“First and most important is the experience of light. Everything seen by those who visit the mind’s antipodes is brilliantly illuminated and seems to shine from within.”
- Aldous Huxley, Heaven and Hell (1952)


Overview


Classical psychedelics are a designated class of psychoactive substances that exert their effects primarily via the serotonin system. Yet attempting to identify a unifying function of serotonin has led many researchers into despair. Among the determined attempts to resolve this perplexing mystery, some have come forth to propose that it acts, much like its chemical cousin auxin in plant tropisms, to orient us toward relevant sources of stimuli, and integrate the mind, body, and outside world. But so far this conception of serotonin has yet to be applied to an understanding of psychedelic experience. This work begins with an overview of the evolution of the serotonin system, its ancient relation to light, roles in orienting growth, attention, and behaviour, in modulating energy metabolism and resource access priority, and offers a brief outline of how its involvement in all these aspects of animal life relates to a modern model of the Mind. The second part of this work draws on a variety of cognitive, behavioural, and neuropsychological investigations with classical psychedelics and explores the implications of interpreting their various effects in this context. Altogether Psychedelotropsim (psykhē: mind, spirit; dēloun: to manifest, to reveal; tropos: to orient, a turning, a way) touches on the nature and dynamics of simple and complex visionary restructuralization, expanded semantic and autobiographical memory, impaired cognition and control, paradoxical insight, problem-solving, meaning-making, mystical experience, and more, to explore how careful psychedelic provocation of the serotonin system might provide a distinctive opportunity for the mind and body to re-orient, and re-adjust our priorities, attitudes, attention, and behaviour.



 

About the author


Eric M. Fortier holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Ottawa, Canada. His work primarily centers on how psychedelic experience can lead to insight and changes in priorities and behaviour and help us better allocate our resources. With Psychoactive Press, he aims to help us more safely and effectively think about, express, and use non-ordinary states of consciousness. He is the author of Psychedelotropism and of articles such as Can You Feel It? On Psychedelic Microdosing, and D.W. Woolley, the Serotonin Hypothesis, and the Genesis of Psychopharmacology.’

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