The Dark Side of Psilocybin Mushrooms: An Analysis of 10,000 ‘Trip’ Reports

This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not imply any endorsement or approval from our side or reflect our views on the subject analyzed. Psilocybin mushrooms are illegal in many jurisdictions, and their use can be very harmful to your mental and physical health.

In recent years, the popularity of psychedelics has surged, driven by emerging research highlighting their potential therapeutic benefits. Numerous anecdotal reports also discuss increased well-being and spiritual advancement when these substances are consumed in uncontrolled environments.

However, alongside these promising outcomes lies a less frequently discussed aspect — the occurrence of ‘bad trips.’

To uncover what happens when people use psychedelics outside of clinical trials, the team at Healthnews analyzed almost 10,000 self-reported trip experiences. We looked at the prevalence of good versus bad experiences and the potential dangers associated with experimenting with psychedelics.


We extracted 10,000 psilocybin mushroom trip reports from the Shroomery forum — the most popular platform globally where individuals share their psychedelic trip experiences — and ran a thematic and sentiment analysis using ChatGPT-4o.

ChatGPT's ability to understand natural language, strong pattern recognition skills, and flexibility make it an ideal analysis tool.

Sentiment analysis categorizes the reports based on emotional tone into positive, negative, or neutral.

Thematic analysis extracts detailed themes and insights from the content of the reports.


Distribution of good bad and neutral trips and common negative keywords across 10000 trip reports

The analysis revealed that a substantial portion of trip reports are positive, with 42.38% classified as good. People who have experienced good trips often describe feelings of joy, beauty, and profound insights.

Overall, 43.59% of the reports involve neutral experiences, which do not strongly lean towards the positive or negative side.

Bad trips, making up 13.57% of the reports, include explicit mentions of intense negative experiences.

Negative experiences in psychedelic trip reports

Although negative experiences account for only 13.57% of all reported trips, their intensity and potential for significant psychological distress warrant serious consideration and should not be overlooked.

These negative experiences can range from mild anxiety to intense fear and vivid hallucinations.

Common negative keywords in trip reports:

  • Anxiety (1,260 occurrences)
  • Fear (1,000)
  • Panic (980)
  • Pain (810)
  • Nausea (690)
  • Scary (560)
  • Terrifying (450)
  • Sad (380)
  • Sick (360)
  • Paranoia (260)

Common themes in negative experiences

Anxiety and physical discomfort

A significant number of users report feelings of intense anxiety and panic during their trips. These emotions can be overwhelming and lead to a sense of losing control. One user describes their experience as follows (they swore never to use magic mushrooms again):

Each minute that went by the trip only got stronger. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t handle looking at anything, so I shut my room, turned off every light, and laid in bed, only leaving for the occasional need to vomit outside.


Fear and paranoia

Fear and paranoia are also common, with users often feeling an irrational sense of danger or threat. This can be exacerbated by the hallucinations and altered perceptions induced by psychedelics. Another user shares:

After we became aware we were tripping, things just continued to escalate, but with next to no visuals except some color filtering. We began feeling feelings of dying, impending doom, torture, intense fear, and delirium. [...] It felt like fear of being thrown into hell.


Disturbing hallucinations

Vivid and disturbing hallucinations are frequently reported, with some users encountering terrifying visuals and entities. These hallucinations can feel incredibly real and frightening. For instance:

I saw demons, skeletons, slugs, roaches, ghosts, me disappointing my parents, my girlfriend cheating on me, everything that no one wants to think about.


Existential dread

Some users experience profound existential dread, questioning their reality and existence. This can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair. A user describes their encounter with this feeling:

My mind could not relate to anything. All the social life seemed alien to me. [...] I felt I had gone mad and would need to go to a mental hospital. I cannot define this state. It was like nothing mattered.


The analysis also revealed that certain elements can trigger a negative experience.

Common triggers for bad trips:

  • High dosage: Overwhelming effects due to consuming too much
  • Negative set and setting: Unfavorable mental state or environment
  • Unexpected effects: Strong or surprising sensory experiences
  • Pre-existing mental health issues: Anxiety, depression, or other conditions exacerbated by the substance
  • Lack of preparation: Inadequate information or readiness for the experience
  • Negative social interactions: Unpleasant or unsafe interactions with others during the trip

Interestingly, even among bad trips, 16.27% of the reports highlight learning experiences, indicating that challenging and distressing experiences can also lead to personal growth.


This analysis is based on user-generated content from the Shroomery forum and should be interpreted with caution.

While there is growing interest and research into the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics and psilocybin mushrooms, the scientific understanding of these substances is still in its early stages.

The experiences reported here are anecdotal and not derived from controlled clinical studies. Uncontrolled or unsafe settings can lead to dangerous situations, exacerbating potential health risks. The variability in the purity and dosage of these substances adds further uncertainty.

Even individuals who perceive themselves as healthy may have underlying health issues that could be exacerbated by these substances.

Therefore, it is paramount to approach the use of psychedelics with caution and under the guidance of a medical professional or within a structured therapeutic setting.

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