Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is when visual characteristics of a trip last for much longer than the trip itself, until after the chemical has been removed from your system. Contrary to flashbacks, it's always present and relatively permanent. It is most commonly related to LSD use, but that may just be because acid is the most commonly used hallucinogen. Those that are genetically predisposed to HPPD can begin experiencing it very early on in their drug use, but in others it sets in much later in the game, and therefore seems to be unrelated to the frequency or number of trips one takes.

Common sights of HPPD sufferers include halos or auras around objects, changes in dimension and color, a difficulty in distinguishing between colors, trouble reading because of "misbehaving letters," geometric patterns where there are none, flashes of color, movement in peripheral vision, or TV-like "static" on monochrome surfaces. The symptoms can be made worse by fatigue, drug use, a sudden change in the visual environment (like walking into a brightly-lit room from the dark), or simply paying too much attention to it.

Many people have never heard of HPPD, or if they must seek treatment they are too embarrassed to admit to having used hallucinogens, and therefore the statistics on its prevalence are probably incorrect. This is another good reason that hallucinogen use should be legal or at least socially acceptable: research could be done, and people with disorders of this sort could get the treatment they need. Luckily, many people don't need to get treatment, because HPPD often fades over time of its own accord.

Now, don't be like me and assume that your brain is broken just because the rainbows around lights at night seem suddenly really noticeable. HPPD is only diagnosed when the disturbances are so severe that the patient cannot ignore it. Like other psychiatric syndromes, a requirement for diagnosis is that it impairs normal functioning. To be fair, I had no idea that light halos were a common occurrence until I asked my boyfriend, who verified that he saw them too. :)

HPPD raises some interesting questions about how drugs affect us. One common theory is that hallucinogens permanently affect the nervous system, creating less sensory gating (like Huxley described in The Doors of Perception). This leads us to be more open to receiving sensory signals that have always been there, but are usually filtered out. There was also an interesting study that I read about that showed that those who use hallucinogens have a lowered ability to distinguish between colors, and to distinguish between a very fast strobe and a continually-shining light. I found this to be the opposite of what I've experienced: my drug use has made me appreciate color so much more, and when I'm high I can even see the strobing in cheap fluorescent lights, which is super annoying. Anyone else have a different story?

I was also kind of surprised that HPPD only includes the visual aspect of hallucinogens. It seems to me that other aspects of a trip could last too, but I guess people with that are just called "crazy." :)

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  1. Hi,
    I would agree with the concept articulated in Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception. Moreover, the hallucinogen like DMT is produced naturally by the brain (DMT: The Spirit Molecule", Prof. Rick Strassman). So it would be not a good idea to take psychedelics externally. Anyway some people feel so.
    I think that we live in a new area where some galactic changes are occurring and for sure our bodies which are attuned to the cosmos are changing too. I also think that this would be a transitory phase or ascending which follow the ascending of earth frequency.
    Another of my opinion is that all people are able to see the phenomena of HPPD but they are not aware. It need just to concentrate or to maintain present awareness as in meditation to experience the HPPD symptoms. It has to do with being aware of our body or neurological processes. It has to do with our intent to see them or to maintain awareness beyond mind and nothing more.

  2. Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is a disorder characterized by a continual presence of visual disturbances that are reminiscent of those generated by the ingestion of hallucinogenic substances. A visual abnormality of HPPD (according to conventional medicine) includes the eye floaters.
    But, another explanatory model for the experiences provoked by hallucinogens is the "reducing valve" concept, first articulated in Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception. 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. Indeed, the eye floaters are a result of the direct perception without the filtering ability of the brain. This also can be called an expanded perception.

  3. lsd is twenty times more powerful per dose than morning glory seeds. so since morning glory produces unfiltered experience for a month, lsd's side effects should be more unusual and longer lasting for each dose taken. Hallucinogens were originally used to thwart eating things like mushrooms and seeds so they must fuck you up pretty bad to avoid them.

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