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Thread: Is derealization necessarily always bad?

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    Is derealization necessarily always bad? 
    #1
    I notice a lot of people coming to this forum and listing derealization as a symptom of the issues they are having, I wasn't entirely sure what this term meant, but I sort of inferred and now looking it up I was right, and I feel I've always sort of had this feeling since the first time I took psychedelics maybe ~9 years ago. The experience introduced me to the possibility that none of this is real, simply a project of my mind/energy in some other state, a simulation, or what have you. This "possibility" has been compounded by many more experiences, some positive some negative (or, difficult I guess I should say).

    Overall, aside from times I've scared myself, I feel its almost made me stronger mentally. Obviously, if these "delusions" were coupled with other symptoms like depression or anxiety, it would probably be a disaster. But it's almost like I've become comfortable with the possibility that none of this is real, that it's fine, and even if none of it matters, what I am feeling makes me feel good/happy and thats well good enough. Maybe there is no purpose to any of this, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

    I actually had an experience this past summer (took a high dose of LSD and very good MDMA) and I actually became scared at one point because it felt too good to be real, I pretty much freaked out for a couple minutes as I thought what I was experiencing was heaven and I had died somewhere along the way to that point. This passed after removed myself from the quite intense situation I was in and grounded myself a bit, but the feeling caught me off guard.

    There was also one derealization experience that really scared me in a negative way, I had a quite intense experience adding 3 balloons of nitrous to that same candy flip while cuddling with my S/O; the trip became so powerful that reality faded away completely, and the true reality was that her and I were always one singular being, representing male and female characteristics or something heady I guess, and that I would never see her face again since I had broken back into the true reality in which we are the same. This was beautiful at first, and then scared the absolute shit out of me as I tried stand up during the experience and all of her movements perfectly mirrored mine (in some weird kaleidoscope swirl that was unraveling from this single point which was our hands); I was stuck in this dystopian mirrored reality in which she was only ever a figment of my imagination. Once it was over I was quite shaken (her two since she has never ever seen me become afraid during, this passed, but it was incredibly real and made me put down the cracker and go the fuck to bed for the night. I've gotten past being scared of letting myself go and surrendering myself to these experiences, but what I haven't gotten comfortable with is not being afraid of facing the idea that I might lose her or that she might not be real, the most important thing in my life. Sort of like the experience was telling me, you've what you've always been looking for, why are you trying to blast yourself so far out from this reality you've come to love so much? Certainly made me question what I was doing and why.

    Both sort of come back to this idea, that its all too good to be true. And after the experiences, I'm left with a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation for what I do have in life. It crosses my mind once a day at least, that all this might just be a dream, but like I said thats not really bad if its a good dream right?
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    #2
    Shadowmeister
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    Really interesting post. I agree, my psychedelic experiences have opened me up to this idea that reality as we know it is an illusion, that we are a dream the universe is having. Although for a time (not even at first), this was a bit difficult for me, for a long time it's been a great source of strength. It helps me to not take life, or myself, so seriously. It has led to me finding spiritual meaning where religion has failed to do so. And either way, functionally it makes no difference, I still wake up every day in this perspective, so it doesn't make living life harder. Rather, it makes it easier, because I can appreciate the moment to a much greater extent, and shrug off problems that I realize are extraordinarily unimportant (of course this is sometimes easier said than done, but it would be harder with my "derealization").
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    Bluelighter Vastness's Avatar
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    Wow, sounds like a wild trip you had there. Reading this thread made me realise I wasn't entirely sure what derealization means, despite the fact I've read the term many times and frequently hear people use it. I've had some crazy journeys in my time but I can't say off the top of my head I've ever believed that what we usually consider consensus reality wasn't real, except in the vague philosophical sense that everything is just our brain's simulation of arbitrary sensory input, and what is really real anyway? But although drugs can make this a more interesting concept to contemplate, I don't consider that they have ever been necessary to recognise it's relevance (or lack of relevance... really I think the question of their relevance is a philosophical question and outside the scope of induced sensory experiences).

    On the converse, I usually believe that what I am experiencing during a psychedelic journey is very real - I am mostly capable of telling myself that, rationally, what I am experiencing is not something that I will continue to believe when the effects of the drug have passed, and that if I were to be in the presence of someone not under the influence, they may not be convinced of the reality that I experience... but psychedelic realms feel very very real to me. But I don't consider that this makes sober reality "less" real, and I don't think this counts as derealization.

    I had a quick Google of the dictionary definition (emphasis added by me):
    derealization (noun)

    a feeling that one's surroundings are not real, especially as a symptom of mental disturbance.
    I really think that the "symptom of mental disturbance" part here is the key factor.

    Derealization in the most literal sense, is not necessarily a bad thing - I think that, arguably, the acute antidepressant effects of ketamine likely have a lot to do with a slight "derealizing" effect on reality which just makes everything seem a little less close, less harsh, immersive, and overwhelming. Those with autistic spectrum disorders who struggle with too much stimulation, or even just high levels of general anxiety probably have an overrealization problem - reality just seems a little bit too real, too close and overwhelming. Much like pessimism, optimism, manic overconfidence or crushing apathy and despondence, I think derealization is arguably just another point on the multifaceted, multidimensional graph of human emotion, and is not inherently either good or bad, it's just a way of perceiving existence.

    However, conventional use of the term is to describe a "bad" state of mind - ie, one that impairs your functioning according to those still fairly close to "consensus reality."

    I think most would agree that if one experiences derealization to an extreme, like whatever that syndrome is (I forget the name) where you start to believe that your friends and everyone you know have been replaced by identical looking impostors, then this is a potentially serious thought disturbance that could lead to dangerous behaviour for yourself or those around you. But if you only experience derealization enough that you can take life just a little less seriously and see it for the inexplicable cosmic joke that it seems to be, then of course, it's no bad thing.
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    Bluelighter FlawedByDesign's Avatar
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    I also have experienced mild yet seemingly everlasting derealization since I started abusing dissociatives/psychedelics. I do appreciate how it relieves my social anxiety even though it does make me even more awkward in social situations. For me it lasted long after I stopped using said substances but I believe it was prolonged by my heavy use of cannabis. I quit smoking a few weeks ago and it seems to be subsiding.
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    #5
    What does it mean for reality to be an illusion? That you're actually plugged into the Matrix? You're a schizophrenic locked in a padded cell somewhere? I don't really see any plausible scenario in which we can say that life is "unreal" in any sense.
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    #6
    Shadowmeister
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    To me, it means that I'm actually the universe and I'm dreaming all of this to keep myself company in the void. Functionally it makes no difference whether it's "real" or not, it's just an existential distinction.
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Vastness View Post

    I think most would agree that if one experiences derealization to an extreme, like whatever that syndrome is (I forget the name) where you start to believe that your friends and everyone you know have been replaced by identical looking impostors, then this is a potentially serious thought disturbance that could lead to dangerous behaviour for yourself or those around you. But if you only experience derealization enough that you can take life just a little less seriously and see it for the inexplicable cosmic joke that it seems to be, then of course, it's no bad thing.
    Its Capgras Syndrome:

    https://www.healthline.com/health/capgras-syndrome

    Quote Originally Posted by TheAppleCore View Post
    What does it mean for reality to be an illusion? That you're actually plugged into the Matrix? You're a schizophrenic locked in a padded cell somewhere? I don't really see any plausible scenario in which we can say that life is "unreal" in any sense.
    Reality is an illusion insomuch as we have no real objective way to examine it as our sense are prone to deceiving us and there is always observational bias. These two issues alone mean we have to rely on our own subjective reasoning and anyone listening to Trump at the UN would know that can fail us badly no matter how many are telling us otherwise.

    I've always seen reality as an illusion. As a kid I was convinced some day someone would pop up and say this has all been a test or experiment and I would then see the 'real' reality. Two people can view and experience the same reality completely differently so as each account would contradict the other so how do we know what's real? A schizophrenic may see their dead parents standing at the foot of their bed screaming at them while we see nothing but that does not mean the terrible spectre is any less real for the schizophrenic. With taking psychedelics and dissociatives I have now a firm belief that I was right all along and reality is far from real. Look into manifestation and see how people manipulate reality.



    There is plenty of evidence that we are living in a computer simulation - even someone who wouldn't normally think this way has heard of Elon Musk talk of this. If we replace Computer Programmer with God and the Matrix with Earth then what's the difference? It is still an outside force that has created and continues to retain the power to alter our reality.

    And to answer the OP's question, no its not bad it allows you the ability to stand outside all of the bullshit that drags down the ordinary working stiff. There is no need to take part in the games of fashion or politics one is as absurd and useful as the other. There is no need to prove yourself to society by getting the big car and house. No need to be a wage slave so you can climb a corporate ladder. None of those games matter in the grand scheme of the matrix.

    To paraphrase Camus - There is only one really serious philosophical problem,” Camus says, “and that is should we escape the Matrix?"
    Last edited by nuube; 26-09-2018 at 23:40.
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by TheAppleCore View Post
    What does it mean for reality to be an illusion?
    The notion reality is an illusion sort of became clearer to me in that what my inner being wants is happiness and joy. We follow the chasing of that all through life by finding jobs we think we like or raising a family or just listening to music that we Love. The illusion part for me is that a big house or fancy car will bring that internal happiness until I realize it doesn't. So all things fade away into the illusion and the only thing I keep is how I treated people and how much Love I put back. When I look back on my death bed and look back on my life it is how I treated people that is important. The Golden Rule. Not how much money I collected or how many sales I made or material objects I collected. The same way when I look back at a friend I have not seen in years. I may not remember where he/she lives, how to get there or any of the million details of us knowing each other. It simply morphs into the fact that I Love the person. We see that in life. The last things people want to say to each other is I Love you as it seems to be the most important part of life. Everything in between is just "stuff".

    Clinging to something external as it if will bring everlasting happiness is an illusion to me.

    Good thread. I had to read it a few times.
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    #9
    It is truly frightening and having experienced this coming off Risperidone for weeks. I would take a bad acid trip over that again any day.
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