Episode 84 :: Katherine MacLean :: Psilocybin and Openness

| September 30, 2011 | 2 Comments

Katherine MacLean

Katherine MacLean speaks with us about a new study on the effects of the psychoactive drug psilocybin on the personality trait of Openness.

Hi, everyone. This week as with last week, we’re enjoying the benefits of the kindness of others in sharing their work in a very timely fashion. I was very happy to get an email a few days ago from our friend Katherine MacLean at Johns Hopkins with preview of a new study that was scheduled for release this week. We were able to get together and talk about the study, some of the correlaries with meditation practice, and get this episode complete and to you within a day or so of the press release.

The study itself brings up some interesting questions: do the causal conditions of our life-changing experiences matter, if it harms no one and is positively transformative? What are those changes in personality, do they last, and how do we know they’re more than just self-reported impressions?

Katherine MacLean grew up in Connecticut and received her bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College in the woods of New Hampshire. After a two-year stint recording brain activity in rhesus monkeys, she transitioned to studying primates who could talk about their subjective experiences: humans.

During her graduate studies at the University of California, Davis, she worked with Ron Mangun on studies of visual attention and with Clifford Saron on the Shamatha Project – a longitudinal study of changes in behavior and brain function during intensive meditation training. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology in the fall of 2009 and subsequently joined the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit within the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow.

:: Discuss this episode ::


“The real world is still always waiting for you. It would like you to show up.” — Katherine MacLean



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Music for This Episode

Shakuhachi Meditations

Shakuhachi Meditations

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez’s CD, Shakuhachi Meditations. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Eleven Waterfalls

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Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

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