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    Dr. Paddo - Thursday 29 September 2022

    What do hallucinations actually look like?

    When you take a mind-altering drug, such as magic mushrooms, truffles, mescaline or DTM, you start hallucinating. If you've never experienced this, it's hard to imagine what you'll see. For people who want to trip for the first time, hallucinations are at the same time very exciting, but also quite scary. Do you want to know more about hallucinations and what to expect from them? Then read this blog, in which we explain everything about what hallucinations actually look like.

     

    How come you start hallucinating?

    Psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms induce hallucinations (also called visuals). These are caused by the influence of the mind-altering drugs on the brain. Actually, you "see" these images just like normal images, it is the visual cortex that produces them. But they do look very different!

     

    Psychedelics affect the 5-HT2A receptors in the brain. As a result, they can radically change how the brain works. The Default Mode Network (DMN) is a network in the brain that filters all kinds of brain functions. Normally, different regions in the brain can communicate with each other through this network. However, if you're tripping, these areas can bypass the DMN altogether and interact directly with each other.

     

    This can be clearly seen on an fMRI scan. In people who were under the influence of a mind-altering drug at the time, the brain looked like a flashing laser show. How this affects the visuals you see when taking mind-altering drugs is not yet known. But it will certainly play a role.


    What do hallucinations look like?

    To explain what hallucinations look like, let's take a closer look at the two types of visuals you can get. There are open eye visuals (OEV) and closed eye visuals (CEV). So you can see hallucinations with your eyes open, but also with your eyes closed. At higher doses, these two strains will overlap, which can be very confusing.

     

    Open eye visuals

    The normal world is as you know it. During a trip you can start to see changes in these everyday environments. How intense this distortion of reality is depends on the dose. A low to medium dose distorts the world around you, at higher doses you can see things that aren't really there. The distinction between the two types of images therefore disappears.

     

    Open eye visuals can affect your visual acuity. It may seem like you can see better, everything seems sharp and very detailed. Because your mind is so focused, objects that are far away can still seem very close.

     

    The best known OEV are the geometric patterns. These are best seen on plain surfaces, such as a white wall. You will then see colorful patterns that can move. Sometimes you see circles of light around objects. This may be because your pupils dilate under the influence of the drug. It can seem like the light is bending, and the sky is looking beautiful. Colors can also appear different: they change and can seem to breathe. Sometimes these changes are subtle and colors smoothly blend into each other. Sometimes it goes fast and fierce, with all the colors of the rainbow.

     

    Closed eye visuals

    At higher doses of magic mushrooms, truffles and other psychedelic substances you can get closed eye visuals. Those are images you can see even with your eyes closed. These may be blurry or even sharper than reality. This depends on the dose and the medicine you are taking. One of the types of visuals you can see is visual snow or noise. That looks like what you see when you rub your eyes firmly.

     

    The patterns and colors you can see with open eyes are also visible as CEVs. Then they are sometimes even more intense in color and more detailed. These are really hallucinations that you can get carried away with. That can be overwhelming, but the best thing to do is embrace it and go with it. It is also possible that the patterns change into visible forms, such as creatures or objects that come to life. The hallucination then looks more like a dream that you consciously experience.

     

    With high doses of a psychedelic, the trip can become a life-changing experience. You lose your sense of time and space, and logic no longer exists. Some people come into contact with aliensor celestial beings. There is room for introspection and a rediscovery of your own self. The trip can therefore also lead to a spiritual revelation.


    Hallucinations: a unique experience

    If you want to know what hallucinations actually look like, there's only one thing to do. Experience it yourself. It is wise to be careful though, because a higher dose does not automatically lead to great and impressive hallucinations. If you're new to it, it's best to start with a low dose to see how you react to it. Do your first trip in a trusted and safe environment, with a trip sitter nearby.

     

    If all went well, you can carefully increase the dose or go for a magic mushroom (or other substance) that has more potent effects. Seeing hallucinations is fascinating, and for many people it is these effects that make tripping so special. There's no telling how psychedelics will affect you, that's a surprise every time. Sometimes you don't get the hallucinations you've been waiting for. But if it does, you will have a trip to remember.

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