All time high

The latest issue of The Psychologist has a fascinating article on why time can seem distorted after taking drugs.

The piece is by psychologists Ruth Ogden and Cathy Montgomery who both research the effects of drugs, legal and illegal, on the mind and brain.

The consumption of drugs and alcohol has long been known to warp time experiences. In his much-quoted book Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Thomas De Quincey (1821/1971) noted that opium intoxication resulted in distortions to the passage of time to the extent that he ‘Sometimes seemed to have lived for 70 or 100 years in one night; nay, sometimes had feelings representative of a millennium passed in that time’.

Similar experiences were also reported by Aldous Huxley (1954) in Doors of Perception after consuming mescaline and LSD. Drug-induced distortions to time are not only experienced by renowned literary figures: a quick search of an internet drug forum will reveal that many drug users report similar experiences to De Quincey and Huxley following marijuana, cocaine and alcohol use.

The article notes that both the social context in which drugs are taken (e.g. drinking on a night out) and the pharmacological effects of the substances can each add their own ingredients to the time stretching or shrinking effects.

Link to article ‘High Time’ in The Psychologist.

5 thoughts on “All time high”

  1. That is consistent with my own experiences. I’ve never really had time distortion with alcohol – at least not to any degree like described here. Marijuana however, definitely has that effect on me. I distinctly remember one night smoking at a friend’s house across town. The trip home felt like 30 seconds and the walk up my driveway felt like 30 minutes.

  2. Try Uberman method of polyphasic sleeping. You will sleep 6 times a day, remember all of your dreams and really feel the compression of time in dreams because to me, many times there were like 2 or 3 dreams in one 20 minute nap, which all had really long story, sometimes as if I lived a different life through a dream, with completely different experiences, logic etc. It gets weirder as you continue with naps, because you don\’t have that deep sleep reset, and memories of dreams begin to interfere with your normal experience of an every day life.

  3. Time dilation happens most profoundly, as experienced under the influence of tryptamines and phenethylamines. My favorite and most temporal obscuring is ayahuasca, DMT and a MAOI. The studies done on magic mushrooms, way back when, by Tim Leary shows that violent psychopathy is inhibited entirely when given to prison inmates. The drug culture is the focus of FBI derision and propogandizment. Opiates and heavy stimulants are harmful, but the nuts in power always find a way.

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