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Masters and Houston - Time distortion



Type of Spiritual Experience

Perception recall

Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience – Dr Robert Masters and Dr Jean Houston

A further point that should be made concerning the eidetic images has to do with their relation to clock measured or 'real time'.  Psychedelic subjects may feel that an image sequence has lasted 'forever', for 'years' or for 'many hours', when in fact the sequence has been clocked as lasting only a few minutes or even a few seconds.  Sometimes the subject's estimate of the time consumed is based on the imaged events.  If the subject has imaged the day long coronation of a king he may feel that the image sequence has taken all day to unfold.  More commonly the estimate of the time a grouping of images has taken to unfold is based on the feeling that so much was seen that hours or days or aeons must have passed in order for all that to have been experienced.  This resembles of course, the similar phenomenon of time distortion in dreams.  Such a compression of images and imaginary events may also be induced by the hypnotic trance state.  As often as has been demonstrated, a hypnotic subject may draw upon the contents of his perception to see again in a few seconds a feature length motion picture that is experienced as running at just the same speed as it did when first seen in the theatre.

Not only images but thoughts as well are enormously compressed in time in the drug state, although the compression may be greater at some periods than at others.  It is this speeding up of the mental processes that are experienced by the subject as a slowing down of time.  The thoughts do not seem to be coming any faster, but a great deal more may be thought in any given amount of clock measured time.  It is of course because of this that such a lot seems to happen in the psychedelic session.

Slowed down time produces many curious experiences.  A subject lights a cigarette, smokes it 'for hours', looks down and the initial ash is still only a quarter inch in length.  Walking down a flight of stairs 'takes forever'

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps





Dreaming and lucid dreaming