Cognitive intensifications

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Cognitive intensifications are defined as any subjective effect which increases or raises the intensity of a facet of a person's cognition in a manner that is generally considered either functional or dysfunctional.

This page lists and describes the various cognitive intensifications which can occur under the influence of certain psychoactive compounds.


Main article: Anxiety

Anxiety is medically recognized as the experience of negative feelings of apprehension, worry, and general unease.[1][2] These feelings can range from subtle and ignorable to intense and overwhelming enough to trigger panic attacks or feelings of impending doom. Anxiety is often accompanied by nervous behaviour such as stimulation, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and muscular tension.[3] Psychoactive substance-induced anxiety can be caused as an inescapable effect of the drug itself, by a lack of experience with the substance or its intensity, as an intensification of a pre-existing state of mind, or by the experience of negative hallucinations. The focus of anticipated danger can be internally or externally derived.

Anxiety is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as depression and irritability. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as cannabinoids,[4] psychedelics,[5] dissociatives, and deliriants.[6] However, it can also occur during the withdrawal symptoms of GABAergic depressants[7] and during stimulant comedowns.[8]

Dream potentiation

Main article: Dream potentiation

Dream potentiation is defined as an effect which increases the subjective intensity, vividness, and frequency of sleeping dream states.[9][10] This effect also results in dreams having a more complex and incohesive plot with a higher level of detail and definition.[10] Additionally, the effect causes a greatly increased likelihood of them becoming lucid dreams.

Dream potentiation is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of oneirogenic compounds, a class of hallucinogen that is used to specifically potentiate dreams when taken before sleep. However, it can also occur as a residual side effect from falling asleep under the influence of an extremely wide variety of substances. At other times, it can occur as a relatively persistent effect that has arisen as a symptom of hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD).

Ego inflation

Main article: Ego inflation

Ego inflation is defined as an effect that magnifies and intensifies one's own ego and self-regard in a manner which results in feeling an increased sense of confidence, superiority, and general arrogance.[11] During this state, it can often feel that one is considerably more intelligent, important, and capable in comparison to those around them. This occurs in a manner which is similar to the psychiatric condition known as narcissistic personality disorder.[12]

At lower levels, this experience can result in an enhanced ability to handle social situations due to a heightened sense of confidence.[13] However, at higher levels, it can result in a reduced ability to handle social situations due to magnifying egoistic behavioural traits that may come across as distinctly obnoxious, narcissistic, and selfish to other people.

It is worth noting that regular and repeated long-term exposure to this effect can leave certain individuals with persistent behavioural traits of ego inflation, even when sober, within their day to day life.

Ego inflation is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as disinhibition, irritability, and paranoia in a manner which can lead to destructive behaviors and violent tendencies.[13] It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of stimulant compounds, particularly dopaminergic stimulants such as amphetamines, and cocaine.[11][13][14][15] However, it may also occur under the influence of other compounds such as GABAergic depressants[11] and certain dissociatives.

Emotion intensification

Emotion intensification (also known as affect intensification)[16] is defined as an increase in a person's current emotional state beyond normal levels of intensity.[17][18][19]

Unlike many other subjective effects such as euphoria or anxiety, this effect does not actively induce specific emotions regardless of a person's current state of mind and mental stability. Instead, it works by passively amplifying and enhancing the genuine emotions that a person is already feeling prior to ingesting the drug or prior to the onset of this effect. This causes emotion intensification to be equally capable of manifesting in both a positive and negative direction.[16][17][19][20][21] This effect highlights the importance of set and setting when using psychedelics in a therapeutic context, especially if the goal is to produce a catharsis.[16][18][21]

For example, an individual who is currently feeling somewhat anxious or emotionally unstable may become overwhelmed with intensified negative emotions, paranoia, and confusion. In contrast, an individual who is generally feeling positive and emotionally stable is more likely to find themselves overwhelmed with states of emotional euphoria, happiness, and feelings of general contentment. The intensity of emotional states felt under emotion intensification can shape the tone of a trip and predispose the user to other effects, such as mania or unity in positive states and thought loops or feelings of impending doom in negative states.[19] Intense negative or difficult emotions may still arise in therapeutic contexts, however (with adequate support) people nevertheless view the experience positively due to the perceived value of integrating the emotional states' additional insight.[16][21]

Emotion intensification is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of psychedelic compounds, such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline.[16][17][18][19][21] However, it can also occur under the influence of cannabinoids, GABAergic depressants,[22][23] and stimulants.[20][24]

Focus intensification

Main article: Focus intensification

Focus intensification is defined as the experience of an increased ability to selectively concentrate on an aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. It can be best characterized by feelings of intense concentration which can allow one to continuously focus on and perform tasks which would otherwise be considered too monotonous, boring, or dull to not get distracted from.[25][26]

The degree of focus induced by this effect can be much stronger than what a person is capable of sober. It can allow for hours of effortless, single-minded, and continuous focus on a particular activity to the exclusion of all other considerations such as eating and attending to bodily functions. However, although focus intensification can improve a person’s ability to engage in tasks and use time effectively, it is worth noting that it can also cause a person to focus intensely and spend excess time on unimportant activities.

Focus intensification is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as motivation enhancement, thought acceleration, and stimulation. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of stimulant and nootropic compounds such as amphetamine,[27] methylphenidate,[28] modafinil,[29] and caffeine.[30] However, it is worth noting that the same compounds which induce this mind state at moderate dosages will also often result in the opposite effect of focus suppression at heavier dosages.[31]

Immersion intensification

{{Main|Immersion intensification||

Immersion intensification is defined as an effect which results in a pronounced increase in one's tendency to become fully captivated and engrossed by external stimuli such as music, film, TV shows, video games, and various other forms of media.[32][33][34][35] This greatly increases one's suspension of disbelief, increases one’s empathy with the characters, suppresses one's memory of the "outside world", and allows one to become engaged on a level that is largely unattainable during everyday sober living.

At its highest point of intensity, immersion intensification can reach a level in which the person begins to truly believe that the media they are consuming is a real-life event that is actually happening in front of them or is being relayed through a screen. This is likely a result of the effect synergizing with other accompanying components such as internal or external hallucinations, delusions, memory suppression, and suggestibility intensification. Immersion intensification often exaggerates the emotional response a person has towards media they are engaged with. Whether or not this experience is enjoyable can differ drastically depending on various factors such as the emotional tone and familiarity of what is being perceived.

Immersion intensification is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of dissociative compounds, such as ketamine, PCP, and DXM. However, it can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of psychedelics[35] and cannabinoids.


Main article: Irritability

Irritability is medically recognized as the pervasive and sustained emotional state of being easily annoyed and provoked to anger.[36] It may be expressed outwardly in the cases of violence towards others, or directed inwards towards oneself in the form of self-harm.[37]

This effect, especially when strong, can sometimes cause violent or aggressive outbursts in a small subset of people who may be predisposed to it. The chances of somebody responding in such a way differs wildly between people and depends on how susceptible an individual is to irritability and how well they cope with it. It is also worth noting that this typically only affects those who were already susceptible to aggressive behaviours. However, regardless of the person, this effect results in a lower ability to tolerate frustrations, negative stimuli, and other people. A person undergoing this effect may be prone to lashing out at others, fits of anger, or other behaviours that would be uncharacteristic for them sober.

Irritability is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as anxiety, paranoia, and ego inflation. It is most commonly induced during the after effects of heavy dosages of stimulant compounds, such as cocaine, methamphetamine,[38] and methylphenidate.[39] However, it can be a withdrawal symptom of almost any substance, and can to a lesser extent present itself during alcohol intoxication.[40]

Personal meaning intensification

Personal meaning intensification (also known as aberrant salience) is defined as the experience of a considerably increased sense of personal significance becoming attributed to innocuous situations, and coincidences.[41][42][43][44][45] Trivial observations not usually noticed may seem connected, and a subjective state of "seeing solutions" might evolve to one of seeing problems, ultimately arriving at a full-fledged paranoid psychosis.[46] For example, one may feel that the lyrics of a song or events in a film directly relate to their life in a meaningful and distinct manner that is not usually felt during everyday sobriety. This feeling can continue to occur even when it is rationally understood that the external stimuli does not genuinely relate to the person experiencing it in such a direct manner.

At its highest level, this effect will often synergize with delusions in a manner which can result in one genuinely believing that innocuous events are directly related to them.[41] For example, one may begin to believe that the plot of a film is about their life or that a song was written for them. This phenomenon is well established within psychiatry and is commonly known as a "delusion of reference."[47][48]

Suggestibility intensification

Suggestibility intensification is defined as an increased tendency to accept and act on the ideas or attitudes of others.[49] A common example of suggestibility enhancement in action would be a trip sitter deliberately making a person believe a false statement without question simply by telling it to them as true, even if the statement would usually be easily recognizable as impossible or absurd. If this is successfully accomplished, it can potentially result in the experience of relevant accompanying hallucinations and delusions which further solidify the belief which has been suggested to them.

Suggestibility intensification most commonly occurs under the influence of heavy dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics, dissociatives, deliriants, and cannabinoids. This holds particularly true for users who are inexperienced or currently undergoing delusions and memory suppression. It's worth noting that this effect has been studied extensively by the scientific literature and has a relatively large body of data confirming its presence across multiple hallucinogens. These include LSD,[50] mescaline,[49] psilocybin,[49] cannabis,[51] ketamine,[52] and nitrous oxide.[53] However, anecdotal reports suggest that it may also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of GABAergic depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepines.

Thought acceleration

Main article: Thought acceleration

Thought acceleration (also known as racing thoughts)[54] is defined as the experience of thought processes being sped up significantly in comparison to that of everyday sobriety.[55][56] When experiencing this effect, it will often feel as if one rapid-fire thought after the other is being generated in incredibly quick succession. Thoughts while undergoing this effect are not necessarily qualitatively different, but greater in their volume and speed. However, they are commonly associated with a change in mood that can be either positive or negative.[54][57]

Thought acceleration is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as stimulation, anxiety, and analysis enhancement in a manner which not only increases the speed of thought, but also significantly enhances the sharpness of a person's mental clarity. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of stimulant and nootropic compounds, such as amphetamine, methylphenidate, modafinil, and MDMA. However, it can also occur under the influence of certain stimulating psychedelics such as LSD, 2C-E, DOC, AMT.


Main article: Wakefulness

Wakefulness is defined as an increased ability to stay conscious without feeling sleepy combined with a decreased need to sleep.[58] It is contrasted with stimulation in that it does not directly increase one's energy levels above a normal baseline but instead produces feelings of a wakeful, well-rested, and alert state.[59][60] If one is sleepy before using this substance, the impulse to sleep will fade, keeping one’s eyes open will become easier, and the cognitive fog of exhaustion will be reduced.[61] However, sufficiently accumulated sleep deficiency can overpower or negate this effect in extreme cases.[59]

Wakefulness is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of a wide variety of compounds such as stimulants, nootropics, and psychedelics. However, it is worth noting that the few compounds which selectively induce this effect without a number of other accompanying effects are referred to as eugeroics or wakefulness-promoting agents. These include modafinil[59][60][62][63] and armodafinil.[59]

See also


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