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Engogenous Hallucinations and Bicamerality

Rick Strassman
The Jaynesian, 2009, 3 (2).


One of the most characteristic features of the bicameral mind is the presence of an audible voice. In The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes raises the possibility that an endogenous hallucinogenic, or psychedelic, compound might contribute to the production of the voice. DMT or N,N-dimethyltryptamine, is a powerful psychedelic that belongs to the same family of compounds as LSD and psilocybin, is a powerful endogenous psychedelic present in the human body, and is a reasonable candidate for such a compound. The DMT and bicameral states share at least two features: the perception of previously hidden information, and the certainty regarding these perceptions' independent external reality. In this essay, I will review the possible role of DMT in bicamerality. I also will discuss Jaynes's formulation of Old Testament prophecy as a transitional bicameral state. This formulation lends itself to further explication by considering the role of endogenous psychedelics. Finally, I suggest areas for future research.