'Magic Mushrooms' Could Change You for the Better

Personality shift may be long-term—but don't try it at home
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 29, 2011 3:28 PM CDT
Updated Oct 2, 2011 7:15 AM CDT
'Magic Mushrooms' may alter personality in the long term.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – All that hippie stuff about opening your mind may have some truth to it. Scientists have found that psilocybin, the drug in "magic mushrooms," can improve one aspect of a subject’s personality: her "openness." In a trial, nearly 60% of subjects who were given one dose of psilocybin saw a positive personality effect—and one that lingered for more than a year, USA Today reports. Scientists gathered 51 healthy volunteers, most of whom considered themselves "spiritually active"; they spent a series of eight-hour sessions lying down with blindfolds and music playing through headphones.

They were given psilocybin in only one of the sessions, and neither the subjects nor the attending monitors knew which one. “This study shows that psilocybin actually changes one domain of personality that is strongly related to traits such as imagination, feeling, abstract ideas, and aesthetics, and is considered a core construct underlying creativity in general,” says a researcher. And the increased openness didn't fade during 14 months of follow-ups. But scientists are quick to note that they screened out “vulnerable” subjects due to the drug’s link to such adverse affects as homicide. “People should not try this at home."

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