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J Psychopharmacol. 2018 Jan;32(1):49-69. doi: 10.1177/0269881117731279. Epub 2017 Oct 11.

Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors.

Author information

1
1 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA.
2
2 Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA.
3
3 Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, USA.
4
4 Council on Spiritual Practices, Occidental, USA.
5
5 Center for Optimal Living, New York, USA.

Abstract

Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences with participant-attributed increases in well-being. However, little research has examined enduring changes in traits. This study administered psilocybin to participants who undertook a program of meditation/spiritual practices. Healthy participants were randomized to three groups (25 each): (1) very low-dose (1 mg/70 kg on sessions 1 and 2) with moderate-level ("standard") support for spiritual-practice (LD-SS); (2) high-dose (20 and 30 mg/70 kg on sessions 1 and 2, respectively) with standard support (HD-SS); and (3) high-dose (20 and 30 mg/70kg on sessions 1 and 2, respectively) with high support for spiritual practice (HD-HS). Psilocybin was administered double-blind and instructions to participants/staff minimized expectancy confounds. Psilocybin was administered 1 and 2 months after spiritual-practice initiation. Outcomes at 6 months included rates of spiritual practice and persisting effects of psilocybin. Compared with low-dose, high-dose psilocybin produced greater acute and persisting effects. At 6 months, compared with LD-SS, both high-dose groups showed large significant positive changes on longitudinal measures of interpersonal closeness, gratitude, life meaning/purpose, forgiveness, death transcendence, daily spiritual experiences, religious faith and coping, and community observer ratings. Determinants of enduring effects were psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience and rates of meditation/spiritual practices. Psilocybin can occasion enduring trait-level increases in prosocial attitudes/behaviors and in healthy psychological functioning. Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT00802282.

KEYWORDS:

Psilocybin; entheogen; meditation; mystical experience; psychedelic; traits

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