Psychedelics can cause harm.

Don’t get me wrong, I love psychedelics. But I also acknowledge their potential to bring about profoundly unwanted changes in the psyche.

Yet, with the ever-more abundant influx of news about the life-changing benefits of these substances, the very real risks that they pose are getting drowned out, leaving us with only one-half of the full picture.

The way that our information channels are structured these days, if we don’t want to hear about something, we usually don’t. We also tend to be over-eager to find The Solution to all our problems. Psychedelics, for many, are taking on this projection. It’s not uncommon to hear people talking about the psychedelic renaissance as though it were the second coming. 

Ed Prideaux is on a mission to stop some of this psychedelic naivety in its tracks, by speaking up about his experience with hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). 

Remember those LSD horror stories that your mum told you, about that guy who took LSD and never stopped tripping? Well, this is sort of like that (although HPPD is not the same as ‘permatripping’, as you’ll hear Ed clarify) except this is no horror story. The week after Ed’s fourth LSD trip, he noticed that the carpets were sparkling and the walls were melting. These effects, along with a handful of others, have not totally left him, 6 years on.

This phenomenon is far more common than you might think. A recent study of 2455 psychedelic users reported that a quarter of participants said that they experienced lingering perceptual changes days and weeks after a psychedelic experience and that 1 in 25 found these changes to be so distressing that they considered seeking clinical help.

The conversation that Ed brings to the table goes far beyond just HPPD. It extends into an axiom-altering exploration of the narratives around ‘really bad trips’, the fundamental flaws of the current mental health framework, and the fluid nature of reality itself. 

What We Cover:

  • What is HPPD?
  • Ed’s personal experience with HPPD
  • The connection between anxiety and perception
  • Advice for someone who thinks they might have HPPD
  • The problem with overidentifying with a particular form of suffering
  • Can you use psychedelics again if you have HPPD?
  • The gifts of neurodiversity
  • Stan Grof’s controversial treatment for HPPD
  • How to make a psychedelic experience as well-held as possible
  • The fundamental skill to have in the psychedelic experience
  • The intersection of this psychedelic moment with the metaverse
  • Psychedelic narcissism 

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Links mentioned:

Ed Prideaux’s Work