Model hallucinations

Resultado de imagem para La Calera, Cundinamarca, Colombia in 2014. Photo by Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty

Participants in a traditional Ayahuasca ritual of spiritual and physical healing in La Calera, Cundinamarca, Colombia in 2014. Photo by Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty

Psychedelics have a remarkable capacity to violate our ideas about ourselves. Is that why they make people better?

by Philip Gerrans is a professor of philosophy at the University of Adelaide in Australia and an associate of the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences in Geneva, Switzerland. His latest book is The Measure of Madness: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Delusional Thought(2014).

by Chris Letheby is a philosophy adjunct at the the University of Adelaide in Australia who writes about psychedelic drugs.

Psychedelic drugs are making a psychiatric comeback. After a lull of half a century, researchers are once again investigating the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin (‘magic mushrooms’) and LSD. It turns out that the hippies were on to something. There’s mounting evidence that psychedelic experiences can be genuinely transformative, especially for people suffering from intractable anxiety, depression and addiction. ‘It is simply unprecedented in psychiatry that a single dose of a medicine produces these kinds of dramatic and enduring results,’ Stephen Ross, the clinical director of the NYU Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction, told Scientific American in 2016.

Just what do these drugs do? Psychedelics reliably induce an altered state of consciousness known as ‘ego dissolution’. The term was invented, well before the tools of contemporary neuroscience became available, to describe sensations of self-transcendence: a feeling in which the mind is put in touch more directly and intensely with the world, producing a profound sense of connection and boundlessness.

How does all this help those with long-term psychiatric disorders? The truth is that no one quite knows how psychedelic therapy works. Some point to a lack of knowledge about the brain, but this is a half-truth. We actually know quite a lot about the neurochemistry of psychedelics. These drugs bind to a specific type of serotonin receptor in the brain (the 5-HT2A receptor), which precipitates a complex cascade of electrochemical signalling. What we don’t really understand, though, is the more complex relationship between the brain, the self and its world. Where does the subjective experience of being a person come from, and how is it related to the brute matter that we’re made of?

It’s here that we encounter a last frontier, metaphysically and medically. Some think the self is a real entity or phenomenon, implemented in neural processes, whose nature is gradually being revealed to us. Others say that cognitive science confirms the arguments of philosophers East and West that the self does not exist. The good news is that the mysteries of psychedelic therapy might be a hidden opportunity to finally start unravelling the controversy.

The nature of the self has been disputed for as long as people have reflected on their existence. Recent neuroscientific theories of selfhood are recognisably descended from venerable philosophical positions. For example, René Descartes argued that the self was an immaterial soul whose vicissitudes we encounter as thoughts and sensations. He thought the existence of this enduring self was the only certainty delivered by our (otherwise untrustworthy) experience.

Few neuroscientists still believe in an immaterial soul. Yet many follow Descartes in claiming that conscious experience involves awareness of a ‘thinking thing’: the self. There is an emerging consensus that such self-awareness is actually a form of bodily awareness, produced (at least in part) by interoception, our ability to monitor and detect autonomic and visceral processes. For example, the feeling of an elevated heart rate can provide information to the embodied organism that it is in a dangerous or difficult situation.

David Hume disagreed with Descartes. When he attended closely to his own subjectivity, he claimed to find not a self, but a mere stream of experiences. We incorrectly infer the existence of an underlying entity from this flow of experiential moments, Hume said. The modern version of this view is that we have perceptual, cognitive, sensory and, yes, bodily experiences – but that is all. There’s an almost irresistible temptation to attribute all this to an underlying self. But this substantialist interpretation is a Cartesian mistake, according to Hume…






by Phillip SchneiderStaff Writer Waking Times

The human mind is incredibly complex. It’s been approximated that the human brain contains around 100 billion neurons, which is a testament to just how little we know about the uniqueness of the human experience. With as much as there is to understand, psychologists have spent years building conceptual frameworks of personality which serve as a way to break down the complexity into more easily digestible parts. One of the most common of these concepts is the “Big Five” dimensions of personality, however many more exist including work done by Carl Jung, as well as Dr. Carol Pearson’s “Six Archetypes We Live By,” as popularized by her book “The Hero Within.”

One personality archetype which is often overlooked is known as “The Rebel,” and because of their unique tendency to challenge orthodoxy and chart their own way through life they are becoming increasingly more important in our modern society which demands a growing obedience toward the authorities of government and mainstream culture.

One quote from American actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein explains the perspective of a rebellious type personality.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” – Harvey Fierstein

The “Banana Experiment”

In order to understand the significance of the rebel, it’s helpful to recognize the psychology of the masses. A modern-day fable based on studies conducted by G.R. Stephenson (1967) and Wolfgang Köhler (1920’s) exemplifies the tendency which many have to cling to the norm.

First, a group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage along with a ladder and a banana on a string which hung just above the top of the ladder. After a while, one of the monkeys decided it would claim the banana and attempted to climb the ladder. To all the monkeys’ shock and demise, as soon as one of them stepped foot on that ladder, they were all sprayed with cold water. After a few more tries, the monkeys gave up on trying to attain the banana.

Next one of the monkeys was removed from the cage and an entirely new monkey, oblivious to the cold water the others had been sprayed with, was placed in the cage. When it spotted the banana it made the mistake of attempting to climb the ladder, but this time instead of being sprayed with water, the rest of the monkeys attacked their new companion in an effort to stop another dousing of cold water.

Now a second monkey was removed and replaced. The same scenario played out, except this time the new monkey, which was never sprayed with water or even aware that water had been sprayed, took place in the beating of this new monkey. After the rest of the monkeys were replaced, and several beatings occurred, any time one of the monkeys attempted to climb the ladder and obtain the banana the rest of them would attack.

If you were to have asked one of those monkeys why it engaged in beating up any who tried to climb the ladder, it would likely have said “I don’t know. That’s just the way things are done around here.”

This mentality of pressuring others to conform without understanding the origins of why is clearly visible in areas such as religious tradition, the modern-style of centralized education, and the highly deceptive and unsustainable system of debt-based fiat currency.

The Role Of “The Rebel”

If one of those monkeys had been a rebellious-type capable of as complex communication as humans are, they would likely have demanded a reason as to why each monkey must get beat up after trying to climb the ladder. “That’s just the way things are done around here” isn’t good enough. The rebel would likely have challenged the fact that they are in a cage and getting sprayed by cold water as well…


About the Author

Phillip Schneider is a student and a staff writer for Waking Times.

This article (Why Rebels Are So Important to Society) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Phillip Schneider and It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.


Why Didn’t My Parents Just Tell Me They Smoke Weed?

by Tierney Finster

As a kid, I made a habit of rounding up all the spare tire-pressure gauges my father left around the house and demanding my mom tell me what they were. I was sure my parents had a secret and that those weird little devices were part of it. Now I realize my mechanic father was just messy, and that I thought those little tools were marijuana pipes.

My parents hardly ever drank, but they were habitual stoners. They both routinely locked themselves in their bedroom, the bathroom and the family room, where the same, weird odor would always emerge. It was one of the few things they kept secret from me. For comparison: They never covered my ears when they cursed or gossiped. And my dad’s Marlboro Light 100s sat out in plain view. But their weed smoking was different. I might have smelled it, but it was never to be seen.

In fairness, it was the 1990s. Medicinal marijuana was legal, but the widespread normalization of cannabis use, even in a state like California (where we lived), was yet to come. Now, though, things are obviously much different — recreational weed is legal in Washington and Colorado, and it’s about to be in California, too. So the question of when and how to disclose the fact that you smoke (and/or ingest) weed to your kids is more pressing than ever.

Should you smoke a joint in front of your kids as casually as you’d sip a beer? And if so, should you bother teaching them anything about said substance beyond just seeing it? Not to mention, when should you tell them?

While experts are sure to disagree on the best answers to these questions, I decided to find out what my two favorite marijuana experts — my parents — had to say about the big, green elephant in the room.

Jeff (aka My Dad)

I was 22 or 23 when I moved in with my brother. He had two kids, 5 and 7, at the time. I remember the first time he asked me if I wanted to smoke. I stood up, assuming we were going to head into the garage. But he went ahead and rolled up a doobie right there in the living room, in front of the kids. They acted like it was no big deal. That was something I’d never seen before — a whole different approach.

My brother was like, “If they’re going to smoke, they’re going to smoke.” He thought if he hid the weed from his kids, it would only become more attractive to them. I found his attitude refreshing. He didn’t want to lie to his kids. And as it turns out, neither one of them grew up to smoke weed.

I never thought I’d have kids, so I never gave much thought to what I’d do once I was in his shoes. I do know that I don’t think we hid weed from you, but we didn’t throw it in your face either. I just figured if you smoked, you smoked, and if you didn’t, you didn’t. When you were about 7, mom came in and was like, “I think Tierney knows we’re smoking weed.” “I’m pretty sure she’s known since she was 2 and a half,” I responded. You picked up on shit quick. You’d stomp around unimpressed, shouting, “What’s that smell?!”

It probably seemed like we were hiding the weed more than we were because we also lived with your grandparents, who we were hiding it from.

The whole situation comes down to a question of whether or not you want your kids to be exposed to something. But I don’t regret not smoking openly in front of you while you were growing up, even though you’ve since told me you thought we were straight-up drug addicts until you figured out what weed was for yourself.

You see, unlike Mom, I’d notice when our weed bag was light. So when you got to be 16 or 17, I’d ask Mom if she’d given some weed to someone or put it in a different container. But I knew you had your hands in it. I never said anything because I didn’t think it was a big deal; you’ve always had your shit together. I was just happy you never took the whole bag.

In terms of how legalization is progressing today, it’s bullshit that so many people, including so many parents, are still locked up on weed-related crimes when other people are getting praised for their cannabis businesses. That’s something that needs to be looked at now that weed is decriminalized; state by state, past offenders brought in on weed charges need to be let go. Aside from that, I don’t think there’s any major difference in raising your kids around weed now than there was 20 years ago. It simply all depends on how you handle it.

Shannon (aka My Mom)

Once you saw me with a bong, I knew you knew. You were 7 or 8. I was on my way to a friend’s funeral when you caught me rushing into my room to stash it away. Suddenly, you were silent and staring at me, so I told you it was one of dad’s car parts. You probably knew I was lying…