Scientists have found powerful evidence for something a lot of folks, um, learned in college.
Scientists said a substance in certain mushrooms induced powerful, mind-altering experiences among a group of well-educated, middle-age men and women.
Participants cited feelings of intense joy, "distance from ordinary reality," and feelings of peace and harmony after taking the drug. Two-thirds described the effects of the drug, called psilocybin, as among the five most meaningful experiences of their lives.
But in 30% of the cases, the drug provoked harrowing experiences dominated by fear and paranoia. Two participants likened the episodes to being in a war. While these episodes were managed by trained monitors at the sessions where the drugs were taken, researchers cautioned that in less-controlled settings, such responses could trigger panic or other reactions that might put people in danger.
The study is apparently "among the first to systematically assess the effects of hallucinogenic substances in 40 years" (outside of dorm rooms, that is). (W$J)