Psilocybin Makes It Easier To Process Life's Ups and Downs

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Psilocybin Makes It Easier To Process Life's Ups and Downs

Medical imaging and psychological research into psilocybin is giving scientific context and expert meaning to ancient lore and shamanism.


MRI and other brain scanning technologies are finding out the real deal behind what shamans have known for millennia. That psilocybin and psychedelics in general with their boundary and ego dissolving abilities are a healthy part of the human experience. We're not advocating that you go out and shroom yourself to happiness if you are feeling blue, but research certainly suggests that magic mushrooms will play a role in the development of future psychological treatments.


Preconceptions about psychedelics only being used by hedonistic hippie freaks are challenged once more by a recent study carried out at the University Hospital Zurich. Researchers there found that psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, may provide relief from social pain and other social anxieties. Social, clinical, health, and developmental psychologists have each explored aspects of social pain. The experience of pain due to interpersonal rejection or loss, such as rejection from a social group, bullying, or the loss of a loved one results from the activation of certain components in physical pain systems. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While their brain activity was being scanned 21 adults were administered either a mild non hallucinogenic dose of psilocybin or a placebo. Mimicking social pain was achieved by having the 21 participants play a video game of catch which was designed to gradually exclude individual’s avatars. A survey conducted afterwards assessed responses and targeted questions gauged whether the participant was too high. The results showed that those who took the psilocybin rather than the placebo experienced less social isolation and negative feelings of rejection. They knew they were being rejected, but were not as affected by the psychic rough housing as those who took the fake pill.

Lead researcher Katrin Preller explained psilocybin specifically targeted the S1A and S2A serotonin receptors of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex suggesting this part of the brain plays a part in the experience of social pain.
Disruption of the neurotransmitter serotonin is what many scientists believe is responsible for depression and anxiety. The top five psychological drugs prescribed in the US in 2013 were all for depression, anxiety and PTSD. Three were serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, the same system affected by psilocybin. These figures suggest that psilocybin derived or inspired medicines can play a significant role in the future of mental health.


One thing is proving to be true. Scientific research is not making discoveries about psilocybin and psychedelics in general. Neither are psychologists discovering new treatments for psychological disorders. Both are giving scientific context and expert meaning to ancient lore and shamanism. Laying the groundwork for a unified framework for integrative research which has until recently been veiled in modern culture by schedule one crazed bureaucratic tsars.