Graduation Date

Spring 2021

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology

Committee Chair Name

Joshua Meisel

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Jennifer Eichstedt

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Psilocybin, Mushrooms, Magic mushrooms, Psychoactive, Psychedelics, Drug use, Decriminalization, Qualitative research, Motivation, Experience, Tripping, Identity, Symbolic interaction, In-depth interviews, Long-term

Subject Categories



This study explores the experiences and motivations of people who take psilocybin mushrooms long-term. Little scholarly attention has been given to the psilocybin experience outside of a clinical setting. Likewise, there is a dearth of research examining the factors that lead to first-time and ongoing experiences with mushrooms. I conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with 18 informants who have taken psilocybin mushrooms at least 10 times and for over three years. I encouraged open dialog and storytelling to gain a deeper understanding of their mushroom experiences and motivations to take long-term. Using a grounded theory approach, I identified the following patterns in how my informants take psilocybin mushrooms: learning to like and to control the psilocybin experience; the importance of having a positive mindset (set) and safe environment (setting); and how the psilocybin experience changes the perception of objective reality for the participant to subjectively determine personal meaning. Utilizing a symbolic interactionist theoretical framework, my research contributes to our understanding of how those who take mind altering substances make sense of their experiences and integrate their consumption into their daily lives. My research also adds to the growing body of literature on psychedelics providing a rich account of the experiences and motivations of a group taking psilocybin mushrooms long-term.

Citation Style




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