Written and published in Seattle, Wa., 1999. Created and Published Here On Line: November 8, 2008. Revised April 30, 2013; and April 21, 2017.
Copyright 1998-2017 by John W. Allen.

John W. Allen


Psilocybe cyanescens Wakefield. Photo: University of Washington Campus.


On New Years eve of 1998-1999, a young female (age 34) experienced a most dysphoric reaction brought on after the consumption of the hallucinogenic mushroom Psilocybe cyanescens. This is the first reported case of a dysphoric reaction due in part to the consumption of Psilocybe cyanescens.

Throughout the modern history of the world, dysphoric reactions resulting from both the accidental and deliberate ingestion of psilocybian mushrooms have shared a small place in the scientific and medical literature. The earliest reported ingestion of psilocybian mushrooms are from the†2nd century of the last millennium (Li, 1977; Yu, 1959). Such intoxicationís were known to Chinese physicians who described healing procedures under the heading of "cures for the laughing sickness." The next report involving entheogenic mushrooms ingestionís occurred in Japan during the early the 11 century (Kawamura, 1918; Sanford, 1972). These inebriationís were the results of consuming mushrooms believed to be various species of Panaeolus or Gymnopilus. In the late 1700's, Brande (1799) and Heim (1971) reported on an intoxication in England by one adult and four children involving Psilocybe semilanceata. The mushrooms were gathered early in the morning by the father and prepared with food. Another case study involving mushrooms belonging to the genus Panaeolus was reported by Glen (1816). Although this former case study by Brande (1799) was the first reported account of a psychedelic inebriation caused after the consumption of ingested mushrooms believed to an edible species. That species was Psilocybe semilanceata, a typical normal LBM (little brown mushroom); usually avoided by those always seeking new sources of food. At the time of this report no one had heard of the use of similar species being used ritualistically in healing and curing ceremonies in central Mexico. During the course of my research in this field of ethnomycology, I learned that their were many reports of similar inebriations dating back to 2nd century A.D. And in most case studies reported in the literature since then until the re discovery of these mushrooms in Mexico and eventually across the globe, most reports noted that the effects were similar to alcohol inebriations and that they caused visions and intense incessant laughter. There were ever cures noted in ancient medical tombs.

Only recently we have learned of these mushrooms and the purposeful use of such fungi as a tool of recreation. However many of these first adventurers accounts of their intoxications in their homelands were caused by the accidental or purposeful ingestion of Psilocybe semilanceata and many reports first appeared from locations in Great Britain during the late 1970's and early 1980's (Mills, Lesinskas, & Watkinson, 1979; Cooles, 1980; Gartz, 1996; Murray & Murray, 1983; Peden, Pringle & Crooks, 1982; Peden et al., 1981). Other dysphoric intoxicationís during the next two centuries were generally the result of eating mushrooms belonging to the genus Panaeolus and/or Copelandia species.Many of these Panaeolus intoxicationís also occurred in the northeastern United States during the early 1900's (McIlvaine & Macadam, 1902; Kreiger, 1911; Verrill, 1914; Murrill,1916); in Australia during the 1940's and early 1950's (Unsigned, 1941; Trotter, 1944; Southcott, 1974; Allen, Merlin & Jansen, 1991). Also, a few cases involving members of the genus Gymnopilus (Buck, 1964; Walters, 1965) and some possible intoxicationís by both Psilocybe and Panaeolus occurred in Africa during the late 1940's and early 1950's (Charters, 1957, 1958a, 1958b; Cullinan & Henry, 1945; Gartz, 1996; Vedcourt & Trump, 1969). Copelandia species have also been responsible for a number of accidental and deliberate intoxicationís that resulted in dysphoric reactions (Heim et al., 1966; Stapleton, 1981; Allen, 1998). During the 1980's in the Pacific Northwest, numerous trips to the emergency rooms of local hospitals involved those who deliberately ingested either Psilocybe semilanceata and/or Psilocybe stuntzii (Norton, 1976; Sherman, 1976; Pollock, 1977-1978). Additionally, there have also been numerous reported cases of dysphoric reactions due to the consumption of Psilocybe cubensis (Cullinan & Henry, 1945; Charters, 1957, 1958; Stein, 1958; Stocks, 1963; Vedcourt & Trump, 1969; Southcott, 1974; Morton, 1982; Allen, Merlin & Jansen, 1991; Allen & Merlin, 1992). For a more comprehensive study of psilocybian poisoning and treatment, see Lincoff & Mitchell (1977), Rumack & Saltzman (1978) and Allen, Merlin & Jansen, 1991).


On New Years eve, the author of this paper and two friends (1 female, age 34 and 1 male, age, 19) participated in a mushroom velada which resulted in a dysphoric reaction from the consumption of one dried cap of Psilocybe cyanescens (weighing approximately 1/2 gram, in which the female subject after having already consumed approximately 1 and 1/2 liters of champagne and 1 large 64 oz, bottle of malt liquor, began to experience some mild paranoia with intensive sobbing, a decrease in concentration with slow thinking and some feelings of unreality. As the intoxication intensified, there was a heavy feeling of extreme nausea with an inability to vomit, some minor physical discomfort, some sweating with facial flushing, a weakness of bodily movement which resulting in muscular dis-co-ordination, muscular aches, some shivering, anxiety, restlessness and a slow passage of time. These symptoms began to appear within 30 minutes of consumption of the fungi and persisted for more than three hours after ingestion (for a complete list of the clinical effect of psilocybian intoxication in humans, see Hollister et al., l960)

The above noted symptoms occurred after the author was invited to share some champagne with a female companion around 7:30 PM. on the evening of December 31, 1998.Between 8:00 PM. and 11:00 PM., the female friend had consumed approximately 1 and 1/2 bottles of champagne, while the author had consumed less than three small glasses.At about 11:15, we were joined by a 19-year-old native American (of Eskimo heritage) who came to visit us with two opened 64 oz. bottles of Old English 800 Malt Liquor.By 11:30 PM. most of the liquor had been consumed and although I was experiencing a slight dizziness from my consumption of the Champagne, both of my companions were intensely intoxicated.

At this time I had mentioned that I was going to eat some "magic mushrooms" and as soon as I had mentioned this, both of my friends asked if they too could have some.I gave two large dried specimens to both of my friends and I proceeded to eat four large specimens weighing approximately 2 1/2 grams dried. My friend Lisa F had eaten about 1/2 gram of these dried mushrooms.


††† Within 20 minutes I began to feel the effects of the mushrooms and told my friends that I was going upstairs to retrieve some cassette tapes for us to listen to.When I returned to Lisa's room she was laying on the bed sobbing.The Eskimo boy had apparently gone back to his study room to ponder his life.Since Lisa F seemed quite uncomfortable,I asked her if she was ok and she just started crying louder.This woke up several other people in the house, some of whom were concerned about her crying.At about 40 minutes after consuming the mushrooms, amidst the sobbing and some sarcasm directed at herself, the dysphoric reaction became more complicated by her admission that she had just wet her pants, so I helped her change her sheets and bedding while she tried to change her wet clothes.Within a few minutes after this had transpired, she resumed her loud sobbing once again.


††† Soon several people had converged on her room to see what was the matter.Lisa kept yelling that she did not want to die and ask me several times, over and over, "John, please don't let me die."to which I often replied, "Don't worry, your not going to die."This routine went on for about one hour and all during this period she kept trying to vomit without any success.


††† One of the other tenants in the building was causing her to believe that he was the devil and she wanted him to leave her room. This tenant kept complaining that her crying was keeping him awake and that he would not leave the room until she stopped crying.All during this period, as noted earlier, Lisa F continued to try and vomit, but to no avail.


†† Into the last half of the second hour she was still unable to move very much and several people, still celebrating the New Years, tried to offer her a beer to calm her down.I kept telling people that she did not need any more alcohol, but several people kept trying to get her to drink.During all of confusion, Lisa F still tried to vomit and I held her hand and talked to her, which seemed to be the only sanity and comfort which she responded to.

††† The person who appeared as the devil was smoking a bowl of ganja and he started to complain that I should not have given her the mushrooms, that they were dangerous and that I didn't know what I was doing.He suggested calling the police to help her.At this, Lisa F. screamed at him, "don't call the police" and she once again called him the devil.The young man responded to this with some profanity and Lisa responded back with the same back to him. It is curious that this person would suggest calling the police because when someone is sick you call for an ambulance or for a doctor.


††† At the end of the second hour of this girls discomfort, Lisa F was still trying to vomit in order to relieve the nausea which had continued since she first began to feel the effects of the mushrooms.At this time another lady entered the room.This newcomer also had a pipe and a bottle of "Midnight Express" (cheap wine).She appeared to have somewhat of a calming effect on Lisa F, who by now had just began to vomit.This cause of discomfort lasted from the moment of intoxication until about close to three hours into the experience.


††† At about 10 minutes into the fourth hour of intoxication Lisa F had calmed down enough so that the other people in the room left the two of us alone.I stayed with her another hour and held her hand.Finally I was pretty tired and worn out both physically and mentally from this experience.I covered her with blankets and went to my apartment to rest and try and get some sleep.


†† The next day, Lisa F. was still boggled from her trip on mushrooms, although she stated that she knew that it was not the mushrooms which had caused her dysphoric reaction, but was a result of consuming to much alcohol with the mushrooms, stating that she had, on occasion, eaten mushrooms several times before without any complications like the ones she had just experienced.She also said that she would like to eat some mushrooms with me at a later date and vowed never to drink again.However, one week later she confessed that she drank to much the night before and now had an intense hangover.



††† The female (Lisa F.) had a very pronounced dysphoric reaction after consuming up to a half of a gram comprising one dried cap of Psilocybe cyanescens.The 19-year-old male teenager who ate two whole mushrooms weighing about 1 and 1/2 grams and I, who consumed four large specimens weighing 2 and 1/2 grams did not have any dysphoric reactions to the mushrooms.I was very much under the influence of the fungi and was still able to maintain my thoughts enough to baby-sit this girl through a very terrifying experience. The male companion who consumed two large specimens returned to his room and slept off his alcohol mushroom intoxication without much thought of his experience; saying it was ok but not rewarding.


††† It seems that throughout the published literature on the subject of "magic mushroom" intoxication, that straight people (those not involved in the drug subculture), who, having accidentally consumed an hallucinogenic mushroom containing psilocybin and psilocin, are able to describe both the physical and mental effects which occurred during their disturbing condition, For example, one woman, who, under the influence of a psilocybian mushroom, thought that she was dying.After a few hours she reportedly said that "if this is the way one dies from mushroompoisoning, then I am all for it" (Buck, 1964; Walters, 1965).However, those involved in the drug subculture, when asked what is happening to them while they are experiencing a dysphoric reaction to their trip, are unable to explain their condition or to describe any of the effects which are causing them to experience their on-going dysphoric reaction.



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