Magic Mushrooms Can Bring About Lasting Personality Changes
- Magic Mushrooms Can Bring About Lasting Personality Changes
By Christian Nordqvist
Taking magic mushrooms (psilocybin) can have
a lasting change on the individual's personality,
making them more open about their feelings and
the way they perceive things, researchers from
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,
Baltimore, MD, USA, wrote in the Journal of
Psychopharmacology. The authors explained that
those who had mystic experiences while on psilocybin
were more likely to subsequently exhibit certain
personality changes, making them more forthcoming
about their feelings, becoming more focused on
being creative, curious, and appreciative about
Psilocybin is a psychedelic drug - a substance whose
main action is to alter perception and cognition. Its
molecular formula is C12H17N2O4P. Its mind-altering
effects are similar to those of mescaline and LSD.
It effects may include, an altered sense of time,
spiritual experiences, perceptual distortions,
and thinking processes. Psilocybin can also cause
nausea and panic attacks. This psychedelic drug can
be found in over 200 types of mushrooms, the most
powerful coming from the genus Psilocybe, including
P. cubensis, P. semilanceata, and P. cyanescens.
Magic mushrooms are usually eaten. However, they can
also be made into a tea beverage, or smoked.
In this latest study, headed by Roland Griffiths,
personality changes that occurred in those who
took magic mushrooms were still there twelve months
later. The authors believe that the psilocybin may
well have a long-term effect.
Professor Griffiths said:
"The remarkable piece is that psilocybin can
facilitate experiences that change how people perceive
themselves and their environment. That's unprecedented."
Magic mushrooms used to be used by Timothy Leary,
a former Harvard professor of psychology. Leary
founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project.
Openness is one of five main personality traits
that span all cultures worldwide, the other four
are extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness and
conscientiousness. Degrees of openness are fairly
constant throughout an individual's lifetime. The
researchers found that the other four personality
factors were largely unchanged after people consumed
The authors say their study is the first finding
of a short-term intervention with long-lasting
The study involved 51 individuals who underwent two
to five eight-hour psilocybin sessions, with a
three-week interval between each session. During
a session they lay down on a couch, wore an eye mask
and listened to music through headphones while
concentrating on an inner experience. Their
personalities were screened at the beginning of
the studies, and then during a two-month and 12-month
Thirty of the volunteers had a mystical experience,
according to the researchers' criteria gathered
from a set of psychological scales. Their openness
scores increased, indicating more focus on aesthetics,
inner feeling, values, imagination and ideas. The
rest of the participants, those with no mystical
experiences, underwent no apparent personality change.
The authors concluded:
"The findings suggest a specific role for psilocybin
and mystical-type experiences in adult personality
Psychoactive mushrooms used by humans for thousands
of yearsArcheologists have gathered evidence of
the presence of psychoactive mushrooms used in religious
rituals for thousands of years.
Ancient paintings in Villar del Humo, Spain, show
evidence of Psilocybe hispanica usage in religious
ceremonies about 4,000 BC.
Murals in southeast Algeria, in the Sahara desert,
dated 7000 to 9000 BC suggest psilocybin mushroom use.
In the Aztec language Nahatl, psychoactive mushrooms
were called "teonanacatl" (God flesh). Mayan archives
have data pointing to common usage of psilocybin
mushrooms in ceremonies and rituals.
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