Psilocybin induces mystical and spiritual experiences: study
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
A study published by researchers at John Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland) concluded that psilocybin, a hallucinogenic drug, causes experiences of “substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance” in users. A majority of the participants felt a better sense of well-being, even months after consuming the drug. Researchers expect that the results can be used for further investigation of psychoactive substances and cognition.
The experiment, led by Roland R Griffiths, assessed the degree of mystical experience and attitudinal effects of the psilocybin experience; this report was published in the journal Psychopharmacology.
Thirty volunteers without prior experience with hallucinogens were given psilocybin and methylphenidate (Ritalin) in separate sessions. The Ritalin sessions served as the control group who used that drug as a placebo. The tests were double-blind, with neither the subject nor the administrator knowing which drug was being administered.
The degree of mystical experience was measured using a questionnaire on mystical experience developed by Ralph W Hood; 61% of subjects reported a "complete mystical experience" after their psilocybin session, while only 13% reported such an outcome after their experience with Ritalin. Two months after taking psilocybin, 79% of the participants reported moderately to greatly increased life satisfaction and sense of well-being.
About 36% of participants also had a strong to extreme “experience of fear” or dysphoria (eg, a “bad trip”) at some point during the psilocybin session (which was not reported by any subject during the methylphenidate session), with about one-third of these (13% of the total) reporting that this dysphoria dominated the entire session. These negative effects were reported to be easily managed by the researchers and did not have a lasting negative effect on the subject’s sense of well-being.
- Griffiths RR, Richards WA, McCann U, Jesse R.. "Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance" — , July 11, 2006
- Schuster C; Kleber H; Snyder S; Nichols D; de Wit H.. "Commentaries and Editorial on Article by Griffiths et al." — , July 11, 2006
- "Hopkins Scientists Show Hallucinogen in Mushrooms Creates Universal 'Mystical' Experience" — , July 11, 2006
- "Q&A is with Roland Griffiths, the study’s lead researcher" — , July 11, 2006
- Michael Smith. "Psilocybin Viewed as Therapy or Research Tool" — , July 11, 2006
- Roxanne Khamsi. "Magic mushrooms really cause 'spiritual' experiences" — , July 11, 2006
- David Brown. "Drug's Mystical Properties Confirmed" — , July 11, 2006
- "Mushroom Drug Produces Mystical Experience" — , July 11, 2006
- Denise Gellene. "Counterculture Drug Provides Spiritual Boost" — , July 11, 2006
- Joy Victory, Bharathi Radhakrishnan, and Andrea Carter. "Tripping Out: Scientists Study Mystical Effects of Mushrooms" — , July 11, 2006