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As far as mind-altering substances are concerned, psilocybin is considered one of the safer ones — but according to practitioners who administer them therapeutically, the emotional effects of magic mushrooms can result in some pretty intense hazards.

In an interview with PsyPost, one of the coauthors of a new paper about the drawbacks of psychedelic therapies, suggested that one of the field's biggest unforeseen issues occurs when patients develop feelings for their therapists — or, perhaps, vice versa.

In the paper, published in the Journal of Psychedelic Studies, the researchers note that although psychedelic-assisted therapies have been demonstrated to be extremely beneficial for many patients, the "mind-altering capabilities" of these drugs make their risks "predominantly psychological."

While there's been some research into the dangers of psychedelic therapy on the patient side, there hasn't been as holistic a look into how it can affect practitioners — a gap, Hlynsson suggested, the people behind this study sought to fill.

In their study, the researchers, who except for Hlynsson were based out of Sweden's Stockholm University asked current and former psychedelic therapists about some of the negative experiences they'd had conducting such therapy. As they soon learned, "many treatment providers reported issues with romantic transference and blurred professional boundaries."

"Even for experienced therapists," Hlynsson said, "managing romantic transference proved to be a challenge."

In a certain sense, it's not hard to see why.

Anyone who's recreationally indulged in 'shrooms — or any other psychedelic, for that matter — can attest that there tends to be a bond, however fleeting, established between people tripping together. In drug-taking communities of yore, it was common to develop similar imprinting emotions on so-called "trip sitters," the designated drivers, who stay sober and watch over those who are tripping to help them if they reach a scary crossroads.

As the paper itself notes, some therapists found the shift in power dynamics between them and their tripping patients to be "extreme," while others still suggested that they developed feelings for the patients or found it "difficult to resist romantic advances." That's about the last thing anyone who's seeking psychedelic therapy wants or needs.

There were, of course, other therapist-side drawbacks documented in the study: dealing with patients' nausea or tripping freakouts, for one, and difficulty managing their other emotional reactions, such as paranoia and disorientation.

But the romantic transference thing definitely was the most shocking of the reported issues with mushroom therapy — to the point that one has to wonder, given that the study was qualitative and not quantitative, how often that sort of thing happens on either end.

In sum, Hlynsson warns that although "existing research presents promising findings, we need to exercise caution before endorsing psilocybin as a viable treatment for mental disorders."

"Our study suggests that potential negative effects of these substances, especially for vulnerable individuals seeking psychotherapy, are not yet fully understood," he concluded.

More on psychedelics: People Who Take Magic Mushrooms Have Better Sex, Scientists Find

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