Below are several related articles - first a brief summary of the research from Raw Story, then three diffetrent responses from Scott A. McGreal, MSc. at his Psychology Today blog, Unique—Like Everybody Else. I have also included links to some relevant articles mentioned in the posts.
Please follow the title links to Scott McGreal's articles - he's asked that they not be reproduced here. I have included two paragraphs from each to torque your interest.
MacLean, KA, Johnson, MW, and Griffiths, RR. (2011) Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(11) 1453–1461. DOI: 10.1177/0269881111420188
Other Articles of Interest:
- Carhart-Harris, RL, Erritzoe, D, Williams, T, et al. (2011). Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin. Proceedings of the National Association of Science; www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1119598109
- Griffiths, RR, Richards, WA, McCann, U. and Jesse, R. (2006, July). Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology, DOI 10.1007/s00213-006-0457-5
- Studerus, E, Gamma, A, Kometer, M, and Vollenweider, FX. (2012, Feb 17). Prediction of Psilocybin Response in Healthy Volunteers; PLoS ONE 7(2): e30800. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030800
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A new study suggests that a single dose of psilocybin — the active ingredient in “Magic Mushrooms” — can result in improved personality traits over the long term.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that individuals who received the drug once in a clinical setting reported a greater sense of “openness” that often lasted 14 months or longer, according to study published this week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
The study defined openness as a personality trait that “encompasses aesthetic appreciation and sensitivity, imagination and fantasy, and broad-minded tolerance of others’ viewpoints and values.” It is one of five main personality traits that are shared among all cultures worldwide.
Of the 51 participants, 30 had personality changes that left them feeling more open. Other personality traits (extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness and conscientiousness) were not impacted. Only the participants who said they had a “complete mystical experience” while on the drug registered an increased sense of openness.
“The mystical experience has certain qualities,” lead author Katherine MacLean said. “The primary one is that you feel a certain kind of connectedness and unity with everything and everyone.”
Because personality traits are generally considered to remain stable throughout a persons lifetime, researchers are excited about therapeutic implications of the study.
“[T]his study shows that psilocybin actually changes one domain of personality that is strongly related to traits such as imagination, feeling, abstract ideas and aesthetics, and is considered a core construct underlying creativity in general,” study author Roland R. Griffiths told USA Today. “And the changes we see appear to be long-term.”
Griffiths is researching whether the drug can help cancer patients deal with depression and anxiety or help smokers curb their habit.
“Certainly we want to underscore do not try this at home,” he added. “Because clearly there are several kinds of potential downsides. One is that personality changes are personality changes. Now, we don’t have any reason to think that the changes we see are toxic in any way. It appears to be a change that people value in a positive way. But certainly more research needs to be done.”
In a smaller study published earlier this year, Johns Hopkins scientists determined the the proper dose levels needed to create positive changes in attitudes, mood, life satisfaction, and behavior.
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Psychedelics research sheds new light on the biological basis of personality.Recent research suggests fascinating connections between the effects of the psychedelic drug psilocybin and personality traits related to inner experience. Personality appears to influence response to psilocybin and psilocybin can promote changes in personality, suggesting a reciprocal relationship. Further research in this area could lead to new insights into the basis of human personality and creativity.
A review of studies on factors affecting response to psilocybin found that after dosage, the strongest predictor of alterations in consciousness was the personality trait of absorption (Studerus, Gamma, Kometer, & Vollenweider, 2012). Absorption is defined as a person’s tendency to have episodes of “total” attention where a person’s awareness is fully engaged in whatever has their interest. The degree to which people had “mystical” type experiences while on psilocybin was related to their individual proneness to absorption. Absorption is associated with the broader personality trait openness to experience, which relates to a person’s receptiveness to new ideas and experiences.
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A brain imaging study of psilocybin revealed unexpected findings.
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Psilocybin may help improve quality of life in terminally ill people.
A recent study of people with advanced-stage cancer found that a single dose of psilocybin led to lasting improvements in anxiety and depression. Psilocybin might enhance mood by shifting attention away from negative and towards positive emotional information. Mystical experiences occurring under the influence of psilocybin could help ease existential anxiety by changing a person’s attitudes towards death and dying. Although these results are promising, research studies in this area have not used adequate experimental controls and therefore these results should be considered tentative until more rigorous research has been conducted.
A pioneering study in the 1970s found that psychotherapy combined with the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD appeared to help to reduce depression, physical pain and anxiety about death in people with terminal cancer (Grof, Goodman, Richards, & Kurland, 1973). The authors’ impression was that the patients who made the most dramatic changes were those who had a “peak mystical experience” of oneness with the universe usually preceded by an experience of spiritual “death and rebirth”. Profound experiences of this nature were seen in 25% of sessions. The authors argued that profound religious and spiritual experiences, such as a “peak mystical experience” were particularly effective in helping patients accept death. However, they also noted that other kinds of emotional improvements frequently occurred even without the presence of a mystical experience.