(BALTIMORE) -- "Magic mushrooms" are known to bring on an intense psychedelic trip, and psilocybin, the mind-altering chemical in the mushroom, is believed to help treat certain medical conditions. But new research suggests the drug may actually alter people's personalities for a long period of time.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine gave one high dose of psilocybin to 51 adult study participants and found that 30 of them underwent measurable personality changes that lasted more than a year.
The aspect of personality that changed is known as openness. Openness, the authors wrote, "encompasses aesthetic appreciation and sensitivity, imagination and fantasy, and broad-minded tolerance of others' viewpoints and values."
The 30 subjects whose personalities changed became more open after the psilocybin session.
Lead author Katherine MacLean, a post-doctoral fellow, said participants completed a personality questionnaire before the study began, about a month after the study and then again 14 months later.
The people who became more open also had a "complete mystical experience," while the others whose personalities did not change didn't have a similar experience.
"The mystical experience has certain qualities," MacLean said. "The primary one is that you feel a certain kind of connectedness and unity with everything and everyone."
People also feel very joyful, MacLean said.
The study authors and other researchers who study the effects of psilocybin say the findings are very significant and have potentially huge implications for the use of the drug for other therapeutic purposes.
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