'Shrooms' Spiritual Effects Still Strong a Year Later

A new survey shows that powerful, spiritually transforming experiences under the influence of psychedelic mushrooms still rank high a year later.
By Anastacia Mott Austin

Timothy Leary would be proud.

A new survey, published in this month's Journal of Psychopharmacology, revealed that test subjects who'd had deep spiritual experiences on "shrooms" reported strong feelings even a year later.

A group of 36 pre-screened volunteers who said they had "active spiritual lives" were given psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms. Two-thirds of the subjects reported having a "full mystical experience" at the time, and many reported feeling "a one-ness with the universe."

This is a very high percentage to begin with, but almost 14 months later 67% of the same subjects reported the experience as "the most, or one of the five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives," said the survey's authors.

One of the volunteers commented, "Surrender is intensely powerful. To 'let go' and become enveloped in the beauty of - in this case music - was enormously spiritual."

Wow, groovy.

"It's one thing to have a dramatic experience you say is impressive. It's another thing to say you consider it as meaningful 14 months later," said Roland Griffiths, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins and lead researcher of the study. "There's something about the saliency of these experiences that's stunning."

The volunteers had not used psychedelic drugs before, and reported a regular spiritual or religious practice. They were given the drug in a "supportive" environment and encouraged to use face masks to block out external stimuli.

In follow-up testing, the experiences the subjects had corresponded to what would have happened in their lives following a "naturally occurring mystical experience." Each of the subjects who reported the test as one of the most spiritually significant of their lives also said they had more satisfaction in life in general since the experiment.

"This is truly remarkable finding," said Griffiths to reporters. "Rarely in psychological research do we see such persistently positive reports from a single event in the laboratory." The scientists involved are now interested in applying their findings to therapeutic cases, such as patients facing end-of-life issues with cancer, people with depression, or possibly even drug addiction.

"This gives credence to claims that the mystical-type experiences some people have during hallucinogen sessions may help patients suffering from cancer-related anxiety or depression, and may serve as a potential treatment for drug dependence. We're eager to move ahead with that research."

Griffiths said that while it may seem controversial to some, drug addicts might find some healing from the connection to a higher power during a hallucinatory experience.

"It does sound counterintuitive," said Griffiths to reporters at Scientific American, adding that "six of the 12 AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] steps are related to a higher power and surrendering to it. Many people don't engage fully into the 12-step program because they don't have a connection to a higher power."

Added Griffiths, "One can't help but wonder whether an experience like this might be useful."
By iBuzzle Staff
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