Psilocybin and spiritual experience

by Bunch, Kevin Sean, Psy.D., ALLIANT INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY, SAN FRANCISCO BAY, 2009, 130 pages; 3377437


Numerous reports indicate that psychedelic drugs can induce spiritual states of consciousness (De Rios & Janiger, 2003; Harner, 1973, La Barre, 1972). Early hallucinogenic research did not account for the influences of set and setting, and research was nearly dormant after the hallucinogen abuse that took place in the 1960's. Human psychedelic research has recently been renewed, and experimental models have confirmed that psilocybin mushrooms can facilitate mystical experiences that have lasting personal meaning and spiritual significance in religious or spiritually-inclined individuals (Griffiths, Richards, McCann, & Jesse, 2006; Johnson, Richards, & Griffiths, 2008; Pahnke, 1966). Expanding on previous studies, this research explored set and setting variables associated with these experiences. Five hundred and four participants responded to an anonymous questionnaire examining the effects of psilocybin in non-laboratory settings. The majority of users indicated that their psilocybin experience(s) were among the five most spiritually significant events of their lives. Participants claimed that psilocybin produced changes in their spirituality and increased their well-being. Over half of the participants met the criteria for having a "complete" mystical experience on the Pahnke-Richards Mystical Experience Questionnaire, and those individuals rated their psilocybin experiences as more significant, unique, and personally meaningful when compared to the non-mystical group. Multiple variables were significantly correlated with having a mystical experience including mindset, age, frequency of use, dosage, and several expectancy, motivational, emotional, and environmental factors. Individuals who sought out psilocybin as a tool for growth more frequently reported having mystical experiences, which were associated with self-reports of increased life-satisfaction and personal well-being.

Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsReligion; Developmental psychology; Spirituality
Publication Number3377437

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