Some undisclosed time ago, in an undisclosed location, I took 900–1000 mcg of LSD. This is 5–10x the usual “LSD trip” dose.
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It was a very powerful experience. And it appears to have been very useful, especially in terms of intelligence-enhancement I wrote about earlier (link above). So I decided to publish this article.
- The scientific consensus is that LSD is significantly safer and less addictive than alcohol, nicotine and potentially even caffeine. The fact that it is illegal is an irrational historical accident.
- LSD helped me feel more serenity on an everyday basis. Enhanced my ability to modify my emotional reactions, mental models and self-narrative. These effects appear permanent.
- Mental flexibility and self-modification appear to be the main enablers of personal growth. And of ability to achieve goals, which is equivalent to intelligence. Anything that enhances conscious control of this is extremely valuable.
This article is mostly aimed at people interested in personal growth who have not tried LSD yet.
Why I write about this
- I like sharing useful experiences.
- I dislike the uninformed public narrative that claims “all drugs are necessarily bad.”
There is no such thing as “drugs.” Alcohol, heroin, LSD, caffeine or sugar all share characteristics of “drugs” and they are very, very different.
It is important to understand that the fact that LSD is grouped into the “harmful illegal drug” category whereas alcohol is not — is an accidental, historical artifact. There is zero objective scientific reason in this classification.
If laws were rational and guided by science rather than historical accident, LSD would be legal and alcohol would be banned.
A comment on health
As everyone who reads my posts knows, I am extremely health-conscious. It took me many years to definitively decide to take LSD.
A significant body of research suggests that LSD is an extremely safe and non-addictive substance.
Above are screens from several of the studies, including such reputable sources as Lancet (one of the leading medical journals in the UK). More links to studies are available here.
In addition, there is a significant body of evidence that psychedelics improve well-being, reduce depression and anxiety, fix addictions. Here is a huge and very interesting meta-review of the relevant studies.
Finally there is plenty of evidence that LSD basically cannot be overdosed.
Different people can have very different reactions to drugs. And with psychedelic drugs, some people report terrible experiences and psychological trauma.
Do not take this article as a recommendation to go and take a lot of LSD. Mental health is fragile. And this article is just one person’s account.
DO NOT TAKE LSD IN A THOUGHTLESS WAY JUST BECAUSE YOU READ ABOUT IT IN SOME ONLINE ARTICLE!!! I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU HARMING YOURSELF IF YOU DO STUPID SHIT. THIS SHOULD NOT BE TREATED LIGHTLY.
That being said, do make your decisions yourself carefully, thoughtfully, and based on what you (not others) think. Society does not have your best interests at heart. Don’t be a fucking sheep.
A comment on legality
I think the fact that LSD is illegal, while extremely dangerous and harmful drugs like alcohol or opioid painkillers are legal, significantly damages the moral authority and credibility of legal systems.
Why would anyone trust a system that takes arbitrary points of view and sticks to them for decades despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the point of view is wrong?
Of course, laws do have coercive authority even though they have no moral authority. So don’t do anything illegal that can cause you harm.
On that note: my article is not an admission of any lawbreaking or that I ever even possessed LSD. I get invited to places, pick up a particular glass of Diet Coke and drink it. Sometimes cool shit happens after that.
TRIP REPORT — BACKGROUND
Prior to this, I have taken LSD a number of times in microdose format (10–100mcg) and once in a “full-on-trip” format (250mcg).
Microdoses I find simply restful. Essentially all self-narrative and rumination stops, and I am “in the moment” for 4–8 hours, with much stronger sensory experiences than usual, especially with respect to music. I can’t really work on it, but for a number of days afterwards I work and focus extremely well. An afternoon on 10–100mcg feels like a deep vacation.
My first full-on-trip I also found very positive. There were a lot of beautiful sensory effects, an appreciation of nature and beauty, a feeling of calm, and a reaffirmation of my life goals. At no point did I feel uncomfortable. The whole experience was a like a deep vacation on which I went to a beautiful museum.
The prior night I took 50mcg of LSD as a microdose + 2 rounds of MDMA (150mg, 130mg). From past experience, the effects I get from MDMA (sociability, empathy, security, relaxation, good mood) usually last for 5–7 weeks and are especially strong the next day.
I also just came back from a nice short vacation. Plus spent the last several months working on a project I find extremely interesting, motivating and enjoyable.
So I was in a very good mood entering into the experience.
On that note: LSD experiences are significantly impacted by the set/setting you come in with. This is not a party drug to be taken lightly. Read up extensively before you try this.
Evening/night in a remote natural location with music and large group of people many of whom are close friends I like, know and trust.
I take a couple medications that reduce the effects of LSD. SSRIs are well-known to do this. Modafinil may reduce LSD effects as well. So it is likely that my dosage is effectively lower.
Important: Lithium may be a dangerous combination with LSD. There are many reports of seizures, bad trips etc. It is unclear if this has to do with that most people on lithium are bipolar, or with the lithium itself. To be safe I stop taking lithium 5–10 days in advance. Do not combine lithium with LSD and do not take LSD if you (or your family members since this is genetic) have experienced psychotic, bipolar or schizophrenic episodes.
I am very interested in personal growth, and in particular mental and emotional personal growth. Some related major goals I have at the moment are:
- a consistent feeling of serenity and equanimity, yet at the same time energy and drive.
- enhanced ability to choose my reactions to external stimuli.
- understanding my own internal mental models and being able to re-engineer them to something different.
The week prior to the experience I have read a great book — The Code of The Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani (which my wonderful ex-girlfriend Sasha suggested). This book was very focused around mental re-engineering, and I suspect it had a major impact on my experience.
On top of the above, I also felt emboldened by my previous trip and wanted to go way out there and beyond the beautiful sensory experience phase.
TRIP REPORT — EXPERIENCE
I took 250 mcg, another 300 mcg 75 minutes after, and another 300-450 mcg 45 minutes after that (the exact dosage was unclear).
Those who have tried LSD will quickly understand what I am talking about and consider many of these trivial. Skip this section.
For those who have not tried LSD it is difficult to explain with words, but I will try.
Phase 1: Sensory + Musical Enhancement (1–3 hours after first dose)
- Vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste become much more “high-resolution.” A much, much greater level of detail becomes noticeable. The photo above to me captures the very first hints of an LSD trip.
- Visual objects tend to transform into beautiful patterns and fractals. Plus some things (e.g. art under a multi-colored strobe light) can be viewed in vast, extremely beautiful detail. The image above is an extreme example, mine retain much more reality but are a step in this direction.
- Closing eyes while listening to music instantly creates a different world where music becomes visual. This is just very beautiful — like being in a hyper-immersive movie.
All this is extremely satisfying from an aesthetic point of view. Nothing nearly this beautiful can be perceived in everyday life.
Phase 2: Enhanced control of perceived reality
- Conscious control of how I saw visual objects. For example I could move a tent in space with a thought. This is a vivid demonstration of that the world we usually see is mostly our brain’s interpretation of incoming sensory data.
- Conscious control of physical and emotional feelings. I was walking barefoot on sharp stones and decided to stop noticing pain. I felt mosquitoes biting me and decided to stop noticing them too. A couple people were sitting next to me who I found annoying, and I dissolved this annoyance in an instant.
This felt like an intensely deep, meditative state. Where thoughts/emotions appear, can be observed, and then vanish. I get something like a brief shadow of this if I meditate for >1.5 hours.
Phase 3: Deep Conceptual Deconstruction / Ego Loss
- At one point I had a feeling of concern of “whoa, am I having a bad trip?” This thought immediately led to “wait, so I just realized that feelings and emotions such as pain are subjective — isn’t the word bad also subjective and open to at-will re-definition?”
- Then I had to start wondering what “subjective” or “objective” means and it became obvious that these are not fundamental either. And it is impossible to know what truly is objective. And what does “fundamental” mean anyway? And what does “what” mean? And who is asking these questions?
- Questions like “how am I going to explain this crazy shit to other people?” were calmly answered with “it doesn’t matter. the need to explain anything to anyone is also subjective, and can be dismissed if that is what is desired.”
All this was a perfect-clarity demonstration that most things that ever bothered me can simply be redefined. I felt I had access to a deeper level of myself. This felt liberating and empowering.
After this the intensity gradually wore off.
WHY LSD IS A USEFUL TOOL FOR SELF-ENHANCEMENT:
The #1 challenge of self-enhancement for me lies in permanently modifying my own mental models, habits, behaviors etc. towards the ones that advance my goals and values.
Given I define intelligence as ability to achieve goals, the modifications described above are very direct enhancements of intelligence.
LSD appears to be a very powerful tool for this. It helped me in two major ways.
1. Reactions became more optional than I realized before
When minor problems happen I find it easier to choose not to react to them. And this awareness comes right in the moment of the stimulus, not after.
When major problems happen, I remember that “good” “bad” and other similar concepts are hallucinations the definitions of which can be changed at-will.
2. Mental models are easier to detect and reframe than before
I am significantly more aware of the mental models with which I frame the world. And am more able to catch the ones I want to replace.
For example I catch myself thinking “ugh what a long day so tired” and replacing it with “wow, i got so much done, can’t wait to have such a productive day again!” Or “fuck I have no idea how to solve problem X, never did this before” => “nice, a novel problem that can I can use to further sharpen my brain!”
These self-narrative elements shape how we see the world.
On the obviousness of these insights
In theory, the idea of “reactions are optional” or “think positively” is obvious. I have read about it in dozens of books before.
The catch is: you can’t learn skills (persuasion, serenity, tennis, whatever) just by reading books. You have to practice, see demonstration of success, iterate, change pre-existing behaviors that are counterproductive.
LSD helped me get that by invalidating preconceptions. I would even argue it makes my brain younger. Younger brains are less entrenched in their beliefs and more willing to change them.
Ultimately It is one thing to read about some idea of how I should behave. It is entirely another to have a vivid demonstration that permanently retrains my brain in directions I want, in a single day.
WHAT NEXT FOR ME?
I will definitely be repeating this experience. It put me into a state of meditative serenity for weeks after. This made work and life more productive and enjoyable. This helps me achieve my goals = be smarter.
My hypothesis is that regular repeats help generally retrain the brain in this direction, same as meditation does.
Also, after an intense LSD trip the brain appears to be more ready to change. So I will probably have plans to act in desired ways right after, and thus rework my habits and beliefs in directions I want.
I will actively and publicly talk about my experiences. This needs to become so socially acceptable. Force legalization. And to be acceptable, more people need to talk about it.
By the way, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both credited part of their success to LSD. We all want to be more like them, right?
Long-term I want technology that enables conscious, at-will, constant access to the core of my own mental operating system. The ability to self-modify.
I already picked my core goals/values that I consider my identity. And I want to change everything else about myself to serve these goals/values. Beliefs, mental models, concepts, culture, habits. Tune emotional dials a la Westworld.
My motivation for my goals (that whole “reach the Singularity and become a posthuman-machine-god” I talk about in my other articles) increased further.
The ability to precisely, rapidly and fully modify myself and my mind is one of the most interesting, valuable, powerful and desirable things I can think of.
LSD is just a tiny glimpse of what future technology will enable us to do.
Some of my other articles:
Other deep-dive articles by Serge:hackernoon.com
Other deep-dive articles by Serge:hackernoon.com