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A psychedelic experience is characterized by the perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ordinary restraints. Psychedelic states are one of the stations on the spectrum of experiences elicited by sensory deprivation as well as by psychedelic drugs and other substances. On that same spectrum will be found illusions, changes of perception, altered states of awareness, mystical states, and occasionally states resembling schizophrenia. The word psychedelic comes from a combination of two Greek words: psyche (ψυχή) and delos (δήλος). Literally, it means "soul manifestation".
The psychedelic experience is an intimate experience, but there are many common themes, and ranges from a sense of connectedness to everything in the immediate vicinity, to a sense of oneness with everything in the universe. Potentially, the range of the drug-induced psychedelic experience goes far beyond drugs. Hallucinogens have these effects, in contrast to heroin, for example, and its depressant effects.
Some who undertake such experiences come to see them as an ordeal, and mentally overbearing. For many, such experiences come to be seen as personal re-enactments of a hero's journey. Spiritual practices and Psychedelic drugs can be used as a means to achieve states of mind in which novel perceptions can arise, unhindered by everyday mental filters and processes. The mental and emotional impact of the experience is positive and enduring for many.
Research that was done during the 1960s suggested there was a theory that psychedelic drugs might have medical uses. More recently, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the Heffter Research Institute, and the Beckley Foundation have continued studying the effects of the psychedelic experience.
Levels of psychedelic experience[edit | edit source]
The Psychedelic Experience FAQ describes five different levels of psychedelic experience acquired by substances and chemicals:
Level 1[edit | edit source]
- This level produces a mild "high" effect, with some visual enhancement (e.g. brighter colors) and music sounds "wider," or more piercing to the ears. There is a sense that one's thoughts are spiralling into themselves. This level can be achieved from a normal dose of cannabis or a very low dose of a classic psychedelic such as psilocybin. Occasionally common prescription drugs like SSRIs can produce mild 'trippy' effects, as well, though they are not normally classified as psychedelic experiences because they are so mild.
Level 2[edit | edit source]
- Bright colors; visuals (e.g. things may appear to move or breathe); some two-dimensional patterns become apparent upon shutting eyes. Confused, cyclic (thought loop) or reminiscent thoughts. Déjà vu is commonly reported. Change in short term memory leads to continually distracting thought patterns. While it may become increasingly difficult to follow a single train of thought, at other times one might find themselves lost in deep introspection about one specific idea or problem. The need to see 'normal' reality becomes less, the urge to venture 'beyond the void' becomes more. Level 3 tripping can intersperse with level 2 as long as eyes are shut. This state can be achieved from higher doses of cannabis or a low dose of psilocybin or LSD.
Level 3[edit | edit source]
- Very obvious visuals, everything looking curved and/or warped, patterns, kaleidoscopes or fractal images seen on walls, landscapes, faces, etc. Closed eye hallucinations become three dimensional. There is some confusing of the senses (synesthesia). Time distortions and "moments of eternity". Movement at times becomes extremely difficult. A normal dose of either psilocybin or LSD can produce this state.
Level 4[edit | edit source]
- Strong visual effects, e.g. objects morphing into other objects. Dissolving or multiple splitting of the ego (e.g. things start talking, or feeling of contradictory things simultaneously). The loss of sense of self can bring a shift in the sense of reality, often accompanied by a sense of ineffable lucidity. Time becomes very distorted and participants may perceive an activity lasting only minutes to have encompassed hours of their own reality (or vice versa). Out-of-body experiences, and mystical visions are common at this level. A high dose of psilocybin or LSD can produce this effect, as can a normal dose of Salvia divinorum (for a shorter duration).
Level 5[edit | edit source]
- Total loss of visual connection with reality. The senses cease to function in the normal way. One may feel like they are merging with space, other objects, or the universe, or feel oneness with the world. There are powerful, and sometimes brutal, psycho-physical reactions interpreted by some users as reliving their own birth. Feelings of reaching to the beginning or the end of space and time. The loss of reality becomes so extreme that it becomes ineffable. Dream or movie-like states, people have been reported seeing themselves in entirely different settings than their original setting. Many people experience religious phenomenon at this level. Often mentioned are an "all-powerful presence" or a "universal knowledge" which many equate to their idea of God or enlightenment. Earlier levels are relatively easy to describe in terms of measurable changes in perception and thought patterns. "Ego loss", or complete dissolution of one's awareness of the existence of self, is an essential trait of level 5 experiences; the boundaries between "self" and encompassing reality cease to exist, and all that one is conscious of is the abstract manifestations of the hallucination. Thoughts are not processed or realized in words or an "inner voice", as in everyday life; in the midst of a level 5 hallucination, it is essentially impossible to distinguish conscious thought from the hallucination itself. This feeling has been described, with tryptamine-based hallucinogens like LSD or high doses of psilocybin, as a sense of "oneness" with the universe; with extremely powerful entheogens such as DMT or salvia divinorum, the resultant hallucination is difficult to describe, but has been likened by some to being "transformed into a Picasso painting". Many people claim to have spoken to intelligent entities during their trips, to have experienced alternate dimensions, or to have existed for thousands of years - often not as a human but as an abstract entity such as a shadow or paint - though the trip itself, in the case of salvia and DMT, lasted only five to ten minutes. This effect can be produced in high doses of LSD, Ketamine, salvia divinorum, and high doses of psilocybin. DMT is known to send people to level 5 with an average dose, making it one of the most powerful (potent is a misnomer as potency of a drug represents the amount of drug needed to achieve effects) and psychoactive psychedelics known to humans.
See also[edit | edit source]