OPEN Foundation

N. Farb

Psychedelic Research and the Need for Transparency: Polishing Alice's Looking Glass

Abstract

Psychedelics have a checkered past, alternately venerated as sacred medicines and vilified as narcotics with no medicinal or research value. After decades of international prohibition, a growing dissatisfaction with conventional mental health care and the pioneering work of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Science (MAPS) and others has sparked a new wave of psychedelic research. Positive media coverage and new entrepreneurial interest in this potentially lucrative market, along with their attendant conflicts of interest, have accelerated the hype. Given psychedelics’ complex history, it is especially important to proceed with care, holding ourselves to a higher scientific rigor and standard of transparency. Universities and researchers face conflicting interests and perverse incentives, but we can avoid missteps by expecting rigorous and transparent methods in the growing science of psychedelics. This paper provides a pragmatic research checklist and discusses the importance of using the modern research and transparency standards of Open Science using preregistration, open materials and data, reporting constraints on generality, and encouraging replication. We discuss specific steps researchers should take to avoid another replication crisis like those devastating psychology, medicine, and other fields. We end with a discussion of researcher intention and the value of actively deciding to abide by higher scientific standards. We can build a rigorous, transparent, replicable psychedelic science by using Open Science to understand psychedelics’ potential as they re-enter science and society.

Petranker, R., Anderson, T., & Farb, N. (2020). Psychedelic research and the need for transparency: Polishing Alice’s Looking Glass. Frontiers in psychology11, 1681.; https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01681
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Microdosing psychedelics: personality, mental health, and creativity differences in microdosers

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Microdosing psychedelics-the regular consumption of small amounts of psychedelic substances such as LSD or psilocybin-is a growing trend in popular culture. Recent studies on full-dose psychedelic psychotherapy reveal promising benefits for mental well-being, especially for depression and end-of-life anxiety. While full-dose therapies include perception-distorting properties, microdosing mayprovide complementary clinical benefits using lower-risk, non-hallucinogenic doses.

OBJECTIVES:

This pre-registered study aimed to investigate whether microdosing psychedelics is related to differences in personality, mental health, and creativity.

METHODS:

In this observational study, respondents recruited from online forums self-reported their microdosing behaviors and completed questionnaires concerning dysfunctional attitudes, wisdom, negative emotionality, open-mindedness, and mood. Respondents also performed the Unusual Uses Task to assess their creativity.

RESULTS:

Current and former microdosers scored lower on measures of dysfunctional attitudes (p < 0.001, r = – 0.92) and negative emotionality (p = 0.009, r = – 0.85) and higher on wisdom (p < 0.001, r = 0.88), openmindedness(p = 0.027, r = 0.67), and creativity (p < 0.001, r = 0.15) when compared to non-microdosing controls.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings provide promising initial evidence that warrants controlled experimental research to directly test safety and clinical efficacy. As microdoses are easier to administer than full-doses, this new paradigm has the exciting potential to shape future psychedelic research.

Anderson, T., Petranker, R., Rosenbaum, D., Weissman, C. R., Dinh-Williams, L. A., Hui, K., … & Farb, N. A. (2018). Microdosing Psychedelics: Personality, mental health, and creativity differences in microdosers. Psychopharmacology, 1-10., 10.1007/s00213-018-5106-2
Link to full text

Microdosing psychedelics: personality, mental health, and creativity differences in microdosers.

Abstract

RATIONALE:
Microdosing psychedelics-the regular consumption of small amounts of psychedelic substances such as LSD or psilocybin-is a growing trend in popular culture. Recent studies on full-dose psychedelic psychotherapy reveal promising benefits for mental well-being, especially for depression and end-of-life anxiety. While full-dose therapies include perception-distorting properties, microdosing mayprovide complementary clinical benefits using lower-risk, non-hallucinogenic doses.
OBJECTIVES:
This pre-registered study aimed to investigate whether microdosing psychedelics is related to differences in personality, mental health, and creativity.
METHODS:
In this observational study, respondents recruited from online forums self-reported their microdosing behaviors and completed questionnaires concerning dysfunctional attitudes, wisdom, negative emotionality, open-mindedness, and mood. Respondents also performed the Unusual Uses Task to assess their creativity.
RESULTS:
Current and former microdosers scored lower on measures of dysfunctional attitudes (p < 0.001, r = – 0.92) and negative emotionality (p = 0.009, r = – 0.85) and higher on wisdom (p < 0.001, r = 0.88), openmindedness(p = 0.027, r = 0.67), and creativity (p < 0.001, r = 0.15) when compared to non-microdosing controls.
CONCLUSIONS:
These findings provide promising initial evidence that warrants controlled experimental research to directly test safety and clinical efficacy. As microdoses are easier to administer than full-doses, this new paradigm has the exciting potential to shape future psychedelic research.

Anderson, T., Petranker, R., Rosenbaum, D., Weissman, C. R., Dinh-Williams, L. A., Hui, K., … & Farb, N. A. (2019). Microdosing Psychedelics: Personality, mental health, and creativity differences in microdosers. Psychopharmacology236(2), 731-740., https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-018-5106-2
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