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Mental Preparation Before Ibogaine Treatment

Mental Preparation Before Ibogaine Treatment

“I Didn’t Have Any Visions!”: The Role of Conditioning, Aphantasia and Mental Preparation Before Ibogaine Treatment

We are all familiar with the crushing weight of disappointment when things don’t turn out our way, and this is a natural reaction. 


However, when it comes to ibogaine treatments (or other psychedelic therapies), there are a few important considerations that often get pushed to the sideline, the main one being the excessive importance laid on the visual aspects of therapies involving plant medicines.


In today’s blog, we will be looking into how conditioning, aphantasia, and emotional resistance can all influence one’s experience with ancestral plant or animal medicines. One key element that we would like to highlight is the need for thorough mental preparation before an ibogaine treatment.

The “Pornography of the Visible”

Mental Preparation Before Ibogaine Treatment

There is no doubt that, for the last two decades, society’s reliance on stimulation and satisfaction has been shifting ever faster into the realm of the visual. 


Alkaloids such as ibogaine, an oneirogen that induces dream-like visions primarily when the eyes are closed, and classic psychedelics, which can cause visions whether the eyes are open or closed, have been highly publicized for their potent visionary effects; therefore, some individuals may feel disappointed if they do not experience these visions. This factor requires some context, and emphasizes the need for proper mental preparation before an ibogaine treatment.


Jean Baudrillard, a French sociologist, philosopher, and cultural theorist who is best known for his theories on postmodernism and the impact of technology and media on society wrote brilliantly on our ever-increasing reliance on the visual realm.


One of his intriguing concepts is “the pornography of the visible,” as expanded upon in two of his seminal works, “Simulacra and Simulation” and “The Transparency of Evil.”


The concept of “pornography of the visible” is not about pornography in the conventional sense. Instead, it is a summation of Baudrillard’s critique of the modern obsession with visibility and transparency in society.


He argued that in contemporary culture, there is an excessive amount of images and information, and an incessant need to show, exhibit, or disclose everything. In other words, nothing is left to mystery or imagination. 


By constantly revealing and showing everything, society loses a sense of mystery and depth. When everything is visible, nothing remains hidden or sacred. This also leads to the loss of critical thinking, as people are more focused on the surface-level aspects of things rather than delving deeper into their meanings.


The term “pornography” in this context is used metaphorically to suggest that this culture of visibility turns everything into objects for consumption.


Similar to how consuming actual pornography can lead to desensitization, the constant exposure to images and information desensitizes people to real experiences and emotions. 


There is a numbing effect, and it gets harder for anything to truly make an impact or feel genuinely meaningful. This is why mental preparation before an ibogaine treatment can serve as a means to regain sensitivity towards more authentic experiences.

Emotional Resistance

Ibogaine Treatment

Many people who choose to undergo an ibogaine treatment will do so because they have tried other traditional rehab methods which they feel have failed (in the case of substance abuse), or feel they have not had significant breakthroughs in the treatment of their mental health issues.


Accessing one’s subconscious via an ibogaine treatment requires a good deal of commitment to the cause, but also a good deal of emotional and psychological courage. This is why mental preparation before ibogaine treatment is crucial.



When exposed to emotional, physical or sexual traumas from an early age, either as an isolated event or a continued, sustained series of events, our mind is biologically wired to dissociate from painful events by way of promoting some level of functional survival on a day-to-day basis.



This neurobiological “wiring” is what is called the Ego. The ego can be seen as the aspect of the self that is responsible for managing and navigating the individual’s experiences, both internally and in relation to the external world. It is involved in various psychological processes, including perception, memory, decision-making, and self-awareness.



In an attempt to protect us from further pain, and ensure our survival, the ego is programmed to block off access from traumatic events of our past.



While ibogaine does soften the ego and the conscious mind, opening up the subconscious instead, where such memories are stored, it is important to note that we will always enter into such treatments with a natural dose of emotional resistance. 



Being prepared to truly re-connect with the events that brought us to the point of either addiction or mental illness requires some preparation. Part of this is the crucial mental preparation before an ibogaine treatment, which can play a pivotal role in how we respond to the therapy.



In this sense, it is also important to note that not everyone is prepared to do this, depending on their particular journey. This factor is what can many times “inhibit” the occurrence of strong visions during an ibogaine treatment. The mental preparation before an ibogaine treatment is not something that everyone might be ready for, and it’s vital to understand that going in.


What is Aphantasia?

What is Aphantasia

Aphantasia is a term that refers to the inability or significantly reduced ability of an individual to create mental images. People with aphantasia find it difficult or impossible to visualize images, scenes, or objects in their mind’s eye.

For instance, if you ask someone with aphantasia to close their eyes and imagine a beach with waves crashing onto the shore, they may not be able to form any visual representation of this scene in their minds.

However, it is important to note that aphantasia can vary in degree among individuals. Some may have a complete inability to form mental images, while others might only be able to visualize in a vague or limited way.

Aphantasia doesn’t necessarily only affect visual imagery, although that’s the most commonly discussed aspect. For some individuals, it may also affect other senses such as the ability to mentally recreate sounds, smells, tastes, or physical sensations.

The term “aphantasia” was first coined by Professor Adam Zeman, a cognitive and behavioural neurologist, in 2015, but the phenomenon itself has been known for a longer time. 


. Congenital Aphantasia: Some individuals are born with aphantasia, and it is thought to be due to differences in brain structure or function. Research on this is still in the early stages and no definitive cause for congenital aphantasia has been established. 


  1. Acquired Aphantasia: This can occur as a result of brain injury, stroke, or neurological disorders. In such cases, a person who was previously able to visualize experiences a loss or reduction in this ability. 


  1. Psychological Factors: In some cases, psychological factors such as anxiety, depression, or trauma might contribute to aphantasia. There’s a possibility that the brain, as a protective mechanism, suppresses the ability to create mental images, especially if those images are associated with traumatic experiences. 


  1. Variation in Cognitive Styles: Some researchers propose that aphantasia could be one end of a spectrum of human cognitive styles. On one end, you have hyperphantasia, where people have extremely vivid mental imagery, and on the other end, aphantasia, with various degrees in between. 


Currently, research on aphantasia is still emerging and there’s much that is not known or understood about the condition. As more research is conducted, our understanding of aphantasia and its causes may evolve. 


It is also important to recognize that aphantasia is not inherently a disorder, and many individuals with aphantasia lead normal, fulfilling lives, albeit with a different internal experience.

Visuals are Only the Tip of the Iceberg


The visions that are induced by ibogaine, a psychoactive alkaloid, primarily occur when one’s eyes are closed, and they are remarkably similar to dream-like imagery in terms of clarity; this sets ibogaine apart from classic psychedelics. However, these visions are not the only benefit derived from ibogaine treatment.


Many people approach psychedelic therapy with a high focus on the visual experience as the most desired outcome.


Here at Ibogaine Treatment UK (Iboga Root Sanctuary), we have had some clients who, following their ibogaine treatment, expressed disappointment at the fact they did not have what they considered to be significant visions.


This excessive focus on the visual aspect of an ibogaine treatment discounts some of the most important aspects of what ibogaine does in the context of addiction and mental health. For example, mental preparation before ibogaine treatment can facilitate a deeper connection with the inner self, which might not necessarily be visual in nature.


Within medically supervised environments such as ours, a standard ibogaine administration involving a flood dose spans between 12 and 36 hours and is divided into various experiential segments or phases.


The primary acute phase kicks off in the initial 1-3 hours and predominantly comprises intense wakeful hallucinations that persist for 4-8 hours and are amplified in dimly-lit surroundings or with closed eyes.


The subsequent phase is characterized by introspection and begins between 8 and 20 hours after the initial dose; during this period, visual hallucinations subside, and individuals frequently experience heightened intuitive awareness, self-realization, and contemplation.


This phase is what we call the deep-thinking phase. Because ibogaine opens the subconscious and brings to the fore repressed emotions, thoughts, and feelings, it is often in this phase that those undergoing treatment gain valuable insights into what is lacking if they aim to course-correct their lives.

The Importance of Surrender

As we draw this exploration to a close, it is paramount to fully grasp the many facets of ibogaine treatments, beyond just the visuals.


Our seemingly dominant cultural inclination towards the “pornography of the visible”, as Baudrillard astutely observed, must not overshadow the profound depths that lie beneath the surface of ibogaine therapy. It is important to bear in mind that ibogaine or classic psychedelics are not a virtual reality headset we can turn on and off at will. 


Expectations, and indeed, an individual’s capacity for mental imagery, shaped by factors such as aphantasia, certainly modulate one’s experience. The same applies to an individual’s varying degrees of emotional resistance.


However, it is essential to appreciate that ibogaine’s potency is not confined to vivid visions alone. Engaging in mental preparation before ibogaine treatment can play a significant role in harnessing the full therapeutic potential of this ancient plant medicine.


Embarking on a journey with ibogaine calls for a holistic appraisal, a certain trust in the process and those helping you through it. The sacred plant medicine holds the potential to peel back layers of the subconscious, unearth repressed emotions, and pave the way for deep introspection and self-realization.


The spiritual and psychological revelations during the deep-thinking phase may, for many, become the linchpin in steering their lives toward meaningful transformations. It is crucial to understand that any traumatic emotions, thoughts, feelings, or visions from your past that emerge during this experience are being revealed to you for a purpose, and they cannot cause you harm since they are confined to the past.


Furthermore, ibogaine’s role in resetting the brain’s neural pathways, both in the context of addiction, as in the larger field of mental health, such as depression, anhedonia and PTSD, is nothing short of groundbreaking. Science itself has not fully discovered how ibogaine does what it does to the brain’s neural pathways; but thousands of people around the world can tell you that it works. 


The rebalancing of dopamine circuits and the prolonged presence of noribogaine post-treatment can be instrumental in alleviating the iron grip of substance dependency, subsequent cravings, depression, and in restoring a sense of emotional equilibrium for long enough to allow individuals to make key changes in their lives in the months following treatment.


In conclusion, as you prepare for an ibogaine treatment, it is prudent to maintain an open mind and to perceive beyond the allure of visuals. Not everything must be seen to be believed: some things can be intuitively known, and later blossom into realizations or clear thoughts. 


Recognize the richness and depth that ibogaine bestows, and let the cascade of introspective revelations and neurological restorations weave their magic.


At Ibogaine Treatment UK (Iboga Root Sanctuary), we cherish and foster this understanding, acknowledging that the healing journey is as vast and varied as the human spirit.


So, let the wisdom of ancestral medicines guide you beyond the tip of the iceberg, into the expansive ocean of self-discovery and rebirth.

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