psychedelics, two years later
on PNSEs and how pathology can be the deepest thing about us
by Joan Mitchell
I took psilocybin a few times between September 2019 and May 2020 and wrote about my experiences in this post. At the time I wanted to write about it because, well, I knew I’d undergone an intense change, but I hadn’t yet acquired the vocabulary to really describe what had happened to me, and I was still trying to process a lot of the changes. A year later, I think I understand better.
I’m really thankful to Jeremy for sending me this PNSE paper. You can read the Slate Star Codex post on it here. The paper is based on interviews with 50 people who all claimed to have experienced PNSE (persistent non-symbolic experience), which is also what Maslow describes as a “peak experience." Jeffery Martin, the author, describes PNSE as
a continuum that seemed to progress from ‘normal’ waking consciousness toward a distant destination where participants reported no individualized sense of self, no self-related thoughts, no emotion, and no apparent sense of agency or ability to make a choice. Locations prior to this seemed to involve consistent changes toward this direction.