I just remembered this morning that phrase, haven’t heard or thought it in years. Someone on a head trip might be someone who is out of touch, distant, insensitive to others, preoccupied with ideas.
Under the influence of psychedelics people in the timeframe I’m thinking of were subject to vibrations - music could send you into near ecstasy and a hug could feel soooo good. In the same way criticism or threats could bring scary waves of paranoia. Another drug term, mind-fucker, would be someone who exploited that vulnerability as a put-down artist, sadistically playing on people’s insecurities in order to feel a warped sense of superiority.
Psychedelics would somehow jerk you into the present with a raw intensity where, seeing things for the first time, the world was a marvelous place indeed, full of absolute wonder and delight. And threats. Beauty was very much magnified or rather, the world was seen as it is, a wondrous miracle including the realization of one’s own being in it. One’s psychology was magnified, and being shaped by a dysfunctional society that experience was not always pleasant. If your self-esteem was low, whether behind the mask of arrogance or the mask of shyness, one could be subject to fear, paranoia and panic.
I can now see the head trip, thanks to the clarifying work of a lot of writers, particularly Eckhart Tolle, as referring to the ego, created by the cultural belief that we are separate vulnerable entities, thus mired in alienation and fear. The feeling of bliss reported by many, however temporary, challenges that existential view with an insight into the interconnectedness of all things. Feeling this interconnectedness accounts for the bliss or what Tolle calls enlightenment. The ego though, so established and dominating but threatened by consciousness, and dependent on a belief in separation, can intrude into well-being, distracting one from the interconnection conviction, sowing doubt and fear.
An artificial altered state amplifies it but the same process is at work in one’s daily psychology. Just this morning I was in bed, waking up, realizing I was thinking thinking thinking and breathing very shallow, even holding my breath as I thought. At one point I noticed I was reliving a pleasant memory and feeling mellow then became aware of holding my breath, took a breath, became present, yes, then lost it, started thinking again, this time remembering a social blunder and exchanging mellow for guilt, embarrassment, self-attack and the physical pain accompanying such thoughts. Who is the attacker I thought? Ego. Be the observer I said, and say.