Monday, September 19, 2016

Psychedelics and rebooting the psyche

"Rebooting the psyche" is a metaphor that's been used to describe apotheotic psychedelic experiences.

Consider first the familiar phenomenon known as sleep. Sleep seems to have some structural similarities to the rebooting of a computer. There are apparently important memory maintenance processes that occur during sleep, and we do it on a regular basis. An analogy could be drawn between our sleep cycles and the practice of rebooting a computer regularly to optimize performance. Going to sleep and waking up are profound transformations of consciousness, but we're pretty used to them.

Psychedelics can produce a transformation that's very profound, while the experiencer remains very much awake. This experience, this rebooting, while intense and challenging, ultimately strikes one as amazingly healthy, informative, and socially beneficial. Think of the instances where rebooting a computer produces nearly immediate dramatic increases in performance or capability, such as when we reboot as the final step in installing software. If you look at us as a population of creatures walking around with incredibly powerful supercomputers between our ears, but with hardly anyone ever rebooting, it makes sense that despite our wondrous abilities and accomplishments, we continue to be stymied by significant amounts of stress and social problems -- many seemingly surmountable but unsurmounted constraints.

This metaphor applies to "peak experiences" that can be brought on with large enough doses of psychedelics. Smaller doses -- "microdosing" -- can also bring many other well documented benefits.