Psychedelics – Magic Mushrooms are turning out to be quite magical, after all! At least, research continues to grow on the positive uses of psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in the infamous mushrooms. The drug has been shown to have powerful properties, helping people quit smoking, manage anxiety and depression, treat PTSD, and more. Studies suggest that psilocybin makes people less likely to commit violent crimes. Quite a robust body of evidence for what has long been considered an illicit substance.
The effects of psilocybin on the body are fascinating. However, there is another facet to psychedelics worth exploring that is equally transformative: their effect on the mind and the self. After psychedelic experiences, consumers are reporting lasting spiritual epiphanies, visions of an alternate reality, and shifts in their core beliefs. These experiences have lasting effects on individuals that are overall positive and have exciting potential, while also underpinning psychedelic exploration with ethical discussion.
As scientists explore the new frontier of psychedelic therapy, ethical considerations are a key component of the studies. Specifically, recent studies, such as one published in Scientific Reports (linked below), are focusing on how psychedelic experiences change the core beliefs of subjects in terms of how they view fate, consciousness and reality.
Let’s look a little deeper into the altered reality that psychedelics offer and why that matters.
What is Metaphysics and Can Psychedelics Alter Our Metaphysical Beliefs?
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that studies, essentially, everything that exists, as well as the nature of existence itself. Who are we? Is the world merely an illusion? What is our place in the universe? Do we truly have free will?
These are questions that metaphysical philosophers have tried for centuries to answer. These are questions that will likely continue to go unanswered for centuries to come.
However, many researchers have been studying the effect that psychedelics have on our metaphysical beliefs. And some of these studies have shown that the altered reality brought on by the use of psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD has the propensity to not only change our metaphysical beliefs, but also answer some of those burning questions. In some cases, they have changed the nature of the belief of the consumer as a whole.
One particular study, published in the Scientific Reports section of Nature, found that not only can the use of psychedelics change a user’s core metaphysical beliefs, but that these changes last long after the test subject stopped psychedelic use. “Results revealed significant shifts away from ‘physicalist’ or ‘materialist’ views, and towards panpsychism and fatalism, post use. With the exception of fatalism, these changes endured for at least 6 months, and were positively correlated with the extent of past psychedelic use and improved mental health outcomes.”
It’s safe to say that the correlation between altered metaphysical beliefs, improved mental health conditions, and psychedelic use is something that needs to be studied further.
The Ethics of Psychedelic Use
The ethicality of psychedelic use is something that’s been a hotly debated topic ever since the “moral panic” of the late 1960s brought about the criminalization of both LSD and psilocybin. Prior to their criminalization, psychedelics had been studied for decades to learn more about their uses in treatments of mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Certain studies in France in the 1950s even sought to understand the connection between psychedelic use and anorexia nervosa treatment.
Terrence McKenna, the American ethnobotanist who championed the responsible use of psychedelics, once wrote, “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third-story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”
It’s safe to say that the use of psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin are less a matter of ethics and more one of fear-mongering by lawmakers who wish to cause panic among the masses, rather than learn of the medicinal value of substances they don’t quite understand.
So the question remains, are psychedelics ethical to consume? That’s not really a question we are capable of answering for the world at large. However, we believe that it’s also not a question that should be answered for us by the government.
As the field of psychedelic therapy develops in the coming years, researchers will need to face the ethical questions raised during their studies. The shifts that individuals going through psychedelic therapy experience in their core belief systems are just the tip of the iceberg, as the field is still in its infancy. For the moment, individuals interested in psychedelic therapy should keep in mind that psilocybin and other similar compounds can have lasting effects on how you see the world.