ARE HERE: Homepage
> Entheogens >
True and False Hallucinations
Freedictionary sums it up quite
Hallucinations Really Hallucinations?
"The term Hallucinogen, in
this context, is largely a misnomer that classifies drugs
with disparate effects into an inappropriately general category.
Some of the effects of mind-altering substances could be
labeled hallucinations, as could some of the effects of
alcohol or cocaine.
From a historical perspective, however, the seminal importance
of these substances to human culture has arisen from an
effect that is the polar opposite of a hallucination, namely
the ability of these substances to elicit different states
of consciousness that provide perspective on one's ordinary
One of my favorite things about Psychedelics
is examining & attempting to define the mysterious
between unfamiliar zones of sensory intensification,
and actual 'hallucinations'
As some may remember from 'back in the old days' there is
a certain mid-range dosage level where there is just
increased perception, with very novel effects to the
experimenter - but no hallucinations or non existent scenes
or objects ........ At first I was disappointed(!) that
i didn't see the kind of 'hallucinations' i had heard about
... fantastical bizarre things, then i realized others were
describing a very complex process in a simplified way,
or lacking in words & neurological concepts to describe
Let's not jump straight to the words sensory 'distortion',
There are many distinct levels or operational modes of sensory
because any tripper can attest to the fact that sometimes
there is no distortion at all but rather the opposite
an incredible fine tuning of the senses and imagination,
where every detail of everything within your field of perception
is razor sharp and the linear reasoning abilities are still
Take a bit more and you start to have so many neurons firing
in response to each-other, each signal traveling
to more adjacent neurons, you get feedback layered
on top of this perception. This Feedback is the perception
of the sense organs themselves, and how
they transmit their data to the brain. Eventually, at high
dosages, the condition is one of perception of just
the fractal feedback itself.
This is true 'Hallucinatory Vision'
or perception of infinite internal feedback loops within
the mind, driven by incoming sense data, but multiplied
by itself and everything else ever stored in the
mind and memory, at light speed.
see it as having 8 or more levels (based on a good
bit of ... errrr .... uh, 'research')
1. Increased pattern perception:
- You notice a pattern or subtlety that is super-obvious
but previously un-noticed (repeating texture on ceiling,
a slight smudge on a white surface, fine details of a painting,
the refresh rate on your computer monitor, etc) ... and
it's still there the next day.
interpretation' of actual sense data:
- where you are not actually seeing anything
not-real, but re-interpreting the data in creative ways.
Ever seen a face-like pattern on a wood panel, your brain
picks out as having 2 eyes and a mouth, or the shape of
a profile? you can outline it and make a cartoon-ish face
... the face is not there, but the brain can take the
random patterns and pick & enhance the ones that are
the right shape. - when tripping many forms one sees are
not 'false' sense data but new ways of putting it together
and applying 'meaning'. Super-fueled pattern perception&
tracking mixed with the brain's natural tendency to see
or recognize faces, and anthropomorphic forms. - but still
in the realm of "there the next day" when you
are back to normal
- Bodily perceptions that are usually screened out by
the brain, but are real. including the pattern of the
'pixels' of the visual field, internal tactile sensation
of blood flow, sound of heartbeat, 'feeling' the nerves
in the teeth and interior volume of the sinus cavity,
etc. Still real stuff, but not useful or pleasant to perceive
all the time, lol.
mental stuff that's hard to prove:
- such as occasional feeling you can more deeply 'understand'
the 'real' meaning of an artwork, or piece of music, or
the unusual ESP-like experience that Django and I shared
... a very general conversation that was non-verbal, then
mutual recognition of this without ever saying it, and
then some toying about with it to make sure we weren't
just losing our minds. To us it was self-validating, but
an observer would have just seen us looking astonished
at each-other and vaguely gesturing in the air like a
couple of whitfield patients. yet to us, volumes of data
were passing back and forth.
and 'Bad' Trips / Paranoia
/ Social Hallucination
- Just as all other senses and mental processes can be
accelerated by psychedelics,
Paranoia can build to darkly insidious and superhuman
Your friend is acting oddly - maybe something terrible
has happened and they are afraid to mention it, you feel
as though everyone knows you're tripping or is staring
at you, a thought about going insane becomes self-reinforcing
and soon you're convinced you will never come down.
The enhanced imagination can make
a perfectly logical scenario of impending disaster
by discarding all information that doesn't match
the paranoid thought train, and magnifying all
info that does.
After a couple of these experiences one can recognize
this as what it is ...
a runaway train of negative thought propelled by some
insecurity, fear, regret or misperception.
Once you realize you are the conductor of this
runaway train, its easy to stop it instantly
or change tracks.
Or detach yourself from the experience,
knowing it's a delusion and go along for the ride as an
learning in-depth & first-hand of your deepest fears,
prejudices and nightmares.
If someone can't master this discipline after a couple
of tries, maybe 3,
they should never take hallucinogens, or only in tiny
This is why I mentioned earlier
that Hallucinogens are not necessarily safe as a "party"
Nor is it necessarily always gonna be fun in
the normal sense of the word, a good trip is also challenging.
Ultimately it REQUIRES: a
bit of curiosity and courage,
Somewhat positive self-image, normal or near-normal intelligence
and reasoning abilities,
and preferably an above-average ability to maintain
total self-control or alternately,
the ZEN ability to release
all control attempts & defer to
inner detachment / intuition
in unpredictable, agonizing, totally alien
or unrecognizable situations.
for me, even the rare occurrence of a stressful, paranoid
or delusional sequence within a trip is not such a bad
After that happens, and I recover and see where i went
'off track' - i'm at once more humble and thankful, but
also more adept and experienced at being able to directly
identify, confront and transform nearly any fear, weakness,
habit, desire, false need, inner demon or outer consequence
that may present itself at any time.
After a few seconds in these micro-hells you learn real
quickly how to release anxiety, root out the problem
and take responsibility for your own state of
mind ... no matter how many Insect Cyborg Aliens are dissecting
your brain for horrible cloning experiments in
a secret space-station orbiting the moon, or whatever
the hyper-paranoid or real circumstances happen
to be your experience.
Imagery of various types (closed eye):
- Semi-hallucination but more of an intensification of
the natural phosphene patterns we see when the eyes are
It's not a total featureless blackness,
close your eyes for a moment, gently press on them
and pay attention
to the subtle colors, textures and shapes in the void
of the minds eye.
closed-eye visuals are just an amplification
of this randomly geometric looking background noise
- but with more neon colors, movement, depth and geometric
regularity to the patterns.
First some background ...
In Medical LSD research the basic array of visual patterns
are called "Form Constants".
"One author tries to account for the different form
constants by referring to the various structures in the
eye. He concludes from anatomical and observed data that,"the
rods and foveal cones can look backwards and that the
retinal pigment and the choriocapillary circulation can,
therefore, be seen under certain conditions" (Kluver,
essence, some of our 'hallucinations' are actually
views of looking backward at the retina."
"These same form constants are also commonly observed
under a wide variety of conditions of psychological stress,
or threshold consciousness, including falling asleep,
waking up, insulin hypoglycemia, the delirium of fever,
epilepsy, psychotic episodes,
syphilis, sensory deprivation, photostimulation, electrical
stimulation, crystal gazing, migraine headaches, dizziness
and a variety of drug intoxications (Siegel 1976). The
diversity of different conditions which provoke the same
kinds of patterns suggests that these form constants reflect
some fundamental property of the visual system."
"Form constants reported under intoxication by mescaline
which are described as (a) lattice, fretwork,
filigree, honeycomb, and chessboard patterns, and (b)
cobweb, tunnel, and funnel patterns. These same form constants
are observed under a wide variety of conditions of psychological
stress, or threshold consciousness, suggesting that they
are a manifestation of the eigenfunctions of perceptual
Steven Lehar, Research Fellow in Ophthalmology, Harvard
he is suggesting that hallucinations are not actually
that, but 'real' perceptions of the 'eigenfunctions',
the very mathematical processes operating within the brain/mind
that produce the ordered 'visual-construct-mental-TV-reality'
we normally experience as 'sight, and that psychedelics
are the ideal and most direct way to study the neurophysiology
of sight and the interrelationship of sight and the 'mind's
(This perfectly dovetails with my developing
theory (as of 2003) of discrete
psychedelic states representing increasing
levels of iterative fractal-feedback
within the brain/mind system and various commonly reported
'trip experiences' as particular strange-attractors
in this acceleratedfeedback/chaos environment.)
Similar to but not quite true hallucinations ...
visuals are unique and often fascinating visual effects
caused by hypersensitivity and independent action of the
and core-level pattern-seeking functions of the brain.
(which, when coupled with our intelligence, was
our primary survival asset
back when we all lived in the jungle and scanned constantly
for predators and food).
Here is one example of the types of visual effects
that are accelerated by LSD, etc, but also produced when
the brain meets a stimulus that exploits it's own natural
processing algorithms in the visual cortex, like the extreme
movement in this optical illusion. (LINK).
7. Hallucinatory and visionary imagery (closed eye):
Beyond the basic 'form constants' there are other visual
which are much more difficult to explain or even communicate
This level is paradoxical ....
Although we think of hallucinations as being 'random'
or the result of 'randomly firing neurons',
the interesting (to me) feature of strong psychedelic
visual experiences is their rich complexity and continuity
Often way more complex, intricate, mathematically elegant,
colorful, inexplicable, non-derivative and detailed
than anything I have ever seen in 'real' life experience,
art, sci-fi effects or whatever.
It makes one wonder, with absolute astonishment, how is
it even possible
to be clearly perceiving this stuff inside one's head,
which is beautiful beyond all arts, languages
and forms of nature?!!!
This (to me) indicates that rather than random
stimulation of the brain,
being our most ultra-adaptive organ, the brain
itself may be using that extra
electrical signal strength
to hyper-extend it's normal routines and abilities to
visualize, compute and interpret data in incredibly coherent,
non-random, elegant ways that are fantastic and futuristic
beyond recognizability to the 'everyday' conscious
self, as it tries to interpret the flood of internal
and external data.
I have observed consistent 3-d patterns
that were composed of dozens of angled layers of multicolored,
semi-transparent, complex surfaces covered in mathematical
looking facets & curves with every conceivable variation
of hue, texture, movement, shadow and reflectivity. But
unlike in dreams, they don't go away or get fuzzy when
you focus on them, you can inspect fine details as though
looking at something real in the mind's eye .....
The really alien hyperdimensional seeming ones are practically
impossible to describe or pin down because languages
are comparative - and these visions are qualitatively
unique, in the sense of not being remotely derivative
or traceable to anything stored in memory.
People seem to fall into two classes; ones who
will experience psychedelic imagery as:
Geometric imagery or highly-complex
repeating, rotating or morphing patterns
Those who instead see faces, bodies, plants, animals
and organic beings of fantastical types
I am definitely type A,
I see turning, multiplying, intersecting, glowing, blossoming
geometric patterns in at least 3 or more
without much recognizable content (in terms
of conventional mathematics visualizations i'm familiar
definitely fractal-ish but not mandelbrot or any of the
Closer to a mix of 4-d knot visualizations arrayed with
neon minimal surface domains -
always profoundly meaningful in it's ultra-elusive defiance
I have never experienced much of this,
but many of the 'B' type report open-eye
visions of jungles, ancient futuristic temples, clear
visions of distant people or events. This type of hallucination
seems more akin to a waking or fully conscious dream,
with recognizable objects and landscapes and scenarios.
Sounds way cool, but in all my trips I have never had
that kind of hallucination.
The closest thing(with closed eyes)
was a complex 3-D scene that almost resembled stone tablets
with dozens of constantly morphing & merging letters
or symbols of some unknown but ultra-elegant language,
they were shining like light out of the hewn-stone-like
borders, arranged in a radial pattern, and seemed always
just on the border of 'making sense' but always
instantly evading my attempts to reconcile or match it
with any remembered language or symbols.
Apparently Peyote (Mescaline) has more of this
'visionary' quality to the hallucinations,
being transported into a different scene, but an earthly
type one. After the hard-to-explain-away 'psychic-ish'
experiences i have had on psychedelics, i'm always amused
at the stories of college kids and others who report jumping
into some space/time and seeing a surprised or bemused
native american shaman who is also doing an out-of-body
/ out-of-time trip.
Fully Immersive Hallucinations:
Well, i sure have tried ..... but,
I have actually seen very few, if any of what
most would think of as a true 'classic' hallucination:
Something or someone appearing to be there with no basis
at all in the incoming sense data.
A gorilla sitting on the couch or a pink elephant walking
thru the wall, etc. With eyes open I have never seen anything
that was not somehow based in the visual data coming in
tracers for example are not really a hallucination, but
an afterimage, a visual echo that lasts for longer than
Or, the movement of patterns on the carpet - the movement
is illusory, but the pattern is real.
I recognize the crawling movement of the patterns, it's
a natural algorithm in the visual cortex, the exact same
movement produced by this optical illusion. (LINK)
I really can't recall a single incident of seeing a definite
eyes-open hallucination -
even at levels equivalent to 15 or 20 doses of lsd.
With the eyes closed it's an ever changing, infinitely
detailed fractal wonderland,
but when i open my eyes i'm still in the room, on the
couch, with proper contextual orientation.
I have certainly been severely disoriented and/or misinterpreted
situations and circumstances.
One time i saw jumbled letters formed by the thousands
of tiny rocks embedded in asphalt (but that was a case
of type 2 or 'creative interpretation' hallucination)
but never have I seen any gremlins on the lawn, spirits,
angels, demons or faeries
there is hope ...
Whenever I have the opportunity to sample smoked n-n-dmt!
i will probably experience total loss-of, or total homogeneity
of orientation. Apparently the visual stimulation is so
intense that it's difficult and ultimately meaningless to
even determine if the eyes are open or closed,
if you are sitting up or lying down, etc. Things look the
same both ways ...
a fully immersive experience in which all senses and even
all concepts blend together, but with no loss of 'ego' or
individuality - the self-referential "I" function
of how you are now still maintains it's usual feel, so you
can be less 1st person, and more of an astonished 3-rd person
perspective spectator of these super-hallucinations for
the short but endless 5 or 10 minutes it lasts
Taking Mushrooms, LSD, Peyote, or DMT
is NOT something I would recommend to most people ...
© 2006-2007 Miqel
Website is a not-for-profit Information Resource to share Future-Positive
Ideas, Images and Media.
ALL unaccredited files gleaned from the
web are © to their original creators.
for more information or to comment,