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Hallucinations and Hallucinogens
An hallucination can be experienced through any of the senses singly, or all of them together. So one might have an hallucinatory smell or sound. To understand hallucinations, which are quite common without any use of drugs such as alcohol, LSD, or cannabis, one must remember that everyone has the natural ability to produce such images. One of the definitions of a dream according to Freud is its hallucinatory quality. While asleep we can create full sensory, vocal, motor and emotional experience in our dream. While dreaming we usually accept what we experience as real. An hallucination is an experience of a ‘dream’ occurring while we have our eyes open. The voices heard, people seen, smells smelt, although appearing to be outside of us, are no more exterior than the things and images of our dreams. With this information one can understand that much classed as psychic phenomena and religious experience is an encounter with the dream process. That does not, of course, deny its importance.
Example: ‘I dream insects are dropping either on me from the ceiling of our bedroom, or crawling over my pillow. My long-suffering husband is always woken when I sit bolt upright in bed my eyes wide open and my arm pointing at the ceiling. I try to brush them off. I can still see them – spiders or wood lice. I am now well aware it is a dream. But no matter how hard I stare the insects are there in perfect detail. I am not frightened, but wish it would go away.’ Sue D.
Sue’s dream only became an hallucination when she opened her eyes and continued to see the insects in perfect clarity.
There are probably many reasons why Sue should experience an hallucination and her husband not. One might be that powerful drives and emotions might be pushing for attention in her life. Some of the primary drives are the reproductive drive; urge toward independence; pressure to meet unconscious emotions and past trauma and fears – any of which, in order to achieve their ends, can produce hallucinations. An hallucination is therefore not an ‘illusion’ but a means of giving information from deeper levels of self. Given such names as mediumship or mystical insight, in some cultures or individuals, the ability to hallucinate is often rewarded socially.
Drugs such as LSD, cannabis, psilocybin, mescaline, peyote and opium, can produce hallucinations. This is sometimes because they allow the dream process to break through into consciousness with less intervention. If this occurs without warning it can be very disturbing. The very real dangers are that unconscious content, which in ordinary dreaming breaks through a threshold in a regulated way, emerges with less regulation, and without the safety factor of calling it a dream. Fears, paranoid feelings, past traumas, can emerge into the consciousness of an individual who has no skill in handling such dangerous forces. Because the propensity of the unconscious is to create images, an area of emotion might emerge as an image such as the devil. Such images and the power they contain, not being integrated in a proper therapeutic setting, may haunt the individual, perhaps for years. Even at a much milder level, elements of the unconscious will emerge and disrupt the persons ability to appraise reality and make judgements. Unacknowledged fears may lead the drug user to rationalise their reasons for avoiding social activity or the world of work. See: Iboga for the Treatment of Drug Addiction; esp and dreams; Dead husband in husband under family and relationships. See also: out of body experience.