Researchers Investigate How Personality Traits Could Impact Psychedelic Experiences

October 19, 2023 14:27:51

A surge of psychedelic research has significantly increased the public appeal of psychedelics in recent years. Researchers have discovered that several psychedelics have the potential to treat various mental-health disorders safely and effectively, making them possible alternatives for conventional mental-health treatments.

Psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca and mescaline have shown significant potential against conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seeming to offer long-term relief with minimal adverse side effects and at relatively low doses.

However, we still don’t fully understand how psychedelic experiences impact the brain and lead to profound realizations in psychedelic users. While scientists have reason to believe that psychedelics work by interacting with receptors such as the serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR), the underlying mechanisms that allow them to deliver their benefits still aren’t fully understood.

Researchers are now looking into the possibility that personality plays a larger role in psychedelic experiences than previously thought. Personality traits affect how we interact with our feelings, thoughts, relationships and the world at large, after all, and some scientists posit that our traits may also shape how we react to psychedelics.

Genes are partly responsible for some personality traits while others develop in response to experiences. These traits tend to settle as we reach adulthood but can go through small gradual changes over time. Psychedelics can disrupt entrenched personality traits and change how people perceive themselves and the world around them, resulting in profound realizations that can cause long-lasting personality changes.

Their ability to disrupt previously held perceptions, open up people’s minds and help individuals gain different insights into their emotions allows psychedelics to treat conditions such as major depressive disorder. As such, it makes sense that personality traits including agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness should affect psychedelic experiences.

Interestingly, researchers found that personality can affect an individual’s response to a psilocybin journey. Findings published in the “Journal of Psychoactive Drugs” reveal that individuals with high levels of openness were more likely to have psychedelic experiences characterized by contact with transcendent forces and nonordinary beings as well as love and inner visions. Furthermore, people who scored high in extraversion had feelings of deeper connection to other people and were unlikely to contact non-ordinary beings while under the influence of psychedelics.

High levels of neuroticism increased one’s chances of having a bad psychedelic trip, highly emotional people had little chance of experiencing fear during their experiences, and risk takers had a higher chance of experiencing ego death. The findings also indicate that psychedelics can decrease neuroticism and increase extraversion, conscientiousness and openness.

Enterprises such as atai Life Sciences N.V. (NASDAQ: ATAI) could also help the world understand the more specific ways in which psychedelics interact with different categories of patients in order to deliver therapeutic benefits, and how dosing can be tweaked to address individual needs or differences.

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