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Neuroticism is associated with challenging experiences with psilocybin mushrooms

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Classic hallucinogens (e.g. psilocybin and LSD) have substantial effects on perception, cognition, and emotion that can often be psychologically challenging, however we know very little regarding the source of significant individual variability that has been observed in the frequency and intensity of challenging experiences (i.e. “bad trips”) with psychedelics. Previous clinical and observational literature suggests that there may be an association between neuroticism and challenging psychedelic experiences.


Data from two online surveys of challenging experiences with psilocybin were analyzed. Multivariate analysis was used to estimate the associations between total score and scores from seven sub-factors (fear, grief, physical distress, insanity, isolation, death, and paranoia) of the Challenging Experience Questionnaire (CEQ), and scale scores from the Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI) in Study 1 (N = 1993) and the Big Five Inventory (BFI) in Study 2 (N = 981).


CEQ scores were negatively associated with emotional stability scores (the inverse of neuroticism) in Study 1 and positively associated with neuroticism scores in Study 2.


Neuroticism may contribute to the strength of challenging experiences with psychedelics in uncontrolled settings.

Barrett, F. S., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2017). Neuroticism is associated with challenging experiences with psilocybin mushrooms. Personality and Individual Differences117, 155-160. 10.1016/j.paid.2017.06.004
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