Psychedelic intensity scale

This article does not represent an individual subjective effect component, but instead serves to model the overall psychedelic experience as a systematic progression of levels. Each level of this system aims to both denote the various visual, cognitive, and physical effects that occur, as well as characterize the general intensity and feeling of the experience. It should be noted that the specific effects listed within this levelling system may vary in their occurrence, style, and intensity across different substances and individuals. Nonetheless, this article still serves as an accurate approximation for measuring the intensity of a person's psychedelic experience. For comparison between the various levels of psychedelic states versus the dissociative experience, please see our equivalent dissociative intensity scale. This levelling system can be broken down into 7 basic levels of intensity, which are described below:

1. Sub-perceptual

A sub-perceptual psychedelic experience is the level at which the subjective effects produced by a psychedelic are not yet directly perceptible, meaning that they only exert a very slight change to a person's behaviour and senses. Dosages which exert effects of this intensity are often referred to as a "microdose". Sub-perceptual dosages of psychedelics typically induce a small range of extremely faint cognitive effects which may be beneficial for enhancing a person's motivation, focus, and creativity. However, these changes may be difficult to distinguish between that of genuine alterations and the placebo effect. The specific sub-perceptual effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:

2. Subtle

A subtle psychedelic experience is the level at which the visual, cognitive, and physical alterations produced by the substance first become apparent. These effects are distinctly beyond that of placebo but can be still very mild in a manner which can easily be ignored with little effort by directing one's focus towards the external environment. The user may have to pay close attention to the effects of the substance for them to be recognizable, or they may be slightly noticeable but will not insist upon the user's attention. Subtle doses of psychedelics typically induce a range of benign visual and cognitive effects such as visual enhancements, visual distortions, cognitive enhancements, and tactile sensations. The specific subtle effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:

Visual

Cognitive

Other

3. Mild

A mild psychedelic experience is the level at which the effects become noticeable and clearly distinct from sobriety while still partially remaining in the background of a person's awareness. At this level, the effects can be partially ignored by directing one's focus towards other things such as tasks or the external environment. Mild dosages of psychedelics typically induce a range of weak but noticeable effects such as visual enhancements, visual distortions, cognitive enhancements, and bodily sensations. The specific mild effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:

Visual

Cognitive

Other

4. Distinct

A distinct psychedelic experience is the level at which the effects and the nature of the substance become clear and defined enough that ignoring its action becomes difficult. At this level, the person will still generally just about be able to partake in regular behaviours and remain functional while able to communicate. Depending on the person's level of experience, the effects can be allowed to occupy a predominant role within the person's perception or they may be ignored and made somewhat secondary to other chosen activities. Distinct dosages of psychedelics typically induce a range of well-defined effects such as visual enhancements, visual distortions, complex geometry, mild hallucinatory states, cognitive effects, and bodily sensations. The specific distinct effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:

Visual

Cognitive

Other

5. Strong

A strong psychedelic experience is the level at which the effects become powerful enough to render the person undergoing them as mostly incapable of functioning, interacting normally, or thinking in a sober manner. At this level, the effects of the substance are clear and can no longer be ignored in any capacity, leaving the user entirely engaged in the experience whether they wish to be or not. Strong dosages of psychedelics typically induce a range of powerful effects such as visual distortions which drastically alter the appearance of one's environment, indescribably complex geometric forms which can almost entirely block out a person's environment, distinct hallucinatory states, disorientating cognitive effects, and bodily sensations. The specific strong effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:

Visual

Cognitive

Other

6. Heavy

A heavy psychedelic experience is the level at which the practical upper limit of what the substance is capable of producing is reached. At this level, the user will be rendered incapable of functioning and communicating in a manner which will usually leave them either completely disconnected from their environment or at least extremely disorientated. Heavy dosages of psychedelics typically induce a wide range of all-consuming effects such breaking through into a space which is comprised of unfathomably complex geometric forms and internal hallucinations, a complete loss of the person's sense of self or ego, delusions, occasionally life-changing spiritual or transpersonal experiences, and powerful cognitive effects. The specific heavy effects which generally occur at this level of intensity are described and documented within their own dedicated articles, each of which are listed below:

Visual

Cognitive

Other

7. Extreme

An extreme psychedelic experience is the level at which the effects have become so powerful and pronounced that the person will typically be rendered unconscious and amnesic for a prolonged period of time, usually with highly exaggerated and uncomfortable physical side effects At this level, the person will experience the effects typically associated with the previously described heavy dosage during the onset and offset of their trip. During the peak, however, they will simply black out and become unconscious for a prolonged period of time that is directly proportional to the dosage consumed. Although extreme psychedelic states may be attractive to certain individuals, it is worth noting that this level of intensity is not only potentially dangerous but also less therapeutic and explorative than the previous levels.

Tags

multisensory
plateau system

Contributors

The following people contributed to the content of this article:

Josie