Psychedelics have long been known for their potential to enable deep reflection and modulate people’s moods. But evidence for this mostly came from anecdotal evidence, and not empirical evidence. Now however, a team of researchers from Yale University have found that these drugs really do lead to such positive effects- specifically in boosting a person’s mood and making them feel more connected to others.
For their study, the researchers spent four years collecting data from 1,242 festival-goers in the US and UK to learn about the effects of psychedelic drugs. In a total of six different festivals, they set up booths called “Play Games for Science”. Those who agreed to participate were questioned on their drinking habits and drug consumption. Questions included whether they had taken any psychedelic drugs, such as LSD and psilocybin in the previous 24 hours or at some point in the past week. Each participant was assured that their information was confidential, and thus would not lead to legal complications.
Alongside questions on their consumption of substances, they were also asked whether they had experienced any transformative experiences following their trips. These included being changed “so profoundly” that they became “radically different” versions of themselves thereafter. Each volunteer also underwent tests to assess their comfort among others, alongside the drugs’ overall affect on their moods.
In the end, the researchers found that the consumption of psychedelic substances correlates with more positive moods, as well as transformative experiences and a greater sense of connection with others. In particular, it was found that these effects were most pronounced for those who had taken psychedelic substances within the last 24 hours, as opposed to within one week.
Although suggestive findings, the researchers warn that their conclusions may not be conclusive. This comes as there were some when gathering data. For example, in one festival they had to manually change their survey packets a night before delivering them. Moreover, they warn that self-reported assessments from individuals may not be accurate.
Co-author of the survey, Molly Crockett, said, “"Our study adds to a growing evidence base that taking psychedelics can lead to transformative experiences, in part by changing the way people experience themselves in relation to other people...More research is needed to better understand the nature of transformative experiences on psychedelics, how they change concepts of self and others, and how to optimize their impact on wellbeing while minimizing risk."