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The effects below describe the common physical, mental and emotional effects which comprise the psychedelic experience.
This information has been compiled from two sources: the decades of observation and study by psychiatrists in a clinical setting before LSD and other psychedelics were outlawed in the late 1960s; and books and anecdotal trip reports written by users. See here for a list of sources.
The most important thing to realize is that no two trips are the same. The intensity and effects of a drug like LSD vary dramatically from person to person. If different people take the same amount in the same circumstances, each will have a distinctly different experience. If the same person takes LSD repeatedly, each experience is usually completely different in its flavor and content. (1)
The nature of the psychedelic experience is strongly determined by set and setting. Set is your mindset (how you're feeling, issues in your life, your psychological makeup) when taking the drug; setting is where you are - that includes who you're with and how relaxed you feel. Dosage and previous experience with the drug are also important factors.
Basically, if you take LSD, you will experience some or none of the effects on the following scale:
how you feel before taking a drug
Very mild effect. Relaxation. Giggling. Like being stoned but with enhanced visual perception: colors may seem brighter, patterns recognition enhanced, colors and details more eye-grabbing.
Physically, a feeling of lightness and euphoria, and a slight tingling in the body. Energy. A sense of urgency. Music sounds better.
plus one (+1)
Stronger visual hallucinations. Radiant colors. Objects and surfaces appear to ripple or breathe. Colored patterns behind the eyes are vivid, more active. Moments of reflection and distractive thought patterns. Thoughts and thinking become enhanced. Creative urges. Euphoria. Connection with others, empathy. Ability to talk or interact with others however slightly impaired. Sense of time distorted or lost. Sexual arousal. "Flight of ideas" and "ambitious designs". You're tripping.
plus two (+2)
Very obvious visual effects. Curved or warped patterns. Familiar objects appear strange as surface details distract the eye. Imagination and 'mind's eye' images vivid, three dimensional. Geometric patterns behind closed eyes. Some confusion of the senses.
Distortion rather than deterioration of mental processes. Some awareness of background brain functioning: such as balance systems or auditory visual perception. Deep store memory becomes accessible. Images or experiences may rise to the fore. Music is powerful and can affect mood. Sense of time lost. Occasional trance states. Paranoia and distortions of body image possible.
Physical symptoms may include: stiffness, cramp, and muscular tension. Nausea, fever, feeling of illness. You're loaded.
plus three (+3)
Lying down. Difficult to interact with other people and 'consensus reality' in general. You should really be somewhere safe.
Very strong hallucinations such as objects morphing into other objects. Tracers, lingering after-images, and visual echoes.
Intense depersonalization. Category enscramblement. The barriers between you and the universe begin to break down. Connection with everything around you. Experiencing contradictory feelings simultaneously. Some loss of reality. Time meaningless. Senses blend into one. Sensations of being born. Multiple splitting of the ego. Powerful awareness of mental processes and senses. Lengthy trances often featuring highly symbolic, often mythical visions when eyes are closed. Powerful, and sometimes brutal psycho-physical reactions described by users as reliving their own birth. Direct experience of group or collective consciousness, ancestral memories, recall of past-lives, and other mystical experiences. Ecstasy.
Music extremely powerful, perhaps overwhelming. Emotionally sensitivity increased (often massively). Crying or laughing, or both simultaneously.
Tremors, twitches, twisting movements, sweating, chills, hot flushes - all common. You're essentially out of it.
plus four (+4)
A very rare experience. Total loss of visual connection with reality. The senses cease to function in the normal way. Total loss of self. Transcendental experiences of cosmic unity, merging with space, other objects, or the universe. Out of body experience. Ecstasy. "Entity contact". The loss of reality becomes so severe that it defies explanation. Pure white light. Difficult to put into words.
- LSD Psychotherapy, Stanislav Grof M.D (Hunter House 1980)
- The Varieties Of Psychedelic Experience, Robert Masters Ph.D & Jean Houston Ph.D (Park Street Press, 2000)
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25). A clinical-psychological study. Savage C Amer. J. Psychiat., 1952; 108:896
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