Psychological effects - PsychonautWiki

Psychological effects

Psychological effects are defined as any cognitive effect that is either established within the psychological literature or arises as a result of the complex interplay between other more simplistic components such as cognitive enhancements, intensifications, and suppressions.

This page lists and describes the various psychological effects which can occur under the influence of certain psychoactive compounds.


Main article: Catharsis

Catharsis (from the Greek katharsis) is precisely defined as a cleansing, with no substantial consensus in regards to its exact meaning.[1] Generally, this effect is a form of emotional insight.[2][3][4][5][6] The process typically starts off being difficult to fully face and is sometimes accompanied by physically intense sensations which typically lead into pronounced emotion intensification, deep introspection, and an analysis of one's character and past events.[7] During this experience many people describe reliving traumatic events, witnessing painful memories, having enhanced mental imagery, reliving of past experiences, painful feelings in general, and a release of previously repressed emotions.[4][6][7] This process of integrating manifestations of conflicts and traumas into long-term stable memories is often described as feeling very natural.

This effect can be helpful in aiding an individual overcome conditions such as addiction,[4][8] post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other personal afflictions relating to suffered past traumas.[9] After this experience is over, most users report feelings of increased life satisfaction, rejuvenation, and spirituality intensification which may last days, weeks, or even years after the event is over.[6][10]

Catharsis is most commonly induced in therapeutic settings under the influence of moderate dosages of psychedelic compounds, such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline.[9][11][12][13][14][15] However, it can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of entactogens, dissociatives,[9][13][14] and meditation.


Main article: Delusions

A delusion is a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly held despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture (i.e., it is not an article of religious faith). When a false belief involves a value judgement, it is regarded as a delusion only when the judgement is so extreme as to defy credibility. Delusional conviction can sometimes be inferred from an overvalued idea (in which case the individual has an unreasonable belief or idea but does not hold it as firmly as is the case with a delusion).[16][17][18]

This article focuses primarily on the types of delusion that are commonly induced by hallucinogens or other psychoactive substances, as opposed to the various categories that are listed within the DSM as occurring within people who suffer from psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. Although there are common themes between these two causes of delusion, the underlying circumstances are distinct enough that they are seemingly very different in their themes, behaviour, and frequency of occurrence.

Within the context of psychoactive substance usage, delusions can usually be broken out of when overwhelming evidence is provided to the contrary or when the person has sobered up enough to logically analyse the situation. It is exceedingly rare for hallucinogen induced delusions to persist into sobriety.

It is also worth noting that delusions can often spread between individuals in group settings.[19] For example, if one person makes a verbal statement regarding a delusional belief they are currently holding while in the presence of other similarly intoxicated people, these other people may also begin to hold the same delusion. This can result in shared hallucinations and a general reinforcement of the level of conviction in which they are each holding the delusional belief.

Delusions are most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics, deliriants, and dissociatives. However, they can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of cannabinoids, stimulant psychosis, and sleep deprivation. They are most likely to occur during states of memory suppression and share common themes and elements with clinical schizophrenia.


Main article: Depersonalization

Depersonalization or depersonalisation (sometimes abbreviated as DP) is medically recognized as the experience of feeling detached from, and as if one is an outside observer of, one's thoughts, body, or actions.[16][20][1][6] During this state, the affected person may feel like they are "on autopilot" and that the world is lacking in significance.[6][21] Individuals who experience depersonalization feel detached from aspects of the self, including feelings (e.g., "I know I have feelings but I don't feel them"),[4] thoughts (e.g., "My thoughts don't feel like my own")[9], and sensations (e.g., touch, hunger, thirst, libido).[1][22][13] This can be distressing to the user, who may become disoriented by the loss of a sense that their self is the origin of their thoughts and actions.

It is perfectly normal for people to slip into this state temporarily,[23] often without even realizing it. For example, many people often note that they enter a detached state of autopilot during stressful situations or when performing monotonous routine tasks such as driving.

It is worth noting that this state of mind is also commonly associated with and occurs alongside derealization. While depersonalization is the subjective experience of unreality in one's sense of self, derealization is the perception of unreality in the outside world.[20][1][21][22][13]

Depersonalization is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as anxiety,[1][4] depression,[4] time distortion,[9] and derealization.[22][14] It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of dissociative compounds, such as ketamine,[23] PCP,[24][25] and DXM. However, it can also occur under the influence of cannabis,[23][14][26] psychedelics,[23] and to a lesser extent during the withdrawal symptoms of depressants[27][28] and SSRI's[23].


Main article: Derealization
An artistic replication of what it feels like to experience watching the world through a screen.

Derealization or derealisation (sometimes abbreviated as DR) is medically recognized as the experience of feeling detached from, and as if one is an outside observer of, one's surroundings.[16][20] This effect is characterized by the individual feeling as if they are in a fog, dream, bubble, or something watched through a screen,[29] like a film or video game.[22] These feelings instill the person with a sensation of alienation and distance from those around them.

Derealization can be distressing to the user, who may become disoriented by the loss of the innate sense that their external environment is genuinely real. The loss of the sense that the external world is real can make it feel inherently artificial and lifeless.[22]

This state of mind is commonly associated with and often coincides with depersonalization. While derealization is a perception of the unreality of the outside world, depersonalization is a subjective experience of unreality in one's sense of self.

Derealization is often accompanied by various perceptual distortions such as visual acuity suppression, visual acuity enhancement, and perspective distortions.[22] Other coinciding effects include auditory distortions and depersonalization.[29][22] This effect is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of dissociative compounds, such as ketamine, PCP, and DXM. However, it can also occur to a lesser extent during the withdrawal symptoms of stimulants and depressants.


Main article: Depression

Depression medically encompasses a variety of different mood disorders whose common features are a sad, empty, or irritable mood accompanied by bodily and cognitive changes that significantly affect an individual's ability to function.[30][31] These different mood disorders have different durations, timing, or presumed origin. Differentiating normal sadness/grief from a depressive episode requires a careful and meticulous examination. For example: the death of a loved one may cause great suffering, but it does not typically produce a medically defined depressive episode.[30]

Within the context of psychoactive substance usage, depressivity is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as anxiety, irritability and dysphoria. It is most commonly induced through prolonged chronic stimulant or depressant use, during the withdrawal symptoms of almost any substance, or during the comedown/crash of a stimulant. It is associated specifically with higher alcohol consumption.[32] However, it is worth noting that substance-induced depressivity is often much shorter lasting than clinical depression, usually subsiding once the effects or withdrawal symptoms of a drug have ended.

If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it is highly recommended to seek out therapeutic medical attention and/or a support group. Additionally, you may want to read the depression reduction effect.

Depression as an effect has an unfortunate non-specific definition. There are a number of other relevant terms which should be taken into account when trying to understand this state of mind. These are listed and described.

Depression reduction

Main article: Depression reduction

Depression reduction is the experience of minimizing the symptoms associated with depression and low mood states. It is distinct from effects such as cognitive euphoria, as it does not simply elevate the user's mood but instead results in a sense of stable emotional well-being.

Depression reduction most commonly occurs with adequate nutritional intake.[33][34][35][36][37] Severe depression is effectively reduced with conventional antidepressants; although in mild to moderate depression, SSRI's and tricyclic antidepressants appear (on average) to be either only minimally helpful or completely ineffective.[38] However, depression reduction can also occur under the influence of hormone replacement therapies[39][40] and modafinil.[41]


Euthymia (semantically the opposite of dysthymia) is a long-lasting and self-sustaining experience of stable emotional well-being.[42] This state is characterized by:

  • A lack disordered mood in patients with prior clinically diagnosed mood disorders; if sadness/anxiety/irritability are experienced they are short-lived and do not significantly impact everyday life.
  • Feeling cheerful, calm, active, and interested in things.
  • Possessing cognitive flexibility.
  • Sleep is refreshing or restorative.
  • A unifying outlook on life which guides actions and feelings to shape the future.
  • Being resistant to stress (resilience and anxiety or frustration tolerance).

This is unlikely to be an isolated effect component but rather the result of combining an appropriate environment with other coinciding effects such as rejuvenation, introspection, personal bias suppression, and spirituality intensification. It may also stem from the direct neurological changes that occur as a result of a substances’ pharmacological action.

Euthymia most commonly occurs at varying levels of efficacy under the influence of a range of different substances, primarily psychedelics in combination with psychotherapy,[43][44] or dissociatives.[45] However, it can also occur throughout the course of prescribed psychiatric medications and under the influence of certain entactogens.

Ego replacement

Main article: Ego replacement

Ego replacement is defined as the sudden perception that one's sense of self and personality has been replaced with that of another person's, a fictional character's, an animal's, or an inanimate object's perspective. This can manifest in a number of ways which include but are not limited to feeling is one has literally become another human, animal, or alien consciousness. During this state, the person will be unlikely to realize that their personality has been temporarily swapped with another's and will usually not remember their previous life.

Ego replacement is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as delusions, psychosis, and memory suppression. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of heavy dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants.

Feelings of impending doom

Feelings of impending doom are defined as the sudden sensations of overwhelming fear and urgency based on the belief that a negative event is about to occur in the immediate future. Negative events typically include some kind of medical emergency, such as the vasovagal response presenting as fainting during a blood donation;[46] fearing the potential to cause harm to others, being harmed, or dying;[47] or that the world coming to an end. This effect can be the result of real evidence, but may also be based on an unfounded delusion or negative hallucinations. The intensity of these feelings can become overwhelming enough to trigger panic attacks.[48][49]

Feelings of impending doom are often accompanied by vague/paradoxical physical effects[46] and other coinciding effects such as anxiety, panic attacks,[50] and unspeakable horrors. They are most commonly induced under the influence of heavy dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as deliriants like myristicin,[51][52][53][54] psychedelics,[55][56][57][58][59] and dissociatives. However, they can also occur during medical issues, cardiac arrest, mental illness, or interpersonal problems.


Main article: Introspection

Increased introspection is a metacognitive effect defined as the state of mind in which a person feels encouraged to reflect upon and examine their internal psychological processes, judgements, or perceptions.[60][61][62][63][64][65] Questions such as "Why am I feeling so?", "How can I describe it?", "How may I cease/sustain this undesirable/desirable experience?" are examples of introspection.[66] It is important to note that introspection is only an inner observation; verbalizing the contents, especially outloud, is considered an entirely different process.[67]

This state of mind is effective at facilitating therapeutic self-improvement and positive personal growth. Contrary to early psychological assumptions, introspection appears to be an ability that can be honed; humans do not have automatic or unbiased access to experience.[63][64] Increasing introspection often results in insightful resolutions to the present situation, future possibilities, insecurities, and goals coinciding with personal acceptance of insecurities, fears, hopes, struggles, and traumas.

Increased introspection is likely the result of a combination of an appropriate setting in conjunction with other coinciding effects such as analysis enhancement, mindfulness,[63] and personal bias suppression. It is most commonly induced during meditation[64] or under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics[68] and dissociatives.[62][69][70] However, it can also occur in a less consistent form under the influence of entactogens.


Main article: Mania

Mania can be described as a state of abnormally elevated energy levels and general arousal. The typical symptoms of mania are the following: heightened mood (either euphoric or irritable), thought acceleration, a flooding of ideas, extreme talkativeness, increased energy, a decreased need for sleep, and hyperactivity. This state of mind can vary wildly in its intensity, from mild mania (hypomania) to full-on manic psychosis[71]. The accompanying symptoms are most obvious during states of fully developed delirious mania in which the person exhibits increasingly severe manic tendencies that become more and more obscured by other signs and symptoms, such as delusions, psychosis, incoherence, catatonia and extreme disorderly behavior.

Within the context of clinical psychology, standardized tools such as Altman Self-Rating Mania Scale[72] and Young Mania Rating Scale[73] can be used to measure severity of manic episodes. It is worth noting that since mania and hypomania is often associated with creativity and artistic talent, it is not always the case that a clearly manic person needs or wants medical help; such persons often either retain sufficient self-control to function normally or are simply unaware that they are severely manic enough to be committed to a psychiatric ward or to commit themselves.

Although mania is often stereotyped as a “mirror image” of depression, the heightened mood can be either euphoric or irritable. As irritable mania worsens, the irritability often becomes more pronounced and may eventually result in violent behaviour.

Mania is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as ego inflation and stimulation. It commonly occurs under the influence of heavy doses of stimulant (e.g. methamphetamine, cocaine, MDPV, a-PVP) or dissociative (e.g. PCP, dextromethorphan) compounds.


Main article: Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be described as a psychological concept which is well established within the scientific literature and commonly discussed in association with meditation.[74][75]

It is often broken down into two separate subcomponents which comprise this effect: The first of these components involves the self-regulation of attention so that its focus is completely directed towards immediate experience, thereby quietening one's internal narrative and allowing for increased recognition of external and mental events within the present moment.[76][77] The second of these components involves adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment that is characterized by a lack of judgement, curiosity, openness, and acceptance.[78]

Within meditation, this state of mind is deliberately practised and maintained via the conscious and manual redirection of one's awareness towards a singular point of focus for extended periods of time. However, within the context of psychoactive substance usage, this state is often spontaneously induced without any conscious effort or the need of any prior knowledge regarding meditative techniques.

Mindfulness is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as anxiety suppression and focus intensification. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics, dissociatives, and cannabinoids. However, it can also occur on entactogens, certain nootropics such as l-theanine, and during simultaneous doses of benzodiazepines and stimulants.

Panic attacks

Main article: Panic attacks

A panic attack is a discrete episode of sudden onset of intense fear or apprehension.[16][79] During these attacks there are symptoms such as shortness of breath or smothering sensations; palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate; chest pain or discomfort; choking; and fear of going crazy or losing control. Panic attacks may be unexpected, in which the onset of the attack is not associated with an obvious trigger and instead occurs "out of the blue," or expected, in which the panic attack is associated with an obvious trigger, either internal or external.

Panic attacks are usually triggered in moments of severe anxiety, such as that caused by a bad trip. They are so subjectively overwhelming both physically and mentally that the user may believe they are dying, or that some great calamity is imminent, and are commonly mistaken for heart attacks. The subjective sensations can overwhelm rational thought even when the user recognizes that they are having a panic attack, especially in those who have not experienced them before.

Panic attacks are often accompanied by uncomfortable physical symptoms that may further aggravate a person’s anxiety as they may be mistaken for a serious health problem. The strongest mental effect of panic attacks is a crushing sense of impending doom,[16] accompanied by despair, panic, and dread. These usually begin abruptly and may reach their peak within 10 to 20 minutes, but may also continue for hours in extreme cases before subsiding on their own. Although this experience is incredibly stressful it is important to note that it is not physically dangerous or harmful.

The various cognitive and physical symptoms of a panic attack are described and listed below:

  • Hyperventilation - Hyperventilation occurs when one breathes deeper and more rapidly than usual. When hyperventilating, one may feel as though they are struggling to get enough air. As this causes a decrease of carbon dioxide in the blood, it may result in light headedness, a rapid heartbeat, chest pain, or a tingling sensation in a person's limbs.
  • Abnormal heart rate and palpitations - Due to the release of stress hormones, one may experience heart symptoms including missed beats, palpitations, chest pain, and an accelerated heart rate.
  • Tactile suppression - This can be described as a loss of sensation as well as numbness and tingling sensations throughout the body. It may feel as if one's skin or body parts are numb to the touch, and this can occur in a small area or become all-encompassing throughout multiple body parts or the entire body. Numbness most frequently occurs within the hands, legs, arms, feet, and face. This effect is often accompanied by a pins and needle sensation and it generally increases alongside of hyperventilation.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Bodily pressures
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • Derealization
  • Depersonalization
  • Fear of losing control or going insane
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Delusions


Main article: Paranoia

Paranoia is the suspiciousness or the belief that one is being harassed, persecuted, or unfairly treated.[80] These feelings can range from subtle and ignorable to intense and overwhelming enough to trigger panic attacks and feelings of impending doom. Paranoia also frequently leads to excessively secretive and overcautious behavior which stems from the perceived ideation of one or more scenarios, some of which commonly include: fear of surveillance, imprisonment, conspiracies, plots against an individual, betrayal, and being caught. This effect can be the result of real evidence, but is often based on assumption and false pretense.

Paranoia is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as anxiety and delusions. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as cannabinoids,[81] psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. However, it can also occur during the withdrawal symptoms of GABAergic depressants and during stimulant comedowns.

Personality regression

Personality regression is a mental state in which one suddenly adopts an identical or similar personality, thought structure, mannerisms and behaviours to that of their past self from a younger age.[82] During this state, the person will often believe that they are literally a child again and begin outwardly exhibiting behaviours which are consistent to this belief. These behaviours can include talking in a childlike manner, engaging in childish activities, and temporarily requiring another person to act as a caregiver or guardian. There are also anecdotal reports of people speaking in languages which they have not used for many years under the influence of this effect.[83]

Personality regression is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as anxiety, memory suppression, and ego dissolution. It is a relatively rare effect that is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics, most notably Ayahuasca, LSD and Ibogaine in particular as well as certain dissociatives. However, it can also occur for people during times of stress,[82] as a response to childhood trauma, as a symptom of borderline personality disorder,[84] or as a regularly reoccuring facet of certain peoples lives that is not necessarily associated with any psychological problems.


Main article: Psychosis

Psychosis is defined as an abnormal condition of the mind and a general psychiatric term for a mental state in which one experiences a "loss of contact with reality."[85] The features of psychoticism are characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and formal thought disorders exhibiting a wide range of culturally incongruent, odd, eccentric, or unusual behaviors and cognitions, including both process (e.g., perception, dissociation) and content (e.g., beliefs).[86] Depending on its severity, this may also be accompanied by difficulty with social interaction and a general impairment in carrying out daily life activities.

Within the context of clinical psychology, psychosis is a very broad term that can mean anything from relatively mild delusions to the complex and catatonic expressions of schizophrenia and bipolar type 1 disorder. Generally speaking, however, psychosis involves noticeable deficits in cognitive functioning and diverse types of hallucinations or delusional beliefs, particularly those that are in regard to the relation between self and others such as delusions of grandiosity, paranoia, or conspiracy. The most common of these signs and symptoms of psychosis are listed as separate subcomponents below:

Psychosis is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as deliriants,[87][88] psychedelics,[89] dissociatives,[90] and cannabinoids[91][92]. However, it can also occur under the influence of stimulants,[93][94] particularly during the comedown or as a result of prolonged binges. It may also manifest from abrupt discontinuation of long term or heavy usage of certain drugs such as benzodiazepines[95] or alcohol[96]; this is known as delirium tremens (DTs). Aside from substance abuse it may also occur as a result of sleep deprivation, emotional trauma, urinary tract infections, and various other medical conditions.[citation needed]


Main article: Rejuvenation

Rejuvenation can be described as feelings of mild to extreme cognitive refreshment which are felt during the afterglow of certain compounds. The symptoms of rejuvenation often include a sustained sense of heightened mental clarity, increased emotional stability, increased calmness, mindfulness, increased motivation, personal bias suppression, increased focus and decreased depression. At its highest level, feelings of rejuvenation can become so intense that they manifest as the profound and overwhelming sensation of being "reborn" anew. This mindstate can potentially last anywhere from several hours to several months after the substance has worn off.

Rejuvination is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics and dissociatives. However, it can also occur to a lesser extent under the influence of entactogens, cannnabinoids, and meditation.

Suicidal ideation

Main article: Suicidal ideation

Suicidal ideation can be described as the experience of compulsive suicidal thoughts and a general desire to end one's own life. These thoughts patterns and desires range in intensity from fleeting thoughts to an intense fixation. This effect can also create a predisposition to other self-destructive behaviors such as self-harm or drug abuse and, if left unresolved, can eventually lead to attempts of suicide.

Suicidal ideation is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as depression and motivation enhancement in a manner which maintains the person's negative view on life but also increases their will to take immediate action. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of various antidepressants of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class. However, outside of psychoactive substance usage, it can also occur as a manifestation of a number of things including mental illness, traumatic life events, and interpersonal problems.

If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of suicidal ideation, it is highly recommended that you seek out therapy, medical attention, or a support group.

See also


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