The physical, visual and cognitive components of a Dissociative trip
Dissociatives are a class of hallucinogen which distort perceptions of sight and sound and produce feelings of detachment and dissociation from the environment and self. This is done through reducing or blocking signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain. Although many kinds of drugs are capable of such action, dissociatives are unique in that they do so in such a way that they produce hallucinogenic effects, which may include sensory deprivation, dissociation, hallucinations, and dream-like states or trances. Some, which are nonselective in action and affect the dopamine and/or opioid systems, may also be capable of inducing euphoria.
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. NMDA receptors within the brain exist to allow for the transfer of electrical signals between neurons in the brain and in the spinal column. For electrical signals to pass, the NMDA receptor must be open. To remain open, the neurotransmitters known as glutamate and glycine must bind to the NMDA receptor. An NMDA receptor that has glycine and glutamate bound to it and has an open ion channel is “activated.”
Chemicals that deactivate the NMDA receptor are called antagonists. The resulting decrease in the passing of electrical signals across the brain and general disconnection of neurones leads to difficulty moving, sensory deprivation and eventually out of body experiences with accompanying hallucinations. It is also this disconnection that causes the anaesthetic like properties of dissociative drugs.
This guide is in reference to all of the classical Dissociatives including but not limited to,
Ketamine, MXE, DXM, PCP and 3-MeO-PCP.
This list excludes Nitrous Oxide which feels completely a-typical in comparison.
This guide will categorize the universal effects that occur between each of the classical dissociatives and break them down into their base components.
Dissociation and detachment - the most prominent feature of a dissociative hallucinogen is the way in which it produces feelings of disconnection, detachment and dissociation from the environment, body and self. This directly induces states of sensory deprivation through reducing or blocking signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain. It can be broken down into 4 separate subcomponents.
Disconnection from tactile input:
At lower to moderate doses, dissociative induced loss of tactile input and bodily awareness can be described as partial in its effects. This creates a number of changes in a persons perception of the physical body which generally includes,
- Feeling as if your body is not your own.
- Feeling as if your body is performing its physical actions autonomously and on its own accord.
- A partial loss of tactile input or general bodily numbness and anaesthesia.
- A partial loss of fine and gross motor control.
At higher dosages, the disconnection from bodily awareness makes the transition from partial to entirely all encompassing. This results in a complete detachment from the physical senses and full-blown anaesthesia which is accompanied by a complete loss of motor control leading onto catatonic states and an inability to perform even the simplest of physical tasks.
Disconnection from visual input:
At lower to moderate dosages, dissociative induced loss of visual input can be described as partial in its effects. This creates a number of changes in a persons perception of sight which generally includes,
- Feeling as if you are watching the world through a screen.
- Blurred vision and general difficulty in perceiving fine details.
- Feeling as though the visually perceivable world is further away in distance.
- Feeling as though you are looking through somebody else’s eyes.
- Double vision which forces the user to close one eye if they need to read or perceive fine visual details such as reading.
At higher dosages, the disconnection from visual input makes the transition from partial to entirely all encompassing in its effects. This results in a complete perceptual disconnection from the sense of sight.It can be experientially described as being completely blinded and unable to tell whether the eyes are open or closed due to the total lack of sensory input.
Holes, spaces and voids:
Holes, spaces and voids is the general term which refers to the place a person will find themselves in once both physical and visual disconnection reach their highest points of all encompassing detachment. This results in total sensory deprivation and the sensation of the person’s awareness being pulled into a space which consistently perceived to exist outside of normal reality.
In terms of the holes visual appearance it can be described as a vast and infinitely sized darkened void. This space is usually entirely empty but on occasion however, patches of slow moving amorphous colour clouds are present within the background of the scenery.
In terms of how it physically feels to undergo this experience it can be described as the sensation of an out of body experience. This essentially entails powerful changes in the direction and pull of gravity which results in the tripper feeling as if they are flying through this space over vast distances at a variety of speeds and orientations.
Dissociative induced hallucinatory structures are the only feature found within what would otherwise be completely empty and featureless 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. They are often fractal in nature and capable of being manifested in any variety of colours but usually following darker themes and tones with a style that is usually described and interpreted as “alien” in nature. 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 its geometry to strictly 2-dimensional shapes. These shapes are usually very flat and dark in their colour and often “felt” instead of seen. 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. They appear to be made of semi-transparent condensed colour or solidified shimmering geometry 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.
- Structural universes - As dosage increases, the detail continues to complexify proportionally until the highest level of structure is reached. This can be described as the sensation of seeing the entire universe condensed into an infinitely vast and intricate self transforming machine structure. In terms of its appearance, this state is extremely hard to describe. The structure can take any form but usually appears to be consistently shaped machine-like structures or clouds that convey huge amounts of information, 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. This is also accompanied by the sudden realization that you are the structure that you are staring down upon and that the structure is also you.
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. This is 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 outside of your peripheral vision within a few seconds to a couple of minutes.
- 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 vast physical distance. This is often done on an invisible rail through the vast and infinite dissociative hole, and is a feeling that is interpreted by many people as flying through space or the night sky.
Disconnection from consciousness:
At lower to moderate doses, dissociative induced detachment from consciousness can be described as partial in its effects. This creates a number of changes in a persons internal thought processes and perception of their own consciousness which generally includes,
- Feeling as though reality has become distant and vague.
- Feeling as though reality is a film or dream which plays out in front of you.
- Feeling as though the world beyond your immediate external environment is simply non existent.
- A dosage proportional decrease in the overall speed, connectivity and analytical abilities of the conscious thought stream.
- Feeling as though your conscious thought stream is not your own, allowing it to be analysed from an unbiased third person perspective.
At higher dosages, the disconnection from consciousness eventually makes the transition from partial to all encompassing. This results in the complete failure of a persons conscious thought stream, sense of self and long term memory. It can be experientially described as a state that is functionally identical to psychedelic induced ego death and the feeling that there is no longer an “I” experiencing the trip. There is just the experience, as it is and by itself.
This process of sensory and cognitive detachment can be broken down into 4 distinct levels of increasing intensity,
- partial detachment - This can be described as feelings of surreality and general detachment from the external environment. It is often accompanied by a sense of mild to moderate energetic stimulation.
- partial detachment from environment - As the detachment increases the environment starts to become 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.
- total detachment from environment - Complete disconnection from the body. It is here where the tripper finds themselves undergoing an out of body experience having slipped the dissociative hole.
- 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 “I”, mind and self cease to exist, resulting in ego death.
- 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 generally impossible to recall once the experience is over.
A very common visual component found within a typical dissociative experience is one of a profound shift in visual perspective; this generally consists of drastic changes in the size and distance, attributed either to a person’s body or their external environment.
Perspective distortions usually affect distance, making specific objects or the entire external environment seem physically closer or further away in their appearance.
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”, and it is known as a temporary condition often associated with migraines, brain tumours, and of course the use of psychoactive drugs. With dissociatives, it can also be 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 even having a body that feels larger than the entire universe, is not unheard of.
More examples: here, here and here.
Scenery slicing is an 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 proceed to slide across each other in separate directions causing the visual field to split apart into sections.
Environmental orbism is a visual distortion characterized by a partitioning of the environment a person is currently in. This is manifested in the form of spherical 3 dimensional “orbs” that retain most of the detail and identity of the space their distorting. These orbs vary in size which leads to gaps that are formed in between, the space within these gaps is either completely dark or composed of tightly bound visual and fractal imagery. This dark space eventually grows, decreasing the size of the orbs gradually until it eventually becomes the usual darkened holes, spaces and voids commonly exhibited within high dose dissociatives.
Environmental orbism is an effect confirmed to occur in multiple people without prior knowledge of such effect. Although this effect usually occurs on higher doses, and usually isn’t noticed in casual users, as at high doses the dissociative hole is usually entered, but as tolerance increases such effects as environmental orbism become more prominent.
Visual Geometry - 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.
Frames of 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.
However, 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 centre 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 differing 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 hallucinogens 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 complex and 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 blacks 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.
Hallucinations and scenarios are only possible during very high dose trips and are an intensely realistic component of the dissociative experience. These could literally manifest themselves as anything but generally fall under common archetypes such as contact with autonomous entities, imagined landscapes and alternate reality’s. In comparison to psychedelics, dissociative hallucinations are often described to feel less transcendental and spiritual in theme. They are more solid in their appearance and are not generally made from condensed visual geometry.
Autonomous entities - Contact with autonomous entities are very common. These entities generally appear to be the inhabitants of a perceived independent reality - they are expectant of your appearance and enjoy interacting with you in various ways.
Entities can literally take any form but common subconscious Jungian archetypes are definitely present, these include,
bodiless super intelligent humanoids, aliens, elves, giant spheres, insectoids, beings of light, plants, robotic machines, gods, goddesses, demons, human beings and more.
These entities and creatures generally communicate with trippers via a combination of telepathy, visual linguistics, mathematics and morphing coloured structures of different textures.
Landscapes, sceneries and settings - An intrinsic component of high level hallucinatory states is the experience of extremely detailed imagined landscapes, settings and sceneries of infinite variety. These are manifested spontaneously, surrounding the tripper and acting as the setting in which the plot of the trip occurs. At other points they behave as something which is flown over but are also often experienced through the act of autonomous entities, directly manipulating what you can see and view; intentionally propelling trippers in different directions at disorienting speeds, forcing them to view or pass directly through macro and microscopic scale settings, including both previously experienced landscapes and previously unexperienced landscapes which commonly include,
planetary systems, galaxies, quasars, jungles, rain forests, deserts, ice-scapes, cities, natural environments, caves, space habitats, vast structures, civilizations, technological utopias, ruins, machinescapes, rooms and other indoor environments, neurons, DNA, atoms, molecules, mitochondria and more.
Concepts - This particular subcomponent of hallucinatory states is extremely common throughout typical dissociative hallucinations. It can be described as the visual experience of an infinite array of internally stored concepts that can include both everyday objects, subjective concepts, previously non-experienced concepts and impossible mixtures of each three.
At lower levels they are manifested as spontaneous imagery but at higher levels they become embedded as objects within the scenery, or as objects which are presented to you by autonomous entities. These concepts commonly include,
everyday objects, living things, plants, animals, insects, architecture, structures, shapes, atoms, molecules, complex mathematical formulae/concepts, linguistic concepts, mechanisms, technology, machine creatures, self-replicating machines, people, faces, eyes, body parts, organs, food, cultural references, fictional characters, logos, religious symbolism, creatures, monsters, demons, mythology, furniture and more.
Scenarios and plots - Each of the above components are randomly shuffled and spliced into any of the infinite plots which are capable of being experienced under the influence of high dose dissociative experiences. These are difficult to define but can be broken down into extremely basic archetypes which generally entail visiting some sort of alternate reality, or a number of them which contain within them interactive, multiple, or lone autonomous entities among an organized array of concepts and objects depending on the specific plot.
The plots can be linear but can also be completely nonsensical.
In terms of the perspective in which they are perceived through, hallucinations can be experienced in four different forms.
- 1st person - this is the most common form of hallucination and can be described as the perfectly normal experience of perceiving the hallucination from the perspective of the self.
- 2nd person - this can be described as the experience of perceiving the hallucination from the perspective of an external source of consciousness such as another beings life, an animal or an inanimate object.
- 3rd person - this is essentially an out of body experience and can be described as perceiving the hallucination from a perspective which is floating above, below, behind, or in front of the trippers physical body.
- 4th person - this is particularly rare but entirely possible and can be described as the experience of perceiving the hallucination from the perspective of multiple vantage points and, occasionally, infinite amounts of alternate lives.
In terms of the amount of time in which they are experienced, hallucinatory plots and scenarios usually feel as if they are being experienced in real-time. This means that when 20 seconds have been felt to have passed within the hallucination, the exact same amount of time will have passed in the real world.
At other points, however, distortions of time can make themselves present, resulting in plots and scenarios that can feel as if they literally last days, weeks, months, years, or even infinitely long periods of time. When this does happen, however, it is not felt as if thousands of years of experience have literally been undergone within 15 minutes of real-world time, but as if the memory or feeling of thousands of years having passed is formed after the experience itself and not during.
As for the content of these hallucinatory plots and scenarios, they can contain experiences so unlike anything contained within the real world that they are completely untranslatable into human English, but they can also contain previously experienced memories from any point in a person’s life that feel truly identical to what really happened. These memory replays are often long-forgotten scenes from childhood, people who have not been seen or even thought about in years, and the visitation of important buildings, places and settings throughout a person’s life. At other points, however, the content of these hallucinations can be somewhere in between a memory replay and completely new experience, containing aspects of real life but easily deviating far from the original plot of what actually happened.
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