Monday, October 3, 2011

'Magic Mushrooms' permanently change personality

Mushrooms that cause hallucinations contain a chemical that is able to induce permanent changes to one's personality, a new study suggests. Over half of the participants in a study with psilocybin, which is found in these so-called Magic Mushrooms, were found to have permanent changes in a personality trait scientists have dubbed 'openness'. The participants who were affected by psilocybin were found to be more broad-minded; an effect that lasted beyond a year, which lead the scientists to conclude that the personality change is permanent. The personality assessment was conducted with a standardized test, specifically designed for these purposes. However, psilocybin is still illegal in most parts of the world, and it does not have a beneficial effect on everyone.
The researchers monitored a total of 51 participants, and nearly 60 percent of them were found to have personality changes that lasted over a year. They were assessed for characteristics that include vague traits like imagination, aesthetics, feelings and abstract ideas. After testing, increased broad-mindedness was noted to be common among participants, whereafter the scientists concluded that the changes could mostly be attributed to a personality trait called "openness". The feelings were still present when the participants were screened 14 months after the drug experiments. It is known that personality rarely changes after the age of 30; how many percentage of the participants were over 30, and whether they were equally affected as young people was not revealed.

Don't be fooled into thinking that Magic Mushrooms can now safely be considered as a wonder drug for personality modification. In addition to participants that were found to be more open, people also reported feelings of fear and anxiety. In addition, the study was conducted under closely monitored circumstances, with carefully selected doses and administration regimes. In non-clinical settings, the drug could easily have adverse affects. 

Psilocybin is also being studied for use in the clinic: it is found to be effective in letting cancer patients psychologically cope with their disease. In adittion, the drug could prove to be useful in helping smokers overcome their addiction. 

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