This presentation will summarize past and ongoing studies from the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Research Project, which started about 15 years ago. Laboratory research includes administering psilocybin to healthy volunteers, psychologically distressed cancer patients, cigarette smokers seeking abstinence, ordained clergy, and beginning and long-term meditators. The results from several studies suggest that mystical-type experiences appear to mediate sustained positive changes in attitudes, moods, and behavior. Individuals responding to recruitment for a “bad trip” survey on the internet affirmed concerns about psilocybin ingestion in uncontrolled circumstances potentially leading to acute psychological distress, risky behavior, or enduring psychological symptoms. However, when psilocybin is given in laboratory studies to screened, prepared, and supported participants the incidence of risky behavior or enduring psychological distress is extremely low.
Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D., is professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His principal research focus in both clinical and preclinical laboratories has been on the behavioral and subjective effects of mood-altering drugs. His research has been largely supported by grants from the National Institute on Health and he is author of over 300 journal articles and book chapters. He has been a consultant to the National Institutes of Health, and to numerous pharmaceutical companies in the development of new psychotropic drugs. He is also currently a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Dependence for the World Health Organization. He has an interest in meditation and is the lead investigator of the psilocybin research initiative at Johns Hopkins, which includes studies of psilocybin occasioned mystical experience in healthy volunteers and cancer patients, and a pilot study of psilocybin-facilitated smoking cessation.