Psilocybin, the substance in magic mushrooms which allow users to experience a distorted reality and “trip” as it is referred to, could help patients with certain mental health disorders experience less social rejection and the negative emotions and pain that this rejection can cause. Researchers have long known that people who have mental disorders tend to react much stronger to social rejection, and this can add even more stress on the patient which can have a negative impact on their treatment and the development of their mental disorder. These individuals could be at greater risk for even further withdrawal from social life and the support that these activities can provide. University of Zurich researchers have found that a small amount of psilocybin can affect the way that the brain processes social conflicts and allow the participants to feel socially included and to experience less stress when they are socially rejected.
First author of the study on social rejection and psilocybin, Dr. Katrin Preller, explained that “Increased activity in brain areas such as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex is associated with an increased experience of social pain. This has been shown to be present in different psychiatric disorders. Psilocybin seems to influence these particular brain areas.” Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging Unit director Dr. Franz Vollenweider stated “These new results could be groundbreaking for the illumination of the neuropharmacological mechanisms of social interaction and may help to develop new treatments. On the other hand the reduction of psychological pain and fear can facilitate the therapist-patient relationship and therefore the psychotherapeutic treatment of formative negative social experiences.