A new study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions has found that single high doses of psilocybin, the active psychedelic compound in mushrooms, may bring on a positive personality change lasting at least a year in 60% of people.
Among the lasting changes were trains related to feelings, abstract ideas, open-mindedness, aesthetics, and imagination. Changes in these traits varied widely but could be validated scientifically and were larger in magnitude than changes observed in healthy adults over decades of ‘normal’ development.
“Normally, if anything, openness tends to decrease as people get older,” says study leader Roland R. Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The participants in the study completed two to five eight-hour drug sessions. Participants were informed of the dose of Psilocybin before each session. Then, personality was assessed at screening, one to two months after each session, and then about 14 months after the session.
The participants generally considered themselves spiritual. More than half had post-graduate degrees.
“We don’t know whether the findings can be generalized to the larger population,” Griffiths says.
Griffiths notes that some of the study’s participants felt anxiety during their sessions, and sometimes for the remainder of the day. He wants that if hallucinogens are used, they should be in well-supervised settings.
“There may be applications for this we can’t even imagine at this point,” he says. “It certainly deserves to be systematically studied.”