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My Adventures With the Trip Doctors (nytimes.com)
60 points by burritofanatic 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments



Sorry in advance for the length.

The big takeaway I got from the article was that the ego actually resides in the Default Mode Network and that psychedelic experience almost completely deactivates it.

This allows me to construct the idea that meditation, which removes focus from sensory experience and concentrates it in the DMN, is akin to working on your self rather than obliterating and reconstructing it, if only for a short time.

This idea survived only as long as it took for me to search 'dmn meditation', which reveals that concentration meditation also reduces DMN activity.

So why did I feel that meditation increased activity in the DMN? Well, when I was learning meditation all those years ago, the usual stepping off point is through concentration practices, which obviously will quiet the DMN down through task-focus. Eventually you reach the point where you can go exploring in the spaces of your mind.

But the sheer magnitude time investment needed to self-induce into trance and the cognitive effects I'd seen in people who really identified with doing lots of it warned me off of it pretty early.

I instead settled into a pattern whereby every few years I'll sense the need for a reboot, then self-induce for awhile, until it didn't seem to be all that helpful anymore. The last such session had me doing inductions every few nights and slowly pulling back on how deep I go before ending the session.

Now I understand that a person's mind builds up 'structures' over time and they need to get swept away every now and again for good health. I was leery of psychedelics for so many years for the same reason I didn't want to do hardcore meditation.

Essentially, it's the 'ego-shattering' nature of turning off the DMN for so long that makes me wary of it. Good to do every now and again, but I don't like what happens when you do it often. I've conversed with many people who have done this to themselves, and they present as drug addicts to me, not as fully-functioning, let alone super-functioning, humans. Rather than grow as human beings, they're growing as some weird alien species.

So my own personal journey has me organize my life around greater DMN activation with occasional breaks, like to do programming work or play ping pong, then every once in awhile trance out and break through to a new understanding. It's very important to me to integrate trance experiences, I spend a lot of time on it, and it's one reason trance induction is just too heavy to do regularly.


> I've conversed with many people who have done this to themselves, and they present as drug addicts to me, not as fully-functioning, let alone super-functioning, humans. Rather than grow as human beings, they're growing as some weird alien species.

An alternate hypothesis to explain the weirdness of these people is that perhaps those who have taken their place of mental residence too far closely overlap with those who lack the social awareness to know that presenting psychedelics as an integral part of routine life in today's society will get you regarded as insane. This can happen to people, and those who have this happen to them are particularly noticeable while I suspect those who have deeply moving experiences and are able to successfully incorporate them into their daily lives to positive effect keep those pieces of their backstory under especially stringent wraps.

Anecdotally, I was able to implement an enormous increase in my function as a human being resulting from my reflections on my psychedelic experiences. In all areas from mental health to human relationships to technical skill development. The current state of my own experience of my life and the experience of all those who are part of it confirms. The primary psychedelic experience that spurred on these changes occurred about 3 years ago, and was the result of a recreational trip gone very wrong. Today, I continue to microdose 1P-LSD to subjectively beneficial effect.


Similar to how people say that transgender folks don’t ever pass. It’s not that, it’s that you only notice the ones who don’t.


I call it "washing my mind out"... I use mushrooms and MDMA "regularly" (perhaps once or thrice per year) for variety of reasons, but all of them some form of improving myself as a human being. To your point about bad trips, for me, I think the bad trips are as integral to this improvement process as the astonishing religious experiences. But more to the point of the grandparent you quoted, I have always considered myself something of an alien in human skin. I mean I've always felt like I'm not even on the same planet as most people that are considered outsiders. I had a big thing typed up, but it was just too weird-sounding and too revealing, so you'll have to trust me when I say that. The whole process of life and living on a human planet is weird for me, and it's just always been that way. But what these psychedelic experiences have done for me is make me more human. I'm not quite middle aged, but thanks to my experiences with mushrooms and MDMA -- and a small handful of generous people that have joined me in some of the experiences -- I finally feel comfortable and even enjoy the biology of being a human being, and that's to say nothing of what it's done for the quality and depth of my human relationships.


"I've conversed with many people who have done this to themselves, and they present as drug addicts to me, not as fully-functioning, let alone super-functioning, humans. Rather than grow as human beings, they're growing as some weird alien species."

This seems unfairly judgmental, and even worse I don't understand what kind of basis you're using to make that judgement. If it's just an ambiguous feeling, I have to say that sounds pretty unscientific.

For most of human history there has been addiction. It's just as valid a part of the human condition as anything else. Only in the last century or so has it become so stigmatized and relegated to fringe behavior. The vast majority of humanity has always been addicted to some substance or behavior or another, most likely including you.

Just for the sake of conversation. I feel like a lot of this self-experimentation is incredibly difficult to quantify, and you have to be aware that when you believe you've discovered something or made progress the easiest person to fool will be yourself. How do we determine whether or not our default mode network is switched off without an MRI machine? How do we communicate the thoughts and feelings of that state to another person in a way that enables them to do the same thing or recognize those results reliably? It's extremely subjective. Nobody knows very much about this field, and those who claim to know are likely charlatans.


It's easy to confuse people trying to escape their lives using drugs and rationalizing it by saying things about self-development with people that actually use drugs to improve themselves. It's easy because the escape artists are lying to everyone, including themselves. And it's hard not to believe someone who's convinced even themselves of their lies.


> I've conversed with many people who have done this to themselves, and they present as drug addicts to me, not as fully-functioning, let alone super-functioning, humans.

The class of people willing to experiment on themselves with illegal drugs are not going to be a representative sample of the public at large, and the people who are willing to talk extensively about their drug experiences probably aren’t representative of the population of psychedelic users.

Also, most of the people who are going to regale you with tales of their amazing lsd trips are probably not too far removed from them. Ask people who last tripped 10 years ago how it affected them.


Thank you for such good description of your experience. My pole dance studio incorporates mild relaxation techniques into warm up flow and this works great to help me reset after a stressful work day in the office. I rarely feel the need to reset, but when I do I usually just switch to things I haven't done for a while. Music -> reading -> painting -> sports -> socializing -> learning and so on. This helps stimulate various areas and keep my consciousness well-balanced.




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