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Monday, 29 October 2012

Hallucinogenic or psychedelic?

Issues related to hallucinogenic drugs have aroused
vehement discussions and often controversy among
both concerned experts (psychiatrists, psychologists,
psychopharmacologists etc.) and people using
them. At different times, these drugs have been
called 'psychedelic' (mind opening, mind
expanding), 'psychotomimetic' (resembling
psychosis), 'psychodysleptic' (mind disrupting),
'hallucinogenic', or the less familiar - 'phantastica',
'oneirogenic' etc. All these names depend on the
purposes and starting premises of those using them
and bring different positive or negative
connotations (Gossop, 1993). The scientific
community has largely adopted the term
'hallucinogens', however inaccurate it might be,
whereas most of the users naturally prefer the term
'psychedelic'. In practice, the two terms are being
used interchangeably.
The term 'hallucinogens' refers to the hallucinogenproducing
properties of these drugs. However, the
hallucinations are not the only effects caused by
these drugs and often occur only at very high
doses. The hallucinations are most often visual, but
can affect any of the senses, as well as the
individual's perception of time, the world, and the
self (Jacob and Fehr, 1987).
The term hallucinogens. However, is misleading as
these drugs do not generally cause true
hallucinations (i.e. sensory perceptions in the
absence of external stimuli). The effects could be
more accurately described as perceptual distortions
than hallucinations, though the effects also extend
beyond perceptions. Changes of thought, mood,
and personality integration (self-awareness) are all
important effects (Gossop, 1993; Pechnick and
Ungerleider, 2005).
Hallucinogens can be classified by chemical
structure and the compound from which they are
derived. Chemically related substances tend to
exhibit similar effects. Many other agents can be
classified as pseudo-hallucinogens because they
produce psychotic and delirious effects without the
classic visual disturbances of true hallucinogens.
Grouping the hallucinogens based on their
chemical structure includes, but is not limited to,
three major groups: indolealkilamines (tryptamines)
e.g. LSD, psilocin, psilocybin; phenylethylamines
e.g. mescaline; and cannabinoids (Pechnick and
Ungerleider, 2005).