The effect of psychedelics on behavior is a kind of disinhibition. This continues even after dose wears off, at least for a while. This isn’t the ordinary disinhibition like from alcohol or other drugs though, it is an erasing of the conditioned Pavlovian responses that guide your experience of the world. This may be useful in breaking the cyclic nature of our lives. These thoughts came to me as I was noticing the abundant theme of anxious responses that people have when they visit their families on the holidays. This is something I’ve faced personally as well.
During the holiday, some of you may notice that being around certain family members with whom you’ve had an aversive history with tends to bring out an automatic emotional reaction, regardless if that emotion applies to the current context. For example, you may find yourself feeling on edge in the presence of a family member despite that the situation does not warrant it. This is a conditioned response.
These conditioned responses often prime everyone in the situation to be on guard and often times to repeat the past in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. This often leads to almost predestined outcomes, arguments, and fights that occur for people on the holidays. Everyone tries to suppress their emotions, often with alcohol or distractions, or sometimes just through trained inhibited behaviors in hopes of stopping the anticipated scenario from playing out. These habitual behavior loops we play out are rituals.
The psychedelic drugs may mute these automatic reactions and allow your mind to manifest in the present moment, responding only to the current context. This can be good or it can be bad. Some of your automatic responses include inhibiting yourself in response to the negative attitudes of others, to keep quiet and keep the peace. This reaction is one that may be eliminated as well, so one may find themselves reacting unusual, perhaps even aggressing to the threatening individual. This means that the situation that normally plays out in a predictable way, may in fact play out in an unpredictable way instead.
This disinhibition has great power. So much of our lives are confined to the repeating patterns of the past, from our traumas and our addictions. Our parents are often repeating the behavioral responses that they acquired due to responses from their own parents behaviors. The psychedelics can mitigate the influence of the conditioned cues that trigger our behavioral responses and thus free us to behave in ways that are no longer confined to the past. This opens many new doors and creates new realities, essentially by scribing a new past in your memories and in the memories of those around you. This allows us to create new worlds that can overwrite the old ones by acting with novelty in the present.
No longer will you live in the looping behavioral scripts that guide so much of your life. Though, this presents us with a gamble. We don’t know whether the new world will present us with positive or negative consequences. The problem here though is that so many of us live our lives imprisoned in extremely dysphoric scripts that we play out over and over, year after year, endlessly. We do so partly because we are afraid that trying something new will lead us down a worse path, but we don’t actually know, and we deeply fear the uncertainty. This is why we typically avoid deviating our scripts, although sometimes it isn’t a choice made out of fear but sheer compulsion like one might expect from an addict. Interestingly, psychedelics have been argued to treat both addiction and trauma. Perhaps addiction and trauma are the most peak ritualistic experiences, compulsive ritualistic traps.
I believe that most people know very little of the world even though they have a great capacity to know. There are many worlds beyond our limiting inhibitions, beyond our Pavlovian prisons. These confined and scripted lives that we live leaves us incapable of empathizing with those living in neighboring worlds. These neighboring worlds are ones in which we often have the a capacity to live just as those that we judge. It is unfair. This is something one can come closer to realizing with the ingestion of these substances, although the acute rise in empathy from the empathogenic drugs is likely one that stems from a letting go of our guardedness and traumas that prevent us from simply looking at the present moment.
If only we could allow families to consume these drugs during the holidays together, maybe new non-abusive and non-traumatic loops could emerge. Though, remember that we do not know what new worlds can emerge and some could be bad even. So take caution and do not use this as advice for consuming the drug in potentially inappropriate circumstances or else face the divine novelty that you create upon your life.
Consider that the holidays are somewhat arbitrary. Much of society is a religious construct. Society is built upon the rituals of the collective. You are the one who allows these rituals to influence your concrete life. Perhaps you should create new rituals to live by. This is not to deny the real influence of the collective people on our lives though. We suffer very many real problems. Our ritualistic tendencies as a species may allow for stable and predictable societies to form. The more predictable people are, the more that we can work together in mass synchrony. In this way, ritualism may be the basis of society.
I am curious, have any of you tripped with family? Please share that story in the comments! Also, I’ve just started talking about psychedelic theories on the YouTube channel, so if that is something that interests you, go check it out 🙂.
. . .
If you found this enjoyable, consider joining the Patreon! I’ve been posting detailed experience reports with my adventures using prescription ketamine and also someone sent me an EEG to collect data on ketamine-induced brain changes.
Special thanks to the eleven patrons: Richard Kemp, Milan Griffes, Alex W, Cody, Sarah Gehrke, Melissa Bradley, Morgan Catha, Niklas Kokkola, Abhishaike Mahajan, Riley Fitzpatrick, and Charles Wright! Abhi is also the artist who created the cover image for Most Relevant. Please support him on instagram, he is an amazing artist! I’d also like to thank Annie Vu, Chris Byrd, and Kettner Griswold for your kindness and making these projects and the podcast possible through your donations.
If you’d like to support these projects like this, check out this page.
If you liked this, follow me on
Find the amazing discussion for this post on Reddit: