OPEN Foundation

K. MacLean

Effects of psilocybin therapy on personality structure

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:
To explore whether psilocybin with psychological support modulates personality parameters in patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression (TRD).
METHOD:
Twenty patients with moderate or severe, unipolar, TRD received oral psilocybin (10 and 25 mg, one week apart) in a supportive setting. Personality was assessed at baseline and at 3-month follow-up using the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R), the subjective psilocybin experience with Altered State of Consciousness (ASC) scale, and depressive symptoms with QIDS-SR16.
RESULTS:
Neuroticism scores significantly decreased while Extraversion increased following psilocybin therapy. These changes were in the direction of the normative NEO-PI-R data and were both predicted, in an exploratory analysis, by the degree of insightfulness experienced during the psilocybin session. Openness scores also significantly increased following psilocybin, whereas Conscientiousness showed trend-level increases, and Agreeableness did not change.
CONCLUSION:
Our observation of changes in personality measures after psilocybin therapy was mostly consistent with reports of personality change in relation to conventional antidepressant treatment, although the pronounced increases in Extraversion and Openness might constitute an effect more specific to psychedelic therapy. This needs further exploration in future controlled studies, as do the brain mechanisms of postpsychedelic personality change.
Erritzoe, D., Roseman, L., Nour, M. M., MacLean, K., Kaelen, M., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart‐Harris, R. L. (2018). Effects of psilocybin therapy on personality structure. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 10.1111/acps.12904
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Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors

Abstract

Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences with participant-attributed increases in well-being. However, little research has examined enduring changes in traits. This study administered psilocybin to participants who undertook a program of meditation/spiritual practices. Healthy participants were randomized to three groups (25 each): (1) very low-dose (1 mg/70 kg on sessions 1 and 2) with moderate-level (“standard”) support for spiritual-practice (LD-SS); (2) high-dose (20 and 30 mg/70 kg on sessions 1 and 2, respectively) with standard support (HD-SS); and (3) high-dose (20 and 30 mg/70kg on sessions 1 and 2, respectively) with high support for spiritual practice (HD-HS). Psilocybin was administered double-blind and instructions to participants/staff minimized expectancy confounds. Psilocybin was administered 1 and 2 months after spiritual-practice initiation. Outcomes at 6 months included rates of spiritual practice and persisting effects of psilocybin. Compared with low-dose, high-dose psilocybin produced greater acute and persisting effects. At 6 months, compared with LD-SS, both high-dose groups showed large significant positive changes on longitudinal measures of interpersonal closeness, gratitude, life meaning/purpose, forgiveness, death transcendence, daily spiritual experiences, religious faith and coping, and community observer ratings. Determinants of enduring effects were psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience and rates of meditation/spiritual practices. Psilocybin can occasion enduring trait-level increases in prosocial attitudes/behaviors and in healthy psychological functioning.
Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., Jesse, R., MacLean, K. A., … & Klinedinst, M. A. (2017). Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881117731279.
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Survey study of challenging experiences after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms: Acute and enduring positive and negative consequences

Abstract

Acute and enduring adverse effects of psilocybin have been reported anecdotally, but have not been well characterized. For this study, 1993 individuals (mean age 30 yrs; 78% male) completed an online survey about their single most psychologically difficult or challenging experience (worst “bad trip”) after consuming psilocybin mushrooms. Thirty-nine percent rated it among the top five most challenging experiences of his/her lifetime. Eleven percent put self or others at risk of physical harm; factors increasing the likelihood of risk included estimated dose, duration and difficulty of the experience, and absence of physical comfort and social support. Of the respondents, 2.6% behaved in a physically aggressive or violent manner and 2.7% received medical help. Of those whose experience occurred >1 year before, 7.6% sought treatment for enduring psychological symptoms. Three cases appeared associated with onset of enduring psychotic symptoms and three cases with attempted suicide. Multiple regression analysis showed degree of difficulty was positively associated, and duration was negatively associated, with enduring increases in well-being. Difficulty of experience was positively associated with dose. Despite difficulties, 84% endorsed benefiting from the experience. The incidence of risky behavior or enduring psychological distress is extremely low when psilocybin is given in laboratory studies to screened, prepared, and supported participants.

Carbonaro, T. M., Bradstreet, M. P., Barrett, F. S., MacLean, K. A., Jesse, R., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2016). Survey study of challenging experiences after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms: Acute and enduring positive and negative consequences. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 0269881116662634.
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Time course of pharmacokinetic and hormonal effects of inhaled high-dose salvinorin A in humans.

Abstract

Salvinorin A is a kappa opioid agonist and the principal psychoactive constituent of the Salvia divinorum plant, which has been used for hallucinogenic effects. Previous research on salvinorin A pharmacokinetics likely underestimated plasma levels typically resulting from the doses administered due to inefficient vaporization and not collecting samples during peak drug effects. Six healthy adults inhaled a single high dose of vaporized salvinorin A (n = 4, 21 mcg/kg; n = 2, 18 mcg/kg). Participant- and monitor-rated effects were assessed every 2 min for 60 min post-inhalation. Blood samples were collected at 13 time points up to 90 min post-inhalation. Drug levels peaked at 2 min and then rapidly decreased. Drug levels were significantly, positively correlated with participant and monitor drug effect ratings. Significant elevations in prolactin were observed beginning 5 min post-inhalation and peaking at 15 min post-inhalation. Cortisol showed inconsistent increases across participants. Hormonal responses were not well correlated with drug levels. This is the first study to demonstrate a direct relationship between changes in plasma levels of salvinorin A and drug effects in humans. The results confirm the efficacy of an inhalation technique for salvinorin A.

Johnson, M. W., MacLean, K. A., Caspers, M. J., Prisinzano, T. E., & Griffiths, R. R. (2016). Time course of pharmacokinetic and hormonal effects of inhaled high-dose salvinorin A in humans. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England). http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881116629125

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Mystical Experiences Occasioned by the Hallucinogen Psilocybin Lead to Increases in the Personality Domain of Openness

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.

MacLean, K. A., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2011). Mystical Experiences Occasioned by the Hallucinogen Psilocybin Lead to Increases in the Personality Domain of Openness. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(11), 1453-1461. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881111420188
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Human psychopharmacology and dose-effects of salvinorin A, a kappa opioid agonist hallucinogen present in the plant Salvia divinorum

Abstract

Salvinorin A is a potent, selective nonnitrogenous kappa opioid agonist and the known psychoactive constituent of Salvia divinorum, a member of the mint family that has been used for centuries by Mazatec shamans of Mexico for divination and spiritual healing. S. divinorum has over the last several years gained increased popularity as a recreational drug. This is a double-blind, placebo controlled study of salvinorin A in 4 psychologically and physically healthy hallucinogen-using adults. Across sessions, participants inhaled 16 ascending doses of salvinorin A and 4 intermixed placebo doses under comfortable and supportive conditions. Doses ranged from 0.375 μg/kg to 21 μg/kg. Subject-rated drug strength was assessed every 2 min for 60 min after inhalation. Orderly time- and dose-related effects were observed. Drug strength ratings peaked at 2 min (first time point) and definite subjective effects were no longer present at approximately 20 min after inhalation. Dose-related increases were observed on questionnaire measures of mystical-type experience (Mysticism Scale) and subjective effects associated with classic serotonergic (5-HT2A) hallucinogens (Hallucinogen Rating Scale). Salvinorin A did not significantly increase heart rate or blood pressure. Participant narratives indicated intense experiences characterized by disruptions in vestibular and interoceptive signals (e.g., change in spatial orientation, pressure on the body) and unusual and sometimes recurring themes across sessions such as revisiting childhood memories, cartoon-like imagery, and contact with entities. Under these prepared and supportive conditions, salvinorin A occasioned a unique profile of subjective effects having similarities to classic hallucinogens, including mystical-type effects.

Johnson, M. W., Maclean, K.A., Reissig, C. R., Prisinzano, T. E., & Griffiths, R. R. (2010). Human psychopharmacology and dose-effects of salvinorin A, a kappa opioid agonist hallucinogen present in the plant Salvia divinorum. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 115(1-2), 150-155. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.11.005

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