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Surprising Science

Magic Mushrooms Inspire Openness

A single dose of the hallucinogen psilocybin, the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms,’ brings about a measurable and lasting personality change—’openness’—lasting at least a year. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University report that single doses of the hallucinogen psilocybin, the active ingredient ‘magic mushrooms,’ were enough to bring about a measureable and lasting personality change—’openness’—lasting at least a year in nearly 60 percent of the 51 participants in a new study. “By ‘openness,’ they mean traits related to imagination, aesthetics, feelings, abstract ideas, and general broad-mindedness, the researchers said.” The observed personality changes were greater than those that normally occur over an adult lifetime. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The study, party funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, may lend more legitimacy to the idea, long held by the counter culture, that hallucinogenic drugs may be useful as part of a therapeutic psychological treatment. Roland R. Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is currently investigating whether hallucinogens have “a use in helping cancer patients handle the depression and anxiety that comes along with a diagnosis, and whether it can help longtime cigarette smokers overcome their addiction.”


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