Effects of psilocybin therapy on personality structure

This open-label study (n=20) found that dosages of psilocybin (10, 25mg) in a supportive setting, for those with treatment-resistant depression (TRD), changed their personality. At 3-month follow-up, Neuroticism was decreased, Extraversion and Openness were increased. The changes were similar (but more pronounced) to changes after conventional antidepressant treatment.

Abstract

Objective: To explore whether psilocybin with psychological support modulates personality parameters in patients suffering from treatment‐resistant depression (TRD).

Method: Twenty patients with moderate or severe, unipolar, TRD received oral psilocybin (10 and 25 mg, one week apart) in a supportive setting. Personality was assessed at baseline and at 3‐month follow‐up using the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO‐PI‐R), the subjective psilocybin experience with Altered State of Consciousness (ASC) scale, and depressive symptoms with QIDS‐SR16.

Results: Neuroticism scores significantly decreased while Extraversion increased following psilocybin therapy. These changes were in the direction of the normative NEO‐PI‐R data and were both predicted, in an exploratory analysis, by the degree of insightfulness experienced during the psilocybin session. Openness scores also significantly increased following psilocybin, whereas Conscientiousness showed trend‐level increases, and Agreeableness did not change.

Conclusion: Our observation of changes in personality measures after psilocybin therapy was mostly consistent with reports of personality change in relation to conventional antidepressant treatment, although the pronounced increases in Extraversion and Openness might constitute an effect more specific to psychedelic therapy. This needs further exploration in future controlled studies, as do the brain mechanisms of postpsychedelic personality change.”

Authors: David Erritzoe, Leor Roseman, Matthew M. Nour, Katherine MacLean, Mendel Kaelen, David J. Nutt & Robin L. Carhart-Harris

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