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[Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Project:]
[Studies of Mystical Experience and Meditation]
[in Healthy Volunteers, and Palliative Effects]
[in Cancer Patients]
[Roland R. Griffiths, PhD April 21, 2013]
Well, thank you very much for being here. I woke up this morning
feeling really gratitude-filled, not only for the opportunity
to participate in this research, but to the organizers of this meeting:
MAPS and Beckley Foundation, the Heffter Research Institute,
the Council on Spiritual Practice, and particularly Rick Doblin,
who did just a terrific job in pulling this together. And gratitude
also to the larger community that comes together. So what I want
to do today is talk about our program at Johns Hopkins
looking at mystical experience in healthy volunteers. This is our
psilocybin research project. And just start by commenting
that support for this has been provided by grants from various
different entities, including the Heffter Research Institute,
Council on Spiritual Practices, the Beckley Foundation,
the Riverstyx Foundation, Betsy Gordon Foundation,
the Cormac family and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Our research is being conducted
at the Bayview campus of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine,
and I also want to underscore that I'm just a figurehead
up here for a very dedicated and competent research team.
There are actually ten of us here at the meeting today, nine
of whom have given presentations already, and we have, I think,
six others from the team, not all full-time, back in Baltimore.
But in addition to me there's Bill Richards who's been our
chief clinical mentor, and he gave a spectacular talk yesterday
reflecting on his 25 years of experience of doing research with
psychedelic drugs; Matt Johnson, who's been with us since 2004
and who's my kind of scientific alter ego at Hopkins, he's been
very involved in all of the psilocybin research throughout
the time that we've been doing it; Katherine MacLean, who's
joined us recently, and joined the faculty, comes with a particular
interest in meditation, which is a focus of some of our research
and of interest to me; Mary Casamano and Brian Richards,
who spoke yesterday about managing difficult experiences;
Mary probably has the distinction of being someone who's guided
more approved psychedelic sessions than any other individual
in the last couple decades: hundreds of sessions;
and then Al Garcia-Romeu and Matt Bradstreet are post-docs.
Al's been working on the psilocybin smoking cessation project.
Matt has just headed up an interesting survey study on challenging
experiences. He presented a poster, and Al talked about his work,
I think, on Friday. Maggie Kleindienst keeps our unit together.
She's our liaison to FDA, DEA, our IRB, and she manages
and coordinates all of our studies. Bob Jesse, who has been
involved from the inception of this work with healthy volunteers
and the interest in mystical experience. So we initiated
the development of our first study back in 1999, so it's been a while,
and initially recruitment and the studies proceeded really
quite slowly, partly because of funding, partly because of logistics.
But we've completed two very major studies, one in healthy volunteers
and a survey study, and we've spun off at least seven publications
at this time, but things are picking up. So there's a number of
ongoing studies, some of which I'll mention today: effects of
psilocybin in beginning meditators. We're just initiating study of
psilocybin effects in long-term meditators. Psilocybin treatment in
psychologically distressed cancer patients: that's a study that's
ongoing, and I'm choosing not to talk about it because Charlie Grob
and Steve Ross and Tony [Bossis] have all talked about their trials,
but I do want to put in a plug, that we're actively recruiting.
We need another 15 volunteers. We have a travel grant program,
so we can bring people in nationally, and so if you know of anyone
who has some existential distress around the cancer diagnosis,
please let them know of our study. The website is cancer-insight.org,
and if they go to that website there's plenty of information
about the study and how to enroll. Finally, the final ongoing study
that Matt Johnson'll be talking about later this afternoon
is a pilot study of psilocybin facilitation of smoking cessation,
which is a really fascinating study with very interesting results.
So to date, we've run 190 volunteers over 460 sessions.
So we've gained pretty substantial experience with these compounds,
and this is all moderate to high dose, 20-30mg/70kg, so these are
high-dose sessions. Briefly, by way of background, psilocybin
is a naturally occurring tryptamine alkaloid. It's the principal
psychoactive component in the Psilocybe genus of mushroom.
Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years within in various
cultures in structured or divinatory settings. So there's this long
historical use, medical and sacred use of these compounds.
The classic hallucinogens, this is our best working definition
of it. The classical hallucinogens are a structurally diverse group
of compounds, bind 5HT(2A) serotonin receptors, and produce
a unique profile of changes in thought and perception and emotions,
often including profound alterations in the perception of reality,
that are rarely experienced except in dreams, naturally-occurring
mystical experiences, and acute psychoses.
So psilocybin is a tryptamine and DMT is also a tryptamine.
There's a phenethylamine serotinergic or classic hallucinogens
such as mescaline and DMT. One other comment about background:
considerable research was conducted with psilocybin and the
classic hallucinogens back in the '50s and '60s, and as we all know,
subsequently, research for these compounds went dormant for
two or three decades, depending on what laboratories were working.
But the substantial work was shut down for close to four decades,
and it was in response to the widespread medical use and concern
about potential harms, and in my opinion the antics of Timothy Leary,
which really undermined a scientific approach to studying
these compounds. But we had a cultural trauma surrounding
research with these compounds that's really unprecedented,
as far as I'm concerned, in science generally. So this is an overview
of what I want to talk to you about this morning. I'm going to
describe our two published studies in healthy volunteers
characterizing mystical experiences, go on to two ongoing
studies in meditators, one in novice meditators and one we're
just about to undertake in long-term meditators, and then I'll
talk about two web-based anonymous surveys in which we've
been looking at the effects of psilocybin when people ingest
mushrooms in non-research settings, and very briefly with some
conclusions, implications, and future directions. So the two published
studies in healthy participants: both studies used double-blind
crossover designs. The first study, 36 participants, two or three
sessions at two-month intervals compared a high dose of psilocybin
with a high dose of methylphenidate or Ritalin. The design effectively
obscured to volunteers and monitors exactly what drugs were
being tested. The second study: 18 participants, five sessions
at one-month intervals, comparing placebo, 5, 10, 20, 30 milligrams
of psilocybin administered in mixed sequence across sessions.
Actually, it was mixed but half got ascending, half got descending with
intermixed placebo so they didn't know that.
The participants in these studies were recruited from the local
community through flyers and newspaper advertisements.
The study participants were medically and psychiatrically
healthy, without histories of hallucinogen use. We did this
intentionally to reduce the possibility that we'd have selection bias,
that people didn't differentially come into the study who had had
good effects with psilocybin and then confound what kind of
generalities we could draw from that. The volunteers didn't receive
monetary compensation for participation.
So, the participants: just one comment. I'm going to intermix the
description of the methods and results for these first two studies,
because they're really so similar, so what I'm doing here now is
providing demographics for both of the studies combined
rather than try to parse those apart. So the mean age of these
54 volunteers in these 2 studies was 46 years, half female,
highly educated, most employed full-time, part-time. We had
physicians, psychologists, counselors, pastoral counselors,
business owners, consultants, a wide variety primarily of
professional-level people. In terms of religious, spiritual
activities, all 54 indicated at least intermittent participation
in religious or spiritual activities, such as religious services,
prayer, meditation, church choir. We did this partly because it's
consistent with the long historical use of these compounds
sacramentally, and also to reduce what we thought might be
some inherent variability. So volunteers...our basic way that we
approached these studies is very similar to that's already been described
by these other research teams. Our volunteers meet with monitors
for up to 8 hours of contact time prior to the first session,
and the purpose of this is to establish good rapport, and trust,
because the thought is that that's going to minimize adverse effects
to psilocybin. Studies are conducted in aesthetic living-room-like
environment. This is a laboratory's unlike any other that we have
in our psychopharmacology research unit. This over-showed slide
at this juncture, I think it's been showed ten times over the course of
this meeting, shows what happens on session days. So people come in
at 8 in the morning, they take a capsule, they're in the presence
of two guides or monitors throughout the day. They're asked to
lay on the couch, wear eyeshades and headphones through which
they listen to a program of music. The guides are there to provide
reassurance if anxiety or fear come up. That could just be
verbal reassurance or touch to the shoulder or holding a hand.
But it's our intention to let people have their own experience,
and we ask them to go inward. So this isn't guided in any psycholytic
kind of sense of how some of these sessions have been
conducted in the past at lower doses, because we're interested
in these high-dose sessions. So this shows time course of
monitor ratings. This is from the dose effects study. Just showing
the very orderly time- and dose-dependent effects of psilocybin.
Onset's occurring 30 to 60 minutes, peaking at 2-3 hours, and
decreasing toward baseline. Even 5 milligrams under this condition
is really quite active, which surprised us. Self-reported
effects of psilocybin: it wasn't surprising to us, and I'm sure
not to you, that psilocybin increased measures previously
shown to be sensitive to hallucinogen drugs. So there are perceptual
changes such as visual illusions, greater emotionality, such as
increased joy, peacefulness, sometimes fear and anxiety--
I'll come back to that--and cognitive changes such as sense of meaning,
sometimes some paranoia. But we think that at least for me, for sure,
the most interesting effect that we had was that in most volunteer
studies psilocybin produced these large increases in these
self-rated questionnaires designed to measure naturally occurring
mystical experiences. This shows the results of the dose effect study
on the Hood Mysticism Scale and the Pahnke-Richards
Mystical Experience Questionnaire, just showing clear dose-related
increases. This is interesting. The Hood Scale was developed
based on naturally-occurring mystical experiences, using
criteria developed by [Stace] in 1960, and it had never before
been used in any sort of drug study. We're getting robust increases
and it's those kinds of observations that make us feel quite
confident that this is an experience that really maps on to
naturally occurring mystical experiences. This just shows the
percentage of volunteers who fulfilled criteria for having
a so-called "complete" mystical experience, and I'll tell you
what that is in a second, but we get nice dose-related increases
in that with about 75% of volunteers fulfilling this criteria
at either the 20 and/or the 30mg/70kg dose. So the 75% of people
are meeting this criteria for having a complete mystical experience.
These are the phenomenological dimensions of mystical experience.
Again, this been covered in other talks. The core feature is
this sense of a unity, this interconnectedness of all people
and things, the sense that all is one, everything's interconnected.
This is accompanied by a sense of sacredness or reverence,
a noetic quality of encountering ultimate reality, that this is
more real and more true than everyday waking consciousness,
a deeply felt positive mood, sometimes described as universal
love, joy, peace, gratitude. Transcendence of time and space,
past and present collapsed into the present moment. That becomes
all there is. Space is vast, endless, the void, perhaps.
These experiences are described as being ineffable with people
who have had them. They're not simply put into words.
So those are the dimensions of the mystical experience.
The interesting piece of our work, fascinating to me, when we
initially started this work, was that the kinds of attributions
that are made to the experience really persist. So this is a questionnaire
given two months after sessions. We're asking people how personally
meaningful and spiritually significant...no, how personally
meaningful was this experience on a scale from an everyday
experience, once a week, once a year, up to top 10, top 5,
single most meaningful experience of my life. The fill bars are
psilocybin, striped bars are methylphenidate. So you can see this
remarkable effect where about 70% of people are saying this
experience that occurred over an 8-hour session in a Johns Hopkins
pharmacology laboratory is among the five most meaningful
experiences of their lives. It seemed so improbable to me when we
started this, and they would compare this to the birth of their first-born
child or the death of a parent. So they're really remarkable,
salient experiences. This is an equivalent questionnaire.
How spiritually significant was this experience? Thirty percent
of these people who were already spiritually inclined are saying
it's the single most spiritually significant experience of their lives
and again, about 70% are saying it's in the top five.
This shows similar data from the dose-effect study. This is percent
of volunteers rating the experience in the top five spiritually
significant of their lives. You can see we just get nice dose-related
increases, going up to 83% at the highest dose. This is single most
spiritually significant experience of their life, and here we're getting
45% of these people after the 30mg/70kg saying it's the single
most spiritually significant experience of their life.
This shows effects that people talked about, again, two months
after sessions, when we asked them to complete a questionnaire
that rated 60 different items that probed changes in attitudes
about life and self, mood changes, altruistic positive social effects,
and positive behavioral change. Significant increases after psilocybin.
So the kinds of things that people are endorsing here, in attitudes,
they're more personal integration, meaning, enthusiasm,
patience, authenticity, self-confidence, mood, increased love,
open-heartedness, joy, inner peace. Social effects: more sensitive,
compassionate, tolerant, increased positive relationships.
This shows comparable data from the dose-effect study.
So this is robust, it's replicable, it's dose dependent.
You can see we get nice orderly increases in these same
four domains in this second study. These effects persist past
two months, so the longest we've gone out is 14 months.
Anecdotally, we've talked to volunteers years later, and I don't think
there's any diminishment of the attributions that people
are making to these experiences. So this is 14 months. This is
the methylphenidate study. So this is showing top five spiritually
significant experiences of the lifetime. This is after methylphenidate,
this is after psilocybin, two months after psilocybin; here's
14 months after psilocybin. So no diminuition of effect, and
that's true of positive behavioral change and increased
sense of well-being or life satisfaction. This shows this
interesting correlation of the mystical experience score
immediately after psilocybin--this is the Hood Mysticism Scale--
and ratings of spiritual significance at 14 months. You can see
there's a strong correlation there, and this is different than
just magnitude of psilocybin effect. There's no relationship there.
So what that's telling us is there's something embedded
within the Hood Mysticism Scale, those questions, probing
the dimensions of mystical experience, that are picked up
and are reflected then 14 months later and obviously much longer
than that. That's the nature and I think the controlling event
that's so interesting here with these experiences. This is just
in volunteers' own words. So we asked them at 14 months,
"so, what was this like? Why are you saying this was a meaningful"
"experience?" and just pulled four quotes, but it's lovely
to hear people put this in their own words. "The part that continues"
"to stick out for me was the knowing, seeing, experiencing"
"with every sense and fiber of my being that all things are connected."
Another: "the sense that all is one, that I experienced the essence"
"of the universe, that knowing that God asks nothing of us except"
"to receive love." Another: "The feeling of no boundaries,"
"where I didn't know where I ended and my surroundings began."
"Somehow I was able to comprehend what oneness is."
Finally, and "the understanding that in the eyes of God, all people,"
"abusers, abused, Christian fundamentalists, Muslim fundamentalists,"
"atheists, were all equally important and equally loved by God,"
"and that, given the proper circumstances, I could be any one of them."
So these effects that are reported by volunteers aren't limited to
just that. We did telephone ratings with community observers;
these are friends, family members, co-workers, and asked them
a series of questions about the volunteer, probing things like
patience, optimism, interpersonal perceptiveness, compassion,
and expression of emotion like love, joy, gratitude, and these
were significantly elevated. This is two months after sessions.
Psilocybin significantly higher than methylphenidate in that
first study, and in the dose-effect study we just did pre/post
measures from baseline. Significantly elevated one month after
the study and continued elevated at 14 months. Dropped
a little bit, but still significant.
So these persisting changes and the kinds of attributions
people were making and that their community members
were observing in them led us to wonder about whether
psilocybin affects personality. Cross-cultural studies of
personality structure have demonstrated five reliable and stable
domains of personality. There's neuroticism, extroversion,
agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness. The
gold standard for assessing this is something called the
NEO Personality Inventory. So, when Katherine MacLean came
to our unit, she re-analyzed the data for the two studies
combined, and showed that we're getting increases in this
personality domain of openness overall, and furthermore,
when you break it down, it turns out that it's the individuals
who fulfilled criteria for having had a complete mystical
experience that are showing these elevations in openness,
and those who don't do not.
This is interesting because openness encompasses aesthetic
appreciation, sensitivity, imagination and fantasy, broad-minded
tolerance of other people's viewpoints and values. Openness
is fundamental to creativity and predicts creativity in the arts,
the sciences and the humanities. So there's something really
interesting going on. As far as we can tell, there are no other
acute manipulations that have ever been done that change personality.
This is really thought to be a fixed characteristic of an individual,
and in fact the domain of openness generally decreases
across the lifetime, so this might be viewed as an anti-aging
effect of psilocybin. So I do want to touch on the fear, anxiety,
dysphoria which turn out to be inescapable effects; when you move
the dose of psilocybin up, some people are going to have difficult
experiences. In about a third of our volunteers, after the 30mg/70kg,
and none after placebo or methylphenidate, reported strong
or extreme ratings of fear some time during the session.
Interestingly, the onset of these feelings and the duration
had no predictable pattern. In other words, the onset could
come on late or early and it could be of short or longer
duration. In our dose-effect study, these effects occurred
almost exclusively at the highest dose. Only one of 18 volunteers
had such an effect at the 20mg/70kg. Twenty-six percent
of our volunteers had mild, transient paranoia or ideas
of reference, but despite these psychological struggles,
most of these participants rated the overall experience
as having personal meaning and spiritual significance,
and no volunteer rated having decreased their sense of
life satisfaction or well-being. I'll return to these observations
when we talk about our larger survey data that is ongoing,
but I'll give you some preliminary results. This simply shows
time course of monitor ratings of anxiety or fear in five
volunteers after the high dose of psilocybin. What it shows is
this erratic onset and offset of effects. So here's someone--
different colors are showing different subjects. So here's
someone who had no anxiety out until three hours, and then
peaked anxiety on the third hour, and then it was back down
almost to baseline very rapidly. So it came on probably close
to peak effects and then resolved really rapidly. Here's someone,
for instance, who had a peak of anxiety at, it looks like,
about 90 minutes, back to baseline, went up higher here
at about four hours and then decreased, and this volunteer
peaked anxiety right out of the gate and remained anxious
throughout most of her session. So it really underscores the
fact that the guides really need to be on their toes with respect to
providing support, because things can be going beautifully,
and people can be having transcendent experiences,
and then very quickly we can enter into dark places in these sessions.
The final thing I want to say about these studies is that within
the dose-effect study we had a cohort that had ascending
sequence of dose and another cohort that had decreasing
sequence of dose. They were blinded to the fact that there were
ascending and descending sequences, as were the guides,
and we intermixed placebo, so no one believed anything
other than that this was a random assignment of doses.
But the important point here is that the ascending sequence
of dose has some advantage over the descending sequence
in terms of optimizing well-being, life satisfaction,
and persisting positive mood at a month followup. So that's
led us to conclude that if we're going to run additional studies,
and we are, and this has been built into it, it's much better
to use ascending sequence than to blast people with a really
high dose right at the beginning. So I now want to segue
into a couple of studies on meditation.
Why meditation? How did we get involved with this? Personal
disclosure: meditation was actually the vehicle that brought me
to want to study psilocybin and these compounds, but apart from that,
we believe that there are some really intriguing points of convergence
between the psilocybin experience and meditation experience,
and Katherine MacLean talked a little bit about that in her presentation
yesterday. I think that meditation and psilocybin can actually
be viewed as very complimentary techniques for exploration
of the nature of mind and self, self being egoic or this bounded sense
of self that we have. Recent neuroimaging studies show that
meditation and psilocybin produce strikingly similar decreases
in brain circuits responsible for self-referential processing.
So, Robin Carhart-Harris will be presenting later today
some of their fMRI work in which they're showing, with acute
intravenous psilocybin, decreases in the default mode network.
That's a network in brain that's responsible, it's believed,
for self-referential processing. The interesting thing is, a year
before he reported those results, [Judd Brewer] reported
virtually identical results from meditation: a decrease in
default mode network. So there's a neurophysiological reason
for thinking there might be similarities. So again, complimentary
approaches. Meditation techniques have been developed
over millenia and they represent, clearly, a powerful approach
for investigating the nature of mind and self. If meditation
represents the systematic tried-and-true course of discovery
of the nature of mind and self, then psilocybin represents
the crash course, but they're headed in the same direction.
So, psilocybin is a pharmacological tool that helps people
recognize how it feels to embody the present moment. That
would be exactly true of meditation. Psilocybin helps people
dispassionately observe and let go of pain, fear, discomfort,
and that's what happens with short or long sitting meditation.
Psilocybin helps transform a conventional sense of self, that is,
an ego, or dissolve that sense of self. "You're not your mind"
"in any conventional sense" is the strong message that comes out
from using psilocybin, and that's a hallmark feature of meditation,
the non-self. Psilocybin helps you recognize that the mind's
capable of revealing knowledge not readily accessible in everyday
waking consciousness. That surely is true of meditation.
Finally, psilocybin, you can gain an authoritative sense of this
interconnectedness of all people and things, the mystical experience,
and of course that enlightenment experience is a hallmark
feature of meditation as well. So I'm going to talk a little bit
about an ongoing study that we have a little bit of preliminary
data for looking at the effects of psilocybin and meditation
in novice meditators. So here we're using a double-blind
design, examining whether psilocybin experiences can facilitate
people's engagement in meditation and other spiritual awareness
practices, thereby increasing sense of spirituality and altruism.
Seventy-five volunteers with little or no history with either
meditation or the classic hallucinogens participated. Two or three
psilocybin sessions over six to seven months, during which
participants received instruction and support in learning meditation,
as well as other spiritual practices. In this case, we used
mantra repetition during the day to help prompt people to
bring in this sense of awareness and awakening throughout
the day. So to help control for expectancy effects, the volunteers
as well as our study staff were provided incomplete information
about the study design. So this is something we've done in
past studies. No one is deceived, but there's incomplete
information. So both our study staff and volunteers were told
that the participants would have two or three psilocybin sessions
over six to seven months, all sessions would involve administration
of psilocybin, and that the range of doses could vary from low to high.
They were also told that by the end of two or three sessions,
they would have received one or more high doses of psilocybin.
The study began with a one-month meditation introduction,
followed by sessions one and two at one-month intervals,
and volunteers were informed whether or not they would
have a third session after the six-month followup. So what the staff
and volunteers didn't know was that the volunteers were
randomized to three conditions of 25 volunteers each. So this is
a parallel group design, and in terms of thinking about it,
it can be thought of as just a 2 x 2 design, with high-dose,
low-dose psilocybin, and standard support and high support,
in terms of the support we give them learning meditation
and spiritual practices. We're filling three of the four cells here,
so there was a low-dose psilocybin, standard support,
a high-dose psilocybin and standard support, so we can glean
information about dose effects, and then there was a high-dose,
high-support group. So we can look at the effects of support.
We're missing the cell that was... it was a painful cell to drop.
Two-by-twos are much more powerful if you can fill out all the cells,
but we simply didn't have the financial resources to do so.
The low-dose condition consisted of one milligram of psilocybin
in both sessions one and two. So this is close to a placebo dose.
We actually don't know what the absolute lower...detectable
dose is. As I showed you earlier, we get pretty substantial
effects at 5mg/70kg. But it also serves as an important
expectancy control, because we could tell everybody that they
would receive psilocybin on every session. The high dose was
20mg/70 on the first session and 30mg on the second,
making use of the observation we gleaned from our dose-effect
study, that ascending doses are better than descending
doses. The support conditions: there was a standard support
involving seven hours of contact time, six meetings, versus
35 hours of contact time and 26 group and individual meetings.
We've collected a range of measures. I actually won't go into this,
because I'm only going to present just a couple of outcome
measures here. But we're looking at a range of measures
that we would think might be changed through spiritual
practices, particularly in combination with psilocybin, and we're
also looking at some behavioral measures of impulsivity
and social behavior. The study's almost complete. It's frustrating
to me and to our research team that it's not complete. It had been
our hope that we would have a full set of data to present,
but we had stragglers in terms of getting enrollment completed.
We've done a preliminary analysis now of some of our data
from the followup questionnaire that occurs just three weeks
after the second session, and, remember, the session goes out
to a full six months, so this is preliminary. To anticipate
what I'm going to show you is that we're seeing dose effects
of psilocybin so far; we're not seeing effects of the support
manipulation, but this isn't unexpected, because, as I said,
this data that we're looking at is coming immediately after,
or closely after the second session. The differences between
the support conditions are actually greatest in the last three months
of the study. So here's a daily spiritual experience scale.
So this is asking questions such as "I experience a connection"
"to all of life," "I am spiritually touched by beauty and creation,"
and these are validated scales, and that scale is completed
on the basis of ratings that occur, with respect to, say, connection
to all of life, once in a while, on some days, on most days,
every day, many times within a day. You can see we're getting
pronounced effects of psilocybin on that scale. So embedded
within our spiritual practices, they're aware and they're also
practicing, very likely, mantra awareness throughout the day.
This is a forgiveness scale, interesting validated forgiveness
scale, in which it's transgression- specific. So volunteers here are
asked to "think of a person who's deeply hurt or offended you,"
and then there are a set of questions that probe different kinds
of forgiveness: revenge motivation, avoidance, and benevolence
motivation. Here what we're seeing--the effects of psilocybin--
is decreases in all three of those motivational components.
So statistically less revenge motivation, less avoidance
motivation, more benevolence motivation, increasing forgiveness.
This is a measure of coherence. This is existential well-being
increased by psilocybin. Death acceptance: this looks like it's
trending toward increases in the high-support group, but this
isn't significant, relevant, of course, to our cancer studies.
This is probing questions like "I think I'm generally less concerned"
"about death than those around me," or "since death is a natural"
"aspect of life, there's no sense in worrying about it."
So I now want to move on to our planned study, where we're going to
run our first pilot study subject next month, and this is in long-term
meditators. So recent research has shown that even in experienced
meditators, they can show significant improvements in important
psychological [attentional] domains if they participate in long-term
meditation retreats. I refer here to the shamatha project that
Katherine MacLean was involved with, where they showed a variety
of very interesting changes in people. This was after a three-month
meditation retreat. No study has investigated the effects
of psilocybin in long-term meditators. We're thinking they're
actually a really interesting group to investigate because of
their introspective skills at this point. One research question
of primary interest is whether long-term meditators experience
psychological or behavioral benefits or harms from psilocybin.
So, as you may know, in conventional Buddhist precepts,
there's a precept against the use of intoxicants, and that's
often interpreted as any intoxicant. So there are some teachings
that would suggest that a good Buddhist practitioner should not
ever touch a psychotropic drug. So it'll be interesting to see
our ability to recruit for these studies, but our preliminary
inquiries with significant meditation teachers lead us to believe
that there are people who have long-term meditation practices
that'll be interested in this. Our assessments here are going to
include psychological functioning, spirituality, health, prosocial
attitudes, behavior, and we're going to do fMRI brain function.
It's going to be a randomized, weightless, controlled design,
40 participants, substantial meditation history. There are going to be
two psilocybin sessions. During some sessions we're going to
change what we normally do in our session room and we'll invite
people to take sitting meditation posture and then engage in
various meditation practices. What we're interested in is probing
focused concentration. That's a shamatha practice that might be
focusing on the breath, a loving kindness meditation, open awareness
meditation, and awareness of awareness, so shamatha without a sign.
So now that concludes the experimental work that we're doing.
What I now want to do is segue into our survey studies.
We've conducted two web-based anonymous survey studies
in large groups of individuals who reported on their experiences
after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms in non-research settings.
The reason we undertook these studies was to investigate
the generality of our laboratory findings. We're doing this
in an insular set of conditions and it's very important to know
questions about generality. The other power of doing web-based, large-
sample surveys: it allows us to refine some of our psychometric
instruments, assessing mystical experience and difficult
experiences, and the large sample size gives us the statistical
power to do factor analysis on that. So the first of these surveys
that was undertaken by Katherine MacLean focused on individuals
who endorsed having had a profound and personally meaningful
experience after taking psilocybin mushrooms. Almost 90% of these
people also rated these experiences as mystical, so we think of this
as our mystical experience cohort. The survey took 30 to 45 minutes
and we asked questions with questionnaires that we've used
within the laboratory. So we had over 1600 participants,
mean age 32, 50% male, so we constrained recruitment
into this survey to allow equivalent genders. Most college graduates,
35% some college, 80% from the US. The magic of doing this
on the web is you can pull worldwide, so we had 45 different
countries represented. Interesting, pretty modest use of psilocybin
before the designated experience, a median of 2-5 times.
So you might imagine the range of psilocybin experience
was extreme, from this being the first psilocybin session
that they ever had, or the first exposure to any classic hallucinogen,
which was 15% of the sample, to people who literally had
hundreds of such experiences. The designated psilocybin
experience occurred on average 8 years before the survey,
when participants were about 25 years old. So, how personally
meaningful was this experience? So this questionnaire,
of course, was asking about meaningfulness, but you can certainly
appreciate the similarity of this distribution to that that we had
in the laboratory. So I think it's about 50% of people are endorsing
that it's in the 5 most personally meaningful experiences of
their lives. This is spiritually significant, and again the
distribution looks very similar to that that we saw in the laboratory.
It's a little lower in terms of absolute amounts, but the distribution
is really quite similar. Here's change in personal well-being
and life satisfaction. Again, very similar to what we saw.
We're having some people, very small numbers, say they had some
decreased well-being. One of the powers of this survey is
that then it allowed us to do a factor analysis of our results,
and so we factor-analyzed the mystical experience questionnaire.
I showed you earlier the six domains of mystical experience.
Well, those were developed by William Stace, used by Walter Pahnke
in the Good Friday experiment, and then developed into the
Pahnke-Richards Mystical Experience Questionnaire. But those
were descriptive labels that had never been factor-analyzed.
So if you subject these kinds of experiences to factor analysis,
we ended up with four factors. So there's one--I think of it as
the mystical experience domain-- that includes unity, the noetic
quality, that's the truth value, the ultimate reality value
of the experience, and then the sacredness. Then there's a factor
including positive mood, another factor, transcendence
of time and space, and then ineffability.
Our next step here, incidentally, is, after having finished
our long-term meditator study, we now have a sufficient n
to go back and do a confirmatory factor analysis within
our laboratory sample to just verify whether this factor structure
is robust and holds up. That's the way these kinds of questionnaires
are designed. This simply shows that the factor scores on
these derived factors predict personal meaning and well-being
attributed to the psilocybin session. So people who said that
this was among the most meaningful experiences of their lives
had higher scores on this scale than those who did not.
So, Matt Bradstreet has recently undertaken an interesting
extension of this work. So we have now conducted, or
are conducting, a survey study of people who endorse having had
difficult or challenging experiences after taking psilocybin
mushrooms, and they're being asked to complete this survey
on the basis of the single most psychologically difficult
or challenging experience, your worst bad trip. This survey,
incidentally, is still posted: www.shroomsurvey.com. So if you
feel inclined to contribute, by all means, do. It's a commitment
of time; it's 30 to 40 minutes to complete. So the demographics
of this sample are really remarkably similar to the mystical
experience sample: mean age 30, 50% college grads, 35% some college,
time of the designated session... more from out of the country;
only 67% from the US, modest prior use, with again 15% of the
sample, it was their first use of a classic hallucinogen. These are
two items that we didn't ask of the demographics in our first study
and wish we had. Twenty-seven percent of the sample are
daily tobacco users. Almost 40% are daily marijuana users,
which surprised me, but the power of having a big sample size
is then we can go back and determine what the influence of
chronic marijuana use would be on some of the dimensions
reported. For those who knew, the average dose was about
4 grams of dried mushrooms or 40 grams of fresh mushrooms,
so that's equivalent to about 20mg of psilocybin, on average,
so huge differences in terms of potency of mushrooms, but it suggests
we're in the range of our intermediate dose, which is 20mg/70kg,
actually somewhat lower than that, because at least many of
our volunteers weigh over 70kg. So the question "how psychologically"
"difficult or challenging was this experience?" They're reporting
this on the basis of the most challenging experience they've ever had,
but I think it's impressive: about 40% are saying that it's in the
top 5 most difficult experiences of their lives...that's about 10%
saying that it's the single most challenging experience of their life.
I really regret that we didn't have this questionnaire in our
laboratory studies or in the study of mystical experience,
but we'll certainly add that to our laboratory studies. So what
do you think meaning is going to look like in this population?
They're filling this out on the basis of the most challenging
psilocybin experience ever. How personally meaningful
was the experience? The distribution is eerily similar to the
mystical experience questionnaire, so in spite of this being
among the most difficult experiences of their lives, it was
deeply personally meaningful. Here, just for comparison,
I've put the two surveys together. So the blue is the mystical
experience; the red is the bad trip survey. As you would expect,
there's somewhat more meaning here to the mystical experience
meaningful survey, and the bad trip survey tends to go out
at the lower end, but overall the distributions are really
remarkably similar. How spiritually significant was this experience?
Here we have really quite a flat distribution, and if you compare it
to the mystical sample, you can see that there's a considerable
difference. So these bad trips are less likely to, although meaningful,
they're less likely to be designated spiritual. Here's change in
personal well-being and life satisfaction, again skewed positively,
but if we compare the two samples, I think this seems strikingly
different to me, that if you looked at increased very much,
the mystical survey is running almost 50%, where the bad trip
survey is close to half of that. If you look at the other end of the
scale, decreased or no change, the bad trip survey is over-represented,
certainly as one would expect. I think what I take away from this
is there's far more meaning and well-being even among
the most difficult experiences. Here's a question: "despite"
"portions of the session being difficult or challenging, do you think"
"you benefited from the experience?" Here we have a resounding
83% of people saying that they benefited from it. "Would you"
"want to take this again if all that happened continued to happen"
"including the difficult or challenging portions?" Here, we're dropping
to a little less than 50%, so a claim of benefit, increased
well-being, but want to do it again? Not so much, and that makes sense.
If you've been involved in a potentially traumatic experience,
a car crash, for instance, you may benefit from it; it may be
personally meaningful, but you sure don't want to do it again.
So this is a question that was probing conditions during
the sessions that were thought to be positive or supportive
to a positive experience, so asking "was social support"
"conducive...physical comfort... emotional state..." and these are all
being endorsed at fairly high levels. Interestingly, having
a sitter or guide present was only 25% of the samples,
and about 50% of those, the sitter was not sober.
"Indicate each thing you did to stop the bad trip that you believe"
"helped substantially." So here people are endorsing most helpful:
trying to calm their mind, changing their location; intermediate:
seeking out support, changing musical environment, social
environment; least effective: taking another drug, smoking
cannabis, another drug, drinking alcohol. So there's interesting
importance, I think, to the duration of the difficult experience.
So the median duration of these difficult experiences was one to two
hours, and it ranged from less than 10 minutes to the entire session.
The rating of the severity of the difficult experience overall,
as you might expect, correlated positively with the duration
of the difficult experience. Interestingly, the personal meaning,
the improved well-being attributed to the experience, and
the alleged benefit from the session, all correlated positively
and significantly with the degree of difficulty of the session experience,
and that's kind of what we saw before, all those distributions
of saying that it was really difficult but it was really meaningful.
So there was a positive correlation there, but there was not
a positive correlation with the duration of the difficult experience.
In some cases, the correlations were negative with the duration,
so we conclude that the longer the difficult experience,
the less likely there will be positive attributions to the experience,
That would be a very good reason to have a guide present,
to help foreshorten the duration of confusion and difficulty.
I also want to mention some other adverse events that respondents
endorsed. So, 10.6% of this sample reported that they put themselves
or others at risk for physical harm during the experience.
Two point eight reported behaving in a physically aggressive
or violent manner during their experience. Two and a half said
they sought help or got help from a hospital emergency department.
Two point eight of the sample who had no prior
treatment history sought out treatment for either fear, anxiety, or
depression after their experience because of their session experience.
Two point nine percent, without a history of symptoms that had
lasted over a year, reported fear, anxiety, or depression
persisting for greater than or equal to a year after their experience.
Finally, 7.4% reported decreased sense of personal well-being
or life satisfaction out of their experience. I have to say that in a
strange way I'm finding these results reassuring, for me, at least,
because they're relevant to a puzzle that I've been confronted with
during the past 13 years of conducting this research at Johns Hopkins,
and that is that a number of psychiatrists in my department
have a great suspiciousness toward the positive kinds of
effects that we have been reporting from psilocybin. The reason
for this is because, as Steve Ross talked about earlier this morning,
they're occasionally seeing psychiatric problems that they believe
have been precipitated by hallucinogen use. These data support
the contention that yeah, these things do occur, however
what the psychiatrists don't see and don't know is the denominator
here. What's the rate at which these experiences occur?
Remember, in this survey, we're asking people for their
very worst experience ever, so it's certainly the case that even
the most concerning of these events, and that would be precipitation
of a symptom profile in which people are seeking out psychiatric help,
really are extraordinarily uncommon. So I've come to think of the
psychiatrist who attends regularly on the acute psychiatric unit
and has become fearful of psilocybin and other psychedelics.
He may be analogous to an ER physician, who, if you asked about
whether snowboarding or motorcycle riding's a good idea, they would
say no, and that's based on their experience, and likewise,
the psychiatrists who have a very limited exposure to an at-risk
population under acute conditions are going to end up with a
biased expectancy set. So, for me, that's helpful in explaining
the kinds of resistances that I've come up against.
This just makes the point that I just made. These effects are
consistent with what is reported, certainly, by news media occasionally.
The other point that I want to make is
these kind of effects are incredibly uncommon in laboratory
studies of psilocybin. So when we have the advantage of screening
volunteers, preparing volunteers, administering psilocybin
under highly supported conditions, we can pretty confidently
say that these types of toxicities are going to be extraordinarily
rare. So let me end with some conclusions and implications.
So the conclusions from the experimental study is that with
careful volunteer screening and preparation, when sessions
are conducted in a comfortable, well-supervised setting,
moderate and high doses of psilocybin can be administered
safely. Despite extensive preparation and screening, about a third
of our volunteers reported significant fear or anxiety some time
during the session. Nine percent reported their entire high-dose
session was dominated by fear and anxiety. So this is an inescapable
piece of exposing individuals to psilocybin, but indeed,
it seems like it occurs out in the real world as well. So we just
need to develop context that can appropriately support
people in these sessions. Most interesting and important:
under the conditions of this study, psilocybin occasioned
discrete experiences that have marked similarities to naturally
occurring, classic mystical experiences. These experiences
produce persisting positive changes in attitudes, moods,
and behaviors. The implication here of the finding that psilocybin
can occasion, in most people studied, mystical experiences
virtually identical to those that occur naturally suggests
that such experiences are biologically normal. That is, the human
organism is wired for such experiences; given the requisite
pharmacological input, people will have these remarkable
experiences of opening, and that such experiences now are
amenable to systematic, prospective scientific study, so heretofore
these mystical kinds of experiences have been elusive,
and we have good experimental models in which we can occasion
these at high probability. So that's the way science works.
If you can do prospective studies, manipulate something,
and manipulate dose or randomize across conditions, we really
can get scientific traction. So it opens up a whole range of
research to be done. So I think, among the science types here,
we feel like kids in a candy shop. There's literally so many ways
to go with this research. So, biological psychiatry: how do factors
such as personality, genetics, personal intention, spiritual
orientation affect the likelihood of such experiences?
Neuroscience: What pharmacological and neuronal pathways
in brain are activated by such experiences? So we can do
reductionistic neuropharmacology studies to look at these experiences.
What about therapeutic application? So we have the cancer
application, addiction application, perhaps in depression as well.
I guess I want to finish just by saying that in spite of everything
that can be done, I think that all of us understand here
the importance of what this means. I mean, this is a wedge into
understanding the human impulse toward compassion,
love, it's the basic underpinnings of our moral and ethical
systems, and it's so important for us to understand and unpack
this for the survival of our species, for the reduction of
human suffering. Then, just one final comment, at the risk of
sounding a little goofy: at the end of each of our experiments,
I end up sitting down and talking to volunteers and expressing
my gratitude to them for participating in our research, because
it's a huge undertaking, and although they end up having
interesting experiences that they value very much, they usually
underestimate how much effort it's going to be. But also,
by the time they end up at the end of the study,
they clearly appreciate the importance of
what this study is about. They can see the
conviction of the research team and the involvement and the
passion with which we're entering into this, and it's really
easy to connect with them at that level, and I welcome them in
as our own study team members, because they're contributing
just as much as we are to the advancement of this, and so
I'd like to do something similar here, and just express my gratitude
to all of you. This is a community of like-minded people
who understand the importance of what we're doing here, and
we really appreciate your support and we have a lot of work
to do as a community to let this unfold, so, with great appreciation,
thank you.
[applause]
My question is, as a graduate of medical school, I really
appreciate and enjoy listening to, and get a lot from listening
to research studies. Sort of a downside and a gloomy note:
our culture apparently is moving in the direction of allowing
government-approved scientific and medical elites control
what in other societies is democratic, vibrant and free, i.e.
the South American indigenous, etc. Is this a good direction for
a culture to expand such scientific elite control of what are
really basic elements of human life?
Well, great question. I don't have a good answer. Being
a scientist, I'm viewing my role in this process as trying to
rehabilitate the psychedelics for research. I think there's so many
important things to be done with them. I think the potential
implications for understanding the neurobiology of this process
is remarkable. I would hope that this would not result in simple
elitism, and I don't see any evidence that it should. We're wearing
different hats, so I don't get into the drug policy stuff at all;
I try to avoid that so that I'm not confounded with that, but that's
a very important alternative track that some in the community are on.
Thank you, Roland. I really appreciated seeing the survey
about people who have bad experiences and what the conditions
were, because as someone who has been highly trained
to be an entheogenic facilitator for the last two decades,
I've spent a lot of time undoing the damage from other people's
experiences, either because they had sitters who were abusive,
unqualified, or they just went off and did it on their own and
got caught in material and they had to learn how to come out of it.
Because of my experience, I was able to work these people through
and bring them out on the other side, but I would really
invite you to look at that as another subject of study, because
I think that there's a lot of people in this population, who, because
there are not enough trained facilitators, go off and do it
on their own, and people can get stuck in their unconscious
material and it can be damaging for lifetime. So thank you for
showing that. It's really important.
I think your point's well taken. Hopefully we won't have
an opportunity to study that, because we're trying to minimize
those effects, but there's no question that there are casualties,
and they're serious, and we need to develop methodologies
for dealing with those.
I just had a question, excuse me, about, on one of your slides
you mentioned something about a default mental state.
Default mode network. So this is... apologize if I didn't cover that
very clearly, and Robin Carhart-Harris will probably be discussing
that in more detail. But they're networks within brain that speak
to one another under conditions in which people are not asked
to perform; they're just sitting in the scanner being conscious,
and in one of those interconnected pathways is something
called the default mode network, and that's where the brain
seems to go, or it's one of the patterns that emerges when there's
a lot of self-referential processing. That's all the internal
chatter that goes on. What acute psilocybin does is shut down
that default mode network, so that discursive, interpsychic
chatter stops. That's also shown in meditation. That's the similarity
between the meditation and the psilocybin. We're shutting down
that discursive self-talk, and I think that's what accounts for
the sense of bringing us into the present moment: be here now.
All of a sudden, if you let that chatter drop away, the salience
of our life experience elevates, and that's so much what people
often feel with entheogens: the vibrancy of the color, the vibrancy
of being here right now, the aliveness of everything.
Is that related to what I've heard Aldous Huxley and others
refer to as the reducing valve? The brain is the reducing valve
of consciousness?
Well, Robin Carhart-Harris has made speculations exactly
to that effect, and I don't think there's any easy way to translate
Huxley's ideas into default mode network, although perhaps
someone like Dave Nichols could do it.
I may have missed this, but how is the psilocybin prepared
and administered in your studies?
This was synthesized psilocybin. Dave Nichols synthesized
the compound. It's in powder form, administered in capsules,
taken orally with water.
This is a question about a possible therapeutic application.
My physician has recommended meditation, given me a copy
of a book that many of you are familiar with, been out many years,
on the relaxation response as a way to help manage borderline
high blood pressure. Now, if psilocybin's a crash course
in meditation, is there a possible use of psilocybin for managing
high blood pressure? If so, do we have a whole new kind of
therapeutic possibility?
Well, acutely, anyway, psilocybin increases blood pressure.
The trick is that psilocybin gives someone an acute experience.
Meditation is about sustaining that experience. So meditation
practice is just that. It's called a practice, and you're practicing
sitting to try to bring some of that mindfulness into
moment-to-moment awareness throughout the day, and I think
it would be that that would be important to modulating
blood pressure.
I was just wondering: you were mentioning that people found
the psilocybin experience to be profoundly meaningful regardless
of whether they had a good or bad trip, and it seems like this
sense of profound meaning more likely occurs with classic
hallucinogens than with salvia or ketamine. Even when people
have very intense experiences, people leave it not feeling
that it was as valuable as the traditional psychedelic experience.
So can you speak to the neurobiology behind that, why it occurs
with classic psychedelics and not with others?
No, I can't. But I think that's the hallmark feature of these
classic hallucinogens, that has something to do with embedded
meaning-making and how that's interpreted. There's so much
to be learned about the nature of these processes, and I certainly
don't understand the underlying neurobiology of it.
I wasn't clear on the initial study with the novice meditators
and how that was designed. So you brought people in and gave them
some introductory instructions about meditation, then they were
given psilocybin sessions, and then what were you measuring?
Whether they continued to meditate, or whether they were comparing
the experiences they had with meditation with the psilocybin?
it wasn't quite clear what you were looking at.
We have a whole host of measures. Basically we're interested
in the extent to which people engaged with the meditation practice
and then the consequences of that. We have a ton of different
measures of forgiveness and gratitude and that sort of thing,
but we're interested in whether those experiences, then, are
differentially sustained as a function of the amount of meditation.
Our basic working hypothesis is, because there is a convergence
of the meditation and the psilocybin experience, that perhaps
having such experiences is going to make meditation more salient
and more alive for these people, and so they're going to engage
more fully in those kinds of practices, so that by the end of
six months, they may look very different than people who simply
got a meditation instruction and didn't have a psilocybin experience.
In terms of your definition of mysticism, I think in my view it
be a lot more invigorating to the psychiatric community
if you were to use some of the definitions that were outlined
and delineating in the works of Carl Jung, in terms of looking at
a collective unconscious and looking at our typical variability
as a function of levels of mystical genesis. I think that would be
a lot more interesting to a world population of medical practitioners
either doing psychology or psychiatry, because it would give
a something that is recognized as a level of definition, and also,
some of the work of Joseph Campbell would further refine
this sort of paradigm, because there's obviously, looking at
the cross-cultural literature on the subject, there is a clear-cut
view that humans seem to have this desire, according to Carl Jung,
and I do concur with him, for a level of mystical genesis
or ontological genesis. I think that a much more profound
analysis of these would begin to really look at this as a phenomena
that is characteristic of the human psyche that's not being
activated or engendered in the current cultural milieu that we're
living in, and this would make the psychedelic experience,
whether using ayahuasca or psilocybin, a much more meaningful
and heuristic level of study.
Okay, well thank you for that comment. What we ended up doing
when we initiated these studies is looking in the literature
for the very best psychometric measures that were available,
and it turns out that I don't know of any validated scales
that are using a Jung typology. William James, starting at the
- turn of last century-- - The Varieties of Religious Experience.
Yes, and William Stace, building on that, developed this set
of criteria that turn out to be very useful and replicable
and psychometrically robust. I would welcome, if you or anyone else
- knows of any validated measures-- - I'd be happy to actually
work with you on that. I'm at a university and I am in a department
where I am involved with something like that, so I'd be willing to
get in contact with you and further entertain a dialogue
with you on this issue.
Good. Thank you.
I'm curious about your upcoming study with experienced
meditators and what kind of qualifications you're asking
from those meditators as far as length of experience and daily practice
and retreat experience, and also traditions, type of practice,
specific techniques, and why you made those decisions, and how.
Well, good question. I think we're going to logistically be
restricted to recruiting people in the Baltimore-Washington area
because of the number of study visits. We're thinking that
there would be some advantage to using a population of people
who have some kind of uniform practice. So...because there's
very active Vipassana community in these areas, it's likely that
that's what we're going to use, so that we don't have a lot of
heterogeneity across volunteers. As you might imagine,
the nature of the meditation,
the meditation objects and some of the conventional practices
around meditation can change radically depending on how
and where you've been trained. In terms of how much experience,
ideally, the more, the better. We'd love to recruit in people with
more than 20,000 meditation hours. We doubt that we're going to
find those people. We're thinking, probably, at a minimum,
five years of daily or almost daily meditation experience,
and some significant retreat experience, but ultimately
it's going to depend on who shows up when we start recruiting.
My question is sort of suggested by your top point up there,
but you mentioned that all participants came into the study
with intermittent spiritual practice, and even given the nature
of recruitment, I think, a lot of individuals had a propensity
to have a mystical-type experience. So I'm curious if you think
there would be such a high prevalence in individuals who identify
as an atheist, for example.
That's a great question, and we really wanted to run that study.
One comment I wanted to make is that in our cancer study,
and in Matt's smoking study, we haven't been recruiting
people differentially based on their spiritual interests, and I don't
think it's made much of a difference. I think if you have someone
who's a committed atheist, rigidly so, it could be that they'll never
endorse any question that has God or spirituality in it. That's
almost a meta-instructional set that's layered on this, but
we have found people who have come into the study without
any particular religious orientation who all of a sudden
have found this spiritual dimension and have been radically
changed by it.
Thank you for sharing your work. Y'all are a dream team
to pay attention to. I had two questions, but I think investigating
Matt's study about smoking cessation and psilocybin use will answer
the question about health behavior changes that happen after
psilocybin use and what other metrics can be measured from a
public health perspective. My current question: I would love to hear
your vision as to how to bring this to underserved populations,
minority populations. What's your strategy?
In terms of bringing it to underserved populations, right now
we're doing all we can just to do rigorous, replicable scientific
studies, and we'll worry about how that then is translated
into availability to the culture generally later. It is true that
in our studies, minority communities have been under-represented
in terms of volunteering for these studies. I'm not exactly sure
what the factors are there. There may be more suspiciousness
within some communities of engaging in drug research
generally. Our studies don't pay anything, so people have to
come into the study willing to volunteer large amounts of their time.
In terms of resultant health behavior changes, many people
report a desire to take better care of themselves, so it's
not uncommon for people to start losing weight or change their diet,
or start a meditation practice, or start on an exercise practice.
We've not evaluated that very systematically. Perhaps we should,
but that's not been a specific target of our intervention.
What I suspect is if that were a target of the intervention,
those kinds of changes could be remarkably effected.
My question would be about the doses that you used. As much as
I saw, the highest one was 30mg, and if we want to translate it
to in-vitro studies, do you have the information how much of it
comes to the brain?
How much what?
How much of it come to the brain, if you want to translate it
to in vitro studies, for example.
How much of the dose gets into brain? Let's see. I don't know that
offhand. Robin Carhart-Harris is running intravenous studies
right now, and perhaps he has more kinetic data, and I don't know
about the CNS penetration, so I'm sorry.
My question is about the idea of transmission, that is often
associated with both mystical experiences and with meditation
traditions, where there is a community of teachers, there's a
lineage, and in those traditionally it's regarded as very important.
So...maybe I didn't follow your presentation closely enough,
but what I was trying to figure out was how are you controlling
for the idea that you and your team have essentially become
transmitters of some set of values, maybe something spiritual,
that is accessible to science, but we haven't understood yet
how it's transferred, some emotional set...those sorts of things.
It wasn't clear to me how the design of these experiments...
whether it is even attempting to control for that kind of idea.
We're not controlling for that, and we do have a very powerful
team of individuals who are committed and authentically
engaged, and to the extent that that's affecting our outcomes,
that's what it's doing. But under those conditions, we get effects
that are vastly different than methylphenidate. We get dose effects,
so we know that the team and everything that we put into it
isn't sufficient for occasioning these kinds of experiences.
So I guess we then need to keep our eye out for other teams
doing similar things, or people who don't believe in these effects
conducting these kinds of studies. That's the control that might
ultimately tell us about that.
Yeah, there's some very interesting questions to be asked
about whether or not there are some kinds of effects that might
be very difficult for us to explain in conventional Western
psychological thinking. I know there's some laboratories
that are interested in doing that. It kind of bridges almost into
the paranormal, though, when you get into transmission
effects, and we have our hands full studying psilocybin,
and we don't need to cross it right now with paranormal stuff.
[Presented by: The Beckley Foundation]
[Council on Spiritual Practices]
[Heffter Research Institute]
[Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)]
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Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Project - Roland Griffiths

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tom0615jay 2017 年 5 月 9 日 に公開
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