shutterstock

Psilocybn

A single high dose of the hallucinogen psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called "magic mushrooms," was enough to bring about a measureable personality change lasting at least a year in nearly 60 percent of the 51 participants in a new study, according to the Johns Hopkins researchers who conducted it.

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. Changes in these traits, measured on a widely used and scientifically validated personality inventory, were larger in magnitude than changes typically observed in healthy adults over decades of life experiences, the scientists say. 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 funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

The study participants completed two to five eight-hour drug sessions, with consecutive sessions separated by at least three weeks. Participants were informed they would receive a "moderate or high dose" of psilocybin during one of their drug sessions, but neither they nor the session monitors knew when.

During each session, participants were encouraged to lie down on a couch, use an eye mask to block external visual distraction, wear headphones through which music was played and focus their attention on their inner experiences.

Personality was assessed at screening, one to two months after each drug session and approximately 14 months after the last drug session. Griffiths says he believes the personality changes found in this study are likely permanent since they were sustained for over a year by many.

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. The sessions with the otherwise illegal hallucinogen were closely monitored and volunteers were considered to be psychologically healthy

"We don't know whether the findings can be generalized to the larger population," Griffiths says.

As a word of caution, Griffiths also notes that some of the study participants reported strong fear or anxiety for a portion of their daylong psilocybin sessions, although none reported any lingering harmful effects. He cautions, however, that if hallucinogens are used in less well supervised settings, the possible fear or anxiety responses could lead to harmful behaviors.

Griffiths says lasting personality change is rarely looked at as a function of a single discrete experience in the laboratory. In the study, the change occurred specifically in those volunteers who had undergone a "mystical experience," as validated on a questionnaire developed by early hallucinogen researchers and refined by Griffiths for use at Hopkins. He defines "mystical experience" as among other things, "a sense of interconnectedness with all people and things accompanied by a sense of sacredness and reverence."

Personality was measured on a widely used and scientifically validated personality inventory, which covers openness and the other four broad domains that psychologists consider the makeup of personality: neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Only openness changed during the course of the study.

Griffiths says he believes psilocybin may have therapeutic uses. He is currently studying whether the hallucinogen has a use in helping cancer patients handle the depression and anxiety that comes along with a diagnosis, and whether it can help longtime cigarette smokers overcome their addiction.

"There may be applications for this we can't even imagine at this point," he says. "It certainly deserves to be systematically studied."

###

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org



Thanks to Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.



This press release has been viewed 1576793 time(s).

Comments
Jake

Guest Comment
Thu, Sep 29, 2011, 5:42 pm CDT

HALLUCINOGENS MAY CREATE OPENMINDEDNESS!?! WHAT NEWS!!!!!

Anonymouse

Guest Comment
Thu, Sep 29, 2011, 6:33 pm CDT

How exactly does one sign up to volunteer for such experiments?

Voyager

Guest Comment
Fri, Sep 30, 2011, 6:27 pm CDT

Wow, my mind is blown right off of it's jar lid with this astute observation. Indubitabley so. In fact, I rate this up there with "Bong rips may induce relaxaing effects and minor lung damage".

THANKS SCIENCE :U

Hank

Guest Comment
Fri, Sep 30, 2011, 6:33 pm CDT

Ha, now there is something I NEVER would have guessed! And in other breaking news, water is reported to help wih thirst!

guest

Guest Comment
Fri, Sep 30, 2011, 7:16 pm CDT

Finally, there is research which is sponsored by a national drug association and is done without bias. Although it is true that an increase in any of the big five personality traits (OCEAN) I do think an increase in participants of openness and imagination is a positive thing.  

Jeremiah

Guest Comment
Sat, Oct 01, 2011, 4:02 am CDT

Anonymousesaid:

How exactly does one sign up to volunteer for such experiments?

 

I am wondering the exact same thing.

Jason Sanchez

Guest Comment
Sun, Oct 02, 2011, 2:29 am CDT

They should do a study on its effect on people with depression! specifically existential depression.

Viktor

Guest Comment
Sun, Oct 02, 2011, 8:35 pm CDT

This is why we need to get the leaders of the world to trip.  Things will change.



Guest Comment
Sun, Oct 02, 2011, 9:51 pm CDT

They should also study the effects of Ayahuasca.  I wonder how it would compare to this experiment...

Abbie

Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 03, 2011, 4:22 pm CDT

I smoked a bowl with Johnny Hopkins.

Ronni Copeland

Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 03, 2011, 6:44 pm CDT

I had a friend in high school that took mushrooms once and became severly withdrawn afterwards because of the halucinations he had. He ended up comitting suicide. Not all personality changes are good.

stella

Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 03, 2011, 6:51 pm CDT

Only so psychologically healthy people as druggies sign up for such experiments. So now the boffins are looking for drugs to brainwash the sheeple. Why don't they experiment on themselves?

Cara

Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 03, 2011, 8:38 pm CDT

As facinating as this is, and as little as I oppose to using recreational drugs for medicinal puroses, I cant help but think "Got a nicoteen addiction? Have some magic mushrooms!"

Cara

Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 03, 2011, 8:43 pm CDT

stellasaid:

Only so psychologically healthy people as druggies sign up for such experiments. So now the boffins are looking for drugs to brainwash the sheeple. Why don't they experiment on themselves?

You cant conduct a pycological study on yourself. It doesnt work that way. And no ones trying to "Control" Anyone, its just to a study, these people volunteered.

 

I also dont understand your first sentence, it makes no sense.

Cara

Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 03, 2011, 8:45 pm CDT

Hanksaid:

Ha, now there is something I NEVER would have guessed! And in other breaking news, water is reported to help wih thirst!

 

click my name for a funny site

 

 

It causes PERMENTANT PERSONALITY CHANGES? That actualy new and interesting!

Waffle Sullivan-Robertso

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 2:38 am CDT

Ronni Copelandsaid:

I had a friend in high school that took mushrooms once and became severly withdrawn afterwards because of the halucinations he had. He ended up comitting suicide. Not all personality changes are good.

Your friend most likely had some psycological issues, even if you weren't able to identify them. I disagree with people with mental health issues doing any drug, but the effects of illegal drugs would be much clearer if they were legal, and people would be more confident of asking doctors if it's safe for them to take the drug.  

Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 9:54 am CDT

The methodology of this study is suspect. 

Volunteers who knowingly sign up for a study of a drug they know or suspect to be mind-altering are not a representative sample of the range of normal personalities that exist in the general population.  They are likely to be risk takers, open to new experiences and impressionable.  Curiously, that list includes the variable that is supposed to have significantly changed - in the same direction. 

It is also noted that "nearly all" the subjects were actively "spiritual" - whatever that term actually means.  Such a high percentage of people who consider themselves "spiritual" does not occur naturally, even in a population as religious as the United States of America.  In other industrialized countries a population that was nearly all "spiritual" would be quite abnormal.  On this dimension, the U.S. is an aberrant outlier.  At the very least, this suggests that the psycho-social environment of life in the United States is a hidden and unacknowledged variable here.  Gullibility and openness to subjective change may be a function of the average American environment.  The already existing predisposition to this personality triat may have merely been enhanced by the titillating participation in an experiment with a substance that is illegal in that country. 

That factor alone indicates that the subjects are more likely than an average person, especially one educated in a more rational environment, to be open to mental suggestion and "openness" to new experiences.  The reactions from a bunch of skeptics, or even a sample culled from average residents of Sweden or Japan, would probably be quite different.   In other words, there is no guarentee that the results would be repeatable in other cultures or with people with other pre-exisiting personality types.

It was reported that more than half the subjects had "post graduate degrees".  These are presumably American level degrees which do not correspond to (the generally higher level of) same-name qualifications in other developed countries.  In the U.S. a "postgraduate degree" is not a good indication of intellectual competence or superiority, as evidenced by a recent President with a postgraduate degree from a prestigious American university who consistently demonstrated a level of mental competence that appeared lower than the national average, even for that country.  Degrees that are awarded for fact regurgitation rather than independent research, or on the basis of the ability to pay the tutition fees,  are not good indicators of critical thinking ability or of a person's resistence to social influence or suggestion.

It is hard to know whether it was the drug or the experimental experience that caused the apparent personality change.  There is nothing to indicate that it could not have been caused by the placebo effect of expecting the experience to be salient and mind-altering in some significant way.  There is also no way of determining the level of objectivity of a "personality test" that may have relied entirely on self-report and subjective interpretations.  

No negative effects were recorded. These are almost always apparent in large scale studies of drugs which are otherwise shown to have a generally useful effect on most people.  This is a strong indication that the results are incomplete, invalid or non-representative.  There may have been experiemental or reporting bias, a less than optimum sample size or a sample that is non-representative of the normal population (as I have already claimed.)

BTW, the experimenters appear to be psychiatrists (trained in medical science and psychological medicine), not psychologists (trained in behavioral sciences and psychometrics.)   If the study were designed and repeated by competent behavioral scientists (rather than mental health practitioners) it would be hoped that the study would be more methodologically sound.  The results of well-designed study could be very different. 

There is no mention, at least in this article, of the size of the effect.  Was it large enough to make a significant difference in the lives of the subjects?  Or was it merely an interesting trend?  What about the effects on the control group of subjects?  Was there a control group?  Were there a bunch of subjects with matching original personalities that were given another illegal mind-altering drug that could have been reasonably mistaken for the experimental one by a niave subject?  Were the subjects niave? 

Meanwhile, no-one has asked how the personalities of the researchers interacted with the personalities of their subjects and whether the experimenters also underwent a "personality change".   The phenomena of "false memory recall" is more widely applicable than an impressionable adult falsely believing that they were raped by a family member in their formative years. 

The sad thing about such studies is that readers without the statistical or research skills to assess the information will draw unwarranted conclusions about its significance or reliability.   Another unfortunate effect is that such studies attract research funding and grant money. 

Dan

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 12:41 pm CDT

To the above comment's author: I believe your tirade is quite misdirected.  True, many of your concerns would hold up if indeed the summary article on labspaces.net was the primary journal article.  However, you may find the actual article published by Dr. Griffiths in the most recent edition of Pyschopharmacology, entitled "Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects" (by the way is a very well established behavioral psychologist, you can see his CV here: http://www.bpru.org/bio/griffiths.html).  I would address some of your concerns specifically, but I believe many of your issues with the research will be laid to rest after your reading of the article.  I appreciate the unwillingness to accept a piece of evidence as fact without question, but I would caution you to gather just a bit more information before dismissing something as rubbish.   

Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 12:50 pm CDT

Thanks, Dan.  I will check out the original article.  Thank you for providing the link.

rich tread

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 1:16 pm CDT

You're right Rosemary, reports of studies regularly exaggerate the results, but they also leave out relevant controls and lines of argument - so your reaction to the research study itself may be premature. Did you read the actual study?

Also to disqualify the results based on the psychiatric background of the researchers is a weak argument. When you introduce psychoactive drugs into a research design, it is probably a good idea to have researchers very experienced with pharmaceutical/mind interactions. Furthermore, though I'm not sure, I imagine psychiactric training involves a good deal of practice with psychometrics, being that they have to routinely assess personality and personality changes. Notice also the lead researchers is professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

And lastly, research on hallucinogens has, sine the 70's, not attracted grant funding. This is a somwhat new development.

rich tread

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 1:19 pm CDT

Welp, looks like Dan already addressed that issue. Thanks.

Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 1:38 pm CDT

I could only access the Abstract of this study.  Access to the text of the actual study requires more money than I have available to me or driving to a university library that has a copy available.  I am disabled, which makes that somewhat difficult.



According to the abstract, the experimental group consisted of the grand total of 18 people, one of whom was not drug "niave".  Any results from such a small sample are statistically suspect unless the effect is huge, the sample is truly  random (it wasn't) and there is a control group matched on all factors that are likely to affect the results.  There is no indication that such a control group was utilized.

While the protocol is listed as "double blind" it appears that ALL subjects were given the experimental substance at some time during the course of the experiment and there was no group that was given a psycoactive substance that could fool niave subjects into thinking that they had been given the experimental substance.   If the results are to mean anything then they must be statistically compared with the results of paired subjects who were given (1) no psychoactive substance at all or (2) a different psychoactive substance.  The groups  must be large enough for any effect to be statisically reliable.  Eighteen volunteers who were apparently not naive about the details, and perhaps even the aim, of the study is not an impressive data set.

The personality testing tool is unspecified but most of these things are based on self-report which makes them vulnerable to suggestion.  If there was anything about the conduct of the study or the demeanor of the experimenters that suggested that the effects of the experimental drug were likely to have some more than trivial effect on the subject could be enough to produce false positives or postive placebo effects in the subjects, especialy in restrospect.  If the authors reported on these relatively well-known effects then this is not reflected in the press release or the abstract. 


It is mentioned that the subjects' personality profiles were independently assessed. There is no indicattion of how this was done or by whom.  Nor is there is aany indication of the reliability rating and validity of such a procedure.   How independent were the raters?  How often do they find these kinds of personality traits in subjects or patients in long term treatment or projects? 

It seems to me that there is good reason to believe that the effects are artifactual or small. 

Perhaps someone would be kind enough to furnish me with a complementary copy of the published article so that I can properly determine these things.

 

The CV of the main author is suitably impressive but I have seen very impressive CVs from obvious charletans and confirmed quacks.   This attempt at a fallacious "argument from authority" will not squash any methodological sloppiness or illogical thinking that is evident in the person's actual verifiable work.   All it shows is that the man should know how to conduct a responsible study;  it is no guarantee that he has, in this instance.

Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 1:42 pm CDT

By the way, the authors should compare their results with the "waiting list phenomena" familiar to psychotherapists.  One third of all potential patients improve simply by being placed on a waiting list.  No therapeutic intervention required!  

Dan

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 1:45 pm CDT

You can find a copy of the PDF via the following link: https://slashtmp.iu.edu/files/download?FILE=danalbre%2F15982UgSvGP

 

password is "password".

Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 4:06 pm CDT

Dan: 
Thank you for the link.  I am printing the document out, will read it carefully and get back to you.  I am, of course, prepared to change my opinion, should my criticisms prove to be unfounded, overstated or inappropriate.

Rich:
I am not disputing the importance of psychiatric involvement in the study. As you point out, it was imperative.  However, unlike you, I have good reason to be highly skeptical of the level of statistical ability among the average research psychiatrist.

During my specialist training years my fellow colleagues on psychiatric ward rounds were involved in testing patients who were part of teh unit's study into the memory and executive problems associated with chronic alcohol abuse.  The study was designed and run by psychiatrists working in that unit.  Unfortunately, the methodology and statistical sophistication was embarassingly niave. 

To begin with most of the subjects in the study were recruited by sending out letters to people whose hospital records listed them as having been admitted to the general hospital with an alcohol problem in the preceding years.  The letters were went to the previous patient's last know address. In this letter these former patients were invited to attend the hospital at the appointment time given. 

It did not seem to occur to the research designers or those directing the study that this recruitment method would result in a biased subject population.  It appeared designed to effectively screen out patients with the worst memories and alcohol related executive dysfunctions.  The exceptions would be those ex-patients who were being cared for and monitored by family members who did not have these problems. This would introduce further biases related to nutrition and domiciliary adequacy and stability.

The nine specialist psychology students were professionally embarrassed to be (forcibly) involved such a study.  We were in agreement that we would almost certainly have failed the mandatory advanced methodology componant of the standard professional degree had we made similar mistakes.  We were not even sure that we would have made the quota it into the final two years of that four year program.  Yet here we were being professionally "supervised" by someone with this level of research incompetence.

Of course, this is no proof that all psychiatrists are as deficient in research skills of this nature, or that the ones involved in this particular drug study are either.  It does, however, mean that I am slow to assume that someone with this academic and practising professional background is necessarily competent in these areas.  Nor can I assume that the person who is technically directing such a study is willing and able to prevent the commission of such flaws or that participating professionals with these skills have any power to affect the research procedures. 

Keith

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 4:14 pm CDT

Rosemary Lyndall-Wemmsaid:

The methodology of this study is suspect. 

Volunteers who knowingly sign up for a study of a drug they know or suspect to be mind-altering are not a representative sample of the range of normal personalities that exist in the general population.  They are likely to be risk takers, open to new experiences and impressionable.  Curiously, that list includes the variable that is supposed to have significantly changed - in the same direction. 

It is also noted that "nearly all" the subjects were actively "spiritual" - whatever that term actually means.  Such a high percentage of people who consider themselves "spiritual" does not occur naturally, even in a population as religious as the United States of America.  In other industrialized countries a population that was nearly all "spiritual" would be quite abnormal.  On this dimension, the U.S. is an aberrant outlier.  At the very least, this suggests that the psycho-social environment of life in the United States is a hidden and unacknowledged variable here.  Gullibility and openness to subjective change may be a function of the average American environment.  The already existing predisposition to this personality triat may have merely been enhanced by the titillating participation in an experiment with a substance that is illegal in that country. 

That factor alone indicates that the subjects are more likely than an average person, especially one educated in a more rational environment, to be open to mental suggestion and "openness" to new experiences.  The reactions from a bunch of skeptics, or even a sample culled from average residents of Sweden or Japan, would probably be quite different.   In other words, there is no guarentee that the results would be repeatable in other cultures or with people with other pre-exisiting personality types.

It was reported that more than half the subjects had "post graduate degrees".  These are presumably American level degrees which do not correspond to (the generally higher level of) same-name qualifications in other developed countries.  In the U.S. a "postgraduate degree" is not a good indication of intellectual competence or superiority, as evidenced by a recent President with a postgraduate degree from a prestigious American university who consistently demonstrated a level of mental competence that appeared lower than the national average, even for that country.  Degrees that are awarded for fact regurgitation rather than independent research, or on the basis of the ability to pay the tutition fees,  are not good indicators of critical thinking ability or of a person's resistence to social influence or suggestion.

It is hard to know whether it was the drug or the experimental experience that caused the apparent personality change.  There is nothing to indicate that it could not have been caused by the placebo effect of expecting the experience to be salient and mind-altering in some significant way.  There is also no way of determining the level of objectivity of a "personality test" that may have relied entirely on self-report and subjective interpretations.  

No negative effects were recorded. These are almost always apparent in large scale studies of drugs which are otherwise shown to have a generally useful effect on most people.  This is a strong indication that the results are incomplete, invalid or non-representative.  There may have been experiemental or reporting bias, a less than optimum sample size or a sample that is non-representative of the normal population (as I have already claimed.)

BTW, the experimenters appear to be psychiatrists (trained in medical science and psychological medicine), not psychologists (trained in behavioral sciences and psychometrics.)   If the study were designed and repeated by competent behavioral scientists (rather than mental health practitioners) it would be hoped that the study would be more methodologically sound.  The results of well-designed study could be very different. 

There is no mention, at least in this article, of the size of the effect.  Was it large enough to make a significant difference in the lives of the subjects?  Or was it merely an interesting trend?  What about the effects on the control group of subjects?  Was there a control group?  Were there a bunch of subjects with matching original personalities that were given another illegal mind-altering drug that could have been reasonably mistaken for the experimental one by a niave subject?  Were the subjects niave? 

Meanwhile, no-one has asked how the personalities of the researchers interacted with the personalities of their subjects and whether the experimenters also underwent a "personality change".   The phenomena of "false memory recall" is more widely applicable than an impressionable adult falsely believing that they were raped by a family member in their formative years. 

The sad thing about such studies is that readers without the statistical or research skills to assess the information will draw unwarranted conclusions about its significance or reliability.   Another unfortunate effect is that such studies attract research funding and grant money. 

 

Sure, this PRELIMINARY RESEARCH may not be generalizable across cultures, but you have to start somewhere, right?

There -are- some methodological issues with this study, but many of the issues you cited deal with individual differences in personality. You're basing a lot of your argument on the idea that certain personalities are more susceptible to personality change brought on by psilocybin.  This study is merely looking for a change in personality after the trip.  Correlation =/= causation, ma'm.  

Also, while I am replying to your rather wordy and drawn out response to the article, I feel that I should point out that your obvious bias against the USA is off-putting.  Your claim that postgraduate degrees in the USA are not comparable to those earned in Europe is complete bunk, as you completely based this idea on your opinion of one man.  This seems fairly rudimentary, but would you like it if your academic accomplishments were called into question because one of your politicians turned out to be a dunce?  Believe it or not, not every graduate student has politically powerful and wealthy parents.  

In conclusion, don't waste your smarts by being a tool. Your "us vs them" attitude has no place in the scientific community. 

rich tread

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 5:30 pm CDT

That is a pretty glaring error in research design. However I'd caution against your own "availability bias." Unless you've seen systematically that psychiatry programs do a poor job of preparing researchers, you shouldn't assume most are incompetent. I'm sure there are quite a few incompetent psychology researchers out there, too.

After a quick glance, it appears that some of your concerns are addressed in the article. The authors question the generalizability of the study because most were spiritual, well-educated, and hallucinogen-naive. Would agnostics and athiests also have mystical experiences that translate into greater openness?

The study is double-blind in that some participants got increasingly stronger doses and others got increasingly weaker doses, this allows for a comparison of when increased openness began to take place, wsa it after the 0mg dose or the 30mg dose, etc.? Evidently, they wanted to study the effect of ascending vs. descending doses as well.

Seems like a decent study suggesting psilocybn correlates with some people becoming more open. It would be nice to see a study with a simple double-blind control that you mention.

Wrhker

Guest Comment
Wed, Oct 05, 2011, 11:50 am CDT

Psilocybn is not what makes hallucinogenic effects on the mind and body. After ingestion it is quickly dephosphorylated into psilocin, a compound that is structurally similar to seratonin. Suprise suprise right? Judging by this common mistake made by people when discussing the effects of 'magic mushrooms' and the poor sampling techniques, this study should be disregarded by all. Even though it points out the blantantly obvious. :)

Dan

Guest Comment
Wed, Oct 05, 2011, 12:13 pm CDT

Wrhkersaid:

Psilocybn is not what makes hallucinogenic effects on the mind and body. After ingestion it is quickly dephosphorylated into psilocin, a compound that is structurally similar to seratonin. Suprise suprise right? Judging by this common mistake made by people when discussing the effects of 'magic mushrooms' and the poor sampling techniques, this study should be disregarded by all. Even though it points out the blantantly obvious. :)

Umm, psilocybin is exactly what causes hallucinations.  Just because it's metabolized to psilocin in the body makes no difference.  If you remove the psilocybin from "magic mushrooms", you remove the trip.  It is both necessary and sufficient to induce hallucinations.  And yes, psilocin is structurally similar to serotonin, and that should come as no surprise.  Did you expect a "magic mushroom" receptor in the brain?  Drugs exert their effects in the human brain (or any brain for that matter) by acting on receptors that have been evolving for thousands of years.  And "structurally similar" does not mean "the same", or drug companies marketing SSRIs like Prozac, Zoloft, etc. which increase the amount of brain serotonin, would have thousands of customers under their bed in the fetal position because their refrigerator was trying to eat them.

twambrose

Guest Comment
Wed, Oct 05, 2011, 2:27 pm CDT

Let me break down the studies we did 30 years ago...Pick mushrooms, wash mushrooms, consume mushrooms. Total cost of study zero. 30 year result of study, three very happy and productive 60 to 65 year old men.

tamezzo

Guest Comment
Thu, Oct 06, 2011, 3:02 pm CDT

Ronni Copelandsaid:

I had a friend in high school that took mushrooms once and became severly withdrawn afterwards because of the halucinations he had. He ended up comitting suicide. Not all personality changes are good.

 

Two words: set/setting!!!!

fully grown adults without a history of recreational drug use, using psilocybin in a clinical, controlled environment = Certified Good Trip

 

but a teenager using psilocybin recreationally is a gamble. You don't know what's going to happen.

kevin

Guest Comment
Thu, Oct 06, 2011, 7:40 pm CDT

Voyagersaid:

Wow, my mind is blown right off of it's jar lid with this astute observation. Indubitabley so. In fact, I rate this up there with "Bong rips may induce relaxaing effects and minor lung damage".

THANKS SCIENCE :U

For someone so smart and uderstanding check out the movie Facing The Habit and you might rethink your brilliant words.

Het

Guest Comment
Fri, Oct 07, 2011, 1:26 pm CDT

Any intoxicant will act upon personality traits and then exaggerate their effect depending on the circumstance. I would be interested to see this study used with other drugs; alcohol or perhaps ketamine. How many people do you know that are more open minded when drunk, and then when sober, equally so. Are not other people more close minded when drunk, and then when sober, the mindset remains. Then again, they are also depressed a little bit more as well. Loosening ones grip on self control only acts to do just that, bring about polarized and often long lasting shifts in personality. 

A manic depressive will act more or less more manic or more depressed. A schizophrenic, will act more schizophrenic. Someone depressed, more depressed. You get the idea. It acts upon current systems, it does not create new dichotomies. Unless permanent changes are made within the brain chemistry that carry over, then the argument is that the experience is what alters the mindset and believe it or not, people tend to strengthen positions they hold. 

The idea that this creates openness is contrary to current models of understanding the effcts of drugs, and is therefore interesting. However, I would tend to argue that anyone within this study, must be pretty god damned open minded.

Like, super liberal hippy open minded.

Test conservatives and you may find that closed mindedness is the result.

 

Anonymous

Guest Comment
Fri, Oct 07, 2011, 5:48 pm CDT

Carasaid:

stellasaid:

Only so psychologically healthy people as druggies sign up for such experiments. So now the boffins are looking for drugs to brainwash the sheeple. Why don't they experiment on themselves?

You cant conduct a pycological study on yourself. It doesnt work that way. And no ones trying to "Control" Anyone, its just to a study, these people volunteered.

 

I also dont understand your first sentence, it makes no sense.

When it comes to testing subjective experience, one might argue that the best person to conduct the studies are the researchers themselves. After all, nobody can describe your experiences better than you. Albert Hoffman, the scientist who created LSD, took the drug and recorded his reactions to it numerous times. It certainly does sound sketchy, but hey, if you can come up with an actual method, why not?


Nóra Geraghty
Rate Post:

Like 0 Dislike
Fri, Oct 07, 2011, 6:25 pm CDT

Viktorsaid:

This is why we need to get the leaders of the world to trip.  Things will change.

Now THERE is a sensible suggestion! How do we get it to them? Water supply?

Quake

Guest Comment
Fri, Oct 07, 2011, 11:21 pm CDT

In my own Psilocybn research the subjects displayed open mindedness in regards to participating in more research and less open mindedness in non-participation.

Sir Derp

Guest Comment
Sun, Oct 09, 2011, 12:36 pm CDT

Reddit strapped me to a chair and forced me to watch kiddie porn!

guest

Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 10, 2011, 3:25 pm CDT

Viktorsaid:

This is why we need to get the leaders of the world to trip.  Things will change.

abso-fucking-lutely

kelly

Guest Comment
Tue, Oct 11, 2011, 10:55 pm CDT

This is good news, we need to give this to all the american politicains.

Chandler

Guest Comment
Fri, Oct 14, 2011, 8:30 am CDT
Polly Perot

Guest Comment
Sun, Oct 16, 2011, 8:12 pm CDT

I can think of a few people I'd like to experment on, where can I get some? 

Liz Linkenauger

Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 17, 2011, 10:07 pm CDT

Viktorsaid:

This is why we need to get the leaders of the world to trip.  Things will change.

 

Lol! I thought the same thing! :D

slob

Guest Comment
Mon, Oct 24, 2011, 10:34 am CDT

maybe the people who are against the use of hallucinagens could try some to become more OPEN MINDED!

 

 

Jessica Cox

Guest Comment
Wed, Nov 09, 2011, 10:24 pm CST

Wierd bias for the writer..."so called 'magic mushrooms'" to start? As for the words of caution-- the fear and panic just might have been induced by the bizarre and uncomfortable "scientific research" setting.

Spencer

Guest Comment
Fri, Nov 18, 2011, 1:19 pm CST

thank you science for confirming something we all already knew! :P

Dreams

Guest Comment
Fri, Dec 23, 2011, 10:29 pm CST

magic muschrooms changed my life. I failed out of college my first year, but now I'm back in the school of engineering and now have greater confidence in myself. I have gone on about 8 trips (within a year) and every single one relates to something in my life that needs to change to make my life better. After one of my hard journies I decided to delete a social web account (one that took way too much of my life and could never give it up)  because it was one of the things I figured out that was brining me down. once I deleted it, things start to get better. Also I have become way more open minded, I can see the view point of the opposing side now. Though these mental trips are not always happy, some have scared the shit out of me. example my first time doing it, I told myself I will never touch a drug in my life again... but I told myself that at the peek of my exeriance (I did 3.5 my first time haha). good and bad experience do depend on where your at and if you have any bad thoughts in your head prior to doing it. Music as well can have a huge impact on your thought processes. Also lighting can play a huge effect as well, if it's all dark it can make it scary since darkness typically resembles depression and fear. Being in the light can make you have a good experience and appriciate everything you see such as the earth we live on. Though some people might say I like the dark I'm not afraid of it. I honestly think even if you love being in the dark it will still affect you in a negative way because I have a friend who loves being in the dark all the time, but when he was peeking I could tell he wasn't having the best experience as previous ones when there was a light.

and for the dumb fuck who said this stuff only helps exaggerate their affect, it doesn't I was clinacly depressed for four years (in denial in that duration) of my life I wanted to kill myself (you can believe me or be closed minded ;) ), but never actually believed I was depressed. I eventually sought help, went to a doc he offered me meds, but I didn't want them. after my experience with magic mushrooms my life changed to a positive way. you learn what it means to be this one individual on this planet.

Lulu

Guest Comment
Mon, Dec 26, 2011, 12:29 am CST

Psilocybin and other similar drugs are not necessary for the experiences and results referenced in the article. Stanislav Grof, one of the pioneers of consciousness research (including at Johns Hopkins), developed Holotropic Breathwork as a way to achieve this without using 'drugs'. Much of the current research on the healing benefits of non-ordinary states of consciousness are revisiting Grof's work from decades ago. See Grof's site here: http://www.stanislavgrof.com/

Dansaid:

Wrhkersaid:

Psilocybn is not what makes hallucinogenic effects on the mind and body. After ingestion it is quickly dephosphorylated into psilocin, a compound that is structurally similar to seratonin. Suprise suprise right? Judging by this common mistake made by people when discussing the effects of 'magic mushrooms' and the poor sampling techniques, this study should be disregarded by all. Even though it points out the blantantly obvious. :)

Umm, psilocybin is exactly what causes hallucinations.  Just because it's metabolized to psilocin in the body makes no difference.  If you remove the psilocybin from "magic mushrooms", you remove the trip.  It is both necessary and sufficient to induce hallucinations.  And yes, psilocin is structurally similar to serotonin, and that should come as no surprise.  Did you expect a "magic mushroom" receptor in the brain?  Drugs exert their effects in the human brain (or any brain for that matter) by acting on receptors that have been evolving for thousands of years.  And "structurally similar" does not mean "the same", or drug companies marketing SSRIs like Prozac, Zoloft, etc. which increase the amount of brain serotonin, would have thousands of customers under their bed in the fetal position because their refrigerator was trying to eat them.

Bill

Guest Comment
Sun, Jan 15, 2012, 3:57 pm CST

So was this article supposed to be for or against the usage of psychedelic drugs, because all I got out of it was that it will open up your mind...not forever as the title tries to mislead the reader, but for a year at most.  Anyone who tries to argue that is a bad thing seriously needs some rethinking to do...most people do nowadays.

In fact, Harvard just released a recent study that says people who have experimented with psychedelic drugs have a higher IQ on average.  It also vastly increases your creative ability as well as your ability to understand and interperate art.  Unlike harder drugs such as Meth, Crack, and Heroine which all artificially open up dopamine receptors, psychedelics change the way in which your brain handles both consious and subconsious thoughts.  It sort of combines all brain processes into one.  We still know very little of what psychedelics exactly do on a scientific level that creates the hallucinations, various feelings, and rapid thought process. However, after 50+ years of widespread psychedelic usage we have not found any negative side effects that physically effect users.

 There have been cases of people going insane from psychedelics, but understand that nothing physically harmed their brain they just took probably around 20x the reccomended dosage of psychedelics that you would need to feel the effects well.  People have also had heart attacks due to taking WAAY too much simply because the halucinations and feelings they were having were so intense that it caused a heart attack due to stress, which many of you know is very possible.

Alex

Guest Comment
Tue, May 01, 2012, 6:24 pm CDT

 

Bill, is HPPD not a 'physical' change in the brain, i.e. inhibitory neurons in certain areas, that presents long term problems for sufferers in that they have constant visual disturbances long after (up to 30+ years in some cases!) the drug has worn off?

 

Interesting paper below:

 

http://www.erowid.org/archive/rhodium/pharmacology/visualdistortions.html

 

 

 

 

aids

Guest Comment
Sat, Jul 21, 2012, 2:23 am CDT

did anyone else work this out when they were 14 or just me?

dorkydork

Guest Comment
Thu, Aug 09, 2012, 12:42 pm CDT

Jakesaid:

HALLUCINOGENS MAY CREATE OPENMINDEDNESS!?! WHAT NEWS!!!!!

 

Love it.



Guest Comment
Tue, Aug 21, 2012, 11:27 am CDT

What's amazing is that they ever got funding for this in the first place. I was a chemist for the NIMH (and also a recreational user), and it was common knowledge that you could get all the grant money you wanted for studies on the harmfulness of psychoactive drugs, but not a penny to study their beneficial or therepeutic value. All publicly funded research on marijuana stopped cold back in the 80's because too many studies were coming up positive: i.e. they couldn't demonstrate that it was harmful.

jk

Guest Comment
Mon, Sep 03, 2012, 6:28 pm CDT

Hahah I've done shrooms about 10 or so times myself now, and boy it is an experience that i think everyone should have. This being said however my flat mate had some, and his trip was something else, but it really does make you wonder what reality and consciousnesses is when you think about a food, a simple mushroom that you can eat can alter you mind and your perception of everything. Deep stuff!

 

Ygnacio

Guest Comment
Tue, Sep 04, 2012, 5:04 pm CDT

Anonymousesaid:

How exactly does one sign up to volunteer for such experiments?

id like to know as well. id be a good subject. 

syadasti

Guest Comment
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 6:37 am CDT

Let us never forget the immortal words of Mr. Mackey.

Drugs are bad, mmmkay?

kayla

Guest Comment
Wed, Nov 28, 2012, 11:11 pm CST
Should have used dmt instead. That stuff will change you whole life!
britney

Guest Comment
Sun, Jan 13, 2013, 5:27 pm CST

Two types of people reading and posting here.  Those who have a clue what they're on about and those who don't.  I would say that the length of the post is directly proportional to the amount clue'd up.

Hmmmn, as an after thought I'd better waffle on a bit longer hadn't I, or I'll fall victim to my own rule.

I'm no academic, but I've always known that ANYTHING I put into my body in a sufficent quantity will be bad for me.  Not just "bad" drugs like E or weed or LSD or whatever, but "softer" more socially ok drugs like alcohol too.  Come to think about it, exactly how much aspirin would it take to damage me?  Because if it's damaging in any quantity surely it should be banned right?  Yet it's still legal to be served in a shop when the only things in your basket are boxes of painkillers and litres of vodka.

And then what about monosodium glutamate?  Or hydrogenated vegetable oil?  And then look at what sugar does to your teeth!  Enough of anything will give an effect less than desirable,  the only question is quantity required.

Looking at both sides I suppose at least mushrooms are natural and don't require a lab or factory machine to make.  Unlike everything else I've mentioned in this post which are all manufactured with extra added chemicals to make them last longer or look a nice colour.

There.  Clue'd right up me init!  Now Viktor can give the president the 'shrooms.

 

Mr Maggey

Guest Comment
Sun, Jan 20, 2013, 7:23 am CST

shrooms cured my depression long ago, now i see the world only in a positive way , no negative thoughts in my mind ever, and I feel great for the first time in many years.

 

but why think negatievly when you find out that your death is just one of many you will encounter , that there is something after death, that we are all one etc.. treat others like you treat yourself, be open minded

 

after ego death I feel closer to nature and all living beings too,  started accepting the world as is and myself for the first time in 15 years.

 

people should learn to educate themselves about 'drug use' and not just trust folketale and rumors or the government.

I truly believe psychedelics (any kind of them) has enormous potential in psychiatry

as it is now we medicate for life, psychedelics can remove depression within a few handful of uses in the right setting, for life (and not just turn you into a zombie like psychiatric drugs do), they will make you apreciate living more.

 

peace

mr maggey

Guest Comment
Sun, Jan 20, 2013, 7:31 am CST

you can't ban nature, and why tell people what to do?

the people voted you in, stop telling them what to do, they should tell you politicans what to do instead! (but you never listen)

 

why ban mescaline,shrooms,weed,salvia,dmt ?

 

the only reason is that people will find out that money isn't the most importatnt thing in life like they have been brainwashed to think, the government (as we know it) would collapse if everybody did psychedelics

 

they would start living simple life, they don't need to consume as much, they don't need money when they can grow their own vegetables etc., they would start loving and sharing and being more open minded, it would be very bad for the economy likely

 

but I agree that our leaders should do psychedelics at high doses, they're the most closed minded people I can give examples of

 

psychedelics are no more dangerous than ordinary life if used with respect, chosing the wrong career and spending many years on it can give you a 'bad experience' just as much as a bad experience with the mushroom, or finding the wrong girlfriend etc.

psychedelics can help you free your mind of its limits, social limits (social anxiety) etc., so you can talk to strangers etc., they will throw your problems in your face, so you know exactly what to work on, and they don't make you lazy(foggy) like weed do, you will feel more ready to work the next day.

they can make you see the world with the eyes of a child again, wouldn't that be wonderful? no fear, just acceptance of everything there is, and yourself, as well as enjoying everything you see (egodeath can do that).

mr maggey

Guest Comment
Sun, Jan 20, 2013, 7:36 am CST

our worst and most common disease is people not loving themselves, but psychedelics can help you.

 

if you don't love yourself you don't care what you do with your body, and you become sick

(some would call this soul loss)

 

which increases health costs on you, which could easily have been prevented (psychedelics or meditation/healthy living/exercise/meeting new people etc.), but the gov doesn't allow them usually. (except portugal)

openup

Guest Comment
Mon, Feb 18, 2013, 10:36 pm CST
Read every post...put it all together...lose the garbage/ego...the truth remains and can be experienced by all who are open enough to find out just how open they werent...its open to try are you open to being open? this study is probably the only way our government can show that they were stupid before and it now they get it... or then again maybe they knew it all along and were just lying to bolster their positions/wealth/influence in society over time and lineage.
bob smith

Guest Comment
Mon, Apr 29, 2013, 9:53 am CDT

This is not accurate lsd and shrooms are processed by altering neurtosensors of course this doesnt mean that it causes personallity changes lsd and shrooms are almost harmless only after constant use after a long period of time will you experience change and that will just kill brain cells anyone who has had a permatrip or had anything horrible happen they either took other drugs like aditoral or did it for a long time but that wouldnt cause permatrips.

Jimmy

Guest Comment
Sun, May 26, 2013, 12:09 am CDT
Jason

Guest Comment
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 11:59 pm CDT

Any evidence of hallucinogens triggering brain cell regeneration?

 

 

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