LSD — The Problem-Solving Psychedelic
P.G. Stafford and B.H. Golightly
LSD - The Problem-Solving Psychedelic
©1967 by Peter Stafford and Bonnie Golightly
Published by Award Books, New York
Preface by Dr. Humphrey Osmond
Introduction by Dr. Duncan B. Blewett
I THE LSD CRISIS
II WHAT THE DRUG DOES
General Effects of LSD
III CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING
"Dynamiting" Creative "Log Jams"
IV EVERYDAY PROBLEMS
Frigidity, Impotence, Homosexuality and Perversion
Alcoholism and Other Addictions
Birth and Death
V EDUCATION AND THE PSYCHEDELICS
VI RELIGION, MYSTICISM AND ESP
VII LSD AND MENTAL HEALTH
VIII GUIDELINES TO THE USE OF LSD
Set and Setting
Dangers and Precautions
IX DRUGS PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Growth of the Black Market
The Psychedelic Style
A Capsule Future
Afterword by Dr. Stanley Krippner
Other Literature in the Field
Preface by Dr. Humphrey Osmond
THIS IS A GOOD and interesting account of some positive uses of psychedelics written mainly for the non-technical reader. In some details it can be faulted, but it is a stimulating work, full of information, much of it gleaned patiently from the journals and some obtained directly by the writers in the course of their enquiries. However, this does not, I think, constitute its main importance, and its significance would be completely misunderstood if it is seen only in this light. It will certainly be read widely by the psychedelic generation and their successors; but in my opinion, it should receive the closest attention from those who consider themselves older, wiser, and more in touch with sober reality than these adventurous people. I hope that my contemporaries and colleagues will read this book and give it their careful consideration, because if we do not grasp clearly what its authors are saying, we can easily make some serious errors of judgment.
Unless I have completely misunderstood the message, this book must be looked upon as a manifesto from one generation to another—from the young to their elders. As I see it, the younger generation is telling us that it proposes to use psychedelics because it considers them appropriate instruments for living in the hurricane's eye of accelerating change. These young people consider that it is neither possible nor desirable to prevent them from employing these substances in this way, and in fact they are challenging lawmakers, law givers and law enforcers to stop them.
If I am correct in this assumption, there is already a serious source of disagreement between people of different ages. It may well be that the authors have over estimated the extent to which interest in these remarkable substances exists today, and to which it will be maintained in the future. Some of my colleagues hope and indeed believe that this is just a fad which will soon die out. This is possible, but I would not bet on it.
Supposing they are correct, what then? If psychedelics are indeed agents both for adapting to and producing social change, then clearly we may expect to see their effects in the fairly near future, if we are not seeing them already. Those who dominate the administrative structure, many of whom seem to be very ignorant about psychedelics and inclined to even doubt their existence, have only two courses of action open to them-they can either suppress psychedelics and punish those who make, distribute and use them, or they can seek ways of incorporating these innovations in the main stream of our society. Since there is reason to suppose that the psychedelic experience can be produced without drugs and while some of these non-drug methods are safe, others are more dangerous to health than chemicals, it is by no means certain that suppressing the chemicals, even if possible, would solve the psycho-social problem.
This book gives us many accounts of experiences which will undoubtedly liven and enrich, but also at times, endanger us. One is forced to ask oneself, supposing it were possible to suppress both the chemicals and the experience, would we still be wise to attempt this? The authors and many of their readers will not, I think, allow us to avoid this issue with learned platitudes.
The elderly of whatever chronological age have always resisted and feared innovation, and when they have been unable to prevent it, have usually urged that innovators should desist until the matter had been mulled over for a few centuries. Innovators, however, are impatient creatures and do not wish to hasten slowly. Even when innovation has been successfully repressed, such success has often had bitter consequences. The elimination of the Albigensians by fire and sword is not now seen as a particularly creditable episode in European Church history, even though it was considered to be a crusade at the time. Galileo's forced recantation is now seen as being an unnecessary blunder by Pope Urban VII and his advisors. It did not achieve its goal; however, even the Vatican did not attempt to prevent people from grinding telescope and other lenses, and astronomers continued to look at the stars. Today it is possible to make reasonably efficient and not very dangerous psychedelics more easily and more inconspicuously than it was to grind even moderately efficient lenses in the seventeenth century. All the evidence is that it is becoming steadily easier. Knowledge about the use and abuse of psychedelics is, as this book shows, widespread and easily available. Curiosity and love of adventure alone would encourage people to seek and find these substances even where there are not a number of very serious reasons for doing so. These facts must be recognized if those in authority plan to prevent the growing use of psychedelics.
Of course, if we decide that we cannot prevent them being made and used, then it would be folly to pretend that we can, and wholly different policies must be devised to ensure that safer substances and methods are developed, combined with suitable customs and traditions for preventing harm to society and its members. The worst possible solution would be to prohibit these substances with a ban that did not work.
As one might have predicted, things have moved more quickly than my old friend, Aldous Huxley, and my many professional colleagues expected a decade or so ago. Nevertheless, he and we have warned repeatedly that official unwillingness to face what was likely to happen must lead to muddle and unnecessary misfortune. At present, hastily passed laws have much restricted the professional use of these powerful and extraordinary tools to the chagrin of many long-established investigators. No such inhibitions deter the psychedelic generation who are continuing their explorations, learning, sometimes painfully from their mistakes, and seeming determined to continue to follow up the many remarkable possibilities which the authors of this book have vividly discussed.
As we grow older many of us become unwilling to believe that we live in a strange and dangerous world in which the very air which we breathe becomes lethal at times. We long for something safer, more predictable, and cosier. Dr. Roger Revelle, Director of the Harvard Center for Population Studies, said recently, "Once men start down the technological road, they cannot turn back, once having bitten into the fruit of the tree of knowledge, there can be no return to the Eden of innocence and ignorance." This certainly applies to psychedelics, and some of the shrill denunciations of these substances and those who employ them are likely to encourage defiance and rasher use, rather than to foster caution and good sense. It seems that there are many of us who wish to applaud the young for being adventurous, non-conformist and tackling the great problems of our era, but we expect them always and only to adopt means for solving these problems which are congenial to us and of which we approve. Yet the very existence of some of our greater social conundrums is evidence of a need for wholly new approaches. It is asking too much that we should expect people to be original and creative, yet conformist and unable to dispense with our prejudices and preconceptions.
I do not doubt that this book will be widely read, but I hope that its readers will not be confined to those who already believe in its authors' opinions. The "nay-sayers," the critics, the cynics, the uncommitted and the undecided have a duty to consider the propositions put forward here, for one way or another they are likely to affect our lives and those of our children and grandchildren after them. The consequences of an extra-legal psychedelic movement, a maquis, employing these psycho-pharmacological weapons, would be wholly different from the same substances used within the social and legal framework. We must take these matters seriously because this book shows, if it shows nothing else, that members of the psychedelic movement are in earnest and are unlikely to be permanently deterred by either threats or blandishments. It is not even certain that they will "think differently when they are older and more mature." Such evidence as we have does not support this reassuring platitude.
There are rarely simple answers to great social problems. This book gives one an opportunity to ponder possible answers to this one and to seek wise and feasible conclusions upon which decisions can be reached for taking actions which do as little harm as possible. Such modest goals are not dramatic and do not appeal greatly to those who are already for or against the psychedelic movement. Nevertheless, the history of great differences of opinion shows that very often when the dust of conflict is settled, the damage assessed and the dead and wounded counted, there are far fewer complete victories or utter defeats in the realm of new ideas than is commonly supposed.
As passions rise, those who stand "hat-a-hand" between the contenders seem to be lacking in zeal, integrity, and courage, for compromise, one of the most biological of human virtues, is like nature itself, curiously incomplete. With only a little imagination, some common sense, much patience and a great deal of sustained good will, these instruments can be put to many uses for the general benefit of mankind, provided only that those who are using them and intend to use them in the future, and those who wish to limit and restrict their use respect each other's sincerity and negotiate as equals. We do not know whether this will happen. Those who are already convinced of the rightness of their cause rarely stop to think. I hope that on this occasion at least some of them will remember that those who will not learn from history are often fated to repeat it.
|HUMPHRY OSMOND, MRCP, DPM |
Bureau of Research in Neurology and Psychiatry
New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute Princeton, New Jersey
Introduction by Dr. Duncan B. Blewett
IN THIS VOLUME the authors have performed a service which has long been badly needed. They have collected and presented all of the important evidence to date on the use and effectiveness of LSD. It is a tribute to their ability that the material is presented in a clear and straightforward fashion and in a style which does not lapse into either the vague other-worldliness of mysticism or the sterile irrelevancy of scientism.
This comprehensive presentation of evidence regarding the psychedelics has become imperative because the power of these compounds has forced them upon the notice of the public. Agencies of government, reflecting a widespread resentment at this intrusion, without bothering to investigate the evidence have begun attempts to prohibit the use and eliminate the spreading influence of the psychedelics. It has long been evident to those working with the psychedelics that suppression will not be successful and that governments should, both in wisdom and in prudent regard for potential excise revenue, aim at education, which would be relatively easy, instead of attempting prohibition, which would be costly and unavailing. Stafford and Golightly highlight, illustrate and underline this point. In this volume they present the reading public with so clear an intimation of the potential utility and humanizing influence of the psychedelics that the reader will come to question the humanity, the wisdom and the ethics of legislation which effectively withholds relief from those whose suffering could be ended or eased by the use of the psychedelics—the autistic child; the person suffering the otherwise uncontrollable pain of terminal cancer; the neurotic; the alcoholic; the sexually maladjusted; the psychopath; or the dying individual who finds death the ultimate terror.
It is inevitable that time, human need and the search for self-understanding and self-actualization will force upon those in control a closer, more serious and honest appraisal of the psychedelics. When this situation develops—and it will not be many years in coming—this book will serve as a resource work of major importance. It will serve too to stimulate other writers to follow the authors' lead and to produce further objective and useful volumes. One can but hope that many of them will approach the standard which Stafford and Golightly have established.
The discovery of LSD marked one of the three major scientific breakthroughs of the twentieth century. In physics the splitting of the atom provided access to undreamed-of energy. The biologists are upon the threshold of learning how to manipulate genetic structures and bringing the process of evolution under human control In psychology the psychedelics have provided the key to the unimaginable vastness of the unconscious mind for, as Suzuki stated, "Our consciousness is nothing but an insignificant floating piece of island in the Oceanus encircling the earth. But it is through this little fragment of land that we can look out to the immense expanse of the unconscious itself."
In the last of these discoveries lies the key to survival. For if man is to cope with his new-found physical and biological power and responsibility, there must be an abrupt and decisive revision of human psychology. The motives which have made human history a chronology of bloodshed and brutality will otherwise certainly and shortly lead to the annihilation of the species.
The psychedelics offer the hope that we are on the threshold of a new renaissance in which man's view of himself will undergo dramatic change. Alienated and encapsulated, he has become trapped by his history in outmoded institutions which disfigure him with the creed of original sin; corrupt him with fear of economic insecurity; dement him with the delusion that mass murder is an inevitable outcome of his nature; debase him to believe that butchery in the name of the state is a sacred duty, and leave him so crippled that he is afraid to seek self-understanding or to love and trust himself, his neighbor or his God.
Only the psychedelics offer the hope that man can grow rapidly and fully enough to meet the challenge mounted by his technical accomplishments.
The models of man and the frames of reference involved in our technologically centered society are proving increasingly inadequate in the face of the profound, revolutionary transformation of the times in which the dividing walls of social, political and economic structures are rapidly being eroded. A new morality is called for in a world in which conception is becoming voluntary; genetic structures are becoming open to deliberate manipulation; socialization can be controlled to fit a "Brave New World" and traditional sex roles are proving unacceptable. New political institutions are required in the face of the power to exterminate the race, the immediacy of communication, the emergence of political awareness among all the peoples of the world, and the need to protect democracy against the consequences of specialization. New economic structures are demanded to balance supply with actual demand rather than with purchasing power; to permit the distribution of constructive, nutritive, helpful things with the same level of organization and skill with which we are able to distribute deadly and noxious things in time of war, and to permit men to find a sense of dignity, worth and accomplishment in an automated world.
Already in the arts we have seen old forms shattered. In the social sciences, and particularly in psychology, we are being forced to re-examine those aspects of man's nature which cultural and scientific specialization have neglected. But this age of transformation is also one of crisis and intense anxiety. Dread confronts mankind and, in its shadow, fundamental questions which have long been neglected grow imperatively urgent.
Every man has asked himself, "Who am I?"; "What is this thing I call myself?"; "What is its purpose?" and "How can I fulfill that purpose?". These are basic questions which each individual must answer. The quality of his life depends upon the nature of his answers. They lie at the foundation of self-knowledge and self-understanding, without which all other knowledge is useless.
But how is self-knowledge to be attained? Our vision, and consequently our comprehension of our selves, is blocked out in many areas by repression. Even where the aspects of the self are open to our scrutiny, our past experience keeps our observations and interpretations bound in the ruts of conditioned response.
The creative potential of the psychedelics lies in the fact that they change one's relation to one's self. When this change induces fear and attempts at escape, it is known as depersonalization, but when it evokes pleasure, it is called self-transcendence. In either case, one stands outside one's defensive structures in such a manner that they are seen clearly for what they are—methods of effacing or distorting uncomfortable features of reality. Having seen through them, one can no longer hide behind them for they have become transparent. This opens to conscious awareness a wider, clearer, more complete view of the world—an unhabitual, unified and undistorted "new look" which is the basis of the creative capacity and the problem-solving ability which the authors have clearly described and carefully documented.
The transcendent process also lies at the core of the therapeutic use of the psychedelics. When the defense mechanisms are obviated, one sees one's self objectively. One is, as it were, emotionally naked to one's own gaze. This is the confrontation of the self with no means left to defend against one's own scrutiny and one's own enmity. This is the crux of the process which transforms the value system and hence the man. In this defenseless and indefensible state one cannot fight, and surrender alone is possible. In this case it is self-surrender—a process which leads to being "born again" or of "finding" one's self. It is the final and ultimate acceptance of reality, including the self, as it is in essence. In this way one learns to accept the self; to be content to be one's self and to find one's self an object of his own compassion. The importance of this process is evidenced in that our self-concept conditions our thinking. It makes us respond with trust, understanding, love-and affection or, conversely, with suspicion, prejudice and hostility toward ourselves and toward others. Because the feelings are the wellsprings of behavior, they color—indeed determine—all of our relationships.
However, the importance of the psychedelic or transcended levels of consciousness extends far beyond their effectiveness in problem solving or in more directly psychotherapeutic activity. The paramount importance of these states of mind lies in the field of basic research into the nature of man. The psychedelics, by inducing these levels of consciousness which are vast extensions and enlargements of normal experience, provide a microscope for the psychologist through which the details of structure and function of personality can be clearly observed.
Science requires the objective observation of the elements which comprise the field of study. Among the sciences the study of the human mind encounters the unique problem that the mind itself is simultaneously the observer and the observed. From within normality its very homogeneity prevents the recognition of much of its nature. Freud's remarkable contribution to the field of psychology lay in his inspiration to compare and contrast normal and abnormal states of consciousness. Thus he used abnormality as an outside reference point a mirror in which some of the lineaments of normality could be discerned.
The psychedelics provide us with another external reference point from which to view the normal mind. The mirror of the abnormal is constricted, distorted and devitalized. In using it, the investigator must interpret from minimal data, since he must infer the nature and scope of repression; and he must, to obtain information, overcome the resistance of maximal defense in painfully fearful, withdrawn and hostile individuals. The mirror of the psychedelics, however, suffers from no such distortion. It reflects a clearer, larger, more complete image than that of normal observation. As a cinematic film, when projected upon a screen, is enlarged until each detail can be clearly seen, so is the personality projected and enlarged through the enhanced awareness and extended consciousness of the transcendent experience. In this state the problems of constriction, enervation and distress are obviated. The individual is more open, less defended, easier of access, friendlier, more competent and open-minded in observation and better able to report.
The psychedelics give warrant of being man's most valuable resource to date in solving problems and in treating emotional disorders. Readers will find themselves puzzled by the paucity of psychedelic research in the light of the findings which have been made, and they are likely to be even further perplexed by the regrettable restrictions even now being placed in the road of further intelligent investigation. Perhaps the chief barrier to extensive research is the fact that the scope and power of the psychedelics render them a fundamental "novelty," to use an expression of Whitehead's:
The universe is vast. Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge. Sceptics and believers are all alike. At this moment scientific sceptics are the leading dogmatists. Advance in detail is admitted; fundamental novelty is barred This dogmatic common sense is the death of philosophic adventure. The universe is vast.
This book offers the promise that the expressed concern of an informed public and an open-minded scientific community may overcome the fear and dogmatism which characterize present official attitudes toward the psychedelics. It pioneers the way for a wide-scale scientific and philosophic adventure into the vastness of the universe of the mind.
|DUNCAN B. BLEWETT |
Department of Psychology
University of Saskatchewan
Chapter I. The LSD Crisis
POLICE RAIDED a Flatbush apartment and found $15,000 worth of LSD—"Enough," a police official declared, "to get the whole city high."... A five-year-old girl swallowed a sugar cube treated with LSD, became hysterical and was on the critical list at Bellevue Hospital for two days... A fifty-seven-year-old schoolteacher vas brutally murdered, her body beaten and slashed. When police confronted her alleged killer, he said, "What happened? Man, I've been flying for three days on LSD. Did I kill my wife? Did I rape anybody?"
This was the beginning.
These news stories, with over-sized and shocking headlines, appeared in reputable newspapers across the country. Special interviews with district attorneys, college presidents, Narcotics Bureau agents, doctors, biochemists and others who might be considered authorities in what seemed a national emergency, pre-empted prime radio and television time to issue warnings, give advice and explain these events to the public. The chairman of the New York County Medical Society's Subcommittee on Narcotics Addiction said that LSD was more dangerous than heroin." The Fl)A and Federal Narcotics Bureau launched full-scale "drug education" programs; three Senate subcommittees investigated LSD use; and bills that made possession of LSD or other hallucinogenic drugs a felony were introduced into state legislatures throughout the nation. New York State Assembly Speaker Anthony J. Travia, when attempting to push through hurry-up legislation calling for a minimum sentence of seven years, declared that the problem was so urgent that he would defer public hearings on the law until after it passed.
Before the month was out, even wilder stories and headlines were appearing. The Los Angeles Free Press ran a story called "LSD: Like Swift Death." In one of Walter Winchell's columns there was an item reading, "Warning to LSD Users: You may go blind." And Bill Trent, writing m the Canadian Evening Telegram about an architect's serious and successful attempt to solve a design problem by taking LSD, titled his story "The Demented World of Kyo Izumi."
Others were quick to link LSD to sex. Thus The Confidential Flash asserted in a full-page headline, "LSD KILLS SEX DRIVE FOREVER" although the story itself in no way bore out this claim. And, interestingly enough, the Police Gazette, in its August, 1966, issue, reprinted an article from The Journal of the American Medical Association which they retitled "LSD and Sex Madness."
Quite understandably the public responded with horror, seeing LSD as a grave threat to the general safety, especially of the young—for the impression given by the news media was that the nation's youth was the most imperiled.
Actually, although this period was the true beginning of all the violent noise and hysteria about LSD, there had been a leakage of articles from the academic journals to the public press for several years. However, the fuse of the news bomb, lit a month earlier, was a series of articles in Time magazine. Here is what was to be found in the "Psychiatry" section of its March 11, 1966 issue under the subtitle, "An Epidemic of 'Acid Heads"':
The disease is striking in beachside beatnik pads and in the dormitories of expensive prep schools-it has grown into an alarming problem at U.C.L.A. and on the U.C. campus at Berkeley. And everywhere the diagnosis is the same: psychotic illness resulting from unauthorized, nonmedical use of the drug LSD-25...Irresistible incitement to riot.
By best estimates, 10,000 students in the University of California system have tried LSD (though not all have suffered detectable ill effects). No one can even guess how many more self-styled "acid heads" there are among oddball cult groups....
What LSD actually has done... is to produce "florid psychoses with terrifying visual and auditory hallucinations, marked depression, often with serious suicide attempts, and anxiety bordering on panic.... The symptoms may recur in their original intensity long after the last dose of the drug...."
Even junior acid heads boast of taking walloping overdoses. "I've taken as much as 500 micrograms," says one youthful user. "At least that's what I paid for."
Happily, addiction is not a problem. Although repeat users need bigger doses to get an effect, they can "kick it cold" and suffer no withdrawal symptoms. It has no physiologic effect.... (Italics added.)
The pulp press, television and radio, having had first fling, household news magazines then began to examine the LSD situation. Some of them, Newsweek and The New Republic, for example, quietly suggested—after going along with the general trend of wide-eyed fright—that perhaps the drug might not be such a menace after all; and perhaps it was deserving of a serious examination Business Week, in an article entitled "More Light, Less Heat Over LSD," pierced through some of the fog of notoriety that swirled around this and other hallucinogenic drugs by informing its readers that "an imposing roster of medical opinion was found to credit the hallucinogens with a solid list of potential medical and psychiatric benefits to match their oft-trumpeted dangers to the unwary." Some of the major television and radio networks began to feel this way, too, and CBS actually put on a special program, "The Spring Grove Experiment," that had scarcely a harsh word to say about LSD, used under proper circumstances. In fact, for most reviewers it may have acted as a major propaganda piece for the drug.
After the way was paved by these serious re-evaluations, Time itself decided to do some backtracking, stating ".. . no responsible authority wants to stop research into the potentially vast possibilities of LSD and other 'mind drugs.' " In this same "Time Essay" (June 17, 1966), the editors would have it appear that Time itself was impartial and had always been: "Since the recent flood of publicity about LSD has let up somewhat, it is possible to assess the phenomenon more calmly...."
But the drug's reputation was already so tarnished that no one could predict its future. One thing was certain: legislation against LSD had been passed by a number of statesand, as a result, LSD research had come to a standstill. And there were tragic footnotes: key individuals, such as Dr. Timothy Leary and the novelist Ken Kesey, received what was generally considered outrageously unjust and discriminatory treatment at the hands of the law. Even Time had some doubts about the anti-LSD legislation (although they believed, in their words, that Leary "finally got his comeuppance"), as did the authorities. Thus Joseph D. Lohman, the man in charge of training Food and Drug Administration agents assigned to LSD control, and Dean of the University of California criminology school in Berkeley, criticized hastily enacted LSD laws as "short-sighted and misdirected." Speaking of the California LSD legislation, he went on to say, "I question very seriously that this law would have the deterrent effect some people think it will have." The spate of publicity regarding LSD was by no means limited to the popular media or to technical journals. Over 2500 books and articles were already in existence when the controversy was at its height. The majority of these were serious inquiries into the effects of the drugs, though few were impartial, however "scientific." This material constitutes a vast literature on the subject, to be sure. It should be the source of enlightenment.
The reasons why it is not are somewhat bewildering. In the first place, although the body of literature is large, it is at the same time narrow in scope, and upon initial examination this flaw is not apparent Initially one is overwhelmed by the prolific writing and its vitality, and inundated by the diversity of the reports. But these reports themselves tend to be of only two types (which primarily accounts for their narrowness): first-person narratives of LSD experiences, and clinical findings. Neither offers completely satisfactory explanations for the drug's action.
LSD easily lends itself to misinterpretation. Even if the extremely difficult problem of communication—frustrating to every experimenter—were overcome, clear and plausible explanations of the drug's action still would not result. The phenomenon is too complex and too foreign to our culture to be handled in simplistic fashion. Curiously, however, running like a small strain of precious ore through this deposit of prose are specific and impressive proofs for LSD's revolutionary powers. Unfortunately, most of this information seems to have been put down almost incidentally, sometimes almost apologetically, or even as an afterthought.
In the present work the primary interest is in mining the existing material and trying to locate a mother lode. Thus, rather than just another comprehensive examination of LSD, this book is unique in its limited aims. To date, no other book or article has concentrated its explorations in this area.
No LSD investigator, whether from the establishment or the underground, will deny that this chemical can, has and does solve some problems. But what are these problems? They are to be found in all areas of human activity: business, pleasure, sickness, health, birth, death, ad infinitum. Somewhere you will find in the vast body of LSD literature specific reference to the drug's ability to aid in the alleviation of those countless problems by which man is beset.
But before undertaking a rigorous presentation of the evidence for LSD's problem-solving capabilities, some basic principles of the drug's action must be understood.
Footnotes1. Following this show, sponsored by IBM, hundreds of letters from viewers were received at Spring Grove State Hospital, Catonsville, Maryland. Many asked how they could arrange an LSD session and went into some detail about the problems they felt such a session would solve. Hollywood Hospital in Canada is frequently confronted with the same question, as are many other hospitals (and private doctors) which have received publicity about their LSD programs. (back)
2. Nevada, California, New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts. (back)
Chapter II. What the Drug Does
IN APRIL, 1943, Dr. Albert Hofmann, a research chemist at Sandoz Laboratories in Basle, Switzerland, accidentally inhaled or ingested a minute quantity of a tasteless, colorless and odorless compound he had synthesized five years earlier from the rye fungus, ergot. This synthesized substance was called d-lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate, and it was known in the lab as LSD-25 because it had been discovered during the twenty-fifth experiment of a series of tests with ergot.
After Dr. Hofmann's "accident," unnoticed at the time it happened, he began to feel strangely lightheaded and restless, and he decided to leave work. "I experienced fantastic images," Dr. Hofmann later stated, "of an extraordinary plasticity. They were associated with an intense kaleidoscopic play of colors. After two hours this condition disappeared." Hofmann puzzled about this experience for several days and then decided to swallow 250 micrograms of the substance to see if this had been what had caused his peculiar sensations. The experience which followed confirmed the potency of LSD, and thus Dr. Hofmann became the first of at least a million people to know firsthand the bizarre effects of the most powerful drug yet known to man.
When Dr. Hofmann's account of this incident was published, it stirred great interest in scientific and medical circles. Early researchers who worked with LSD believed that it could temporarily reproduce an exact facsimile of schizophrenia, and they undertook hundreds of studies. This was due to the fact that the drug did much more than produce "fantastic images." It seemed to create madness, disassociation and other radical mental disturbances, and the effect from a standard dose lasted for eight to twelve hours—long enough to thoroughly explore the result. Although the hypothesis that LSD mimicked madness has—with a few exceptions—since been discarded, academic interest had been stimulated and continued.
In the fifties, investigators from a great number of scientific disciplines began to use LSD as a research tool in other areas. Some psychologists began to report that LSD could greatly facilitate the processes of psychotherapy, while others declared that it was of no positive use whatsoever and was, in fact, dangerous. The controversy raged, but the teapot was small and most of the general public never heard about it.
All of this changed in 1963, and by 1966 the teapot had become a cauldron, of preposterous dimensions. The runaway growth of interest in the subject of LSD came about when Harvard University dismissed two faculty members on charges which thinly disguised its deep concern and dismay over experiments the pair were conducting with LSD. "LSD is more important than Harvard," one of them said, and both began proselytizing for widespread LSD use. Thus began the highly publicized adventures of Dr. Timothy Leary and, to a lesser extent, those of Dr. Richard Alpert.
In March of 1966, Dr. Leary's fortunes took on even more color and serious complexity: he received a thirty-year sentence for carrying less than half an ounce of marijuana while going through customs at the Mexican border. This brought him to national attention, on an even larger scale than previously, due to three things. his former association with Harvard; his outspoken advocacy of LSD; and the extraordinarily harsh sentence imposed on him for a rather common felony.
It was at this point that the public became aware of the remarkable enthusiasm for LSD in countless "underground" circles. The indiscriminate use of LSD immediately became the subject of thousands of newspaper and magazine articles all over the Western world but, curiously, the true properties of the chemical and its effects are as little understood now as then, both in the academic world and among the public.
General Effects of LSD:
It is impossible to describe what a typical experience is, for the experience depends upon a large number of variables. This explains why psychiatrists who have worked a great deal with LSD seem unable to comprehend each other's work.
This statement was made by Dr. Abram Hoffer, a Canadian expert in the use of LSD in the treatment of alcoholism, and it sums up what researchers in general have found to be true. Anyone who proposes to describe the over-all effects of LSD faces a sizable semantic predicament.
One way to penetrate the density of this dilemma is to describe the accepted "usual" effects the chemical produces in a "normal" session. The LSD subject, for example, will find that all of his senses are simultaneously "more sensitive." His mental and emotional processes will feel retarded and dulled, but at the same time heightened and accelerated. He will feel child-like, trusting, simple and literal-minded—yet his thoughts will often seem enormously complex and of untold depth. Tears and laughter, loneliness and great intimacy, clarity and confusion, love and hate, delicacy and grossness, ecstasy and despair—all these may co-exist, throbbing and weaving back and forth, all engaged upon some cryptic but definite process.
The above states are considered typical, but because they come rolling out, seemingly all bound together, some sorting may be useful. To break it down, the following describes major characteristic reactions:
Physical Sensations and Changes: Anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour after taking LSD, the chemical may cause one, a few or all of the following physical sensations: slight chill; dilation of the pupils; vague physical unease concentrated in the muscles or throat; tenseness; queasy stomach; tingling in the extremities; drowsiness. When the person who is experiencing the drug is asked, "How do you feel?" his initial answer is likely to be, "I don't know," or, "Different." If asked if he feels all right, he will probably say that he is not sure, for the physical sensations which accompany LSD, although minor, are indescribably intricate. While they may bear a similarity to previous physical feelings, they are unique to the psychedelic drug experience and cannot accurately be likened to any collective sensations ever felt previously. This is true of all physical reactions experienced under the influence of LSD. As time passes, many of these early sensations may disappear, although in some instances they persist.
What Happens to the Five Major Senses: The hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and tasting senses begin to "slip" out of their normal confines and to wander. They range into infinity; they diminish into the microcosmic. They ascend and scale peaks of untold height; they fall into silent and void crevasses. Thus objects and stimuli are greatly transformed, so that at times they are even unrecognizable. This elemental unleashing of the senses may seem unbelievable, but the intense reality experienced by the person under LSD is often overwhelming. Here, for example, is the way Aldous Huxley reacted to an everyday object:
Confronted by a chair which looked like the Last Judgment—or, to be more accurate, by a Last Judgment which, after a long time and with considerable difficulty, I recognized as a chair—I found myself all at once on the brink of panic. This, I suddenly felt, was going too far. Too far, even though the going was into intenser beauty, deeper significance.
The LSD literature is richly textured by such firsthand accounts of sensory reactions, usually coupled, as in Huxley's case, with events or people or objects remembered from history or personal life.
One LSD subject "heard" mathematics while listening to a recording of Mozart's Requiem; another smelled the fire and brimstone of the Apocalypse (a pet cat had defecated in the room at the time); a man "tasted" the agonies felt when the lamb, from which he was eating an otherwise delicious chop, was slaughtered; the touching of a cold metal object, such as a silver bowl, can seem like touching dry ice.
The sensory changes which occur are so dynamic and vivid that were they to remain static throughout the session, they would probably become as commonplace and acceptable as "normal" reality. But the transformations shift, both of their own accord and with the application of some concentrated thought or will power. Huxley's chair can give up its Biblical and/or artistic connotation and go back to being a mere piece of furniture, or perhaps become something else; the Requiem can resume its form as music, or turn into a fireplace; the Apocalyptic odors can be accepted for what they are, or become a flower garden; the death of the lamb and the taste sensations can change into more or less appetizing channels; the fire-cold of the silver bowl can feel warm to the touch, and the heaviness of the object can inexplicably seem airily light.
The Thought Processes. The changes induced in the mind per se, in the conscious-thinking apparatus, are the most diverse, radical and remarkable of all. It is in this area of the chemical's effect that most serious research interest lies. The mind and the emotions rather than physical and sensory feelings—inextricably though they are entwined—promise the greatest potential for LSD's beneficial use and have so far rendered the most rewarding results, as well as the most confusing.
Time Sense. As with the sensory reactions, the sense of time slides about and up and down, reverses and sometimes disappears—very rarely does it retain its normal properties to the person who is under the influence of LSD. Centuries can go by which, measured by the clock, were seconds; time can stand as still as eternity. However, time's distortion, whether fast, slow, reversed or non-existent, seldom holds more importance for the LSD subject than the time sense of his dreams in sleep.
Speed of the Mind. One of the most striking effects of LSD is its ability to activate the leisurely pace of conventional consciousness. Thoughts seem to race, carelessly tossing off extraordinary by-products of subsidiary thoughts. In LSD terminology, this aspect of the mental process is sometimes referred to as 'Sights of thought."
Suggestibility, Vulnerability. In the kaleidoscopic whirling of sensations, thoughts and emotions, to which the LSD subject is hyper-attuned, he feels himself completely fragmented, totally helpless, yet masterfully in control. He reacts to literally everything that comes within his range of senses. He is highly suggestible and responds in some way to all stimuli, whether it is through auto-suggestion, by some movement or remark made by his guide,* or by what is going on in the room. Because he is so "opened up," he is indeed vulnerable.
Therefore, it is extremely important that disruptive and disturbing factors be avoided as much as possible and that the guide be on the qui vive and keenly receptive. If conditions are not harmonious, smooth, and at the same time "natural," the person under the influence of the drug can easily have paranoid reactions to all—and everyone—around him and this can lead to untold terror. Normally, however, he will be more at ease and freer with others and his surroundings than he has ever before found himself to be in his everyday associations.
Memory and the Sense of the Self. The "flight of thoughts" quite often flushes a large covey of personal memories from the deep recesses of the subject's mind. They may be trivial, joyous, painful, ludicrous—anything—but they will probably be more alive than any recalled previously, except perhaps in dreams; and, as in the dream state, they will seem to be happening in the "now," with the subject violently participating at one moment and standing aside in the next. It is as if he has a second self superimposed on the one he brought to the session. He may find himself examining the "selves" he has conjured and react with guilt, pride, pleasure, regret or a multitude of other emotions.
Insight, Judgment, Concentration. Unburied memories often produce the conviction that the subject is seeing himself for the first time as he really is—with all mental blocks and defenses down. His findings will strike him as absolutely astounding; his insights so sharp, his judgments so valid, that only a miracle could have occurred to change him into such a genius.
His excitement over this transformation may make him want to laugh and cry at the same time, for he may feel he has at last hit upon the way to know everything to its fullest: ecstasy, sorrow, radiance, serenity, happiness, poignancy, wisdom, patience. He will want—and be able—to concentrate on any "staggering discovery" of his choice. He may find that all life and its secrets, all mankind and himself, are concentrated in the ear of corn he is holding in his hand, and he may contemplate it and stare at it for long moments, even hours.
Philosophic, Religious, Mystical Sense. The subject will want to employ his new abilities in exploration. During this time, he may have a deep and moving religious experience in which he understands the pattern of all life and with awe, gratitude and total understanding, accepts the "Divine Being" responsible for it all. He may also reach philosophic conclusions of rare profundity and of "absolute truth," perhaps in areas completely foreign or little known to him previously. Since he feels he has been metamorphosed into an incredible being with gigantic gifts, it will probably not surprise him at all that he can see into the future and the past with equal ease, make predictions and exhume long-interred historical secrets. Also, he may find it no trouble at all to "read minds" of people present or elsewhere.
Sense of the Past. As said before, a}most anything from staring at a painting to a fleeting thought can trigger the so-called "sense of the past," with seeming total historical recall. Archetypal memories from the vast mass unconscious, in the Jungian sense, would appear to be aroused and activated. For an observer sitting in on a session, this portion of the experience can be the most interesting if the subject is communicative and reasonably articulate.
Comments: Eight to ten hours—perhaps longer—after all this strenuous activity, the LSD subject "comes down," the apex of the experience probably having been reached in the fourth hour. The coming down is usually a thoughtful, sober-minded, reflective process without the explosions of mirth, joy, surprise, and intense pain that accompanied the "going up." The subject will realize with equanimity and sensible acceptance that some of his insights and conclusions were absurd and ridiculously funny; he will wonder about others. In any case, once down, he will find himself restored intact to "normal" reality, just as he left it, if the session has been a successful one. However, the chances are that he himself will feel unaccountably changed—wiser, more tolerant and more aware of the world around him. One LSD experimenter has called the drug a "psychic broom"; for indeed it does seem to sweep out the cobwebs and bring alive those senses so little used that they are all but atrophied.
But the judgments formed and the long-term results of the drug's action, and how it all happens, are matters which have caused endless scientific controversy and heated debate among private individuals. As yet, nobody fully knows.
Several investigators have come up with theories about the drug's efficacy and believe that the progress of its effects can be mapped in some detail. One such theory says that there are five phases, or stages—distinct plateaus—that occur in the experience of LSD subjects who have normal sessions. In this scheme, such stages are listed as 1) sensory changes, 2) personal memories, 3) "transformation of figures," 4) spatial changes and 5 ) cosmic experience. (A number of researchers who hold with such theories in general nonetheless disagree on specific points, such as the order of stages or whether all of them are reached. )
In some circles of serious research into the drug's effect, it is thought that LSD is possibly the clue that will lead to the discovery and disclosure of man's unconscious, its meaning and function. Whether LSD can serve this purpose and put the unconscious to surface use for the first time in over two million years of human experience remains to be seen. However, the drug has already proved itself to have vital purpose in related areas: LSD has had phenomenal success in helping individuals attain long-sought solutions to specific creative and technical problems.
Footnote* Under the influence of LSD, the subject turns inward and explores vast areas which are hardly mapped. Thus, though he may not leave the room in which he takes the drug, he is far removed from the external world and needs the assistance of someone who can provide him with "soundings" and act more or less as a lifebuoy. Securing a guide who can be trusted is an essential prerequisite for an LSD session. (See Chapter VIII for a detailed account of the function of a guide.)
Chapter IV. Everyday Problems
EVERY PERSON has everyday problems, just as every person has an everyday life, with mounds and hills of pleasure, and ruts and pitfalls of trouble.
What are these "everyday" problems? They are usually related to any situation common to the human condition. Nail-biting; hostility toward one's family; awkwardness; an uncontrollable temper; timidity; lethargy; unpopularity—all are familiar and rather general manifestations of "everyday problems." Such manifestations, of course, can sometimes be cured with aspirin or mouthwash or some other product from the neighborhood drugstore. On the other hand, everyday problems can be seeds that grow into "serious" problems—marital or sexual dissatisfactions that daily worsen, drinking much more than "too much," for instance—problems which may send the sufferer to his minister begging for advice, or to the psychiatrist's couch, or to a hospital bed.
LSD, that quixotic giant, has been of service here, too. The drug has found its way into countless "everyday lives" and has solved countless "everyday problems." The publications on LSD—both clinical and popular—abound with accounts of "small" lives that have been made larger, richer, smoother, as a result of the LSD experience. Many such endorsements have been given by those who would be terrified to take "drugs" (dope), and who will readily swear that they take no drugs (alcohol, tea, coffee and tobacco do not count) except upon the doctor's orders when they are "sick." "Sickness," therefore, has accounted for much of the first-hand information we have about everyday problem solving. Numerous medical practitioners as well as psychologists and psychoanalysts, have used LSD to help patients over various impasses. And, of course, there are thousands of private individuals who, through their own experiments, have found many of their problems dissolved. The reason for this is that LSD usually acts as a "true mirror," and in a large number of cases that true mirror is an inescapable one, revealing oneself to oneself with awesome and sometimes painful accuracy. Since most people are braver than they think themselves to be, they often profit significantly from this honesty.
While there exist many independent and spontaneous accounts of such experiences, those bearing the "official" seal are unquestionably more creditable. For this reason, the individualistic, first-hand reports, which are often brilliantly stated and filled with sharp, persuasive detail, must bow out, or at least for the time being take a seat in the rear.
Referring directly to one of the most authoritative works in the field, any number of applicable examples of everyday problem solving can be found in The Use of LSD in Psychotherapy. The case of one seriously disturbed child is cited in this work as having been effectively solved, or aided, through LSD therapy:
Dr. T. T. Peck. The 5-year-old girl was a real behavior problem, completely rebellious about everything. Knowing her background, I couldn't blame her. We gave her about 40 mcg over a 1 and 1/2 hour period. and she became completely uninhibited. It was a typically schizophrenic reaction. Afterward, she was very happy. The only untoward reaction was a very slight tremor and an over-elation, to some extent. But, for 2 weeks, she was just a perfect child. Of course, she went back into the same environment and continued much the same pattern. But then we showed the parents where they were really planting the seeds of her difficulties in her. By changing the environment, we solved the problem.
This example is deliberately cited, in spite of its negative aspects, to show that the drug is only as good as the subject is, and that a bad environment acts as a magnetic field and can draw back the best LSD recipient, unless the subject has maturity and/or some control over his circumstances. In this case at least some of the proper environmental corrections were made. Another account of a "problem child" had clearer, more patently satisfactory results, although the case was more expressly difficult:
Murphy: One 8-year-old made a very good recovery. That was completed 3 years ago, and I hear from the family quite often. She had a long-standing extremely chronic, and extremely restive, character disorder. She was an enuretic child with deep sexual conflicts, whom I had had in unsuccessful psychotherapy for a year before she started LSD. I was getting absolutely nowhere with her. In treatment, she worked up to 300 mcg (of LSD) and took them regularly, once a week.
Asked if the parents had had LSD too, Dr. Murphy replied that there was no father, and that although the mother had talked of taking the drug, she never did. However, the mother was a "very intelligent, cooperative, and resourceful person," and there was a "very thoroughgoing change in the child."
Dr. Murphy went on to explain the child's satisfactory recovery:
Her enuresis, which had been with her every day for several years, stopped after the second session, a very violent one, in which she became disoriented and called continually for her mother. But then she went on to a great deal of characterological change. She had been a thoroughly dull and boring person, a narrowly moralistic, unimaginative child. She stank of urine most of the time. She was a "straight A" student in school. During treatment she changed so that everyone, relatives and friends, as well as her mother and herself, noticed it. It wasn't so much "spectacular" as it was profound and convincing. She was by no means free of problems, but became so free and creative and so much more outgoing and generous, that it was clear her behavior was springing from something spontaneous within herself.
Passing for the moment from the reports on the clinical level to those from other qualified and serious investigators lacking medical/psychiatric credentials but highly respected, there is the case of "S," who was in the grips of an odd but troublesome behavior disorder concerning "spilled" liquids. This is recounted in The Varieties of Psychedelic Experienceby R. E. L. Masters and Jean Houston.
Before "S"  took LSD, he was by habit a rather sloppy person who kept his office in "a mess," was oblivious to clothes strewn about the house, dirty dishes and so forth. But one thing he could not abide was liquid spilled on any surface. Seeing such unsightliness threw him into unaccountable rage and set him immediately to cleaning it up.
About an hour into his session, S was led into a dining room where he immediately noticed that some rather slimy looking soup had been spilled on the table top and left there, seemingly by accident. His initial reaction was the usual one, and at once he began to search for something with which he might wipe up the spilled soup. Finding nothing, he pulled out his handkerchief and debated whether he ought to use that. Then, however, he became aware that what he was experiencing was much less anger... than fear. He looked closely at the droplets and turned noticeably pale. Before his eyes, as he subsequently related, those few tiny drops began to expand, rise up, bubble and seethe, take on a "horribly slimy and gelatinous" appearance, and then surge like a miniature but rapidly growing tidal wave toward the edge of the table. At the same time, he recognized as a cause of his anxiety the fear not only that the room would be flooded with liquid but also that it would infect whatever it touched.... He leaped back in horror, wiped away the drops with his handkerchief, and appeared almost ready to faint. But then he approached the table again, picked up the soup bowl, and deliberately poured a good bit of its contents on the table top. He became increasingly calm and described to the guides the visual distortions he had perceived.In working through this strange insight, S finally realized that the "viscous putrefaction so corrosive as to 'rot [anything] upon contact'... was 'bound up with... a wet, slimy and corrupt sexuality,' which simultaneously attracted and repelled, setting him in 'painful conflict with moral values.' "
S now was urged to "go deeper," to go down into the depths of his own psyche and try to find there some explanation for what he had seen. He fell silent for a minute, then spoke in a voice that sounded as if, in fact, it were coming up from the depths. The phenomenon he had just witnessed, S said, was one that occurred on a level below consciousness whenever he was confronted with spilled liquid. He could tap, from "some deep source," many memories of having repeatedly had such experiences before, although they never had emerged into consciousness.
The LSD experience for S was like sailing in a glass-bottomed boat. As he continued to peer into the opaque depths, he discovered still other facets of himself that eventually led to his "recovery" and his saying—and his wife agreeing with him—that his relationships with his family were much better, "mainly as a result of 'the loosening of a rigid puritanism.' "
This absorbing if small "everyday" problem is notable not only for the subject's keen perception, but because it is a prime example of an "everyday" problem—nothing disastrous but an unhappy condition that could, and did, create untold hours of anxiety for its owner. Just as a thorn in the heel torments the bear unable to communicate his trouble, so the inarticulate human being who has a small, out-of-the-way, but constantly troublesome problem can be made miserable by the most trifling of "thorns."
The lonely widow is, in a way, luckier. At least she has a historical precedent, an accumulated warehouse of human sympathy to draw on, when she has lost her spouse and cannot accept her loss. Masters and Houston present the case of a widow who had turned to the bottle for solace shortly after her husband's death six years before. In consequence, she had lost her friends and herself, but adamantly remained maudlin and inconsolable over her loss of her husband.
During her session she reminisced about her happy life before her husband died. He had been all things to her, and had protected her in every way. Though he had left her well provided for economically, she felt she had no emotional resources to live on and was too old to find any. Drink, and acting as custodian of mementoes from the past—her husband's clothing, his toothbrush and other possessions—were her only interests, aside from speaking of him as often as possible, almost as if he were alive.
S brought with her to her session a pipe that had been her husband's favorite and which she often looked at and held when she wanted to feel especially close to him.... Finally, she closed her eyes and reported that the pipe was "getting warm—and then that she had the feeling of holding not the pipe but instead her husband's hand. She now experienced the first of many vivid memory sequences during which she "relived" with intense emotion a great many past events.... Her husband seemed "real as life" and she wept with joy at his "return from the grave."S, from that time on, was gradually able to make adjustments, to "grow up, create a new life" for herself; and she discontinued her drinking immediately and did not revert to it.
S then began to talk to her husband, telling him how much she had missed him since his death, how difficult life had been for her, and how their friends had abandoned her since she had started to drink. To the guide's inquiry, she explained that the sense of her husband's presence was "completely real" and that he listened "very seriously" to her discourse and sympathized with her plight, but managed nonetheless to convey the idea that he "didn't really approve" of the way she had been behaving. She fell silent, and finally reported that the pipe was only a pipe again, that it was growing cold, and the sense of her husband's presence was becoming very faint. Then, however, it returned once again—a presence so powerfully felt that she thought she could "reach out and touch him." She felt her husband smiled at her lovingly, conveying "whole worlds of encouragement and strength," then slowly turned his back and walked away. Then the sense of presence was extinguished and somehow she knew that he would "come no more." The pipe now was "cold and lifeless" in her hands and had "nothing more to do" with her husband.... "At long last," she said, he was "gone. Dead. Really dead. He has made me understand that and I have got to accept it. That is what he would want me to do. That is the meaning of what I just went through."
That environment is a stern dictator, co-ruling man's fate with chance, is clearly true in the case of another "victim" of himself, an amateur gambler who might more realistically be termed an amateur loser. The subject, a clerk in a small English bank, was deep in debt and in constant friction with his wife and children because he was a regular and compulsive gambler at the dog races. LSD and ritalin treatments, under direction of Drs. Ling and Buckman, were suggested when it became apparent that betting at the dog races was the dominant activity of his life. (This patient also had an immature dependency on his mother, a characteristic which did not help his marital situation. ) Even at the outset of treatment, however, he realized his own weaknesses to a certain extent and acknowledged that he really gambled in order to lose. He "obtained a strange satisfaction in the misery that followed losing, and the humiliations that followed on the financial crisis," as he himself put it after his second LSD-ritalin session.
In time this man came to understand that he was not behaving like an adult in calling on his mother for emotional reassurance and that some of his problems were sexual. He was successful early in the series of his twelve sessions in giving up his deliberate losing at the races and, upon occasion, he won some money. His relationships with his family, including sexual relations with his wife, were markedly improved, and his trips to the dog races became infrequent. Still, although he was more content, in better financial condition and no longer in the grip of his compulsion, he found himself unable to settle down. At the end of the ninth session it was decided that he should take a rest from treatment for a time, to see what would happen.
He did not have a genuine relapse, but again he got along badly with his wife and children, and he had to make a conscious effort to resist urges that he return to his former preoccupations. His wife, a pragmatic type of person, lost patience with him. Finally he went on a gambling spree, and afterward he felt "purged" because he had lost all his money. He also made a full confession to the bank that he had done this, as he had on a previous occasion when his employers had been paternally understanding about his difficulties. At that point he returned to treatment.
By the end of the final session, the former gambler had a subtle but telling insight into his difficulties: he had not made the proper adjustment prior to his gambling spree because, having been relieved of his compulsions, he had found no interests or outside occupations to replace them. When he learned that he would have to "learn to live without it" (gambling), he then settled down to doing so, and quite successfully. Six months after dismissal he was still living a satisfactory life, free from his previous problems.
Had this man not been capable of learning to live without his destructive and immature preoccupation, his story might not have had its successful conclusion. All too often "relapses" occur when the individual, freed from his problems, feels not his loss so much as he does an inner void. Failure to find a constructive substitute, or to "fill in the hole," may engender a state of anxiety and be as detrimental as returning to the same environment, unchanged in atmosphere or reality; and makes full non-backsliding recovery virtually impossible.
Even more vivid than the gambler's case is this solution of a "life problem," presented by Dr. Donald D. Jackson at an LSD symposium held at Napa State Hospital, Imola, California:
The patient was a 35-year-old accountant who had been in intensive psychotherapy for five years because of chronic depression and crippling obsessive traits. He had had a brief psychotic reaction and had made an abortive attempt at self-castration. His oldest sister was a semi-invalid; he was placed in a position of great responsibility for her; yet he had always to be deferential and to accept continuous criticism. He had no pleasant experiences of adolescence, and no dating. At the beginning of therapy he complained of intense loneliness. Both patient and therapist were frustrated by his meager progress. His solid intellectual defenses were refractory to interpretation. Occasionally he made efforts to improve his isolated social position; each time he neatly sabotaged the effort.
The patient was given 100 mcg. of LSD at this point. Although he was eased somewhat, he was still blocked and the doctor was unable to instigate any fantasy on the part of the patient that might point toward the cause.
Upon speculating about the kind of fantasy a boy might entertain about a father he had hated, the doctor finally produced an image that suited the patient. He suggested that if the patient—
—reverentially mowed the grass over his father's grave, and if each passage of the blades over his father's grave cut a little deeper, there might be a gradual diminution, or shearing off of the parental authority, a trimming of the father imago. I shared this fantasy with the patient and suggested that he might well have had such a one. The effect was electric. He exploded with laughter. The feelings and fantasies about father came pouring out, as though Moses had smote the rock. For the balance of the afternoon we reveled in an exchange of fantasies about his father.One of the reasons why LSD had met with limited public acceptance—aside from the adverse publicity it has received and the fact that the drug is acknowledged even by enthusiasts to be fraught with considerable-dangers unless expertly used—is that today the public, in general, is quite accustomed to claims made for "miracle" cures. Every unusual advance is suspect to the majority which, with some amusement, sits by and watches hopeful converts practice Spectro-chrome Therapy, Dianetics, Grapho-Therapeutics or whatever else is in vogue that season.
From that day he was a changed man. Previously he had been a Milquetoast at work, whom everyone pushed around. Now he became self-assertive and positive. He no longer let advantage be taken of him. He was poised and comfortable. It occurred to him he might do better working by himself. During the next LSD session (150 micrograms) he was able to continue the work of the preceding session. With the dread father laid to rest, he could relive his adolescent days with the therapist, not as they had been, but as they might have been. He expressed for the first time the desire for a girl. In the month following, astounding changes developed. He developed a sense of humor; he became efficient; he began to date; he made plans to leave his job and set up his own business, and this he actually accomplished. He enjoyed dating and experienced intense sexual feelings. In therapy he expressed the desire for marriage and children. He struck up a friendship with another man, with whom he discussed topics formerly tabu: sex and women.
Following LSD he began to have intense dreams, sometimes pleasurable, often in color, which he had not had before.
In seventeen (now nineteen) years of practicing psychotherapy, I have never seen as much change in an individual with a rigid obsessional character. The change has been permanent. While it has leveled off, there has been no backsliding since our first Encounter using LSD.
This is not at all surprising. Well-attested claims for cures burgeon for almost every remedy ever recommended, and cure claims for primitive and unusual nostrums will probably always have a following. (Some of them, oddly enough, have even proved to have scientific validity. )
But prior to Hofmann's accidental discovery of LSD, there was never any miracle cure that claimed revolutionary benefits in the alleviation of mankind's mental and emotional imbalances. Not until LSD has there been a therapy, a drug or any other problem-solving means that reached so many different levels.
The nineteenth-century medicine show and its medicine man must have given hope and therefore aid, as well as entertainment, to the audiences which bought patent medicines. The purveyors were not all charlatans, whether or not they had personal faith in, or experience with, the product they peddled. The claims they made for their goods always had any number of honest adherents to back them up. The endorsers believed that the medicine did them good, and quite often it did, if only because they thought it would.
To ignore the power of suggestion, with or without drugs, is perhaps to become fallacious. Even scrupulous investigators who would like to think of themselves as unprejudiced are constantly being surprised by unacknowledged errors. This is why most seasoned researchers accept all findings with caution and attempt rigorous self-examination to rout out their hidden biases.
Some reports made by members of the Josiah Macy Foundation's LSD conference, relating to experiments made with LSD and placebos, revealed how great the powers of suggestion can be:
Abramson: "I have also seen rather violent reactions when tap water was administered. One subject became so upset from a tap water 'dose' of zero LSD administered in the morning that I had to be with him until 11 o'clock that night, and he was upset for a week thereafter. One young girl became paralyzed in both legs after tap water. Possibly the more violent reactions are due more to the underlying personality than to the drug itself."
Dr. Abramson was asked if the placebo subjects were integrated with the group which had actually received the drug; the answer was in the affirmative. He went on to say that extreme reactions on the part of the tap-water subjects invariably occurred in a group setting and were typical. Another member of the conference, Dr. Betty G. Eisner, related that one of her placebo patients in an experiment had had a violent skin reaction that persisted for some months later. And Dr. Keith S. Ditman spoke of an unusual situation that came up in his work:
One of our subjects showed a reaction indicating he did not believe the physician had given him LSD. This is a reverse situation; that is, the drug reaction was affected by the knowledge that placebos were sometimes given.
This rather startling incident would seem to indicate that if there is one thing that is superior to LSD in its power to alter the human psyche, it is the human psyche itself! There are few cases on record, however, of the subject's successfully resisting LSD. Indeed, most people who take the drug do so because they want to, or are advised to. Most LSD subjects look forward to the prismatic, climactic, revealing experience which LSD promises and usually fulfills. They are prepared to be persuaded.
In the matter of marital relations or sexual experience while under LSD, the elements of extrasensory perception and suggestion play a crucial part. If the drug is taken in an impersonal group setting, or with a guide whose interest in the subject is purely clinical, sexual arousal seldom occurs. LSD is not a "sex drug," although in sexual matters it can act as a strong stimulus if the setting and the people involved have sexual participation in mind. LSD can influence every area of human activity, and when sex and LSD do converge, the experience is said to be indescribably ecstatic.
Marital Problems:As novelists, psychologists, and sociologists continue to observe, people today generally do not have good relationships with each other—relationships that are healthy, joyous and open. Nor are many modern marriages sound. Marriage may begin with a great deal that favors success and yet there is an appalling rate at which the relationship deteriorates.
Rates of divorce, annulment and separation are almost at a par with marriage figures, and in countless situations a married couple only remains together for "the children," or for "old time's sake." In our society, loneliness, alienation and incompatibility are increasingly familiar conditions.
One of the most revealing studies made of marital mores and attitudes—a survey of 624 housewives who had been married for an average of ten years—was reported by Marya Mannes in The New York Times, November 15, 1965. Most of these women thought of themselves first as "a mother," then as "a wife." Asked about the role of the man in the family, some 63 per cent thought of him primarily as "a breadwinner" (only 14 per cent considered him first of all "a husband"). Despite this emphasis on the "breadwinner" aspect, however, "most of the wives felt that their husbands' work was something entirely outside of their lives, and they commented on it only in terms such as 'My husband is a good provider' or 'He has a good job.' " As an explanation of the remarkable "evasive tactics" engaged in by husbands in our society—television, the papers, long working-hours, golf, drink, "outside sex," girlie magazines, Marya Mannes says:
Throughout their responses, the conclusion was inescapable that the wives cared far more about what their husbands did than about what they were, as persons. About one-third of the women not only put their own role as mothers first, but indicated that the husband was essentially outside the basic family unit of herself and her children.
In such a situation, LSD has a remarkable ability to help people overcome problems of alienation. Sometimes this comes about simply from bettering sexual relations:
Before I started taking LSD, I had all but lost interest in sex. As you know, I'm married—have been for three years—but it hasn't turned out too well. To be frank, it hasn't worked at all, not even in the beginning when we were still very much in love.
This husband then goes on to say that after experiencing LSD he went to bed with his wife and found "It was like discovering her all over again. Her body, and I know it as well as I know my own, suddenly became new and fresh and exciting. Imagine all that... and I was barely speaking to her a month ago."
In certain popular magazines, LSD has been presented as a powerful sex drug. To a greater extent than with presumed "sex drugs," which are not really effective, the claims are justified, for experiments are repeatable and LSD's sexual reputation is deserved. This is not to say that it is in any way an aphrodisiac, but since LSD heightens all sensory perceptions, it follows quite logically that, used during sexual activity, fresh sexual values are garnered.
Since sex, even in an age of enlightenment, is still a veiled subject, few serious investigators have publicly revealed the value of LSD in melding sexual relations, the cornerstone of any good marriage. An established authority on sexual behavior recently decided against the publication of a paper he had written on the sexual aspects of psychedelic experience—on the grounds that such publication might jeopardize his career. Such attitudes have left honest reporting of what occurs when LSD is introduced into the sexual experience to the maverick writer, or the reckless.
When the LSD session is directed toward problem solving in the psycho-sexual area, the drug can help to uncover one's "essential self," and may transform the image of a loved one from a person fallen from favor due to his nagging and irritating traits, to someone far more human and attractive. The drug is able to change the pessimist, who sees nothing but the half empty glass, into an optimist delighted that the glass is half full. This value rearrangement, shifting from being petty and faultfinding, to being impressed by the fundamental unity of life, is an opening to maturity.
In April, 1963, novelist Alan Harrington was getting along rather badly with his wife. They were "frequently at odds, and just not connecting," at the time when he had his first LSD experience. As he wrote later, "I know that the vision revealed by psycho-chemicals can help overcome feelings of alienation and loneliness":
[In] the next few hours... I loved and desperately wanted my wife. This was a surprise to everyone, including ourselves, because as I said we had been through a bad time together. But under LSD it is impossible to fake anything: she was my connection with life.LSD seems to strip away ordinarily superficial motivations and interests. Under the influence of this drug, material accumulations come to mean very little; of importance are relationships that are honest and meaningful, and the ability of the senses to derive the most from experience.
Someone commented later: "Well, what's so surprising about two people who have been together for twelve years having a bond between them?"
Nothing, I suppose, except that the bond can be buried in the details of everyday living; it can be forgotten; the bond can be taken for granted and become boring if you let it, but just the same over the years it may still be the main cable attaching you to life. During the parts of the LSD torment when an ego is being shredded, you know who your friends are.
The drug is able to effect these alterations in thought process because it short-circuits old techniques for self-deception. During the LSD experience, the subject loses his accustomed habits of thinking and feeling (much of the literature refers to this as "depersonalization"), and goes "outside" of himself, away from the old grooves of normal defenses. From this new perspective, he sees through the ways in which he avoids intimacy and spontaneity, participation and openness—what may lead to being "an utter fake," and what Eric Berne has discussed in terms of "evasions" in his book Games People Play. There is a grim reality and embarrassing humor to such "games" as Harried, Kick Me, Stupid, Wooden Leg, Rapo, Look How Hard I Am Trying, Sweetheart, and Uproar (to name a few on Berne's list).
LSD has very little patience with fraudulent defenses or with artificial environments or with status, and it rips away the facade that keeps us from understanding how preoccupied we may have become with the trivial. The drug also seems to shorten the gaps between events that are, or prove to be, meaningful, and thus it forestalls deliberate "forgetfulness," or blockage. In consequence, a more realistic appraisal of oneself and one's behavior patterns seems possible. A 49-year-old married man explained it this way after having undergone a series of LSD treatments at Marlborough Day Hospital in London:
I am able to talk to my wife more freely and frankly than I ever used to be. I am not so afraid of saying what I really think even if I know she will not agree. Apart from the restoration of intercourse we really get on much better than before. That is because there was a time, which was very difficult while it lasted but which has borne fruit, when we were both quite open in our talking about the breach that had come between us. When one pretends that all is well and is afraid of speaking about how one really feels there is no hope that things will get any better. When, as happened in our case, one has the courage to be honest then there is a very good chance that all will be well.
An improved grasp of the problem does not guarantee, of course, that a couple will be brought closer together. Often an attraction is little more than a matter of both partners having needs which may be somewhat satisfied through living together. There are many persons who are living with partners they do not really like, or who are continuing a relationship just to be continuing something. Under the influence of LSD, such situations can become very clear; it may emerge that the alliance is essentially sick, or at best unsatisfactory. Many an LSD user has claimed to realize that, for him, the time has come to "move on" and that the "marital game has ended." A few, aware of the uprooting effect in their life arrangement, have stopped LSD sessions because, as one woman put it, "I just can't permit that much honesty in my life."
Although risks like learning more than one cares to know do exist, the "advice" given by LSD is for the most part benevolent. Instead of encouraging disparagement of a mate for shortcomings, as may result from greater intellectual clarity, the drug generally activates emotional tolerance, if not empathy, and highlights hidden or forgotten attractive qualities.
In one of Masters' and Houston's sessions where this development occurred, a man in his early thirties, while looking in a mirror, saw an image of himself as the source of great circular loops of neon that entirely surrounded him. Hundreds of thousands of such "loops" appeared. He felt they were made up of all of his self-attachments and pertained to every point of his life:
"... memory loops, love loops, hate loops, eating loops, mental block loops." Upon re-entering the living room he saw his wife and immediately became absorbed in studying her since she, too, appeared to him to be surrounded by her loops. He had always thought of her as being "a rather simple person" and was "altogether amazed to discover that she is every bit as complicated as I am."
Afterwards the subject felt that he had been able to recapture a view of his wife that he had held at the time of their marriage and that he understood her better. Similarly, through the "loops" important things about the characters of other people seemed to be revealed to him.
Reports of successful marital adjustments with LSD increasingly give evidence of restored appreciation for the partner and the partnership. It seems not unreasonable, therefore, that one day LSD may be regarded as a strong asset to marriage counselors. As a forerunner of this possibility, Dr. Richard Alpert, an expert on psychedelics, has included in his book, LSD, co-authored by Dr. Sidney Cohen, a section entitled "A Manual for Making the Marriage New."
Along these lines, others have suggested that, in the future, LSD sessions might include the play-back of previously taped events, specifically a family quarrel. Some of the precipitating factors might dissolve into trivia under the light of fresh insight.
Frigidity, Impotence, Homosexuality and Perversion.In 1962, when screen-writer, novelist-actress "Constance Newland" (a pseudonym) published her book, My Self and I, frigidity in women was an accepted, but relatively unexplored, problem. At the same time, LSD was an enigmatic drug, also relatively unexplored. Since My Self and I appeared, joining the two topics in major context, LSD and the cure of frigidity have been linked in the public mind.
In My Self and I, the author explains that for a number of years she had been undergoing psychotherapy, without progress, for several problems, chief of which was frigidity. Regarding this, she was perfectly prepared to live with it, because:
I knew from friends (and from Dr. Kinsey, who reports that approximately one third of American women suffer similarly) that frigidity among women is almost as prevalent as the common cold—and just about as incurable.
Even so, she was a healthy, functioning member of society. As Dr. Harold Greenwald says in his foreword to the book, "To me it seems quite clear that most people meeting her even before her experience in self-discovery would probably have considered her well balanced, adjusted or emotionally mature."
However gracefully she was able to accept her disorder, Constance Newland was agreeable when LSD was suggested as an aid for her basic problem, frigidity. She found the results of her twenty-three sessions with the drug so rewarding that she felt obliged to publicly share her achievements with others.
Constance Newland's husband had died just after her second child was born, and her feeling of emptiness, which she had thought could only be filled with her career, was to be expected. That her career failed to gratify her emotional needs was also to be expected. Her long, detailed account, with pronounced Freudian overtones, shows the two predominant effects of LSD when used to treat sexual repressions. First, the drug is incisive in that it brings to the patient a conscious image of his condition. Second, it returns him to childhood memories and events, which he relives, thus enabling him to come to new terms with them and to slough them off selectively.
In her first session, Constance Newland had several clear indications of her frigidity. Almost at once she felt cold and her teeth chattered as her body trembled. She felt herself sucked down to the bottom of a dark ocean, alone on the ocean floor, a closed-up clam. Then she saw a "white marble statue of a nude woman with two gaping holes where her breasts should be." This she recognized as a statue, which had actually been erected after the second world war, in the center of a German city, christened, "The City Without a Heart."
In later sessions indications of her frigidity were again revealed, but in other images: she saw herself on one occasion as a fragile glass vase, about to break. Then it occurred to her that she thought of herself as being "Inviolate," and that it was no accident that "violet" was her favorite color and that she often dressed in it.
The second major effect of the drug was to return her to repressed traumatic incidents of childhood from which she had never been emotionally released. Re-living these experiences, with all their original pain, she was freed from the sexual blockage which had made her frigid:
As a baby, I had seen the act of intercourse which looked to be an act of violence in which father "choked" mother. That scene had so alarmed and sickened me that, as a protection, I had determined "never to feel anything so that I would not be hurt."
At long long last, I had uncovered the classic Freudian "trauma" responsible for my sexual difficulty: one too-strong, too-hot enema, received when I was two and a half years old. It was preposterous. But undeniable.... My ego would have been able to manage a too-strong enema with the "utmost ease" had it occurred later in life. But at the age of two and a half, my ego was "helpless" and could only fend off the problem—by repression, which later turned out to be ineffective and involved the "permanent hindrance to further development''—of frigidity....
Thus LSD took Constance Newland to the base of her problem and released her from her deep-seated fears. Much to her amazement, she discovered that there is indeed an "unconscious" and that her own had unknowingly served her as an emotional catch-all. Because so much that was buried there was repellent to her, she had rejected the concept of the unconscious. But as her LSD treatment gradually opened mental and emotional horizons for her conscious inspection, she recognized the unpleasant elements for what they were, deflated them and dismissed them from her life. With their disappearance went the desperate emptiness which her unconscious symptoms had brought about—the unrealistic quest for something to fill the void within her. As a result of her thorough and courageous exploration of self, she gained understanding, adjustment and cure. As she says, "My life has new savor, new meaning—and new mystery."
Life is repetitive in its processes and similar results were achieved in sixteen other cases of frigidity treated by Drs. Thomas A. Ling and John Buckman of Marlborough Day Hospital in London. They report the case of a twenty-six-year-old Indian girl, for example, who feared she could never marry or have sexual relations, although she consciously wanted to. After treatment with LSD and Ritalin, she uncovered early memories which she came to understand were the sources of her adult sexual fears. Re-experiencing birth, she felt she had been "created for creation."
This to me was orgasm and this joy was what I ought to look for ... This was also unity with the "absolute."... I had my first practical lesson in how to have and enjoy intercourse. I learnt to lie back relaxed and offer myself....
As a result of therapy, her tensions disappeared and she gained emotional freedom. At the time the account was written up, she was maintaining a successful relationship and was "able to get full satisfaction out of sexual intercourse and always achieved full orgasm."
Another interesting LSD treatment by these doctors, as reported in the Psychedelic Review, was that of a married woman who had never obtained satisfaction from sex and reacted to it with distaste. It was soon discovered that because she had had a "baby love affair" with her father, who nonetheless had no affection for her, she had rejected all sexuality. In her third session she wanted to remember her first awareness of sexual feeling, and returned to infancy:
I was a tiny baby about six months old, lying on my back with my legs in the air, with no clothes on and my father was looking at me. He was looking at my private parts and I expected him to react in an approving way, but he did not. It was a shattering blow to my self-esteem. I felt that here was the very essence of my femaleness and the one male I most wanted to show approval did not do so.
Following this insightful LSD experience, the patient felt "enormously released." She found that she began to enjoy male relationships which previously had resulted in feelings of shame and which afterwards she preferred not to think about. After treatment she "felt a wonderful outpouring of love" and wanted to have a second child, though previously she had thought another pregnancy would be "disastrous." In later sessions she summoned other childhood sexual detail that made even further progress possible, and at the close of treatment she had her first full internal orgasm during intercourse. Six months later she reported to her doctors:
I am completely free of all the feelings of distaste and guilt that I had, and am able to enjoy [sex] in a "down to earth" and healthy way. I know my husband finds me much better company and I have a much more positive approach to him and life in general, and I have much more patience with my children.
It is true that in many cases of frigidity women have sublimated their sexual drives by turning to careers, and the indications are that such women seek treatment only when the career (or other substitute) becomes disrupted or unsuccessful. One of the reasons frigidity has been virtually untreatable in the past is that the sufferer could retain her sex substitute and persuade herself that it was "fulfilling." LSD, however, reaches to the bottom of the disorder and the subject cannot take refuge from the truth she finds, whether her career is "fulfilling" or not.
Recognition of the problem is an important first step, but this in itself solves nothing. In frigidity cases, LSD seems to first define the problem, then dissolve it, thus freeing the patient to make a suitable adjustment.
The history of LSD is marked by important accidental discoveries. The first, of course, was the unexpected and stunning discovery of the powers of the drug itself. It was then only by chance that two investigators happened upon LSD's usefulness in the treatment of chronic alcoholism. Another discovery several years later was made when a few researchers noticed that the drug enhanced the evocation of "religious" or "mystical" experience. Still others, looking for a new pain-killer, found that LSD could help the terminal patient to a greater serenity in acceptance of death. And much to the surprise of many homosexuals who had been given the drug for other disorders, LSD coincidentally was found to help their homosexual adjustment as well. This is evidenced again and again (almost as an aside) in case histories dealing primarily with other matters, but to date such information has remained obscure and has seldom drawn comment.
Individual clinicians, however, have reported improvement in homosexual adjustments—almost as a by-product of other treatment. Homosexual alcoholics, for example, have not only been able to solve their alcohol problems as a result of using LSD, but have resolved sexual guilt to the point where they could accept their homosexuality without shame or overemphasis of its importance to their lives, or they have become more involved in heterosexual behavior. Dr. Ruth Fox and Dr. Jack Ward are two experts on alcoholism who have had several such cases in which homosexual symptoms have disappeared or been alleviated, although specific treatment was not intended for this condition. Non-clinical investigators have also noted this result. Masters and Houston, in giving LSD to college-educated subjects simply to study their reactions—with no intention of "curing" anything—reported a number of subjects in whom there was a change in homosexual behavior patterns:
Like most (twelve out of fourteen) of the limited number of overt male homosexuals who have been psychedelic volunteers, there is to be found here a distorted body image.... Certainly, the normalizing of the distorted body image produced a marked trend towards heterosexualization.... In the streets, he consistently saw what he had "never seen before": He noticed the "beasts and bottoms" of women and found them attractive. This was a source of much astonishment to him, since before he always had passed women by without seeing them at all, or noticing them only as if they were objects, "like lampposts or fire hydrants."Coincidental homosexuality adjustments have occurred with sufficient frequency that at lectures and conferences on LSD, the question has been raised as to why LSD has not been put to direct use more often for treating the condition. The answer lies in the fact that so far there has been no systematic attempt to measure the significance of LSD in this specific treatment.
... all of the homosexual subjects have had a rather passive demeanor.... A frequent post-session effect is then a heightened aggressiveness, an impression of greater self-confidence and probably better self-esteem, with a noticeable deepening of the voice in some cases. Also, gestures may become more vigorous, posture more erect, and movements generally more decisive and, in some cases, more "masculine."
It would appear, however, that LSD is successful in homosexual problems because it can reveal early traumas which underlie the condition. Further, it can bring about, through insight, a lessening of morbid dependency on parents. As mentioned in the foregoing quotation, it can alter an individual's inappropriate and/or pejorative total self image and lead to self acceptance.
There are many therapists who believe that it is not possible to work through problems of a sexual nature, whether they be narcissism, over-dependency, blockage or a variety of perversions, without abreaction—that is, the patient must first return to the early periods of his life when his attitudes and values were originally damaged and the construction of "mental dams" was begun. In conventional psychotherapy, which consists mainly of "talking it out," some part of the dam usually remains. This is why "dynamiting" it with Psychodrama, Marathons, and Vegetotherapy and other methods based on "shock reactions" have a growing appeal. But compared to these methods, the potentials in LSD therapy seem vastly superior.
Several techniques have been developed for combining certain shock processes with LSD. One far-sighted team of English doctors reported on their system (used in sixty cases over the last three years) at the Second International Conference on the Use of LSD in Psychotherapy at Amityville, Long Island. They had an impressive number of successful cases to their credit, with only two treatment failures and one relapse.
An example of their treatment, as applied to homosexuality, was presented by Dr. Joyce Martin, Senior Hospital Medical Officer at Marlborough Day Hospital, and indicates the delicacy, patience, and discernment required on the part of the therapist:
... active participation of the therapist is needed, since the drug regresses the patients to the earliest experiences so dynamically that they literally feel as a baby and are unable to cope or fend for themselves; but this is no longer frightening if their present mother, that is the therapist, is warm and understanding and can supply their needs at that level in some practical way, such as giving warm milk, holding their hand or putting an arm round them, and also talking to them at a conscious level, since consciousness is always maintained in the treatment, and reassuring them that it is good and normal to want these things, which all babies need and want, but do not always get.The insights which some homosexuals have had from LSD therapy have enabled them to marry happily, adjust to an existing marriage, or decide that they are essentially homosexual and want to stay that way. Other patients who feared homosexuality and had decided to have no sexual relations at all have found the courage to experiment, and some are leading fulfilling heterosexual lives.
... we can enable him to face up to all the painful factors in his life and upbringing, which originally the ego was not strong enough to accept; but now with the transference to the therapist, these things can be accepted. And it is, in fact, the therapist's job to point them out, so that they are accepted, however unpleasant, which is possible when the therapist, unlike mother, does not criticize or reject.
Freud maintained that, in certain types of neuroses, called the narcissistic neuroses, the transference relationship did not develop. This made psychoanalytic treatment very difficult and lengthy, and was the cause of much criticism. We have, however, had many narcissistic neuroses to deal with under LSD, and find that, if we know the right role to play, then they gradually respond and develop a transference, develop and integrate. For example, a man of forty-nine, obsessional schizoid, suffering from extreme sexual frustration causing tenseness, irritability, inability to communicate with others and depression, was eventually able, through the right attitude of the therapist, to communicate freely with her and eventually to have sexual feelings and show his penis to her, which was the first time in his life that he had done such a thing, but he felt pleased and not ashamed of it...
The... case I wish to describe... is that-of a man of twenty-five, a dentist.... His father died when the patient was one or two years old....
He remembered having a bicycle accident at 12 years of age and being treated in a hospital and then having to stay in bed at home. He felt something horrible and frightening had happened to him during this time.... The therapist had an intuitive feeling that there had been some sexual incident, and so she lay beside him. He remembered feeling cold and miserable after the accident and asking mother if he could get into her bed, which he did. She offered him her breast and later put her hand on his genitals. The therapist-intentionally put her hand on his thigh and the patient said he felt a weight on top of him, which she interpreted as someone lying on him, so she got on top of him. This then brought back the memory that his mother had sucked his penis and made it erect and then pushed it into her vagina. He said he felt like a horse being ridden by a cowboy and that his mother was very masculine.
Later... he went through an extremely suicidal depression. He sat in front of the fire holding out his handkerchief and saying that he saw patterns of a tombstone on it and this was his tombstone. He then remembered feeling mad after the incident with his mother; and when she left him to go off to work, he crawled back to his own bed and masturbated for the first time. The whole horror of the experience came over him and he tried to forget it. He then began to see his mother as wicked and evil and ugly and he determined never to let her touch him again. He locked his door at night and hardly spoke to her for weeks. Eventually the whole incident became repressed and he never looked at her or touched her again.
The suicidal depression continued for some time, and the patient would drive his car at 60 miles an hour up one-way streets, etc. He projected his hate against his mother on to the therapist at times, seeing her as ugly and evil, but with her interpretation about it he was able to accept that it was only his feelings about his mother, and he continued to come for treatment.
His next memory was of having been picked up by an older boy in the park, when he was fourteen years old, and allowing the boy to touch his penis and later seduce him, which he admitted enjoying and said it made him feel like a woman. Later on, he also had successful sexual relations with virgins, and realized that he was getting his own back on his mother in doing this, but that he did not have such a good orgasm as when playing the female role. He now remembered doing this with his brother.
The transference to the therapist was now fully developed and therefore, in order to get him out of the homosexual stage of development, she praised a mutual acquaintance as being a fine virile man, and this made the patient very jealous, so that the next week he told her that he had made two conquests with virgins during the week. He then asked the therapist to lie on the bed with him, which she did, and he put his arms across her shoulders and said he felt merged with her as one person and they were going into a tunnel together, which was identification with his mother. Later on, he said he didn't want to be a woman any more, as he felt she wanted him to be a man, and she agreed she did want this, since he had been born a boy. He said his aim now was to become a man and possess her.
Since the causes of homosexuality are diffuse and not well understood, a continuance of homosexuality after LSD is not necessarily a treatment failure and should not be thought of as relapse. It may represent the establishment of a positive nature of the self.
As a group of Canadian psychotherapists put it,... "many [homosexuals] have derived marked benefit in terms of insight, acceptance of role, reduction of guilt and associated psychosexual liabilities." This is an estimable development, for as Eric Berne points out in his book about symbolic game-playing, an understanding of the sundry homosexual dodges and reassuring apologies indulged in by insecure homosexuals can lead to a more highly integrated life:
[In] "Cops and Robbers," "Why Does This Always Happen to Us," "It's the Society We Live In," "All Great Men Were" and so forth, the "professional homosexual" wastes a large amount of time and energy which could be applied to other ends. Analysis of his games may help him establish a quiet menage which will leave him free to enjoy the benefits that bourgeois society offers, instead of devoting himself to playing his own variation of "Ain't It Awful"
Because homosexuality has been considered an endemic and deep-rooted condition since times of antiquity, hopes for its alleviation, until very recent times, have been faint. But lately, since other resistant mental aberrations have been overcome by new methods, somewhat drastic treatments are being used and advocated for the homosexual in some quarters. In one current technique the homosexual patient is shown a picture of an attractive male and is simultaneously given an electric shock. Such a method, perhaps of some use, nevertheless may have deleterious effects—which is why most thoughtful therapists are opposed to such "reconditioning."
Unbelievable as it may seem to the conservative therapist, however, LSD not only works better in the treatment of the homosexual problem, but it does not seem to require the substitution of a surrogate symptom. Here is how one analyst, familiar with the LSD studies, states it:
I went to the International Congress on Psychotherapy in London last year. There were quite a large number of papers on LSD therapy. The different approaches were really quite astonishing; people seemed to claim, at any rate, that they get almost equally good results from different viewpoints. Some people, indeed, seemed to think that one would get a result, in some cases, entirely from the effect of the drug, with very little in the way of psychotherapy. When one goes to the A.P.A. meeting, one hears the enthusiasm of the behavior therapists and their claims, with much conviction, that by deconditioning and getting rid of patients' symptoms, you can get patients better, and they do not relapse, and they do not produce other symptoms! Contrary to the expectations of the analysts, who have all said that if you get rid of these symptoms, you will only produce other ones.
In the layman's mind, homosexuality is often confused with other inversions—transvestism, fetishism, sadomasochism, etc. While this confusion may cause concern among homosexuals and sexologists, there is a grain of truth in this misidentification in that a wide range of sexual disorders spring from the same general source, and to a certain extent they are interchangeable. Because this is the case, a number of uncommon and bizarre aberrations, also engendered early in life, can be treated with therapy similar to that for homosexuality.
Although seldom classed as perversion, sexual promiscuity is closely related. As therapists know, patterns of promiscuity can be altered by an emotional recall of certain past events on the part of the patient. This may be the explanation for the reports, which have puzzled some authorities, that LSD not only can help the asexual person to "normality," but also can moderate wanton behavior and create the capacity for more lasting relationships.
It is known that homosexuality and the other perversions are dependent upon fantasy for their maintenance. Most of this fantasy stems from childhood daydreams and is unsatisfactory for transition to adult life. The grown-up daydreamer does not recognize this because he has updated and embellished his fantasies with images and impressions he has found suitable along the way. But he builds of necessity on shaky ground: infantile vision, inexperience and immature understanding. In consequence, the fantasy, though it may be firmly established as ritual and heavily depended upon, can never reward and comfort as it did when first conceived. When the fabric of the fantasy wears thin, as it must occasionally because of environmental change, the daydreamer is in trouble.
In contrast, the LSD fantasy that the patient experiences in treatment usually is a means of redressing old grievances, but it contains elements appropriate to maturity. Characteristically it reinterprets happenings of the past (for which the subject was unprepared) from the perspectives of deeper maturity and this entails a re-examination of the meaning of one's personal existence and a symbolic passage into a new order. The LSD fantasies seem particularly directed toward the rebalancing of maladaptive functioning, in much the same way as Jung saw the purpose for dreams. This can lead to growth and transformation. In a society that lacks formal initiation rites, a factor which consequently leaves uncertain the termination of childhood and adolescence, LSD fantasies seem to facilitate entry of the chronologically grown-up but emotionally infantile adult into a mature world. This applies to the whole gamut of perversion: sadomasochism, bestiality, chronic masturbation, flagellation, nymphomania and so forth.
This growth—like all significant change—can be frightening to the patient and may seriously disrupt the life condition. It can also bring about undesirable changes in family life unless precautions have been taken and an expectancy has been established. As those familiar with domestic relations know, improvement in one partner can bring about deterioration in the other. With LSD therapy there is the additional problem that any marked gain may be dismissed on the grounds that "a drug can't do such things." This attitude is sometimes disastrous.
In one case, a woman who had become withdrawn, gloomy and listless because she felt that her successful husband had "outgrown" her and should divorce her, was restored after LSD therapy to the amiable, outgoing person she had once been. The husband had been completely loyal to her during her travails, but he lost all interest in her when it became clear that her recovery and renewed interest in life were genuine. He found as time passed that he could not accept her as an equal, his childhood asthma attacks gradually returned, his business no longer prospered and eventually divorce did occur.
As a final comment on LSD's role in sexual and domestic matters, it is fitting to reiterate a plea made by R.E.L. Masters when he published for the first time a series of case histories about the use of psychedelics as they affect sexual behavior:
... problems connected with sex relations have plagued humanity for a long while, as they certainly do today. And I do not see how there could be any legitimate objection to the development and marketing of drugs aimed at helping people generally to enrich their sexual relations when they do have them, and which would assist in relieving the anguish and misery of persons whose sexual problems are so severe that they are either driven into very bizarre perversions or forced to get along without any sex lives at all.
Since most of humanity's present day sexual problems, including impotence and frigidity, are psychological in origin, drugs which merely work upon the genitals, producing engorgement, are often of little value; and it is likely that the drugs capable of solving or helping with these problems will have to be drugs powerfully affecting the mind. That is why [psychedelic drugs are] so interesting and promising and why [they] should be thoroughly explored in this connection.
Footnotes1. This volume, edited by Dr. Abramson, is a record of the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation's LSD conference held in April, 1959. 1,099 case histories of patients formed the basis of the report. (back)
2. Of the Psychiatric and Public Health Departments, San Jacinto Memorial Hospital, Baytown, Texas. (back)
3. Dr. Robert C. Murphy, Jr., Waverly, Penn. (back)
4. "Psychedelic," a word coined by Dr. Humphry Osmond, comes from Greek roots and means "mind-manifesting." It was expressly invented to describe the growing list of "mind" drugs which have effects similar to LSD. There are at present about eighty such drugs aside from LSD; the most commonly known are psilocybin, mescaline and DMT (dimethyltryptamine). (back)
5. Masters and Houston refer to all of their subjects as "S." (back)
6. From an interview in Dude magazine, September, 1966. (back)
7. While the published case histories of frigidity cures with LSD have been emphasized, LSD has similar effects and results in the treatment of male impotence. Men are by and large more successful than women in diverting sexual energies into their careers when confronted with their problem, and the incidence is less in any case. Consequently, less attention has been paid to the causes and treatment of this condition. Since here again the disabling agents that lead to impotence are anxiety, unconscious blocks, fear and inhibition, LSD can bring about an effective cure. (back)
8. Dr. Donald Blair of St Bernard's Hospital, London. (back)
Chapter IV. Everyday Problems (part 2)
Alcoholism and Other Addictions:The valuation of personality change is, at best, difficult, not only in terms of semantics but in those of measurement. Use of LSD in alcoholism, however, has shown that the effects of LSD can be quantified. Recovery rates have risen and are still on the increase. In Canada, the Saskatchewan Department of Public Health considers LSD the most promising known treatment for alcoholism and has directed that for critical cases the single, large-dose LSD treatment is to be considered "no longer as experimental" but rather "to be used where indicated." In their particular program ("The Businessman's Special"), the drug is used only once—yet over half of the alcoholics who undergo the treatment seem to gain control of their drinking problem even after long and tragic histories of chronic alcoholism.
"In the course of history," Aldous Huxley has remarked, "many more people have died for their drink and their dope than have died for their religion or their country." The arithmetical record of the misuse of alcohol is staggering:
In the United States alone, some eight hundred million gallons of wine and distilled spirits and one hundred million barrels of beer are produced legally each year.... The alcoholic beverage industry in the United States grosses $12,000,000,000 a year with expenditures of nearly $200,000,000 a year for advertisement.... Out of some eighty million consumers, there are, perhaps, six million people in America alone and more than twenty-five million in the world with drug dependency on alcohol.
Some of the consequences of this consumption are:
Around fifteen thousand deaths and two hundred thousand injuries associated with drunken driving occur yearly in the United States. Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver is one of the major causes of death; vast absenteeism, accidents, and job loss in business and industry occur, with an annual estimated loss of $500,000,000; many, if not most, divorces and broken homes occur in connection with excessive drinking; one-third to one-half of all traffic arrests are for drunkenness, far outnumbering any other category of arrest; 60 per cent of all arrests are for offenses directly related to use of alcoholic beverages, and 50 per cent of those in prison committed their crimes after alcohol consumption, and an unknown but significant amount of decreased productivity, welfare costs, and so on must be considered.
Attempts to bring under control and regulate the consumption of alcohol by the "problem drinker" and alcoholic have been largely unsuccessful. Although it is against the law for bars and liquor stores to sell to persons who are intoxicated, it is not against the law to sell liquor to habitual drinkers and/or known alcoholics.
Further, most heavy drinkers and alcoholics are not prone to stop drinking even when they are fully aware of the eroding effects their addiction has upon their lives. They casually accept or ignore the fact that alcohol is pharmaceutically classified as a poison. Paradoxically, alcoholics at the same time are apt to have intense guilt feelings. Because their emotional center is in conflict—remorse, deliberate dishonesty about their problem, feelings of alienation from the rest of mankind, alternate moods of superiority and inferiority—the alcoholic is difficult to treat successfully. Alcoholics Anonymous, which has one of the best records in the field, refuses drinkers with poor motivation to change. One of the most discouraging aspects of the problem is that ordinary methods of treatment have met with such limited success that the potentially courageous alcoholic who does want to get well doesn't know where to turn. When he has made attempts to "dry out" permanently in the past, his cure has rarely lasted. Quite reasonably, he no longer has hope, much less faith, that anything can be done to help him.
Alcoholics Anonymous believes that the alcoholic cannot really be helped until he has "hit bottom." "Hitting bottom" can mean many things to many people, but a large percentage of the population, as well as those who are alcoholic, think the bottom has been reached when delirium tremens sets in. This opinion, dramatically illustrated in the novel, "The Lost Week-End," and in the film derived from it, is shared by most experts on alcoholism. The use of LSD for the problem grew out of this supposition.
One evening in 1953, Drs. Abram Hoffer and Humphry Osmond, Canadian specialists on alcoholism, were discussing the correlation between alcoholic cure and delirium tremens. Although the d.t. mortality rate at the time was about ten per cent, this condition—when survived—occasionally led to recovery. Both doctors were familiar with LSD as a "psychotomimetic" agent (a drug which mimics psychosis), and during their discussion they suddenly hit upon the idea that LSD might be able to give their patients artificial d.t.'s, which the doctors could then control. "This idea at 4:00 A.M., seemed so bizarre that we laughed uproariously. But when our laughter subsided, the question seemed less comical and we formed our hypothesis or question: would a controlled LSD-produced delirium help alcoholics stay sober?"
They were aware, of course, that there would be conspicuous difficulties in getting their colleagues to agree that the idea had merit since the use of LSD would be only an imitation delirium tremens and since some patients' charts were filled with entries of d.t.'s having been experienced repeatedly, without cure resulting. However, these objections seemed outweighed when compared to the potential value such an experiment might prove to have. They decided, therefore, to go ahead and test the hypothesis, and gave 200 mcg. of LSD to two of their alcoholic patients at the Saskatchewan Hospital at Weyburn. One, a male, immediately stopped drinking and remained sober for several months after discharge; the other, a woman, seemed largely unaffected in her drinking habits. These results, although one balanced out the other, were still sufficiently encouraging that they undertook larger clinical trials.
Drs. Hoffer and Osmond deliberately chose twenty-four of the most intractable alcoholics they could find. To locate them, they contacted other hospitals and agencies working with alcoholics. As Jake Calder, former director of the Canadian Bureau on Alcoholism, recalls, Dr. Hoffer said, when he got in touch with him, "We want your worst cases; we are not interested in mild cases that could recover through A.A. or through any other agency that you now have available."
The subjects of this study had had an average period of uncontrolled drinking of 12.1 years. Eight had experienced d.t.'s at least once, and twenty had tried A.A. and failed. Twelve had been diagnosed as psychopathic. Eight had serious character disorders, and the remaining four were borderline or actual psychotics.
When checked for progress (average follow-up, one year; range, from two months to three years), the recovery rate after LSD was impressive: Of the twenty-four subjects, six following their single psychedelic session were "much improved'? (completely abstinent since treatment, or drinking only very small quantities), six were "improved" (definite reduction in alcohol intake) and twelve were "unchanged" (but evidently none the worse for having had treatment).
Compared to the amount of reform brought about by other means for handling alcoholism—A.A., group therapy, Psychodrama, counseling, Antabuse, analysis, etc.—these LSD results were imposing. With other techniques, a therapist is considered to be doing well if he stimulates reform in over ten per cent of his alcoholic patients. Yet here, using the most recalcitrant cases to be found, were recovery rates approaching fifty per cent!
Since this early study, LSD has become better understood, and several "psychedelic methods" have been developed for alcoholic patients. As a result, abstinence and rehabilitation rates have been further upgraded. In 1959, at the Josiah Macy Conference on LSD, Dr. Hoffer was able to announce that he and his colleagues had treated sixty "very difficult psychopathic alcoholics" and that after a five-year follow-up,
"... half of them were no longer drinking. You will not believe it, and I would not have, either. The results are very impressive...."
During the summer of 1966, after thirteen years of research in this area, Dr. Hoffer published the statistics relating to the more than eight hundred hard-core alcoholics who had been treated in the Canadian LSD program.
When psychedelic therapy is given to alcoholics using methods described in the literature about one-third will remain sober after the therapy is completed, and one-third will be benefited. If schizophrenics and malvarians are excluded from LSD therapy the results should be better by about 30 per cent. There are no published papers using psychedelic therapy which show it does not help about 50 per cent of the treated group....Because alcoholism in the past has been consistently and stubbornly resistant to treatment, Dr. Hoffer's statistics are, understandably enough, regarded with skepticism by some people, especially those who have spent their careers grappling with the problem without success. Claims are made that LSD therapy, as presented by Dr. Hoffer, smacks of "magic"; it is "too good to be true." And since there is little step-by-step elucidation that is readily available, skeptics of the therapy are vociferous. As reports of LSD programs for the treatment of alcoholism are published, or are presented at various psychological conventions, journalists have frequently criticized Hoffer or his statistics—usually suggesting that the favorable reports are due to bias in the observer, bad sampling methods, or outright lies. Several doctors at Hollywood Hospital, in British Columbia, Canada, noting the reactions in some quarters to the promise LSD holds out for the confirmed drinker, have discussed the detractors with considerable impatience:
Our conclusion after 13 years of research is that properly used LSD therapy can convert a large number of alcoholics into sober members of society.... Even more important is the fact that this can be done very quickly and therefore very economically. Whereas with standard therapy one bed might be used to treat about 4 to 6 patients per year, with LSD one can easily treat up to 36 patients per bed per year.
Although the psychedelic literature is now extensive, and papers of high quality are appearing with regularity, those who are most vocally and effectively critical are either unaware of, or unwilling to consider, the facts and implications available.... There is ... an inverse relationship between knowledge and experience, and a willingness to reach unwarranted conclusions and dogmatic derogatory positions.
In terms of the importance of LSD therapy for the six to eight million alcoholics in the United States, there is reason to pause before a discussion of how such treatment works, in order to underscore the validity of Dr. Hoffer's data and the consistency with which excellent results have come about. Dr. Hoffer has already mentioned that all published studies reporting on the use of psychedelic procedures have indicated recovery rates similar to his own. This is a significant point in that even though diverse goals and techniques have characterized the investigations, the findings in at least eleven instances have been essentially the same. Further, a study involving exacting standards and controls has confirmed these results, as have those in which therapy was given solely by professionals who were personally unacquainted with the LSD experience.
Most LSD investigators are of the opinion that drug therapy is enhanced when undertaken by someone personally familiar with the psychedelics. There are many critics, however, who hold that such a therapist is no longer able to judge his results objectively, that all of his critical and scientific abilities are impaired once he has swallowed LSD. Because this latter view is maintained rather widely, it should be pointed out that even when alcoholics are treated with LSD by those who have never taken it, the recovery rates are maintained.
As an example, thirty-three patients were treated with LSD by a team of doctors, none of whom had ever had any personal acquaintance with the drug. They were directed by Dr. P. O. O'Reilly, a critic of earlier LSD experimentation. "I was quite skeptical about the use of LSD as a perusal of the literature seemed to indicate that most of the work done on it was on a subjective level; not too many adequate scientific studies had been carried out. Yet what were the conclusions? Seven "much improved," ten ''improved,'' and sixteen "unchanged." More than half the patients were benefited by the treatment.
This study by Dr. O'Reilly was followed by a larger one undertaken at Union Hospital, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in which he tried to determine the percentage of recovery among alcoholics given LSD therapy by doctors who had never had the drug and to what extent this recovery would be lasting. Of the sixty-eight alcoholics chosen for the study, 60% had been drinking for more than ten years. The diagnoses were: chronic alcoholism, 62%; acute alcoholism, 16%; alcoholic psychosis, 4%; and personality disorder, 16%. The results, after a mean follow-up of fourteen months: "Twenty-six patients, or 38% of the total group, were found to be abstaining from alcohol in the two months preceding follow-up.... There was no significant change in abstinence or indulgence between the two periods selected for follow-up study. This suggests that improvement established immediately following the treatment tends to be maintained."
Another objection to alcoholic therapy with LSD has been the lack of adequate testing systems. But in 1962, Dr. S. E. Jensen of the Saskatchewan Hospital, Weyburn, reported an excellent controlled experiment dealing with some of the most difficult cases that could be located by Jake Calder, Director of the Bureau of A1coholism. One group of alcoholics was put in the hands of psychiatrists who did not use LSD. Another group was prepared for LSD treatment, but not given it, while a third group—after identical preparation—was given the drug. The criteria for "much improved" were stiff: "complete abstinence at the time of the follow-up or after a brief episode of drinking after discharge." The follow-up was conducted after periods of six to eighteen months. Dr. Jensen reported that forty-one out of fifty-eight given the drug were improved (thirty-four being much improved), whereas out of two non-LSD control groups only eighteen out of eighty were improved (eleven much improved). Thus it becomes apparent that the application of LSD to the problem of alcoholism can raise recovery rates far above normal expectations.
Going back for the moment to the original theory that delirium tremens (or "hitting bottom") could be the gateway to recovery for the alcoholic, Drs. Hoffer and Osmond eventually realized that d.t.'s, real or drug-induced, accounted for only a fraction of the cure process itself. The actual modus operandi was of a complexity that made the delirium tremens theory seem simple. The patient responses to LSD treatment were unusually varied and reproduced the range of classical drinking cures, but this time in the clinic. Previously, medical cure of alcoholism had been singularly dependent on the patient's experiencing d.t.'s. (Antabuse and other "drying out" methods were looked upon as "aids" rather than any kind of positive cure. ) Now, with LSD, the therapists suddenly found their patients involved with many of the non-medical motivations for alcoholic recovery right in the clinic, i.e., they were having "visions of God" and feeling deep guilt over the suffering they brought their loved ones. They discovered Horatio Alger-like insights into "honor" and self-respect. Further, these drug-induced acquisitions of self-knowledge were just as profound, instant and lasting as the inspirational ones, which only rarely strike a troubled soul in the outside world.
In a striking example, a de-frocked priest taking LSD for alcoholism was asked, "John, how would you like to see God?" After a brief silence the ex-priest replied, "I wouldn't mind." The therapist then instructed him to lie down, relax "and maybe He'll come to you." After a ten-minute interval, John sat up and said, "I saw God." "What happened?" asked the therapist. "He said 'No more drinking.'" And from that day on, John remained sober.
The host of confessional-like and home-remedy-type "drives to cure" which patients received via LSD were so bewildering that many doctors stopped trying to account for them. As Dr. C. H. Van Rhijn, a psychotherapist from Holland, put it, they "simply found something that worked and began to use it as a treatment." However, the drug is looked upon by therapists in two different ways: as a psycholytic agent, or as a psychedelic. The use of the chemical as a psychotomimetic drug to reproduce d.t.'s is obsolescent, for as Dr. Hoffer commented:
... by 1957 it was apparent that even though many of our patients were helped by LSD, it was not its psychotomimetic activity which was responsible. In spite of our best efforts to produce such an experience, some of our subjects escaped into a psychedelic experience.
Psycholytic therapy is practised widely in Europe and aims at facilitating traditional psychoanalysis through administration of LSD in low dosage. This is found to produce a short-cut to the patient's self-understanding by activating both the emotions and the unconscious.
Regressive and existential experiences are painful, true, but when they surface through LSD, the catharsis is thorough. Rather than having to "ease into" insight for fear that the dislodged material will devastate the patient, as in formal analysis, and waiting for months for the analysand to accept his findings, LSD seems to lead to self-acceptance immediately.
Current practitioners who favor the drug for psycholytic therapy draw attention to the fact that it adapts itself to existing schools of analysis. Moreover, each system—be it Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, etc.—finds its concepts confirmed in low-dosage LSD treatment. Rapport is better and more easily established; restricting defenses are dissolved; transferences are quicker; and the core of the problem seems to be more readily accessible.
The second approach to alcoholic treatment with LSD is called psychedelic therapy—developed by Dr. A. M. Hubbard in British Columbia. Because of its extraordinary effectiveness, it has been copied in other parts of Canada and the U.S.A. The treatment consists of a minimum of psychoanalysis, but from the beginning it attempts to give the patient a single overwhelming experience that will catapult him into personality reformation. This is preceded by skillful preparation prior to his session, a good deal of counseling and the administration of a massive dose of LSD (alcoholics seem to require twice the dosage used for other patients: 200-400 mcg. and sometimes up to 1500 or 2000 mcg. are given).
The "goal" in this therapy is to give the alcoholic an experience akin to a spontaneous "religious" conversion, with all of its subsequent powers of character transformation. (William James gave the rationale for this when he astutely observed that "the cure for dipsomania is religomania," and many a country preacher of that day—and this—would have agreed. ) When this conversion happens, there is no longer need for symbolic interpretation of the self on the patient's part, for the patient enters what Sherwood, Stolaroff and Harman in an article published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry, have called the "stage of immediate perception":
... he comes to experience himself in a totally new way and finds that the age-old question "who am I?" does have a significant answer. He experiences himself as a far greater being than he had ever imagined, with his conscious self a far smaller fraction of the whole than he had realized. Furthermore, he sees that his own self is by no means so separate from other selves and the universe about him as he might have thought. Nor is the existence of this newly experienced self so intimately related to his corporeal existence.By trial and error a system was developed which seemed to propel patients into the desired stage of psychedelic experience more readily. Simple props were used, for it was found that they elicited better responses than the best analytic methods. After having the patient write a brief autobiography, he is asked to bring to the session cherished trinkets, favorite phonograph records and photographs of people who are close to him. Musical background, provided both from the patient's collection and the hospital's library, is used to divert the patient's mind from himself and to relax him to the point of surrendering to the drug's urgings. The patient is often blindfolded and provided with earphones in the initial part of his session. A little later on the blindfold and earphones may be removed, if the session is going suitably, and the patient will be asked to look at the mementos and photographs he has brought; or he is given a list of questions, relevant to his life and predicament, to study and think over. (This is not to be construed as a "test" of any kind.) He may be shown various "universal symbols"—a rose, a cross, a seashell, for instance and he will probably be asked to relate facets of his own personality to those of other people in the room. Any of these stimuli may precipitate him into a "psychedelic experience."
These realizations, while not new to mankind, and possibly not new to the subject in the intellectual sense, are very new in an experiential sense. That is, they are new in the sense that makes for altered behavior. The individual sees clearly that some of his actions are not in line with his new knowledge and that changes are obviously called for.
Dr. Ruth Fox, Medical Director of the National Council on Alcoholism in the United States, has used LSD in alcoholic rehabilitation and hopes to be able to continue to utilize the drug for this purpose. Her endorsement of the drug for therapeutic use differs little from that offered by others, except that she emphasizes the ameliorating effect upon a patient's "nature," when it has been influenced by the drug. A new feeling of compassion and tenderness for others and a restored sensitivity and "concern" often make benign a personality that had previously been cynical and rigid. Dr. Fox also points out that LSD experients sometimes develop an old-fashioned gratitude to their parents for having borne them. She further describes indications which point to a permanent recovery:
... The patient often states that he feels reborn, whole, clean, grateful, and joyous, loving all things animate and inanimate.As with LSD "cures" for other conditions, pressures from the past can cause backsliding if the patient is immediately immersed in his old environment. However, vulnerability to relapse is the exception rather than the rule with the alcoholic who has been helped through LSD therapy. And even if regression does take place, instead of being plunged into despair the patient seems better able to break his fall. Indications are that he is able to do this because, although he has failed momentarily, he has not lost faith in his new-found resilience.
A few suggestions given then for future behavior may have long-lasting effects, suggestions that he will grow to understand himself better as he matures, that life can be good, that sobriety will bring greater rewards than drinking, and that the fellowship of A.A. can give his life a new focus and meaning.
A large number of alcoholics who have gone through the LSD program have found that A.A. can help them, although this was not true previously. Such patients come to regard their addiction as something that they can cast off rather than as an affliction that is bound to cripple them for eternity. And with this externalization of the problem, comeback can be dramatic and convincing. In having a tangible external adversary, it is easier for the alcoholic and the public to "see" and understand the recovery, a fact which bolsters the patient in his determination to stay well.
Because the LSD cure for alcoholics takes such firm hold, it is difficult for the dissenter to deny the obvious change in the patient and his return to health. The chances are that through LSD he had met and defeated his hyper-susceptibility to depression, tension, irritability, loneliness, etc.; and having conquered his former grievances, he is no longer regarded by his fellow man as a maladjusted individual, often subject to contempt. The change in the attitude of others, brought about by alterations in the alcoholic after LSD treatment, is reflected in comments by two doctors: 
Initially, the treatment personnel of our alcoholism unit were reluctant to work with alcoholic patients. They now have great interest in the program.Since alcoholism is thought of as the leading addiction of our time, detail is warranted to show the far-reaching implications of LSD therapy as it applies to problem-solving in all addiction. From the discussion, no doubt it is obvious that similar techniques can reclaim victims of other binding "habits," great and small: narcotics, smoking, compulsive eating, gambling, logorrhea, satyriasis and various excessive indulgences.
When we stopped the second [LSD experimentation program], which involved about sixty people altogether, the unit kept asking us when we were going to start again. When they kept on asking, we asked them why. They said the alcoholics had changed their attitudes so much that it was good even for those who didn't have LSD.
At the Josiah Macy Conference in 1959, and at the Quarterly Meeting of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association in London in 1961, reports were given indicating a high incidence of cure of smoking. More to the point of social importance, LSD has proved useful in reducing the high rate of recidivism in narcotics addiction. Unfortunately, several important and unusual studies, just underway, were cut short when all research was curtailed as a result of legal complications and public sentiment. The early information released was tantalizing in its promise, particularly concerning the work being done by Drs. Arnold M. Ludwig and Jerome Levine at the Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington. The latter employed hypnosis as an adjunct to LSD, a procedure they have labeled "hypnodelic":
Frankly, we were surprised to see just how well hypnosis could be used to control, modify, and direct the LSD experience. Many of the patients made dramatic claims of therapeutic benefit, expressing a strong conviction that they should remain abstinent, professed marked symptom relief, and claimed to have a new lease or outlook on life... Undesirable side effects or untoward reactions were surprisingly infrequent.
In the popular idiom, unrewarding action patterns of behavior do not qualify as addictions; only specific, habitual adherents per se are so categorized. But, in fact, there are many maladjusted persons who are seriously "hooked" on repetitive, damaging behavior. LSD also has relevance here, since it seems able to ween the individual from dependence on outmoded and restricting "games," such as the array discussed by Dr. Eric Berne. As an example of how LSD can allay such addictions, consider the "game-destroying" capabilities of the psychedelics when used to combat delinquency and criminality (the illogical and deep-seated compulsion to defy authority indiscriminately).
By all accounts, current penal systems of "correction" do not quell the inclination toward criminal habit. Instead, they arouse, more often than not, the competitive spirit of the prisoners, who then indulge in "one-upmanship" games and become adept at pilfering each other's techniques. Just as the rate of recidivism among narcotics addicts is appallingly high—about 95 per cent—so the parole, return and re-parole of inmates is basically a revolving-door situation. Once a man becomes a second offender, he may be well on his way to a life-time immersion m the "Cops and Robbers" game
Hypothesizing that the psychedelic drugs could give inmates mirrored contemplation of themselves at their self-defeating "games," Dr. Timothy Leary and a group from Harvard set out in 1960 to see if psilocybin (a drug related to LSD) could help a prisoner "see through" his asocial activities and thereby become a less destructive citizen. Thirty-two prisoners who volunteered for this experiment at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison for younger offenders, were given two brief psilocybin experiences along with six weeks of bi-weekly meetings. Although most were untrained and not oriented along verbal lines, it was found that those who participated were able to detach themselves from their everyday roles and recognize constructive alternatives to their formerly limited lives. Here are the comments of several of the inmates:
At the time of the peak of the drug's effect I had a terrific feeling of sadness and loneliness, and a feeling of great remorse of the wasted years....But the real test was, what would happen to these prisoners when they were returned to society? Would their new way of viewing help them to lead useful and rewarding lives? Or would they soon be headed back to prison? Dr. Stanley Krippner sums up what happened and what it might mean:
Before taking this drug my thinking always seemed to travel in the same circles, drinking, gambling, money and women and sex as easy and I guess a fast life.... Now my thoughts are troubled and at times quite confusing, but they are all of an honest nature, and of wondering. I know what I want to be and I am sincere in my own mind when I say I will try very hard to make it so....
I felt helpless and wanted to murder you guys who did it to me; then I realized it was my own mind doing it; it's always been my own mind imagining trouble and enemies...
Records at Concord State Prison suggested that 64 percent of the 32 subjects would return to prison within six months after parole. However, after six months, 30 percent of those on parole had returned, six for technical parole violations and two for new offenses. These results are all the more dramatic when the correctional literature is surveyed; few short-term projects with prisoners have been effective to even a minor degree. In addition, the personality test scores indicated a measurable positive change when pre-psilocybin and post-psilocybin results were compared.
This experiment, although it had included no control subjects, established sound basis for hope and warranted another set of experiments along the same lines—and at least one large controlled study.
Health:Just prior to World War II, Wilhelm Reich came to the United States with some revolutionary theories about the relation between organic and psychic illnesses. Dr. Reich had been one of Freud's most brilliant and promising students, but he broke with Freud over the issue of organic-psychic illness, as well as on a number of other counts.
Reich was not the first therapist to link mental and physical disorders, but he was the first to develop the theory at length, and to devise a therapeutic method for its implementation. His adherents—patients, admirers of his books and some therapists—were devout in embracing "Vegetotherapy," as his technique was called, even though a multitude of detractors were scornful and pronounced it nonsense.
Today, twenty-odd years later, expert opinion has moderated its rigid stand on the issue, so that psychosomatic medicine, expanded into much broadened fields, is now entirely respectable. It is recognized now that many physical health problems are fundamentally due to mental maladjustments. Increasingly the layman has come to understand that his "asthma," or "hives," may not be the fault of the climate or something he ate. Today, if the condition persists, his general practitioner may advise him to visit an allergist, a psychotherapist or both, and the patient probably will not be offended.
As yet, LSD—comparatively new and still branching out in its applications—has seldom been called into service for the relief of mild health problems. But many doctors report, often with pleased surprise, that their patients have achieved spontaneous relief from organic ailments after they have been given LSD for something else. Dr. Peck, for instance, at the Josiah Macy Conference remarked:
In treating patients for various and sundry psychological complaints, we found that some would come back a week or two later and say, "The headache is gone." We asked, "What headache?" They replied, "Oh, the headache I've had for 10 or 15 years."
Because of such coincidences, a substantial number of cases have entered the records which establish LSD as a competent agent in the cure of such physical ailments as arthritis, partial paralysis, migraine, "hysterical" deafness, and a variety of skin rashes.
The above incident, in fact, was recounted in the course of reporting on a study made by Dr. Peck on what were primarily mentally disturbed patients. In 46 of his 216 patients some form of organic illness was present as well, and 31 of the 46 made "excellent" recovery of their physical symptoms, while 5 others found marked relief.
The physical ailments in these forty-six cases included varied arthritides, asthmas which did not respond to hypnosis, migraine headaches and long-standing rashes. Other doctors who have directly treated such problems with LSD have found that these stubborn and virtually incurable conditions can be eradicated in the course of a few sessions. In Ling and Buckman's book on LSD and Ritalin, five case histories are given of migraine cures—all of these had been previously considered hopeless. There is also a full-length account of LSD's use in treating a severe psoriasis, with impressive photographs showing the patient before and after treatment. Again, the condition had been adjudged hopeless.
Morgens Hertz, a Danish doctor of Frederiksberg Hospital, Copenhagen, who supervised the LSD treatment of some sixty people, found that a very high percentage claimed alleviation of their organic complaints. The following is a sample:
... My long-lasting feeling of paralysis of the left part of my whole person has disappeared....
... A worried feeling of involuntary urinating has disappeared since I had the feeling that I could influence the urinating, and now I feel good....
... My stuttering of many years has disappeared....
... I have stopped crying as a means of obtaining attention....
... My tendency to feel giddy every time I stood on my feet has gone....
... I can no longer feel my pulse hammering unpleasantly all over my body when I lie down....
Such relief gained from using a psychedelic would come as no surprise to 225,000 American Indians, for the Indians from the 1870's, have been relying on peyote, a natural psychedelic, for the maintenance of good health, in addition to the primary use they make of the cactus in religious worship. Frank Takes Gun, national president of the Native American Church, says:
At fourteen, I first used Father Peyote. This was on the Crow Reservation in Montana, and I was proud to know that my people had a medicine that was Godpowerful. Listen to me, peyote does have many amazing powers. I have seen a blind boy regain his sight from taking it. Indians with ailments that hospital doctors couldn't cure have become healthy again after a peyote prayer meeting. Once a Crow boy was to have his infected leg cut off by reservation doctors. After a peyote ceremony, it grew well again.
This may be considered only exuberant witchdoctor talk, but reliable observers have confirmed that these economically deprived peoples are in better-than average health and that when they do become sick and turn to peyote, the drug seems to help them. Louise Spindler, an anthropologist who worked among the Menomonee tribe, said that the women "peyotists" often kept a can of ground peyote for brewing into tea. They used it in "an informal fashion for such things as childbirth, ear-aches, or for inspiration for beadwork patterns."
Dr. Peck also made such an observation and, in fact, first became interested in LSD as a result of having seen the effects of peyote:
When I went into general practice as a country doctor in Texas, I was very impressed that some of our Latin American patients, despite their poverty and living conditions, were extremely healthy. One day, I asked one of my patients how he stayed so healthy, and he told me that he chewed peyote buttons... then, I became interested in these drugs that could promise physical as well as mental health.
As early as the late 19th century, medical practitioners and others knew of the health benefits peyote offered, having observed the effects among the Indians. In 1891, James Mooney, of the United States Bureau of Ethnology, brought peyote to the attention of a group of anthropologists in Washington, after having lived among the Kiowa Indians and other tribes where he became familiar with the use of the drug in doctoring illness. In time he recommended it to a medical man and a pharmacologist. These men, Drs. D. W. Prentiss and Francis P. Morgan, both outstanding in their fields, decided to undertake tests with peyote buttons which Mooney supplied. Their subjects were suffering from a variety of physical complaints—chronic bronchitis with asthmatic attacks; neurasthenia; nervous prostration; chronic phthisis with facial neuralgia and catarrh; persistent cough; and softening of the brain. The report by Prentiss and Morgan appeared in the August 22, 1896, Medical Record and proclaimed that the "effect of the drug was little less than marvelous" in one particular case, and it sang the praises of peyote with equal gusto in citing others throughout the report. One example:
Gentleman, aged fifty-five years. Chronic bronchitis with asthmatic attacks. Much distressed by an irritative cough which kept him from sleeping... In a letter received from him recently he states that he has improved very much, being able to sleep all night without rising, which he had not been able to do for two years; and that, although he has no need of it upon some days, he carries a piece of a [peyote]] button in his pocket constantly, as its use relieves the tickling in his throat at once and gives greater relief than any other remedy which he has ever used.
The best responses in terms of health to any of the psychedelic drugs seem to be in cases where the medical disorder is psychically caused, not basically organic (birth defects; broken bones; viruses and so forth). This accounts for the high incidence of asthmatic/bronchial and skin condition cures. There are also other ailments, possibly of psychic origin, known to have responded remarkably well when treated with a psychedelic. In current medical journals and papers a number of organic cures and "coincidental organic cures" can be found: Dr. Jack Ward of the Carrier Clinic, Belle Mead, New Jersey, reports a case of deafness which he suspected was "hysterical" in origin; the patient responded with hearing restored after LSD. R. Gordon Wasson, the banker-scholar-mycologist who discovered the Mexican "magic mushroom" (a natural source of psilocybin), told of giving the mushroom to a mute who thereafter was able to speak. In a clear case of psychosomatic disorder, where the patient suffered paralysis of one arm because of several traumatic accidents, LSD finally was tried as a last resort, after sodium amytal and psychotherapy had failed. The arm became normal again. (Dr. Dietrich W. Hayden goes into this case at some length in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 120, 1963.) There are also reports from Japan by S. Kuromaru and his co-workers to the effect that LSD has been used with good results in the treatment of phantom limb pain.
Because many of the cases cited for organic cure with psychedelics are contrary to prevailing, conventional medical theories, they are in danger of being arbitrarily labeled with the shabby disrepute usually reserved for faith-healing, chiropractry, Yoga, and eccentric schools of health treatment. But the fact that LSD cures of physical complaints do appear, however coincidentally or accidentally, in respectable medical literature is an indication that research in this field is needed and will probably—eventually—be continued.
In addition to the actual reports of cures, there are provocative accounts which hint at even more far-ranging applications for the psychedelics in general medical practice. In neurological disorders such as bursitis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammation of the joints, LSD may have been responsible for unexpected reversions. The following are two cases in point: 
[The subject], a businesswoman in her forties, had for many years experienced her body and her "mind and brain" as being literally "tied up in knots." She could "plainly feel" this knotting, which she felt to be related to her "tenseness." For more than five years she had been familiarizing herself with literature concerning psychedelic drugs and believed that a psychedelic session was "the only means" by which she could free herself from her tensions and the feeling of knottedness ...
About one hour into her session, when ordinarily the various distressing physical symptoms would be experienced, [she] began speaking of a "great but wonderful pain... my body is becoming unknotted." One by one, as she described it, the knots in her body "untangled." Later, in a second [LSD] session, the knots in her "mind and brain" also became "untangled." This second "unknotting," like the first, was experienced as "excruciatingly painful... also quite glorious." This relief appears to be permanent. A year later, [she] had developed no new knots.
... a man felt during his initial LSD experience that his joints were somehow grinding together. He felt that all of the rough edges in his joints were ground smooth, and this gave him a "well-oiled" feeling which seemed to persist for weeks afterwards.Commenting on "current status and future trends in psychedelic research," Dr. Robert Mogar has noted in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology that there is "ample evidence indicating a markedly lowered threshold for arousal (Key & Bradley, 1960) and an increased sensitivity to stimuli in all modalities (Klee, 1963)" after use of LSD. A New York hearing specialist, Dr. James Gould, tested some members of a well-known theatrical company and found that after LSD their hearing range was expanded appreciably. In the case of visual increase, Constance Newland mentions an instance in which vision was so heightened under LSD that a subject was able to read a newspaper at a distance of thirty feet. It is to be hoped that extensive research with the drug will culminate in positive relief for many of those afflicted by impaired sight and hearing.
Dr. Abramson has expressed a similar hope for LSD in terms of the overall medical picture:
... I have always felt that the importance of LSD was not LSD, but that LSD will bring to medicine what it really needs: to have psychiatry a branch of experimental medicine....
Birth and Death:
On a recent day a young woman gave birth to her first child, an eight-pound boy, in the privacy of her home. The birth site was her choice and her husband's.This quotation, from one article in a series on LSD by Jay Levin, appeared in The New York Post in June, 1966. While this childbirth account indicates that the mother took the drug primarily for personal reasons, there are other instances when LSD has been clinically used to facilitate birth in cases where there were difficulties. In a case cited in The Use of LSD in Psychotherapy, the woman was five-and-a-half months' pregnant, had been under psychiatric care for a long time because of her morbidity (she expressed death wishes and wanted to kill the baby) and because she had been taking barbiturates literally by the handful. She had also undergone shock treatment to no apparent avail. Her case became one of serious emergency when she developed the "screaming meemies." Because blood tests and other examinations indicated that she was physically normal, and because the doctors were faced with a crisis, she was given 175 mcg. of LSD. She was then able to comprehend the reasons behind her anxiety and to cope with them effectively. Like other mothers who have taken LSD during pregnancy, she was delivered of a child who was completely normal by all physiological and psychiatric tests.
Yet it was not the site that made this particular event something special. Rather it was this:
The mother had taken a small dose of LSD when she felt the labor pains begin.
Her husband was with her throughout. Her doctor was there, too. At her request, and with full knowledge of what she would be doing, he had consented to deliver the child.
The delivery was excellent, the baby showing no ill effects from the LSD and the mother reporting it had eased her pain. But she had not taken it to avoid the pain. She had taken it for the same reason many others in this city have taken it—for the very intense, very personal experience it promised. Later she was to call the birth the most profound event of her life.
As time passes, it is probable that more women will be using LSD as they undergo childbirth. At the moment, however, there is little published which spells out the benefits or dangers which may accrue. At the Biological Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, the effect of moderately high LSD dosage on developing chick embryos during the first ten days of gestation has been studied; when hatched, no ill effects were found. But this is one of the few studies in existence concerning LSD and embryonic life, and while LSD has been used on laboratory animals in other connections, as yet there is no indication that deeper research is underway.
At the present time there is no published record of Caesarean section in which LSD has figured, but because LSD has been used in other operations, it may be effective in Caesarean births also. In a pioneering study at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, LSD was used as a pre-anesthetic in ten cases involving the surgical removal of the uterus. It was reported that LSD was an effective and safe analgesic, not because it dulls the sensorium, but because it induces passive acceptance of threatening events:
The ten patients were all females in good health except for fibroadenomata, who underwent total abdominal hysterectomies. One hundred mcg. LSD was given two hours before surgery as the only pre-medication except atropine... All patients tolerated the procedure well. Some laughed while the mask was applied and, still laughing, fell asleep. After recovery the patients were asked if they would want LSD again, should further surgery be necessary; no reluctance was expressed.
Even the most enraptured "missionary" eager to spread the LSD "gospel" is aware that LSD is not—and can never be—a panacea, the solution to all of mankind's problems. But while it cannot keep us from aging, or reverse the course of fatal diseases, it does have important beneficial effects for those confronted with desperate and terminal illness and death.
The medical world became aware of LSD's ability to change the pre-conditions of death when the A.M.A. published a report on fifty dying patients who were given LSD in a Chicago hospital. In this preliminary study conducted by Dr. Eric Kast, a noted psychiatrist, it was discovered that the drug was more effective as an analgesic than any of the frequently used morphine derivatives:
In... 50 patients, most with advanced cancer and some with gangrene, LSD relieved pain for considerably longer periods than such powerful drugs as meperidine and dihydro-morphinone... On the average, freedom from pain lasted two hours with 100 mg meperidine, three hours with 2 mg dihydro-morphinone and 92 hours with 100 mcg LSD.
To the amazement of observers, the attitudes of these terminal patients also changed—from depression, apathy and anguish to sensitivity, poignancy and deep feeling for the people they loved. They expressed gratitude for life itself. LSD enabled them to face death equably. Instead of attempting to disguise and deny what was happening to them, or view it with hysterical fright, they felt at one with the universe and therefore looked upon the actual dying process as merely another event in eternal existence. "It was a common experience," says Dr. Kast, "for the patient to remark casually on his deadly disease and then comment on the beauty of a certain sensory impression." Such desirable emotional content lasted for two weeks in some cases, i.e., long after the drug's pain-killing action wore off.
The next study Dr. Kast made was with 128 patients, all suffering malignant diseases and metastasis, who would die within two months. These cases were given no other analgesic agent in addition to LSD. A precipitous drop in pain occurred two or three hours after the drug was administered and lasted twelve hours, and the total pain intensity was less for about three weeks. As in the former study, these patients' peace of mind was remarkable, and they accepted their condition for what it was. There were other factors also which eased their last days:
The first night after LSD administration was almost invariably a good one. After that we noted a meaningful reduction of sleep disturbances up to about ten nights which is also the time when concern about the morbid condition returned... It is noteworthy that not one patient, though they were critically ill, had any adverse medical reaction, and the administration of LSD was well tolerated.
The drawback in the second study was that seven subjects felt panicky at one point in the experience, and 42 had mild anxiety. None of these reactions was long-lasting or severe, but, coming generally at the end of the session, it was distressing all the same. Later, however, in another study, Dr. Kast was able to avoid this by bringing the LSD session to an end with a thorazine injection, if adverse symptoms appeared. There were 80 patients in this latter group, and all but 8 wished to repeat the LSD experience; this represented an appreciable increase over the 33 per cent in the former group who did not want to have the drug again.
Dr. Kast was concerned throughout these studies with the moral issue of whether interfering with the very personal process of dying was justified. In his last study, seven, when questioned on this, resented the intrusion of the drug into their philosophic and religious concepts; the majority felt gratified and said they had gained deeper insights. "In human terms," as Dr. Kast put it, "the short but profound impact of LSD on the dying was impressive."
Throughout the ages, one of the major problems faced by man has been that of accepting death. Most of those dying either try to structure death or to deny its possibility. Natural death therefore tends to become desperate and hideous, with everyone concerned—patient, family, friends, nurses—refusing to accept the inevitable and appreciate it for the momentous experience it must be. To die in sleep is held to be the ideal "death bed."
LSD, however, has proved that it can alter the emotional atmosphere of death. Because the patient no longer feels intense attachment for his body, he can more readily accept his transition.
It is a well-substantiated rumor that Aldous Huxley took LSD in the last stages of his terminal cancer. Certainly he had knowledge of the benefits LSD might bring in such circumstances, for one of the major events in his final novel, Island, was a death scene in which an old woman slipped away with unusual gentleness after ingesting a psychedelic, an imaginary substance Huxley called "the moksha-medicine."
The studies of Dr. Kast, a few hints from Huxley, and such statements from terminal patients as "I know I'm dying... but look at the beauty of-the universe"—these have suggested the idea that one day Western society might establish "Centers for Dying," as in India. Dr. Richard Alpert is one of the leading proponents for such and he thinks LSD should be included, explaining it this way:
Why shouldn't there be a place where a person could come to die with awareness instead of denial, where the setting, be it mountain or ocean, would be suitable for the transition; where the staff would be trained as guides to help people with the aid of psychedelics to learn about giving up the ego and seeing the beauty of the Universe? The individual could have doctors, if he or she wished, and could die in whichever religious metaphor he might choose.
Such a Center could revolutionize the whole dying process for millions, and for millions to come. At the same time, however, it would raise unprecedented questions, for it may be that LSD not only changes the preconditions of death, but alters the transition as well. The question is, does it do anything else? No one can answer, for in this realm there is not a single expert.
Footnotes9. These figures come from Dr. Joel Fort, Director of the Center for Treatment and Education on Alcoholism Oakland, California. They come from Utopiates, copyright (c) i964 by the Atherton Press, New York, and are reprinted by permission of the publishers.
One fact Dr. Fort did not note here is that alcoholics on the average die much earlier than non-drinkers. A recent follow-up study on a large group of alcoholic patients carried out by the Research Department of the Department of Mental Hygiene in Maryland indicated that the life expectancy of this group was ten years less than the average life expectancy of the general population. Further, Dr. Albert A. Kurland, Director of Research for this department, has commented that "this group of patients over a ten year period had a suicide rate of approximately 10 percent." (back)
10. As defined by Dr. Hoffer and his colleagues, "malvarians" are people who carry in their urine a "mauve-colored residue" and who suffer from "malvaria," a biochemical aberration found in most schizophrenics and many neurotics and mentally retarded children According to Dr. Hoffer, malvarians very rarely experience a psychedelic reaction; to date not one of the over fifty alcoholic malvarians given LSD therapy has achieved sobriety. (back)
11. From Hoffer: Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 6:183, 1965, The C.v. Mosby Company, St. Louis. (back)
12. Dr. Kenneth D. Godfrey, Assistant Chief, west Psychiatric Service, Topeka veterans Administration Hospital, and Dr. Osmond. (back)
13. The first comes from Masters and Houston: the second was reported by Dr. James Terrill of the Mental Research Institute, Medical Research Foundation, Palo Alto, California. (back)
14. Neither heightened vision nor blurred vision is uncommon m the LSD experience. People with pronounced astigmatism often notice the first effects of the drug when they find they can see clearly without their glasses. Some have reported that the improvement carries over. (back)