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Sensory Distortion With a Sober Core
Citation:   Tempest41. "Sensory Distortion With a Sober Core: An Experience with DMT (exp106677)". Erowid.org. Jun 9, 2016. erowid.org/exp/106677

  smoked DMT

While I have sampled various psychedelic drugs over the years, I always felt afraid of DMT. I thought that I would never try it because of its reputation for bringing on overwhelming experiences. It sounded too intense. I have experienced a number of anxiety attacks under the influence of LSD or mushrooms, and I thought that I would not be able to handle something with such an extreme effect. Additionally, I am very sensitive to psychedelics and doses listed online are typically much too high for me. Despite these concerns, I remained highly interested in trying DMT eventually.

At some point in 2011 the opportunity arose to try DMT at just the right time where I was feeling adventurous but relaxed in a great setting. I decided to give it a go. Having had no experience before of this substance, I was lucky that the dose was at about the right level for a full-on first time exposure, because getting the right dose with DMT is often problematic.

I took a hit of a DMT pipe and held my breath for a few seconds. I had just enough time to focus on passing the pipe back and breathing out and then back in to get a lungful of air.
I had just enough time to focus on passing the pipe back and breathing out and then back in to get a lungful of air.
After that I pretty much lost touch with my body. I remember saying 'wow, a lot of rainbows!' It felt like a weight pressed me down into the ground while a rapidly increasing set of psychedelic visions built up to an intensity that I had never experienced before, and I entered a complex animated neon room of incredible machine-like digital impressions. I was feeling completely astonished and thinking 'how can this be possible?'

Quickly I was overtaken by the thought that this was not really a drug, but that I was actually being yanked forcibly into other dimensions. I became a completely dissociated speck of consciousness in a vast spherical mandala of vibrant color and patterns. Strangely, I felt that my rational mind was preserved through this roller-coaster ride. I moved rapidly past the resonant mandala state into a wide open landscape and felt that I was flying through the air over a coastline and above a beach constructed out of beautiful flowing fractal imagery - it was a fully immersive all-encompassing experience with no perception of my physical body.

It seemed that there were entities there that were very happy to see me arrive, telling me that they had been waiting for me. Although not in fact visible, and only felt as presences, they seemed like alien parents, and I felt like a newborn baby, or a fish out of water, flopping around and very much confused and astounded. They seemed eager to try to show me strange art and other things in such rapid succession that I could barely take it in, and they gave me a strong feeling of love and encouragement. They were pleased that I had finally made it to this place.

It was around this point that someone from the real world started talking to me and I opened my eyes and snapped back to earth. Later I was dancing to some music and it seemed like every move I made had multiple complex geometric reverberating patterns associated with it. The dose must have been fairly high as I was feeling the effects for around 45 minutes.

I was very excited after this overwhelming ride and I felt very positive, but also a little disconnected. I began to realize that I was one of relatively few people who had been to this place, and it was hard to know what to do with it, and how to mentally and emotionally integrate this information. What was interesting about my experience was that because I did not intend to take DMT, I had never read in detail any trip reports, and so I did not realize, until I got home, that my own experience was pretty much the archetypal DMT narrative.

I had a fairly hard time over the next couple of weeks going back to work and thinking about it all the time. I realize now that this is why the traditional role of a shaman or experienced drug guide is important, because you need someone to talk to who knows about the experience, and can help you work it all out in your own head. There are very few of those people in western society. I felt in a zone of being disconnected from ordinary people, and especially locked in an internal battle over how much was externally real about the experience, and how much was in my head - just a change of brain function brought about by taking a drug. This is a constant theme in DMT discussions.

After that first time, I became quite experienced with DMT, taking it on multiple occasions, although it was always with some trepidation, and it never seemed like something that I wanted to do very often. As a scientist, I became interested in cataloging and examining the effects of DMT as I varied the dose.

I have tried a few times smoking DMT repeatedly from a glass vaporizing pipe over the course of a couple of hours, which is hard on the lungs because it tastes so awful, but it does give a slow burn of DMT intoxication that allows you to approximately control the level, dipping above and below the comfort zone with each toke. This makes it easier to acclimatize to the effects and observe progressively higher doses.

The nice thing about DMT is that it is so rapidly metabolized, which allows me the confidence to know that it will be over soon if I get to a difficult place.

Next I want to talk a bit more about the effects that I experience at lower doses and then compare it to experiences with other psychedelics, especially psilocybin mushrooms.

There is sort of a hallowed feeling to the DMT experience as though I have entered a large space like a cathedral. In part this might be related to the echoey effect of the audio distortions. With my eyes open, everything begins to look very flat or cartoon-like such that the interior shading to walls and objects is missing or washed out and just the edges are maintained, similar to the rotoscoping effect from the movie 'A Scanner Darkly.' I also have the same experience on psilocybin mushrooms.

With stronger doses, the visual edges of things start breaking open to reveal bright rainbow-colored fractal noise. Specifically, when I am 'going up' on either DMT or mushrooms, contours in the visual field - edges of walls, or chairs, or other edges in normal visual perception - seem to split in color and become rainbow edges, leaving behind patterned tracers, and becoming the sources that unfold into a more complex psychedelic experience.

The auditory effects for me involve tinkly metallic sounds like someone dropping ball bearings on an infinite metallic plate, or a crackling sound, like crumpling up mylar. I also experience quiet phaser sounds like little baby ray guns going off, sometimes longer and shorter but with a falling pitch, not made of a pure tone but made of pink noise. Interestingly, I find the sounds quite similar to audio-domain recordings of very low frequency radio noise caused by distant thunderstorms. These sounds, called spherics, are the result of dispersing radio waves bouncing around in the ionosphere and can be picked up by a special radio.

I'm not suggesting that the brain picks up these signals, but I do think the mathematical mechanism of frequency-domain smearing of noise bursts may be common to both of these phenomena, particularly as this is very much the analysis that the brain is doing in the auditory system - dividing sound into a number of frequency bands.

With my eyes closed, I start to see patterns that consist of neon or laser-bright lines of intense red, green, blue, or yellow in geometric structures that seem to pop in and out or move in a digital fashion, presented in a vast space which I call the 'Electric Room.' These patterns seem to be always moving and fitting into each other like Tetris blocks, or coming and going into and out of alignment, or else queueing up and being released, like those speeded up videos of cars moving through city intersection stop lights from the movie Baraka. The sounds also seem to synchronize with these motions. Other patterns I have experienced include intricate evolving 3D fractals, and flitting 3D tracers like the changing structures of light in a plasma globe.

The initial body sensations consist of a heavy downward pressure that seems like weighty geometric patterns of touch pressing down over my chest and arms
The initial body sensations consist of a heavy downward pressure that seems like weighty geometric patterns of touch pressing down over my chest and arms
, so I feel like I am being vacuum-sealed in chicken wire or some patterned membrane is pressing on my body. This really accentuates the feeling that some outside agent is doing something to me — along the lines of sleep paralysis experiences or alien abductions. However, it probably has its origin in structured patterns of touch hallucinations that arise within somatosensory cortex and are experienced as though mapped onto the body surface, in the same manner as the visual cortex is involved in visual hallucinations. These patterns of pressure points on my body and face seem to rapidly move around, as if my body is a skating rink and lots of miniature but heavy skaters are tooling around on it in a haphazard fashion.

With progressively larger doses I experience a growing disconnect from my body, sometimes with a loss of spatial awareness and the idea of the direction of gravity. It is a bit like when you go camping and lie on your back and look up at the stars and imagine yourself oriented vertically and looking out horizontally from a vast wall which is the earth. Your normal embodied presence seems to fade out and spatial directions become ambiguous. This is also quite similar to the experience of ketamine intoxication.

With regards to what people often call the 'body load' of the psychedelic, it seems like DMT has a feathery light quality to it without a lot of tension or waves of difficult muscle contractions or gastrointestinal spasms like the ones that one can get on LSD, cannabis (sativa), or 2C-B. It seems to be rather more sleep-inducing than stimulating, certainly less stimulating than LSD with very little restlessness or desire to get up and move around. I have felt like I have fallen asleep taking DMT late at night.

With larger doses everything I experience seems to open up into multiple things in some kind of chaotic fractal period doubling. At some critical moment I pass a point of total disembodiment where the visual field and perhaps all sensation becomes a vast and static brightly colored mandala - a saturated feedback point or stable eigenvector of sensation, like standing waves of color and structure, like fine powder patterns on a metal plate vibrating in a sound field, or like the resonance of a bell.

This tends to be the moment where I really jump off into alternative worlds, it is the point where I am forced to give up trying to pay attention to specific senses, and instead I enter a pan-dimensional psychedelic dreaming. It is no longer shapes and colors but concepts and images of alien places and landscapes, cities, or machines, and there starts to be a narrative to it as opposed to a simple temporal motion structure. There seems to be a certain characteristic evolving pace to everything, and while the content changes, this pace nevertheless remains constant. There is also the possibility of feeling extremely strong emotions, like feeling incredible love, or ecstatic states; presumably also fear or malevolence, however I personally have never felt that way to date.

I am a very visually oriented person and so I experience and describe very intense visual phenomena. I know people who say they barely ever experience visuals, even on DMT - so called 'DMT non-responders' who may have a somewhat different distribution or density of certain types of serotonin receptors than more responsive individuals.

One of the nice things about DMT is that it produces a great deal of sensory distortion but at the core I can almost feel sober and able to rationally experience what is happening, even at fairly high levels of bodily disconnection. Eventually, with a large dose, it is possible to disassociate and experience ego loss and the understanding of who or where I am. LSD, however, seems to produce confusion more rapidly with dose and it becomes difficult to maintain any train of thought. Mushrooms are somewhere in the middle.

Regarding sensory distortions, my experience with DMT and mushrooms is that they produce approximately the same styles of visuals when normalized to dose, only with a different time course. The experience is unlike LSD or 2C-B. I experience closed-eye patterns of neon-like primary colored geometric wave fronts moving across the eyelids. I can lay back and allow these waves of color and pattern to pass over my sensorium, including waves moving over my body. It feels like a complex fluctuating around a relatively mildly stimulated sober state rather than a strong energizing wave with any unpleasant energizing depth; more like an overgrowth of strange fractal fuzz on the senses that gets more insistent with dose.

Exp Year: 2014ExpID: 106677
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 45
Published: Jun 9, 2016Views: 11,068
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DMT (18) : Small Group (2-9) (17), Entities / Beings (37), Retrospective / Summary (11)

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