Psychedelic Drug Experiences Strengthen the Interpersonal Components of Personality.
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“experience with psychedelic drugs was linked to increased positive affect and to personality traits that favor resilience and stability in the light of the ongoing crisis.” – Federico Cavanna
have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. More recently hallucinogenic drugs such as MDMA (Ecstasy) and Ketamine have been similarly used. People find the experiences produced by these substances extremely pleasant. eye opening, and even transformative. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Psychedelics and hallucinogens have also been found to be clinically useful as they markedly improve mood, increase energy and enthusiasm and greatly improve clinical depression. If these drugs actually change the individuals permanently then they should alter their personalities.
In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.749788/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1784429_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211202_arts_A ) and colleagues recruited online healthy adults who intended to use psychedelic drugs in the near future. Before, 2-weeks and 4-weeks after the psychedelic experience the participants completed online measures of personality, empathetic concern, perspective taking, compassion, social connectedness, relatedness, and absorption. They were also measured for suggestibility, expectancy, motivation, setting of use, anxiety, depression, challenging experiences, mystical experiences, and emotional breakthrough.
They found that in comparison to baseline after the psychedelic experience there were significant decreases in the personality characteristics of anxious and critical while there were significantly higher levels of calm, extraverted, social connectedness, and relatedness. These correspond to the Big Five personality characteristics of neuroticism and agreeableness. They also found that the higher the levels of social connectedness the lower the levels of the personality characteristics of anxious, critical, and disorganized and higher levels of extraverted.
The absence of a control (comparison) condition should be noted, leaving the interpretation of the results open to a variety of confounding factors including participant expectancy (placebo) effects. The fact that only people who were intending to use psychedelics participated greatly limits the generalizability of the results. These considerations notwithstanding the results suggest that psychedelic experiences change personality traits for the better, decreased neuroticism and increased agreeableness. The psychedelic experiences appear to improve social functioning, prosociality and feelings of belonging in one’s social environment. These findings suggest that psychedelics may be useful in improving social function and potentially treating patients with negative personality characteristics.
So, psychedelic drug experiences strengthen the interpersonal components of personality.
“patients who rate highly for openness, acceptance and absorption, and were more likely to be in a psychological state of surrendering to what transpires, were more likely to have positive psychedelic experiences.” – Psych Congress
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Weiss B, Nygart V, Pommerencke LM, Carhart-Harris RL and Erritzoe D (2021) Examining Psychedelic-Induced Changes in Social Functioning and Connectedness in a Naturalistic Online Sample Using the Five-Factor Model of Personality. Front. Psychol. 12:749788. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.749788
The present study examines prospective changes in personality traits relevant to social functioning as well as perceived social connectedness in relation to the naturalistic use of psychedelic compounds in an online volunteer sample. The study also examined the degree to which demographic characteristics, social setting, baseline personality, and acute subjective factors (e.g., emotional breakthrough experiences) influenced trajectories of personality and perceived social connectedness. Participants recruited online completed self-report measures of personality and social connectedness at three timepoints (baseline, 2weeks post-experience, 4weeks post-experience). Linear mixed models were used to examine changes in outcomes and the moderation of these outcomes by covariates. The most substantive changes were reductions in the personality domains Neuroticism, and increases in Agreeableness and social connectedness. Notably, reductions in Neuroticism and increases in Agreeableness covaried over time, which may be suggestive of common processes involving emotion regulation. Preliminary evidence was found for a specific effect on a component of Agreeableness involving a critical and quarrelsome interpersonal style. Although moderation by demographic characteristics, social setting, baseline personality, and acute factors generally found limited support, baseline standing on Neuroticism, perspective taking, and social connectedness showed tentative signs of amplifying adaptive effects on each trait, respectively. Our findings hold implications for the potential use of psychedelics for treating interpersonal elements of personality pathology as well as loneliness.