I’m curious about ego-inflation or the Jesus complex that can happen after some trips. I have a friend who thinks they can heal people with touch now, and I’m a bit worried they took the content of their journey too far. Does this happen often and should I do anything about it?
Ah, that’s a tough one. My first question would be how long ago the trip happened. Sometimes when people have mystical experiences on psychedelics, the content of the trip feels so real and tangible it bleeds into everyday life. When this lasts for a few days it may ebb away as the person recalibrates, but other times these feelings of grandiose can become delusions that stick around or develop into paranoia or mania.
The feelings that psychedelics can produce are sometimes deeply complex and nonverbal. This may show up in the form of a person having a sudden faith in a pattern or process, or having sudden faith in their own abilities, and that’s not necessarily a problem. When it becomes a problem is when these feelings and thoughts start disrupting a person’s ability to relate to the tangible world that they’re occupying.
There’s a degree of sensitivity to be had here, since western culture tends to pathologize and delegitimize people’s mystical experiences. I think that it’s important to distinguish between delusion and someone who has tapped into something greater than themselves and is integrating it. Sometimes those feelings end up gradually integrating into a person’s daily life in a beneficial way, and sometimes they become a problem.
Truthfully, much of this depends on the specific presentation of your friend’s experience. There are times when situations like this merit psychological intervention because someone is unable to safely occupy this reality, and others where their thought patterns are abstract but benign. I think that in this situation I’d recommend initially working to understand what your friend is experiencing, rather than trying to intervene or stop it from happening. Ask questions and be curious!
Since psychedelic thoughts can be so nebulous, your friend might be enthusiastic about explaining what they’re feeling and why they believe that they can heal others through touch. You might even learn something from them, even if it’s not about the actual medicinal value of hand-on-head. As long as this doesn’t become an issue of 1) an obvious detachment from reality that indicates a mental health situation or 2) someone who is a danger to themselves or others, this is their path, and it will unfold for them. If you’re also someone who uses psychedelics, it may be helpful to suggest that the two of you work through some integration practices side by side while sharing space.
It would be pretty arrogant for humans to assume that we’re capable of unraveling the mysteries of the world only through our five senses. Mystical experiences may introduce a sort of sixth sense of feeling things; perhaps that sixth sense is showing up for your friend in this way, or perhaps there’s something more going on. Regardless, you won’t know until you try to understand. Collect some information, listen attentively, and go from there. Just remember to be gentle and loving, rather than fearful and suspicious, and to ask for outside help if you feel like your friend’s life is at risk of serious disruption or danger.
I’ve only heard about taking iboga for substance use disorders, but I want to try it just because I’m curious. What do you think about ibogaine for personal wellness?
Disclaimer: I’m a white person who doesn’t belong to the communities that have historically and presently used iboga as a part of cultural practice. The statements that follow are an attempt to reiterate what I’ve heard from affected communities, but there is quite a lot of room for error in my interpretation of this issue. You should always be listening to those who are directly impacted, not a third party.
The short answer: If you want to try iboga you should be well-versed in its history, particularly in the context of the countries and communities it’s indigenous to. If you’re white and you want to try iboga, you should additionally 1) be versed in the complexities of biopiracy and white supremacy, 2) step with caution, and 3) really invest in understanding your privilege before you decide whether it’s appropriate for you to go further.
As a note, iboga should typically be administered by someone who knows what they’re doing. It has been known to cause cardiac complications, a risk that should be taken seriously. This means that accessing iboga in a controlled environment is typically limited to 1) flying out of the U.S. to attend a clinic, most/all of which are very expensive and don’t offer financial assistance, or 2) flying to Gabon or the Congo to participate in ceremony.
This immediately sets the stage for ethical complication. On the one hand, the inaccessibility of iboga treatments has set it up to be another modality of treatment/wellness that is limited to the wealthy, and on the other hand there’s the complex question of who is choosing to expend the resources to fly to Africa (and why). Iboga is a coveted resource that’s currently being pirated from the communities that use it as part of their way of life, usually without reciprocity (although some new initiatives have started cropping up). Iboga ceremonies are a central part of the Bwiti spiritual discipline in Gabon, and western interest in indigenous psychoactive plants has skyrocketed in the last decade, leading to commercial export and sometimes direct exploitation.
This isn’t a new story. This same pattern has been taking place with all kinds of indigenous psychoactive plants, most famously psilocybin mushrooms which were introduced to western culture by Mexican curandera María Sabina. We’re already seeing iboga being poached, hoarded, and exploited for wealth; many shoddy online resellers peddle products that were stolen or contain dangerous additives.
Yes, people in contemporary affluent societies crave mental health and wellbeing, but I think it’s important to be able to sit down and really consider your motives. How would you be engaging reciprocally and respectfully in this practice? What’s your goal? How well do you understand what reciprocity means to the people whose resources you’re thinking of obtaining?
I do think that it’s possible to seek iboga ethically, but I also think that if you really want to do so – especially if you’re white – I suggest having a well-rounded understanding of the larger ecosystem you’re trying to tap into, and listening very carefully and closely to the needs of those who have coveted this plant before you.
In my opinion: You should know more about iboga than just its potential for treating substance use disorders. You should be invested in truly understanding the reasons why it may or may not be appropriate for you to seek it out. And you should be comfortable enough exploring privilege to step down if you determine that it’s not yet your time.
When candy flipping (when I take MDMA and LSD together) is there a downside to adding modest bumps of ketamine into the mix?
Not really. The biggest issues I foresee are all behavioral: 1) You’re tripping and you forget how recently you’ve done another bump, so you do another bump, and then you’re really high and you forget that you’re tripping, or you just keep doing bumps on autopilot until you end up in medical care because you’ve anesthetized yourself. 2) You’re rolling, but the dissociative effects of MDMA reduce the emotional component of your experience and you end up feeling detached instead of connected. 3) You’re just experiencing too much sensory information and it’s overwhelming.
None of these are really dangerous unless you’re on high doses of LSD/MDMA, in which case I’d advise not trying to go any deeper with ket. A possible workaround for #1 is to have someone else hold the bag and set a timer after every bump you do. This combination is probably more advised when you’re coming down off of the MDMA and easing into the LSD portion of the flip.
I will say, however, that your thermoregulation (temperature regulation) can get pretty wonky when you’re moderate to high doses of any of these three drugs individually. I suggest making sure that you’re keeping your body temperature as steady as possible depending on your environment. There’s also a chance that tripping and k-holing while rolling could make you super nauseous or even frightened. I suggest going very low and slow with this mixture to avoid overstimulating yourself and getting sick or being uncomfortable and confused.
About Your Psychedelic Auntie
When we have questions about psychedelics, we often consult our Auntie. An Auntie can be a person of any gender who offers wise advice about psychedelic substances and how to effectively use them. Lucid News is asking a collection of well-informed people to step in as Auntie and answer your questions about psychedelics. Some of the best peer-based, accurate information about psychedelic substances and harm reduction comes from DanceSafe, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1998. DanceSafe provides health and safety services at festivals and events. This month, our Psychedelic Auntie is DanceSafe Programs and Communications Coordinator Rachel Clark. Send your questions to the Psychedelic Auntie via the Lucid News contact page and watch this space for the answers.