Impressionable? - May have more dopamine than average.

Use of psychedelic drugs has been associated with becoming more attune to the greater universe and universal consciousness - but is that true? Yes, a study (1) found it may be true. People who reported use of psychedelic drugs did seem to move away from materialistic values towards more metaphysical beliefs and fatalistic. The metaphysical values persisted while the fatalistic responses faded after six months from the time of the psychedelic drug use/treatment.


"Here we exploited a large sample derived from prospective online surveying to determine whether and how beliefs concerning the nature of reality, consciousness, and free-will, change after 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." (1)


Panpsychism: "Panpsychism is the view that all things have a mind or a mind-like quality. The word itself was coined by the Italian philosopher Francesco Patrizi in the sixteenth century, and derives from the two Greek words pan (all) and psyche (soul or mind)." (2)


Impressionability prior to the use of a psychedelic drug was found to effect whether the belief shift towards panpsychism and fatalism occurred or not:


"Path modelling suggested that the belief-shifts were moderated by impressionability at baseline and mediated by perceived emotional synchrony with others during the psychedelic experience." (1)


Impressionability then is another way to describe the tendency to have a stronger placebo or nocebo effect - and have more elevated dopamine levels on average. True placebo effect is somewhat mental and emotional - stronger with a stronger trust in the practitioner or person sharing advice and it seems to involve the person's dopamine levels.


Use of psychedelic drugs in small amounts has been found helpful for a variety of conditions and is gaining broader use.


The study authors bring up the question of informed consent then, for offering treatment with a psychedelic drug - might the patient's values be modified?


"We are of the view that psychedelic therapy depends on an interaction between a biological action of the drug and non-pharmacological contextual factors45. Just as the management of context is essential for therapeutic outcomes, so it may require careful and responsible management with regard to other psychological outcomes such as potential changes in metaphysical beliefs. For relevant discussions see Timmermann et al.45, Carhart-Harris and Friston41, and Letheby57." (1)


By context, the authors mean the setting in which the psychedelic drug experience is occurring. What the person is surrounded by may make the experience more wonderful or possibly more disturbing. Pleasant surroundings that are familiar, with a safe person as a support - rather than an unknown or frightening area with no one, or strangers around.


Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a [*functional] health professional for individual health care purposes.


Reference List

  1. Timmermann, C., Kettner, H., Letheby, C. et al. Psychedelics alter metaphysical beliefs. Sci Rep 11, 22166 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-01209-2 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-01209-2

  2. Panpsychism, Internet Encyclopedia of Psychology, https://iep.utm.edu/panpsych/