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Drug creates lasting personality change

Saturday October 01, 2011 07:01:47 PM, IANS

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 broad-mindedness.

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 session.

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.










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