What Does The Psychedelic Experience Feel Like?

독해 난이도 : ★★★★☆
소재 : 심리, 마약, 환각
원문 링크

Every moment of every day, courtesy of the neurotransmitter serotonin, your brain is processing sensory information, such as sights and sounds, and synthesizing it into your sense of self and your sense of place in the environment. You experience this self-referential awareness of a coherent whole as a “self” or “ego.” This sense of self feels rather fixed, static, but it is not. It’s constantly being updated by incoming sensory experiences.

*neurotransmitter 신경 전달 물질
*synthesize 합성하다

The psychedelic experience feels as though this self-referential moment-to-moment updating of the ego has suddenly disappeared. The perception of our familiar self vanishes. The name given to this experience is ego death or ego dissolution. This distortion of our subjective experience of self is central to the psychedelic experience. People describe ego-dissolution as a diminished sense of self and an increase in the feeling of being at one with the universe, an experience felt as enriching.

*self-referential 자기 지시적인
*distortion 왜곡
*dissolution 분리, 용해

However, my students also describe losing their sense of being grounded in the present, feeling disoriented, as though everything was unfamiliar. One student complained that she “lost all sense of myself.” This aspect of the psychedelic experience can increase feelings of anxiety and fear.

The psychedelic experience also includes an increase in emotional empathy, the ability to respond to another’s mental state. People report a greatly enhanced sociability, as though they have “taken off the mask they wear around others,” or that the personal “wall” that separates them from others has fallen. Because our ego separates us from others, ego-dissolution causes us to feel much closer to other people, whether we know them well or not.

*sociability 사교성

Some psychedelics enhance visual imagery and the mixing of audio and visual sensory experiences so that colors might give off sounds. One student said that she watched the colors in a rug slowly rise up into trails of colorful smoke rings. Another had a conversation with her toaster one morning. Studies of rock carvings from Central America compared to drawings from modern subjects demonstrate that psychedelics produce geometric imagery of a consistent nature, regularly featuring latticework patterning, cobweb structure, and tunnel or funnel effects with spirals. Images tend to pulsate and move toward a center tunnel or away from a bright center. The brightness intensification most users report is due to the dilation of the pupils caused by the drug.

*latticework 격자 세공
*pulsate 진동하다, 고동치다
*intensification 강화, 극대
*dilation 확장, 팽창

Psychedelics have another feature in common: They have few negative cognitive effects; intellectual or memory impairment is minimal. They do not cause a stupor or narcosis as alcohol and heroin do. And they do not produce excessive stimulation like that experienced with cocaine and amphetamines.

*impairment 장애
*stupor 마비, 인사불성
*narcosis 혼수상태
*stimulation 자극

What gives most psychedelics, including the so-called “classics”—LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline— their many, and many powerful, attributes in common is that they act on the serotonin neurons and receptors in the body and brain. Although there are only a few hundred thousand serotonin neurons in the human brain, they influence the function of virtually every brain region and thus every aspect of normal waking consciousness. Not only is serotonin involved in processing sensory information, it also influences emotional responses, such as fear, excitement, and empathy. Further, serotonin neurons control heart rate, respiration, and the release of hormones by influencing the autonomic nervous system.

*receptor 수용체
*respiration 호흡

Not all psychedelics produce the same experience because not all psychedelics act on serotonin receptors; the psychedelic experience depends on which neurotransmitter receptors the agent is targeting. For example, extracts of the mushroom Amanita muscaria alter the function of acetylcholine neurons. Acetylcholine is involved in processing neural activity in an area of the neocortex devoted to vision. Users of this mushroom report that normal objects appear bigger or smaller than they truly are—an effect called macropsia or micropsia, respectively. Lewis Carroll incorporated the effects of this mushroom into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

*neocortex (두뇌의)신피질
*macropsia 대시증(과대 착시)
*micropsia 소시증

Although they have been demonized in the United States since the 1970s, psychedelics, found naturally in a number of plants, have played a significant cultural role since ancient times, notably in religious ceremonies to facilitate communication with the gods. Typically, strict cultural rituals developed around the psychedelic experience. For example, only persons of high religious rank could consume mescaline, extracted from the peyote plant. Those of lesser status were accorded the honor of drinking the urine of these individuals.

*peyote plant 페요테 선인장; 환각성분을 추출하는데 쓰이는 식물

Research into natural psychedelics and a growing array of synthetic variants has been accelerating over the past two decades. The commonly reported experience of increased social connectedness—enabled by a decreased sense of self and the dissociating of attention from personal concerns—and the development of wonder and appreciation for life give psychedelics considerable potential for human transformation in troubled times.

*variant 변종, 이형
*connectedness 소속감, 유대감

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