Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oliver Sacks - Psychonaut

I recently came across this three year old New Yorker article by Oliver Sacks describing his rather extensive experimentation with recreational chemicals.  His roster includes LSD, cannabis, morning glory seeds, artane (belladonna), amphetamines, morphine, as well as the experience of full on DT hallucinations from chloral hydrate withdrawal.

One reason I thought to post this, besides the obvious, is that his practice of dealing with difficult hallucinations was:
"to write, to describe the hallucination in clear, almost clinical detail, and, in so doing, become an observer, even an explorer, not a helpless victim, of the craziness inside me. I am never without pen and notebook, and now I wrote for dear life, as wave after wave of hallucination rolled over me.

Description, writing, had always been my best way of dealing with complex or frightening situations—though it had never been tested in so terrifying a situation. But it worked; by describing in my lab notebook what was going on, I managed to maintain a semblance of control, though the hallucinations continued, mutating all the while."
This practice reminded me of noting practice, of mindfulness or vipassana, and it struck me that some very visual-verbal people might plausibly get a lot out of a written noting practice.  It also reminded me of Adyashanti's practice of written self-inquiry.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting thoughts here. It is always interesting to look at how people like Oliver Sacks use their brain. Thanks for sharing!