Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Psilocybin Study

Those who read this blog regularly know that I am not a religious person, so it's with an odd combination of hope and doubt that I view the news story about some recent controlled experiments with the 60s psychedelic drug psilocybin (the active ingredient in so-called "magic mushrooms") wherein the participants experienced some kind of religious transport.

The volunteers were all "religious people" to some extent or another, and they all experienced some kind of "deep mystical experience" while under the effects of the drug. The fact that the participants were all religious immediately and automatically makes the experiment bogus -- and unnecessary, since it seems to replicate the famous 1962 Marsh Chapel Experiment at Harvard Divinity School. I'd like to see it done again, but this time with a representative cross-section of the population as volunteers.

That said, however, I can tell you from personal experience (you knew that I came of age in the 60s, so this shouldn't come as a surprise to you) that there is something about the psilocybin experience that transcends the typical psychedelic trip. Since I am not religious, there was no mysticism involved (we are all prepared to see and feel what we are programmed to), but I did experience a definite mind-body disconnect and entered what I have referred to ever since as "the realm of pure thought". Which I guess can be mistaken for a "mystical" experience by those who are so inclined.

Now that I am rapidly approaching my dotage, I don't really feel like going up in the flying saucer any more, so this is all pretty much academic. However, if the government would ever lighten up on the Draconian drug laws we have in this country, maybe a group of reputable scientists could do some valid experimentation with the so-called "dangerous drugs" that we have in abundance (magic mushrooms grow wild in my area, and sprout up like dandelions in my yard every fall, and marijuana grows wild in pretty much every state in the union) and they might find that they do have some socially and psychologically positive attributes.

But like with so much else, I'm not holding my breath.

3 Comments:

betmo said...

i prefer the term- i'm not holding my hand on my ass waiting for that to happen- myself.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you check the comments on your older posts. If you do, read this:

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2006/GriffithsPsilocybin.pdf

Farnsworth said...

Thanks, Anonymous.
Here's a link that won't bleed off the page; interesting study.