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Why & Why Not To Trip: Motivations - Treatment of Illness - General Precautions - - Dynamics of a 'Good' & 'Bad' Trips - True and False Hallucinations: - Levels of Sensory Modulation - Visionary Experiences - Geometric & Organic Imagery -

Part 1: Motivations and Disqualifying Factors -
are you a good candidate for a 'successful' trip?

"LSD is a substance well-known to cause paranoia and insanity, in those who have never taken it"
- Harvard Psychologist Dr. Timothy Leary

Taking Mushrooms, LSD, Peyote or DMT is not something I would recommend to most people ...

without first having a a thorough discussion of any previous or current mental illness, incl.
Epilepsy, identity instability, schizophrenia, PTSD, bipolar & manic depressive disorders, family history of mental problems, acute anxiety problems, or for anyone already on psych meds of ANY type! *Do not under any circumstances take ANY psychedelics AT ALL if you are taking a prescription MAOI Inhibiting medication.*
Folks with most all of these conditions can still benefit from psycedelic-assisted therapy, but they should avoid self-experimentation and/or only take hallucinogens under carefully & professionally supervised, thoughtfully prepared conditions.
If there was no major history of, or overt indication of mental/neurological problems ....
I'd have an in-depth discussion of their motivation for seeking a mind-altering experience of such magnitude and intensity.

Positive Motivations might include:
Having a chronic medical problem for which it is effective.
Psychological self-discovery
Personal experiential curiosity (just to know)
Scientific curiosity
Learning of it's use in native cultures as a visionary tool for healing


Negative Motivations for "Tripping" which (in my opinion) will dramatically increase the chances
of an unpleasant, incomprehensible, dangerous or simply useless trip:

wanting to forget one's troubles
reckless or self-destructive tendencies
substitution for some other 'drug of choice'
thinking the effects are similar to other drugs
to get 'fukked up' or 'wasted', or decrease social inhibitions.
to go out and party, rave, or to a public event, etc.
(Ravers, Teens, Newbies, Wild People - Listen up: It's not that partying is bad, but it usually leads to multi-drug combinations, driving is not a
good idea & trying to interface with the 'normal' world in a psychedelic state is most often pointless, confusing and potentially dangerous. Learn to place yourself in a SAFE, CALM and Beautiful PLACE & SITUATION when you dose - turn your attention to the universe inside yourself, You'll get 1,000,000% more out of the trip)

The current body of clinical research indicates psychedelics, (because of their extraordinarily broad potential range of perceptual, psychological and neurological effects), when used in a supportive and purposeful medical setting, in conjunction with psychiatric counseling - have shown VERY significant results in treating an extraordinarily broad range of mental and physical diseases and problems including;

Pain, depression and death-related anxiety in terminal cancer patients,
Prison recidivism,
Self-image problems,
Obsessive/compulsive disorder,
Eating Disorders,
Cluster headaches,
even Alcoholism and Narcotic drug dependency -

(seems paradoxical, but this effect is due both to psychedelics ability promote a 'self confrontational' psychological experience, and to the drugs positive action on the serotonin/dopamine regulation in the brain, offsetting psychological/physical cravings for other drugs, while facilitating personal insight into the root of one's drug-abuse problem. Ibogaine in particular, seems to work best in this capacity)
"A study of 135 alcoholics found that six months after treatment with LSD, 53 percent of a high-dose group reported abstinence, compared with 33 percent of a low-dose group. Alcoholics receiving conventional therapy had a 12 percent improvement rate."
from the FDA's webpage on new therapies: Medical Possibilities for Psychedelic Drugs

Psychedelics are effective in helping one identify and change subconscious motivations and habitual behaviors (references).
They can also, on occasion, be a 'miracle' drug, for people with severe mental problems, even catatonic patients(!) who are completely un-responsive to the full range of
current treatment modalities - it can be the ultimate shock that snaps them back to 'normality'.
Dr. Albert A. Kurland of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center cited a remarkable example
from among the 177 patients whom he and his associates– Dr's. Charles Savage, John W. Schaffer, and Sanford Unger– had treated up to that time.
This patient was a forty-year-old male alcoholic, black, brought to the hospital from jail after ten days of uncontrolled drinking. He had dropped out of the fourth grade at the age of twelve and had an I.Q. of 70.
"He had been draining whiskey barrels at his place of work, a distillery. He gave a history of excessive alcohol consumption over the past four years ... The only limit on his drinking was his low income and the need to support five children. During these years his marriage had deteriorated." Given a week of preparation and a single large dose of LSD, this patient felt (among other things) that be was being chased, struck with a sword, run over by a horse, and frightened by a hippopotamus–– a quite typical "bad trip."
His own verbatim report of his trip then continued:
I was afraid. I started to run. but something said "Stop!" When I stopped, everything broke into many pieces.
Then I felt as if ten tons had fallen from my shoulders. I prayed to the Lord.
Everything looked better all around me. The rose was beautiful. My children's faces cleared up -
I thought of alcohol and the rose died.
I changed my mind from alcohol toward Christ and the rose came back to life.
I pray that this rose will remain in my heart and my family forever.

As I sat up and looked in the mirror, I could feel myself growing stronger.
I feel now that my family and I are closer than ever before, and I hope that our faith will grow forever and ever. "
This patient was given psychological tests both before and after his LSD experience.
His score on the Eysenck neuroticism scale before LSD had been in the eighty-eighth percentile – highly neurotic.
One week after LSD his score had swung to the normal portion of the scale.

His pre-LSD depression, as measured by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) had lifted and his score was greatly improved. Tested a third time, six months after LSD, his depression score on the NIMPI was still within normal limits."

Other General Precautions:

Hallucinogens, Psychedelics, Psychotropics, Psycholytics, Entheogens (the accepted word for self-help and spiritual use), or Indole-ring serotonin neurotransmitter/modulator (the medical non-spin way of stating it), or whatever you want to call them,
should always come with a warning,
(like the 'Do Not Operate Motor Vehicles while taking this Drug' stickers on many medications), that says:

Ø -
CAUTION: Take this medication in a quiet, comfortable, clean & naturally or artistically pleasing setting with very close friends or family, do not leave the house unsupervised or drive during the peak of your experience. If you start to feel uncomfortable - simply relax, focus on your breathing, move to a different room, open an art book or put on some positive, uplifting music.

It's no mere 'coincidence' that native cultures scattered around the planet
ALL developed nearly identical traditions of using psychedelic plants

Generally in a group, community or family setting, in a reassuring, ritual manner, accompanied by music or drumming, for the purpose of spiritual / psychological / physical healing.
There's a good reason for this - it prevents 'bad trips'
and feelings of paranoia or isolation; while reinforcing the positive experiences
of group unity & identity and allowing attention the focus on the
inner subconscious information folding out, for inspection and healing

- If
a person is in good physical health, has a stable personality,
no recent emotional tragedies, no history of severe mental problems,
an average or above average intellect, a bit of curiosity and courage,

an average or preferably above-average ability to maintain self-control in unpredictable or even impossible situations,
has an interest in arts, science, religion, neurology, spirituality or self-knowledge ... and has done at least the basic background reading on the history of psychedelic plants, their method of action in the brain, their medical uses, mental and physical dangers, and widespread abuse/experimentation in the 1960's and an explanation of the diversity of possible effects .....

- Then (and only then)
I would say they might be a good candidate for trying a psychedelic substance -
and they might even yield significant personal insights from one or two guided sessions -

Most people I personally know (probably 85%) who have tried LSD or mushrooms in the past,
but no longer ingest them, express the feeling that overall they're glad to have had the opportunity to experience a truly 'different' perspective, and it was one that made them feel in some ways more aware of, connected with, responsive to & grateful for 'life' in general.

The others (the remaining 15%) had frightening, incoherent, negative or just neutral experiences - but even in this group around half say they gained 'something beneficial' from the trip (such as a greater understanding of the dynamics of one's paranoia, fears or delusional thinking patterns, or better empathy for people who are freaking out) even though it was not very pleasant at the time.

Internal Dynamics of Having an Ideal Trip .....

Think of this as the self, or your 'I'
- the normal conscious integrated 'you-ness'
Surfing the crest of a mental-tidal-wave of Supercharged Perception / Awareness,

if you keep alert, calm and constantly adapting, changing and letting go
then you can stay afloat (keeping your rational faculties intact),
maintain 'control' (actually just balance)
and surf the crest of consciousness

to see the ghastly, beautiful un-distorted big-picture view from above - just like being in an airplane -
everything familiar seems small, geographically obscure relationships are quite apparent, yet startlingly broad NEW vistas are now visible past the horizon, and the meta-order between things is seen in a more comprehensive fashion.

Then as an individual observer of this grand pattern of life,
you can assess your place relative to all else and then merge beyond the 'self',
experiencing the ALL as
the grand pattern itself.

This is a successful trip!
- a positive journey into, through and beyond all

the normal limitations of habitual neurotic patterns, feelings of separateness
& beyond the normally experienced realms of mind, identity, time, space, language or concept,
and bringing back measurable results
in terms of positive motivation, stress relief,
creative inspiration, personal or social insights and self-actualization.

In the medical psychedelic assisted therapy it's called a "peak experience" or "Integrative experience"; According to the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, six major psychological characteristics of this experience are as follows:
1. A sense of unity or oneness with all (positive ego transcendence, loss of usual sense of self without loss of consciousness)
2. Transcendence of time and space
3. Deeply felt positive mood (joy, peace, love)
4. Sense of awesomeness, reverence and wonder
5. Meaningfulness of psychological and/or philosophical insight
6. Ineffability (sense of difficulty in communicating the experience by verbal description) (Pahnke, 1969)

But the flipside is .....

if the tidal-wave of experience, vision, emotion and novelty overwhelms you,
and it outpaces your ability to track, correlate and make-sense of the info-stream,

You lose footing & the wave of increasingly un-referenced data
can crash you down into a chaotic sea of jumbled, confused, disorienting weirdness.

The conscious experiencer is relocated to the trash can of the mind.
If you project your fears and weaknesses onto this cascade,
they can quickly multiply and mutually reinforce eachother
into absolute hell-like states or cosmic-scale paranoia ....

the table above of positive integrative experiences is then reversed;
1. A sense of separateness and being at-odds with the world, or even the entire universe
2. Being trapped in a small endlessly repeating pockets of time or space
3. Deeply felt negative, terrified mood (confusion, anger, anxiety, grief, fear, abandonment, hopelessness, dread, paranoia, etc, etc)
4. Sense of imminent destruction, or certainty of innate 'evil'
projected on all experiences, memories or events
5. Feeling of meaninglessness to one's life, family, job, world
or the ultimate futility of living and dying
6. Negative ego dissolution (fearful or panic-inducing sense of dissolving,
going permanently mad, dying, being erased, or being devoured)

this is like being thrashed and drowning in the wave of perception,
although, just as in drowning in water, to end a "bad-trip" you can simply relax, breathe, relax more, breathe deeper, focus on the process of drawing in life-breath & just float to the top ....
- then - stay aware & recognize that you've simply lost the wave and are free floating
in a potentially enjoyable wonderland until you get your bearings again or catch another wave.


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