The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness

The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness

J. Allan Hobson

Language: English

Pages: 318

ISBN: B011T7E62K

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this book, J. Allan Hobson offers a new understanding of altered states of consciousness based on knowledge of how our brain chemistry is balanced when we are awake and how that balance shifts when we fall asleep and dream. He draws on recent research that enables us to explain how psychedelic drugs work to disturb that balance and how similar imbalances may cause depression and schizophrenia. He also draws on work that expands our understanding of how certain drugs can correct imbalances and restore the brain's natural equilibrium.Hobson explains the chemical balance concept in terms of what we know about the regulation of normal states of consciousness over the course of the day by brain chemicals called neuromodulators. He presents striking confirmation of the principle that every drug that has transformative effects on consciousness interacts with the brain's own consciousness-altering chemicals. In the section called "The Medical Drugstore," Hobson describes drugs used to counteract anxiety and insomnia, to raise and lower mood, and to eliminate or diminish the hallucinations and delusions of schizophrenia. He discusses the risks involved in their administration, including the possibility of new disorders caused by indiscriminate long-term use. In "The Recreational Drugstore," Hobson discusses psychedelic drugs, narcotic analgesia, and natural drugs. He also considers the distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate drug use. In the concluding "Psychological Drugstore," he discusses the mind as an agent, not just the mediator, of change, and corrects many erroneous assumptions and practices that hinder the progress of psychoanalysis.

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hypothesis is incorrect, or at least incomplete. We know this because had I been sleeping in a sleep lab, instead of my bed at the Hotel Miramare in Stromboli, a distinctive constellation of physiological events would have preceded my awakening—perhaps by as long as 30, 40, or even 50 minutes. My electroencephalogram (EEG) would have shown the sort of lowvoltage fast pattern otherwise seen only in the most intense waking. That 50 Chapter 3 means that my brain was electrically activated,

brain’s neuromodulatory systems. As a metaphor, The Dream Drugstore is your chemical brain, not a building where you go to get prescriptions filled. The first two parts of this book explain how scientists now understand normal alterations of consciousness in brain chemical terms. In part I, The Scope and Shape of Conscious States, I define the psychological components and dimensions of conscious experience. Chapter 1 shows how subjective experience can be conceptualized and measured in relation

generation. It was even reasonable, on an a priori basis, that each of the elements had responsibility for one state, viz, dopamine controls waking, serotonin controls slow wave sleep, and norepinephrine controls REM. Early lesion and parenteral pharmacological studies—some even armed with measures of amine concentrations in the brain—gave initial support to this concept. For example, Michel Jouvet produced insomnia in cats by blocking the enzyme that is essential to convert tryptophane into

that blocks the reuptake of the biogenic amines norepinephrine and serotonin (and so potentiates them) and also blocks the action of acetylcholine (and so enfeebles that system). Now that we know that REM sleep dreaming is 158 Chapter 8 driven by cholinergic neuromodulation and held in check by aminergic restraint, it seems unlikely that my patient’s inability to contain her alligators within the confines of sleep—where they would more naturally have been forgotten—was related to the

and from the well-known neurophysiology of REM sleep we can, moreover, begin to construct a gen- 170 Chapter 8 eral theory of conscious state alteration that specifies the behavioral and biochemical conditions under which they are likely to occur. The general hypothesis that emerges also integrates a regional view of the brain with the neuromodulatory approach. Because this integrated model incorporates both relatively automatic emotional and instinct-driven forces with relatively deliberate,

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