OPEN Foundation

Close this search box.

Peak Experiences of Psilocybin Users and Non-Users

Share This Post

Maslow (1970) defined peak experiences as the most wonderful experiences of a person’s life, which may include a sense of awe, well-being, or transcendence. Furthermore, recent research has suggested that psilocybin can produce experiences subjectively rated as uniquely meaningful and significant (Griffiths et al. 2006). It is therefore possible that psilocybin may facilitate or change the nature of peak experiences in users compared to non-users. This study was designed to compare the peak experiences of psilocybin users and non-users, to evaluate the frequency of peak experiences while under the influence of psilocybin, and to assess the perceived degree of alteration of consciousness during these experiences. Participants were recruited through convenience and snowball sampling from undergraduate classes and at a musical event. Participants were divided into three groups, those who reported a peak experience while under the influence of psilocybin (psilocybin peak experience: PPE), participants who had used psilocybin but reported their peak experiences did not occur while they were under the influence of psilocybin (non-psilocybin peak experience: NPPE), and participants who had never used psilocybin (non-user: NU). A total of 101 participants were asked to think about their peak experiences and complete a measure evaluating the degree of alteration of consciousness during that experience. Results indicated that 47% of psilocybin users reported their peak experience occurred while using psilocybin. In addition, there were significant differences among the three groups on all dimensions of alteration of consciousness. Future research is necessary to identify factors that influence the peak experiences of psilocybin users in naturalistic settings and contribute to the different characteristics of peak experiences of psilocybin users and non-users.

Cummins, C., & Lyke, J. (2013). Peak Experiences of Psilocybin Users and Non-Users. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 45(2), 189-194. 10.1080/02791072.2013.785855
Link to full text

OPEN Foundation

Join ICPR 2022 Online!

ICPR features world-leading experts from many academic disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, ethnobotany, and philosophy who come together to give a scientific conference for academics, therapists, researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and members of the public. Get your ICPR 2022 livestream ticket today and use the code OPENLIVE30 at checkout for a €30 discount.

Learn More


Subscribe to our new OPEN-Minded newsletter to stay in the loop, hear about our events, and become a part of a community dedicated to advancing psychedelics.

By clicking subscribe, I confirm to receive emails from the OPEN Foundation and agree with its privacy policy.

16 July - NDE's and Psychedelic Experiences: Commonalities & Insights