OPEN Foundation

M. Nour

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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Psychedelics, Personality and Political Perspectives

Abstract

The psychedelic experience (including psychedelic-induced ego dissolution) can effect lasting change in a person’s attitudes and beliefs. Here, we aimed to investigate the association between naturalistic psychedelic use and personality, political perspectives, and nature relatedness using an anonymous internet survey. Participants (N = 893) provided information about their naturalistic psychedelic, cocaine, and alcohol use, and answered questions relating to personality traits of openness and conscientiousness (Ten-Item Personality Inventory), nature relatedness (Nature-Relatedness Scale), and political attitudes (one-item liberalism-conservatism measure and five-item libertarian-authoritarian measure). Participants also rated the degree of ego dissolution experienced during their “most intense” recalled psychedelic experience (Ego-Dissolution Inventory). Multivariate linear regression analysis indicated that lifetime psychedelic use (but not lifetime cocaine use or weekly alcohol consumption) positively predicted liberal political views, openness and nature relatedness, and negatively predicted authoritarian political views, after accounting for potential confounding variables. Ego dissolution experienced during a participant’s “most intense” psychedelic experience positively predicted liberal political views, openness and nature relatedness, and negatively predicted authoritarian political views. Further work is needed to investigate the nature of the relationship between the peak psychedelic experience and openness to new experiences, egalitarian political views, and concern for the environment.

Nour, M. M., Evans, L., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2017). Psychedelics, Personality and Political Perspectives. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1-10. 10.1080/02791072.2017.1312643
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Psychedelics and the science of self-experience

Abstract

Altered self-experiences arise in certain psychiatric conditions, and may be induced by psychoactive drugs and spiritual/religious practices. Recently, a neuroscience of self-experience has begun to crystallise, drawing upon findings from functional neuroimaging and altered states of consciousness occasioned by psychedelic drugs. This advance may be of great importance for psychiatry.

Nour, M. M., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2017). Psychedelics and the science of self-experience. 10.1192/bjp.bp.116.194738
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Ego-Dissolution and Psychedelics: Validation of the Ego-Dissolution Inventory (EDI)

Abstract

Aims: The experience of a compromised sense of ‘self’, termed ego-dissolution, is a key feature of the psychedelic experience and acute psychosis. This study aimed to validate the Ego-Dissolution Inventory (EDI), a new 8-item self-report scale designed to measure ego-dissolution. Additionally, we aimed to investigate the specificity of the relationship between psychedelics and ego-dissolution.

Method: Sixteen items relating to altered ego-consciousness were included in an internet questionnaire; 8 relating to the experience of ego-dissolution (comprising the EDI), and 8 relating to the antithetical experience of increased self-assuredness. Items were rated using a visual analogue scale. Participants answered the questionnaire for experiences with classical psychedelic drugs, cocaine or alcohol. They also answered the 7 questions from the Mystical Experiences Questionnaire (MEQ) relating to the experience of unity with one’s surroundings.
Results: 691 participants completed the questionnaire, providing data for 1828 drug experiences (1043 psychedelics. 377 cocaine. 408 alcohol). Exploratory factor analysis demonstrated that the 8 EDI items loaded exclusively onto a single common factor, which was orthogonal to a second factor comprised of the items relating to increased self-assuredness (rho= -.110), demonstrating discriminant validity. The EDI correlated strongly with our measure of unitive experience (rho = .735), demonstrating convergent validity. EDI internal consistency was excellent (Cronbach’s alpha 0.93). Three analyses confirmed the specificity of ego-dissolution for experiences occasioned by psychedelic drugs. Firstly, EDI score correlated with drug-dose for psychedelic drugs (rho=.371), but not for cocaine (rho=.115) or alcohol (rho=-0.055). Secondly, the linear regression line relating the subjective intensity of the experience to EDI was significantly steeper for psychedelics (unstandardized B coefficient= 0.701) compared with cocaine (0.135) or alcohol (0.144). Finally, a binary support vector machine classifier identified experiences occasioned by psychedelic drugs vs. cocaine or alcohol with over 85% accuracy using ratings of ego-dissolution and ego-inflation alone.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the psychometric structure, internal consistency and construct validity of the EDI. Moreover, we demonstrate the close relationship between ego-dissolution and the psychedelic experience. The EDI will facilitate the study of the neuronal correlates of ego-dissolution, which is relevant for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and our understanding of psychosis.
Nour, M. M., Evans, L., Nutt, D., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2016). Ego-Dissolution and Psychedelics: Validation of the Ego-Dissolution Inventory (EDI). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10, 269. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00269
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