Andrés Gómez Emilsson is the director of The Qualia Research Institute, which was created to discover the mathematical structure of consciousness. Today we get to talk about his take the nuances of psychedelic theory, many of which have greatly influenced our approach at Eleusinia. His work at QRI ranges from algorithm design to psychedelic theory, to neurotechnology development, to mapping and studying the computational properties of consciousness. Andrés is amazing as he describes a mathematical, data driven understanding of the psychedelic experience. Listen here or on Apple Podcasts.
Tawnya: Andrés, thank you so much for coming to our show. We are absolutely super excited to have you on so much of what we do at Eleusinia Retreat, and even the language that we use is based on the language that you use in your work. Can you tell the audience a little bit about who you are and the work that you do?
Andrés: Yeah, no thank you for having me I’m so yeah, excited to be here and yeah, very, very I’m looking forward to knowing essentially how the retreat is going and yeah, no, like seeing it in practice. It’s amazing. Yeah, I’m Andrés, I’m one of the co-founders of the Qualia Research Institute, which is a nonprofit that seeks to elucidate the mathematical structure of consciousness.
So, I mean, essentially we made the bold assumption that like any given experience actually corresponds to some kind of mathematical object and then the mathematical features of that object describe the properties of the experience. And so we hypothesized various kinds of mathematical objects and investigate these possible properties.
With a special emphasis on figuring out, you know, ultimately what makes them experience feel good or bad with potential, ultimately humanitarian applications. But along the way, you know, we have identified neglected avenues for tackling extreme pain, as well as very promising therapeutics.
For potentially allowing us to experience peak experiences in a healthy and sustainable way. And so that’s also something that we’re quite interested in. And in general you know, like mapping out the state space of consciousness, understanding essentially what are the properties of radically alien states of consciousness and can they be useful for anything? All of that is, things that we are very interested in at the Qualia Research Institute.
Tawnya: I saw your Miami TEDx talk. It was so amazing. So how did, how did you find a passion? It feels like you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
I mean, I have so many questions about what you just described, but we have to slow it down a bit. And can you tell us how you found your way to this?
Andrés: Oh, my goodness. I think actually found it through philosophy. I mean, first of all, just being very, very curious about the nature of reality, being a very philosophical kid.
I mean, first I went through math and physics and approaching the mystery of reality that way. But then when I was a teenager, I realized that, Hey, actually consciousness is way more mysterious than physics, at least today. And we really have no good, you know, theory for like what makes a brain conscious?
Why are we not all philosophical zombies? And so I decided to study cognitive science. And you know at the time I became quite interested in, essentially this field that is called transhumanism broadly speaking, I was very interested in the following three kind of like supers, which is how do we develop super longevity? How do we stop aging? The second one is , superintelligence, what is super intelligence? And can we create it? Should we create it? And then the third one is a super happiness, which ultimately has become my focus and my main interest, essentially. What are the conditions for happiness in the nervous system?
What about happiness outliers and, and also, how do, how do we reduce extreme suffering, which is something pretty, obviously very related to the work that you, you both do.
Tawnya: So my question about, okay, the mathematical design of consciousness. Now this, someone other people had these theories before your institute research center kind of created its own, or were you guys the first to really take it?
Andrés: Yeah, it’s a great question. So I would say that we are kind of, I mean, we’re definitely unique in many ways.
We’re kind of like a confluence of various theories in addition to novel ideas that we generated. The confluence, I don’t think that it could have happened earlier. When QRI was created it was still like, I would say, early days of integrated information theory by Giulio Tononi and there’s other people working in that area.
So essentially they, I would describe him as some of the people who introduced the idea of a formalism for consciousness that every actual experience corresponds to a mathematical object. And they, they take that very seriously. Ultimately, you know, we have disagreements about the actual mathematics of integrative information theory, or whether it makes sense to think of it at kind of the information layer or information level of analysis.
There’s a whole rabbit hole, but the point is that yeah, there was some, I guess kind of like, adjacent ideas. You could say that seeded the way in which we think, but then to actually get to make the additional claim that, Hey, hold on. The thing that probably matters for whether an experience feels good or bad is the structure of the experience, as opposed to what the experience is about that I would say is definitely a unique kind of a QRI move that we presented.
And and as far as I know, we were the only people really kind of looking at it from that angle, which is called valence structuralism. The term was coined by my co-founder Mike Johnson. And that angle would say, yeah, it’s definitely unique to QRI.
Tawnya: We love that. Can you break that down for us and help the audience understand what that means?
Andrés: Yes. So, I mean, first, if you ask a neuroscientist, what makes an experience feel good or bad? They will usually bring up topics such as what is the amount of dopamine in your nervous system or amount of serotonin and things like that.
But ultimately that is upstream. I mean, essentially serotonin or dopamine and they’re going to be modulating neural activity. But then the thing that matters is the neural activity, the results you know, the way the modulator, it is kind of incidental. And so, there’s this concept of a double dissociation in psychology and neuroscience, where essentially if you want to show that a particular feature of biology or physics doesn’t cause what it’s usually thought of as causing. What you can do is essentially find situations where the feature is present, but the cause is not present and situations where the cause is present. Sorry, the, the effect is present, but the, the, the, the cause is not.
So, so here’s one one thing that It’s the case, which is that you can have a lot of opioids in the nervous system and not feel good. So essentially you can inject opioids in particular parts of the brain that feel dysphoric. So that that’s just one, one example of why the neurotransmitters is not where the emotion is.
Right. The emotion is downstream is just kind of an effect. Several stages happen given the trigger of the neurotransmitters and then down the line, it makes you feeling a certain way or, or another. And the way we think of it at QRI is that essentially the nervous system is sort of like a musical instrument and essentially it has consonant and dissonant modes of organization.
And the thing that makes an experience feel good or bad is whether, you know, the way in which is resonating, it’s consonant versus dissonant. And it’s a very different way of thinking about it than let’s say serotonin or dopamine, because here you could potentially have a nervous system that is very depleted in dopamine, but it’s not as behaving in a very consonant way.
Except, again, there are going to be strong correlations here that usually that’s not going to be the case.
Tawnya: That is incredible. Okay. Do you want to, for the audience, define valence the way you understand it?
Andrés: Yeah. Yeah. So, it’s like the overarching way in which your experience feels. And a very important concept here is exotic valence.
So I mean, common positive valence are things such as like eating ice cream or something like that. Yeah. If you eat vanilla ice cream, you know, overwhelmingly, most people will find it like pleasant. Like, okay, this is a very nice taste. It’s very sugary. That would be a standard typical human positive valence experience.
But then, you know, relevant to this podcast, you can take something like a magic mushroom and then have your visual field have these crazy geometrical structures. And for some reason some of those structures feel really good and some of those they don’t. And so those would be what I would describe as exotic valence, which is that you’re finding a gradient from good patterns to bad patterns.
In a context that is completely unusual for humans to experience something feel good or bad, right? But there is, there is that gradient or this kind of sublime geometries, and then there’s kind of really uncomfortable geometries. And why is that the case? Why does these gradients exist?
And that is the sort of thing that we think valence structuralism can explain. Due to a first approximation when a hallucination or a feeling feels bad, you will always be able to find the reason why it feels bad, and it will be something of the sort of there is dissonance between the resonant modes of this structure of experience.
And essentially very unpleasant qualia will have that effect in general. And that is kind of like a weird claim that we make. But as far as we know, yeah, there’s we haven’t found a counter example to it.
Tawnya: That’s so interesting. Can you translate that into everyday experiences for people as well?
Andrés: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So to a first approximation the more smooth and regular, and symmetrical your experience is the more pleasant it is. And essentially in our theory, this is a true, at every point in time. But essentially the degree to which this is true is pretty extreme in that you can find very small gradients in just how smooth your experiences.
And they will still track, you know, how good or bad it feels. So, so essentially, let’s say you’re paying attention to music, and you’re really wrapped up in music. You will notice that oftentimes the moments of maximum enjoyment, they’re doing the chorus where that kind of the music is actually repeating in a very pleasant way.
But the chorus can not last too long because then you get bored. And the thing with boredom is that it’s kind of this additional kind of decent census that is being added to your experience. So if it didn’t get bored, then actually very symmetrical art would be really, really pleasant forever.
So you could be at a monastery and just be chanting a very simple mantra all day long and never get bored. And, even to a large extent you know, monks who do that have hacked the nervous system so that he doesn’t get bored anymore.
And that’s, that’s perfectly fine. That’s I think that’s a one way of being in a high valence, positive experience. I don’t have any issues with it. But in general, most people will experience a boredom mechanism come up, which will make the experience kind of stuffy and dissonant in and of itself.
But then there’s also, for example in meditation that something you can easily do is try to do nothing for a couple of minutes. And then you will notice that the discomfort that you have, whether it is a craving or a fear, or let’s say something, you know, some bad interaction we had with somebody, it will always manifest as some kind of pinching or shearing or pressure or tension in your felt sense of your body. Like a craving, for example, there is no craving without some kind of contortion in your sense of your body. They always come hand in hand and actually to the large extent, like a way of relieving at a craving.
Actually to kind of pay attention to the way in which it feels in the body and try to undo it there as opposed to try to tackle the craving directly. And
Tawnya: If you tackle with craving, does that create the symmetry? You know, the, the dissonance and then the symmetry with fulfilling that craving? Is that symmetry?
Andrés: Yes. Yes. So exactly that you could definitely tackle it that way you could tackle the craving directly on your felt sense of your body by kind of undoing the distortion or undoing the contortion. And I think that’s, I mean, that’s obviously even better because then you don’t reinforce the craving, but either way, I mean, the moment you satisfy the craving, you will notice that there’s a release of tension.
And and that is, you know, one of the key ways in which valence manifests is how tensed up, how contorted is your bodily sense of self and all of that has to do essentially with the structure of the experience, how tense versus how smooth or how symmetrical the experience is.
Whereas, yeah, I mean, if you were really deep in meditation in a very, very positive space, you will notice that essentially waves of energy can move across your sense of your body with no resistance. And that is essentially a very positive, very pleasant, harmonious state of being and it’s the sort of thing that you can experience with a very, you know, healing and annealing, reannealing session to reboot that kind of clean, nervous system where all the harmonies essentially work without resistance.
Tawnya: So emotions you said are downstream from our neuro-transmitters.
So therefore the neuro-transmitters start it, and that’s the cascade, the cascade to produce the dissonance or. You know, the symmetry, the valence at that point, that’s where the math comes in and it is in that cascade from neurotransmitters to emotions?
Andrés: Not exactly. So when I say that the transmitters sort of upstream in a sense, what, what, yeah, what I mean is that there could be other things that it could also cause it.
For example, we predict that the pleasure that you experienced from, you know, activating the pleasure centers which essentially kind of this internal feeling of harmony or something like that, you could reproduce the same feeling by just essentially stimulating the rest of the brain in a harmonious way without actually touching the pleasure centers.
So, the math really is being applied to the actual experience, their moment in which it happens as opposed what was the process that led to it.
So, there’s like peaks of valence, and there’s, there’s a number of them. But yeah and one of them is ecstatic seizures like Dostoevsky used to have. He would have an epileptic seizure and right before it, you know, he would have this profound sense of harmony and everything is perfect.
And think he even said something like he would trade a few seconds of those moments of harmony for, you know, 10 years of his life, because of just how amazing they were. Everything seems perfect in those moments. That’s the sort of thing where in principle according to our theory, if you have these really smooth, but highly energized symmetrically repeating patterns in the electromagnetic field, and that is actually overlaying your experience.
That might be an extremely pleasant, maybe really wonderful experience. And we see these also with other things. I mean the jhānas is the other case. These are these very advanced concentration states and the reason we are so fascinated by them at QRI is that they they’re all described as like very simple, but highly energized.
So, attention becomes very smooth, whether it’s peripheral or central attention. And then in the higher jhānas you actually have what’s called formless states of consciousness, absorption into pure space or pure consciousness or nothingness. That’s like close to zero information.
I mean, there’s very little going on, but people describe them as very refreshing and rejuvenating and, and just overall, like a lot of wellbeing in those states. And finally, the other one that is really relevant for us is 5 MEO- DMT experiences, which is the ones that are catalyzed by the toad. But essentially, yeah, these drugs, especially that one, it produces…
Tawnya: Why that one and not the regular DMT.
Andrés: Yeah. Because the phenomenology is very, very different. So regular DMT produces what we call competing clusters of coherence. So essentially you’ll have kind of these big bubbles of resonance that are kind of like in an evolutionary process.
And there’s a lot of complexity on a typical DMT trip. And that, from the point of view of valence, is going to be very mixed. I mean, essentially it’s kind of an orchestra where some of the instruments are in tune with each other. Some of them are not, and all of that produces consonance and dissonance at the same time, very mixed experience, very rich.
It’s kind of like a Shostakovich or Rachmaninoff of pieces. These very complex convoluted thing that it’s always on the brink of disaster, but sometimes it’s very beautiful. Whereas that five MEO DMT is very simple. I mean, it, it oftentimes is kind of like just this wave of pure space and like the cleanest space possible and just no content other than space and silence is one possible five MEO, DMT experience.
And that is much more related to kind of pure joy or pure happiness, because it doesn’t have all these crazy complexity opportunities for consonance and dissonance.
Okay. So, one of the things I loved about your TEDx talk is how you were talking about how, because I’m a nurse at nursing background and I came from PACU for many years so we worked with anesthesia.
So you’re talking about the invention of anesthesia was so monumental to science, but at first, when people were bringing the idea of anesthesia for surgery, everybody just poo-pooed them. And you know, basically it got nowhere and you took that analogy to psychedelics and to what we could do for pain.
Would you mind talking a little bit about that?
Andrés: Yes. I think my claim is that anesthesia was monumental. I mean, it was a breakthrough in how, how we tackle many kinds of suffering. I think that right now there are things that are as impactful as anesthesia, but currently being neglected. And they just don’t seem like credible medical interventions, and I mean there’s a number of them. It’s not just, just one of them, but very related to obviously what you are very interested in, classic psychedelics like psilocybin and DMT for things like cluster headaches. I think if you run the numbers, chances are there’s as many people having cluster headache right now as people undergoing a surgery.
Yeah, I don’t think it is, or rather I’m pretty convinced that, in terms of raw numbers, actually giving DMT vape pens to every household would actually reduce, suffering as much, if not more than anesthesia was for surgery.
Tawnya: That is so amazing.
So, you know, I’ve been a nurse for 15 years and I’ve given lots of traditional narcotics for pain and huge amounts with all sorts of side effects and all sorts of trouble that I heard you talk about on multiple talks that you did. But being with Eleusinia and watching how DMT can really interrupt a pain cycle, that was like, for me, I love the way you rate pain, because it’s a lot more complicated than the traditional nursing scale on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is your pain?
So that’s the scale that I’m talking about. I would see pain so severe of nine with incredible agitation, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, and after the DMT experience, having it 100%, eradicated with no residual side effect with the person being 100% functional for the rest of the day.
And as a nurse, I have never seen anything do that. Have you seen it?
Andrés: I have not seen it in action. I mean, I’ve just interviewed a couple dozen people with this experience. I mean, we were very interested, especially in DMT because of how fast it acts.
Jessica: Because it wouldn’t matter if LSD or even psilocybin work just as well. I mean, your day is shot.
It’s going to be a different kind of day. Let’s just say it’s going to be a very different day.
Andrés: Yes, yes.
Jessica: But the DMT, that’s just a few minutes and then you can move on.
Tawnya: And the retreat is so amazing because we have, of course, a lot of people specifically for chronic pain, but you know, their spouses come too. So we have this dynamic retreat that will support all sorts of people going through all sorts of stuff. And it’s not just specialized in chronic pain.
We have, you know, depression and anxiety, body dysmorphia, you know, and then all sorts of different things with pain, phantom limb pain, all sorts of things. So it’s marvelous and it’s marvelous to have a focus on chronic pain because nobody else is doing it. So your work means so much to us.
So we gave us this theory and out psychedelics everybody having a DMT pen. I mean, obviously that would be amazing, but there the human component is that people are very afraid, very afraid of entering that.
But do you have any other ideas or beliefs that if we have this as a household items, we would lose some, some other great suffering.
Andrés: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think like with respect to DMT, I mean, I think like a setup where essentially you can get like, maybe up to like three milligrams per like toke or something like that.
And maybe even like a maximum of three milligrams every five minutes or something like that. So that like, even if you want it to hallucinate, you wouldn’t be able to. But if you’re experiencing yeah. Plus your headache, you can like, you know, take another heat every five minutes and then over the course of 20 minutes or something would probably subside.
But I mean, then again, we should definitely, yeah. See, see if that actually works as a strategy, but yeah.
Jessica: Yeah, actually from, from the vape pens that we have used, I find it’s actually a little bit difficult for someone to get a full dose out of a vape pen. They actually have to work for it a little bit.
It takes several, several puffs within a certain, within a period of time. And I find myself in a very strange situation of having to teach someone who’s old enough, that could be my mother or even a little bit of stretch a grandmother, how to smoke, which is a unique experience.
Because it takes a little bit of a practice, a little bit of training for someone who’s never smoked anything before.
Andrés: Yeah. That sounds like a ride. Yeah. So, that’s, I mean that, and the other advancement definitely had things going to be like non-psychoactive versions of something like DMT, but that also reduced cluster headaches. But then beyond that other things that I, you know, I often talk about it’s, I mean, to me, like one of the biggest revolutions that there will be in terms of like pain management, probably by a long shot is going to be this concept of anti-tolerance pharmaceuticals more broadly. With a leading example to us being ibogaine. I mean, here’s the thing, right? Like if you look at kind of, what is the culture in kind of like psychedelic spaces, oftentimes you will find like these very strong, you can describe it as like opioid phobia or in general actually like phobia towards like the pharma industry more, more generally.
Right. It’s kind of this idea of like, well, they’re, they’re selling you antidepressants and you know they’re calcifying your pineal gland. So there’s like a lot of tropes and memes like that in psychedelic spaces. So it’s kind of, yeah, this ideology of, I mean, essentially if you have chronic pain or something like that, then you, you, maybe you just need weed or something like that.
But then the….
Jessica: I also want the rest of my day, that’s the problem. I want the rest of my day back, it’s not just, let’s put out this fire. I want to actually do things, not just be stuck in a Twilight Zone all the time.
Andrés: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And my understanding, I mean, essentially is that for many kinds of chronic pain, really? The only thing that works is opioids like morphine or Oxycontin, or like, yeah, I mean, you’re, you’re a nurse. So like, I mean, there’s kind of like a reality check with people who actually, you know, interact with people with chronic pain.
Tawnya: Yeah. And in the hospital, when I have somebody in chronic pain or an intense headache, when I’m in that setting and, you know, I cannot say, have you tried DMT it’s 100% at this point in time, completely not allowed.
Andrés: Yeah, or weed edibles? Right.
Jessica: I think that depends on the state, right? In the legal states, are you allowed to suggest that? Weed edibles?
Tawnya: I don’t think so. Even in a legal state that it’s just Western medicine, you know, it depends, I’m sure very few nurses would be able to.
Andrés: So essentially I think like in, in this, in this whole kind of the class of situations, the thing that is the most exciting would be a drug that allows you to essentially have the relief of a opioid painkiller, but without your body getting used to the painkiller, I mean it’s the holy grail, and ibogaine, it’s amazing because it really does that. The only problem is that it also makes you hallucinate and also might be mildly cardiotoxic.
But I mean, it’s a question like whether microdoses, are really a concern and it’s possible that they’re not, but the most exciting kind of the case reports to me are people with severe chronic pain who, you know, they take morphine every day. They have like for 10 years, and there’s no way around it, but then they start taking small doses of ibogaine, but then all of a sudden over the course of a month or something, they can cut down their dose of opioids by like 90%.
And still get the same pain relief, but then all of a sudden they’re also able to, you know, like do a lot more in their day because they’re not like completely sedated in, in bed, you know, all day long.
Tawnya: So, you talked about, you know, the side effects being possible cardio toxicity, which I understand that, but some people are really finding a lot of meaning in the ability to hallucinate, whereas your stance and understanding with that.
Andrés: In the ideal world, we just disentangle them. I mean, like, I think like ibogaine trips I think are like really, really fascinating. I mean, I haven’t tried ibogaine myself, but like people I know who are like, Psychonauts, who’ve tried everything. They say ibogaine is really special too. And like, obviously as somebody who was interested in investigating consciousness, you know,
Tawnya: 30 hours, right?
Andrés: Is that. Yeah, it’s the same thing. It’s a long, long trip essentially. And I mean I’m, and I’m sure like, it will be very relevant for science, but I think essentially the reason why people are very comfortable with the idea of like yeah. You know, ibogaine comes with these hallucination, and that’s just part of the deal is that they’re usually thinking in terms of like, how do we treat the, a junkie, you know, how do we treat somebody who’s in the streets on heroine?
And this is kind of like this moralistic component. Like, yeah, that person needs to face their demons and they need to realize, you know, they’ve betrayed their family and culture or something like that. Whereas I think like let’s disassociate these. One thing is, you know, chronic pain, which is like where you have to tackle it biochemically.
And then a different thing is going to be like addiction. And, but even within addiction, we should still disassociate like the anti-tolerance effect, which you can get with small doses and yeah, the hallucinatory component, which I think should be voluntary. And it should essentially be more towards people who are interested in investigating consciousness than people who are suffering essentially for whether it’s caused by themselves or not.
I mean, I think it doesn’t matter.
Tawnya: So at one point in time, you’re saying we’ll have that option. Hopefully, hopefully we don’t lose that option cause to some people is very valuable, but to others, it should be their choice. That’s very fascinating. Thank you for clarifying.
Yeah. And I think, I think like the big revolution is going to be with ibogaine- like compounds that are completely non-psychoactive, but they reverse tolerance.
And I think like that, I mean, you know, in 20 years or 30 years, I think it’s just going to be like standard of care that like, yeah, if you suffer from chronic pain, they will always combine an opioid together with one of these anti- tolerance drugs is what I suspect is going to be the case.
Jessica: For hemicrania continua or cluster headaches, opioids don’t work. Those that, that doesn’t work at all. I mean, in a lot of neuropathy, it doesn’t, it, it just.
Doesn’t it doesn’t touch it. It doesn’t have any impact at all.
Andrés: Yeah. Yeah, it’s just too extreme.
Jessica: Well, no. Okay. So hemicrania continua is not super extreme. It’s just persistent. All the trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias , they’re organized by their intensity and by their frequency. Hemicrania continua, the one that I have, is constant all the time and low level while cluster headaches are separated into attacks that happened usually at the same time each day or the same time each year. Hemicrania continuous is not super intense, but it’s like the Chinese torture versus being a flayed alive. It’s the drip, drip, drip of constant pain.
Andrés: Yeah. So it’s just the type of pain.
Tawnya: So we’re talking about, you know hallucinogens, you know, psilocybin and DMT, and we haven’t really got into the details of psilocybin because psilocybin has this unique anti-inflammatory effect as well.
Do you have any insight into psilocybin?
Andrés: There’s definitely like two, two or 3 applications. So relevance is here. I mean, at QRI, I, you know, kind of like the three goals so that we have is reduced negative extremes, which is what we have talked about mostly today then also is improve baseline.
You know, how do we actually bring somebody who’s feeling, okay or feeling kind of like neutral to like, you know, like every day feel pretty good, like, like a decent experience. And then like a achieving new heights, which is like investigating like really positive peaks of experience.
And I mean, psilocybin for kind of like reducing inflammation to me, it slots into essentially increasing baseline. They’re like, yeah. I mean, for a lot of people mild levels of chronic inflammation is something that prevents them from living their best life. But most of the things in that context that I could talk about is kind of like annealing in general as essentially a way of reducing internal friction.
And like this may actually happen further than just the central nervous system. I mean, to the extent of that there’s so many other processes in our body that essentially can benefit from a neural annealing session, I think. And yeah, essentially a very key concept here is this concept called the impedance matching, which is essentially how easy it is for two resonators or two metronomes two parts of your nervous system. that are essentially creating like a particular frequency, for them to sync up.
And in general, on psychedelics the impedance matching increases, meaning that parts of your nervous system that are kind of like actually resonating in their own frequencies, sending their own waves on something like psilocybin, they’re able to actually sync up and exchange information.
And I think like that, that process essentially kind of like reducing internal boundaries and allowing the free flow of information within the nervous system. Yeah. I mean, essentially kind of reintegrate parts of your body that have long been isolated and yeah, there’s kind of this very embodied feeling of actually they’re a part of me again.
And yeah, I mean, I think like within the increasing baseline, that that type of effect is really promising to investigate.
Tawnya: Would you mind backing up and giving the audience a definition of neural annealing? We do talk about neural annealing at the retreat, but I’d love to hear a definition from you.
Andrés: Yeah. Yeah. So, okay. So the first approximation, this is a, a combination of two things. So first of all, you need the symmetry theory of valence as kind of like an underlying background assumption that like more positive states of consciousness in general will be the ones that are more symmetrical, smooth lacking in internal tension.
And then the other very important element is this concept of an energy parameter. That essentially at any given point in time, there is a degree to which you’re activated or degree to which you’re conscious and essentially things like psilocybin and DMT, LSD in a dose dependent way, they influence the energy parameter.
So if you take psilocybin, literally, you know, you could say that you’re energized. Why? Because, you know, if you compute the total amount of energy of your experiences, you know, the, sum of the intensity of your visual field, And the intensity of your tactile field and the intensity of your emotions. You add all of that together on psilocybin, you will get like a higher score essentially.
And one observation is that essentially when you’re like activated in an energized state of consciousness, things are actually kind of like more soft and malleable and melty. And this concept is it’s called entropic disintegration is from Robin Carhart-Harris, a famous neuroscientist who is currently doing a lot of psychedelic research where essentially they find that patterns of neural activity essentially breakdown. Essentially the brain is too heated up. So they, they actually stop crystallizing in the common way in which they do. So you have kind of this window of opportunity where they’re broken up. They are fragmented out and then as you cool down, as you essentially calm down, it’s an opportunity for them to essentially cool down in a way that there’s more harmonious in a way that is more symmetrical and smooth.
Phenomenologically the way in which that will manifest is essentially parts of your experience actually getting in sync with each other and kind of like having this ability, like being in tuned with one another. Like maybe before there was an internal boundary, they were not in speaking terms after the neural annealing session, you’re more integrated and yeah, I mean, if you were to do these over and over, especially combined with meditation, is a sort of thing that yeah in principle increases the degree of concentration to which your nervous system is capable of which is, yeah, the sort of thing that at least from interviews, we seem to observe it on a lot of practitioners.
Tawnya: So we can be at a state where we can learn easier and we’re more creative, and we just have a higher standard of quality of life and on and on and on.
Once we move through that process.
Andrés: Yeah. And we can heal our internal traumas. I mean, to the large extent, like internal traumas are kind of these inner tensions or like inner stresses that are left from past experiences and yeah. During a psychedelic experience, you can undo that stress or process it, or because of impedance matching these very weird effects that people report where it feels like I processed the trauma of my grandmother dying, for example, with my kidney or with my leg or something very weird. It’s kind of like, oh, these part of my body was able to untangle or, or undo a knot that was in this other part of my body.
Because in that state of consciousness, essentially your whole nervous system is more interconnected. So like one part of your nervous system can work on the problems of a different part of the nervous system. And then yeah, as it cooled down, that stays the same. I mean, actually you, you did work it out.
Tawnya: That is absolutely fascinating. That was so incredible.
Andrés: DMT is a little bit different because DMT it’s attractor state is these competing clusters of coherence. So it actually doesn’t anneal you in the same way as like mushrooms can. DMT actually is going to complexify your experience more and more.
The more you take it because you get these really strong impressions of really complex information states, essentially. And oftentimes they’re full of narrative too. It’s kind of like, oh, I was thinking to a spaceship and they were giving the secrets of the universe and, and they’re very specific, you know?
And, and, uh, George Bush is involved somehow. Like there’s like these various specific things.
Jessica: That’s funny. That has not been my experience of DMT. I’ve experienced very low information.
Tawnya: Is this a difference between 5 MEO and then regular DMT?
Jessica: I think you’re talking about N DMT, right?
Andrés: Yeah. Yeah. And so you’re saying you don’t experience this complex narratives and complex.
Jessica: Yes, I do experience complex geometry, but as far as narratives or entities, I just don’t think that my brain works that way because I’ve seen these, these very complicated things that. And when someone describes to me what they think, what a DMT elf is or what these entities are, it looks sort of similar, but I don’t think I’ve never really placed this label of entity.
Tawnya: I’ve got to share something.
So I’m always looking like, is there an angel, like I’ve had a DMT experience that I’m like looking for an angel and the message that I’ve gotten multiple times was you are the angel.
Jessica: So there is a narrative there.
Tawnya: Super embarrassing, but you know.
Andrés: No, I’ve heard that too. Also that I’ve heard that before.
Jessica: You’re our angel.
Tawnya: Well, I’m about to go work at his Institute because this has been such a fascinating experience.
Jessica: Wait, no, we can’t lose you. You’re an essential worker. No, interview over. We’re done. Bye Andres.
Tawnya: So Andres, I heard that you were invited to come to Eleusinia. Are you contemplating? Is that ever potential for you to come?
Andrés: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, that would be very good. I think And I’m very interested.
Tawnya: Is there anything else that you wanted to mention and share that could have been of relevance to you that we didn’t get to talk about?
Andrés: Very briefly, I mean, like the other technologies that we’re looking into I mean, like we were thinking, like, there’s a way of preventing kidney stones. I mean, he’s not exactly related and it’s not as interesting as the DMT. It’s a South American herb called Chanca Piedra.
We think, especially as a preventative might just like be able to reduce kidney stones by a huge margin. Maybe that could more than
Tawnya: There was an analogy you used about that- we spend more time having the pain and suffering of kidney stones than what was it?
Andrés: Potentially like having surgery or something like that.
Tawnya: Yeah. That’s interesting.
Andrés: Yeah. Yeah. So, and then for kidney stones, it is yeah. Where you do get opioids and they do work a little bit, but
Jessica: They work a lot better than for this neurological pain.
Andrés: But but you don’t want to go to the ER every time you get a kidney stone.
So that’s another one. And in terms of newer technology, we are working on this combination device, which is light sound and body vibration, and it’s like really cool, because it puts you in kind of like a pretty psychedelic state of consciousness without like having to take anything.
It is very exciting. It is very exciting. I think, especially when it comes to its potential to help you process trauma and emotion is kind of a, yeah, it’s kind of like combining like a really positive concert experience together with like a really positive, like feeling heard by a friend and like the emotional processing of those two things at once.
But for internal issues that you may have, you may not even be able to label or describe them. But yeah, other than that I would love to see your retreat grow and figure out how to scale it up so that many more people who suffer from these conditions can access yeah.
This life saving resources. So, yeah. Let me know if there’s anything I can do, but I mean, essentially I think at this point, like scaling up for, for you guys would be an amazing thing to, to work on.
Tawnya: Thank you so much.
Jessica: Once we convince people that you come to the retreat and you’re going to go home with both of your kidneys it’s pretty smooth sailing after that, they won’t wake up in a bathtub full of ice cubes, be like, oh, where’s my other kidney.
Andrés: No, that happens on ketamine retreats, not on psilocybin.
Jessica: Oh, so we have to be specific about that. You just THINK you lost a kidney. That’s it.
I did have a question for you, Andreas. That was well, since as far as I know you don’t personally have any connection with chronic pain, am I correct with that?
Andrés: I don’t, I don’t currently suffer from chronic pain, thankfully.
Jessica: So what is it about the state of your common man that has brought you towards this interest?
Andrés: Yeah. I mean, it is a combination of, I mean, I would say like do things, I mean, and, and this is what I advocate for kind of a, what spirituality could be. I mean, this is kind of how I think of it. It’s a combination of a oneness, I mean, which is yeah. Kind of the psychedelic insight that, okay, we’re all connected.
We’re all part of the same field of consciousness to put it poetically. And then the second element is a valence realism that like, actually, experiences do feel good or bad. And then there’s like a scale for these and it’s not up to us. Like you can’t imagine it that way. So when you combine those two things and you take them very seriously, in some sense, you realize that, you know, whoever has pain, it is the collective pain of the field of consciousness. So it really blurs the boundaries. And it really doesn’t matter if it’s like my pain or, or your pain, like it is pain either way. And in that sense, yeah, it’s kind of like, even from a very, just pure rational point of view is like this is obviously the most important thing I could be working on.
So that’s how I think of.
Tawnya: It’s remarkable. Thank you so much. It’s just been wonderful. We really appreciate you taking the time to come and talk with us. Is there other ways that people can follow your work? I know you have videos out there.
Andrés: I would recommend watching my YouTube videos. I intend to put out a bunch more, more or less soon.
So yeah, just look up my name and that is going to be Andrés Gomez Emilsson on YouTube and then qualiaresearchinstitute.org and follow me on Twitter for bad takes on consciousness and jokes. So yeah, this is been really wonderful. Thank you so much for the opportunity to do. And for the work you’re doing, it’s yeah, God’s work.