Blogs | Should We Be Concerned About the Rise in People Tripping Alone?
Sam Woolfe asks why the phenomenon of tripping alone appears to be increasing, and whether...
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Chemical Collective or any associated parties.
In 2020, Petter Johnstad conducted an interview study with users of psychedelics about telepathic experiences they had, had while under the influence of psychedelics. Telepathy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “communication from one mind to another by extrasensory means.” In the study, 2 of the initial 26 participants recruited for its first phase, which consisted of psychedelics users who partook in “spiritual contexts,” claimed to have had telepathic experiences. So, 1 out of 13 psychedelics users in spiritual contexts said that they experienced telepathy. However, it is not only psychonauts making these claims. Further investigation is required to give us a better idea of how many claim to be affected.
Firstly, to illustrate how common this phenomenon is, here are two recent Reddit posts about users’ experience of psychedelic telepathy (included with their permission):
I did not attempt to verify the veracity of the claims made here, so everything hereon must be considered through a skeptical lens. As John C. Lilly writes in The Center of the Cyclone, “My own skepticism is intact – please keep yours. Skepticism is a necessary instrument in the exploration of the unknown.”
If we wish to be skeptical, we must be aware that telepathy has not been proven scientifically, and there has been a long history of research which disproves it, which is damaging to its credibility.
“After reviewing a large body of research in this area [ESP] for the National Research Council, a scientific committee concluded that ‘despite a 130-year record of scientific research on such matters our committee could find no scientific justification for the existence of phenomena such as extrasensory perception, mental telepathy, or “mind over matter” exercises…’” – Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life by Frank Boardman, Nancy M. Cavender, and Howard Kahane
Despite this, psychedelics users are definitely experiencing something that they interpret as telepathy.
Assessing the truth of these claims is tough. We would have to conduct systematic experiments to do so accurately. According to Johnstad, not everybody can replicate their ability to perform telepathy under the influence of psychedelics. Additionally, the experimental environment any studies would be conducted in could impact the users and their presumed ability to perform telepathy, especially considering that the psychedelic experience places users in a particularly vulnerable state.
The vulnerability of the psychedelic state further makes self-testing a problem. One of the many things that can go wrong is the unconscious reading of body language. To illustrate this, there is a story from 1891 about a horse called Clever Hans. Hans was touted to be able to do math and spell, among other things, but it was discovered that Hans would react to subtle cues his handler was unintentionally giving. Many telepathic charlatans also use subtle cues to “read minds.”
What we can definitively say about the two posts above is that they show examples of what psychedelics users are reporting. Less definitively, these two examples of telepathy being reported could be potentially be considered as anecdotal evidence. What makes the second post especially intriguing is that it not only references telepathic communication of thoughts but also accessing the energies of others. When accessing the energies of others, the poster says that “bodily sensation” and “temperature changes” occur. Johnstad’s study does not talk about energies per se, but it does distinguish between three types of telepathy that psychedelics users say they experience.
What Johnstad’s three types of telepathy, along with the second poster’s claimed ability to tap into others’ energies, potentiall suggest is that:
Psychedelics make you more conscious.
An even more controversial thought could be that instead of merely making you more conscious, they:
Allow you to access higher levels of consciousness and become one with it.
If you follow this highly speculative train of thought you could assert that, when humans come together individual consciousnesses merge, thus promoting awareness of one another’s thoughts, feelings, and energies.
Johnstad explores a variant of this idea, referencing Aldous Huxley and Henri Bergson. In The Doors of Perception, Huxley references Bergson’s idea that:
There is a filter that limits the amount of information we perceive.
Using this model, psychedelics would work by turning off or dampening the filter and allowing information to flow into the individual unimpeded.
“The suggestion is that the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive. Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and the nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge…” – Dr C. D. Broad quoted by Aldous Huxley in The Doors of Perception
According to Johnstad, there are at least three ways you may be able to increase the possibility of experiencing psychedelic telepathy.
The first way is to simply take “strong” doses of psychedelics. What a “strong” dose is will depend very much on your body weight and experience with a particular substance.
DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS IF YOU ARE INEXPERIENCED
You should always start with a low dose and work your way up. Stories about people who take doses that are too high, thinking they can handle it are far more common than reports of telepathy.
“Of 20 reports that mentioned which drug was taken, 15 involved LSD as the main psychedelic drug, while two involved psilocybin, two 3,4-Methyl enedioxy methamphetamine (MDMA), and one d-lysergic acid amide (LSA). Doses were generally described as strong, although we should note that it is difficult to ascertain the amount of LSD in a blotter without access to a chemical lab. Nevertheless, about 300 mcg of LSD seemed to be a median dose for telepathic experiences, with a reported range from 100 mcg to 8 blotters.” – Petter Johnstad, Psychedelic Telepathy: An Interview Study
The second way to increase the possibility of telepathy is to do psychedelics with someone you are close with. I like to think that the telepathic connection, should it exist, may be similar to two entangled particles. When two particles are in sync via entanglement, they will have the same state, even across great distances. In other words, when you share a deep connection with someone (or are in sync with them), your thoughts can travel great distances to affect one another.
Johnstad’s study suggests that deep connections with others may only require a one way bridge to get the telepathy flowing. For instance, his study references “three narratives that involved unrequited homosexual love.” Perhaps in these cases the pairs were close as friends, but the romantic love that one of them had for the other is what set off the telepathy. My bet would be that any type of love, friendly or romantic, would set off the telepathy, if it is indeed a trigger, but romantic love is often stronger and could hypothetically lead to more instances of telepathy.
“Future telepathy researchers seem well advised to study the role of romantic or erotic desire in establishing a telepathic connection.” – Petter Johnstad, Psychedelic Telepathy: An Interview Study
Look into the person’s eyes with whom you wish to telepathically communicate.
This suggestion from Johnstad’s study rang a bell for me. I had recently been reading a book about alien encounters, and I have been practicing telepathy without drugs with my partner, when it dawned on me that many abductees experience telepathy and loss of control when the aliens look into their eyes. Whether these stories are true or not, this similarity between alien and psychedelic telepathy stories is intriguing. Needless to say, it is now on our to-do list to practice telepathy as we stare into each other’s eyes.
“On a somewhat more practical level, others recommended that trippers hoping for a telepathic experience should look deeply into one another’s eyes, which they claimed serve as a gateway into other people’s consciousness” – Petter Johnstad, Psychedelic Telepathy: An Interview Study
Telepathy might sound fun, but Johnstad provides us with a word of caution.
In ordinary life, we have barriers between each other, and our thoughts are private.
For people who experience telepathy and are not close to those they experience it with, the resulting loss of privacy can expose truths about themselves that they may not have been ready to share. This may be the case for people who are very close to one another as well. Homosexual feelings are one such truth that some people feel the need to keep private due to possible social ramifications.
Consider another concern. One person who was interviewed complained about being telepathically pressured to have sex. Being telepathically linked, there seemed to be no way to escape the pressure that night. This concern is different from the epistemic concern above. The concern is no longer about secrets being found out but about people behaving improperly with their newly found closeness.
What can you do to avoid these negative scenarios? Make sure you follow the rule of set and setting. This rule specifies that we must be aware of our self and our environment, prior to going into a trip.
“The specific reaction has little to do with the chemical and is chiefly a function of set and setting; preparation and environment. The better the preparation, the more ecstatic and revelatory the session. In initial sessions and with unprepared persons, setting – particularly the actions of others – is more important. With persons who have prepared thoughtfully and seriously, the setting is less important.” – The Psychedelic Experience
The Psychedelic Alien | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective
The Psychedelic Alien is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to Matt via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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