Novel cognitive states
A novel cognitive state can be defined as any cognitive effect which does not merely amplify or suppress familiar states of mind, but rather induces an experience that is qualitatively different from that of ordinary consciousness.
Although many transpersonal and psychological effects also technically fit into this definition, they are excluded from this category of effects as they have their own defining qualities which standard novel states do not.
This page lists and describes the various novel states which can occur under the influence of certain psychoactive compounds.
- 1 Autonomous voice communication
- 2 Analysis
- 3 Cognitive dysphoria
- 4 Cognitive euphoria
- 5 Compulsive redosing
- 6 Conceptual thinking
- 7 Enhancement and suppression cycles
- 8 Multiple thought streams
- 9 Simultaneous emotions
- 10 Spatial disorientation
- 11 Thought loops
- 12 Time distortion
- 13 Time dilation
- 14 Time compression
- 15 See also
- 16 References
Autonomous voice communication
Autonomous voice communication can be described as the experience of being able to hear and converse with a disembodied and audible voice of unknown origin which seemingly resides within one's own head. This voice is often capable of high levels of complex and detailed speech which are typically on par with the intelligence and vocabulary of ones own conversational abilities.
As a whole, the effect itself can be broken down into 5 distinct levels of progressive intensity, each of which are described below:
- A sensed presence of the other - This level can be defined as the distinctive feeling that another form of consciousness is internally present alongside that of one's usual sense of self. This sensation is often referred to within the scientific literature as a "sense of presence".
- Mutually generated internal responses - This level can be defined as internally felt conversational responses to one's own thoughts and feelings which feel as if they are partially generated by one's own thought stream and in equal measure by that of a separate thought stream.
- Separately generated internal responses - This level can be defined as internally felt conversational responses to one's own thoughts and feelings which feel as if they are generated by an entirely distinct and separate thought stream that resides within one's head.
- Separately generated audible internal responses - This level can be defined as internally heard conversational responses to one's own thoughts and feelings which are perceived as a clearly defined and audible voice within one's head. These can take on a variety of voices, accents, and dialects, but usually sound identical to one's own spoken voice.
- Separately generated audible external responses - This level can be defined as externally heard conversational responses to one's own thoughts and feelings which are perceived as a clearly defined and audible voice which sounds as if it is coming from outside one's own head. These can take on a variety of voices, accents, and dialects, but usually sound identical to the person's own spoken voice.
The speaker behind this voice is commonly interpreted by those who it to be the voice of their own subconscious, the psychoactive substance itself, a specific autonomous entity, or even supernatural concepts such as god, spirits, souls, and ancestors.
At higher levels, the conversational style of that which is discussed between both the voice and its host can be described as essentially identical in terms of its coherency and linguistic intelligibility as that of any other everyday interaction between the self and another human being with which one might engage in conversation with.
However, there are some subtle but identifiable differences between this experience and that of normal everyday conversations. These stem from the fact that one's specific set of knowledge, memories and experiences are identical to that of the voice which is being communicated with. This results in conversations in which both participants often share an identical vocabulary down to the very use of their colloquial slang and subtle mannerisms. As a result of this, no matter how in depth and detailed the discussion becomes, no entirely new information is ever exchanged between the two communicators. Instead, the discussion focuses primarily on building upon old ideas and discussing new opinions or perspectives regarding the previously established content of one's life.
Autonomous voice communication is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as delusions, autonomous entities, auditory hallucinations, and psychosis in a manner which can sometimes lead the person into believing the voices statements unquestionably in a delusional manner. It is most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of hallucinogenic compounds such as psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. However, it may also occur during the offset of prolonged stimulant binges and less consistently under the influence of heavy dosages of cannabinoids.
The experience of communicating with hallucinated voices has been well established with and without the use of hallucinogenic drugs through scientific study. For example, one study successfully demonstrated that anybody can encounter a dialogue between themselves and a voice of unknown origin under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms. This study interviewed 128 participants with an approximate total of 3,427 psilocybin mushroom experiences between them and revealed that 35.9% (46) of the participants reported voices whilst 64% (82) did not.
Even outside of these drug-induced experiences, hearing voices within one's head is a well documented psychological phenomena and can in and of itself, generally be considered as a relatively harmless state of mind to find oneself in.
Cognitive dysphoria (semantically the opposite of euphoria) is medically recognized as a cognitive and emotional state in which a person experiences intense feelings of discomfort and unhappiness. These feelings can vary in their intensity depending on the dosage consumed and the users susceptibility to mental instability. Although dysphoria is an effect, the term is also used colloquially to define an intense state of general melancholic unhappiness combined with an overwhelming sense of discomfort and malaise.
Cognitive dysphoria is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as anxiety and depression. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of deliriant compounds, such as DPH and datura. However, it can also occur during a stimulants offset and during the withdrawal symptoms of almost any substance.
Cognitive euphoria (semantically the opposite of cognitive dysphoria) is medically recognized as a cognitive and emotional state in which a person experiences intense feelings of well-being, elation, happiness, excitement, and joy. Although euphoria is an effect, the term is also used colloquially to define a state of transcendent happiness combined with an intense sense of contentment. It has also been defined as an "affective state of exaggerated well-being or elation."
Cognitive euphoria is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as physical euphoria and tactile enhancement. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of opioids, entactogens, stimulants, and GABAergic depressants. However, it can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of hallucinogenic compounds such as psychedelics, dissociatives, and cannabinoids.
Compulsive redosing can be described as the experience of a powerful and difficult to resist urge to continuously redose a psychoactive substance in an effort to increase or maintain the subjective effects which it induces.
This effect is considerably more likely to manifest itself when the user has a large supply of the given substance within their possession. It can be partially avoided by pre-weighing dosages, not keeping the remaining material within sight, exerting self-control, and giving the compound to a trusted individual to keep until they deem it safe to return.
Compulsive redosing is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as cognitive euphoria, physical euphoria, or anxiety suppression alongside of other effects which inhibit the clarity of one's decision-making processes such as disinhibition, motivation enhancement, and ego inflation. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of a wide variety of compounds, such as opioids, entactogens, stimulants, and GABAergics. However, it can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of dissociatives and cannabinoids.
Conceptual thinking can be described as an alteration to the nature and content of one's internal thought stream. This alteration predisposes a user to think thoughts which are no longer primarily comprised of words and linear sentence structures. Instead, thoughts become equally comprised of what is perceived to be extremely detailed renditions of the innately understandable and internally stored concepts which words exist to label. Essentially, thoughts cease to be spoken by an internal narrator and are instead “felt” and intuitively understood.
For example, if a person were to think of an idea such as a "chair" during this state, one would not hear the word as part of an internal thought stream, but would feel the internally stored, pre-linguistic and innately understandable data which comprises the specific concept labelled within one's memory as a "chair". These conceptual thoughts are felt in a comprehensive level of detail that feels as if it is unparalleled within the primarily linguistic thought structure of everyday life. This is sometimes interpreted by those who undergo it as some sort of a "higher level of understanding".
During this experience, conceptual thinking can cause one to feel not just the entirety of a concept's attributed data, but also how a given concept relates with and depends upon other known concepts. This can result in the perception that the person can better comprehend the complex interplay between the idea that is being contemplated and how it relates to other ideas.
Conceptual thinking is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as personal bias suppression and analysis enhancement. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics and dissociatives. However, it can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of entactogens, cannnabinoids, and meditation.
Enhancement and suppression cycles
Enhancement and suppression cycles can be described as an effect which results in two opposite states of mind that do not occur simultaneously but instead swap between each other at seemingly random intervals. These intervals are generally 10-30 minutes in length but can occasionally be considerably shorter.
The first of these two alternate states can be described as the experience of cognitive enhancements which feel is if they drastically improve the person's ability to think clearly. This includes analysis enhancement, thought organization, thought acceleration, creativity enhancement, and thought connectivity.
The second of these two alternate states can be described as the experience of a range of cognitive suppressions which feel as if they drastically inhibit the person's ability to think clearly. These typically include specific effects such as thought deceleration, thought disorganization, creativity suppression, language suppression, and analysis suppression.
Multiple thought streams
Multiple thought streams can be described as a state of mind in which a person has more than one internal narrative or stream of consciousness simultaneously occurring within their head. This can result in any number of independent thought streams occurring at the same time, each of which are often controllable in a similar manner to that of one's everyday thought stream.
These multiple coinciding thought streams can be experienced simultaneously in a manner which is evenly distributed and does not prioritize the awareness of any particular thought stream over an other. However, they can also be experienced in a manner which feels as if it brings awareness of a particular thought stream to the foreground while the others continue processing information in the background. This form of multiple thought streams typically swaps between specific trains of thought at seemingly random intervals.
The experience of this effect can sometimes allow one to analyse many different ideas simultaneously and can be a source of great insight. However, it will usually overwhelm the person with an abundance of information that becomes difficult or impossible to fully process at a normal speed.
Multiple thought streams are often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as memory suppression and thought disorganization. They are most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of psychedelic compounds, such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline.
Simultaneous emotions can be described as the experience of feeling multiple emotions simultaneously without an obvious external trigger. For example, during this state a user may suddenly feel intense conflicting emotions such as simultaneous happiness, sadness, love, hate, etc. This can result in states of mind in which the user can potentially feel any number of conflicting emotions in any possible combination.
Simultaneous emotions are often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as memory suppression and emotion enhancement. They are most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of psychedelic compounds, such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline.
Spatial disorientation can be described as the inability to intuitively feel one's orientation in 3-dimensional space. In this state, one may have trouble distinguishing up from down, right from left, or any two different directions from another. One might also perceive the world or their own body as being flipped sideways or upside down.
Spatial disorientation is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as holes, spaces and voids, changes in felt gravity, and dizziness. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of dissociative compounds, such as ketamine, PCP, and DXM.
Thought loops can be described as the experience of becoming trapped within a chain of thoughts, actions and emotions which repeat themselves over and over again in a cyclic loop. These loops usually range from anywhere between 5 seconds and 2 minutes in length. However, some users have reported them to be up to a few hours in length. It can be extremely disorientating to undergo this effect and it often triggers states of progressive anxiety within people who may be unfamiliar with the experience. The most effective way to end a cycle of thought loops is to simply sit down and try to let go.
This state of mind is most likely to occur during states of memory suppression in which there is a partial or complete failure of the person's short-term memory. This may suggest that thought loops are the result of cognitive processes becoming unable to sustain themselves for appropriate lengths of time due to a lapse in short-term memory, resulting in the thought process attempting to restart from the beginning only to fall short once again in a perpetual cycle.
Thought loops are most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics and dissociatives. However, they can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of extremely heavy dosages of stimulants and benzodiazepines.
Time distortion is an effect that makes the passage of time feel difficult to keep track of and wildly distorted. It is usually felt in two different forms, time expansion and time compression. These two forms are described and documented below:
Time dilation can be described as the feeling that time has slowed down. This commonly occurs during intense hallucinogenic experiences and seems to at least partially stem from the fact that during an intense trip, abnormally large amounts of experience are felt in very short periods of time. This can create the illusion that more time has passed than actually has. For example, at the end of certain experiences one may feel that they have subjectively undergone days, weeks, months, years, or even infinite periods of time.
Time dilation is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as delusions, thought loops, novelty enhancement, and internal hallucinations in a manner which may lead one into perceiving a disproportionately large number of events considering the amount of time that has actually passed in the real world. It is most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics, dissociatives, deliriants, and cannabinoids.
Studies have demonstrated that psilocin, the active compound in psychedelic mushrooms, significantly impairs a person's ability to gauge time intervals longer than 2.5 seconds, impairs their ability to synchronize to inter-beat intervals longer than 2 seconds, and reduces their "preferred" tapping rate. These results are consistent with the drug's role in affecting prefrontal cortex activity, and the role that the prefrontal cortex is known to play in time perception.
Time compression can be described as the experience of time speeding up and passing much quicker than it usually would while sober. For example, during this state a person may realize that an entire evening has passed them by in what feels like only a couple of hours.
This commonly occurs under the influence of stimulating compounds and seems to at least partially stem from the fact that during intense levels of stimulation, people typically become hyper focused on activities and tasks in a manner which can allow time to pass them by without realizing it. However, the same experience can also occur on depressant compounds which induce amnesia. This occurs due to the way in which a person can literally forget everything that has happened while still experiencing the effects of the substance, thus giving the impression that they have suddenly jumped forward in time.
Time compression is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as memory suppression, focus enhancement, stimulation, and amnesia in a manner which may lead one into perceiving a disproportionately small number of events considering the amount of time that has actually passed in the real world. It is most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of stimulating or amnesic compounds, such as amphetamines, benzodiazepines, entactogens, and GABAergic depressants.
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- Green and McCreery, Apparitions, op.cit., p.118.
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- Experiences of continued presence: On the practical consequences of ‘hallucinations’ in bereavement. | http://www.leudar.com/pdfs/voices/Hayes&Leudar2013.pdf
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