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Peak Experiences of Psilocybin Users and Non-Users

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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
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