This follow-up study (n=36) found that the mystical experience on the day of the psychedelic experience (58% had a ‘full’ experience) with psilocybin (30mg/70kg) mediated the level of personal meaning and spiritual significance reported 14 months later.
Abstract of Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later
“Psilocybin has been used for centuries for religious purposes; however, little is known scientifically about its long-term effects. We previously reported the effects of a double-blind study evaluating the psychological effects of a high psilocybin dose. This report presents the 14-month follow-up and examines the relationship of the follow-up results to data obtained at screening and on drug session days. Participants were 36 hallucinogen-naïve adults reporting regular participation in religious/spiritual activities. Oral psilocybin (30 mg/70 kg) was administered on one of two or three sessions, with methylphenidate (40 mg/70 kg) administered on the other session(s). During sessions, volunteers were encouraged to close their eyes and direct their attention inward. At the 14-month follow-up, 58% and 67%, respectively, of volunteers rated the psilocybin-occasioned experience as being among the five most personally meaningful and among the five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives; 64% indicated that the experience increased well-being or life satisfaction; 58% met criteria for having had a ‘complete’ mystical experience. Correlation and regression analyses indicated a central role of the mystical experience assessed on the session day in the high ratings of personal meaning and spiritual significance at follow-up. Of the measures of personality, affect, quality of life and spirituality assessed across the study, only a scale measuring mystical experience showed a difference from screening. When administered under supportive conditions, psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences that, at 14-month follow-up, were considered by volunteers to be among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives.”
Summary of Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later
Psilocybin, the principal psychoactive component of various hallucinogenic mushroom species, is primarily mediated at 5-HT2A receptor sites and can induce robust changes in perception, cognition, affect, volition and somaesthesia.
Early researchers did not understand the influence of nonpharmacological variables on psilocybin experiences. Later researchers provided more preparation and interpersonal support during drug action, which resulted in more positively valued experiences and fewer adverse effects.
Recently, we used rigorous double-blind methods to evaluate the acute and long-term psychological effects of psilocybin in 36 hallucinogen-naive volunteers. The results showed that psilocybin occasioned experiences with substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance when evaluated 2 months after psilocybin.
This study builds on the earlier work done by Griffiths et al (2006).
“The measures of personality, affect, quality of life, and spirituality assessed at screening indicated that the volunteers were generally well-adjusted, outgoing, open and high in spirituality.”
One should always stay cognisant of a (self) selection of the participants. In this case, the high score on spirituality also manifested itself at the screening at a score of about 210 (college students on average scored 195) and 250 after 2 and 14 months after the psilocybin session(s).
The paper also does a good job of describing the mystical experience from the participants’ point of view. In table 3, you can find their quotes. E.g.
“The experience expanded my conscious awareness permanently. It allows me to let go of negative ideas faster. I accept ‘what is’ easier.”
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Cite this paper (APA)
Griffiths, R. R., Richards, W. A., Johnson, M. W., McCann, U. D., & Jesse, R. (2008). Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 22(6), 621-632.
Authors associated with this publication with profiles on BlossomRoland Griffiths
Roland R. Griffiths is one of the strongest voices in psychedelics research. With over 400 journal articles under his belt and as one of the first researchers in the psychedelics renaissance, he has been a vital part of the research community.
Matthew Johnson is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. His research is concerned with addiction medicine, drug abuse, and drug dependence.
Robert 'Bob' Jesse is one of the hidden movers and shakers in the psychedelics renaissance. He founded the Council on Spiritual Practices. Together with Roland Griffiths (and many others), he led the new research into psychedelics, also with a focus beyond the ill, but too for people for spiritual and psychological benefits.
Institutes associated with this publicationJohns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University (Medicine) is host to the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, which is one of the leading research institutes into psychedelics. The center is led by Roland Griffiths and Matthew Johnson.
The psychedelics given at which dose and how many timesPsilocybin 30 mg | 1x
Linked Research Papers
Notable research papers that build on or are influenced by this paperPsilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance
This is one of the first (and key) double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (n=36) on psilocybin and its effect on 'healthy normals'. It shows that a high (30mg/70kg) dose can occasion mystical (peak) experiences (participants did already have a spiritual/religious practice beforehand). The experience is rated as personally meaningful. The participants exhibit positive mood (and lower anxiety) immediately and after two months.