Regarding the debate on whether psychedelic consciousness is just a hallucination:
I think the very existence of N,N-DMT in the human brain emphasizes that there is more to it and similar chemicals than just “hallucination”. It is correct to assume that each brain chemical and neurotransmitter serves some specific purpose (whether the purpose is latent or active), this is step 1. Step 2 would be to identify where a given neurotransmitter is produced: and Rick Strassman believes DMT to be produced by the pineal gland, which just so happens to be a SENSORY ORGAN or at least an organ involved with the senses (interesting?). Step 3 would be to identify the receptors to which a neurotransmitter binds, and we know that DMT binds to serotonin (5-HT) receptors. Step 4 would be to compare a neurotransmitter whose function is unknown to another neurotransmitter whose function is known (or at least MORE known) that binds to the SAME receptor. So with this, we should be comparing DMT to Serotonin, and they are very related structurally so there should be some common function.
Now let’s focus on serotonin. Serotonin you could say is responsible for facilitating the reception of information. But what we call “reality” is just a product of the EXTENT to which the brain receives information. For example, doctors give someone who is depressed a drug that increases serotonin levels, and they give someone who is schizophrenic a drug that limits serotonin levels. Therefore it can be said that the extent to which serotonin receptors are stimulated relates directly to the extent to which the brain receives information—-> (following the logic provided by the above medical technique) a depressed person has lower than average serotonin levels: (s)he is not receiving enough 5-HT-receptor-stimulation and therefore is plagued with ‘UNDER-PERCEPTION’: illusions, and misunderstandings, which are the causes of depression. The schizophrenic is perceiving things that ‘most’ people do not because his/her 5-HT receptors are being stimulated moreso than the average “sane person”, ‘OVER-PERCEPTION’, which is the cause of what we call “hallucinations” or false perceptions. Therefore it is safe to say that what we call normal “reality” is the result of a SPECIFIC EXTENT of 5-HT receptor stimulation, not too low, not too high, a ‘comfort zone of stimulation’.
The main question now is whether or not [what is experienced when 5-HT receptor stimulation is higher than this normal “comfort zone”] is “artificial” and created/projected only by the subject’s mind. I hesitate to believe that this type of perception (higher serotonin level) is projected. This is because of two concepts. One is because the content of the psychedelic experience is so bizarre and ‘other-oriented’ that it seems impossible that it can be projected from the ‘normal’ experience of the mind or the collective experiences of the minds (e.g. Were you able to imagine/picture multidimensional objects BEFORE you took psychedelics?!!). Two is because quantum physics has already proven the existence of multiple realities/universes. And it states that there may be infinite realities/universes that probably intersect and mingle with one another.
When combining these two concepts, it is my theory that what we call “hallucinations” are just the RECEIVING of information that comes from these other realities. And psychedelics produce a level of 5-HT stimulation that is much stronger than that which occurs while ‘sober’, which results in a sort of ‘hyper-perception’ that opens us to a more thorough range of actual realities. It is not that psychedelic perception is false, it is that normal perception is limited. That sober perception is SELECTIVE, meaning we perceive only the things we need to perceive in order to survive as a species (imagine trying to sustain yourself/survive during a never-ending high level psychedelic trip!!!), and this “limiting” of information is achieved by limiting 5-HT receptor stimulation. But this in no way should conclude that any other type of perception is false, I would say that it is just “extra,” meaning the information received while on psychedelics (read: while 5-HT stimulation is higher than normal) is CORRECT, but REDUNDANT. I think right now endogenous DMT is sort of ‘latent’ or somewhat ‘inactive’. Maybe in the future DMT will be integrated into our everyday brain chemistry moreso than it is currently, when some type of evolutionary pressure requires a more effective reception of information and therefore a higher stimulation of 5-HT receptors.
You see, in conclusion I believe that increased serotonin levels, and DMT, and psilocybin, etc are all just chemical ways of strengthening the level of 5-HT stimulation. Higher serotonin levels serve the same function as psychedelics, the stimulation of these receptors TO AN EXTENT THAT ALLOWS US TO PERCEIVE A BROADER RANGE OF ACTUAL REALITY. Sobriety is nothing more than a sedation, a NARROWING of information that is perceived, which is necessary to survive, (and as usual all good things come with costs—->) but which interferes with the full understanding of the entirety of surrounding realities.
p.s. this theory is more of an intuition that is supported by logic and some info involving neurology (but my knowledge here is limited so please correct any mistakes in fact or logic)
Thanks for reading this post, it took so much energy to articulate my theory of brain chemistry as a window of perception, at the cost of a massive headache. BUT I could not have done it without the insights and techniques gained from hearing Terence Mckenna’s way of articulating his ideas.