Documenting the Paranoid High Using Sceletium- Marijuana Paranoia Video Diary (and blog) #29
This is an experiment using the South African plant Sceletium to moderate paranoia and anxiety from cannabis:
If you’re not familiar with my “schedule,” I medicate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I’ve been doing this for about a year.
The most significant philosophical “Theme” from my last two medication sessions has been the relationship between fear and love.
Allow me to illustrate:
My “intention” last night was to finish my video and go to McDonalds to get one of their $1 iced coffee smoothies. If you’re familiar with my work, then you know I believe it’s important to set intentions before medicating. For more information on Intention Setting, check out my book, Handbook for the High-Functioning Paranoiac.
From the moment I truly realized I was high, I had the feeling of being far, far removed from my normal conscious mind. I was somewhere in outer space. It was a bit scary, a bit cool. Perhaps even exceedingly scary and exceedingly cool. Not knowing exactly what to do with myself, I decide I’d go to McDonalds in accordance with my pre-conceived Intention.
My room is on the fifth floor of my building, so I usually take the elevator down to the lobby. I’ve had a strange experience inside this elevator; it’s happened twice now. And I had it again last night. While watching the floor numbers change on the elevator’s digital display, 5, 4, 3, 2, I perceived a small delay on floor number two. It was taking too long for the elevator to go from floor 2 to the lobby floor, yet the elevator kept moving! With my perception of time slowed, what was in fact a small delay created a small wave of panic, as I contemplated and fleshed out a rather elaborate dystopic fantasy of being trapped in an elevator that is at once moving, yet perpetually stuck between floors, never to arrive at its promised destination, and thus confining me eternally inside that lonely square cube. I felt it, vividly, that possibility. This is Paranoia.
Such waves of irrational panic and fantasy, thanks to the temporal distortions of cannabis, are permitted to flower and terrify. However, the end-results are often none other than profound “counter-waves” of gratitude. When the elevator does indeed reach the lobby floor and the doors open up, I’m again free to experience a wide-open and free world where anything’s possible. Liberated from my bondage, my first thought is a genuine love and reverence for the human engineers and mechanics for having devoted their energies to making sure that my experience on this elevator was a safe (and temporary) one.
Are there not many metaphors here? Whom do I thank and love for this plant, this natural technology to which I submit my trust and yield my control on the premise that its influence on me is always temporary. Where do I lay my gratitude for the utility, thrill, and mercy of this natural “elevator”?
I leave the building, walk to McDonalds and make this video:
The science tends to align with my speculation. Certain individuals, due to general tolerance, as well as some anomaly in the brain’s dopamine processing hardware, experience an unusual, more severe intoxication from cannabis, whereby the classic symptoms of intoxication—memory impairment, executive functioning, slowing of time—are even more pronounced. The paranoiac’s path to euphoria and general feelings of well-being and happiness is separated from him by barriers of anxiety/paranoia that, when (if) dispelled, lead to those feelings of lightness and elation that are thought to be abundant in the “normal” high. I speculate that this fear-augmentation-and-discharge dynamic is present in most all individuals who use cannabis, but due to tolerance and genetic predisposition, the majority of cannabis users do not experience the dynamic at any conscious level. Cannabis Paranoiacs it seems are plunged deeper into the subconscious mind than others. Nonetheless, the If we permit ourselves a “good trip,” we will resurface with that same natural reverence for the experience and a wish to repeat it; it’s a “craving” quite similar perhaps to what’s experienced by your typical happy-go-lucky stoner.
This inner-exercise of fear confrontation (conscious in paranoiacs, unconscious in most other cannabis users) may be why cannabis users are prone to laughter. I remember reading my first major extracurricular philosophical text in high school called “The Mind’s Sky,” by Timothy Ferris.
According to Ferris, the mechanics of human laughter are based in the dispelling of irrational fear. In Ferris’ example, a hiker sees a stick that looks like a snake. For a moment (perhaps a very short moment or perhaps a rather long one), he “gets paranoid,” thinking the stick is a snake and that it may do him harm. When he recognizes the stick as nothing but a harmless stick, it causes him to emit some sort of spontaneous vocal bark that we know as laughter. Ferris argues that some version of this dynamic is always present, either consciously or subconsciously, when we laugh.
So it follows that what stoner culture knows as “The Fear”— this phenomenon that for many ruins their ability to enjoy this unique psychedelic, ridiculously safe and mind-expanding plant— may play an integral, if often abstracted (hidden), role in many facets of what we understand as the traditional “high.”
If you’d like more information about my practice as a professional Marijuana Paranoia Management Coach, I would recommend checking out my book here.
Conclusions: Sceletium elevated my mood and “brightened” the early stages of my high, but after I crossed a certain dosage threshold, the effects of the potent sativa overwhelmed the experience and the effect of the Sceletium was rendered mostly unnoticeable.
Thanks for reading!