The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness

March 1, 2021
The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness

An investigation into the brain's chemistry and the mechanismsof chemically altered states of consciousness.In this book, J. Allan Hobson offers a new understanding ofaltered states of consciousness based on knowledge of how our brainchemistry is balanced when we are awake and how that balance shiftswhen we fall asleep and dream. He draws on recent research thatenables us to explain how psychedelic drugs work to disturb thatbalance and how similar imbalances may cause depression andschizophrenia. He also draws on work that expands our understandingof how certain drugs can correct imbalances and restore the brain'snatural equilibrium.Hobson explains the chemical balance concept in terms of what weknow about the regulation of normal states of consciousness overthe course of the day by brain chemicals called neuromodulators. Hepresents striking confirmation of the principle that every drugthat has transformative effects on consciousness interacts with thebrain's own consciousness-altering chemicals. In the section called"The Medical Drugstore," Hobson describes drugs used to counteractanxiety and insomnia, to raise and lower mood, and to eliminate ordiminish the hallucinations and delusions of schizophrenia. Hediscusses the risks involved in their administration, including thepossibility of new disorders caused by indiscriminate long-termuse. In "The Recreational Drugstore,"Hobson discusses psychedelic drugs, narcotic analgesia, andnatural drugs. He also considers the distinctions betweenlegitimate and illegitimate drug use. In the concluding"Psychological Drugstore," he discusses the mind as anagent, not just the mediator, of change, and corrects manyerroneous assumptions and practices that hinder the progress ofpsychoanalysis.