The physical, visual and cognitive components of a Dissociative trip
Dissociatives are a class of hallucinogen which reduce or block signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain. They offer a trip that is characterized by dissociation and bizarre feelings of detachment from reality. With anaesthetic like effects and dream like states.
It’s worth noting that in comparison to psychedelics and deliriants they are a very new class of hallucinogen with the first classical dissociative being synthesized in 1926 (PCP).
This guide is in reference to all of the classical Dissociatives or more specifically Ketamine, MXE, DXM, PCP and 3-MeO-PCP. This list excludes Nitrous Oxide which feels completely a-typical in comparison.
All of the classical Dissociatives are pharmacologically categorized as NMDA receptor antagonists which are a class of anesthetics that work to antagonize, or inhibit the action of, the N-methyl d-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) within the brain. The NMDA receptor is a receptor that allows for the transfer of electrical signals between neurons in the brain and in the spinal column. These receptors are located at the end of dendrites on a neuron cell. The dendrites send messages to other neurons through these, but when a drug that blocks the NMDA activity is taken, they are partially or entirely blocked, decreasing the brains ability to transfer information across itself. This disconnects the neurons and triggers feelings of extreme dissociation or detachment, leading onto hallucinatory states which differ from a psychedelic experience in almost every possible way.
This guide will categorize the universal effects that occur between each of the classical dissociatives and break them down into their simplest components.
Dissociation and detachment:
Feelings of detachment are the most noticeable component of a dissociative trip.
At lower states of dissociation this essentially feels like an obvious but still difficult to pinpoint feeling of detachment from the external environment and body. The greatest analogy to depict this is that if we look at the world through a window during our day to day lives, when a person becomes dissociated they are standing increasingly further back from this window proportionally to the dosage consumed. This triggers a feeling of being mentally withdrawn from the environment, allowing people to look at their lives from an almost third person perspective and analyse it without bias, surprisingly resulting in an enjoyable state of deep introspection and a profound drunkenness. These states are often described by people as:
- Feeling generally separate from the external world.
- Feeling physically and/ or mentally autonomous.
- Feeling as though life is being watched through a screen.
- Feeling as though life is a film or a dream.
- Feeling as though you are physically further away in distance from the external world.
- Feeling as though you are looking through somebody else’s eyes.
States of dissociation and detachment increase proportionally to dosage until they become completely detached from the external environment and eventually their own bodies causing them to slip into the famous dissociative hole.
A process which can be broken down into 4 distinct levels of increasing intensity.
- partial detachment - This can be described as feelings of surrealness and general detachment from the external environment. As described in detail above.
- detachment from environment - As the detachment increases the environment becomes physically further away in distance and increasingly disconnected from a persons sensory perception. Blurred vision sets in while anaesthetic like effects and tactile numbness begin to take place. At this point motor control, coordination and balance become suppressed in a way that is proportional to dosage. In terms of sound, hearing also seems to become muffled and distant.
- detachment from body - Complete disconnection from body. It is here where the tripper finds themselves out of their body having slipped into a what can only be described as a hallucinatory hole or an empty void.
- detachment from self - The fourth level of dissociation and detachment occurs at the pont at which the brains neurons have become so disconnected that a persons sense of mind and self cease to exist, resulting in ego death. This gives the profound experience that there is no longer an “I” experiencing the intensity of the trip any more, there is just the trip as it is and by itself.
In terms of the thought patterns and general mental processes, dissociative ego death is very similar to its psychedelic equivalent in a number of ways. Characterized by an extreme loss or failure of a person’s short and long term memory. This means that a person who is experiencing ego death cannot hold onto the memory of where they are, what they are doing or who they even are, instantly forgetting everything as soon as it happens to them.
- detachment from awareness - The highest level of detachment occurs when the neurons within a persons brain have become so disconnected from each other that the tripper literally passes out into total unconsciousness. This consistently leaves extended gaps in a persons memory and large periods of amnesia which are literally impossible to recall once the experience is over.
More Examples: here and here
As a person begins to become disconnected and detached from their external environment. The visual field not only becomes blurred and indistinct but completely doubled over itself. This feels as if you are seeing out of both of your eyes at once with the two images no longer being spliced and merged together into a unified whole. Forcing people to close one of their eyes if they want to perform any task which requires fine vision or reading.
Another very common mental component of a classic dissociative trip is one of a profound shift in perspective; this generally consists of drastic changes in the size and distance attributed either to a person’s body or their external environment.
Feelings of suddenly having an impossibly giant or tiny body are very common. This feeling is already known by the scientific literature as “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome”. It is known as a temporary condition often associated with migraines, brain tumors, and of course the use of psychoactive drugs. With dissociatives at least it can also be more specifically attributed to the room around you or certain body parts. For example feelings of having a huge head or tiny limbs are quite common. This specific mental component has limitless potential in terms of size and the feeling of being simultaneously huge and tiny or having a body that feels larger than the entire universe is not unheard of.
Perspective distortions can also affect distance, making specific objects or the entire external environment seem physically closer or further away.
Another common manifestation of this effect is changes in noise volume, making sounds seem extremely quiet and muffled or extremely loud and overwhelming.
More examples: here, here and here.
Scenery slicing is a fairly uncommon visual but appears across multiple people and regularly enough to make it worth mentioning. This effect usually happens spontaneously with no obvious trigger and makes the external environment appear as if it has been cut remarkably cleanly into separate slices with a razor blade Which then slide across each other in separate directions causing the visual field to split apart into sections.
Visual geometry is the sensation of a person’s field of open and closed eye vision becoming partially or completely encompassed by fast-moving kaleidoscopic and indescribably complex geometric patterns, form constants, shapes, fractals, structures and colour.
Visual geometry never stands still at any point and are often extremely fast changing and self transforming in terms of their shape and style within themselves. This happens whilst they are naturally drifting laterally or radially across the visual field to create overlapping webs of many arising and decaying geometric patterns, all of which are visible within a single perceptual frame.
Whilst psychedelic visual geometry merely displays itself on a veil in front of your visual field with no sense of particular size attributed them. Dissociatives are significantly less complex but make up for this through the sheer immersiveness of their style. These visuals take you directly into the center of them, as if they are surrounding you and also have a sense of physical size and distance attributed to them.
In terms of their stylistic appearance they also tend to be darker and slower in terms of their movement and the way in which they shift in their shape across themselves. These usually only display themselves when the tripper has their eyes closed or are in darkness.
Dissociative visual geometry can only be broken down into 4 possible levels, as opposed to the 7 difering levels of intensity found within psychedelic visual geometry (including 7A and 7B). They can be broken down and described as…
- Visual Noise – This is the most basic level of visual geometry and can be experienced in a completely sober state. It can be described as the visual noise or static combined with random light and dark red regions that can be seen under the eye lids.
- Motion and Colour – This level is also easily obtainable without psychedelics and can be described as the appearance of unstructured regions of fleeting flashes and clouds of colour.
- Partially Defined Geometry - This is the level where things start to get distinctively psychedelic and complex indescribable shapes and patterns begin to show themselves. At this level however the patterns can be described as strictly 2-Dimensional. They are fine, small and zoomed out in size with a dark colour palette that limits itself to a couple of different shades such as black and dark purples.
They are displayed on both the open and closed eye visual field across a flat veil of geometry but significantly more detailed with the eyes closed or in dark environments.
- Fully Defined Geometry – This is the level where the detail in which the geometry displays itself becomes profoundly complex but remains strictly 2-Dimensional. At this point the visuals become large in size and extremely intricate in detail with a colour palette that is limitless in its possibilities.
They are displayed on both the open and closed eye visual field across a flat veil of geometry that floats directly in front of the eyes, remaining significantly more detailed with the eyes closed or in dark environments.
Spaces and holes:
The spaces and holes encountered on Dissociatives are something that is experienced once the detachment has reached level 3. When you have finally become completely disconnected from your physical body. Causing you to undergo an out of body experience and be pulled into a place that feels as if it is outside of reality.
A place that is commonly referenced to by the dissociative community as a hole. With drug specific manifestations of this state being known as “the K-hole” for Ketamine and the “M-hole” for MXE. Commonly described as a complete loss of bodily awareness and sensations of floating or falling through a dark and infinite void over great physical distances. Often done on what feels like some sort of invisible rail. A feeling that is interpreted by many people as flying through space or the night sky. With many trippers stating that they feel as though their perceptions are located so deep inside the mind that the real world seems so distant that it might as well not exist.
In terms of its appearance, a typical dissociative hole is usually completely dark with occasional clouds of slow moving amorphous colour clouds in the background. At their lowest level they are completely empty, but as dosage is increased they are accompanied by and filled with a wide variety of elaborate and complex structures which are described in detail below.
More examples: here.
Dissociative induced hallucinatory structures are the only feature found within what would otherwise be completely empty spaces and holes. They can generally be described as 3-Dimensional and monolithic shapes or structures of infinite variety and size that float above, below or in front of you as they gradually zoom, rotate or pan into focus and become unveiled before your eyes at a slow pace. These structures can take any static comprehensible shape possible but can commonly be experienced as vast and giant pillars, columns, blocks, teardrops, wheels and pyramids. Often fractal in nature and capable of being manifested in any variety of colours but usually following darker themes and tones. In terms of the materials that they appear to be comprised of and the complexity of detail in which they are perceived in, dissociative structures can be broken into 4 basic levels.
- 2-Dimensional Structures - The most basic level of structural complexity confines it’s geometry to strictly 2-Dimensional shapes. These shapes are usually very flat and dark in their colour and often “felt” instead of seen in a way that cannot be described adequately to the uninitiated. In terms of their size, these structures take up the entirety of a persons visual field but do not appear to have any particular size attributed to them.
- Partially defined 3-Dimensional Structures - Above this the structures become better defined and 3-Dimensional in shape with basic detail in their lighting and shadow. Appearing to be made of semi transparent condensed colour or solidified shimmering visuals that are seen as ill defined, soft and out of focus around their edges. In terms of size, these structures appear to be extremely large, stretching out across hundreds and hundreds of metres.
- Fully defined 3-Dimensional Structures - Once hallucinatory structures reach their third level of complexity they become fully defined in their shape, edges, lighting, shadow and detail. Often appearing to be made of solid and dense realistic materials such as stone and metal. They are capable of being thousands of miles across themselves and extremely complex in form.
- Self transforming mechanistic structural universes - As dosage increases, the detail continues to complexify proportionally until the sensation of seeing the entire universe condensed into an infinitely vast and intricate self transforming machine structure becomes present. Accompanied by the sudden realization that you are the structure that you are staring down upon and that the structure is also you. In terms of its appearance, this state is extremely hard to describe. The structure can take any form but usually appears to be a consistently shaped machine-like structures or clouds that are infinite in size and felt at every point of detail across themselves. This is immediately interpreted through some sort of innate instinct as “the universe” or at least, “everything” by everybody who undergoes the experience.
Structures typically last anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes before the person slips back into reality or into the presence of another structure. There are three different methods through which these hallucinatory structures are shifted between.
- Structural Transformations - structures can switch between each other by morphing around you in a static, comprehensible way. Something that usually unfolds in front of you in a rather slow, step by step morphing process.
- Structural Panning - structures can switch between each other by remaining completely static in their shape but simply panning out of view until they are no longer within your field of vision. It’s from here that another structure usually comes into view from behind your physical body within a few seconds to a couple of minutes. Allowing the cycle of continuous spontaneous structures to go on undisturbed.
- Travelling over great distances - The third method of transitioning is experienced when the structures appear to be stuck in place whilst you are floating silently between them over what feels like a huge and physical distance. This is often done on an invisible rail through the vast and infinite dissociative hole. A feeling that is interpreted by many people as flying through space or the night sky.
As a tripper’s dosage increases, the level of detail in which these structures are seen and felt increases proportionally. Below is my amateur attempt at replicating what it’s like to float through an extremely simple generic space, with a basic structure.
More examples: here.
Hallucinations and scenarios are only possible during very high dose trips and an intensely realistic component of the Dissociative experience. They could be anything but generally fall under common archetypes such as contact with autonomous entities, imagined landscapes, alternate dimensions, replayed memories and situations that seem so unlike anything previously experienced that they are in all probability, untranslatable into English. Starting out by following a feeling of detachment from the hallucination itself, for example watching autonomous people and entities going about their daily business oblivious to your existence, playing out as if it were a film. At higher doses of hallucinatory states they become increasingly involved, accessing distant memories from your past is also completely possible. Replayed memories can feel like weeks and weeks of real time hallucinations and are perfect in every detail.
In comparison to psychedelics they are more solid and not made of a closed eye visual based material. The solidity and detachment from these scenarios is what separates them in my opinion from any entity contact or hallucinations experienced on drugs such as Mushrooms or LSD.
Although this guide is much shorter than my psychedelic guide. This is not because there is less to experience with dissociatives but rather because these compounds have only 5 distinct effects. But none the less, these effects come with an unlimited capacity.
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