A new study has found that psychedelic substances can alter an individual’s core beliefs about the nature of free will, consciousness and reality. The study’s findings were reported in the “Scientific Reports” journal.
The researchers’ objective was to find out whether psychedelics had the capacity to change a person’s core metaphysical beliefs, because the drugs can induce spiritual encounters and transformative experiences. Metaphysical beliefs are ideas about reality’s fundamental nature.
The study was carried out by a team of researchers led by Christopher Timmermann, who examined the metaphysical beliefs of participants before and after they had used psychedelics. The researchers also assessed how these changes may have affected the participants’ mental health.
For their research, the team recruited more than 800 participants who planned to attend a ceremony where they could use psychedelics such as DMT, ayahuasca and psilocybin. The participants came from a number of countries, with the majority being from the United States and the United Kingdom. Before they attended the ceremony, each participant had to complete a survey that included measures of determinism, free will and metaphysical beliefs, i.e., dualism, idealism, materialism/physicalism. The participants completed the same survey four weeks after the ceremony, then again six months later.
The researchers classified the participants based on their beliefs at baseline, coming up with four groupings: materialists, idealists, dualists and mixed/none. They used these categories to better assess how the views of each participant changed.
Their findings show that the beliefs of the participants swayed from materialism after the ceremony, with the researchers noting that this change was significant at both the four-week and six-month follow-ups. They also found that participants who were hard materialists shifted to none/mixed or hard-dualism after their experiences on psychedelics, noting that switching from hard materialism was linked to better well-being.
The researchers also found that the shift from materialism was strongest among participants who hadn’t used psychedelics before. In addition to this, the survey found increases in the belief in a predetermined future and fate, highlighting that while these increases were present for all during the first follow-up, they were maintained at the second follow-up among respondents who were first-time users of the substances.
In their report, the researchers note that their findings suggest that psychedelics have the potential to alter some of the most influential and deep-seated human beliefs.
Other researchers who were part of the study include Fernando E. Rosas, Leor Roseman, Chris Letheby, Hannes Kettner and Robin L. Carhart-Harris.
Such research findings suggest that any psychedelic-based formulations made by entities such as Mydecine Innovations Group Inc. (NEO: MYCO) (OTC: MYCOF) could have beneficial effects beyond the primary indication for which those medicines were prescribed, and that would be good for patients.
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