Effects of serotonergic hallucinogens
The effects of LSD and the like on the body are similar to amphetamines and cocaine. This is due to the fact that they are sympathomimetic. They cause pupil dilation, increase the pulse and blood pressure, body temperature, cause increased sweating.
It is more difficult to characterize their effect on the psyche. Individual responses to LSD vary greatly. However, common to all serotonergic hallucinogens is a violation of visual perception, although there is some constancy in the types of visual changes. Many of these have been listed in Albert Hofmann’s first use LSD report. Hofmann wrote:
“Kaleidoscopic fantastic images flooded over me, they changed, shimmered in different colors, turned into moving spirals and circles, exploded in color fountains, moved and intermingled with each other in constant motion. Each acoustic perception, such as the sound of a closed door or the noise of a passing car was transformed into a visual one. Each sound produced a very mobile visual image having a form and color. “
The spiral explosions and vortex-like images described by Hofmann are the most typical hallucinations. They are called constant forms because they were observed very often. Another constant form is lattice images resembling a chessboard that appear on a smooth surface. The transformation of sound signals into visuals described by Hofmann is called synesthesia; this is also a frequently mentioned phenomenon. Other visual effects are flashes of light, enhancing the brightness or intensity of color, framing various objects with tails and curls, a sense of movement of stationary objects (when it seems that the wall is breathing or the flowers start to move, grow, wallpaper).
However, trips are more than just a light show. Other perceptions are changing. The mood becomes extremely unstable, the cognitive processes change in a very strange way. Despite the fact that the descriptions of experienced sensations are very different from each other, they still show some similarities. All of them are united by the presence of a very strong affect, although the nature of the emotional state is different. They all include “magical” thinking, and, especially in the last two examples, events are filled with cosmic meaning. If the visions are frightening, then the person can behave like a mental patient, usually referred to as a bad trip. Intuitions, concepts, insights, coming during the trip, seem to be very significant, and later turn out to be banal or false. For example, a person, under the influence of a drug, often thinks that he has telepathic or prophetic abilities, but when checked it turns out that they are absent. Nevertheless, thanks to this, it is easy to understand why in cultures with undeveloped science, hallucinogens were given mystical and religious significance.