Many of the 36 volunteers rated their reaction to a single dose of the drug, called psilocybin, as one of the most meaningful or spiritually significant experiences of their lives.Well, duh, we had sample sizes almost that big in some hippie pads I lived in.
Even two months after taking the drug, pronounced SILL-oh-SY-bin, most of the volunteers said the experience had changed them in beneficial ways, such as making them more compassionate, loving, optimistic and patient. Family members and friends said they noticed a difference, too.On the warning side, though:
Almost a third of the research participants found the drug experience frightening even in the very controlled setting.Some personalities don't respond well, especially the first time, to the loss of ordinary control and perceptual strangeness of the experience. Much has been written about the importance of (mind) set and setting: eating beforehand, being in a good mood to start, being among supportive friends in a non-threatening environment, having come-down aids like wine and even tranquilizers if necessary, and so on.
The psilocybin mushroom experience is the shortest in duration, the least threatening, and the most humorous, as compared to the possible nausea from mescaline cactus and the profound personality self-examination more typical of LSD. I hope responsible adult use of this magic mushroom will be legal wherever and whenever I retire. I might like to try it again then.
UPDATE: New, July 2008 CNN video report on a Johns Hopkins study of the psychedelic mushroom experience.