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Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects

Authors
  • Griffiths, Roland R.1, 2
  • Johnson, Matthew W.1
  • Richards, William A.3
  • Richards, Brian D.3
  • McCann, Una1
  • Jesse, Robert4
  • 1 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 5510 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD, 21224-6823, USA , Baltimore (United States)
  • 2 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, 5510 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD, 21224-6823, USA , Baltimore (United States)
  • 3 Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, 2516 Talbot Road, Baltimore, MD, 21216-2032, USA , Baltimore (United States)
  • 4 Council on Spiritual Practices, San Francisco, CA, 94146-0220, USA , San Francisco (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Psychopharmacology
Publication Date
Jun 15, 2011
Volume
218
Issue
4
Pages
649–665
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00213-011-2358-5
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

RationaleThis dose-effect study extends previous observations showing that psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having persisting positive effects on attitudes, mood, and behavior.ObjectivesThis double-blind study evaluated psilocybin (0, 5, 10, 20, 30 mg/70 kg, p.o.) administered under supportive conditions.MethodsParticipants were 18 adults (17 hallucinogen-naïve). Five 8-h sessions were conducted individually for each participant at 1-month intervals. Participants were randomized to receive the four active doses in either ascending or descending order (nine participants each). Placebo was scheduled quasi-randomly. During sessions, volunteers used eyeshades and were instructed to direct their attention inward. Volunteers completed questionnaires assessing effects immediately after and 1 month after each session, and at 14 months follow-up.ResultsPsilocybin produced acute perceptual and subjective effects including, at 20 and/or 30 mg/70 kg, extreme anxiety/fear (39% of volunteers) and/or mystical-type experience (72% of volunteers). One month after sessions at the two highest doses, volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as having substantial personal and spiritual significance, and attributed to the experience sustained positive changes in attitudes, mood, and behavior, with the ascending dose sequence showing greater positive effects. At 14 months, ratings were undiminished and were consistent with changes rated by community observers. Both the acute and persisting effects of psilocybin were generally a monotonically increasing function of dose, with the lowest dose showing significant effects.ConclusionsUnder supportive conditions, 20 and 30 mg/70 kg psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences having persisting positive effects on attitudes, mood, and behavior. Implications for therapeutic trials are discussed.

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