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Psychedelics


def. "Of, characterized by, or generating hallucinations, distortions of perception, altered states of awareness, and occasionally states resembling psychosis." A psychedelic computer, according to this
definition

By this definition, it may seem obvious why psychedelics form a significant part of The Ultimate Comment. For the purpose of this article, psychedelics are the class of drugs that cause the above.

Psychedelics and their uses within societies and sub-cultures has been documented, not quite extensively and often subjectively, but to an extent that they can safely be assumed to be the pillar supporting many cultures, ancient or otherwise. Western culture is no exception - the 60s, for example was fuelled by psychedelics, and many social changes have their roots in that decade. One can overstate their role as easily as ignore it, but the invention of the computer ^1^, the discovery of DNA ^2^ and the lives of this bunch of people should state the case effectively enough.

Issues of Definition

Any definition of what exactly constitutes a 'psychedelic' is bound to be tricky, owing to the fact that the function of psychedelics is to alter consciousness, and consciousness is, by definition, subjective. This can lead to empty semantic debates over whether or not a certain drug is 'psychedelic'. Almost all people believe that LSD is a psychedelic. For this reason, some Commenteers prefer an objective definition of psychedelics as: "drugs which affect serotonin neuroreceptors in a variety of ways". This would not include Cannabis, dextromethorphan or Salvia Divinorum, so not everyone will agree. Many argue that the latter are dissociatives.

Why bother taking psychedelics?

The useful effects of psychedelics are perhaps not best explained in written text. The only language that can express the changes wrought on your consciousness is that of the mind itself. The effects of different drugs are easy to write down in one way (MDMA causes empathy, LSD causes visual disturbances) but the really useful power given to people by psychedelics is connection with regions or locations of their consciousness that they wouldn't normally see, and as a result, parts of reality they wouldn't normally consider.

This has to be seen to be believed, and is absolutely the biggest gap in understanding between those who have used psychedelics and those who have not. Medicine tells us that any insight we gain on psychedelics is a delusion, because the drugs in question alter judgement and cause hallucinations. Anyone who uses a psychedelic will instantly see that their judgement has not been altered, they are not hallucinating ("seeing things that aren't real") and they are in a valid state to gain useful insight. Arguing this with people who have not taken psychedelics is pointless and comes across as preachy.

The way in which elements of your mind become apparent is analogous to a whole lot of things. A good example is the way renovating a house will briefly make visible the joists, the concrete under the floor, perhaps a few crawlspaces. Psychedelics produce things in consciousness whose very modality doesn't occur in everyday consciousness. An example in the visual disortion line is that everyone has seen their own face, but seeing your own face a million ways at the same time in the mirror is not part of everyday consciousness, no matter what events occur. In spite of these things not happening all the time, on psychedelics, they do, and they happen as a result of things going on in the brain or mind. With the understanding of the brain in its infancy, the ability to see the direct effects of the brain in shaping consciousness is a powerful tool.

How does this show us parts of reality that we haven't seen? Perception shapes reality at least for those that experience it. The boundaries between things, our concept of self (in a cool way, not in a "am I Irish or American?" kind of way) and the way the physical world seems to work all depend on the various filters that control information and percepts coming into the brain. With those temporarily disabled or altered, the whole of reality, and how it is constructed in the head, might seem to be a very different thing.

Psychedelics are for people who wish to explore the above, or for people who just want to have some craic and stare at some cool patterns. It's all good.

Study on creativity and technical problem-solving under LSD

Interesting article - 27 professionals "including a theoretical mathematician, an electronics engineer, a furniture designer, and a commercial artist" were given LSD in 1966 under the usual research conditions at the time (eyemask, headphones, clasical music). "For this particular experiment, the couched volunteers had each brought along three highly technical problems from their respective fields that they’d been unable to solve for at least several months". "The 26 men unleashed a slew of widely embraced innovations shortly after their LSD experiences, including a mathematical theorem for NOR gate circuits, a conceptual model of a photon, a linear electron accelerator beam-steering device, a new design for the vibratory microtome, a technical improvement of the magnetic tape recorder, blueprints for a private residency and an arts-and-crafts shopping plaza, and a space probe experiment designed to measure solar properties." Here's the abstract - can't find the full text. " The results also suggest that various degrees of increased creative ability may continue for at least some weeks subsequent to a psychedelic problem-solving session. "

Quote from Pope Bob about bad trips that I totally agree with

"Since I learned that no model equals the totallity of experience long before I tried LSD, I never had a bad trip; but I have seen enough anxiety atttacks and downright wig-outs in cases of the naive and dogmatic that I have never favored or advocated LSD's promiscuous use by the general population."

This has been my experience too. Once you disentangle yourself from rigid ways of thinking, all my trips have been good trips. The ability, developed by meditating, to look dispassionately at whatever arises, is also invaluable during psychedelic experiences.

The modern stigma that is associated with psychedelics in the Western World is said to be traceable for many hundreds of years, to the witch hunts of colonial America, where altering consciousness was one of the many charges levelled. Despite the acceptance of alcohol today, there is a moral prescription against altering one's consciousness - the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. during the early 20th century relied on this. In popular terms, anyone who has just used a psychedelic is "intoxicated". This is one of the most difficult ideas to get around about psychedelic drugs, and the easiest way to do this is by taking them, or at least reading the reports of those who have.

Similarly, medicine refers to psychedelics as "hallucinogens" because the term "psychedelic" is too positive.

Psychedelics were mostly outlawed in 1970 or thereabouts, in most western countries at least. Some US states had already banned LSD by this date. Generally speaking, LSD-25, DMT, MDMA and Cannabis are illegal almost everywhere, The purpose of this is to "protect public health" - because there is a common belief that the above drugs essentially cause you to go insane. Countless millions of dollars have been spent attempting to link permanent insanity and psychedelics, but in spite of all that effort, most people who take psychedelic drugs do not go insane. What are they doing wrong?

Psychedelics are nowadays commonly procured by means of 'the black market', and otherwise purchased legally in forms such as dextromethorphan which is found in cough syrup. The Ultimate Comment, in its search for knowledge, has led some to become interested in lesser known psychedelics, such as the phenethylamines and tryptamines synthesised by Alexander Shulgin. The Misuse of Drugs Act of 1998 prohibits in Ireland: "any substance (not being methoxyphenamine or a substance specified in sub-paragraph (a) above) structurally derived from phenethylamine, an N-alkylphenethylamine, a-methylaphenethylamine, an N-alkyl-a-methylphenethylamine, a-ethylphenethylamine, or an N-alkyl-a-ethylphenethylamine by substitution in the ring to any extent with alkyl, alkoxy, alkylenedioxy or halide substituents, whether or not further substituted in the ring by one or more other univalent substituents" and: "any substance (not being a substance specified in sub-paragraph (a) above) structurally derived from tryptamine or from a ring-hydroxy tryptamine by substitution at the nitrogen atom of the sidechain with one or more alkyl substituents but no other substituent" This covers nearly all of the exotic synthetic psychedelics. However, many psychedelic plants are not mentioned in Irish law, and are available to those who search for them.

It is commonly overlooked that many of the creative minds of Western culture over the past few centuries have experimented, and produced their most profound works under the influence of psychedelics. Most English Romantic poets, for example, whose goals were to write poetry about wonderful experiences, would have dabbled with psychedelics, more than likely opium.

See Also