By Gabriel García December 7, 2022
How can psychedelics help with mental disorders?
For that we should first ask ourselves what mental disorders consist of. Simplistically, we could say that when there is a disconnect between our higher models of the world and reality, mental disorders such as depression and addictions occur. Our overactive default network (DMN) filters information in an unhealthy way, controlling how we think, behave and see the world. This limits our ability to relate to situations realistically, reinforcing harmful patterns rather than allowing us to change.
It is a very difficult task to change our models of reality. However, during a psychedelic experience, these models break down and become more flexible. This makes it easier for abstract concepts to blend with sensory information and vice versa. In this way, psychedelics act on the brain in a similar way as therapists would attempt to update these same models using external information from the senses or internal information from memory or other neural networks further down the hierarchy than the DMN (Default Mode Network).
What is the DMN or Default Mode Network?
The function of the DMN is to allow us to see different perspectives, recall information we have forgotten, detect patterns in our thinking that may be harming us, discover and correct subconscious habits, etc. It seems as if taking a psychedelic will temporarily “soften” the brain so that it can be reshaped before it solidifies back into its rigid pathological patterns and thought patterns. This time perhaps with a slight improvement.
The brain functions similarly to a stratified social class system in need of change. The psychedelic experience can be likened to a social revolt that aims to break down the current hierarchy and systems. If successful, it can bring about more beneficial changes for the majority of people.
How do psychedelics help with mental illness?
Although psychedelics only temporarily alter the status quo, it is important for society as a whole to learn from these experiences in order to create better futures.
Psychedelics can expand consciousness by breaking down the barriers that the ego imposes on experience. They are most effective when used with clear intent, in controlled contexts and under the guidance of an experienced professional. That is why it is important to take good care of yourself before using psychedelics, and to understand the importance of the set and setting.
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