Archive for January 3rd, 2012

January 3, 2012

Trip Sitter


Trip sitter is a term used by recreational or spiritual drug users to describe a person who remains sober to ensure the safety of the drug user while he or she is under the influence of a drug; they are especially common with first-time experiences or when using psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. This practice can be qualified as a means of harm reduction. Also called a Psychedelic Guide, this latter term is more often used to describe someone who takes an active role in shaping a drug user’s experiences as opposed to a sitter who merely remains present, ready to discourage bad trips and handle emergencies, but not otherwise uninvolved. Guides are more common among spiritual users of entheogens and were strongly encouraged by psychedelic researcher Timothy Leary.

Although an ideal sitter is one who is both personally experienced with the substance being used, as well as trained to deal with psychological or medical issues that may arise, arguably the most important qualities may be the willingness to help, the discipline to stay sober enough to be fully present, and the ability to be relaxed, accepting, and not interfere with the experience beyond the wishes of the user. When using a short-acting substance such as smoked DMT or Salvia divinorum, it may be possible for two people to take turns, with one being the sitter while the other takes the psychedelic.

January 3, 2012

Set and Setting

acid test by wes wilson

Set and setting describes the context for psychedelic drug experiences: one’s mindset and the setting in which the user has the experience. The term was coined by Timothy Leary, and became widely accepted by researchers in psychedelic psychotherapy.

‘Set’ is the mental state a person brings to the experience, like thoughts, mood and expectations. ‘Setting’ is the physical and social environment. Social support networks have shown to be particularly important in the outcome of the psychedelic experience. They are able to control or guide the course of the experience, both consciously and subconsciously. Stress, fear, or a disagreeable environment, may result in an unpleasant experience (bad trip). Conversely, a relaxed, curious person in a warm, comfortable and safe place is more likely to have a pleasant experience.

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January 3, 2012

Yayoi Kusama

kusama by Michael Leavitt

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) is a Japanese artist whose paintings, collages, soft sculptures, performance art and environmental installations all share an obsession with repetition, pattern, and accumulation (she has described herself as an ‘obsessive artist’). Kusama’s work is based in Conceptual art (in which the concepts or ideas involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns) and shows some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, Art Brut, pop art, and abstract expressionism, and is infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content.

Kusama is also a published novelist and poet, and has created notable work in film and fashion design. She has long struggled with mental illness, and has experienced hallucinations and severe obsessive thoughts since childhood, often of a suicidal nature. She claims that as a small child she suffered physical abuse by her mother. In 2008, a work by her sold for $5.1 million, a record for a living female artist.

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January 3, 2012

Cortical Homunculus

motor cortex

A cortical [kawr-ti-kuhlhomunculus [huh-muhng-kyuh-luhs] is a pictorial representation of the size of the brain areas for various parts of human anatomy. It is a visual representation of the concept of ‘the body within the brain’ that one’s hand or face exists as much as a series of nerve structures or a ‘neuron concept’ as it does a physical form. This concept relates to many neuro-biological phenomena including ‘phantom limb’ and ‘body integrity identity disorder’ (a psychological disorder wherein sufferers feel they would be happier living as an amputee).

There are two types of homunculus: sensory and motor. Each one shows a representation of how much of its respective cortex innervates certain body parts. The reason for the bizarre, distorted appearance of the homunculus is that the amount of cerebral tissue or cortex devoted to a given body region is proportional to how richly innervated and sensitive, or the number of muscles and motor units within that region is, not to its size. The resulting image is a grotesquely disfigured human with disproportionately huge hands, lips, and face in comparison to the rest of the body.