It often appears that the counter culture of people who support experimenting with drugs has been under siege in this era of heightened preoccupations with war and terrorism and less time to consider psychedelic experiences and a culture of peace and love. Well, there now is some good health care news for the drug counter culture. New research has found that the popular drug, psilocybin found in ‘magic mushrooms’, may have positive effects on the personality.
John Gever has reported for MedPage Today “‘Magic Mushroom’ Drug May Improve Personality Long Term”. A scientific study has shown that many people who took a single dose of psilocybin, which is the active ingredient in what the drug culture calls “magic mushrooms”, displayed alterations in personality characteristics, largely for the better, which persisted for more than a year.
Researcher Katherine A. MacLean, PhD, and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University have said that participants in this study who reported “mystical experiences” during the hallucinogen sessions generally showed increases in the personality dimension which is known as openness. And they found no adverse effects from the drug exposure.
Openness is generally viewed as being a positive characteristic which includes such traits as “aesthetic appreciation and sensitivity, imagination, intellectual engagement, and awareness of feelings in themselves and others.” MacLean and her colleagues have said that these findings were consistent with previous studies and anecdotal reports from psilocybin users. The researchers wrote “Although there is still much to learn about the mechanisms by which hallucinogens might produce positive changes, the increases in openness observed in the present study indicate novel avenues of future research into the biological and psychological mechanisms of psilocybin treatment.”
Psilocybin is found in a variety of mushrooms and acts at the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor. This drug took off in popularity for inducing “mind-expanding” hallucinatory experiences in the 1960s. Benefits which are claimed from psilocybin are “increased creativity, greater appreciation of music and visual art, and more tolerance of other people.”
The researchers characterized the increase in openness which they observed in participants in the study as probably being a good thing. A limitation to the study was the recruitment strategy with the participants being drawn largely from people who were already interested in the psilocybin experience. Nevertheless, this study opens up new considerations for the possible positive effects on the personality of ‘magic mushrooms’.
Photographer: Simon Howden
Mandel News Service