In the United States, a scientific study has been published on the effects of a single use of the active component of hallucinogenic mushrooms - psilocybin. The effect of this substance on the psychological state of the majority of volunteers is assessed as very positive.
According to the authors of the study, psilocybin mushrooms and similar hallucinogens open up new perspectives for developers and manufacturers of drugs designed to treat phobias, depression and other mental disorders. It is also possible that the beneficial effects of hallucinogens can alleviate the condition of terminally ill patients at the terminal stage of the disease.
At the same time, the coordinator of the research project Roland Griffiths warns fellow citizens from independent experiments with hallucinogens at home. According to him, about a third of the participants in the experiment considered the effects of psilocybin "frightening". In this regard, the use of hallucinogenic drugs outside the laboratory and without supervision by qualified specialists can cause irreparable damage to human health, Griffiths emphasizes.
The study, funded in part by the U.S. government, was conducted in a laboratory at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore with 36 men under the age of 46. None of the participants had used drugs before the experiment, many of them were interested in religion and from time to time took part in various religious events - collective prayers, worship services, conversations not on religious topics, etc.
After a single dose of psilocybin, each participant spent several hours in the laboratory. The subjects, under the influence of the hallucinogen, were placed in an isolated room in which classical music was played. Participants were blindfolded and asked to focus their attention on inner experiences.
In order to compare the effects of psilocybin with those of current drugs, participants took the non-hallucinogenic psychostimulant Ritalin once or twice during subsequent laboratory visits. Subjects' reports of immediate experiences immediately following psilocybin use included reports of contact with “transcendental reality,” “transcending space and time,” awe and sacred terror, and deep feelings of joy, peace, and love. Many participants had significant difficulty trying to provide verbal descriptions of their experiences.
From a descriptive point of view, the subjects' stories were no different from the well-known reports of religious experiences left to descendants by religious mystics belonging to a wide variety of denominations, scientists say. However, the authors of the study preferred to clarify that the religious side of the problem remains generally outside the sphere of their interests.
Two months after the experiment, 24 participants answered additional questions from the researchers. According to the survey, two-thirds of them still considered the experience to be one of the five most important events in their lives. For a third of those surveyed, psilocybin hallucinations became the most spiritually significant event in their lives.
About 80% of the participants also stated that the hallucinatory experience had an undeniable positive effect on their mental state, self-esteem, and relationships with others. Some participants claimed that the changes that had occurred to them were noticed by family and friends and deserved their positive assessment.
Systematic studies of the psychotropic properties of psilocybin, LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs began in Europe and the United States in the 1920s. Much of the research was discontinued in the early 1960s due to the unhealthy hype that youth counterculture ideologues created around these substances. The first, after a long hiatus, serious research in this area was resumed in the mid-90s.