Thursday, July 13, 2006
Yourcology and Mycology
Volunteers who tried the hallucinogenic ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms during a controlled study funded by the U.S. government had "mystical" experiences, and many of them still felt unusually happy months later.
The study included 36 college-educated participants averaging 46 years of age. It was also randomized and double-blinded, meaning that half of the participants received psilocybin, while the other half received a non-hallucinogenic stimulant, methylphenidate (Ritalin), but neither researchers nor the participants knew who got which drug in any given session. Each volunteer was brought in for two or three sessions in a "crossover" design that guaranteed that each participant used psilocybin at least once.
. . . nearly two-thirds of the volunteers said they achieved a "mystical experience" with "substantial personal meaning." One-third rated the psilocybin experience as "the single most spiritually significant experience of his or her life," and another 38 percent placed the experience among their "top five" most spiritually significant moments.
Most also said they became better, gentler people in the following two months. "We don't think that's delusional, because we also interviewed family members and friends by telephone, and they confirmed these kinds of claims . . . "
"More than 60 percent of the volunteers reported effects of their psilocybin session that met the criteria for a 'full mystical experience' as measured by well-established psychological scales," said lead researcher Roland Griffiths, a professor in the departments of neuroscience, psychiatry and behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Photo of mushrooms via Documen Information Design.
Currently I'm at the top of my personal list of people who could stand a spiritual experience that leaves them a better, gentler person for a couple of months.