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.
Example: I waded into the lake and suddenly realised that something strange was happening. Visions occurred stronger and stronger the further one went into the lake. I also realised that all the others had been in the lake and immersed in the visions. As I pressed on I knew that most people became so involved in the visions they lost grip of their purpose to walk on. I had the visions, but found I could maintain the decision to go forward – i.e. most people lost sight of physical surroundings and became absorbed in the visions. I somehow had an ability of seeing the visions and the physical world, of working in the physical world, at the same time. The end was a vision on my right of a huge and splendid mountain range, with snow. It shone with light. I knew it represented eternity. Yet I pressed on to get the water. I felt I would from now on always have a vision of the mountains with me, along with the wonderful feelings it produced.
Drugs such as LSD, cannabis, psilocybin, mescaline, peyote and opium, can produce hallucinations. That is 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 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 Waking Lucid Dream
Example: “When Leary exclaimed that the experience of the mushrooms had changed his world, he was not exaggerating. Nearly everyone who has taken the psychedelics will grant the same. The psychedelic experience will certainly be qualified and regulated; it may prove too dangerous for general use; other and better ways to the mind may be found. But nothing on earth can contradict or minimize the opportunity it offers to explore the very citadel of meaning, the human mind.” Quoted from LSD Psychotherapy.
Example: Her constant wetting herself, which had been with her every day for several years, stopped after the second LSD session, a very violent one, in which she became disoriented and called continually for her mother. But then she went on to a great deal of character change. She had been a thoroughly dull and boring person, a narrowly moralistic, unimaginative child. She stank of urine most of the time. She was a “straight A” student in school. During treatment she changed so that everyone, relatives and friends, as well as her mother and herself, noticed it. It wasn’t so much “spectacular” as it was profound and convincing. She was by no means free of problems, but became so free and creative and so much more outgoing and generous, that it was clear her behavior was springing from something spontaneous within herself.
If you are going to use such drugs you should either be raised in a culture holding information about their use, or at least educate yourself in how the dreamworld works, and learn to explore your dreams before taking the big plunge. See:
Carmine from USA says – Do we really need researchers to tell us about the effects of these substances? Surely many tribes/civilisations throughout the world have told us of these things for centuries. How clever these scientists have been to report other peoples findings and claim that they have “discovered” these properties. People have used these substances since well before any documented evidence and in the past they have been derided as being dangerous and unpredictable by ‘reaserchers’. Now, we have suddenly discovered that they could be useful. One word – Leary. Another word – imprisonment. Are we gonna arrest these researchers and treat them in the way Leary was? Nothing new, just another example of standing on the shoulders of giants. In the year 2013 isn’t it a bit embarrassing that we’re still paying no attention to wisdom that has been handed down to us for many, many years?