Washington: A single
dose of drug psilocybin, a mushroom hallucinogen, was enough to
bring about personality changes in nearly 60 percent of the people
in a research.
Psilocybin may have therapeutic uses too, said study leader Roland
R. Griffiths, professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine.
Lasting change in personality includes traits related to
imagination, aesthetics, feelings, abstract ideas and general
Changes in these traits were larger in magnitude than changes
typically observed in healthy adults over decades of life
experiences, the scientists said.
After the age of 30, personality doesn't usually change
significantly, the Journal of Psychopharmacology reports.
"Normally, if anything, openness tends to decrease as people get
older," Griffiths said.
The participants in the study completed two to five eight-hour
drug sessions, with consecutive sessions separated by at least
three weeks, according to a Johns Hopkins statement.
They were informed they would receive a "moderate or high dose" of
psilocybin during one of their drug sessions, but neither they nor
the session monitors knew when.
During each session, participants were encouraged to lie down on a
couch, use an eye mask to block external visual distraction, wear
headphones through which music was played, and focus their
attention on their inner experiences.
Personality was assessed at screening, one to two months after
each drug session and approximately 14 months after the last drug
Nearly all of the participants considered themselves spiritually
active. More than half had postgraduate degrees. The sessions with
the otherwise illegal hallucinogen were closely monitored and
volunteers were considered to be psychologically healthy.
Griffiths is currently studying whether hallucinogen has a use in
helping cancer patients handle the depression and anxiety that
comes along with a diagnosis.