Widgets Magazine


Ego death

According to Sigmund Freud, the human psyche exists in three parts (id, ego and superego) that compete for control of our behaviors.

Freud’s conception of the “id” mostly refers to what we would call “instincts” or “impulses.” This is also known as the “shadow,” and in my opinion, the biblical “devil” is referring to the id as well. We are born with this as our primary setting. You can look at a newborn baby for reference — despite the cuteness, those little bastards have no compassion. The id is primarily concerned with food, immediate survival and, later on, sex. Now associated with dopamine release, the id is the underlying cause of addiction disorders; it’s not your friend, and drugs such as caffeine and sugar can allow it to take more control.

The “ego” according to Freud is the sense of self that we think of as “me.” Most psychologists would contest that this is a very real part of the psyche that holds a great deal of influence over the decision-making of individuals. In Freud’s conception, the ego serves as the bridge between the id and superego, weighing immediate carnal needs against the sense of morality that the superego provides. It doesn’t have a biochemical basis and exists instead more in a world of ideas.

The Freudian “superego” is what many would call “God,” “conscience” or “morality.” This is the underlying principle of nature that keeps us all from immediately murdering each other just for fun. It allows us to transcend primal desires and make decisions that will positively impact our future selves as opposed to the current. The superego primarily exhibits its influence through the serotonin system. People with schizoaffective disorders are able to get direct messages from the super-ego (like Carl Jung and his visions), and in my experience, drugs such as psilocybin and DMT also can facilitate such dialogue.

Here is my claim: The ego does not exist. I have learned through hundreds of experiences with LSD and thousands more with cannabis that the “ego” is really not a real thing at all. There is a well-documented phenomenon that occurs with these substances known as “ego-death.” If you’ve ever eaten too much of a special brownie and felt a bit like you were dying, this is what was happening, and you weren’t entirely wrong in your analysis. The ego is an ideological construct of the mind and as such can disappear with the right titration of chemicals.

Most of us walk around making decisions that benefit our current or future selves: “ego-boosting” decisions. I have found that in my 21 years of living, never has an ego-boosting decision benefited me in the end. There’s just something strange and backwards to the way the world works, and many enlightened beings have figured this out in the past. In letting go of ego, everything else will come.

I have been doing this for a few months now, and life has never been better. I had been fighting with my ego for years, ever since I started using cannabis daily. The cannabis had always been telling me to simply be kind to others and stop worrying about myself so damn much, but I didn’t want to listen. It wasn’t until my first high-dose LSD experience that the message became too loud to ignore.

I had first taken LSD about a week prior at Nocturnal Wonderland and had the bloody time of my life. At that point I was very experienced with both MDMA and 2C-B, which, while very fun and euphoric, for me don’t provide the same mental clarity and headspace that LSD does. I don’t want to say I “wasn’t ready” for LSD, because I definitely was, but there were moments of such intense euphoria during the rave that I wondered whether it was even possible to feel so good. Having a few good friends around helped a lot, despite the fact that one of my buddies ended up spending the day strapped to a gurney in the medical tent. He was drunk, of course.

The second time I did LSD, I took twice as much, to the amount generally accepted as enough to achieve full “ego death” with relative reliability, and boy did it work on me. I should also say that I always use cannabis to steer my LSD experiences, particularly high terpene-content hash oil, so that I can control the intensity of the experience and modulate my headspace to wherever I would like it to be.

I don’t remember much about the “coming up” during this experience, except that I had a bit of nausea due to what I had eaten that day. I remember lying down on my back and closing my eyes, feeling connected to the universe in a way I never had felt before. Up until this point I had been a Bible-burning atheist, and that changed very quickly with what happened next.

I was sitting at my desk and saw across the room an old photo of my grandmother Jan, who had passed away when I was very young. I had a pang of emotion and began to cry a bit, laying my head down on the desk. I missed her, and it made me sad that she was gone forever. After a few moments, I began to feel a warmth in the small of my back. It grew outward and more intense, and I began to recognize a feeling. It was Jan’s touch.

I shot up straight, blown away by what had just happened. My mom had always told stories about Jan messing with light switches or radio dials, but I always thought it was spiritual hippie mumbo-jumbo bullshit. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I immediately took a few large dabs of hash oil, attempting to process what had just happened. The feeling of exhaling good hash on LSD is indescribable in its euphoria, but I also began to feel a bit strange. I had gotten lost in the moment. Who was I? Where did I come from? What was I doing here?

On some level I still knew I was a bipedal ape named Noah Anderson from Venice and had taken some drugs, but there was this feeling that none of that mattered. All that mattered was “here” and “now.”


Contact Noah Anderson at noah2212 ‘at’ stanford.edu.