Ketamine and God

How does the drug ketamine bring on visions of God?

Ketamine (Wikipedia) is a veterinary anesthetic. It is also a well-known party drug, known as “Special-K”, related to angel dust. But the drug, developed in the ‘60s, can also send users into other worlds or gave them visions of God, as soldiers in Vietnam discovered when administered the drug as a battlefield anesthetic. Austin quotes one researcher who describes ketamine as yielding a model near-death experience. Some patients report hearing voices , having out-of-body experiences, or losing their sense of self and connection to reality. Large doses can send the users into a so-called K-hole where they perceive, deep inside the mind, ineffable other worlds and dimensions.

An article in the NYT caught my eye when I saw it talked about a study showing that ketamine was a quick-acting antidepressant as well. Scientists had known that it had antidepressant effects in animals (how do you tell a cat is depressed or not?), but had not tried it on humans until now. The study showed immediate (as little as two hours) antidepressive effects, which lasted a week, when the drug was given at sub-anesthetic doses. Apparently the subjects first went off on a little mini-trip, then found themselves undepressed when they got back. This research was done under the auspices of the NIMH; here is the press release

The neurological mechanisms underlying the effect of ketamine are relatively well-known. It is an NMDA receptor antagonist, meaning it blocks the NMDA receptors, found mainly in the hippocampus (which is why it affects memory; many ketamine users cannot remember their trips), and the prefrontal cortex (hence its profound impact on thought). Normally NMDA receptors receive signals of glutamate, the most common neurotransmitter. Irregularities in glutamate function are associated with epilepsy , among other disorders, and may also be responsible in part for depression .

What is missing is any overarching theory of how ketamine could simuiltaneously cause God-like hallucinations and assuage depression, or what the relationship, if any, between the two effects might be. Such a theory would be a key contribution to the biology of religion.

19 Responses to “Ketamine and God”

  1. Jesrad Says:

    That’s a great hypothesis: is religion a practice evolved into human behaviour through biological pressure (for fighting depression) ?

  2. Ettsem Says:

    The problem with taking a pill and seeing God (or whatever) is that you haven’t done the preparatory ground-work, so you’ll almost certainly misinterpret what you perceive.

    You could place me in a Formula 1 racing car, but it wouldn’t make me a better driver.

    On another note, I too wonder how researchers determine whether or not a cat is depressed. “Are you losing interest in chasing mice? Too sad to answer? I’ll put that down as a Yes, then.”

  3. DavidD Says:

    Animal models for depression include something called “learned helplessness” where an animal is subjected to electric shock with no means of escape. They develop behavioral and chemical features of human depression as a result, but don’t talk about it much. I don’t know if they still use that to evaluate anti-depressants in animals, but it’s some model like that, not a questionnaire.

    Ketamine is a dissociative agent. I’ve seen a patient having a wound debrided under its effects. The patient is conscious, but preoccupied with what’s going on in his or her mind instead of the wound. Why God shows up as part of that dissociation from one’s body or right mind is anyone’s guess. I guess ketamine opens up a space in our consciousness for us to look at instead of one’s damaged body. Maybe God doesn’t ordinarily get that much room to work with inside us and can’t pass up the chance for some people. I’m sure whatever truth there is to that is metaphorical, but what else do we have?

  4. Higher Awareness Says:

    I have K-Holed many times with the intention of exploration into Ketamine space. I have disembodied and been absorbed/unified with God Consciousness. One trip at a certain point the quote from the Bible “God Created The World In 7 Days” came to mind, and so I tried creating. In what seemed like fractions of a second “I” (using the term very loosely, as the ego-body is non-existant), created thousands of plants, down to the minscule details such as the color of the fibers on the plant leaves. The awesome power of that act irradicated any doubt I had with what Ketamine is actually doing and what it can connect the user to. Subsequent trips I have asked to experience pure love, see the future, understand the true nature of time… and every question is answered with mind-blowing power and clarity.

    With sufficent understanding of what one is experiencing (I have several years of Buddhist training behind me), I know this to be a very powerful tool to see into the hidden nature of reality.

  5. mar Says:

    I have used special K since the 80’s. I was introduced to this chemical while attending Columbia University. Much to my delight, I was able to transcend the boundaries of conciousness and enter a realm that enhanced perception. Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything. Thus, what a trip!

  6. donkeydust Says:

    i absolutely love ketamine. people say drugs open your mind and make you perceive things in another light. ketamine does exactly that. id love to be a vet.

  7. bluegerbil Says:

    i think that ketamine is the worst drug ever and should have not been invented. i also think that u should put that if it is addictive and other stuff that arent good for you. u should not be saying good things bu8t things that can harm u

    thank u

  8. atmo Says:

    Ketamine changed my life. Last night, not only was I the emerging christ caste into a body previously mine, but I had telepathic connections with all those sharing the experience. We all shared mutual matter-transmutation – Things recreated themselves before our very eyes with only the ‘will’ being given, and we witnessed several different ‘configurations’ of the room we were in – multiple chair setups, multiple non-verbal communication, as well as multiple furnishing re-arrangements.

    I am the one who communicates with himself. I fear not the place of after-death, for I Await it arms-opened, willing it to configure itself around me.

  9. Cat Says:

    Hi
    We all have beauty and incredible power for good inside us, to me this is god, we can touch this through meditation closeness and shared experience, K gives you a direct access to this stuff inside, it strips away the filters and puts you in direct contact with your inner self, this world needs that so badly just now, its like fast acting lsd but in some ways better, you can control your trip and explore the places that you want to…

    All the best with your research, and drop me a line if you want any input…

    Go there love it and bring back good stuff to share…

    Cat Xx

  10. kosmik Says:

    Ketamine is…….Err, Mmmmmmm mY FaVeRoUiTe.
    massive pottential for addiction though. you can fall in love with the “K Hole”, just like i did. things get very insular & introspective. you feel like you are the meaning to life bit you just can’t work it out.
    If youre gonna use this stuff, as hard as it may be, please dont start doing it too often, it WILL take over.
    Pretty please?

  11. Dr 500/10 vials Says:

    Ketamine was fine when he used it by snout… it was when he read the FACT that the only way to really do it is I.M.. well how correct that was, because since then he has died in the fictional K sense many time’s…. the deep darkest loneliest holes ever. After more IM abuse involving much pure liquid vials, he was starting to really believe that the syncronicitys and coincidences were real-ish.. So if this is death, then lets go to the next trip? one stage further? K hole forever? I can handle this? After all isnt life THE trip? he lost the fear of wanting to go over the other side, thats not healthy for me…
    K has been very useful for him, but as another poster said, it WILL get you.. if you have deep questions about your existence and death etc, and have large suppies of K…. Be careful…….
    I would stick to acid..more worldly… these Kholes can be very real. a bit too real.
    any Q get me at my myspace

  12. blog on neurotheolgy Says:

    […] Ketamine and God Wednesday, August 9th, 2006 How does the drug ketamine bring on visions of God? Ketamine (Wikipedia) is a veterinary anesthetic. It is also a well-known party drug, known as “Special-K”, related to angel dust. But the drug, developed in the ‘60s, can also send users into other worlds or gave them visions of God, as soldiers in Vietnam discovered when administered the drug as a battlefield anesthetic. Austin quotes one researcher who describes ketamine as yielding a model near-death experience. Some patients report hearing voices, having out-of-body experiences, or losing their sense of self and connection to reality. Large doses can send the users into a so-called K-hole where they perceive, deep inside the mind, ineffable other worlds and dimensions. An article in the NYT caught my eye when I saw it talked about a study showing that ketamine was a quick-acting antidepressant as well. Scientists had known that it had antidepressant effects in animals (how do you tell a cat is depressed or not?), but had not tried it on humans until now. The study showed immediate (as little as two hours) antidepressive effects, which lasted a week, when the drug was given at sub-anesthetic doses. Apparently the subjects first went off on a little mini-trip, then found themselves undepressed when they got back. This research was done under the auspices of the NIMH; here is the press release The neurological mechanisms underlying the effect of ketamine are relatively well-known. It is an NMDA receptor antagonist, meaning it blocks the NMDA receptors, found mainly in the hippocampus (which is why it affects memory; many ketamine users cannot remember their trips), and the prefrontal cortex (hence its profound impact on thought). Normally NMDA receptors receive signals of glutamate, the most common neurotransmitter. Irregularities in glutamate function are associated with epilepsy, among other disorders, and may also be responsible in part for depression. What is missing is any overarching theory of how ketamine could simuiltaneously cause God-like hallucinations and assuage depression, or what the relationship, if any, between the two effects might be. Such a theory would be a key contribution to the biology of religion. […]

  13. Tom Says:

    Last night I did a fairly normal amount of K (recreationally). I am not religious and have many times plumeted into a “K hole” and seen visions of the ‘world ending’ or changing and experienced out of body experiences. But – last night I actually “met God”! I’ve never experienced such an astounding experience before in my life. He was there in front of me, and as I came back to reality it turned out that he was actually myself? Not that I think myself anything special, but it makes sense if you subscribe to the notion that everyone is there own God? I don’t remember the whole thing in crystal clear details but i recall enough to be able to mark last night as possibly the most incredible experience of my life. I feel I’ve cheated and taken a shortcut to this extremely subconcious mind, perhaps a part of the brain that contains such extreme feelings it must only be naturally reachable if someones mind is pushed to the edge. It is strange that this incredible emotion is contained in all of us, somewhere in there. I think I will give the drug a good break now 🙂

  14. WayaA Says:

    Hello all,

    Neurotheology! I’ve been taking amazing staycations of the mind for years, but tonight is the first time I’ve heard this wonderful term. I love the subject and I love the discussion here. Thank you, everyone!

  15. Daniel Kochanik Says:

    What is the link between God-like hallucinations and the healing effect of the depression? I think that it is blatantly obvious, that more God-like you are, more healthy you are. In the presence of God, there’s no sickness, or lack of anything.

    It’s about time, they do a proper research and figure out the truth. Ketamine is the anti-depresant. But it has a catch, because it won’t completely heal the depression. Mostly because you can get easily addicted to it and then you can either overdose by mistake, or you can be stopped by others for further using. It’s a thin ice to walk on. That’s why it’s illegal, because it’s dangerous.

  16. Michael Says:

    I was at a nightclub last night taking Special K. All of a sudden I got a sense that I had died. I got sense of being very calm, like all of my suffering had ended and that I was God. I got a sense that everyone around me knew of my suffering and were all relieved that I had finally realized who I am. I also heard myself talking. I heard myself saying something I had said at some point in my life, but I can’t remember what it was. I was very happy and then I started to think that what was happening around me was not real but rather a projection of what I want death to be like. It felt like I had time traveled back in time to points in my life in the past. I started to come back to reality and started worrying that I had really died and that death is a place where all your dreams come true. It’s like when you die, your soul goes to another dimension or another state where I was god and everyone around me knew I was god. I started asking my friend if I was dead or alive and he kind of got freaked out at me so at that point I realized that what I had gone through was only an experience and not reality. I couldn’t wait to leave the club so that I can get another confirmation of this. What an unbelievable experience this was I have to say.

  17. Lauren Says:

    I took ket last night with my girlfriend and we out a shared state of aware consciousness. It lasted indefinatly for hours. We had a realisation on our perception of the world in its pure form of abundance and beauty. Our peers seems so foolish to be following and conforming to such a life of ridged.. Day to day imprisionment from the higher forced arm of the government. It was like looking down at the world from a birds eye view and wanting to shake everyone and make them realise that they have the freedom to walk away and live the life of abundance they deserve. It is a very relaxing and peaceful and happy feeling. Comfort in its every corner. Amazing.

  18. Kristin Says:

    My father just got done with ketamine treatments. He was always a guy that was to himself. He was never religious and his status was always athiest. After ketamine treatments for RSD he came home. He talked in a less stressed calm tone. He looked younger. He acted happier. But the his religion preferences changed. He quoted ” I am no longer an athiest.nor am I religious.but I believe in god. God is light. God is love.” I thought it’d wear off. But it still hasn’t. Ever since he’s been preaching around the house about god.

  19. Charles Dehavilland Fox Says:

    I see bright yellow & pink in some universe. The colours clash. I perseive two giant whales , I felt I had come from. Euphoria times 10,000, 1500 sences , I see God. I am like a 4 y.o lost & recognize God , like a lost boy reconizers his mother. He is so good looking , seems to be 12foot but I don’t know how big I am. He called me by name & gave me the secretes to the Universe. I was making out I was a plane flying around his legs , saying look at me God , look at me, like a child with infinite knowledge .it’s like every human knows God but can’t remember him in earthly form. When we see God , he takes off our blinkers , then we remember our Father. He is cool & you don’t want to leave him. One of the secrets is Plasmer? I found out later 90% of the Universe is made up of.I felt like I was one of his favorite’s .this was in 1992 . I still think of that trip daily. Drugs will fuck you up. Better to wait for your number.

Leave a Reply