Bad trips may be good for you


Originally published at:


“Trips good or bad, study concludes.”


Aie, that GIF again. Has anyone ever figured out where that came from? It circulates so frequently as to have obliterated any trace of its origin, or so it seems.


I’m tripping right now.


had one in the early 90’s that had me walking shoeless and drpping in sweat, out of an apartment littered with exploded houseplants, dirt stains on the wall, wearing a down winter jacket on a 95F day, headed to a freeway on ramp to hitch god knows where while my buddy ran into a car dealership screaming that I was dead and my ghost was following him. That was bad shit. I don’t miss hallucinogens.


That is so distinctly 90’s looking that I automatically audio-imposed Screaming Trees (and a few other 90s tunes) over it as it looped.


If you have the patience (and setting) to work through them, bad trips can yield incredible results. I’ve had a number of bad trips and they have been among the most psychologically and emotionally productive experiences of my life. They were all different, but shared a very important common element: My bad trips were the result of me fixating on some negative aspect of myself or the nature of existence that I typically suppress in my normal consciousness. That’s why it’s bad. You become keenly, completely aware of something that you typically semi-consciously run away from. But when you’re tripping you have so much clarity and - perhaps more importantly - so much energy. For a time, you’re conscious of your unconscious and you have the energy to do something about it.

I credit hallucinogens with giving me the chance to reprogram myself. The chance to shed the conservative, closed-minded, bible-thumping mindset that I was brought up with and choose another mindset based on the type of person that I wanted to be. Most of the heavy lifting for that reprogramming was done during bad trips.


It’s actually video footage of me having my first orgasm.


Beats a headache.


That’s wonderful. I wish I had waited to try psychedelics until I was a little older and more mature. When we used them as kids, it was with an irreverence and complete lack of respect for the power of the drugs. I don’t smoke pot much anymore, but when I do, I use it as a tool for more objective introspection in the way you describe. Sometimes that can be pretty painful too, but it is also, like the bad trips you describe, an opportunity for growth. But as far as psychedelics, I think I burned that bridge. Hard to say how they may have changed me, for good or ill.


Bad planning left me as an unwelcome tag along with strangers, which then over took my mind in a flood of panic, self doubt, insecurities, being judged, and without any way for me to correct my situation in the state I was in. Worst feeling I have ever had.

After hours of that nightmare, I’m now at a bar and the faces passing in front of me are now ghosted behind a comical and twisted representation of themselves and would also immediately reveal that person’s deepest insecurities. Two faces of the same person looking right into my eyes, one a complete facade made up for the real world, the other a tormented and hidden soul that is just as nervous and scared as I was earlier. It was revelatory, healing, comical, I felt a rush of freedom from burdens that I will never even understand.

The worst and most amazing experiences I have ever had. I would sign up for the ride again if I still had the invulnerability of youth.


Thanks for sharing that, that was great and very evocative. Sounds very memorable. I think a lot of bad trips start out in some variation of the insecurity you describe.


One of the phrases I take away from this year’s burn was “Difficult is not bad”, which was on a flyer from the zendo project psychedelic harm reduction folks.


I’m definitely feeling a 90’s music video vibe.


I like that a lot. It’s easy to get stuck in ‘easy’ when difficult is almost always more interesting.


Came expecting stories about about vacations from hell, got stories about psychedelic drugs inciting adverse reactions.

Not sure if disappointed or not…


Whoa, trippy!



Not at all surprised at this finding. Having spent an eternity in hell more than once, I can say you’re barking up the wrong tree if you want to be comfortable while tripping, but as far as bad trips go, that’s the best kind of ‘bad’ there is.

I’m getting a bit leery of tripping these days, though… it’s easy for me to get onto a track where I can readily smash exponential quantities of perspective into my brain (via contemplating fractals, cosmology, biology), and it tends to get harder to take each time. Last time I was tripping, all the space in our galaxy disappeared in about half a second. Whoah :no_mouth:


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