Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Superstition and Witches in Hardy's World

Thomashardy restored.jpg

Jennifer Williams Class of 1997
Jennifer Sabatini Class of 1997
(Source) Gettysburg College Edu

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Wikpedia pic source

As a child, Thomas Hardy heard various stories of supernatural occurrences from the family servants, rustics from the village, and his own mother who believed she once saw a ghost. Thus, Hardy learned to believe in the supernatural and to accept the superstitious ways of the rustic people. During an interview with William Archer, Hardy expressed, "when I was a younger man, I would cheerfully have given ten years of my life to see a ghost, - an authentic, indubitable spectre". Because of the superstitious influence of his upbringing and his own desire to believe, elements of weirdness, superstition, and magic play an interesting role in Hardy's works. Specifically, Hardy incorporated aspects of superstition and witchcraft into his writings. Such elements provide the reader with an understanding of how Hardy perceived his world.

Many small aspects of superstition exist within the writings of Hardy. In Return of the Native, the reader is introduced to Diggory Venn, the Reddleman. A reddleman unearths red clay which is used as a dye for sheep's wool. Because the reddleman works so much with this substance, his skin takes on a reddish hue and thus, red associating him with the devil, he becomes the "boogeyman " of the rustic people. Other examples of superstition include the evil eye, the magic of a sixpence, and dairy witchcraft. In his 1901 interview with Archer, Hardy stated that "The belief in the evil eye subsists in full force." Johnny Nunsuch of The Return of the Native felt safe as he carried his sixpence because the coin was supposed to bring good luck and protect against witchcraft. Johnny becomes frightened when he happens upon Diggory Venn, the Reddleman, because the child realizes that he has lost his guardian sixpence. The country people held many superstitions regarding the production of milk and cheese. The "magic" that these superstitions are based on is known as dairy witchcraft. For example, in Tess of the d'Urbervilles after Tess arrives at Talbothays, the cows cease to produce milk. The milkers blame this unexplainable phenomena on the newcomer, believing that the milk went directly to the horns of the cows. They thus resort to song as a device to start the cows milking again.
Hardy uses slight witch imagery when describing his strong female characters because, according to Gayla Steel, he is hiding his examination of their independence and sexuality within these images. Unlike the stereotypical, Victorian "Angel in the House", Bathsheba, Eustacia, and Rhoda are strong, tall, and dark. For example, in The Return of the Native Hardy calls Eustacia "Queen of the Night" and describes her as having a "dark beauty." Because these women are strong, passionate, and set apart from society, their neighbors denounce them as witches. An example of this fear of the different occurs in The Return of the Native when Susan Nunsuch accuses Eustacia as being in league with the "dark one." As a retaliation against the supposed witch, Eustacia, Susan pricks her in church and creates a wax effigy (a voo-doo doll) in her likeness. Susan pricks Eustacia to see if she bleeds; it was said that if a woman did not bleed when pricked, she was a witch.

Although the self-sufficient women of Hardy's world are branded as witches, the men who possess special knowledge and skills are looked upon favorably. Some of these "conjurors" have a bond with nature that gives them an innate sense of time and weather. Specifically, Reverend Swancourt in A Pair of Blue Eyes claims that the farmers of Endelstow can tell time to the fraction of an hour by looking at shadows, winds, clouds, the movements of sheep and oxen, the singing of birds, the crowing of cocks (ch. 14). Similarly, Gabriel Oak of Far From the Madding Crowd maintains a closeness to the land and has the ability to observe all that surrounds him. These skills give Oak a great understanding of natural forces which, in chapter thirty-seven, he uses to predict an oncoming storm. Oak notices a garden-slug that has crept inside, "It was Nature's second way of hinting to him that he was to prepare for foul weather" (ch. 37). Diggory Venn of The Return of the Native is another man close to nature whose "isolated and weird character" (book 6, ch. 3) has such a great tie with the heath that he seems to be an extension of it. In addition to Oak and Venn, Hardy creates two characters who are literally conjurors practicing "white magic." Conjuror Trendle appears in the short story "The Withered Arm" and the other conjuror, Fall, appears in The Mayor of Casterbridge. Both men are looked upon by their communities as wise, talented, and helpful. Although they practice "magic", Trendle and Fall are never humiliated by a test of pricking, nor are they ever associated with the devil. Unlike the strong women characters, Oak, Venn, Conjuror Trendle and Conjuror Fall are praised and rewarded by Hardy for their talents.
Archer, William. "Real Conversations: Conversation 1. - With Mr. Thomas Hardy." The Critic, 38 (April, 1901), 309-318.
Steel, Gayla R. Sexual Tyranny in Wessex. New York: Peter Long Publishing Inc., 1993. 

Invisibility: The Most Fascinating Psychic Ability You Will Never See

The following maybe of interest, but it should be taken with a big pinch of salt. However, there is a large number of like articles on the internet. RS/Blogger Ref

Feb 15, 2011 • By   Source

It is not every day you get the opportunity to watch a person literally fade out of sight in front of you, but the day I actually saw it happen changed the way I look at the world forever.

The psychic development of such a "exciting" ability as invisibility may seem far-fetched, but there are actually an amazing number of well documented examples of spontaneous human invisibility on record. There are also a great many people who have learned how to produce this effect at will.

To understand how psychic invisibility can work, we first need to appreciate exactly how we see.

There are two parts to seeing. The first is that light needs to reflect off an object and then arrive at our eyes. Once this happens, the reflected light is transformed into electrical impulses which are sent via the optic nerve to the brain. This is an important step in the mechanics, but the real art of seeing is what happens next.

The second step needed to actually see something is for our brains to actively decipher those electrical impulses and reconstruct them into a mental image.

Since there are two discrete parts needed in order to see something, it makes sense that there are two basic ways to become invisible. Each method interferes with one of these parts of how we recognize something.

The first method is a kind of telekinesis. It is a way to use your psychic abilities to curve light so that what reflects off you never reaches the eye of the beholder. With no reflected light, the eye has no signals to send to the brain so there is nothing to see.

The second method is a way of deceiving the brain of the viewer so it doesn't bother to decode the visual information that the eye sent.

There are actually two ways to bring this about. The first is a kind of telepathic suggestion that works on the mind very much like hypnosis. It essentially tells the brain of the viewer "you did not see anything" and so the brain simply ignores the stuff "it didn't see".

The other method is a way of creating an external cloud of psychic energy that is right on the edge of what the human eye can perceive. Its appearance is so subtle and so strange that the brain assumes that it must have gotten bad information from the eye and so it removes the information out of its mental image, just as it automatically does for your "blind spot.

The method of summoning the cloud of psychic energy is like certain methods of making a "psi-ball" but the volume of energy is much bigger, and the energy must be "tuned" into the "quasi-viewable" frequencies that confuse the eye, which is an art in itself!

With a lot of practice, the "Cloud Method" actually becomes the foundation of many other fascinating psychic skills, including the ability to create spontaneous psychic light, and even psychic illusions!

There are actually a number of other methods for achieving psychic invisibility, but in one way or another each one boils down to either interfering with how the eye makes and sends information to the brain, or by tricking the brain into not processing the visual data it got from the eye.

If you are interested in the idea of creating a psychic effect that is objectively verifiable by other people, invisibility is actually a great skill to begin with. It takes a lot of practice, but it is intensely rewarding and is within the grasp of anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort.

Charles Tart

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Charles Tart
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Charles Tart, psychologist
Born(1937-04-29) April 29, 1937 (age 79)
Occupationpsychologist and author
Known forAltered states of consciousness
Charles T. Tart (born 1937) is an American psychologist and parapsychologist known for his psychological work on the nature of consciousness (particularly altered states of consciousness), as one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology, and for his research in parapsychology.[1]


Charles Tart was born on April 29, 1937 in Morrisville, Pennsylvania and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. He was active in amateur radio and worked as a radio engineer (with a First Class Radiotelephone License from the Federal Communications Commission) while a teenager. As an undergraduate, Tart first studied electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before transferring to Duke University to study psychology, on the advice of Dr Rhine of Duke. He received his doctoral degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963, and then received postdoctoral training in hypnosis research with Professor Ernest R. Hilgard at Stanford University.[1]
His first books, Altered States of Consciousness (editor, 1969) and Transpersonal Psychologies (1975), became widely used texts that were instrumental in allowing these areas to become part of modern psychology.[1] He is currently (2005) a Core Faculty Member at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (Palo Alto, California) and a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (Sausalito, California), as well as Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, where he served for 28 years, and emeritus member of the Monroe Institute board of advisors. Tart was the holder of the Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and has served as a Visiting Professor in East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, as an Instructor in Psychiatry at the School of Medicine of the University of Virginia, and a consultant on government funded parapsychological research at the Stanford Research Institute (now known as SRI International).[1]
He was also integral in the theorizing and construction of the automatic ESP testing device the ESPATEACHER machine that was built at the University of Virginia. He supports Joseph McMoneagle's claim of having remote viewed into the past, present, and future and has predicted future events.[2]
As well as a laboratory researcher, Tart has been a student of the Japanese martial art of Aikido (in which he holds a black belt), of meditation, of Gurdjieff's work, of Buddhism, and of other psychological and spiritual growth disciplines. Tart believes that the evidence of the paranormal is bringing science and spirit together. His primary goal is to build bridges between the scientific and spiritual communities, and to help bring about a refinement and integration of Western and Eastern approaches for knowing the world and for personal and social growth.
In his 1986 book Waking Up, he introduced the phrase "consensus trance" to the lexicon. Tart likened normal waking consciousness to hypnotic trance. He discussed how each of us is from birth inducted to the trance of the society around us. Tart noted both similarities and differences between hypnotic trance induction and consensus trance induction. He emphasized the enormous and pervasive power of parents, teachers, religious leaders, political figures, and others to compel induction. Referring to the work of Gurdjieff and others he outlines a path to awakening based upon self-observation.

OBE experiment[edit]

In 1968, Tart conducted an OBE experiment with a subject known as Miss Z for four nights in his sleep laboratory.[3] The subject was attached to an EEG machine and a five-digit code was placed on a shelf above her bed. She did not claim to see the number on the first three nights but on fourth gave the number correctly.[4][5]
During the experiment Tart monitored the equipment in the next room, behind an observation window, however, he admitted he had occasionally dozed during the night.[6] The psychologists Leonard Zusne and Warren Jones have written that the possibility of the subject having obtained the number through ordinary sensory means was not ruled out during the experiment. For example when light fell on the code it was reflected from the surface of a clock located on the wall above the shelf. The subject was not constantly observed and it was also suggested she may have read the number when she was being attached to the EEG machine.[4] According to the magician Milbourne Christopher "If she had held a mirror with a handle in her right hand, by tilting the mirror and looking up she could have seen a reflection of the paper on the shelf... The woman had not been searched prior to the experiment, nor had an observer been in the sleep chamber with her — precautions that should have been taken."[6]
The psychologist James Alcock criticized the experiment for inadequate controls and questioned why the subject was not visually monitored by a video camera.[7] Martin Gardner has written the experiment was not evidence for an OBE and suggested that whilst Tart was "snoring behind the window, Miss Z simply stood up in bed, without detaching the electrodes, and peeked."[8] Susan Blackmore wrote "If Miss Z had tried to climb up, the brain-wave record would have showed a pattern of interference. And that was exactly what it did show."[9]
The experiment was not repeated at the laboratory, Tart wrote this was because Miss Z moved from the area where the laboratory was located.[10]


Tart has drawn criticism from the scientific community for his comments on a failed psychokinesis (PK) experiment. The targets from the random number generator that were used in the experiment were not random. Tart responded by claiming the nonrandomness was due to a PK effect. Terence Hines has written that a procedural flaw in the experiment itself was used by Tart as evidence for psi and that this is an example of the use of a nonfalsifiable hypothesis in parapsychology.[11]
In 1980, Tart claimed that a rejudging of the transcripts from one of Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff’s remote viewing experiments revealed an above-chance result.[12] Targ and Puthoff refused to provide copies of the transcripts and it was not until July 1985 that they were made available for study when it was discovered they still contained sensory cues.[13] The psychologist David Marks and Christopher Scott (1986) wrote "considering the importance for the remote viewing hypothesis of adequate cue removal, Tart’s failure to perform this basic task seems beyond comprehension. As previously concluded, remote viewing has not been demonstrated in the experiments conducted by Puthoff and Targ, only the repeated failure of the investigators to remove sensory cues."[14] Tart has also been criticized by the skeptic Robert Todd Carroll for ignoring Occam's razor (advocating the paranormal instead of naturalistic explanations) and for ignoring the known laws of physics.[15]
Tart's book about marijuana On Being Stoned has received mixed reviews.[16][17] Harris Chaiklin wrote the book rejected medical evidence and laboratory experiments in favor for the opinions of marijuana users and probability statistics were inappropriately used.[17] In his book Learning to Use Extrasensory Perception, Tart endorsed experimental methods from learning theory and the results from card guessing experiments in support for ESP. Richard Land wrote that Tart's data was unconvincing but concluded "the book will be enjoyed by believers in ESP, and sceptics will regard it as a curiosity".[18]
In 1981, Tart received the James Randi Educational Foundation Media Pigasus Award "for discovering that the further in the future events are, the more difficult it is to predict them."[19]


  • Altered States of Consciousness (1969), editor. ISBN 0-471-84560-4
  • Transpersonal Psychologies (1975)
  • On Being Stoned: A Psychological Study of Marijuana Intoxication (1971)
  • States of Consciousness (1975)
  • Symposium on Consciousness (1975) With P. Lee, R. Ornstein, D. Galin & A. Deikman
  • Learning to Use Extrasensory Perception (1976)
  • Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm (1977)
  • Mind at Large: Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Symposia on the Nature of Extrasensory Perception (1979, with Harold E. Puthoff & Russel Targ)
  • Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential (1986)
  • Open Mind, Discriminating Mind: Reflections on Human Possibilities (1989)
  • Living the Mindful Life (1994)
  • Body Mind Spirit: Exploring the Parapsychology of Spirituality (1997)
  • Mind Science: Meditation Training for Practical People (2001)
  • States of Consciousness (2001). ISBN 0-595-15196-5
  • The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together (2009) ISBN 978-1572246454


  • Distinguished Contributions to Scientific Hypnosis, The Society of Psychological Hypnosis (Division 30 of the American Psychological Association), 2001.[20]
  • Abraham Maslow Award (given to an individual for an outstanding and lasting contribution to the exploration of the farther reaches of human spirit), The Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32 of APA), 2004.[21]
  • Charles Honorton Integrative Contributions Award, Parapsychological Association, 2008.[22]
  • Pigasus Award, Category 1 (To the scientist who said or did the silliest thing relating to parapsychology in the preceding twelve months), presented by James Randi, 1981.


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b c d "Brief Biographical Data". April 10, 1998. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  2. Jump up ^ Joseph McMoneagle. (1998). The Ultimate Time Machine: A Remote Viewer's Perception of Time and Predictions for the New Millennium. Foreword by Charles Tart. Hampton Roads Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-57174-102-8
  3. Jump up ^ Charles Tart. (1968). A Psychophysiological Study of Out-of-the-Body Experiences in a Selected Subject. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 62: 3-27.
  4. ^ Jump up to: a b Leonard Zusne, Warren H. Jones (1989). Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 126. ISBN 0-8058-0508-7
  5. Jump up ^ Robert Todd Carroll. (2003). The Skeptic's Dictionary. Wiley. p. 110. ISBN 0-471-27242-6
  6. ^ Jump up to: a b Milbourne Christopher. (1979). Search For The Soul: An Insider's Report On The Continuing Quest By Psychics and Scientists For Evidence Of Life After Death. Crowell. pp. 90-91. ISBN 978-0690017601 "Dr. Tart himself noted in his article, which was revised for Edgar D. Mitchell's Psychic Exploration (1974): that the woman "might have concealed a mirror and telescoping rod in her pajamas" and peeked at the shelf "when she thought I might not be looking through the observation window." The woman had not been searched prior to the experiment, nor had an observer been in the sleep chamber with her — precautions that should have been taken. Dr. Tart admitted in his article, but not in the book, that "occasionally I dozed during the night beside the equipment." Could the subject have known when the parapsychologist was napping? Yes — the room in which he sat was lit, and she could see, as he himself did, through the partially open slats of the venetian blind on the window between the two rooms. It should be noted that Dr. Tart wrote the target digits about two inches high "with a black marking pen." The large size would make it easier for the subject to see them — if trickery was used. Another possibility for cheating — mentioned in Dr. Tart's article but excluded from the book — was that the number might have been reflected by the glass face of the wall clock above the shelf."
  7. Jump up ^ James Alcock. (1981). Parapsychology-Science Or Magic?: A Psychological Perspective. Pergamon Press. pp. 130-131. ISBN 978-0080257730
  8. Jump up ^ Martin Gardner. (1989). How Not To Test A Psychic: 10 Years of Remarkable Experiments with Renowned Clairvoyant Pavel Stepanek. Prometheus Books. p. 246. ISBN 0-87975-512-1
  9. Jump up ^ Susan Blackmore. (1986). The Adventures of a Parapsychologist. Prometheus Books. p. 176. ISBN 0-87975-360-9
  10. Jump up ^ George Abell, Barry Singer. (1983). Science and the Paranormal: Probing the Existence of the Supernatural. Scribner. p. 147. ISBN 0-684-17820-6
  11. Jump up ^ Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 141. ISBN 1-57392-979-4 "Parapsychologist Charles Tart (1976) used a random number generator to study the possibility of training people to use psi. Subjects were given feedback on whether or not their responses were correct following each trial. In standard learning theory, such feedback is extremely important and enhances learning greatly. Positive results were initially found, as subjects came to be able to match their responses to the numbers generated by the machine. It turned out, however, that the sequence of targets generated by the random number generator was not random. This finding renders highly problematic the contention that the experiment demonstrated psi. Tart’s response to the discovery of nonrandomness was to suggest that it was partly due to PK. Thus, a serious procedural flaw in an experiment has itself been claimed as evidence for psi, in yet another example of the use of a nonfalsifiable hypothesis."
  12. Jump up ^ Charles Tart, Harold Puthoff, Russell Targ. (1980). Information Transmission in Remote Viewing Experiments. Nature 284: 191.
  13. Jump up ^ Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 136. ISBN 1-57392-979-4
  14. Jump up ^ David Marks, Christopher Scott. (1986). Remote Viewing Exposed. Nature 319: 444.
  15. Jump up ^ Robert Todd Carroll. (2013). "Charles Tart". In The Skeptic's Dictionary. Wiley. ISBN 0-471-27242-6
  16. Jump up ^ LeVon Balzer. (1972). On Being Stoned: A Psychological Study of Marijuana Intoxication by Charles T. Tart. The American Biology Teacher. Vol. 34, No. 7. p. 419.
  17. ^ Jump up to: a b Harris Chaiklin. (1973). On Being Stoned by Charles T. Tart. The Family Coordinator. Vol. 22, No. 1. pp. 145-146.
  18. Jump up ^ Richard Land. (1980). Learning to Use Extrasensory Perception by Charles T. Tart. Leonardo. Vol. 13, No. 2. p. 162.
  19. Jump up ^ James Randi (1982). The Truth About Uri Geller. Prometheus Books. p. 329. ISBN 0-87975-199-1
  20. Jump up ^ UC Davis News & Information :: Charles Tart
  21. Jump up ^ Abraham Maslow Award
  22. Jump up ^ Dr. Charles Tart Receives Award | Sofia University

External links[edit]

Audio interviews[edit]

Tuesday, 27 September 2016


Blogger Ref

A hallucinogen is a psychoactive agent which can cause hallucinations, perceptual anomalies, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness. The common types of hallucinogens are psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants. Although hallucinations are a common symptom of amphetamine psychosis, amphetamines are not considered hallucinogens, as they are not a primary effect of the drugs themselves. While hallucinations can occur when abusing stimulants, the nature of stimulant psychosis is not unlike delirium.
L. E. Hollister's criteria for establishing that a drug is hallucinogenic are as follows:[1]
  • in proportion to other effects, changes in thought, perception, and mood should predominate;
  • intellectual or memory impairment should be minimal;
  • stupor, narcosis, or excessive stimulation should not be an integral effect;
  • autonomic nervous system side effects should be minimal; and
  • addictive craving should be absent.

Nature of nomenclature[edit]

Main article: Hallucination
Main article: Psychedelic drug
A debate persists on criteria which would easily differentiate a substance which is 'psychedelic' from one 'hallucinogenic'. Sir Thomas Browne in 1646 coined the term 'hallucination' from the Latin word "alucinari" meaning "to wander in the mind". The term 'psychedelic' is derived from the Ancient Greek words psychē (ψυχή, "mind") and dēloun (δηλοῦν, "to make visible, to reveal"), or "mind-revealing".
'A hallucinogen' and 'a psychedelic' may refer correctly to the same substance. 'Hallucinations' and 'psychedelia' may both refer to the same aspects of subjective experience in a given instance. The term psychedelia carries an added reference to psychedelic substance culture, and 'psychedelics' are considered by many to be the 'traditional' or 'classical hallucinogens' including DMT, Psilocybin, Mescaline, and LSD. 'A hallucinogen' in this sense broadly refers to any substance which causes changes in perception or hallucinations, while psychedelics carry a positive connotation of general perceptual enhancement. In contrast to Hollister's original criteria, adverse effects may predominate with some hallucinogens with this application of the term.[2]

Psychedelics (classical hallucinogens)[edit]

Main article: Psychedelic drug
One "Blotter" sheet of 900 LSD doses.
The word psychedelic (From Ancient Greek ψυχή (psychê) mind, soul + δηλος (dêlos) manifest, reveal + -ic) was coined to express the idea of a drug that makes manifest a hidden but real aspect of the mind. It is commonly applied to any drug with perception-altering effects such as LSD and other ergotamine derivatives, DMT and other tryptamines including the alkaloids of Psilocybin spp., mescaline and other phenethylamines.
The term "psychedelic" is applied somewhat interchangeably with "psychotomimetic" and "hallucinogen",[3] The classical hallucinogens are considered to be the representative psychedelics and LSD is generally considered the prototypical psychedelic.[3] In order to refer to the LSD-like psychedelics, scientific authors have used the term "classical hallucinogen" in the sense defined by Glennon (1999): "The classical hallucinogens are agents that meet Hollister's original definition, but are also agents that: (a) bind at 5-HT2 serotonin receptors, and (b) are recognized by animals trained to discriminate 1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylphenyl)-2-aminopropane (DOM) from vehicle.[4] Otherwise, when the term "psychedelic" is used to refer only to the LSD-like psychedelics (a.k.a. the classical hallucinogens), authors explicitly point that they intend "psychedelic" to be understood according to this more restrictive interpretation (e.g. see Nichols, 2004).[2]
One explanatory model for the experiences provoked by psychedelics is the "reducing valve" concept, first articulated in Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception.[5] In this view, the drugs disable the brain's "filtering" ability to selectively prevent certain perceptions, emotions, memories and thoughts from ever reaching the conscious mind. This effect has been described as mind expanding, or consciousness expanding, for the drug "expands" the realm of experience available to conscious awareness.

Research chemicals and designer drugs[edit]

Main article: Designer drug
Main article: 2C (psychedelics)
Main article: DOx
Main article: NBOMe
A designer drug is a structural or functional analog of a controlled substance that has been designed to mimic the pharmacological effects of the original drug while at the same time avoid being classified as illegal (by specification as a research chemical) and/or avoid detection in standard drug tests.[6] Many designer drugs and research chemicals are hallucinogenic in nature, such as those in the 2C and NBOMe families.


Main article: Dissociative
Dissociatives produce analgesia, amnesia and catalepsy at anesthetic doses.[7] They also produce a sense of detachment from the surrounding environment, hence "the state has been designated as dissociative anesthesia since the patient truly seems disassociated from his environment."[8] Dissociative symptoms include the disruption or compartmentalization of "...the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity or perception."[9]p. 523 Dissociation of sensory input can cause derealization, the perception of the outside world as being dream-like or unreal. Other dissociative experiences include depersonalization, which includes feeling detached from one's body; feeling unreal; feeling able to observe one's actions but not actively take control; being unable to recognize one's self in the mirror while maintaining rational awareness that the image in the mirror is the same person.[10][11][12] Simeon (2004) offered "...common descriptions of depersonalisation experiences: watching oneself from a distance (similar to watching a movie); candid out-of-body experiences; a sense of just going through the motions; one part of the self acting/participating while the other part is observing;...."[13]
The primary dissociatives achieve their effect through blocking the signals received by the NMDA receptor set (NMDA receptor antagonism) and include ketamine, methoxetamine (MXE), phencyclidine (PCP), dextromethorphan (DXM), and nitrous oxide.[14][15][16] However, dissociation is also remarkably administered by salvinorin A's (the active constituent in Salvia divinorum shown to the left) potent κ-opioid receptor agonism.[17]
Some dissociatives can have CNS depressant effects, thereby carrying similar risks as opioids, which can slow breathing or heart rate to levels resulting in death (when using very high doses). DXM in higher doses can increase heart rate and blood pressure and still depress respiration. Inversely, PCP can have more unpredictable effects and has often been classified as a stimulant and a depressant in some texts along with being as a dissociative. While many have reported that they "feel no pain" while under the effects of PCP, DXM and Ketamine, this does not fall under the usual classification of anesthetics in recreational doses (anesthetic doses of DXM may be dangerous). Rather, true to their name, they process pain as a kind of "far away" sensation; pain, although present, becomes a disembodied experience and there is much less emotion associated with it. As for probably the most common dissociative, nitrous oxide, the principal risk seems to be due to oxygen deprivation. Injury from falling is also a danger, as nitrous oxide may cause sudden loss of consciousness, an effect of oxygen deprivation. Because of the high level of physical activity and relative imperviousness to pain induced by PCP, some deaths have been reported due to the release of myoglobin from ruptured muscle cells. High amounts of myoglobin can induce renal shutdown.[18]
Many users of dissociatives have been concerned about the possibility of NMDA antagonist neurotoxicity (NAN). This concern is partly due to William E. White, the author of the DXM FAQ, who claimed that dissociatives definitely cause brain damage.[19] The argument was criticized on the basis of lack of evidence[20] and White retracted his claim.[21] White's claims and the ensuing criticism surrounded original research by John Olney.
In 1989, John Olney discovered that neuronal vacuolation and other cytotoxic changes ("lesions") occurred in brains of rats administered NMDA antagonists, including PCP and ketamine.[22] Repeated doses of NMDA antagonists led to cellular tolerance and hence continuous exposure to NMDA antagonists did not lead to cumulative neurotoxic effects. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, barbiturates and even diazepam have been found to prevent NAN.[23] LSD and DOB have also been found to prevent NAN.[24]


Main article: Deliriant
Deliriants, as their name implies, induce a state of delirium in the user, characterized by extreme confusion and an inability to control one's actions. They are called deliriants because their subjective effects are similar to the experiences of people with delirious fevers.
Included in this group are such plants as Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade), Brugmansia species (Angel's Trumpet), Datura stramonium (Jimson weed), Hyoscyamus niger (henbane), Mandragora officinarum (mandrake), and Myristica fragrans (nutmeg), as well as a number of pharmaceutical drugs, when taken in very high doses, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and its close relative dimenhydrinate (Dramamine). Uncured tobacco is also a deliriant due to its intoxicatingly high levels of nicotine.[25]
In addition to the dangers of being far more distracted from or unable to distinguish reality than with other drugs and retaining a truly fragmented dissociation from regular consciousness without being immobilized, the anticholinergics are toxic, carry the risk of death by overdose, and also include a number of uncomfortable side effects. These side effects usually include dehydration and mydriasis (dilation of the pupils).
Most modern-day psychonauts who use deliriants report similar or identical hallucinations and challenges. For example, diphenhydramine, as well as dimenhydrinate, when taken in a high enough dosage, often are reported to evoke vivid, dark, and entity-like hallucinations, peripheral disturbances, feelings of being alone but simultaneously of being watched, and hallucinations of real things ceasing to exist. Deliriants also may cause confusion or even rage, and thus have been used by ancient peoples as a stimulant before going into battle.[26]

History of use[edit]

Psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants have a long history of use within medicinal and religious traditions around the world including shamanic forms of ritual healing and divination, initiation rites, and rituals of syncretistic movements such as União do Vegetal, Santo Daime, and the Native American Church.
In the context of religious practice, psychedelic drug use, as well as other substances such as tobacco (hypnotic), are referred to as entheogens. In some places peyote is classified as 'sacrament' for part of religious ceremonies, and is legally condoned for such use.
Hallucinogenic substances are among the oldest drugs used by human kind, as hallucinogenic substances naturally occur in mushrooms, cacti and a variety of other plants. Numerous cultures worldwide have endorsed the use of hallucinogens in medicine, religion and recreation, to varying extents, while some cultures have regulated or outright prohibited their use. In most developed countries today, the possession of many hallucinogens, even those found commonly in nature, is considered a crime punishable by fines, imprisonment or even death. In some countries, such as the United States and the Netherlands, partial deference may be granted to traditional religious use by members of indigenous ethnic minorities such as the Native American Church and the Santo Daime Church. Recently the União do Vegetal, a Christian-based religious sect whose composition is not primarily ethnicity-based, won a United States Supreme Court decision authorizing its use of ayahuasca. However, in Brazil, ayahuasca use in a religious context has been legal since 1987. In fact, it is a common belief among members of the União do Vegetal that ayahuasca presents no risk for adolescents within the church, as long as they take it within a religious context.[27]

Traditional religious and shamanic use[edit]

Main article: Entheogen
Historically, hallucinogens have been commonly used in religious or shamanic rituals. In this context they are referred to as entheogens, and they are used to facilitate healing, divination, communication with spirits, and coming-of-age ceremonies. Evidence exists for the use of entheogens in prehistoric times, as well as in numerous ancient cultures, including the Rus', Ancient Egyptian, Mycenaean, Ancient Greek, Vedic, Maya, Inca and Aztec cultures. The Upper Amazon is home to the strongest extant entheogenic tradition; the Urarina of Peruvian Amazonia, for instance, continue to practice an elaborate system of Ayahuasca shamanism, coupled with an animistic belief system.[28]
Shamans consume hallucinogenic substances in order to induce a trance. Once in this trance, shamans believe that they are able to communicate with the spirit world, and can see what is causing their patients' illness. The Aguaruna of Peru believe that many illnesses are caused by the darts of sorcerers. Under the influence of yaji, a hallucinogenic drink, Aguaruna shamans try to discover and remove the darts from their patients.[29]

Early scientific investigations[edit]

Although natural hallucinogenic drugs have been known to mankind for millennia, it was not until the early 20th century that they received extensive attention from Western science. Earlier beginnings include scientific studies of nitrous oxide in the late 18th century, and initial studies of the constituents of the peyote cactus in the late 19th century. Starting in 1927 with Kurt Beringer's Der Meskalinrausch (The Mescaline Intoxication), more intensive effort began to be focused on studies of psychoactive plants. Around the same time, Louis Lewin published his extensive survey of psychoactive plants, Phantastica (1928). Important developments in the years that followed included the re-discovery of Mexican psilocybin mushrooms (in 1936 by Robert J. Weitlaner) and Christmas vine (in 1939 by Richard Evans Schultes). Arguably the most important pre-World War II development was by Albert Hofmann's 1938 discovery of the semi-synthetic drug LSD, which was later discovered to produce hallucinogenic effects in 1943.

Hallucinogens after World War II[edit]

After World War II there was an explosion of interest in hallucinogenic drugs in psychiatry, owing mainly to the invention of LSD. Interest in the drugs tended to focus on either the potential for psychotherapeutic applications of the drugs (see psychedelic psychotherapy), or on the use of hallucinogens to produce a "controlled psychosis", in order to understand psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. By 1951, more than 100 articles on LSD had appeared in medical journals, and by 1961, the number had increased to more than 1000 articles.[30] Hallucinogens were also researched in several countries for their potential as agents of chemical warfare. Most famously, several incidents associated with the CIA's MK-ULTRA mind control research project have been the topic of media attention and lawsuits.
At the beginning of the 1950s, the existence of hallucinogenic drugs was virtually unknown to the general public in the West. However this soon changed as several influential figures were introduced to the hallucinogenic experience. Aldous Huxley's 1953 essay The Doors of Perception, describing his experiences with mescaline, and R. Gordon Wasson's 1957 Life magazine article (Seeking the Magic Mushroom) brought the topic into the public limelight. In the early 1960s, counterculture icons such as Jerry Garcia, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Ken Kesey advocated the drugs for their psychedelic effects, and a large subculture of psychedelic drug users was spawned. Psychedelic drugs played a major role in catalyzing the vast social changes initiated in the 1960s.[31][32] As a result of the growing popularity of LSD and disdain for the hippies with whom it was heavily associated, LSD was banned in the United States in 1967.[33] This greatly reduced the clinical research about LSD, although limited experiments continued to take place, such as those conducted by Reese Jones in San Francisco.[34]
As early as the 1960s, research into the medicinal properties of LSD was being conducted. It has been found that LSD is a fairly effective treatment for mental disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). "Savage et al. (1962) provided the earliest report of efficacy for a hallucinogen in OCD, where after two doses of LSD, a patient who suffered from depression and violent obsessive sexual thoughts experienced dramatic and permanent improvement (Nichols 2004: 164)." LSD, along with other hallucinogens, possesses a considerable amount of medicinal properties, which is why further research on the medical uses of hallucinogens is paramount.[35]
Starting in the mid-20th century, psychedelic drugs have been the object of extensive attention in the Western world. They have been and are being explored as potential therapeutic agents in treating depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, alcoholism,[36] drug addiction,[37][38][39] cluster headaches, and other ailments. Early military research focused on their use as incapacitating agents. Intelligence agencies tested these drugs in the hope that they would provide an effective means of interrogation, with little success.
Yet the most popular, and at the same time most stigmatized, use of psychedelics in Western culture has been associated with the search for direct religious experience, enhanced creativity, personal development, and "mind expansion". The use of psychedelic drugs was a major element of the 1960s counterculture, where it became associated with various social movements and a general atmosphere of rebellion and strife between generations.
Despite prohibition, the recreational, spiritual, and medical use of psychedelics continues today. Organizations, such as MAPS and the Heffter Research Institute, have arisen to foster research into their safety and efficacy, while advocacy groups such as the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics push for their legalization. In addition to this activity by proponents, hallucinogens are also widely used in basic science research to understand the mind and brain. However, ever since hallucinogenic experimentation was discontinued in the late 1960s, research into the therapeutic applications of such drugs have been almost nonexistent, that is until this last decade where research has finally been allowed to resume.

Legal status and attitudes[edit]

In Canada, mescaline is listed as prohibited under schedule III of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Acts, but peyote is specifically exempt and legally available in Canada.
As of 2008, most well-known hallucinogens (aside from dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine and dimenhydrinate) are illegal in most Western countries. In the United States hallucinogens are classified as a schedule 1 drug. The 3-pronged test for schedule 1 drugs is as follows: the drug has no currently accepted medical use, there is a lack of safety for the use of the drug under medical supervision, and the substance has a high potential for abuse.[40] One notable exception to the current criminalization trend is in parts of Western Europe, especially in the Netherlands, where cannabis is considered to be a "soft drug". Previously included were hallucinogenic mushrooms, but as of October 2007 the Netherlands officials have moved to ban their sale following several widely publicized incidents involving tourists.[41] While the possession of soft drugs is technically illegal, the Dutch government has decided that using law enforcement to combat their use is largely a waste of resources. As a result, public "coffeeshops" in the Netherlands openly sell cannabis for personal use, and "smart shops" sell drugs like Salvia divinorum, and until the ban of psilocybin mushrooms took effect, they were still available for purchase in smartshops as well. (See Drug policy of the Netherlands).
Despite being scheduled as a controlled substance in the mid-1980s, MDMA's popularity has been growing since that time in western Europe and in the United States.
Attitudes towards hallucinogens other than cannabis have been slower to change. Several attempts to change the law on the grounds of freedom of religion have been made. Some of these have been successful, for example the Native American Church in the United States, and Santo Daime in Brazil. Some people argue that a religious setting should not be necessary for the legitimacy of hallucinogenic drug use, and for this reason also criticize the euphemistic use of the term "entheogen". Non-religious reasons for the use of hallucinogens including spiritual, introspective, psychotherapeutic, recreational and even hedonistic motives, each subject to some degree of social disapproval, have all been defended as the legitimate exercising of civil liberties and freedom of thought.
Several medical and scientific experts, including the late Albert Hofmann, advocate the drugs should not be banned, but should be strongly regulated and warn they can be dangerous without proper psychological supervision.[42]

Psychedelics and mental illnesses in long-term users[edit]

Most psychedelics are not known to have long-term physical toxicity. However, entactogens such as MDMA that release neurotransmitters may stimulate increased formation of free radicals possibly formed from neurotransmitters released from the synaptic vesicle.[citation needed] Free radicals are associated with cell damage in other contexts, and have been suggested to be involved in many types of mental conditions including Parkinson's disease, senility, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's. Research on this question has not reached a firm conclusion. The same concerns do not apply to psychedelics that do not release neurotransmitters, such as LSD, nor to dissociatives or deliriants.
No clear connection has been made between psychedelic drugs and organic brain damage. However, hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is a diagnosed condition wherein certain visual effects of drugs persist for a long time, sometimes permanently, although science and medicine have yet to determine what causes the condition.

How hallucinogens affect the brain[edit]

Main article: Long-term potentiation
LSD, mescalin, psilocybin, and PCP are drugs that cause hallucinations, which can alter a person’s perception of reality. LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin cause their effects by initially disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin.[43] It is distributed throughout the brain and spinal cord, where the serotonin system is involved with controlling of the behavioral, perceptual, and regulatory systems. This also includes mood, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, muscle control, and sensory perception. Certain hallucinogens, such as PCP, act through a glutamate receptor in the brain which is important for perception of pain, responses to the environment, and learning and memory. Thus far, there have been no properly controlled research studies on the specific effects of these drugs on the human brain, but smaller studies have shown some of the documented effects associated with the use of hallucinogens.[43]

Naming and taxonomy[edit]

Psychedelic nomenclature[edit]

The class of drugs described in this article has been described by a profusion of names, most of which are associated with a particular theory of their nature.
Louis Lewin started out in 1928 by using the word phantastica as the title of his ground-breaking monograph about plants that, in his words, "bring about evident cerebral excitation in the form of hallucinations, illusions and visions [...] followed by unconsciousness or other symptoms of altered cerebral functioning". But no sooner had the term been invented, or Lewin complained that the word "does not cover all that I should wish it to convey", and indeed with the proliferation of research following the discovery of LSD came numerous attempts to improve on it, such as hallucinogen, phanerothyme, psychedelic, psychotomimetic, psychogenic, schizophrenogenic, cataleptogenic, mysticomimetic, psychodysleptic, and entheogenic.
The word psychotomimetic, meaning "mimicking psychosis", reflects the hypothesis of early researchers that the effects of psychedelic drugs are similar to naturally-occurring symptoms of schizophrenia, though it has since been discovered that some psychedelics resemble endogenous psychoses better than others. PCP and ketamine are known to better resemble endogenous psychoses because they reproduce both positive and negative symptoms of psychoses, while psilocybin and related hallucinogens typically produce effects resembling only the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.[44] While the serotonergic psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, etc.) do produce subjective effects distinct from NMDA antagonist dissociatives (PCP, ketamine, dextrorphan), there is obvious overlap in the mental processes that these drugs affect and research has discovered that there is overlap in the mechanisms by which both types of psychedelics mimic psychotic symptoms.[45][46][47] One double-blind study examining the differences between DMT and ketamine hypothesized that classically psychedelic drugs most resemble paranoid schizophrenia while dissociative drugs best mimicked catatonic subtypes or otherwise undifferentiated schizophrenia.[48] The researchers expressed the view that "a heterogeneous disorder like schizophrenia is unlikely to be modeled accurately by a single pharmacological agent."
The word psychedelic was coined by Humphrey Osmond and has the rather mysterious but at least somewhat value-neutral meaning of "mind manifesting". The word entheogen, on the other hand, which is often used to describe the religious and ritual use of psychedelic drugs in anthropological studies, is associated with the idea that it could be relevant to religion. The words entactogen, empathogen, dissociative and deliriant, at last, have all been coined to refer to classes of drugs similar to the classical psychedelics that seemed deserving of a name of their own.
Many different names have been proposed over the years for this drug class. The famous German toxicologist Louis Lewin used the name phantastica earlier in this century, and as we shall see later, such a descriptor is not so farfetched. The most popular names—hallucinogen, psychotomimetic, and psychedelic ("mind manifesting")—have often been used interchangeably. Hallucinogen is now, however, the most common designation in the scientific literature, although it is an inaccurate descriptor of the actual effects of these drugs. In the lay press, the term psychedelic is still the most popular and has held sway for nearly four decades. Most recently, there has been a movement in nonscientific circles to recognize the ability of these substances to provoke mystical experiences and evoke feelings of spiritual significance. Thus, the term entheogen, derived from the Greek word entheos, which means "god within", was introduced by Ruck et al. and has seen increasing use. This term suggests that these substances reveal or allow a connection to the "divine within". Although it seems unlikely that this name will ever be accepted in formal scientific circles, its use has dramatically increased in the popular media and on internet sites. Indeed, in much of the counterculture that uses these substances, entheogen has replaced psychedelic as the name of choice and we may expect to see this trend continue.[2]


Hallucinogens can be classified by their subjective effects, mechanisms of action, and chemical structure. These classifications often correlate to some extent. In this article, they are classified as psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants, preferably entirely to the exclusion of the inaccurate word hallucinogen, but the reader is well advised to consider that this particular classification is not universally accepted. The taxonomy used here attempts to blend these three approaches in order to provide as clear and accessible an overview as possible.
Almost all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are therefore classified as alkaloids. THC and salvinorin A are exceptions. Many hallucinogens have chemical structures similar to those of human neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, and temporarily modify the action of neurotransmitters and/or receptor sites.

Lewin's classes[edit]

A classical classification, mainly of historical interest, is that of Lewin (Phantastica, 1928):
Class I Phantastica roughly correspond to the psychedelics, which is a more modern term usually used as synonym to "hallucinogen" by people with positive attitudes towards them. Here the term is used a bit differently to discriminate one particular class of hallucinogens which it seems to describe best. They typically have no sedative effects (sometimes the opposite) and there is usually a clearcut memory to their effects. These drugs have also been referred to as the "classical" hallucinogens.
Class II Phantastica correspond to the other classes in our scheme. They tend to sedate in addition to their hallucinogenic properties and there often is an impaired memory trace after the effects wear off.

Pharmacological classes of hallucinogens[edit]

One possible way of classifying the hallucinogens is by their chemical structure and that of the receptors they act on. In this vein, the following categories are often used:
Problems with structure-based frameworks is that the same structural motif can include a wide variety of drugs which have substantially different effects. For example, both methamphetamine and MDMA are substituted amphetamines, but methamphetamine has a much stronger stimulant action than MDMA, with none of the latter's empathogenic effects. Also, drugs commonly act on more than one receptor; DXM, for instance, is primarily dissociative in high doses, but also acts as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, similar to many phenethylamines and in fact, the phenethylamine moiety is embedded in the structure of DXM. LSD also contains both the indole backbone and the phenethylamine moiety.[citation needed]
Even so, in many cases structure-based frameworks are still very useful, and the identification of a biologically active pharmacophore and synthesis of analogues of known active substances remains an integral part of modern medicinal chemistry.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

The literature about psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants is vast. The following books provide accessible and up-to-date introductions to this literature:
  • Ann & Alexander Shulgin: PIHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved), a Chemical Love Story
  • Ann & Alexander Shulgin: TIHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved), the Continuation
  • Charles S. Grob, ed.: Hallucinogens, a reader
  • Winkelman, Michael J., and Thomas B. Roberts (editors) (2007).Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogens as Treatments 2 Volumes. Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood.

External links[edit]

  • Erowid is a web site dedicated entirely to providing information about psychoactive drugs, with an impressive collection of trip reports, materials collected from the web and usenet, and a bibliography of scientific literature
  • Evidence: Academic resources on hallucinogens- and MDMA research, relapse prevention and harm reduction.
  • The Shroomery has detailed information about magic mushrooms including identification, cultivation and spores, psychedelic images, trip reports and an active community.
  • Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is a nonprofit research and educational organization which carries out clinical trials and other research in order to assess the potential medicinal uses of psychedelic drugs and develop them into medicines.
  • Trips Beyond Addiction | Living Hero Radio Show and Podcast special. With Dimitri Mobengo Mugianis, Bovenga Na Muduma, Clare S. Wilkins, Brad Burge, Tom Kingsley Brown, Susan Thesenga, Bruce K. Alexander, PhD ~ the voices of ex-addicts, researchers from The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and Ibogaine/Iboga/Ayahuasca treatment providers sharing their experiences in breaking addiction with native medicines. Jan 2013