Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects
- 4.5k Downloads
This dose-effect study extends previous observations showing that psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having persisting positive effects on attitudes, mood, and behavior.
This double-blind study evaluated psilocybin (0, 5, 10, 20, 30 mg/70 kg, p.o.) administered under supportive conditions.
Participants were 18 adults (17 hallucinogen-naïve). Five 8-h sessions were conducted individually for each participant at 1-month intervals. Participants were randomized to receive the four active doses in either ascending or descending order (nine participants each). Placebo was scheduled quasi-randomly. During sessions, volunteers used eyeshades and were instructed to direct their attention inward. Volunteers completed questionnaires assessing effects immediately after and 1 month after each session, and at 14 months follow-up.
Psilocybin produced acute perceptual and subjective effects including, at 20 and/or 30 mg/70 kg, extreme anxiety/fear (39% of volunteers) and/or mystical-type experience (72% of volunteers). One month after sessions at the two highest doses, volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as having substantial personal and spiritual significance, and attributed to the experience sustained positive changes in attitudes, mood, and behavior, with the ascending dose sequence showing greater positive effects. At 14 months, ratings were undiminished and were consistent with changes rated by community observers. Both the acute and persisting effects of psilocybin were generally a monotonically increasing function of dose, with the lowest dose showing significant effects.
Under supportive conditions, 20 and 30 mg/70 kg psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences having persisting positive effects on attitudes, mood, and behavior. Implications for therapeutic trials are discussed.
KeywordsPsilocybin Dose effects Hallucinogen Entheogen Psychedelic Mystical experience Fear Spiritual Religion Positive psychology Humans
Conduct of this research was supported by grants from the Council on Spiritual Practices, the Heffter Research Institute, and the Betsy Gordon Foundation. Effort for Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. in writing this paper was partially provided by NIH grant RO1DA03889. We thank David Nichols, Ph.D. for synthesizing the psilocybin, Mary Cosimano, M.S.W. for her role as a primary session monitor, Maggie Klinedinst for data management, and Linda Felch, M.A. and Paul Nuzzo, M.A. for statistical analyses. We also thank Larry Carter, Ph.D., Ryan Lanier, Ph.D., Benjamin McKay, Chad Ressig, Ph.D., and Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D. for serving as assistant session monitors. The study was conducted in compliance with United States laws.
- Blewett DB., Chwelos N (1959) Handbook for the therapeutic use of lysergic acid diethylamide-25: individual and group procedures. Available at http://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/guides/handbook_lsd25.shtml#11. Accessed January 4, 2011
- Doblin R (1991) Pahnke's Good Friday experiment: a long-term follow-up and methodological critique. J Transpers Psychol 23:1–28Google Scholar
- Hood RW Jr, Hill PC, Spilka B (2009) The psychology of religion: an empirical approach, 4th edn. Guilford, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Jasinski DR (1977) Assessment of the abuse potential of morphine-like drugs (methods used in man). In: Martin WR (ed) Drug addiction. Springer, New York, pp 197–258Google Scholar
- Metzner R (2004) Teonanacatl: sacred mushroom of visions. Four Tree, El VeranoGoogle Scholar
- Metzner R, Litwin G, Weil G (1965) The relation of expectation and mood to psilocybin reactions: a questionnaire study. Psychedelic Rev 5:3–39Google Scholar
- Miller WR, C’de Baca J (2001) Quantum change: when epiphanies and sudden insights transform ordinary lives. Guilford, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Pahnke W (1963) Drugs and mysticism: an analysis of the relationship between psychedelic drugs and the mystical consciousness. Thesis presented to the President and Fellows of Harvard University for the Ph.D. in Religion and SocietyGoogle Scholar
- Richards WA, Grof S, Goodman LE, Kurland AA (1972) LSD-assisted psychotherapy and the human encounter with death. J Transpers Psychol 4(2):121–150Google Scholar
- Richards WA, Rhead JC, DiLeo FB, Yensen R, Kurland AA (1977) The peak experience variable in DPT-assisted psychotherapy with cancer patients. J Psychedelic Drugs 9:1–10Google Scholar
- Stamets P (1996) Psilocybin mushrooms of the world: an identification guide. Ten Speed, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
- Stolaroff MJ (1997) The secret chief revealed. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, SarasotaGoogle Scholar
- Turek IS, Soskin RA, Kurland AA (1974) Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) subjective effects. J Psychedelic Drugs 6:7–14Google Scholar
- VandeCreek L (1999) The death transcendence scale. In: Hill PC, Hood RW Jr (eds) Measures of religiosity. Religious Education Press, Birmingham, pp 442–445Google Scholar
- Wasson RG (1980) The wondrous mushroom: mycolatry in Mesoamerica. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar