Hallucinations pp 297-316 | Cite as

Psychoactive Substances



This chapter discusses some substances that are particularly likely to induce hallucinations. Many such drugs are available in nature and have long histories of use; more have emerged from laboratories either accidentally or as the result of purposeful research. Many more substances than these can elicit hallucinations, given the natural corporeal variations among individuals. Most substance-induced alterations consist of “partial hallucinations” in which an actual sensory stimulus is involved; the hallucinator tends to be aware of the difference between the hallucinogen-affected experiences of that stimulus and of a usual sensorium. Sometimes a complete loss of contextual meaning is evoked, in which the hallucinator experiences an essentially different environment (i.e., a scenic or panoramic hallucination), and either loses awareness of his sensory surroundings or becomes unable to recognize them as such. It can only be hoped that science’s endless curiosity will continue to press the societal restraints upon their use, and knowledge continue to accrue. The scientific process has tremendous resilience; those of us who would practice it need only to retain our faith and do our jobs. Further pursuit of such research may reveal that drug-induced hallucinatory phenomena offer a systematized route to observe not just how the brain processes hallucinations, but better clarify how our awareness of reality is consistently distorted.


Psychoactive Substance Auditory Hallucination Mystical Experience Ibotenic Acid Heroin Dependence 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.The Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry, Division of Alcohol and Drug AbuseMcLean HospitalBelmontUSA
  3. 3.Department for Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry, and PsychotherapyHannover Medical SchoolHannoverGermany

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