A Report On Lsd, Its Positive And Negative Sides

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Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as acid, is a consciousness altering substance. Altered state of consciousness is defined as a deviation from the regular state of mind with either excitatory and inhibitory effects. The neural mechanisms that results in altered states of consciousness, especially visual hallucinations, are poorly understood. That being said, there is some knowledge regarding the changes in the brain, therapeutic value, effects of LSD, and long term effects.

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It’s difficult to pinpoint the specific areas of the brain that are responsible for the visual hallucinations of LSD due to the wide variety of stimuli seen. There is a connection between LSD and dopamine, as LSD is known to have dopamine agonist effects in the brain and bind at postsynaptic dopamine receptors. LSD is also structurally similar to serotonin and can affect its pathways in the brain (Dutta, 2012). A study by Iaria (2010) found that hallucinations of faces were associated with varying effects in many cortical regions, specifically the facial fusiform area which is responsible for recognizing faces in normal individuals.

LSD has a history of use in psychotherapy as a way to gain access to chronically withdrawn patients (Dutta, 2012). This method, known as psychedelic psychotherapy, gives insight into the consciousness and helps examine the mystical qualities associated with it. Before the use of LSD was criminalized, it was valued for its therapeutic value. One particular study focuses on the benefits of LSD for cancer patients and found that it reduced their pain for 12 hours and reduced the intensity of the pain for the following weeks and allowed them to get past their fear of impending death (Dutta, 2012). This push past their mortality salience was attributed to the philosophical experiences and deep introspection associated with LSD use. These mystical experiences that are acutely induced by hallucinogens contribute to potential therapeutic effects.

Sayin (2012) widely details the many effects associated with LSD. One effect is visual phenomena that cause vivid colors, animated in 2D images, and kaleidoscopic images seen when eyes are closed. Acoustic phenomena are characterized by more profound and amplified sounds as well as music becoming deep and philosophical. Amplified touch and feeling of touch is known as tactile phenomena and may be experienced overwhelmingly. The individual may also experience changes in body perception like body parts becoming distorted or enlarged. Sexual pleasure is generally enhanced and orgasms may be perceived as lasting a couple of minutes to hours. LSD has been used to treat sexual dysfunctions and anorgasmia. They may also have alterations in judgment of time, weight, size, and spatial relationships as well as changes in spatial and temporal perception. Childhood experiences and trauma which were forgotten for years may be remembered all of the sudden. Another effect is a change in perceptions of the self that can lead to feelings of disconnect with oneself but can also experience unification with the universe. The meaning of life may be questioned and deeper relationships are formed with those around them.

Overall the experience is highly variable for each person. It may induce extreme euphoria or it can cause temporary psychosis; it may relieve the individual’s anxiety or it may cause varying different levels of anxiety; it can cause laughter or crying. Flashbacks may occur which take the individual back to the feeling of the LSD mood state without ingestion long after LSD use. Further symptoms of LSD include dryness of mouth, diarrhea, dizziness, lethargy, partial paralysis, headaches, etc. LSD may induce mental disorders such as acute psychosis and schizophrenia. LSD also reacts with other drugs, most notably tricyclic antidepressants, lithium, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Tricyclic antidepressants and lithium both increased physical, hallucinatory, and psychological responses to LSD, while monoamine oxidase inhibitors decreased the response to LSD. It is believed that these altered responses to LSD involve different changes in serotonin and dopamine receptor systems .

LSD can produce long term effects when used chronically. Iaria (2010) details the case of a man who consistently experienced hallucinations of seeing faces in trees. Due to a period of heavy LSD abuse he was experiencing Hallucinogenic Persisting Perceptual Disorder (HPPD) that is characterized by persistent visual phenomena long after abuse. Furthermore, repeated use of LSD has been associated with decreased performance in visual perception, spatial orientation, and nonverbal abstract reasoning as well as increased magical thinking. Chronic LSD use results in altered gene expression that is associated with abnormal behaviors. This can present itself as schizophrenia in severe cases. LSD causes visual perceptual disturbances similar to those seen in schizophrenia and can cause alteration in information processing. The line between an LSD induced state and psychosis or schizophrenia is a very thin one that relies on the individual’s ability to understand that their hallucinations are not real. Failure to make this distinction can cause a psychotic break.

Overall, LSD can be a very powerful way of pushing the boundaries of one’s own consciousness. These mind-altering effects can aid in introspection and finding meaning in life. While LSD can have therapeutic benefits for pain management and consciousness insight, it can also have negative side effects that are potentially long lasting like persistent hallucinations or development of psychosis. It is not recommended that LSD be taken recreationally but with the changing legality, it is no longer to access in a clinical environment either. When using LSD, one must be prepared for a good or bad trip because there are no guarantees when it comes to using acid. 

16 December 2021

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