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The 4 Types of Non-Ordinary Experiences in Ketamine Infusions: A Guide for Doctors

As a healthcare boss, you're no stranger to the fact that ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic. But did you know that your patients can have different types of experiences during their IV ketamine therapy? Understanding these experiences or "states" is crucial to improve patient care and comfort during ketamine treatment.

Why are Dissociative Experiences Important?

Your patients might be curious about the role of these dissociative experiences in their recovery. As their trusted healthcare provider, it's your duty to guide them through this journey.

These experiences are not just random side effects; they play a significant role in treating depression, other mood disorders, and chronic pain. A study by Lukenbaugh et al. revealed that individuals with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) experienced a more robust and sustained antidepressant effect when they underwent dissociation during the infusion.

This dissociative experience during ketamine therapy is also known as a "ketamine-induced non-ordinary state of consciousness." The type of experience varies depending on the amount of ketamine administered, the environment of the treatment, and the mindset of the patient.

Exploring the Four Types of Non-Ordinary Experiences

According to research by Dr. Eli Kolp, there are four types of ketamine-induced states that patients may experience during treatment.

1. Empathogenic Experience

During this state, patients may experience a heightened awareness of their body, comfort, relaxation, and reduced ego defenses. They may also feel empathy, compassion, warmth, love, peace, and euphoria, with their mind in a dreamy state accompanied by colorful visual effects.

2. Out-of-Body Experience (OBE)

In this state, patients may experience complete separation from their body, significantly diminished ego defenses, visits to mythological realms of consciousness, encounters with non-terrestrial beings, emotionally intense visions (e.g., deceased relatives, spirits), vivid dreams of past and future incarnations, and even re-experiencing the birth process.

3. Near-Death Experience (NDE)

During an NDE, patients may experience departure from their body, complete ego dissolution/loss of identity, physical (body) and psychological (mind) death. They may also experience being a single point of consciousness simply aware of itself, reliving one’s life aware of how actions have affected others, with moral judgment of self.

4. Ego-Dissolving Transcendental Experience (EDT)

In this state, patients may experience an ecstatic state of the dissolution of boundaries between the self and external reality, complete dissolution of one’s body and self (soul), transcending normal mass/time/space continuum, collective consciousness, unity with Nature/Universe, and a sense of sacredness.

Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment

As a healthcare boss, your role is pivotal in providing a safe, supportive, and transformative experience during ketamine treatment. Although the type of experience your patient will have depends on their mindset, you also have a role to play in creating the right environment and determining the right dose.

Hot Take

Ketamine therapy isn't just about administering a dose; it's about guiding patients through an extraordinary journey of self-discovery and healing. Understanding these four non-ordinary experiences can help you better support your patients, making their ketamine treatment a transformative and empowering experience.

Want to learn more about running a successful ketamine infusion clinic? Register for our FREE Ketamine Clinic Masterclass today. 


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