Citation: Robert M Bodley. "Personal Psilocybin Psychotherapy: An Experience with Psilocybe cyanescens (exp88538)". Erowid.org. Jun 29, 2011. erowid.org/exp/88538
When thinking back it is hard to place exactly where my recreational use of Psilocybin-containing fungi became less recreation and more deep personal psychotherapy, it was more a pattern that emerged over repeated use and my determination to enjoy the experiences regardless of the hard times I was having just before peaking.
First I feel I must give you a mental image of the scenarios we were consuming the fungi, we being me and my brother Michael. In recreational settings like the countryside in daylight I never experienced any difficulties, the 'trips' were very psychedelic and filled with a love of life and the planet that gave us this life, returning with profound realisations on the Universe and our place in it as tiny as it is. The problems came in settings which promoted internalisation, retrospective reflection and internal analysis as part of the trip, we stumbled upon these as we attempted to reach the spiritual states of consciousness we had both read about from authors like the McKenna brothers.
We did not want to follow Shamanic rituals of old as they had all been polluted when the practitioners attempted to conform as Christianity tried to purge the planet of all other religions especially those involving sacrements which helped them contact God or enter a spirit world.
We already knew that under the influence of Psilocin visual patterns could be seen on the mind's eye when we closed our eyes and relaxed, we wanted to see if these visuals could overwhelm the visual cortex with eyes open. After many different attempts changing dosage and settings we realised this was easily achieved by setting the trips in absolute darkness so that we could not tell a difference between eyes open or shut, the results were mind blowing and the visuals became projected and external often making us reach out to touch them. They would always start as geometric revolving, ultra evolving patterns of ever increasing complexity and after about 20 minutes peaking in absolute darkness the patterns became solid, fully formed hallucinations created from the stored imagery in our subconcious minds. If we hallucinated a field of grass this was made up from a selection of every blade of grass we had ever seen in life if it needed be.
Approximately forty minutes after consuming anywhere above 10 grams of fresh Psilocybe cyanescens (one of the most potent species according to Stamets and Wasson) in absolute darkness is where my difficulties were occurring, these manifested themselves in me being forced to relive traumatic experiences and episodes of my life in graphic first, second and third person detail, by this I mean I was forced to relive these episode from the perspective of everyone involved regardless of whether or not I wanted to. many times I tried to resist and avoid reliving these experiences as I believed I had survived them as best as anyone could and did not want to revisit any of them. So time and time again each trip the first hour I suffered these trips down memory lane and until I submitted to the recall I was not allowed any of the euphoria and enjoyment parts of the trip, it was starting to put me off psychedelics as I felt I needed to build up the mental energy to go through a traumatic part of my past before getting any fun and enlightenment.
During this time in my life (25) I was a very angry person with a lot of hostility towards a society I felt had neglected me and persecuted me for the person it had made me become, I had a lot of resentment and was diagnosed as Agoraphobic with misanthropic tendancies, I had no job and was on incapacity benefits due to my mental condition after being stabbed in the stomach a few years earlier in an argument over £5. I was a typical example of the type of person recommended to avoid psychedelic use but I had been using psychedelics recreationally since I took my first LSD blotter on my 14th birthday, this trip was done alone due to my friends buying pieces of ordinary paper with something drawn on it, mine was a full blown experience of a 'Double Dipped Purple Ohm' or at least that was the sales patter. Whether it was double dipped or not made no difference, I submerged into the one consciousness eventually dropping into a deep sleep and then attending school the next day as if nothing had happened, anyway I have completely digressed but this was the absolute start of my psychedelic journey which is far from over now aged 35.
Back to the psychotherapy tripping, by now I realised I had issues and there was no hope of affording regular psychotherapy so I decided instead of trying to avoid and resist the analysis of my previous traumas that I should give in to the visions and see if I can see why these events from my life were causing me such problems, this was not out of a desire to have a healthy mind but just one healthy enough to stop spoiling my psychedelic experiences.
We set the scene of a darkened room in comfort and consumed 10 grams of Cyanescens each, the fungi as usual started having an effect within 20 minutes and 20 minutes after that the geometrics patterns started to evolve, as they formed into solid hallucinations I was presented with what at first I thought was a landscape of rolling hills and I was flying above this at a very low altitude, the landscape was made up of a metalic grey network of rope like fibers and every now and then I could see what looked like clear glass dome structures or bubbles on the surface, these glowed gently. As I passed these glowing bubbles which were sometimes in groups I would then come to what in the distance looked like fires and as they entered to the foreground they were similar to the glowing bubbles but emblazened in colours representative of danger and gave me an overwhealming sense of fear and dread as I came closer to them, at first I quickly tried to avoid these angry looking bubbles and was almost successful but avoiding one of them I was drawn into what felt like the gravitational field of another one of these angry bubbles, there was a blinding nano-flash of immense white light and the landscape was gone.
The light faded and I was in a memory of my own from the age of around 9 years old, this memory was as vivid as any movie I have ever watched being played out on my minds eye in the absolute darkness which we had set the trip. The memory was not a good one. As perspectives go in this situation I was like a floating camera in the room and my mother was getting ready for a night out, we were going to be babysat by my sisters father, he was not happy about this and was getting hostile and aggressive towards my mother and us. Me and my brother are sitting on the sofa trying to watch tv hoping things were'nt going to kick off but we had already given each other several knowing looks, my sister is getting dressed in her night clothes for bed by her father whilst he is arguing with my mother. As he got angrier he started aggressively dressing my sister and roughly handling her and she started to cry, my mother as any mother would seeing her child being abused attacked him grabbing him by the hair screaming 'you fucking bastard hurt my bairn ....' and hitting him with everything she had, I grabbed my sister and me, Michael and Diane cuddled together to protect each other on the other side of the room as my mother lost the upper hand in the fight and it again turned into the now familiar scene of him beating her viciously, someone somewhere must have heard this happening again and called the police who dragged him out of the house and arrested him.
The view blurs into a nothingness then back in now situated in my bedroom and me and my brother are lying in our beds asleep, there is a series of loud bangs waking us up it is my sisters father he has been let out by the police and is forcing entry into the house by smashing in the front door, the fear and terror is at maximum levels I am again 9 years old and helpless worried he is going to kill us all, again a blinding nano-flash of unbearable white light and I am back in the grey rolling landscape this time without control and below me in the fiery bubble of the memory I had just relived, the colours and intensity of it are fading and the bubble itself melts into the landscape and can not be seen, nearby there are several of the glowing bubbles and I am instantly drawn like gravity into the nearest one. In this bubble it is me who is the agressor dominating the school playground reinforcing my status as hardest in the school by starting fights with anyone who thought they should have that status and anyone I thought might present a threat to my status.
Realisation washed over me like a bucket of cold water over my head that my anger and agression was born out of the helplessness I had felt in the numerous occasions over the 5 years at the hands of my sisters father the aggresor at home. Again the nano-flash and what felt like hours was flicking past which in reality were in minutes each time entering different glowing bubbles on the landscape, each one I am older and older reinforcing the lesson with example after example of where my aggression and hostility had stopped me getting the most out of a situation, this continues until I am in memories from just a few days earlier when I was being aggressive to others, each time I am experiencing my own aggression from the victims perspective, one of them even being my brother Michael, his perspective felt from everytime in our lives flash remembered in a flick of a second, the continued upset of how all he wanted was for us to be good brothers and not be afraid of me loosing it, I'm also forming thoughts if I had been that victim probably very similar to what they actually did about me at the time.
This trip altho quite traumatic in itself was the start of the good path, in post analysis I realised the grey landscape was my subconcious brain and the further I travelled through it, the further back in my memory I was going, the visual effect was very simlilar to a helicopter flying low over a terrain of rolling hills and fields but soundless apart from a constant background low resonance hum common to me in large psilocybin doses, the fiery coloured bubbles were traumatic episodes in which I had carried a chip or picked up a mental complex from and to this day they were effecting my life and anyone in it, the glowing bubbles were events where I had missed valuable life lessons which would have done me good due to the warped defensive perspectives I had formulated from the bad times.
Over the next couple of weeks I analysed the experience almost continuously especially noticing that I did not feel the need to agressively dominate any social situation I was a part of plus the resulting internal peace I was feeling from letting this anger go and realising through my entire life as a defensive measure I was making sure I was the aggressive one who people should fear, could I have really solved a major part of my personality disorder by eating too many fungi, it felt like I had and I wanted to believe but I was sceptical and wondered if it would last and if at all even real. Maybe I'd imagined I was free from my anger and fear from controlling me.
I was keen for my next experience this time eager to revisit the grey landscape and its memory bubbles and the lessons contained within each one, over the next 6 months we were tripping at least every 2 weeks, we always still to this day keep several weeks between trips for reflection and appreciation of the previous experience. Each time I was returning with profound self awareness and revelations, each trip I would relive a at least one fiery bubble memories and the related glowing bubbles before being allowed access into what we started to call 'The Psychedelic Soup of All Knowledge' simply the blissfull period when you are comfortable peaking on a 'good trip'. This continued for me almost every 2 weeks each time we tripped to the point where I no longer got to visit the grey landscape and was instead presented with a psychedelic soup of sheer bliss and contentment, occasionally I went straight to the Psy-soup and in retrospect I realise these were times when I was still absorbing the knowledge from the previous session.
After about 6 months of this my personality disorders were non apparant and the people in my life I love and who loved me all were remarking on the changes for the better in my personality and I noticed that all of them were spending more time around me, they seemed more relaxed in my presence and we all started to get to know me and each other properly.
Now then the problem still exists that I am 26 with no job or decent qualifications and in the 'incapacity benefits trap' basically I can not get a job that pays enough to have me in the same situation I am in financially once the benefits are removed and I have no idea of how to get myself out of it, on top of this I have been out of work for over 5 years due to major psychological problems and on paper I look unemployable, I push these thoughts to the back of my mind and try to make the most of life for what it is.
It is about a month after this and we decide to have another Cyanescens adventure and expecting the psychedelic euphoria of recent trips I dive in without hesitation in the belief that i had learnt all the lessons to learn, as the fractal geometrics formed into solid hallucinations I am presented with a spotlight circle shone from above and in the centre of this light I am sitting legs crossed and arms folded looking down into my lap, at the edges of the spotlight range there are the vague shapes of people standing around me at the light perimeter in a complete circle and 2 voices can be heard. One of the voices is a child who I soon recognise to be myself around 8 years old and the other voice is my adult self but the tone of my voice is relaxed, almost benevolent and giving an impression of great wisdom, the 2 voices of my child self and my benevolent adult self are discussing my current situation in life, what little I have achieved and what I am capable of (I believe now the benevolent wise version of my voice is the person I thought I would grow up to be when I was 8). My 8 year old self is not happy and steps into the circle of light standing very confidently bold as brass, the light changes from a circle to a corner and I am sitting in same position in that corner and the 8 year old me has me boxed in, he said
'So then is this it? Is this all you are getting for us from life? What happened to being the best, the big dreams and promises you made when you were me? What happened to getting a great job and having enough money to look after all the family so we are not as poor? You never even kept your promise to drive your nanna up the big hill on your motorbike, you havent even got a motor bike licence!!!'
The 8 year old me moved backwards without walking out of the light laughing at me. The conversation took up again between the benevolent adult voice of me and the 8 year old me, they decided that as I no longer had the obstacles of the personality disorder I had no reason to still be in this situation all jobless with no prospects and they proceded to decide for me what must be done to solve it. They decided I had to go back to school and get computer qualifications proving I was no longer the mental defective and making myself look employable on paper. My 8 year old me and the benevolent adult voice of me also decided that I should not smoke tobacco as it was going to kill me being an asthmatic, they both laughed together at the fact I even started smoking in the first place reminding each other of the no smoking signs I drew for my bedroom wall and when I would not let anyone in my room who was smoking, the laughing faded and I entered the psychedelic soup again in sheer bliss, what felt like months had actually been about 20 minutes of the trip and I was still peaking beautifully.
Over the next couple of weeks I reflected on this, talked about it with my brother and we both laughed about the madness of the magic mushroom and the human brain and whether any of this had any real baring on us and if the changes were permanent or just imagined, my brother not being a metal defective had been regularly dissolved into the bliss of the psychedelic soup, hopefully he will write up a trip report sometime and explain fully his interpretation of pyschedelic soup and the variety of ways he has birthed into it as his ego dissolved.
About a month after this trip we decided to trip again, the instant the fractals formed into solid hallucinations I was presented with my 8 year old self asking me what I had done to impliment the changes we had agreed on regarding my employability, as I had done nothing I knew I could not lie to him so shamefully admitted I had done nothing, he promised me then that as long as I done nothing he would continue to torment me every time I used psychedelics instead of letting me enter the psychedelic soup. I promised if he left me alone there and then to enjoy the trip that the day after the trip I would go to the Incapacity Benefits Office and see about what help they had for getting people in my situation back into work, the 8 year old me was satisfied with this promise and allowed me access to the psychedelic ego free euphoria of the soup and all the bliss it contains but warned me if I did not keep this promise he would be much worse next time.
The next day I was analysing the experience with the 8 year old gate keeper partially feeling like my subconcious was determined to torture me and out of sheer desire not to have my psychedelic experiences ruined in this way I went to the Incapacity Benefits Office, they were delighted at my enthusiasm and before I left the office I was signed up to go to college and live on campus for a year for 8 hrs per day 5 days a week as a mature student with just 1 subject learning to be a Cisco PC Tech, just for clarification I have never smoked tobacco again, whilst at college on night times I was able to study and get NVQ level 1,2 +3 in English and Maths to repair my neglected GCSE results. Since leaving college I have worked for The Breast Cancer Campaign, Friends of the Earth, BNS Telecom, British Airways, T-Mobile and currently I am with one of Britains top companies and the only person I occasionally get angry with is myself at specific times when I know I am doing something the 8 year old me would be kicking my arse about, I figure if I do it in reality he won't gatecrash my alternate realities to educate me.
These days my trips are sheer psychedelic bliss and every now and then if my conscious mind misses a life lesson from the experiences in my reality I always catch the missed lesson in the next psychedelic episode delivered always before the pleasure and comfort of the peak.
I have heard it said many times and read it even more that if you are having difficult times in your life you should avoid the psychedelic experience as anyone who reads this will understand I don't follow that belief and any time I am in a situation I cannot solve in a conscious state I take the problem into a heavy psychedelic state for an alternate perspective.
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