Citation: Jan Naumann. "Anxiety Nothingness and the Logic-Machine: An Experience with LSD (exp108950)". Erowid.org. Oct 1, 2016. erowid.org/exp/108950
I want to try and give here a phenomenological description of a chemical self-induced psychosis (bad trip), which I experienced about 15 years ago, most likely in 1995. The peak of that experience was the temporary complete eradication of my consciousness and personality in an extreme state of pure anxiety. Following that description, I try and describe the process, that 'rebooted' my personality, and interpret the underlying psychological processes.
My personal background and trauma connected to the event is, that my parents divorced when I was 7 years, experienced a mild sexual abuse from13 to 15 years of age, as I also started drinking and smoking around 13 years. Hash and more 'hard drugs' beginning with the age of 16. By the age of 20 I was an 'acid head', enjoying much time on LSD and psylos (hallucinogenic mushrooms). The experience is located in a house, that had been a squat for over 10 years, but now the occupants were moving out and the owner regained control of his property. The atmosphere was depressed and the future uncertain. I was on my way to this house from our home in the village (Funny Farm), and administered to myself orally the strongest dose of lysergic acid dietylamid (LSD) I ever took, about 500 micrograms.
In the evening, only two of my friends stayed with me in the living room of that house, all others were in the city, partying. I held a big cup of tea in my hands, and felt the chemical starting to exercise its effects. For a moment I had the impression that the cup in my hands was my brain, which I drank from. Then this comfortable warmth spread through my body, a feeling of 'coming home', which signalised the start of the trip. The feeling, that my brain opened up to all knowledge and all wisdom was freely accessible and became a part of myself, and I a part of it.
At one point the walls, floor and ceiling began to merge into each other, the world began to flow like a river. I experienced myself as part of everything and completely integrated in the 'Big Picture', an atom in an ectoplasmic sea, an illuminated being of eternal dimensions. These optical and emotional hallucinations, as well as the 'grand thoughts' have been a general part of my LSD experiences and the reason why I took it.
But then something exceptional happened: The trip hit hard. So hard, that I completely forgot that I was under strong chemical influence. This was usually a safeguard, to remember, while tripping, that it's all part of the trip. Now this was gone.
This was usually a safeguard, to remember, while tripping, that it's all part of the trip. Now this was gone.
A few weeks before, I read George Orwell's novel '1984', which plays out a terrible vision of the future, with a complete monitored and surveilled world with a secret 'thought-police' and constant war as a means to control society and production. The anti-hero in Orwell's novel was captured by the thought-police and tortured in the Ministry of Love, in room 101. In this room the prisoners are faced with their inner worst fear.
The walls around me acted like bubbles that are about to burst. I found myself in a reality, I could not comprehend. I stood before one of my friends and begged him, 'Help me, please, please help me!' None of them knew that I had taken LSD. Neither did I. Now the anxiety centers in my brain really warmed up, and naked, total fear spread to each cell in my body. I realised, that my two friends were actually members of the infamous thought-police. I knew they came to expose me and torture me in room 101. In panic I stormed out of the living room into the kitchen and took hold of the bread knife. I wanted to defend myself by all means possible. I waited in the kitchen. Nobody came. If they would have come and forced me out, I would have killed them. Then I reasoned with myself and thought, that this was not the solution. They were the almighty thought-police, and already in my head. So maybe I was the problem. And that could be solved by a strike to the heart with the bread knife. But something inside me knew, that this also was not a solution. So I dropped the knife and went back into the living room.
Now I was in room 101. I did not know my greatest fear, but there it was. It filled me out, each part of my body and every angle of my thoughts. No escape. There is no God. The walls were thin as paper, and they were about to tear. And behind the walls was evil. Not a relative evil, but the ultimate, all consuming, destroying, powerful evil. And I lost all hope. On LSD time is perceived very different from the regular, common perception. Sometimes time is not perceived at all. Only eternity. Here and now, nothing else. To my great despair, this was the state I found myself in. A prisoner of the ultimate evil, without hope, without time. Nothing human to be found. My friends were sleeping, and I, or the last rudiments of 'I', were dissolving in eternal horror and hopelessness, all strength drizzled out of my body.
And at last there was nothing more.
REGENERATION AND THE LOGIC-MACHINE
Of course, I cannot describe the 'state of nothingness'. Let the philosophers discuss it.
Consciousness is registering a cramp, there is transparent liquid vomit on the floor.
Consciousness registers 'I' am vomit.
Consciousness registers wooden floor under the vomit.
Consciousness registers 'I' am wooden floor and have always been wooden floor.
These are the first conscious moments after my personality had been dissolved by anxiety. I am laying on one of the sofas in the living room, opposite on the other sofa my friend sleeps. I am registering the whole room, not really sure of what I am and how I fit into this scenario. Slowly my body feeling returns to me. I conclude, that I am not the wooden floor, since 'I' and the wooden floor have very distinct and different proportions. There is a division, a separation between 'I' and the rest of the room. This division came to my awareness by the increasing feeling of my physical form. Very shortly, when my consciousness registered the sofa after the wooden floor, I thought to be a sofa. But this happened almost simultaneously with recognizing myself lying on that sofa, so I had to smile at the thought of 'being a sofa'.
Now I saw my friend sleeping on the other sofa, and went softly to him, kneeling at the sofa. I compared myself to him, and came to the liberating conclusion 'I am a man'. This whole process of regeneration did not take more than a few seconds. That which started the process, I call 'logic machine' and explain it further in my following interpretation of this phenomena.
PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE OF THE LSD-PSYCHOSIS
The whole experience from the beginning of fear to nothingness had a duration of about 3 hours, as we later recapitulated. I now start the interpretation with the last paragraph, 'Regeneration and the Logic-Machine'. In the first parts of seconds of the conscious awakening, there is no form or division. All that registers is one. This I interpret as a revival of the symbiotic state, where the child does not make a distinction between itself and the mother, as described in Mahler's Object Relations Theory (Objektrelationsteori).
The description here goes only as far as to the point of separation, where I draw a line between 'I' and 'you' (my friend on the other sofa).
I thought a lot about, how I came from 'nothingness' to 'I' through the consciousness. 'I am the wooden floor' is an extreme strange state of being, like a small flash of consciousness, that has no critical sense, but accepts all. I believe that the Logic-Machine is part of the origin of my personality, that dates back into my earliest childhood. It registers the surroundings and put them into relation to self. Because I had a healthy and safe childhood up to the first seven years, this part of my personality had not been violated. This fundamental structure made it possible for me to heal the condition the bad trip had caused me. That is, why this condition also not was a real psychosis, but only like a psychosis.
The worst thinkable fear, expressed in the experience with one sentence: 'There is no God' (read: there is no goodness, mercy or love). Psychologically seen, the situation was a reproduction of the divorce. The underlying fear is the fear of separation, which is the base fear of my existence.
That fear was made very real in the divorce of my parents and the intimacy of my childhood had a sudden end. Through the deep impact of LSD, I was able to dive into these areas of my subconsciousness, and was confronted with the inner terms and trauma that resulted from that time.
All relations were hurt or disappeared, when I lost faith in others during the divorce. The separation was reality, with all the ugly consequences, to my subjective experience and perception. For most of my adult life, I believed the divorce happened when I was 10 years old. Later on, through talks with my Grandmother, I learned that I was 7. That meant, I suppressed the first three years after the divorce from my consciousness.
The 'ultimate evil', that destroyed me, is a projection of my own Lifeworld (oplevelses verden), which I split in order to bear with the emotional trauma (Liv Strand). The experience of this evil is a direct result of my fear of separation, not accepting the terms of the divorce, because of the heavy emotional crisis.
When I am in the kitchen during the bad trip, I contemplate suicide. Something inside of me rejects this as a doable solution. When I was in my early teens, I learned the technique of auto suggestion, reading about it and also having my mother explain it to me. I used this for myself, because I had the impression, that life would be extremely difficult to deal with. I adopted subconsciously the attitude, that 'I would never commit suicide, no matter how bad things turned out. No matter how bad things go, it will be good again'. This became a deep conviction for me. And I believe it was the reason why I survived the situation in the kitchen.
The hallucinations and grand thoughts had their origin in the impact of the lysergic acid on the brain and are a natural effect of the acid consumption. Those were not part of my personality, but a desirable and coveted result of LSD intake. That is why this experience was not a real psychopathological psychosis, but merely a pseudo psychosis. I felt inspired by Timothy Leary in these days, who was an American psychiatrist who believed LSD could be used to understand man's mind.
written in Hamar, Norway, 2008.
Translated into English and edited in Haugesund, Norway, 2015
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