Dictionary for the High-Functioning Paranoiac
We proudly present to you the Marijuana Paranoia Management Coaching (MPMC) Dictionary, 1st Edition! (featured at HailMaryJane.Com) This is much more than a catalog of MPMC terminologies. Within these definitions you will find a great deal of insight into the inner mechanics of the MPMC practice. Enjoy!
“Belief in coincidence is the prevailing superstition of the age of science”
-Robert Anton Wilson
“Accelerations,” as defined in the MPMC community, are a significant component of the paranoiac’s experience on cannabis. Accelerations refer to perceived concentrations of synchronistic phenomena in relation to the standard passage of time. We’ve tested the validity and objectivity of “Acceleration” using video recorders and third-party, impartial and sober moderators. For a more detailed explanation of this field-work, see Handbook for the High-Functioning Paranoiac, The Principles of Marijuana Paranoia Management Coaching.
Though our anecdotal findings do support a relationship between cannabis and accelerated perceptions of synchronistic phenomena, an important caveat must be noted. In the mind of the paranoiac, these concentrated surges of synchronistic phenomena manifest with a profound and, at times, distressing sharpness. Such profundities, however, appear to be largely subjective in nature. Reviewing video footage of a paranoiac’s experience with Acceleration will reveal that yes, perhaps certain objective elements of synchronistic perception become inexplicably augmented under the influence of cannabis, but the psychological “force” of such synchronicities prove significantly abated when viewed under the lens of sobriety.
Despite its many subjective dependencies, Acceleration remains a significant finding in that it points to a highly unusual, reciprocal creative relationship shared between man and his environment. Our unique and ancient capacity to imagine and extract myth and meaning from our environment—an exercise employed to some degree by virtually everyone—may in fact be reciprocated (or reacted to) by inanimate or random environmental phenomena. Simply put, our findings support the notion that the substance (or “matter”) of synchronicity exists objectively, well beyond the headspace of the human observer.
We might further postulate that inside each of us exists a powerful, yet entirely subjective reality, a personal fantasy realm that is to some degree capable of tangible influence on our shared social or collective “objective” reality. Note however, this is not telekinesis, as Accelerations do not in any way exist in strictly three-dimensional space but depend on defined fourth-dimensional (time) awareness.
Our aim at MPMC is to explore, test, and describe limits for cannabis’ unique effects on Accelerations.In our workshops, we use a simple counting mechanisms to gage frequency and intensity of subjectively perceived synchronistic phenomena. These observations are communicated efficiently, then edited (contextualized) by the PMC or by the volunteer sober moderator.
THE ANTI-ADVERSARIAL APPROACH—
“Bare Attention is the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us at the successive moments of perception. It’s called ‘Bare’ because it attends just to the bare facts of perception as presented either through the five physical senses or through the mind without reacting to them.” -Schwartz, Stapp, and Beauregard, “Quantum Physics in Neuroscience and Psychology.” 1309-27
The Anti-Adversarial Approach to paranoia management is a complete reset of the cannabis expectations game. In the early stages of any client program, we emphasize the importance of not trying to combat the paranoid/anxious element of the experience. Instead, we encourage our clients to focus their energies on observation and what Schwartz and his coauthors (cited above) would call “Bare Attention.”
We do our best to create an atmosphere that is in all ways supportive and non-judgmental, where our clients can allow their fears a space to manifest and be observed. This first passive encounter in the group/supportive setting lays the foundation for the work to come. By adopting a non-adversarial, “bare attention” approach, the client may directly and calmly confront her demons. From here, the client can begin the work of understanding the limited reach of these dark forces, and the road to healing and self-empowerment can begin.
“When a person is encouraged to get in touch with and express his deepest feelings in the secure knowledge that he will not be rejected, criticized, nor expected to be different, some kind of rearrangement or sorting-out process often occurs within the mind which brings with it a sense of peace; a sense that the depths of the well of truth have really been reached”
-Anthony Storr, Solitude (London: HarperCollins, 1997), 22.
BLITZ AND DISCHARGE METHOD—
An advanced MPMC technique, the Blitz and Discharge Method (BDM) is usually introduced during a higher level workshop. BDM (unlike TVM or Threshold Visualization Method, see definition) entails a more rapid ingestion (usually by smoking or vaporizing) and a clear expectation of a pronounced and somewhat immediate effect. Using the Threshold Visualization Method (TVM), the client may or may not notice an abundantly clear intoxicating effect. BDM not only assumes a rapid onset of THC intoxication, but also anticipates a temporary wave or shock of MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety)— “Oh shit, back in this headspace again. Sure, we’ve been here before. Nevertheless, oh shit!” The brain knows no limits when it comes to imaginings of any sort, fearful or otherwise; it has infinite ways of tricking the mind into believing that something is wrong. Modern science has produced a sound physiological reasoning to explain the ability of cannabis to persistently induce fear in certain individuals (though by no means concluding that this process cannot be abated); it can be found in Handbook for the High-Functioning Paranoiac under the chapter header, “The Science of Paranoia.”
THE COMT HYPOTHESIS—
Though the science behind the COMT hypothesis is still young, it is perhaps the most significant, yet under-discussed, variable in the MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety, see definition) equation. The COMT hypothesis is derived from medical findings that associate a particular variation (the valine/valine genotype) of the COMT gene with one’s likelihood of experiencing MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety). The expression of the COMT gene in the prefrontal cortex affects many of the same metrics affected by THC, such as attention span, working (short-term) memory, executive functioning, and abstract thinking. The COMT hypothesis is derived from a clinical study conducted in 2008 by Cecile Henquet that attempted to link the valine/valine genotype of COMT with greater liability to the development of schizophreniform disorder. The COMT gene releases an enzyme (Catechol-O-Methyltransferase) that regulates the brain’s intake of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. One of the Henquet study’s clinical tests resulted in compelling evidence that individuals who had the valine/valine genotypes of COMT were predisposed to a more intense kind of intoxication from cannabis, four or five times stronger than the intoxication experienced by individuals possessing other COMT genotypes. Using information about COMT and its role in affecting various neurotransmitters, MPMC is able to offer clients a series of compelling models to help them understand certain physiological/neuro-chemical patterns that may be involved in producing the paranoid high. Certain findings of the Henquet study have also led MPMC to adopt a policy rigorously discouraging adolescent cannabis use. As such, MPMC does not permit individuals under the age of 19 to participate in our workshops.
This is the working term used to describe individuals who do not, or only very rarely, experience MIPA. The reasons for this term selection are slightly complicated and will be discussed in future writings.
Though it can be traumatizing, Deep-Ending is one of the HFP’s (High-Functioning Paranoiac, see definition) most significant experiences. Deep-Ending refers to a situation in which the HFP—often due to willful disregard or incorrect application of MPMC principles—finds himself well beyond the range of his current Psychotomimetic Map (see definition): uncharted, wild territory, no man’s land. Given cannabis’s ability to spontaneously appear in the social world (sometimes it finds you, not the other way around), Deep-Ending most often results from an unexpected encounter with cannabis, in a new environment, with new people, using a new strain or a dosage level you’re not quite prepared for. Even regular, non-paranoiac cannabis users occasionally find themselves in distressing experiences, usually fitting the profile of Deep-Ending—unusual environment, strain, dosage-level etc. For most of them, this is all they know of MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Anxiety/Paranoia, see definition).
While Deep-Ending is not pleasant, it can provide a valuable experience and will surely strengthen the range of one’s Psychotomimetic Map. It can also renew one’s empathy for those paranoiacs who have not yet begun to work with MPMC principles. This is the reality they associate with cannabis, the reason they are terrified of using it again. It is real. It is scary. And they deserve our respect and support.
Important things to remember while Deep-Ending—
1) Take it easy on yourself—
You will likely be visited by feelings of extreme guilt, pressure, and urgent calls to action that you simply don’t feel strong enough to undertake. Don’t let these thoughts beat you up too badly. Allow yourself some time to run on auto-pilot. This is a trip. You only have limited control and that’s ok. Whatever is meant to happen will happen.
2) Resign yourself to the Fates—
The experience of Deep-Ending often entails a sense that one’s mortality and very soul may be at stake. Open your heart to the judgment of God, the universe, humanity. Take note of the information you receive, perhaps it’s important. The time will come when you’ll again be strong enough to take autonomous action; choose the righteous path, and ever forward.
Distillations are carefully and mindfully discerned pieces of information arrived upon in the process of controlled MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety). As a part of their assigned homeworks, MPMC clients are asked to notate one to three unique insights, thoughts, or expressions that result from their cannabis experience. They are encouraged to manage their expectations and not expect (or demand) any profoundly life-altering expressions to emerge from their experience. They are also advised to carefully evaluate the merit of a Distillation before choosing to commit it to record. Twitter is an amazing interactive tool for the expression and sharing of Distillations. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out MPMC’s twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/mpmc_service
A final note on the problem of schizophrenia: MIPA-related Exposures should be seen as an opportunity for a person of otherwise sound mind to intimately and temporarily explore the psychological reality of a person who suffers from schizophrenia, psychosis, or various other mental debilitations. Through the employ of sound MPMC methods, it is often possible for an HFP to engage the mentally unwell in ways gratifying, productive, and dignified for both parties.
To understand Exposures, think of the burst of light from a flash-photograph. The energy of the flash is used to illuminate a segment of three-dimensional space. While the record produced by a photograph lacks any fourth-dimensional context (time), the artifact itself—the photo—has the power to tell a story about a given place/time/event. IE, the fourth-dimensional significance of the three-dimensional exposure may be imaginatively extracted from the artifact and used to create a plausible narrative.
In the context of MPMC, Exposures are intimate, and often uncomfortable, contact with extra-dimensional presences or messages. Like a flash-photograph, Exposures are illuminated by a sudden surge of energy (spiritual energy, or as Robert Anton Wilson would say, consciousness energy). In the heat of an Exposure, the HFP may ascribe conscious presence, or intent, to unconscious, peripheral, inanimate, or random stimuli, such as the plot of a television show, the movements of an animal, the selection of music playing inside a coffee shop, or even the memories that manifest within the confines of one’s mind. During the experience of Exposure, these otherwise innocuous phenomena can become steeped in meaning and significance, often to a point of perceived extra-human consciousness. Much like a photograph, though it contains no fourth-dimensional (time-related/narrative) information, can still tell a story, an Exposure, though it bears no innate, rational significance, is capable of expressing intense and pertinent meaning.
Neurological imaging of the brains of cannabis users suggests that Exposures are scientifically similar in nature to a schizophrenic’s hearing of voices. The key difference between the HFP’s experience and that of a person who suffers from mental illness, is that the HFP (see definition) A) responsibly utilizes a medically benign plant to produce a temporary and controlled psyhotomimetic state, and B) trains the mind to limit the power and reach of Exposures, never becoming overly devoted to their mandates. By contrast, a person suffering from schizophrenia has an expressly high devotion to his Exposures, and is apt to forget or discount the imperatives of established social, scientific, and historical reality. If we had to reduce schizophrenia to a logical fallacy— which, logically, we can’t— we might entertain the argument that the schizophrenic cannot internalize the notion that the vivid existence of extra-sensory phenomena in no way discounts or obsoletes the dictates and power of contemporary reality, no matter how illusory it may seem.
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
The HFP is taught to vigilantly maintain an awareness of the sober identity, to accept and love this identity, to celebrate its gravity and emotional anchoring (via connection to family, friends, and general life-appreciation), and to understand that one’s “real world” is secure, safe, and waiting devotedly to greet the pscyhonaut upon every journey’s conclusion.
“Nature does not know extinction; all it knows is transformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death.”
-Wenher Von Braun
Ghosts refer, quite literally, to the perceptible presence of a deceased human entity. We feature this concept in the dictionary due to its relevance to certain MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety, see definition) experiences. In certain Exposures, the “inhuman” conscious entity, and the story it wishes to share, seems to take on the resinous quality of some deceased human agent or collective. High-functioning paranoiac and literary mastermind, Thomas Pynchon, author of “V” and “Gravity’s Rainbow,” expertly profiled the influence of Ghosts in his literature. In the MIPA experience, just like in Pynchon’s novels, Ghosts are apt to manifest, not through sensory apparition, but through metaphor.
Grounding Out refers to the HFP’s (High-Functioning Paranoiac, see definition) recovering of a stable and comfortable reality after experiencing MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety, see definition). Grounding Out is not necessarily synonymous with “sobering up.” One may Ground Out while still intoxicated by applying the techniques required to accept and internalize the limits of MIPA. Usually the more experienced and comfortable one is with MPMC techniques, the easier it is to Ground Out. Grounding Out is often followed by PPE (Post-Paranoid Euphoria, see definition) which is essentially the paranoiac’s chance to “enjoy their high” in a more classic sense.
High-Functioning Paranoiac. A person who experiences MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety, see definition), but is able to quell and even derive value from their experience through the application of MPMC techniques.
Throughout each phase of the MPMC program, a constant emphasis is placed on Intention Setting. This refers to a preliminary determination made by the HFP that sets an agenda for the cannabis experience. Intention Setting need not be too precise, nor too dogmatic. It just needs to be something—reading a book, watching television, perusing Facebook, meditating, interacting with friends or family. Intention Setting is an incredibly useful tool should one require an expedient Ground Out. Certain MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety) experiences can induce a distressing period of analysis-paralysis, an utter breakdown of the brain’s capacity for executive functioning. Intention Setting provides a safety mechanism. If you’re unsure what you should do, what you should say, where you should go, then trust your sober mind, finish what you set out to do, respect your intention.
MPMC advises clients to review and privately recite five mantras before engaging cannabis. These are not by any means magical phrases, but simple well-wishings that encourage a good attitude with respect to the journey to come. The five mantras are listed and explained in Handbook for the High-Functioning Paranoiac.
MIPA stands for Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety, a phenomenon thought to affect a certain subset of the population. Though the precise cause of MIPA is not clear, certain studies suggest a variation (along with certain epigenetic expressions) of the COMT (Catechol-O-Methyltransferase) gene may predict one’s vulnerability to MIPA (see The COMT Hypothesis, definition above). Other research suggests that certain historical and environmental factors, as well as pre-existing psycho-emotional conditions, may as well affect one’s MIPA vulnerability.
MPMC stands for Marijuana Paranoia Management Coaching, an outreach designed to build community, centralize information, and share techniques with those who experience discomfiting psychedelic phenomena (or MIPA) from cannabis use. “PMC” is often used as shorthand for Paranoia Management Coach, one who assists clients suffering from MIPA.
In the MPMC community, Paranoiac is used to describe a person who experiences MIPA (see definition above).
Stands for Post-Paranoid Euphoria. PPE refers to the onset of wellbeing and elation following one’s successful navigation of a MIPA (see definition above) experience. Think of a rough, turbulent flight. When the flight lands safely, a palpable sense of relief and jubilation spreads throughout the cabin. There is some speculation that PPE is but a distended version of what casual, non-paranoid cannabis users experience subconsciously as a matter of routine. Certain elements of the COMT Hypothesis (see definition)—namely that individuals possessing the val/val genotype of the COMT gene experience a uniquely potent intoxication from cannabis—may point to the HFPs genetic predisposition to experience cannabis intoxication as a protracted and intensely dynamic journey, more of a “trip” than a “high.”
HFPs (High-Functioning Paranoiacs, see definition) are cartographers by necessity, psychonauts compelled to explore and document their journeys through the inner-most reaches of consciousness. Psychotomimetic Mapping in its simplest sense refers to an HFP’s familiarity with and mastery over his own MIPA-related tendencies (see definition for MIPA above). Many HFPs, for example, tend to centralize their MIPA around certain bodily sensations, such as the natural increase in heart-rate. Psychotomimetic Mapping is the process of recognizing old fears that were proven invalid by past experiences, then promptly dismissing them as old and obsolete reactive psycho-behavioral patterns. Other HFPs may experience pronounced social anxieties at the hands of cannabis. Psychotomimetic Mapping for these individuals would involve recalling and internalizing these social fears as being ultimately unfounded.
PURPOSE FULFILLMENT VARIABLE—
The Purpose-Fufillment Variable is the idea that a one’s closeness to and satisfaction with one’s greater life purpose can influence one’s susceptibility to MIPA. If you wake up in the morning and you feel you’ve contributed adequately to the demands of your day, whatever your goals or objectives may be, if you feel that you’ve not missed opportunities or made serious, avoidable errors, then your experience with cannabis should reflect that. Many marijuana users, paranoiac and otherwise, believe that one’s pre-existing mood and mental attitude can profoundly affect one’s experience with the drug. Our anecdotal findings support this idea. We would only add that the idea of “purpose fulfillment”–the sense that one’s life has meaning, the sense that one has adequately cared for and supported those over whom he has influence– is also hugely relevant.
Many MIPA-sufferers (paranoiacs) report feelings of extreme self devaluation during their negative cannabis experiences, a sense that they’ve let themselves down along with everyone they care about. These anxieties are of course greatly exaggerated and distorted by the drug, but we believe that the root of these feelings may have some basis in reality and that when one carries forth a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence, this root is severely weakened and incapable of projecting the same monstrous shadows.
Many individuals come to MPMC with the same story. They loved getting high when they when they were in their early to mid teens. Their experiences were dreamy and euphoric, the very best of times. They smoked every day. Why the hell not? But then, somewhere in the early to late twenties (or sometimes sooner), they were “woken up” and began experiencing intense MIPA (Marijuana-Induced Paranoia/Anxiety). Hanbook for the High-Functioning Paranoiac offers a detailed narrative psychological explanation for the Sleeper Syndrome. It’s worth taking a look at.
Individuals who’ve been “awakened” often approach MPMC with a desire to regain their adolescent experiences with pot. And we always tell them the same thing– they can’t. What we can offer them is a chance to redesign their experience with cannabis in a way that keeps MIPA at bay. Thus, what they gain through MPMC is not a return to adolescence, but an opportunity to responsibly leverage and enjoy cannabis as a mature adult. And in this, there is much reward.
THRESHOLD VISUALIZATION METHOD—
The Threshold Visualization Method (TVM) is a simple technique taught to clients in the early phases of any MPMC program. In practicing TVM, the client, using a restricted dosage, will image and “feel out” certain anxieties and stresses associated with his or her recent MIPA episodes. The client will expect a bit of discomfort, but by the employ of limited dosage in a controlled and safe environment, he will successfully keep all negative cannabis associations at arm’s length, to be perceived with bare attention. They will not be permitted to overwhelm the client, nor compel him to any unusual action or heavy distress. Practicing TVM in and of itself is not sufficient to attain mastery over MIPA, but it’s an excellent foundation-building tool for one who seeks ultimately to recapture the joy and beauty of the cannabis experience.
[image courtesy of Lost Garden]