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Studies of psychedelic mushrooms
By Jerry Brownstein
New studies suggest that psilocybin – the active compound in magic mushrooms – makes people feel more connected to nature, and opens their minds to a more liberal view of the world. This is not news to people who are familiar with the effects of taking magic mushrooms. But it is both interesting and important that science is finally being allowed to carefully research the true nature of these types of drugs. This latest study was undertaken by the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London.
Psychedelic drugs have been associated with anti-authoritarian countercultures ever since the hippies of the 1960’s. Earlier studies have found that people who used psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms were more likely to see themselves as part of nature, held liberal/libertarian political views and were open to new experiences. The key difference in this new study is that they wanted to know whether psilocybin use actually caused anti-authoritarianism and nature relatedness, or whether it was simply that people who already had these traits were the ones who took psychedelics.
The participants were questioned about their political views and relationship to nature prior to the psilocybin sessions. Those who received the psilocybin treatments showed a significant increase in nature relatedness and a decrease in authoritarian attitudes when questioned one week later. Perhaps even more telling, is that these changes were sustained in follow-up questioning over the subsequent 12 months. One of the participants expressed it this way: “Before I enjoyed nature, but I was looking at it as a thing... like TV or a painting... now I feel I am part of it.” The study’s authors concluded that, “Our findings raise the possibility that psilocybin may produce sustained changes in outlook and political perspective, in the directions of increased nature relatedness and decreased authoritarianism.”