Those hallucinogenic mushrooms may be tempting (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show), but beware: A single high dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient "magic mushrooms," was enough to bring about a measureable personality change lasting at least a year in nearly 60% of the 51 participants in a new study.
Lasting change was found in the part of the personality known as "openness," which includes traits related to imagination, aesthetics, feelings, abstract ideas and general broad-mindedness. Changes in these traits, measured on a widely used and scientifically validated personality inventory, were larger in magnitude than changes typically observed in healthy adults over decades of life experiences. Usually, after the age of 30, personality doesn't change this significantly. Behavioral scientist Roland R. Griffiths says, "Normally, if anything, openness tends to decrease as people get older."
Griffiths believes psilocybin may have therapeutic uses, and is currently studying whether the hallucinogen has a use in helping cancer patients handle the depression and anxiety that comes along with a diagnosis, and whether it can help longtime cigarette smokers overcome their addiction. He says, "There may be applications for this we can't even imagine at this point."
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