Washington: A single high dose of the hallucinogen psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms”, is enough to create a lasting personality change, according to a new study.
Lasting change in the part of the personality known as openness, which includes traits related to imagination, aesthetics, feelings, abstract ideas and general broad-mindedness was found in nearly 51 participants in the study who were administered the compound.
Researchers in the field say that after the age of 30, personality doesn’t usually change significantly.
“Normally, if anything, openness tends to decrease as people get older,” says study leader Roland R. Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Changes in these traits, measured on a widely used and scientifically validated personality inventory, were larger in magnitude than changes typically observed in healthy adults over decades of life experiences, the scientists say.
As a word of caution, Griffiths, also notes that some of the study participants reported strong fear or anxiety for a portion of their daylong psilocybin sessions, although none reported any lingering harmful effects.
He cautions, however, that if hallucinogens are used in less well supervised settings, the possible fear or anxiety responses could lead to harmful behaviors.
The study has been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.