State-Specific Memory

Altered State Of Consciousness

State-specific memory is the phenomenon in which events experienced in an altered state of consciousness can be recalled clearly when reentering that state, and not when in a normal and sober state of mind. This can occur with many drugs such as marijuana, benzodiazepines and alcohol.

This is because drugs allow you to experience an altered state of consciousness. This altered state provides you with new experiences, interpretations, perceptions, thought processes and behaviors. Part of the reason why drugs are so addicting is that because the user can develop a wonderful and inspiring connection to an altered state of consciousness.

When someone is no longer in an altered state of consciousness, their mind distances itself from the memories formed in that state. One can still remember the memories shortly after the experience, but over time, they slowly begin to fade away. This is not to say that a meaningful trip on psilocybin will not be remembered; it can actually be remembered for a lifetime!

But the small details and sensations of an experience are what slowly fade away; the bigger picture remains. Many users who take DMT will tell you that when they lift off on the drug, they will reencounter “them”; the so-called beings present in many DMT experiences. Once the user reenters this DMT state of mind, “them” becomes more apparent and clearer again.

State-specific memory has to do with revisiting a previous altered state of mind. For instance, when one smokes marijuana and has an awesome experience such as the munchies while watching “Shutter Island”, they will recall this memory when they get high again: “munchies and Shutter Island.”

State-specific memory is fun and enjoyable if your precious experiences in altered states of consciousness were pleasant, fun and meaningful. But many experiences under the influence of drugs can be miserable; aka “bad trips.” For instance, marijuana is known to induce anxiety in many people.

When one smokes a joint and is slowly getting high, they may become bombarded with memories of anxiety symptoms from their previous high; this may provoke new anxiety symptoms in the present high. It works both ways with state-specific memory: good and bad experiences can be recalled and relived.

This is state-specific memory.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)


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