Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness

Katherine A. MacLean, Matthew W Johnson, Roland R Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A large body of evidence, including longitudinal analyses of personality change, suggests that core personality traits are predominantly stable after age 30. To our knowledge, no study has demonstrated changes in personality in healthy adults after an experimentally manipulated discrete event. Intriguingly, double-blind controlled studies have shown that the classic hallucinogen psilocybin occasions personally and spiritually significant mystical experiences that predict long-term changes in behaviors, attitudes and values. In the present report we assessed the effect of psilocybin on changes in the five broad domains of personality-Neuroticism, Extroversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Consistent with participant claims of hallucinogen-occasioned increases in aesthetic appreciation, imagination, and creativity, we found significant increases in Openness following a high-dose psilocybin session. In participants who had mystical experiences during their psilocybin session, Openness remained significantly higher than baseline more than 1 year after the session. The findings suggest a specific role for psilocybin and mystical-type experiences in adult personality change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1453-1461
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Volume25
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2011

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Keywords

  • Hallucinogen
  • mystical experience
  • openness
  • personality
  • psilocybin
  • psychedelic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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