Ego death

Ego death (also known as ego suppression, ego loss or ego dissolution) is the temporary experience of a complete loss of subjective self-identity. This is the profound experience of remaining fully conscious, while there is no longer an “I” experiencing one's sensory input; there is just the sensory input as it is and by itself. It suppresses the otherwise nearly constant sensation in waking life of being a separate observer interacting with an external world. Although ego death does not necessarily shut down awareness of all mental processes, it does remove the feeling of being the cause of one's mental processes (being "the thinker"). This often results in the feeling of processing concepts from a neutral perspective completely untainted by past memories, prior experiences, contexts, and biases. The experience of ego death is well documented throughout the modern psychonaut subculture. However, it is worth noting that this informal term of "ego death" or "ego dissolution" is also occasionally used to refer to states of high-level unity and interconnectedness. [1] [2] [3] However, within the Subjective Effect Index those terms are defined to specifically refer to a loss of one's sense of self and not the sudden feeling that it is constituted by a wider array of concepts than it previously did. Ego death is often felt to be caused by other subjective effects such as long term memory suppression causing the person to forget who they are, by sensory overload causing the person's consciousness to be completely consumed by information and therefore incapable of maintaining a stable sense of self, or by cognitive disconnection causing a person to become entirely separated from their cognitive capacity to maintain a semblance of identity. It also often synergizes with other coinciding effects such as personal bias suppression, unity and interconnectedness, spirituality enhancement, and delusions. [1] [3] These accompanying effects further elevate the subjective intensity and transpersonal significance of ego death experiences. [2] It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of hallucinogenic compounds, such as psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants.

References

  1. Lebedev, A. V., Lövdén, M., Rosenthal, G., Feilding, A., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart‐Harris, R. L. (2015). Finding the self by losing the self: Neural correlates of ego‐dissolution under psilocybin. Human brain mapping, 36(8), 3137-3153. | https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.22833
  2. Nour, M. M., Evans, L., Nutt, D., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2016). Ego-dissolution and psychedelics: validation of the ego-dissolution inventory (EDI). Frontiers in human neuroscience, 10, 269. | https://dx.doi.org/10.3389%2Ffnhum.2016.00269
  3. Carhart-Harris, R. L., Leech, R., Hellyer, P. J., Shanahan, M., Feilding, A., Tagliazucchi, E., ... & Nutt, D. (2014). The entropic brain: a theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelic drugs. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8, 20. | https://dx.doi.org/10.3389%2Ffnhum.2014.00020

Tags

cognitive
dissociative
psychedelic
suppression

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