A Quantitative and Qualitative Report of Psilocybin Induced Mystical-Type Experiences and Their Relation to Lasting Positive Effects

In this preprint (2021) 35 medium-high doses (>12mg) of psilocybin were administered to 28 healthy participants whose experiences were assessed at the end of the dosing day using the 30-item Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ) and a qualitative report. Three months after administration, persisting psychological effects attributed to the psilocybin experience were measured using the Persisting Effects Questionnaire (PEQ). It was found that the MEQ total score is positively associated with the later emergence of positive PEQ effects. Themes such as a sense of connection with the universe, familial love, and the experience of profound beauty were identified upon qualitative analysis.

Abstract

“Psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin are under investigation for the treatment of several psychiatric conditions. They also have the remarkable property of producing persisting positive psychological changes in healthy volunteers for at least several months. In this study, 35 medium-high doses of psilocybin were administered to 28 healthy volunteers (12 females). By the end of the dosing day, participants reported the intensity of their acute experience using the 30-item Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ) and an open-form qualitative report from home. Persisting psychological effects attributed to the psilocybin experience were measured using the Persisting Effects Questionnaire (PEQ) three-months after administration. Using a linear latent-variable model we show that the MEQ total score is positively associated with the later emergence of positive PEQ effects (p = 3×10-5 35 ). Moreover, the MEQ subscales “Positive Mood” (pcorr = 4.1×10-4) and “Mysticality” (pcorr = 2.0×10-4 36 ) are associated with positive PEQ whereas the subscales “Transcendence of Time and Space” (pcorr = 0.38) and “Ineffability” (pcorr = 0.45) are not. Using natural language pre-processing, we provide the first qualitative descriptions of the “Complete Mystical Experience” induced by orally administered psilocybin in healthy volunteers, revealing themes such as a sense of connection with the universe, familial love, and the experience of profound beauty. Combining qualitative and quantitative methods, this paper expands understanding of the acute psilocybin induced experience in healthy volunteers and suggests an importance of the type of experience in predicting lasting positive effects.”

Authors: Drummond E-W. McCulloch, Maria Z. Grywacz, Martin K. Madsen, Peter S. Jensen, Brize Ozenne, Sophia Armand, Gitte M. Knudsen, Patrick MacDonald Fisher & Dea S. Stenbaek

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