Psychedelics and Creativity

Dr Dean Wright

Creativity is a difficult construct to define within psychological terms. We know it when we see it, but how do we define it?

Within psychology, creativity is commonly defined as the ability to generate ideas, solutions, or products that are both novel and appropriate. Being able to come up with alternative solutions to a problem is one aspect of creativity which is called (flexible) divergent thinking.

It is different from (rigid) convergent thinking which is about finding the best solution to a problem.

The Dutch Psychedelic Society have recently conducted a study at one of their events. During this event, participants took a microdose of psilocybin through the consumption of truffles. Participants then underwent a task to measure creativity.

Firstly, how awesome that the Dutch Psychedelic Society was able to complete and publish such research! Secondly, it was found that both convergent and divergent thinking was improved after a microdose.

A second article published by Kuypers, has proposed a neuroscientific explanation for how psychedelics can increase creativity. It describes how this may be beneficial for its therapeutic use.

Changing the ‘Depressed Filter’ using Psilocybin

Dr Dean Wright

Within the mental landscape of a person with depression, some commonalities arise. These include persistent negative biases of how that person looks at themselves, and their future prospects. A sense of worthlessness and hopelessness generally arises, leading people to become apathetic and avoid pursuing activities.

Within the depressed person, very often these perceptions are unrealistic and not based in reality, but based on a bias towards the negative aspects which confirm their assumptions. In contrast, ‘healthy’ people generally display a more positive bias in their perception, and in fact often display a “rose-coloured glasses” effect, conflating these positive aspects of themselves and their lives. This is thought to be an evolutionarily conserved mechanism which motivates us to interact more functionally with the world.

A recent study has shown that psychedelics change this mental landscape in a person with depression. Specifically, psilocybin both alleviated depression and reduced the level of pessimism a person displayed. Importantly, patients became significantly more accurate at predicting the occurrence of future life events after taking psilocybin.

Read the full text here.

Music and Psychedelics

Dr Dean Wright

Recent findings point to the potential of music to support meaning-making, emotionality, and mental imagery after the administration of psychedelics.

These studies suggest that music plays an important role in facilitating positive clinical outcomes of psychedelic therapy.

Read a review of the literature here: Abstract and Full text.

Are you interested to know exactly what a psychedelic therapy plalist sounds like? Check out this playlist developed by musicologist, Bill Richards.  This playlist was developed for use in the psilocybin therapy studies designed by Roland Griffiths at Johns Hopkins.