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Study: Magic Mushrooms change personality for years
U.S. researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland have investigated the effects of psychedelic mushrooms and found that the intoxication effect of the so-called magic mushrooms affects the personality significantly longer than previously thought. In addition, the US psychologists have demonstrated clear positive effects of the mushroom trip with regard to the personality trait "openness".
The hallucinogenic effects of the magic mushrooms only last a few hours, but a year after the mushroom trip, the researchers led by Roland Griffiths from Johns Hopkins University were able to determine a personality-changing effect of the mushrooms. Roland Griffiths and colleagues report in the current issue of the journal "Journal of Psychopharmacology" that personality is permanently changed, especially in the area that is called "openness". This is particularly surprising since the openness usually decreases with age, the study leader explained.
More open-minded personality through magic mushrooms According to the researchers, immediately after consuming the magic mushrooms, a hallucinogenic effect with effects such as increased visual acuity and extreme sensitivity to light sets in. However, despite the risks of a so-called horror trip, the US psychologists consider the hallucinogenic effects to be of little concern, but also attribute positive effects to them. According to Roland Griffiths and colleagues, 60 percent of the study participants were much more open a year after eating the mushrooms than before the start of the study.
As part of their investigation, the US scientists put 51 mentally healthy volunteer study participants into a mushroom frenzy several times. According to the researchers, the psilocin contained in the magic mushrooms caused similar intoxication as the drug LSD. Because of this mind-altering effect, magic mushrooms in most countries, including Germany, fall under the Narcotics Act and both sales and possession are prohibited. Regardless of the current legal situation, the US researchers have examined the personality-changing effects of magic mushrooms in more detail in order to determine possible risks and medical fields of application. In the laboratory, the study participants were sent several times on an eight-hour mushroom trip, and the procedure was repeated after at least three weeks, the US psychologists explained their approach. In all tests, a control group received mushrooms without hallucinogenic effects, whereby the participants and the doctors did not know which test subjects had actually received psychedelic mushrooms.
Personality tests make changes measurable In order to assess the effects of the mushroom trip on the personality, the scientists carried out a personality test with the test subjects before the first session and after the end of the experiments. In this test, the areas of the character also referred to as "Big Five" were measured: extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism (penchant for neurosis), openness and tolerance. A year after the last mushroom trip, the personality tests showed a clear positive effect, especially with regard to the openness of the test subjects, the researchers write in the "Journal of Psychopharmacology". The US psychologists come to the conclusion that the “mystical experiences” have measurably changed the openness of the study participants. According to the experts, “openness” means properties such as imagination, generosity but also a sense of aesthetics. According to US scientists, these long-term effects of magic mushrooms could also have therapeutic benefits. For example, Roland Griffiths envisions using psilocin to treat cancer patients suffering from anxiety or depression.
Serious Side Effects of the Magic Mushrooms Before the medical use can be considered, however, the US psychologist believes that the side effects of consuming the magic mushrooms can be clarified. Some of the subjects reported significant anxiety during the mushroom intoxication, which could lead to “dangerous behavior when taking the hallucinogens in a less well-monitored environment,” report Roland Griffiths and colleagues. In addition to the anxiety states, which were also recorded in the personality test under the item neuroticism, so-called horror trips should be feared, especially in mentally unstable people with a depressed mood. Here, too, the effects can go far beyond the actual state of intoxication, so that personality disorders occur years after the mushroom trip or those affected suffer from recurring negative flashbacks, the US researchers explained. There is a danger that these people will literally “get stuck” on the mushroom trip. In addition, according to the US researchers, more harmless side effects such as rapid heartbeat, circulatory problems, nausea and vomiting can occur when consuming magic mushrooms. The US psychologists did not want to make a final judgment, and Griffiths emphasized that it was not yet clear whether the results were transferable to the general population. In addition, the current study only provides clues for a therapeutic benefit of magic mushrooms, but is not representative with its 51 participants, the US researcher explained. In Germany, the possession and trading of mushrooms containing psilocybin is prohibited regardless of the purpose of the possession. (fp)
Image: Patrick Ullrich