ELI5..’Ego death’ on a psychedelic.


ELI5..’Ego death’ on a psychedelic.

In: 740

Psychedelics alter your brain chemistry and change your perception of the world. Sometimes it’s simple perceptual changes like brighter colors, wavy patterns, or audio hallucinations.

Sometimes it’s very abstract, like changing your perception of your surroundings. You can be in a room and get the sudden sensation that there is absolutely nothing outside of the room. You may intellectually understand that there’s more world outside the room, but it *feels* like there’s nothing else beyond the walls of the room, as if you’re in an isolated pocket of spacetime.

Similarly, psychedelics at high doses can break a person’s sense of self. A normal functioning brain understands that itself and the body it’s controlling is part of you, a singular unit with an identity, a sense of self. A person under a high dose of psychedelics may reach a point where they lose their sense of self. “I” ceases to exist for them, leaving a mind without an identity. They may look down at their body, or at a reflection in the mirror, and they no longer get the sensation of looking at themself. They may be able to look at the world from a neutral point of view, free from the baggage and biases that come from relating the world to the self.

The change in perception is one of the most powerful aspects of psychedelics. It can be enlightening to see yourself, your surroundings, our society, and the universe from new angles. It can also be frightening or traumatic, depending on the shift in perspective and your reaction to it. If you do choose to engage with psychedelics, tread carefully. Start small, in a safe and controlled environment, with people you trust. Once you have your footing and understand how it affects you, you may begin to push the limits.

Your ego is basically the part of your psyche that holds the concept of “you.” It usually doesn’t want you to change, and it always wants you to feel correct about things. This can be both good and bad, as on one hand it might help you be the best you can be, but a lot of times it doesn’t care if you *are* right, just that you *feel* right about something (such as believing anyone who disagrees with you must be an idiot).

When you do psychedelics, the part of your brain that processes your ego temporarily shuts down. Since the ego is “you,” the transition during shutdown can feel like you’re dying. This is often an extraordinary experience, because it’s the first time in someone’s life they’ve existed outside of the concept of their own self and can look at the world in a brand new way.

It’s impossible to accurately describe, but the closest I can get is something like: *You* stop looking at the world and the matter inside it, and instead *become* the matter that makes up everything. The concept of time doesn’t apply anymore, and everything becomes different shapes of matter in a cosmic dance.

Ego death is autobiographical amnesia. Once the psychedelic’s effects intensify, you reach a point where you forget who you are. You forget you took drugs. You forget how you’ve come to this point. Your memories are suppressed.

Imagine waking up one day not knowing who the hell you are.

Of course, here, you’re tripped. So it’s only after you forget who you are that the fun begins. It’s only when you can’t remember who you are that you can go through transformative experiences. And when the effects wane, you can learn to integrate them into your life.

That’s why bad trips can happen. When your memories are suppressed, you might go through an unpleasant experience and genuinely believe you’re about to die or go to hell. But in reality, it’s just a bunch of chemicals making you feel that way.

Ego death on a psychedelic does not mean a loss of the sense of self. It means a loss of the “ego” which can be described as our sense of self being separate from the world around us.

Ego death means realising our fundamental self is beyond our limited mind and senses. Our self beyond the ego is connected to the entire infinite and eternal universe all around us.

In the same way it can be seen that we are all equal. That is the death of the ego.