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A new study published in the Frontiers in Psychology shows that using psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and DMT can induce long-term and positive personality changes. For example, becoming less critical of others and becoming less anxious. Although, there is a downside as well. Can Psychedelics Improve Personality?
Brandon Weiss, the lead researcher and a psychologist at Imperial College London, says, “Psychedelics carry risks such as getting the hallucinogen-persisting disorder, which is a condition categorized as a persistent psychedelic effect which includes perceptions of sound and light.”
“Psychedelics also come with the heightened risk for psychosis. As per this reason, psychedelic and cannabis studies do not include people with a family history of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.”
Can Psychedelics Improve Personality?
To better understand the risks and benefits of psychedelic trips, the scientists used 148 adult volunteers from the general population who were planning to have a psychedelic experience to answer questions about their social relationships and personality at three points in time:
- Right before their psychedelic trip, (2) 2 weeks after their trip, and (3) one month after their trip.
The researchers measured personality traits from the Big 5 model of personality, including extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness. They would also measure two types of social connectedness: the strength of your relationships in general and belongingness to your community.
Researchers discovered that two traits showed substantial change after a psychedelic trip.
“At first, volunteers reported that they weren’t as irritable or critical in their communications with others,” says Weiss. “Secondly, volunteers reported that they were less upset by things and a lot less anxious.”
Researchers had also found that the volunteers who had the most significant reductions in anxiety after their psychedelic trip were amongst those who scored high for anxiety initially, signifying that there could be more benefits to using psychedelics for people who have higher neuroticism, or at least when managing stress.
“The results are intriguing and make valuable contributions to what we know. However, about 80% of the volunteers we started with had dropped out of the study before finishing it,” Weiss said. “Thus, we can’t say that this is a perfect representative study sample of the general population. It may be that many those who had a good experience stayed in whereas others did not.”
However, the study adds more of a data point to the ever-growing research that says psychedelics are beneficial in clinical settings. Can psychedelics improve personality?