While most psychedelics were soon made illegal, and even unnecessarily restricted by the US Government, studies in recent years have overcome the many hurdles to carefully and legally study the effects of hallucinogens under tightly-controlled circumstances.
Organizations like the Massachusetts Association for Psychedelic Studies focus their studies on how certain drugs can help patients with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and addictions.
One recent study at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, led by postdoctoral researcher Katherine MacLean, has focused on the effects that psilocybin, the active psychedelic found in magic mushrooms, has on adults’ personalities.
In this study, 51 people were administered personality questionnaires that specifically measured their openness. Then, over the course of five sessions, the subjects, who were all new to hallucinogenic drugs, were given varying doses of psilocybin or a placebo, and then left to meditate blindfolded on a couch with music playing.
After about a year of the sessions, the subjects took another personality questionnaire to see how their answers had changed following the mystical experiences that over half of them reported during the study. According to the study, most of these subjects showed increased openness after their experience tripping on psilocybin.
While adults’ personalities rarely change after the age of 25-30, this study has shown that psychedelic drugs can permanently alter a person’s outlook and world view, as well as their willingness to experience new things.
“It’s probably not just psilocybin that causes changes like this, but more these kinds of profound life-changing experiences, whatever flavor they take,” said MacLean. “For a lot of people, psilocybin allows them to transcend their ways of thinking about the world.”
Though the results do indicate the positive benefits that psychedelic drugs may have on our intellect, personality, and behavior, it’s important to note that the participants tripped under very specific, safe, and supervised settings to reduce the possibility of bad trips. That being said, this could indicate the realization of a real-life “soma” like from the mind of Aldous Huxley, but for now, it remains in the realm of “don’t try this at home.”