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This just in: Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance
October 16, 2006 12:11 AM   Subscribe

...Objectives    This double-blind study evaluated the acute and longer-term psychological effects of a high dose of psilocybin relative to a comparison compound administered under comfortable, supportive conditions...

Results    Psilocybin produced a range of acute perceptual changes, subjective experiences, and labile moods including anxiety. Psilocybin also increased measures of mystical experience. At 2 months, the volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as having substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance and attributed to the experience sustained positive changes in attitudes and behavior consistent with changes rated by community observers.

Conclusions   When administered under supportive conditions, psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences. The ability to occasion such experiences prospectively will allow rigorous scientific investigations of their causes and consequences.
Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance
posted by y2karl (58 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Shrooms + matisyahu = heaven.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:13 AM on October 16, 2006


Thank God we have science to tell us these things. We might have gone another hundred years without ever learning this.

Tomorrow's breaking science story: THC gives you the munchies.
posted by zeroboss at 12:18 AM on October 16, 2006


my most substantial and sustained spiritual experience occured under the influnce of lsd, fwiw. subsequent psilocybin experiences mostly reinforced my conclusion: the meaning of life = love.
posted by waxboy at 12:27 AM on October 16, 2006


Damn, these guys were reading my high-shool journal again!
posted by lekvar at 12:31 AM on October 16, 2006


Shrooms + matisyahu = heaven.

Well, to each his own (especially when it comes to preferred trip music), but I could give ya 20 off the top that'd send you to another world farther than matisyahu.

But, let us not skew this thread to 'best trip music'. (visit www.shroomery.org for plenty on that)

I'm definitely not surprised it ranks highly on how personally meaningful the experience was. Like zeroboss said, 'well, duhh...'
posted by blastrid at 12:34 AM on October 16, 2006


Previously discussed on MeFi, although without the fulltext link given here.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:38 AM on October 16, 2006


Do you have any candy? Kamala Extract is so bitter..
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:39 AM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


What about the effect of power ups?
posted by srboisvert at 12:51 AM on October 16, 2006


Yea, the "duh" factor of the study's conclusion is pretty high. It's awesome that this sort of research is even being allowed in the U.S. though. Also, selecting the study subjects from a pool of non-druggie Christian churchgoers was a stroke of genius. Many of them had powerful spiritual experiences in line with their Christian beliefs that were just as real to them as religious experiences gained via methods more accepted by the Christian church. That either validates entheogens as tools that can be used for spiritual development or it calls into question the veracity of all powerful religious experiences. It gets harder to single out entheogens as having no redeeming value.
posted by rhiannon at 12:59 AM on October 16, 2006


Ha! cowbellemoo, you are such a nerd!!! Snort! :P
posted by hincandenza at 1:04 AM on October 16, 2006


Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance

Duh.
posted by loquacious at 1:11 AM on October 16, 2006


Ah, fond memories of that glorious 'shroom! We used to pick 'em by the bagfull down in Alabama. They'd grow on cow dung: optimal conditions for finding them would be a hot sunny summer morning after an overnight rain. We'd pluck hundreds of them, no lie. It became such a well known phenomenon, however, that any and all cowfields within easy driving distance of Birmingham would, on such optimal mornings, be full of hippies harvesting the precious psychedelic bounty. After awhile farmers started showing up in their fields with shotguns, plus I think they started feeding the cows something that would inhibit the spores from maturing on the cowdung, and after awhile we couldn't find them like before. By 1975 or so it was all over. But I was just about done with psychedlics after that anyway.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:31 AM on October 16, 2006


Agreed with rhiannon that it's remarkable this research is even funded in USA today, and that using Christians was perfect.

Hallucinogens have a lot of therapeutic potential. Mescaline for example can be valuable against alcoholism, according to some sources I'm not bothering to look up right now. Unfortunately I can't imagine anything with recreational possibilities being tolerated regardless of its therapeutic value (cf. pain relief and opiates, chemotherapy and marijuana) - the right-wing mentality can hardly tolerate anything pleasant or natural.
posted by jam_pony at 1:47 AM on October 16, 2006


Also, anything not patentable will be shut out of legal use by any means the pharmacos can manage to contrive.
posted by jam_pony at 1:48 AM on October 16, 2006


A few years ago I visited the ruins of Whitby Abbey, on a green hill overlooking the sea in North Yorkshire. The abbey was built there because it was the place where the Anglo-Saxon shepherd Caedmon had a religious vision, instantly became a poet and wrote his famous hymn.

The hill is, of course, covered with psillocybin mushrooms.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:37 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to <small>? Karl, you've changed! What about the music? It used to be about the music, man.
posted by blacklite at 3:01 AM on October 16, 2006


I'd be curious to see the questionnaires they used to quantify States of Consciousness and Mysticism.
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:04 AM on October 16, 2006


I told you guys. Drugs maker you a better person. Tell your friends, family, and loved ones.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:51 AM on October 16, 2006


Whatever happened to ? Karl, you've changed!

He ate the EAT ME cake. His next post will be big. And prophetic.
posted by pracowity at 4:41 AM on October 16, 2006


Man, what I would do, if I were a farmer, would be to cross-breed psylocybin mushrooms with truffles. Big money, baby!
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:09 AM on October 16, 2006


Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences

...and 2cb makes the walls melt.
posted by item at 6:15 AM on October 16, 2006


oops: 2cb.
posted by item at 6:16 AM on October 16, 2006


karl, you should have posted this on flash friday. It's monday, man, time to sober up.
posted by jfuller at 6:16 AM on October 16, 2006


Shrooms are so fascinating, when you think of all the energy involved in their life cycle and the base elements to their structure. What a beautiful life form! LSD and P. Cubensis have more in common than we might think, considering ergot is the basic source of derivation for the former.

RIP PFTek
posted by prostyle at 7:05 AM on October 16, 2006


I'm laughing my ass off.
posted by geekhorde at 7:24 AM on October 16, 2006


yay! another occasion to recommend that everyone read the two books by Jeremy Narby, The Cosmic Serpent: DNA & The Origins of Knowledge and Intelligence In Nature. especially the Cosmic Serpent; he looks into how psychoactivity (with ayahuasca as the active ingredient instead of psilopcybin) can be another 'way of knowing.' the idea is continued in Intelligence, as he attempts to reconcile Western science's ways of knowing with the significant body of knowledge (medical, biological, etc.) already available to shamanistic societies.

it's cool to see The Scientists coming to these conclusions on their own terms, but silly that they're so stubborn when anyone presents them with the same conclusions found other ways.

related is the work of Pablo Amaringo, an eidetic shaman with a knack for painting his visions.
posted by carsonb at 7:29 AM on October 16, 2006


Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance

It also makes you trip your balls off, dude!

(I dunno. Does every fun chemical roller coaster need to be justified with 'spiritual awakenings?' I don't feel the need to defend my beer drinking by claiming it's some kind of quest.)
posted by jonmc at 7:37 AM on October 16, 2006


Terence McKenna thinks mushrooms played a key part in the evolution of language and thought.
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:49 AM on October 16, 2006


I dunno. Does every fun chemical roller coaster need to be justified with 'spiritual awakenings?' I don't feel the need to defend my beer drinking by claiming it's some kind of quest.

I know many people that have had profound experiences while on mushrooms. I do not know anyone who has ever had similar experiences while drunk.
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:54 AM on October 16, 2006


Mr Zero, I've done psychedelics myself. Usually in combination with pot and alcohol. It was fun, but I didn't see God, Buddha, Bo Diddley or any other divine presence. So, the whole thing kinda rings a little hollow for me.
posted by jonmc at 8:14 AM on October 16, 2006


Mushroom Life
posted by taosbat at 8:28 AM on October 16, 2006


jonmc, is your personal experience the only experience possible?
posted by jdfalk at 8:30 AM on October 16, 2006


of course not, but it's the one I trust most.
posted by jonmc at 8:32 AM on October 16, 2006


Alcohol is the antidote to psychedelics.

The most interesting thing about this study is the methodology, I think it's a well done study that could serve as a model for other recreational psychoactive research.

My only question, how/where did they find 135 volunteers who were open to using psychedelics but hadn't yet? I am skeptical.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:02 AM on October 16, 2006


When I was but a young lad, I was given very strict order by my mother. If there ever comes a time that she is permanently bed-ridden, I am to provide her with a steady supply of Psilocybin mushrooms.

Her view: since she will be no longer need to be a productive member of society, she might as well enjoy it.

This, among other things, explains why my mom is cooler than yours.
posted by quin at 9:36 AM on October 16, 2006


quin's mom rocks.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:48 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Y2Karl is a true Northwesterner.

The 'shrooms experience very much depends on timing, environment and the vagaries of dosage.

Kids, if you want a spiritual experience on 'shrooms, Do NOT: Here is what you do: Wait until the Persid meteor showers. Gather no more than about eight or nine friends. Buy lots of simple uncontroversial comfort food. Get your camp gear together and dirve out to the woods. Set up camp. Get the food cooking. Build a small camp fire. Lock up the lighter fluid. Eat. Take said 'shrooms. Relax. Play Cosmic Encounter. Wait for God.
posted by tkchrist at 9:54 AM on October 16, 2006


This just in:

I realize you were being ironic, but it's always worth pointing out that the ability of psychedelics to produce states that cannot scientifically be distinguished from "authentic" (non-drug) mystical states is pretty much the point of Charles Tart's exhaustive compendium Altered States of Consciousness (1969).
posted by soyjoy at 10:15 AM on October 16, 2006


The most interesting thing about this study is the methodology, I think it's a well done study that could serve as a model for other recreational psychoactive research.

I generally agree, except just once I'd like to hear about a study in which subjects were allowed to experience drugs in a natural outdoors setting.
posted by tula at 10:42 AM on October 16, 2006


jonmc: I've done psychedelics myself. Usually in combination with pot and alcohol. It was fun, but I didn't see God, Buddha, Bo Diddley or any other divine presence. So, the whole thing kinda rings a little hollow for me.

I've seen you have this conversation before. People have different dispositions to psychedelics; read about this qualitative study of LSD use in Germany.
posted by daksya at 10:51 AM on October 16, 2006


Exploration of the self and the desire to experience profound changes in their perception of the world are reported as primary motives for LSD use, in addition to its hedonistic value.

I'm sure. I was prepared to have my mind blown, but all I got was a cool light show. YMMV.
posted by jonmc at 11:06 AM on October 16, 2006


carsonb: "... (with ayahuasca as the active ingredient instead of psilopcybin) can be another 'way of knowing.' the idea is continued in Intelligence, as he attempts to reconcile Western science's ways of knowing with the significant body of knowledge (medical, biological, etc.) already available to shamanistic societies."

More interesting work is available on this topic. I believe Ken Tupper from UBC is continuing his work on the subject. His master's thesis mentions it.

From abstract: "This thesis investigates the educational possibilities of entheogens (i.e. psychoactive plants and chemicals used as spiritual sacraments)."

More information here (look under documentation).
posted by rider at 11:13 AM on October 16, 2006


Well, I'm with jonmc (though I will say that I had quite a bit of mind-blowing thoughtfun): All the "and then I turned into tinfoil and God crinkled me across all consciousness" just struck me as bunk exaggerations...
posted by klangklangston at 11:16 AM on October 16, 2006


I was prepared to have my mind blown, but all I got was a cool light show. YMMV.

Actually, that'd be the mileage of 135+ individuals, and "may" does not fit anywhere in that equation. Thanks for reminding us, for the fourth time, how valuable your constantly reinforced anecdotal opinion is.
posted by prostyle at 11:34 AM on October 16, 2006


Actually, that'd be the mileage of 135+ individuals, and "may" does not fit anywhere in that equation. Thanks for reminding us, for the fourth time, how valuable your constantly reinforced anecdotal opinion is.

Si, I'm only allowed to reinforce the opinion of the majority. I think it's worth mentioning that much of the allure of psychedelics comes from all the 'blow my mind and see Dick Cavett dancing the tango on a flying hubcap,' hype, and that it often dosen't measure up. I'm not sure why that bugs you so much.
posted by jonmc at 11:47 AM on October 16, 2006


jonmc: you seem to have missed the following parts:

With regard to motivations for LSD use, two main approaches were identified. These do not represent two distinct groups of persons, however, as many had embraced both of them at some point. Nearly a third of participants reported hedonistic purposes as their primary motive for LSD use. They took the drug to have fun, to enhance a good or special time, and for its entertainment value. Some reported they enjoyed the potential danger involved as a thrill. For another third of participants, their central motives were closely and uniquely linked to selfexploration, self-reflection and explicit therapeutic purposes. A majority reported individual combinations of both hedonism and self-analysis. Often these LSD experiences were considered powerful sources of internal wisdom or supernatural knowledge, as well as providing sensual and intellectual enjoyment. All of these users reported a clear affinity for adventure and a fascination regarding the unpredictability of the LSD state, the subjective phenomena experienced, and the quality of the experience itself.

Generally, there was an observed relationship between degrees of knowledge and the range of subjective phenomena reported. While all users reported feelings of happiness or enthusiasm relating to a liberation from the sense of self or "ego predominance," metaphysical or mystical experiences were limited to those persons with philosophical proclivities.
posted by daksya at 11:48 AM on October 16, 2006


metaphysical or mystical experiences were limited to those persons with philosophical proclivities.

I have philosophical proclivities out the wazoo, and still no mystical revelation. Should I track down those hippies and ask for my money back? It's been 15 years, they might be hard to track down.
posted by jonmc at 11:53 AM on October 16, 2006


jonmc: I think it's worth mentioning that much of the allure of psychedelics comes from all the 'blow my mind and see Dick Cavett dancing the tango on a flying hubcap,' hype, and that it often dosen't measure up. I'm not sure why that bugs you so much.

That's a riot. Earlier, you said,

Does every fun chemical roller coaster need to be justified with 'spiritual awakenings?' I don't feel the need to defend my beer drinking by claiming it's some kind of quest.

Your implication being that people are actually tripping for hedonistic purposes, but legitimizing it in the guise of spiritualism. And you defend this by pointing specifically to your own lack of spiritual experience on psychedelics. And you wonder why people get bugged at your implication?!
posted by daksya at 11:53 AM on October 16, 2006


Blanket Statement. Presumed Conjecture.

yawn
posted by prostyle at 11:58 AM on October 16, 2006


thanks rider. I will definitely check that out.
posted by carsonb at 12:38 PM on October 16, 2006


LSD treatment for alcoholism gets new look
posted by homunculus at 1:30 PM on October 16, 2006


Thanks for the link, homonculus. I had read about the original doctors work, but no follow up material.
One research group in Toronto tried to replicate the results of the study, but wanted to observe the effect of LSD on the patients in isolation, so they blindfolded or tied up the patients before giving them the drug. Under such circumstances, the Toronto researchers determined LSD was not effective in treating alcoholism.

The Saskatchewan group argued that the drug needed to be provided in a nurturing environment to be effective. However, the Toronto researchers held more credibility than the Saskatchewan researchers--who were led by a controversial, British psychiatrist, Dr. Humphry Osmond--and the Saskatchewan group's research was essentially buried.
I'm having trouble imagining even a few vastly more negative psychological contexts than being bound, blindfolded, dosed with LSD and left in an isolated environment.
posted by prostyle at 3:59 PM on October 16, 2006


I once spent a few hours on a rooftop terrace in Amsterdam looking up at a strikingly beautiful sky and thinking my vision was so sharp I could see satellites going by. I felt I was absorbing an awful lot more knowledge about life, the universe and everything than I could ever get from any church.

Was I really doing more than hallucinating? Probably not, but then I doubt that most people who have "religious experiences" are doing much more than that either.
posted by clevershark at 5:07 PM on October 16, 2006


jonmc writes "I have philosophical proclivities out the wazoo, and still no mystical revelation."

FWIW, I took psychedelics many times over the course of 15 years before I had an "existence" trip, and it wasn't planned. It pretty much changed my life - yes, for the better. Much better. Not everyone will have such experiences, and not everyone needs to (and not everyone should). Scared the hell out of me at the time, to my soul, chewed me up and spit me out. Am glad I was in a safe environment with people I trust. I needed it. Saved my life - no shit.

Coming back to earth was not easy, but in time life became much better. I had to thoroughly examine and change myself. And I'm still working it out, but man life is so much better. Again, not for everyone ...
posted by krinklyfig at 6:40 PM on October 16, 2006


*sigh* I miss acid.
posted by Bageena at 10:02 AM on October 17, 2006


Is U.S. Government Using LSD for Interrogations?
posted by homunculus at 10:11 AM on October 17, 2006


Are they? Since it's well-known they used to, just ask yourself why would they have ever stopped?
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:14 AM on October 17, 2006


For the same reason I did? They lost their dealer?
posted by Bageena at 11:23 AM on October 17, 2006


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