The connection between psychedelics and consciousness has always been a fascinating and highly talked-about topic. While some people believe certain psychedelics have mysterious powers that can alter consciousness and provide unique insights, others don’t find such claims believable.
But the real question is – what is the actual connection between psychedelics and consciousness? And do psychedelics have the power to affect and alter an individual’s consciousness?
Read this blog post till the end to find out everything about it!
What Exactly Are Psychedelics?
Simply put, psychedelics are a form of psychoactive substances that are known to affect and change an individual’s perception, cognition, and mood. They are also known as hallucinogens. This is because of the fact that after consuming them, certain people can start hallucinating.
Common psychedelics include substances like psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms), LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), and DMT (Dimethyltryptamine). These substances basically work by changing the normal functioning of the human brain. This, in turn, causes multiple changes in neural activity and connectivity, leading to people “experiencing” unusual things or seeing unique insights.
Psychedelics are actually nothing new. They have been in existence for thousands of years. Earlier, they were used by people for religious or spiritual purposes. However, today, their mystical powers have become a topic of interest for scientists and researchers.
Now, before we talk about the connection between psychedelics and consciousness, it is important to understand what consciousness is in the first place.
In simple terms, consciousness can be defined as a person’s ability to be aware of their emotions, thoughts, and whereabouts. However, it is not just that. It is an incredibly complex and multi-dimensional concept that has kept philosophers, psychologists, and scientists fascinated for centuries.
Now, psychedelics have been known to affect a person’s consciousness by heightening their awareness and emotions and changing their sensory perception. People under the effect of psychedelics report experiencing emotional clarity, reduction in anxiety, and so on.
The Connection Between Psychedelics and Consciousness
There have been multiple past and current studies on how psychedelics affect an individual’s consciousness. A recent one, conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, revealed that after a psychedelic experience, people experienced a rise in the attribution of consciousness.
They experienced heightened emotions and awareness, and felt like everything “became more alive.” The research was conducted on 1,606 participants who were 35 years old on average.
Certain studies have also suggested that psychedelic substances can also affect some specific neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. This, in turn, alters the functioning of a person’s brain, thereby affecting their consciousnesses.
These substances affect a person’s serotonin (the chemical that transports messages between the nerve cells in a person’s brain). It causes a change in the brain’s normal neural activity and connectivity, thereby altering their states of consciousness.
It has been discovered that people who consumed psychedelics often reported feeling mystical experiences, a unique feeling of getting transcended into another realm, and of being united with the universe.
Psychedelics and Their Connection With the Treatment of Anxiety and Depression
Along with affecting an individual’s consciousness, psychedelics also have certain therapeutic benefits. It is believed that these substances were experimentally used in psychiatry earlier.
There are no solid records of when and for how long psychedelics were used in psychiatry. But thousands of papers and dozens of books have discussed psychedelic drug therapy between 1950 and mid-1960.
Even today, psychedelics have been found to have a positive effect in dealing with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. Psychedelic substance, specifically psilocybin, has shown potential in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
By altering a person’s state of consciousness, psychedelics can lower feelings of fear, uneasiness, and anxiety. On the other hand, they increase the feelings of empathy in a person. This gives them a new perspective on their lives and relationships and helps them see the positives instead of the negative in everything.
While all this is still in its earliest stage and more research needs to be done, psychedelics can definitely prove to be helpful in dealing with mental health conditions.
The Road Ahead
So, there you go! That was all about psychedelics and their connection with consciousness. While these substances have existed for thousands of years, the recent re-emergence of psychedelic research has piqued the interest of many people.
Scientists and researchers all around the globe are exploring the potential of psychedelic substances and how much they can affect our consciousness. As we move ahead, we can expect to find out newer ways of how these substances can be used to explore the nature of consciousness and the brain’s complex mechanisms.