From our last post, we can at least form an impression of the nature of reality. At least we know some bounds, and have some ideas of what is real, and what is not. But what about a psychedelic trip? Hallucinations, altered states of consciousness…somehow these are categorized in the great “not” box of what is reality. Well then, let’s take a look at what hallucinations are, and the images and goings on of a mind altered by psychoactives.
Hallucinations are wikipediatically defined as “a perception in the absence of an external stimulus.” Additionally, one might add that hallucinations only occur in a “conscious and awake” state, to keep dreaming separate from hallucinating. This also allows “illusion, which involves distorted or misinterpreted real perception, imagery, which does not mimic real perception and is under voluntary control; and pseudohallucination, which does not mimic real perception, but is not under voluntary control” to remain separate as well. They can be “visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, proprioceptive, equilibrioceptive, nociceptive, thermoceptive and chronoceptive.”
Psychedelic induced hallucinations can be looked at together with the neurobiology of other naturally occurring mind altering states, such as those produced by affective disorders, to map out more completely the picture of what’s going on when we hallucinate. Looked at this way, the clinical and medicinal properties of psychedelic drugs can be looked at in their capacity to cure affective disorders, or make them more manageable.
Classical hallucinogens are comprised of three main chemical classes: the plant-derived tryptamines (for example, psilocybin) and phenethylamines (for example, mescaline), and the semisynthetic ergolines (for example, LSD). These classical hallucinogens react with 5-HTP receptors, which is a monoamine neurotransmitterthat regulates serotonin and melatonin. Dopamine is also influenced by these drugs. LSD affects the temporal lobe. Remove the temporal lobe, and there will be no LSD effects.Alternatively, administer the 5-HT receptor antagonist ketanserin, and you will remove any trace of psilocybin-induced experiences.
In a paper published for Perspectives, Franz Vollenweider and Michael Kometer explain that “5-HT2A receptor activation not only seems to underlie the preponderance of the acute psychedelic effects of hallucinogens but may also lead to neuroplastic adaptations in an extended prefrontal–limbic network.” Which means that hallucinogens can aid in changing the shape of the brain so that it performs differently, something that can help drastically reduce or alter depression, and other cognitive disorders.
What are psychedelic hallucinations?
In this video psychonautic pioneer Terrence Mckenna answers the question, what is hallucination?