LSD — The Problem-Solving Psychedelic
P.G. Stafford and B.H. Golightly
Chapter V. Education and the Psychedelics
[Albert Hofmann's] experience marked the most significant finding ever made in the social sciences, for science at last produced a method of instilling motivation which was not based upon fear or manipulation... Man has found the key but he remains frightened to open the door and enter the courts of increased insight, extended awareness and induced positive self-motivation.
— Dr. Duncan Blewett, "New Horizons in Motivation and Insight"
WILLIAM JAMES, American psychologist-philosopher-educator-theologian, who died in 1910 at the age of sixty-eight, took peyote once at the suggestion of doctor-novelist Weir Mitchell in the hope of attaining a mystical experience. Instead, he developed a stomach ache, became violently sick and explained, in a letter to his famous brother Henry, "I will take the visions on trust."
Were James to visit the contemporary world, he would find available several non-nauseous psychedelic drugs, and he could safely experiment at first hand. There can be little doubt that, with his wide interests, he would find the new developments on the "drug front" of great significance, possibly of vast importance, for the future of mankind.
James' world was not seething with the rapid developments in science with which mankind is confronted today. In fact, it is estimated that 90 per cent of all the scientists known from the dawn of civilization are alive today!
Among the few familiar landmarks remaining from James' time, however, are a number of virtually unchanged public schools, particularly in New York City where some are not far from his residence on Washington Square. Children today troop into the very same buildings and learn their ABC's under teaching methods not very different from those used in William James' time. It is an arresting thought that two of the least altered routines of life in this country since the turn of the century are those of our education system and smoking.
Education, one of the great concerns of James and his contemporaries, has not lived up to expectations. It was hoped and believed that universal education, once realized, would provide the key to progress and man's understanding of himself. Compulsory secondary education and the population boom, combined with the G.I. Bill and job competition, have superficially made James' dream of universal literacy come true. But the quality of present-day education lays bare the fact that mere literacy in itself is not enough.
Focal points in American education since the 1900s are "progressive education" (1920s to 1940s), a battery of aptitude-personality-achievement-intelligence tests (1920s to 1960s), and small areas of innovation such as the "new math," "TV in the classroom" and teaching machines (1960s). These attempts toward educational progress have done little to enrich and mature American thought and learning. They have served instead to put a premium on information rather than knowledge. In our time, as the New Yorker put it, "We are all Infomaniacs, and our only god is Info."
When the "look-see" reading and spelling technique came into educational vogue, it was met with high hopes by both parents and teachers. Then "speed-reading" and high-fidelity "Living Language" came along, and each was embraced with wide enthusiasm. In actual practice, however, it seemed that instead of gaining understanding, students simply acquired more information, much of which they did not know how to use effectively.
At the present, educators are not optimistic. Instead, they foresee greater demands, larger enrollments and less satisfying rewards. Moreover, the space-race has drained off much of education's creative personnel and promising liberal arts students are taking better-paying jobs in government and industry. Predicting college and university needs to the end of the decade, John W. Gardner, former president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, has explained that by 1970 the colleges should be gaining 37,500 new professors annually, "but by this year's projections only about 20,000 Ph.D.s will be produced in 1969 and fewer than half of them will be available for teaching."
In the United States at the present time, there are about 125,000 schools of which 2,135 are colleges and universities. Approximately fifty-five million people are involved in education, including about two million teachers. At college level, student enrollment now runs over five million. In an effort to avoid an impending crisis, billions of dollars in endowments have been poured into education. Yet money alone does not produce talent or intelligence, for despite the immense ingenuity, concern and good will involved, the static state of education persists.
But what has all this to do with LSD?
There are many observers who have noted that LSD is fundamentally a "learning tool." Dr. Hoffer has already been quoted to this effect. "I would suspect that learning in tasks which are trivial for the subject would be impaired, e.g., psychological learning tests, whereas matters of great importance to the subject might be learned even more quickly... A large number of alcoholic subjects learned concepts and ideas in a few moments that they had not grasped for years." Hoffer mentions alcoholics because those are the patients with whom he has conducted most of his studies, but of course this does not exclude similar learning potentials for others.
Dr. Donald D. Jackson, speaking at an LSD seminar at Napa State Hospital, Imola, California, called attention to the drug's ability to give a patient a "new beginning," explaining that it may bring about "a sudden liberation from ignorance." Drs. J. R. MacLean, D. C. MacDonald and F. Ogden and E. Wilby of Hollywood Hospital in British Columbia, have put the case more strongly. Reporting on their work with 307 subjects, they commented:
We have long held that the experience is one of accelerated un-learning and re-learning: it is essentially an educational process.... It is our constant goal to maintain a high level of "teaching" ability; to explore new teaching procedures; and to create maximum receptivity among those entrusted to us.
These statements seem to occur almost casually in the literature, but their significance should not go unnoted, nor their reliability of source. The ability of LSD to act as an educational implement, which is barely suggested in clinical writings, is attested to today on the nation s campuses. Those familiar with college life are increasingly aware that untold numbers of students of high scholastic standing claim that LSD is one of the greatest aids to learning they have known.
The fact that the drug is being used illicitly on the campus does not negate the convictions held by student users. The strength of these beliefs is just now becoming evident to college administrators, professors and observers of the college scene. In an article about "Drugs on Campus," for example, Merwin B. Freedman (Chairman of the Psychology Department at San Francisco State College) and Harvey Powelson (Director of the Department of Psychiatry at Cowell Memorial Hospital University of California) express concern over the large numbers of students who are using psychedelic drugs, but they also feel obliged to explain why "several hundreds of the brightest and most aware of American youth" are attracted to LSD:
The interest of many students in drug experience may not be dismissed simply as a sign of delinquency, rebelliousness or psychological pathology. It represents a search for a new way of life. It indicates needs and desires that American society and education do not now meet or fill....Many students have always learned on their own, of course, but with LSD it is entirely possible that self-teaching may take higher precedence than ever before This is not because the drug provides a greater ability to absorb facts, but because it seems to provide a "guts reaction" to the facts, giving them a vivid immediacy and evaporating the inertia that blocks true intellectual curiosity. LSD enhances all learning responses if the frame of reference is already in the mind, and it lowers the threshold at which "understanding" occurs. The student who takes LSD for a purposeful experience is likely to gain a broader awareness of the adult world and its problems, which heretofore he may have thought were of no concern to him. Consequently, his sense of responsibility deepens.
The brightest and most sensitive of college youth are examining the values of the Western world, and are finding them wanting.... Questions of ethics and morality are on their minds as perhaps never before in American life—not since the Civil War, at any rate. And their education is not meeting these interests. The things that are most important to many young Americans are not being discussed in academic life. The sterile formalism of much American higher education can hardly hold a candle to the psychedelic experience.
Throughout history, education has been an "elitist" activity, since only a small proportion of any population has ever had the opportunity, the leisure or the innate curiosity to become involved in the arts, philosophy, science, etc. But those using LSD seem to discover fascination in such matters, if only superficially, and become speculative toward the "outside world." In such a state, curiosity (the doorway to the learning process) abounds. The frequency of this LSD phenomenon is evidenced by a series of brief reports gathered by Murray Korngold in a study undertaken with "normal," unfanciful persons and published in the Psychoanalytic Review:
One subject, a psychologist, Dr. P., writes, "Having always had difficulty with myopia as well as limited color vision, I now found myself describing color and form in a most unusual detail. I was able to look into the heart of a blossom and see the most minute changes and alterations in structure and movement... . I observed in another, a Breughel painting in which the colors and shapes astounded me by their clarity.... I felt a great surge of perceptual power and said, 'I Breughel them and now I unBreughel them.' "
Another subject, Miss Z., a young graduate student at U.C.L.A, writes, "Everywhere I looked, the objects and people settled themselves into the symmetry, color and unity of a painting. I looked at the bark of a tree and saw a lovely desert canyon with layers of striated rock formations.... I was very pleased with myself because I had considered myself devoid of imagination and artistic sensitivity.... My thinking seemed much clearer and I was free of the frustrations I usually feel in trying to solve a problem."
Mrs. M., a middle-aged woman who was a nurse, and like the previous subjects, a rather prosy and unfanciful person, not inclined to any great interest in the arts, writes, "I had a strange desire to touch and see and feel and hear all at once, all at the same time in some kind of harmony of sensory stimuli, as if I were each instrument in a quartet all playing together, the fiddle, the cello, the viola, the bass fiddle, all playing at the same time, and I, hearing myself play in unison."
A young woman, Miss L., employed as a TV production assistant says, "That evening I went to the ballet and for the first time in my life enjoyed classical dancing which usually bored me. However, the whole production took on a color and sparkle which I can only compare to the feelings a child would have when taken to her first theatre performance. It was like a magic world of make-believe."
Most of the preceding reports have to do with visual responses, but all indicate that the LSD experience heightened intellectual appreciation and curiosity. It is probable that because the sessions noted were undirected, visual reactions came to the fore: or the subjects observed what was at hand and embellished upon it. As indicated in the technical-creative, problem-solving section, it is possible to "mold" the LSD "sitting," thereby stimulating predetermined interests. By guiding the receptive subject into specific materials, unexpected strides in learning may be taken.
One of the most interesting examples of experimental work undertaken to test this principle occurred two years ago at a small college in the Midwest. This school, an experiment in education, drew its faculty from highly respected sources: Chicago, Stanford, Berkeley, Oxford, Harvard, etc. Each member of the teaching staff worked on a volunteer basis and devoted his time without salary, staying for a quarter or more. The student body (many of whom left other schools to enroll here) fell into two general classifications: creative artists and those interested in the behavioral sciences—psychology, anthropology, history and sociology.
Classes at this college were small and informal, with a student-teacher ratio of about five to one. No grades were given, for one of the precepts of the school's founders was that any student who attended would do so because he wished to take full advantage of the courses offered and could judge for himself how well he was learning. The curriculum itself was flexible and depended upon the interests of the students and the teachers. Given sufficient interest a wanted course that had not been scheduled could be created.
Intellectually alive, these students were prone to range over a variety of subjects, and as the promising results of the mind-expanding drugs were increasingly examined in technical journals and prestige magazines, quite naturally the topic came up for discussion. One of the persistent questions was whether or not these drugs could actually alter an individual's motivations and attitudes toward new experience without the usual accompanying fear and anxiety. Eventually one of the faculty members set up an organized study of the psychedelic drugs for those who were interested.
The drug course had fifteen students in attendance, about evenly divided into two groups—the artists and the intellectuals. As there were no legal restrictions against psychedelic drugs at the time, it was decided that experimentation was m order. All but two members of the class agreed to participate.
It was observed when the class first met that most of the school body had never taken full advantage of the school's facilities. The college had a small foundry, a printing press, a kiln and a full stockroom of artist's supplies—yet those involved in intellectual pursuits had rarely availed themselves of these. On the other hand, the artists were clearly on unfamiliar ground when they enrolled for some of the courses in history, sociology, etc.
An experiment was therefore undertaken to see if the psychedelics could facilitate introduction to new material, i.e., if members of one group could become open to the activities of the other. Since LSD removes many self-imposed restrictions and diminishes the unpleasant aspects of change, it was decided that the materials to work on and the support of an expert would provide the fundamental background for the experiment. The guide in this instance was to serve as a kindly master initiating a novice into the mysteries of another discipline. To the gratification of nearly all the participants, this technique was highly rewarding.
The most obvious success was with the intellectually orientated students. Under LSD, they immediately took notice of such art supplies as clay, paints, canvas, and collage materials which had purposely been brought to the session. Because of the heightened rapport they felt, which extended to their guide, they had no difficulty in understanding composition concepts and they "Breughled" freely. No one was reluctant to experiment, and they set about with the same lack of creative inhibition as kindergarten children, working with clay and paint to express themselves. In the weeks following the last session these new-found "handicraft" pursuits continued to engage their attention.
The sessions with the artists, however, were less easy to assess. For them the guide played another role. The object of their sessions, too, was to enlarge their fields of interest and involve them in intellectual activities. But instead of providing visual and tactile stimuli, this group was given pre-drug session reading assignments. They were instructed to "browse through" a selection of books on subjects they felt drawn to and to mark a half-dozen passages which seemed to hold something "special" for them.
These chosen passages were then put on tape to be played back during the actual session. There were also recordings made of relevant material—excerpts from broadcasts, phonograph records, plays and so forth—for the subject to listen to and reflect upon under the drug.
One of the recorded sessions proceeded as follows:
Three subjects; 100 mcg. each of LSD. Recordings: Gielgud & Anderson's Medea; records from Corfu (native folksongs) taped selections from Mary Renault's The King Must Die; Golden Bough; Bullfinch; Gayley; Graves and Hamilton. Two facsimile vases decorated with Perseus myth illus. (Medusa); one black and white Laocoon illus.; volume of excavations at Mycenae.
First reactions 9:45 A.M., during field recordings. John informs music not authentic, native to Persia. Says he can see tigers roaming lilac jungle. Asks for "something really Greek." Cynthia hands him a handkerchief and asks that music be turned off altogether. Music turned off. Guide turns on Frazier selection, passage from Persephone and Demeter (previously chosen by Cynthia). John asks Guide if Pluto is a Disney invention.
Rachel very quiet. Takes no notice of J. and C. Begins to draw on sketchpad—sheaf of wheat, each grain has grotesque dog's head. Scratches it out and exclaims: "Oh no, she is not frightened! Look at my sandals!" All look. Guide says, "Are we there with you?" Cynthia breaks in: "I see a rock and a very handsome man. His skin is dark. He loves you. His muscles ripple. The gold bracelet." John stares at C. Says: "Snake." (Not dear whether he means this as personal remark to C., or is embroidering.)
10:30: All three looked at Laocoon illus., little interest. J. asks for drink of water. Guide puts on Edith Hamilton tape, which excites R. She seems to be "traveling again," with J. empathizing. The two seem in deep communication.
11:30: Several tapes played, R. & J. particularly interested. Rachel says she forgot to break her hairdressing appointment, and then asks if Greek is hard to learn. Guide puts on field recording and asks if she understands the words. She says "very beautiful," but does not answer question. Guide does not press it.
11:50: Guide leads subjects into discussion of Greek War, and Cynthia suddenly remarks she took prize in high school for Latin. Begins to quote from the Aeneid.Breaks into tears. Guide quotes few Latin phrases he remembers, and C. looks pleased. Becomes quiet, seems reflective.
12:15: John wanders into adjoining library, and is followed by Stewart. Guide asks S. to leave, but John objects. Says he wants to get pack of Tarot cards in library. Guide and Rachel insist J. stay in session room, and S. leaves to find Tarot pack. Returns and says can't find it. John at this point no longer interested, as absorbed in Mycenae photographs.
12:40: Cynthia announces that she would like to illustrate mythology volume. Wants to go on with Latin next quarter...
The actual session notes continue until 4: 30 in the afternoon, when effects of the drug had become minimal and the group went out for a meal.
This portion quoted indicates that although there were distractions and strong emotional responses, the subjects were successfully directed to explore a field of interest they had chosen. Rachel, who had "hallucinated" and identified with various mythological figures, later took up acting and also discovered an unsuspected talent for stage design. John was the least affected, but in his sculpture it was clear that his disparagement of classic forms was moderated. Cynthia did not return to her high-school enthusiasm for Latin, but she said at the last interview that she felt her experience had been important, but indecisive, and that she would like to take the drug again.
In the other "artist" groups, similar techniques were used. Thus, for five people who had expressed interest in the civil-rights movement, the taped recordings were excerpts from speeches by Martin Luther King, Bayard Rustin and Louis Lomax. Four others who knew little about geography and have never closely studied maps, were shown the Rand McNally atlas and heard explanations about the historical development of cities, given by a professor who had for years been interested in demography. Another group listened to Shaw's "Don Juan in Hell" while looking at John Held, Jr., cartoons and photographs from "The Roaring Twenties." Colette's Claudine novels were excerpted in another instance at the suggestion of several students who felt an affinity for French literature and Parisian Left-Bank society; they also listened to recordings from Proust, Mistinguette and Piaf.
In each of these sessions, held primarily for educational purposes, emphasis was on the development of total emotional participation with the material at hand. During the following week, this involvement was to be compounded by looking in detail at related writings, at which time intellectual and factual material could be assimilated. With this method it was discovered that students who ordinarily would have delved little into subjects about which they were only somewhat curious became extremely interested instead and followed out the leads they had been given in class and in session. In this course, incidentally, the guide-teacher abstained entirely from psychedelics during the student sessions. However, he had taken LSD when the plans for the project were in progress and it was realized that the course would be offered.
Further implications for psychedelic learning techniques are evident in a subsidiary study made at the same college with a group of four students who were having difficulties with mathematics. They were not in the "creative artist" category, but were liberal arts majors who were frustrated because their abstract thinking processes seemed impeded. When they heard about the drugs course, one of them consulted the professor about the possibility of breaking a "mathematics block" through the use of LSD. A session was arranged for all four students, together with the guide and their mathematics teacher, who restated for them the fundamental concepts of calculus, which they had been unable to grasp in class. Under LSD each student found himself able to understand calculus, the reasoning behind it, why it was developed the way it was, and why it worked. They were elated about this breakthrough and had no difficulty with the thinking behind Taylor's theorem, integration, partial derivatives and analytical geometry. In the weeks following, although they were not transformed into brilliant mathematics students, it was clear that the "block" had been broken and that they were learning.
Similar results have been reported in other areas, such as philosophy. In one instance a student taped several striking selections from Kant, whom he had "never understood," and listened to them during the third and fourth hour of his LSD session. He played this tape over repeatedly and felt that "Kant was getting through." Afterwards he declared that "Kant was the most brilliant philosopher of them all." Another student steeped himself in the writings of Sartre, Heidegger and Jaspers previous to taking LSD. In the early part of his session he announced that he suddenly knew what existentialism "was All about." During the following weeks he devoted himself to further readings in the field and eventually chose philosophy as his career. Asked what he thought about the importance of LSD, he said that he did not "really think it possible to study and understand modern philosophy without at least having tried a psychedelic."
Probably the earliest reference in the psychedelic literature to the possibility that psychedelic drugs can deepen the grasp of philosophical systems occurs in Aldous Huxley'sDoors of Perception (1954), in which he notes that "at least one professional philosopher has taken mescalin for the light it may throw on such ancient, unsolved riddles as the place of mind in nature and the relationship between brain and consciousness." In the same book Huxley explains that the drug enhanced his understanding of other "philosophic truths":
The Beatific Vision, Sat Chit Ananda, Being-Awareness-Bliss—for the first time I understood, not on the verbal level, not by inchoate hints or at a distance, but precisely and completely what those prodigious syllables referred to. And then I remembered a passage I had read in one of Suzuki's essays. "What is the Dharma-Body of the Buddha?" ("The Dharma-Body of the Buddha" is another way of saying Mind, Suchness, the Void, the Godhead.) The question is asked in a Zen monastery by an earnest and bewildered novice. And with the prompt irrelevance of one of the Marx Brothers, the Master answers, "The hedge at the bottom of the garden." "And the man who realizes this truth," the novice dubiously inquires, "what, may I ask, is he?" Groucho gives him a whack over the shoulders with his staff and answers, "A golden-haired lion."Alan Watts is another writer-philosopher who has confirmed the educational value of psychedelics when used intelligently:
It had been, when I read it, only a vaguely pregnant piece of nonsense. Now it was all as clear as day, as evident as Euclid. Of course the Dharma-Body of the Buddha was the hedge at the bottom of the garden.
LSD... is an instrument which a person in any field of inquiry can use. Just as a microscope can help a biologist, LSD can remove the inhibitions to perception which prevent us from seeing the central relationships of the world...
All heroes bring souvenirs back from a journey and people who make the LSD journey had better bring something back. One of the most fascinating discussions I have ever heard was when a group of art historians in New York sat around the first cubist painting and discussed that work while under LSD. People can think and talk while they are under LSD. That discussion made sense. It should have been recorded.
The above examples of "psychedelic education" are generally positive, and the people involved have benefited from their experiences. However, as indicated in the extract from the mythology session, the resulting alterations in outlook and interest can be impressive, and may lead to alterations in values.
Wilson Van Dusen, a psychologist at Mendocino State Hospital in California, said in this connection,
I spent my first three LSD sessions discovering my 1ife was arranged in layers. The outermost and most superficial was my position and concerns as a psychologist. These seemed unimportant. The papers on my desk were nonsense. Status-striving was no more meaningful than walking up hill.
Such discoveries are often reported as the outcome of LSD sessions because the drug is known to radically change personal values and to ferret out overlooked or undervalued interests.
Skills:The foregoing represents perhaps the major advantage of the psychedelics as applied to education, but in more pragmatic matters, such as learning languages and acquiring skills (typing, dancing, piano playing, faster reading), the drugs are also of practical aid. Outlandish claims, however, are sometimes made—claims that are unsubstantiated or based on rare cases. On a CBS television program in "The Defenders" series, the protagonist, on trial for giving LSD to a youth who subsequently killed himself, performed an extraordinary memory feat. He said that he was able to put himself in an "LSD state" at will as a result of total familiarity with the drug, and he astounded the drama's courtroom (and undoubtedly the viewing audience) with an extensive example of total recall.
There are few, if any, LSD researchers who would give credence to this demonstration, but nonetheless there are instances of less extravagant LSD accomplishments which came about through memory enhancement. The most notable and the one most often used as illustration is language learning. The process is similar to that of technical and creative problem solving. A student, who learned enough German in a week to enroll for a second-year college course in the subject, describes the technique:
It was a week before registration and it depressed me tremendously that I had not spent the summer learning German, as I had planned. I had intended to give myself a crash course so I could take second-year German, which I needed for my study in physics. I had heard of a woman who had learned enough Spanish in a few days, via LSD, to speak it fluently when she had to go to Mexico on business. I had taken LSD before, and while I couldn't see how she did this, I decided it was worth a try.After "Falling in love with German," on the basis of this one LSD session this student then went on the following day to read Mann's Dr. Faustus. He had both the original text and an English translation. By the time he had finished the novel, he found that he was scarcely referring to the English version. He also discovered that in having read that much German, he had developed a feeling for grammar structure and word endings that was almost intuitive. When his friend questioned him, he said he could not readily explain what the third-person singular past-tense ending was, but he demonstrated that he could use it. In this sense, he had learned the language as a child learns it, not as it is taught in formal instruction. When he registered for German 210, an intensive reading course, the following week, the instructor expressed skepticism when he heard the student was self-taught. Upon testing him, however, it was soon evident that his German reading comprehension was well above average.
I hadn't even gotten around to picking up a textbook, but I did have a close friend who knew German well and who said he was willing to "sit in" while I took the drug and try to teach me the language. Fortunately, I knew something about conjugation and declension, so I wasn't completely at sea.
I wanted to get worked up and feel involved with the language, as it seemed that this must be at least part of the key to the problem, so I asked my friend to tell me about Schiller and Goethe, and why the verb came at the end. Almost immediately, after just a story or two, I knew I had been missing a lot in ignoring the Germans, and I really got excited.
The thing that impressed me at first was the delicacy of the language (he was now giving me some simple words and phrases), and though I really messed it up, I was trying hard to imitate his pronunciation as I had never tried to mimic anything before. For most people German may be "guttural," but for me it was light and lacey. Before long, I was catching on even to the umlauts. Things were speeding up like mad, and there were floods of associations. My friend had only to give me a German word, and almost immediately I knew what it was through cognates. It turned out that it wasn't even necessary for him to ask me what it sounded like.
Memory, of course, is a matter of association, and boy, was I ever linking up to things! I had no difficulty recalling words he had given me—in fact, I was eager to string them together. In a couple of hours after that I was reading even some simple German, and it all made sense.
The whole experience was an explosion of discoveries. Normally, when you've been working on something for a long time and finally discover a solution, you get excited, and you can see implications everywhere. Much more than if you heard someone else discovering the same-thing. Now this discovery thing, that's what was happening with me—but all the time. The threshold of understanding was extremely low, so that with every new phrase I felt I was making major discoveries. When I was reading, it was as though I had discovered the Rosetta Stone and the world was waiting for my translation. Really wild!
Others who claim to have learned skills through using LSD express surprise at the ease and scope of their gains, particularly since they were made in a relatively brief period of time. One man, who had always been afraid of water, realized that not only were his fears groundless, but he could comfortably swim around after using LSD. Following two subsequent-lessons, he was fairly proficient at the Australian crawl. One woman claims to have learned two years of piano instruction in one session. While at the piano, she felt a "direct connection between her hands and her brain, so that she only had to think of the music and it was played."
The explanation generally given for these stepped-up learning capacities is that LSD makes possible total absorption and at the same time "inhibits the inhibitors" in the psyche. The drug brings about a state of surrender, but far from the surrender of resignation; rather, it is the surrendering up of the psyche's forces to the channels of discovery, change and acquisition of skills. LSD encapsulates one in an emotionally charged receptivity, in which it seems silly and pointless not to "give in," and sometimes this results in practical or profitable attachments.
Bernard Roseman, for example in LSD the Age of Mind, found it behooved him to become involved with the practical endeavor of typing. In detailing his system for becoming an accomplished typist through psychedelics, he emphasized the necessity for knowing the basics of the touch-system. Once this was acquired, with a fair rhythm, he offered the following advice for "drumming in" a conditioned response:
Take [the drug] while typing and continue right through the transition period (where one's consciousness changes).
Now here is where "will power" comes in, as you will find yourself inventing a thousand reasons why typing is useless and you could not care less about learning it. It would be so pleasant to stop and listen to a little music or just meditate. Well, if you wish to accomplish something with psychedelics that lingers on into your ordinary state, you must exert an act of will. By doing nothing but letting that state direct you, a pleasant time will be had, but little accomplished.
Therefore you must continue this regime... if possible up to fourteen hours....
It will feel as if you have been typing for centuries locked in a small enclosure with but one action to perform. When the drug wears off, go to sleep. It is almost guaranteed your mind will still be seeing numbers and letters, and your fingers will jerk as they wish to automatically respond to the actions required of them. Upon awakening, go back to the typewriter. You will be amazed to see your speed and accuracy greatly improved. A force will seem to grab your hands, and your fingers will fight to obey. The typewriter is now a permanent part of you, and the impression made can never be erased.
Footnote1. From Hoffer: Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 6:183, 1965, The C. V. Mosby Company, St. Louis. (back)
Chapter VI. Religion, Mysticism and ESP
There is a central human experience which alters all other experiences. It has been called satori in Japanese Zen, moksha in Hinduism, religious enlightenment or cosmic consciousness in the West. .. [It] is not just an experience among others, but rather the very heart of human experience. It is the center that gives understanding to the whole... Once found, life is altered because the very root of human identity has been deepened... The drug LSD appears to facilitate the discovery of this apparently ancient and universal experience.
— Wilson Van Dusen, "LSD and the Enlightenment of Zen"
AN ISSUE of Time magazine, published during the Lenten season in 1966 had no face on its cover—only the question "IS GOD DEAD?" against a background of black. A church in Florida has given out "green stamps" for attendance. Honest to God, a volume of popular atheism expressed in a theistic vocabulary, has sold over a million copies—thus far outselling any other "religious" book except the Bible. And a recent study at Harvard indicated that four out of five students today do not consider the church significant for their own lives.
In 1944, the German theologian Dietrick Bonhoeffer propounded the "heretical" view that modern science and business leave no room for God in most daily lives—and that He has been driven into an exile, wherein He is virtually of no importance to anyone. Since then nearly every leading theological figure—from Bultman to Tillich to Niebuhr—has espoused this "heresy," proclaiming that for the average man there no longer exists anything of ultimate meaning and value. "Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat," Julian Huxley has remarked.
What society witnesses today is an unprecedented religious crisis, for which traditional religion apparently has no satisfying answer. Some of the clergy have presented jazz in the courtyard or poetry readings in the sanctuary to make the church seem more contemporary. Others build sermons around the Death of God or some other gimmicky theme, hoping to renew the interest of their parishioners. None of these attention-getters, however original and "modern," seems to have served its purpose. Churchmen point with pride to the figures for church membership: from 112,000,000 in 1961 to almost 121,000,000 in 1965—but what does this increase really represent? The population explosion? Huckster know-how? Or religious starvation?
Man's need for religion is as old as history itself. And today, as his personal world becomes more fragmented and his outside world more chaotic, his longings deepen—but at the same time the answers become more elusive and untenable. Aldous Huxley describes the crisis in Christianity in no uncertain terms:
Countless persons desire self-transcendence and would be glad to find it in church. But, alas, "the hungry sheep look up and are not fed." They take part in rites, they listen to sermons, they repeat prayers-but the thirst remains unassuaged. The sole religious experience is that state of uninhibited and belligerent euphoria which follows the ingestion of the third cocktail.
The psychedelics cannot produce "Instant God," or universally explain the cosmos. But thousands have testified that LSD does seem to make skepticism "dissolve," or cease to be a problem. Under LSD the universe is perceived m its entirety as eternal, natural and perfect, and those seeing it in this way have no wish to question it or probe the ineluctable godhead at its core. After the first moments of wonder and awe, they seem to take the verities for granted—frequently for the first time in their lives. This acceptance is often mentioned in case histories dealing with various disorders and problems, particularly in those of the alcoholics.
On the other hand, alcoholics traditionally have changed their behavior patterns after "seeing the light." They needed no additional drugs; it was "the spirit" that "moved" them. Yet the "spirit" quite clearly could not be relied upon in most cases. Spontaneous and natural conversion is rare.
So, too, for all religious revelation, regardless of the use made of it. Throughout time, only select men have "seen God." A Zen master is considered fortunate if he can find within his life-span a student or two who achieves satori. Among the multitudes who enter monasteries and convents, only a few are beatified.
But with LSD, this appears no longer to be the situation. Businessmen, alcoholics, salesmen, schoolteachers, philosophers, atheists, scientists, artists, priests—thousands have recounted religious or mystical LSD experiences. Here is how Dr. Huston Smith, Professor of Philosophy at MIT, explains these particular powers of the drug:
... given the right set and setting, the drugs can induce religious experiences indistinguishable from ones that occur spontaneously. Nor need set and setting be exceptional. The way the statistics are currently running, it looks as if from one-fourth to one-third of the general population will have religious experiences if they take the drugs under naturalistic conditions, meaning by this conditions in which the researcher supports the subject but doesn't try to influence the direction his experience will take. Among subjects who have strong religious inclinations to begin with, the proportion of those having religious experiences jumps to three-quarters. If they take them in settings which are religious, too, the ratio soars to nine out of ten.
For most orthodox Christians, the wisdom of using a drug to elicit deep religious insight may seem blasphemous. There is perhaps some comfort in hearing that atheists under LSD frequently report meaningful religious experiences. (In one LSD group, for example, of which less than 10 per cent of its members were "believers," terms such as God, the Divine, deep religious experience and a meeting with the infinite were used in over half the follow-up reports.) But on the other hand it is rather disconcerting to hear religious professionals report they have had their only profound revelations after using psychedelics. (An experiment conducted with 69 theologically trained individuals in religious locations indicated that over 75 per cent had what they considered moving spiritual insights under LSD, and over half—fully aware of the implications of what they were saying—declared that through the intercession of the drugs they had "the most important religious experience of their lives.")
The hard-core evidence for the efficacy of LSD and the other mind-changing drugs in the realm of religion is considered well established by qualified researchers. One may question what a true religious experience is, but theologians deeply concerned with these matters have repeatedly attested that the drug-induced experience is genuine. Dr. Abraham Maslow, Professor of Psychology at Brandeis, best known for his investigations of "peak experiences," has written, "In the last few years it has become quite clear that certain drugs... especially LSD and psilocybin... often produce peak-experiences in the right people under the right circumstances." Dr. W. T. Stace, Professor Emeritus at Princeton and a leading philosophical authority on mysticism, said, when asked about the resemblance of artificially induced mystical experience (via the psychedelics) to the natural one, "It is not a matter of its being similar to mystical experience; it is mystical experience."
By way of further confirmation, a double-blind experiment was conducted on Good Friday in 1962 to check out Dr. Stace's affirmation, using nine check-points he had listed as fundamental characteristics of mystical experience—characteristics "which are universal and not restricted to any particular religion or culture": unity; transcendence of time and space; deeply felt positive mood; sense of sacredness; objectivity and reality; paradoxicality; alleged ineffability; transiency; persisting positive changes in attitude and/or behavior.
In a private chapel, twenty Christian theological students took part in this experiment after having been tested and screened exhaustively; ten were given 30 mg. psilocybin and the others (as nearly as possible, a duplicate group ) received 200 mg. of nicotinic acid, a vitamin that causes tingling of the skin and other physical sensations simulating certain psychedelic effects. Neither the subjects nor their guides knew which drug had been given to whom.
During the experiment (which came to be known as "The Miracle of Marsh Chapel" ) and in the following six months, extensive data were collected. These included tape-recordings, group discussion, follow-up interviews and the answering of a 147-item questionnaire used to quantify the characteristics of mystical phenomena. The reaction level in each of Dr. Stace's nine categories was significantly higher for the psilocybin group than for the controls. Nine out of the ten who had the psychedelic reported having religious experiences they considered authentic, while only one from the control group claimed to have had spiritual cognition. More important in terms of classical aftermath of mystical experience, there was a lasting effect upon behavior and attitudes. Dr. Walter Pahnke, the chief investigator (who wrote up this experiment as his doctoral thesis at Harvard), summarized these results:
After an admittedly short follow-up period of only six months, life-enhancing and life-enriching effects, similar to some of those claimed by mystics, were shown by the higher scores of the experimental subjects when compared to the controls. In addition, after four hours of follow-up interviews with each subject, the experimenter was left with the impression that the experience had made a profound impact (especially in terms of religious feeling and thinking) on the lives of eight out of ten of the subjects who had been given psilocybin.... the direction of change was toward more integrated, self-actualizing attitudes and behavior in life.
To date, the most significant effort to discredit the use of psychedelics for religious purposes was written by R. C. Zaehner, Professor o£ Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford, in his Mysticism, Sacred and Profane (1957). In this work Professor Zaehner examines his own mescaline experience and that of Huxley, compares them to classical accounts of religious and mystical experience, and concludes that the psychedelics can do no more than create a minor kind of "preternatural experience."
As Masters and Houston indicate, "... Zaehner's position is clearly open to criticism." They fault him on his logic and his argument that drugs can induce pantheistic and monistic mystical experiences, but not theistic ones. Here is Professor Huston Smith's comment:
With respect to the new drugs, Professor R. C. Zaehner has drawn the line emphatically. "The importance of Huxley's Doors of Perception," he writes, "is that in it the author clearly makes the claim that what he experienced under the influence of mescaline is closely comparable to a genuine mystical experience. If he is right... the conclusions... are alarming." Zaehner thinks that Huxley is not right, but Zaehner is mistaken.
It is probable that as more people take LSD, organized religion as it is known today will be seriously weakened, for there will be less interest in worn-out and irrelevant dogma. As religious insights become embodied in more levels of our culture, perhaps many will come to feel that the true way to worship God is to do so alone.
Some religieuses, predicting this pending crisis for Christianity, have established "psychedelic churches," loosely modeled on the American Indians' Native American Church. Having been recently formed, these groups are at present small and obscure, but the movement in the direction they have chosen is unquestionably growing. These churches have a framework similar to that of the Quakers, Unitarians, Christian Scientists and others, in that they put little emphasis on orthodox doctrine or ritual and are a loosely gathered fellowship whose common bond is the search for spiritual fulfillment. They differ, however, in that they offer "communion," with a psychedelic drug as the "host." Like the Indians, the members of these "churches" hold that the church is "a place to talk to God" and not just talk about Him.
It should be pointed out that organized religion has not been totally oblivious to the psychedelics. The Quakers and a large number of clergymen in England and Canada have taken serious notice. In fact, LSD has become a rather popular topic for Sunday service, and the positive response of congregations has been observed by many ministers. As an example, one minister, after delivering a sermon about his LSD session entitled "The Most Astounding Experience of My Life," reported that "in 48 years of preaching he had never seen people more interested and full of questions about a sermon."
But this is not to suggest that organized religion will not oppose the use of LSD for sacramental purposes. The lines are already forming, with many churchmen aligning themselves not only against the psychedelics, but also (and in consequence) against the value of personal religious experience. In the past, "divine visitation" has been considered an acceptable, or at least tolerated, element of religious life because it could be absorbed by the immense structure which is Christianity. Saints and other holy men are usually disturbing to any religious organization. They are inclined to follow their own "inner direction" rather than that of temporal authority. But until recently "visions" have been few, and therefore manageable. Now, however, with growing numbers of people experiencing "mystical" or "visionary" states, the uneasy relationship between a structured religion based on the historical Christ and a spontaneous one which depends upon each man finding his own "inner light" will require re-examination.
If a significant portion of society turns to the psychedelics for the discovery—or re-discovery—of God, non-drug-using Christians may react by putting increased emphasis upon a strict interpretation of Christianity, a sort of Barthian theology with primary attention paid to the "historical Christ." Karl Barth is the logical authority for this stand since he exempts personal revelation and "natural theology" from his Church Dogmatics and regards theologians such as Tillich as worse than heretical —as not even being religious. On the other hand, there may be some who will be satisfied simply with the position that the use of drugs for "instant mysticism" is wrong and immoral. Still others may quote favorite spiritual masters who advise against the use of psychedelics for spiritual advancement. Already there are those, for the most part uninterested in Sufism, who have quoted with approval Avatar Meher Baba's comment that "The experiences which drugs induce are as far removed from Reality as is a mirage from water. No matter how much you pursue the mirage, you will never quench your thirst, and the search for Truth through drugs must end in disillusionment."
Meanwhile, as the psychedelics become better known, much initial dismay at the thought of drug-induced "religious experience" is changing into a realization that LSD may be indeed a "tremendous theological breakthrough" and that it may bring about a religious resurgence previously unknown. Some who have sought to discredit the drug are discovering that their initial fears are not justified and that their questions are sometimes incongruous. Edward Dalton, a writer on the semantics of mysticism, indicates how the present debate is being upleveled when he takes on the questions, "Is the experience valid?" and, "Is it fair that just anybody could have it, whether they deserve it or not?":
When we write [such questions] just like that, it is hard not to see how [they] reflect the values and fears of our particular culture, age, and situation... let me ask them again in a less obvious way...Some traditional church-goers are finding it quite possible to accept the psychedelic "religious experience" as valid, once they have seen the evidence. In their framework the experience "corresponds almost exactly [in Alan Watts' words] to the theological concept of a sacrament or means of grace—an unmerited gift of spiritual power whose lasting effects depend upon the use made of it in subsequent action." In elaborating this concept, Watts gives the explanation which is being accepted as organized religion's apologia for interest in the psychedelics:
Is it authentic? How can I be sure that I'll get the real thing? Will the experience I have be just like the one that happened to Moses, Paul, Gotama, or Tzu?...
Is it natural? Isn't there something insipid about planning to have an enlightenment experience on a particular day and hour? Isn't it like planning to fall in love at ten o'clock on Thursday evening?...
Is it fair? This is the other side of "Is it natural?" What about the poor monk who spends all his life seeking satori and never gets it, and then some junkie comes by claiming to have it in a bottle? Few of us can tolerate the idea of something for nothing, especially when someone else is getting it. Call it grace, freely given, undeserved, and people will agree with you, but they won't believe it. Even Jesus was hard put to get this point across.
Catholic theology also recognizes those so-called "extraordinary" graces, often of mystical insight, which descend spontaneously outside the ordinary or regular means that the Church provides through the sacraments and the disciplines of prayer. It seems to me that only special pleading can maintain that the graces mediated through mushrooms, cactus plants, and scientists are artificial and spurious in contrast with those which come through religious discipline.
Such a statement is bound to be repeated from the pulpits because of the immense curiosity the psychedelic experience engenders in Christians. Further, experience has shown that church members who have taken LSD tend to become more ardent and involved members of their congregation. Trial records resulting from various attempts to outlaw the Indians' use of peyote in their religious ceremonies are filled with testimony indicating that Peyotists are quiet, sober and upright church members, not the stupefied, orgiastic savages that have sometimes been painted by white missionaries. Professor J.S. Slotkin, an anthropologist who intensively studied the Menomonee Indians of Wisconsin, wrote of the Peyotist congregation, "I have never been in any white man's house of worship where there is either as much religious feeling or decorum." Similar testimony is plentiful regarding the effects of LSD upon a Christian's church life. And the same seems to hold true for those who have used this drug without religious intent.
In the book Utopiates, an extensive study of 92 LSD users who were attracted to the drug for non-religious reasons, religious effects are clearly indicated. When questioned, 40 per cent of these subjects "indicated their understanding of the teachings of their own church had changed, largely toward an increased understanding of doctrine." Thirty per cent "expressed a deeper understanding of their previous religious feelings and felt closer to their church." Thirty per cent "believed their moral standards had changed toward increased personal responsibility," and 40 per cent "expressed lessened anxiety regarding death." Many commented that Biblical passages and obscure religious terms suddenly acquired vivid meaning and that they were better able "to accept the truth of such abstract concepts as God, the majesty of God, the evolving life force, the reality of life after death, the universality of religion and so on." Here, from another source, [Ling and Buckman] is comment on one man's life and his religious outlook following LSD treatment (for sexual problems), as related by his wife:
I have always said that my husband was gay and full of humour, and that is exactly what he is now. I used to be afraid when I first heard about his having LSD that he would emerge from it (if he ever did at all) a totally different personality, but instead of that his true personality has been able to break through the shell that imprisoned it. I also thought it might destroy his religious faith, but there is no need for me to say anything about that... he has expressed far better than I can how greatly his faith has been strengthened and deepened.
Unreligious people who take LSD for the first time are often quite indignant when told that they may find the most important part of their session will be spiritual. If their agnosticism, or atheism, is not the result of rebellion against early Christian training, however, they may find themselves attracted to Buddhism or another of the Eastern religions.
This occurs because the LSD mystical experience leans toward pantheism unless there are religious images already established. While there are numerous instances of people taking the drug and reenacting the crucifixion, identifying with Christ or God, and having Biblical-scene hallucinations, a good percentage have other forms of mystical adventures. As one pastor put it, "The drug seems to make an end-run around Christ and go directly to the Holy Spirit." Similarly, a Hassidic rabbi after using a psychedelic danced in ecstasy with his tallith, declaring that his "experience was truly religious, but wasn't 'quite Jewish enough.' " The group most often expressing the feeling that psychedelic mysticism is perfectly appropriate to their religion is the Buddhists. Their comment frequently is, "Just what I expected."
In the last quarter-century Eastern theology has made inroads on Western thought as a result of new translations of basic Eastern religious works. Also, the writings of such intellectuals as Heard, Isherwood, Eliot, Huxley and Watts have gathered a wide audience. Now, as evidence grows of the psychedelics' ability to give first-hand experience of "the clear, white light" and other typically Eastern mystical states, we are likely to see an acceleration of interest in the Tao Te Ching, the Tibetan and Egyptian Book of the Dead, the IChing and the Upanishads. One of the most remarkable characteristics of "psychedelic people," is that many who have considered themselves "hard-headed realists" before use of the drugs have subsequently developed an affinity for such writings. At any gathering of those involved in the "psychedelic movement," it often happens that before long one or another of these books is mentioned favorably—even by those who formerly disparaged them.
The religious awakenings brought forth by the psychedelic drugs do not always assume forms we might expect, nor are they necessarily lasting in their acute impact. The chances are, for instance, that former atheists will not be transformed into church-goers (on the other hand, they will probably never again be militant atheists). But after the initial reaction fades, the value of the experience is nonetheless secure; the awakening to deeper spiritual values remains.
Now that the phenomena of "psychedelia" (religious experience via drugs) is known and increasing numbers of people are interested, it seems reasonable to assume that LSD will one day take a respectable place in religion. The following three statements concur in this prediction:
Whether the current chapter of man's religiousness is being written more in the church or on the college campus, more in the halls of ecumenical councils or in the amorphous groupings of the Youth Revolution is a question whose answer is blowing in the wind.
— Prof. Huston Smith, "The Religious Significance of Artificially Induced Religious Experiences"
It is just possible that God, in His inscrutable Grace, may wish to shatter all our Pharisaic pretensions, and through these remarkable chemical substances gracefully provide glimpses of the realm of the Spirit precisely to those whose path would otherwise never have come near it....
Seldom has the demand for the rethinking of the nature of mystical, experiential religion been so insistent. And this demand rests with unusual weight upon the Society of Friends, because of its claim to be a religion of immediate experience, of the inward Christ.
— Joseph Havens, "A Memo to Quakers on the Consciousness-Changing Drugs."
Undoubtedly it would be the supreme irony of the history of religion should it be proved that the ordinary person could by the swallowing of a pill attain to those states of exalted consciousness a lifetime of spiritual exercises rarely brings to the most ardent and adept seeker of mystical enlightenment. Considering the present rapid assimilation on a mass cultural level of new discoveries, therapies, and ideologies, it then might not be long before the vested religious interests would finally have to close up shop.
— R.E.L. Masters and Jean Houston, "Religious and Mystical Experience."
(From The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience.)
It would seem that there will always be a need for organized religion, which through the ages has been a mainstay of human enrichment. But when religion is pinched and thin, or is primarily a booming commercial enterprise, its purpose i5 negated. The psychedelics employed thus far for religious purposes in an organized way have been included in the church ceremony in a rather loose, arbitrary manner, vaguely in the style of the Native American Church. While there have been some attempts to use Eastern concepts and writings in the services of these new "psychedelic churches," these are not very satisfactory for the average American, and involves enormous "mind-bending"—as bodhisattvas, mantras, mandalas and sangsara do not "resonate" familiarly in the Western unconscious as they do for the natives of Tibet, China, Japan, etc.
There are new translations, however, of early Christian writings (such as the first-century "Hymn of Jesus") and the introduction of new methods for conducting services, which some of the psychedelic theological groups are using. Another innovation which has been privately tried with some success, and which may prove useful in seminaries, is the taping of a philosophical-theological discussion held prior to a session and its playback after the drug is ingested. Ministers and theological students who have experimented with this system often claim to have been mortified at hearing their own excessive verbiage and the irrelevance of much they have had to say. Instead of consternation, however, they have generally expressed gratitude at having their misapprehensions so clearly revealed. Under the drug's stimulus they receive an intensification of the goals they held when they entered the ministry, thus sparking more direct and creative preaching.
One of the most rewarding by-products of these religious-oriented psychedelic sessions has been the emergence of a strong spiritual bond which developed between participants. The empathy resulting from the shared experience is such that many have declared that only a long and intensive retreat together could provide a similar feeling of brotherhood. Under the drug, they claim to feel the glory of God and the spiritual glory of each other—and of all mankind.
This spiritual-brotherhood reaction is not peculiar to the theologians who experience psychedelia, but also extends to laymen. Regardless of difference in background, age, interests or problems, there is among LSD users an almost uncanny recognition of and sympathy for those who have gone through the experience, whether they have taken the drug together or not. This may account to some extent for the protectiveness users feel toward each other and their almost immediate discard of defenses. The fact that each has known the naked vulnerability of being adrift in the cosmos, with none of the everyday trappings and props for support, provides a common bond and lays a cornerstone of trust.
Further, the reverence and understanding they have for each other would seem to emanate from a tacit but strongly felt "universality," a concept known to Bergsonians (with their mind-at-large theory), to Jungians (who believe in a collective unconscious) and to the truly devout of all faiths. So pervasive are spiritual realities among those who have used the psychedelic drugs that many are unaware of the depth of their involvement. Mention the words "Universe," "God," "Energy" or "Eternity" to any serious LSD enthusiast and he will instantly accede to the meaning without bewilderment or reference to "empty" phrases.
That the godhead is inescapable to the psychedelic "elect," consciously accepted or not, is often detected by the shrewd observer and by "insiders" who have "been there." Frequently it is reflected in their manner, style, conversation, thought and even in their dress. The transcendental "mark" is on them in one way or another and has a way of announcing its presence, whether the bearer knows it or not.
If the foregoing views on "spiritual brotherhood" and acceptance of "universal" and "eternal" truths seem somewhat overstated, there are a multitude of well-authenticated tests which bear them out, as does the following report by Willis Harman in Main Currents in Modern Thought:
Through the psychedelic experience persons tend to accept beliefs which are at variance with the usual conception of the "scientific world view." In a current study [by C. Savage, W. Harman, J. Fadiman, and E. Savage] the subjects were given, prior to and immediately after the LSD session, a collection of 100 belief and value statements to rank according to the extent they felt the statements expressed their views. Subsequent personality and behavior-pattern changes were evaluated by standard clinical instruments and independent interviews. It was found that therapeutic consequences of the LSD session were predictable on the basis of the extent to which subjects indicated increased belief in statements such as the following:
"I believe that I exist not only in the familiar world of space and time, but also in a realm having a timeless, eternal quality.
"Behind the apparent multiplicity of things in the world of science and common sense there is a single reality in which all things are united.
"It is quite possible for people to communicate telepathically, without any use of sight or hearing, since deep down our minds are all connected.
"Of course the real self exists on after the death of the body.
"When one turns his attention inward, he discovers a world of 'inner space' which is as vast and as real as the external, physical world.
"Man is, in essence, eternal and infinite.
"Somehow, I feel I have always existed and always will. "Although this may sound absurd, I have the feeling that somehow I have participated in the creation of everything around me.
"I feel that the mountains and the sea and the stars are all part of me, and my soul is in touch with the souls of all creatures.
"Each of us potentially has access to vast realms of knowledge through his own mind, including secrets of the universe known so far only to a very few."
Note that in accepting these statements the individual is in effect saying that he is convinced of the possibility of gaining valid knowledge through an extrasensory mode of perception. Thus, the person who feels a compulsion to explain away all ESP data will also find the LSD subject to be the victim of delusion and hallucination.
Psi Phenomena:The supernatural world was both real and awesome to early man, as it still is in primitive societies, and heavy dependency was put upon it in worshipping and propitiating the gods. It is more than likely that the degree to which our ancestral homo sapiens relied upon telepathic communication instead of articulate speech would today fill us with both amazement and disbelief. Certainly human beings who populated the earth prior to the fourteenth century are well documented as having had a keen interest in the spirit world, thought transference, witches, premonitions and so forth.
In order to conjure departed spirits, make predictions, or go into trance, a variety of drugs existing since antiquity (many of which are now being put in the hallucinogen classifications by modern biochemists) were used by witch doctors, alchemists, shamen and cultist tribesmen throughout the world, and seemed to buttress natural powers. Yagé, a drug related to LSD and known under several different names (including "telepathine"), is from a vine native to the Amazon Basin and is identical with harmine, an alkaloid from the seeds of wild rue. Both are reputed for their alleged ability to aid in locating missing objects, to transport users to distant lands and times and to give direct communication with the dead. Greatly favored in Europe at witches' sabbaths was bufotenin (related to serotonin and first obtained from toad skins), scopolamine and henbane.
However, by Savonarola's time the church itself had declared magic and witchcraft evil. After the witch-hunts and witch burnings that continued for three centuries, the supernatural world with its ghosts, demons and human emissaries was in a state of subjugation. It was not until the nineteenth century that there was any open revival of interest in "seers" and "spooks" or acceptance of their possible validity.
Those who pioneered the re-exploration of what is now called "psi phenomena," or all things pertaining to the psychic world, were considered crazy, pathetic, eccentric and ridiculous. They were roundly sneered at for their sacrilegious superstition and made to feel uncomfortable among their fellow men. Sir Oliver Lodge and a handful of others did succeed, however, in establishing the Society for Psychical Research in London in 1882, and gradually interest in spiritualism, clairvoyance and mental telepathy seeped out of its small confines and spread elsewhere. The American Society for Psychic Research was founded in 1906; however, the psi subject did not gain much public ground until the 1930s and it is still far from respected. This, despite the efforts of such men in the field as Drs. J. B. Rhine, and Gardner Murphy, who have approached it scientifically and have been steadily working at it in conjunction with their European colleagues.
The reasons for the snail's-pace progress toward heuristic restoration of the psychic element into man's customs and life are manifold. To begin with, the curtain has been lifted for only a comparatively small number of years, and religious prejudice, especially in formal church doctrine, still rules such matters out. Also, in spite of the huge but sprawling body of evidence for the reality of psi factors, adequate methods for presenting concrete, scientific proof have yet to be devised. At present, no matter how precise and painstaking the investigation, or how well attested, at the end the question remains: All right, so it happened, but why? While the majority of people still consider "ghosts," "extrasensory perception" and "mediums" explainable in terms of coincidence, chance or hoax, there is a growing curiosity about psychic phenomena, whether much headway is being made toward discovering its source and veridical status or not.
This growing interest was quietly spearheaded by important men such as Einstein and Edison, to name but two. Psychic phenomena have long attracted followers among artists, literary people and liberal theologians, but until very recently there has not been much "speaking out," for obvious reasons: If proof cannot be offered, the belief is not scientifically valid and must be taken on faith, a province still considered the exclusive territory of organized religion.
But in the last year or two, ESP "buffs" throughout the Western world have taken encouragement because of scientific breakthroughs in other areas which may be connected with psi. The subject has become sufficiently popular and gained enough pseudo-serious approval to move a number of television networks to present special programs designed to enlighten the public on the progress of this odd research. These programs, dealing with the subject in an intelligent and thorough fashion, have been well enough received to warrant reruns.
As the general public becomes more exposed to the idea of ESP as something more than a possibility, it is being joined by a specialized minority which needs no convincing, however much it too may need proof of validity for its deep-felt claims. This group is the growing number of persons who have taken psychedelic drugs. A large percentage seem to have vivid ESP experiences during the drug sessions, and almost all users have noticed at least minimal ESP effects, if nothing more strange than acute empathy.
To date, two international conferences have been held by parapsychologists to investigate the use of LSD in connection with ESP, and while the conferences have resulted in almost no conclusive material, or even realistic formulas for testing, those involved expressed optimism and said they thought the time was close when the psi world would be wide open for exhibition and examination.
These researchers have concluded, for instance, that many of their "hunches" and speculations over the years seem to point in the right direction; they have affirmed many parapsychology theories about which there had been some doubt; and they have postulated a number of previously uninvestigated questions which they hope may eventually serve to give the answers to why psi occurs, why certain people are apparently psychically gifted and others not.
Modern investigators have thought for some time that telepathy, clairvoyance and the appearance of other psychic manifestations do have more rhyme and reason than had once been assumed. Psychic abilities, it is now believed, tend to ebb and flow and are in no way constant to the individual or locale, but are as seemingly capricious as "moods" and emotions—yesterday's clairvoyant can be powerless tomorrow. But, as with emotional response, there has to be an underlying cause. It is now generally accepted in parapsychology circles that the psychic factor in individuals has no correlation with I.Q., that ESP is strongest around adolescence and early youth (there has rarely been a poltergeist case reported in the absence of children or young people), and it has been suggested that hormonal function may be an important influence, as may metabolism and other physical characteristics.
It is thought, too, that the psychic person performs best when he is in a particular kind of relaxed physical state, unencumbered by the effects on his system of such drugs as caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. Being slightly tired, relaxed, and in a "mind-wandering" frame of mind appears to enhance receptivity.
Because LSD chemically produces many of these physical and mental side effects—particularly the depersonalization of the subject who, like the best mediums, has no sense of himself—and because spontaneous psychic reactions have occurred unsought in countless sessions, those working in parapsychology expectantly set up LSD experiments. The results of these initial studies, however, were gravely disheartening to researchers.
But as it was observed that unelicited psi experiences seemed to persist among LSD users, the experimenters concluded that their testing methods may have been at fault. The Zehner card test, for example, which has been given for years, is now generally considered to be too exacting and rigid to allow any subject under psychedelic drugs to perform at normal, much less optimum, advantage. The LSD subject is undergoing too many lightning-fast and distracting ideas to be able to concentrate on scoring well at one of the most repetitive tests ever devised.
But researchers find it difficult to replace the antiquated testing machinery with something better. Cavanna and Servadio, a research biochemist and a parapsychologist-psychoanalyst respectively, undertook a project working with LSD and psychics a few years ago in Italy. They published their findings, which were exceedingly thin, in their book,ESP Experiments with LSD and Psilocybin. The "stage" for the sessions could not have been more cautiously scientific nor the preparations more exhaustive. Yet their techniques were probably too formal and their screening of the subjects, inadequate. (Perhaps they should have given subjects an LSD test run to familiarize them with the drug's peculiarities.) As it was, they used stimulating photographs for "send-offs," and the "picture-match" method (having the subject try to describe the picture inside a sealed envelope) after the medium felt the drug working. The results were not scientifically validated.
Masters and Houston, on the other hand, fared quite remarkably in their tests using the same "picture-match" method in slight variation, and "out of 62 subjects tested, 48 approximated the... image two or more times out of ten. Five subjects approximated ... seven and eight times out of ten." "Thought transference" may be a more likely explanation here, since the Masters-Houston subjects felt more at ease with their researchers than was the case with the Italian investigators.
Both in hearsay LSD reports and published ones, thought transference is frequently mentioned—often to the eerie extreme of "switching" or "intermingling" of souls. Particularly is this the situation when people are close to each other and have known each other for a long time—husband and wife, parent and child, twins, etc. Richard Alpert, who has had wide experience with psychedelics, accidentally projected himself into the "heads" of two persons whom he was guiding. One, a "psychopathic young fellow," gave Alpert the feeling that being inside this person's mind "was like a tropical jungle [overhung with] flowering vines, waterfalls, deep dark moist caves... I was quietly in the midst of this imagery [when the subject]... said, 'Are you inside my head?' " The other "head" that Alpert "visited," a more dignified one, also detected his "presence" and asked the same question.
Amusingly—and sometimes amazingly—LSD-induced thought transference, telepathy and/or psychokinesis seem to have made their way into the gambling world, too, both amateur and professional branches, and reportedly a great deal of money has been won via the psychedelics. Halfway through one amateur gambler's session, for example, he felt a strong urge to play blackjack, and several friends accommodated him. Much to his surprise, he became aware of "all kinds of subliminal signals" he was unconsciously giving to others and realized that the other players, too, were telegraphing their cards. Upon correcting his own defect, he found it extraordinarily easy to win.
Although it is clear that as yet no trustworthy system has been worked out for testing ESP with LSD, the drug's congeniality with ESP crops up on a striking number of 0ccasions. Because controlled test situations have not as yet produced adequate acceptable criteria, there is a paucity of material in the professional literature on the drug's arousal of ESP ability. But there is a large body of first-person accounts of such, mostly unpublished although adequately witnessed and attested. The following appear in print for the first time:
J.L.C. is a man of average intelligence, has a moderate amount of formal education but only a passing interest in cultural matters, history or contemporary problems. He is in his late thirties and is of an easygoing, pleasant disposition. J.L.C. took LSD merely because it was suggested that he might like what it would do for him. His two companions, who acted as guides, had extensive and responsible experience in giving the drug and had had it several times themselves. Both were college graduates and were professionally involved in the liberal arts.The chance that J.L.C. was familiar with this piece of history, even in schooldays, is remote. On the-other hand, the various explanations that come to mind, if indeed the "hallucination" did not arise from shelved knowledge, are unmistakably psi m content. Was J.L.C. possibly King Philip in a former life? Might he have been reading his guides' minds? Was he delving into Jung's collective unconscious? What else might explain it?
In the third hour of J.L.C.'s drug session, he suddenly began to exclaim that he was seeing "all kinds of things and people from the past." This was extremely vivid, and when asked if he himself was among the people, he replied with some anxiety, "Yes, I am the King of Belgium—yet I'm a Spaniard. There is a helluva clattering of wooden shoes! Joan's around too. She's my wife. But her name is something else—not Joan. Juana? I'm very concerned about the situation—everything. This was all a long time ago. I get it in the 1 5th century. My clothes look like that. But it is happening now."
Following the session, one of J.L.C.'s guides, vaguely recalled that J.L.C.'s "vision" had a basis in historical fact. Upon checking in various encyclopedias, it was discovered that King Philip I of Spain ( 1478-1506) fit J.L.C.'s description very closely, and that his Queen was Joanna. Philip had inherited the Netherlands (Low Countries ) from his mother, Mary of Burgundy, and it was during his reign that the "Wooden Shoe Uprising" took place, after which he was held a "virtual prisoner" in Ghent for eleven years.
Another occurrence (but of a slightly different sort) which points very persuasively at ESP came about when a young man, R.H., with strong mediumistic abilities, took mescaline. During his session, he decided to visit a friend who lived in another part of town and telephoned to announce that he and his guide were on their way. Before their arrival, however, his hostess received an unexpected visit from a guest she knew very slightly, a person completely unknown to R.H.The third example comes from a painter who described, when taking LSD for the first time, a beautiful painting which he was "seeing":
Hardly was R.H. in the door, before he asked the guest if he were a sailor. The guest replied that he was a writer, but that he was "fond of sailing as a hobby." Not long after, R.H. rose abruptly and said that he had to go. But within the hour he telephoned his hostess, informing her that he had left because of her caller. He said he had "seen" the man on a boat, and had gotten a definite impression that her visitor had murdered someone there.
His hostess was very disturbed and rather angry that R.H. would say such a thing and immediately promised she would check with mutual friends to see what she could find out. Three of those she consulted reported that the "sailor" had been aboard a boat several years before when someone had "mysteriously" disappeared, never to be seen again, and that at the time the finger of suspicion had been on the man in question, although nothing was ever done to determine whether he had been responsible.
The painting, in very intense, sparkling color, was of an unusual fishing vessel, rather like those which might be found in the South Seas, yet different. The waters on which the boat drifted were "of marvelous luminosity" and the nets "glistened with jewel-like drops." The side oars were of an odd shape, such as the painter (S.R.) had never seen before, and the sun pictured was of a color which he "longed to duplicate" as soon as he could get to his paints. After the drug wore off, S.R. still thought the painting "very remarkable," making a preliminary sketch of it some days later.The next episode might suggest "coincidental hallucination" or reincarnation. It occurred early in an LSD experience and is told by H.S., a young businesswoman:
About six months thereafter, S.R. was in the market for a house, and upon being shown through one up for sale, saw in reality the painting he had "seen" under LSD. It hung in the owner's living room, and when S.R. inquired about the artist, he was told that the woman who had painted it "had died in May, just after it was finished." Startled, S.R. asked for the exact date of the artist's death, and learned that it was the very same day of his first LSD session, during which the vision of the painting had come to him.
"All of a sudden I had a great intuitive flash of familiarity and a scene created itself, a l9th century European court, only for some reason it was assembled around a flight of steps in endless, fountained, formal gardens. I, myself, was off at some distance from the group of key figures and was kneeling among a group of petty officers of the military. As I stared toward the people in the foreground (the royal family), I experienced feelings of devotion, patriotism and of secret longing. This was all directed toward the woman in the tableau, and I instinctively knew she was very far above me, was indeed my queen.
"The 'queen' was wearing a dress cut in the empire style made of white satin and midnight blue velvet, the folds of which fell gracefully about her splendidly formed body. She had very pale blonde hair and was wearing a small crown. As I looked at her, I realized it was Alfreda, my guide. 'Why, I know who you are!' I cried aloud, as if there had been some mystery about who she was before. 'You're that queen in that painting—the one they use for an ad for Courvoisier brandy! On the back ofThe New Yorker.'
"Alfreda tells me that she exclaimed, 'How's that again, honey?' but I did not know that she had—or why she had—until moments and visions later....
" 'All right, all right,' Alfreda was saying, 'but just tell me again about that queen in the ad on the back of The New Yorker.'
"For an instant the vision from the l9th century painting came back, then it flashed off. But I remembered it all. 'Did I tell you how stylized that painting of you was?' I asked. 'You were much more beautiful than that, actually, so much more delicately made, so graceful, and you had such infinite gentleness, kindness. And your clothes were so different from those he had you wearing in the painting. Blue and white—'
"'Good Lord,' she said sharply. 'How on earth could you have known about this? Who were you?'
"'I was a soldier. A Prussian officer, I think. A member of the petty nobility. And you were my queen, and I loved you too. Maybe had a secret crush on you—I felt all of that very strongly.'
"Then Alfreda told me the astonishing secret about herself which I had stumbled upon: all of her life she had identified with the Prussian Empress Louise, the 'queen' in the painting I had seen. Alfreda told me that her clothes when a child had been copied from those Louise had worn as a child, and when Alfreda married the only piece of furniture she had chosen to take with her from her ancestral schloss in Prussia was the escritoire which had once belonged to the empress Louise.
"There was a good basis for Alfreda's avid interest in this person. (Louise's chief claim to fame was that she had tried to negotiate with Napoleon, standing in for her husband who lacked the wits and diplomacy to do so, in an effort to save Prussia. The painting in question, a detail of which is used by Courvoisier as an ad, was titled 'Napoleon at Tilsit.') Alfreda was distantly related to Louise and Alfreda's grandmother headed a group of several hundred German noblewomen who were curiously dedicated to the memory of the Empress and who had formed a Louise 'cult' which they pursued as regularly as any ordinary club interests. Just why this was, Alfreda did not quite know and agreed that it was rather extraordinary, for none of the women so busily keeping Louise's memory alive could have possibly known her.
"Yes, as I say, there was a basis for Alfreda's interest in the Empress Louise, but there was none whatsoever for my having seen the depth of this interest. I could not have known that all Alfreda's life she had secretly thought of herself as this woman. My friendship with Alfreda was a fairly recent one; I was an American, had never been to Germany, had no interest whatsoever in the minutiae and obscurities of German history. Further, when I saw the Courvoisier ad again some weeks later, I was more baffled than ever that I had ever made the connection between Alfreda and the Empress. Aside from being German, blonde and amply proportioned, Alfreda in no way resembled the woman in the painting. It was curious, too, that I had seen her costume as blue and white, which Alfreda verified as having been Louise's favorite color combination, for in the painting she was dressed in white and wine red. When I had said the painting therefore was 'stylized' compared to the 'real' thing—at least 'LSD real'—I was putting it lightly indeed. There was simply nothing in the painting to which I could have consciously linked Alfreda."
Other Dimensions:Current scientific research seems to be as varied and complex as are the countless forms of living organisms. The breakthroughs now being made strike awe in their observers, however different the areas of scientific inquiry may be. Today's exciting achievements no longer come mainly from the mechanistic, simplistic concepts of classical mathematics and physics, but are being made-in biology and genetics, and in the study of the mind. In Washington and the Virgin Islands scientists are trying to communicate with dolphins. In California dozens of laboratories are working with electrical brain implantations, with "sensory deprivation" and with experiments to change genes. Throughout the country researchers are studying RNA, DNA, Cylert, acetamido-benzoate and a host of other chemicals with which they hope to probe the mysterious labyrinths of human mentality.
In all of these simultaneously conducted studies, we seem to stand on the threshold of discovering how to revolutionize life as it is now known. A revision in man's total concepts, so drastic as to have no parallel in history, seems to be in the offing. Much of this has been stimulated by the knowledge turned up through LSD, and more seems probable. This is because the simple ingestion of the chemical clearly demonstrates that other realities do indeed exist with their own boundaries, logic and laws. As Dr. John Beresford believes, the discovery of LSD may be "the most critical event in human history." "Take it once," he says, "and you know that all you've known about consciousness is wrong."
In the past, virtually everyone has shared the same idea of ordinary consciousness, the major differences lying in individual interpretation of experience. Should the use of LSD become widespread, the present concept of consciousness may seem absurd and constrained. Like other writers on psychedelics, Mary Barnard poses interesting questions in her article, "The God in the Flowerpot" (originally published in The American Scholar):
When we consider the origin of the mythologies and cults related to drug plants, we should surely ask ourselves which, after all, was more likely to happen first: the spontaneously generated idea of an afterlife in which the disembodied soul, liberated from the restrictions of time and space, experiences eternal bliss, or the accidental discovery of hallucinogenic plants that give a sense of euphoria, dislocate the center of consciousness, and distort time and space, making them balloon outward in greatly expanded vistas?
As yet, no verification of the historical influence plants have exerted upon man's theological systems has been made, though many scholars, such as Robert Graves and the Wassons, believe that psychedelic mushrooms and other plants were used in Eleusis and other holy centers, where they were the basis for many "miracles" and initiation into "the mysteries."
In this regard, Mary Barnard goes on to say:
Perhaps the old theories are right, but we have to remember that the drug plants were there, waiting to give men a new idea based on a new experience. The experience might have had, I should think, an almost explosive effect on the largely dormant minds of men, causing them to think of things they had never thought of before. This, if you like, is divine revelation...All these speculations are open to debate. Because they are so unusual to the accepted order of things, we approach them with caution and mistrust. Dr. Humphry Osmond, speaking of an LSD experiment involving "a major, witnessed thought transference," tells of a reaction which, typically, brings such experimentation to an end: "Unluckily we had no recording equipment and our observer became acutely panicky because he said it was uncanny."
Looking at the matter coldly, unintoxicated and unentranced, I am willing to prophesy that fifty theobotanists working for fifty years would make the current theories concerning the origins of much mythology and theology as out-of-date as pre-Copernican astronomy.
Some investigators, however, do follow through and contribute invaluable evidence. Christopher Mayhew, a Member of Parliament and a former journalist, offered to take a psychedelic drug at his home with BBC television cameras on hand to record his experience. He wrote a full account of his "Excursion Out of Time" for the London Observer,which begins as follows:
What happened to me between 12:30 and 4 o'clock on Friday, December 2, 1955? After brooding about it for several months, I still think my first, astonishing conviction was right—that on many occasions that afternoon I existed outside time.The television camera could not photograph Mayhew's mind, of course, so he felt it necessary to explain at length what he thought had occurred to him. His experience, which began with color hallucinations, soon gave way to a preoccupation with the very strange "behavior" of time: it kept slipping out of sequence—i.e., he would see a cup at his lips before he actually removed it from the table—and he could never tell how far along he was in the experience. His watch did not help either, for, although his eyes registered various clock times, the hours were not in proper sequence and he would see two-thirty after he had already seen three o'clock. It was only the increasing recurrence of certain objects which had arrived late in the experience that enabled him to realize that the session was coming to an end.
I don't mean this metaphorically, but literally. l mean that the essential part of me... had an existence quite conscious of itself... in a timeless order of reality outside the world as we know it....
Time played another even more extravagant bit of seeming magic when it sent him into another dimension where "I would be aware of a pervasive bright pure light, like a kind of invisible sunlit snow...." for an extended period of time:
I would become unaware of my surroundings, and enjoy an existence conscious of myself, in a state of breathless wonderment and complete bliss, for a period of time which—for me—simply did not end at all. It did not last for minutes or hours, but apparently for years....These "time phenomena," unheard of as they are in normal everyday consciousness, seemed totally convincing—not "hallucinations" but another part of reality. Mayhew, like others who have used psychedelics, is definite on this:
For several days afterwards, I remembered the afternoon of December 2 not as so many hours spent in my drawing-room interrupted by these strange "excursions," but as countless years of complete bliss interrupted by short spells in the drawing-room ...
On the first occasion when I "came back" in this way from an excursion I assumed that a vast period of time had elapsed and exclaimed, in astonishment, to the film team: "Are you still there?" Their patience in waiting seemed extraordinary: but in fact, of course, no time had elapsed, and they had not been waiting at all....
The common-sense explanation is that since events in our drawing-room actually happened in a normal time sequence (with plenty of witnesses, including the camera, to prove it), I just couldn't have experienced them in some other order, so I must have merely thought I did—I was deluded.Mayhew's account is of particular significance because it has been so well documented and comes from such an estimable source. The drug was administered by a foremost authority, Dr. Humphry Osmond, given to a distinguished man, and witnessed by reliable observers. There are countless persons who claim to have had equally memorable experiences under the drug, but since these did not occur within the framework of scientific experiment, they cannot be recorded "officially." As they did not have acceptable documentation which could be demonstrated, they have remained in private, hearsay circulation, or at best they have been published in apologetic, confessional tones. Authoritative accounts by people of recognized integrity (Mayhew, Watts, Huxley, Smith and Pahnke), but outside the field of psychotherapists, lend credence to the claims which the ordinary enthusiasts make. Taken together, they tend to remove some of the ill-repute surrounding the "drug experience." Thus the limits of the framework of acceptability are being expanded.
For anyone else than myself, this must be easy to believe; but for me, it is impossible. I am not—I repeat—saying that events happened in the wrong order, only thatI experienced them in the wrong order. And on this point I cannot doubt my own judgment.
In the past the average layman has had little more than intimations of mystical reality. He was frightened of it and turned away. Now, however, the prospect is different since the inexplicable experience seems to be controllable. With familiarity, the frightening contours will diminish Religious psychologist Walter Clark, a professor at Andover Newton Theological School, says, "These drugs present us with a means of studying religious experience ... No psychologist of religion can afford to be ignorant of them." Huxley goes even further:
For an aspiring mystic to revert, in the present state of knowledge, to prolonged fasting and violent self-flagellation would be as senseless as it would be for an aspiring cook to behave like Charles Lamb's Chinaman, who burned down the house in order to roast a pig.
Sixty-five years ago, William James, commenting on his experiments with nitrous oxide, pointed out that normal, waking consciousness is only one special type of consciousness and that "parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different." James's unshakable conviction was that, by the application of "the requisite stimulus," these forms of consciousness "are there in all their completeness... At any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality."
With LSD and the other psychedelics it now appears that we may have a potent form of "the requisite stimulus." However, our situation with these drugs and consciousness can be likened to man's back-door approach to a workable digit system—we are still using the clumsy Roman numerals, serviceable but inefficient. It may be that as the benefits of LSD become better recognized and more people become adept at translating themselves into new systems, we will wonder how we ever made do with our lives as we know them today. Alan Watts says in this regard, "The end of this century may find us, at last, thoroughly at home in our own world, swimming in the ocean of relativity as joyously as dolphins in the water."
Footnotes1. Professor Smith gives a useful definition: "By a religious experience I mean one which elicits from the experiencer a centered response, a response from the core of his being. As his being includes thoughts, feelings, and will ... a religious experience triggers in the experiencer a triple movement: of the mind in belief, of the emotions in awe, and of the will in obedience. A religious experience is awesome, convinces the experiencer that its noetic disclosures are true, and lays upon him obligations he acknowledges as binding." (back)
2. Time magazine, in its September 23, 1966, issue, devoted half of its "Religion" section to "WORSHIP—Mysticism in the Lab," and commented favorably on this particular experiment: "Most experiences of mystical consciousness have come only after hard work—Spartan prayers, meditation, fasting, mortification of the flesh. Now it is possible, through the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs, to induce something like mystical consciousness in a controlled laboratory environment...." (back)
3. Alan Harrington's reaction in this respect is typical: 'to one who has practically never thought in terms of lotuses, reincarnation, stages of existence, etc., and who through the years has been irritated by the enthusiasts of Eastern philosophy, the LSD journey brought evidence of recurring personal death and rebirth. It made possible a vision of eternity not unlike those of slake and Swedenborg." (back)
Chapter VII. LSD and Mental Health
I had a vision, and I still have this vision, of mass therapy: institutions in which every patient with a neurosis could get LSD treatment and work out his problem largely by himself. Classical psychotherapy or psychoanalytical therapy is, of course, a costly procedure, and most people do not have enough money to undertake it; nor do we have health benefits to pay for individual psychotherapy. I hope that there will eventually be health insurance funds to pay for LSD therapy.
— Dr. C. H. Van Rhijn, The Use of LSD in Psychotherapy.
COMPARED TO OTHER public health problems, mental illness is a giant, half hidden in shadow. The statistics are appalling: an estimated 17 million persons in the United States suffer from some form of mental disorder; approximately 700,000 patients are in mental hospitals; over a quarter of a million enter mental institutions each year; an estimated 3 billion dollars is spent annually in costs to combat this problem; and to aid the mentally disordered there are only 12,000 psychiatrists practising in the entire country. Apart from the lamentable statistics, the unknown quantity of personal tragedy involved is impossible to assess. For every person suffering from mental illness, there are many others who are directly affected. The patients themselves are not simply maladjusted, unhappy people who nonetheless manage to function, but those who have little or no contact with reality, despite longing and strenuous effort. A visit to a mental hospital confirms this in a harrowing way.
The fact is that in spite of the isolation of the mentally sick from the community, once hospitalized, they are still very much among us, although virtually ignored. Few beside hospital personnel and visitors are aware of the agony and terror suffered by the paranoiac; by hearing voices; by constantly fearing imminent death; by feeling that a chair is a mortal enemy; by screaming incessantly and uncontrollably; by losing all memory; and by being locked up.
The steps taken in the last fifteen years in treating mental illness are large and impressive, coming, however, after centuries of unbridled growth of such disease. Inhumane treatment, bedlams, shock treatments, "snakepits," lobotomies and strait jackets are on their way out as a result of crusaders (such as Dorothea Dix, the Kennedy family and Albert Deutsch) and crusading organizations, such as the National Association for Mental Health; the widespread use of tranquilizers in treatment; increased hospital personnel; and more active public interest and awareness of the problem. For the first time in history there is sound basis for hope that mental illness can be controlled and that the disturbed individual may not be consigned for life to his sickness.
Encouraging as this may be, it is a mistake to think that the end is yet in sight. In Action for Mental Health, the most comprehensive and penetrating appraisal of present-day needs (resulting from a five-year study involving 34 agencies), the situation is sharply summed up: more than 50,000 persons die in mental hospitals every year, not including 8,000 additional homicides and 16,000 suicides. As for public concern:
The prevailing system, with few exceptions, has been to remove the acutely ill of mind far from the everyday scene—to put them away in human dump heaps.... The facts so arouse a sense of guilt that, even within the mental health professions, we would rather not dwell on them.
Pointing in severe criticism at the current system which leaves mental care to the States, which "for the most part, have defaulted on adequate care for the mentally ill, and have consistently done so for a century," this report calls for a massive program to deal with the problem. "Expenditures for public mental patient services should be doubled in the next five years—and tripled in the next ten. Only by this magnitude of expenditure can typical State hospitals be made in fact what they are now in name only—hospitals for mental patients." (Emphasis in original. )
In 1949, Albert Deutsch, after visiting two dozen mental institutions, wrote:
Most of them were located in or near great centers of culture in our wealthier states such as New York, Michigan, Ohio, California, and Pennsylvania. In some of the wards there were scenes that rivaled the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps—hundreds of naked mental patients herded into huge, barn-like, filth-infested wards, in all degrees of deterioration, untended and untreated, stripped of every vestige of human decency, many in stages of semi-starvation.There is a tendency on the part of the public to minimize such reports because it is commonly believed that "miracle drugs," particularly tranquilizers, have worked all miracles available and that there is no longer need for serious concern about the mental health problem. Actually, this is not the case.
The writer heard state hospital doctors frankly admit that the animals of near-by piggeries were better fed, housed and treated than many of the patients in their wards. He saw hundreds of sick people shackled, strapped, straitjacketed and bound to their beds; he saw mental patients... crawl into beds jammed close together, in dormitories filled to twice or three times their normal capacity.... [Albert Deutsch, The Shame of the States.]
What has happened is that tranquilizers have made it possible to dispense with strait jackets, padded cells and other means of physical restraint. Also, these drugs and the energizers have made patients somewhat more accessible to psychotherapy, hence enabling them to be released in shorter periods of time than before. In New York State, which uses tranquilizers on a large scale, the average hospital stay has been cut from eight to four months.
When the patients return to their communities, they are able to obtain adequate maintenance therapy, primarily through prescribed tranquilizers and energizers. (Despite complicated side effects, the anti-depressants—monoamine oxidase inhibitors—are now being used in the treatment of over four million Americans per year.)
But for all this, hospital admission rates for the mentally ill continue to rise. Therefore, it is clear that these drugs now in use, and some three hundred others being clinically tested, are not solving the problem.
With LSD, however, the psychiatric profession for the first time seems to have a means for dealing effectively with some of the deeper problems of mental disease which elude the tranquilizers and energizers. Medical reports indicate that LSD dramatically reaches into the roots of the disorder, rather than merely disposing of the symptoms and easing the patient. In some cases—with catatonics and autistic children, for instance—the therapist finds himself able to make contact with the patient for the first time since onset of the illness. As Dr. Gordon H. Johnsen puts it:
During the first two years of our work with these compounds, we were in doubt of their value... We now consider that they give us therapeutic possibilities in areas where we were formerly powerless. In fact these drugs are of such great importance in our psychiatric instrumentarium that we can hardly think of doing without them. Indeed, this is a great step forward in psychiatry.
In agreement with Dr. Johnsen, a high percentage of psychotherapists who have worked with LSD believe that the drug, in many ways, may be the answer to Freud's hope for a chemical which could exercise a "direct influence... upon the amounts of energy and their distribution in the apparatus of the mind"... and thus open up "undreamed-of possibilities of therapy." Throughout his writings, Freud repeatedly deplored the fact that there were no exact tools for direct dealing with the patient's deeper disorders, and he voiced hope that the future would see this need fulfilled:
We are here concerned with therapy only insofar as it works by psychological methods: and for the time being we have no other.
Behind every psychoanalyst stands the man with the syringe.
Psychoanalysis never claimed that there were no organic factors in the psychoses.... It is the biochemist's task to find out what these are.... So long as organic factors remain inaccessible, analysis leaves much to be desired.
When LSD was first tested, it was given to volunteers in the hope of inducing a temporary facsimile of psychosis that could be studied. At that time clinicians thought this to be LSD's sole function. Many teams of experimenters undertook such projects in the belief that by creating schizoid-like states under controlled conditions, they would be closer to a cure. After all, malaria, yellow fever, tuberculosis and diabetes, for instance, had yielded to medical science following the artificial production of the disease, and by analogy researchers around the world hypothesized that schizophrenia might yield in the same manner.
But this was not to be. First of all, it was discovered that the hallucinations produced under LSD were quite different from those of psychosis—for the most part they were visual rather than auditory. Also, it was found that certain drugs could terminate the LSD "psychosis" but were totally ineffective with natural schizophrenia
Even so, through these experiments great impetus had been given to the research on mental illnesses, and investigators began to pay serious attention to the possible biochemical basis of mental abnormality, studying serotonin, epinephrine, adrenaline, the "M" substance, nicotinic acid and adrenochrome.
Although the facsimile or "model" psychosis theory was eventually abandoned by most researchers, LSD was not. It was found that the drug did have an important place in therapy for, as mentioned previously, it "abreacts" the patient to early traumas, creates exceptional rapport between patient and therapist and, consequently, facilitates transference. In this regard, British psychiatrist Dr. R.A. Sandison, one of the first practitioners to recognize the potentials of LSD, made the following statement to some of his colleagues:
There are good reasons for believing that the LSD experience is a manifestation of the psychic unconscious, and that its material can be used in psychotherapy in the same way that dreams, phantasies and paintings can be used by the psychoanalysts.
In documenting this statement, Dr. Sandison gave evidence that the drug was, in his experience, a successful, safe treatment for intractable neurotics and that in other cases, such as the compulsive obsessive, the results were often spectacular.
One reason why LSD has not been more widely used in therapy—despite its demonstrable effectiveness—is that it may have been "too effective." Highly excited reports, which by now number well over two thousand, have, as Dr. Buckman put it, "succeeded in antagonizing" much of the informed psychiatric opinion:
Many therapists were outraged because of this threat to their omnipotence. Many were justifiably concerned about the irresponsible use of a powerful drug on unsuspecting patients or volunteers. As a reaction to the early reports that the answer to the problem of mental illness was here, at last, there began to appear publications stressing mostly the dangers of suicide and psychosis, and accusing those who were using LSD of charlatanry and self-deception.
In actuality, any contra-indications of the use of LSD in treatment of mental patients are minimal when the therapist is thoroughly educated in the drug and its action. In 1960 Dr. Sidney Cohen undertook an extensive survey of psychedelic use to determine the nature of possible drawbacks. He wrote to 62 European and American investigators who had published papers on their work in LSD therapy. Forty-four replied with detailed data on the dangers of psychedelic treatment; the accumulation represented over 5,000 patients and 25,000 sessions covering a dosage range of from 25 mcg. to 1500 mcg.
In the survey, no serious physical complications were reported—even when the drugs were given to alcoholics with generally impaired health. (This was a somewhat unexpected result, since many of these individuals had diseased livers, a condition which previously it had been assumed would produce an adverse drug reaction.) There was also a surprisingly low incidence of major mental disturbances. Despite the profound psychic changes that occur while a subject is under the influence of LSD or mescaline, psychotic reactions lasting longer than 48 hours developed in fewer than 2/10ths of one per cent of the cases. The attempted suicide rate was just over 1/10th of one percent. Not one case of addiction was reported.
If this sampling of five thousand drug users is divided into two classes—the mentally sound volunteers and the mentally unstable—the results seem even more encouraging. Among those who had simply volunteered for LSD or mescaline experiments, major or prolonged psychological complications almost never occurred. In this group, only one instance of a psychotic reaction lasting longer than two days was reported, and there were no suicides. Among the mentally ill given the drugs, however, prolonged psychotic states were induced in one out of every 550 patients. In this group, one in 830 attempted suicide, and one in 2500 carried the attempt through.
In evaluating the statistics, it should be pointed out that at the time of the survey (1960) the proper use of the drug in therapy was not well understood, and that at least some of the negative reactions were deliberately brought about, as many of the doctors were trying to produce "model psychoses" in their patients. Nevertheless, the statistics clearly showed that contra-indications to the use of the drug were lower than those normally encountered in conventional psychotherapy.
Since 1960, new LSD therapeutic techniques have been introduced and methods of administering the drug have been refined. These advances have resulted in further reduction of potential hazards. Dr. Hanscarl Leuner, an outstanding European expert on psycholytic therapy, has this to say about Cohen's report:
Cohen... showed very well how low the relative risk of the therapy is, if it is carried out responsibly by qualified doctors. Thus, we actually are threatened less by adverse results, or severe complications, than we had to assume at the start. Our experience has shown that this risk can be reduced practically to zero in a well-institutionalized therapy, as in our clinic. This holds for the activation of depressions and schizophrenic psychoses, as well as attempted or successful suicides.
Some of LSD's therapeutic unpopularity may be attributable to the strain put upon credulity by the use of the term "miraculous" in describing results the drug has brought about. Rauwolfia was synthesized in 1947 and chlorpromazine was manufactured in 1953; both were put into use almost immediately by physicians throughout the United States. The tranquilizers are far easier to understand in their action than are the psychedelics since they do not bring about any impressive or long-lasting behavior change. As long as the patient responds to the tranquilizers and uses them regularly, he maintains the desired well-being; should he become immune to them or give them up, he reverts. This seems reasonable enough. But with the psychedelics, change in the patient is often so radical that the ensuing case history, with its vivid content, may be viewed with suspicion by those who are unfamiliar with the field.
It bears repeating that many professional researchers who have made use of the drug feel that cure has come about through what is essentially a "religious" conversion. This explanation is in itself an excellent means for alienating those medical practitioners who are oriented to traditional therapeutic concepts. Consequently, when LSD therapists speak of their gains, they are inclined to confine themselves to the subjects of abreaction and transference, which fit conventional attitudes, rather than to refer directly to the suspect territory of the "mystical." Undoubtedly it is the "miracle cure" and "mystical" aspects that put many medical practitioners off and arouse their adverse criticism, regardless of how persuasive or elaborate the evidence. A recent, somewhat unconsidered AMA editorial reflected this when it urged that "Every effort should be made by the medical profession to block the use" of LSD and similar drugs.
A third problem which interferes with general professional acceptance lies in the nature of the claims put forth by practitioners; they seem to contradict each other, and often sound unreasoning and chaotic. Nowhere is this better illustrated than at the 1959 Josiah Macy Conference, where 26 experts on LSD therapy came together. The conflict, disagreement and confusion over the four papers presented made it clear that there were approximately 26 separate opinions on how LSD should be used in treatment. Dr. Charles Savage had this to say about the conference:
This meeting is most valuable because it allows us to see all at once results ranging from the nihilistic conclusions of some of the evangelical ones of others. Because the results are so much influenced by the personality, aims, and expectations of the therapist, and by the setting, only such a meeting as this could provide us with such a variety of personalities and settings.
At the present time, psychedelic therapy is still in an exploratory stage, with individual doctors favoring widely assorted techniques, dosages, drugs and drug mixtures. Over the past quarter century, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals spent over $3-million in developing the drug and handed out sample doses of LSD to hundreds of reputable investigators. As a result, well over 40,000 patients to date have received the drug from a "variety of personalities" and in a variety of settings. The dosage range ran from 25 mcg. to 2,500 mcg. and was taken privately or in some cases administered to whole hospital wards. Some received only one dose; others had over 120. In most instances the drug was used as an adjunct to psychotherapy, but many patients were given it as a onetime treatment. Most investigators screened out psychotics or schizophrenics, but some did not and claimed surprising success in such cases. Most patients received the treatment from only one therapist, but a number of researchers believed better results obtained when treatment was given by teams of several persons. Among the varied techniques, hypnotism was used in conjunction with LSD; some installed nurses as "parent surrogates" for the patients; others encouraged their patients to "act out" aggressions during the LSD session by giving them objects to tear up, strike, etc. There were also doctors who depended primarily upon symbolic interpretation of familiar objects and universal insignia, as well as those who concentrated on dream material. Some used LSD alone; some combined it with Ritalin, Librium, Dramamine or amphetamines of several kinds, while others added one or another of the familiar "mind-changing" drugs as well as some of the lesser known such as CZ-74.
Just as the techniques and dosages differed in the extreme, so did the "variety of personalities" of the physicians guiding the sessions. Inevitably included were many who did not truly understand the characteristics of the drug's transformations and who, consequently, were inept. Tact, zeal and intuition are considered requisite in guiding a session, in addition to familiarity with the drug's action. That many "psychotic reactions" were attributable to the personality of some of the therapists is evident from the remarks of two doctors who have frequently supervised the administration of LSD:
We've also had psychotomimetic reactions in patients who were not psychotic before we gave them the drug. We have traced these reactions back to the effect of the attitude of the treatment personnel. We have been able to give the drug again and get a psychedelic reaction, after we have worked through with the treatment personnel what had caused the psychotomimetic reaction.
... there is already considerable evidence to suggest that the potential harm in the drug lies in its dramatic appeal to the sick therapist. I have wondered, further, if its repudiation by many is a function of too-limited experience and, in some instances, the therapist's need to control the rehabilitative process more closely than can be done under LSD.
Today there is a general agreement among LSD therapists that the drug is a superior instrument for treating the whole range of neuroses, or any similar disorders, which ordinarily respond to psychoanalysis. Typical reports seem to indicate that even with severe problems only 10 or 15% fail to achieve any improvement. Hollywood Hospital in Canada, following up 89 patients for an average of 55 months, found that 55% had a total remission of the problem; 34% were improved; and 11% were unchanged. In Germany, at the University of Gottingen's Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Leuner's results, independently rated, showed 76% "greatly improved" or "recovered" in patients with character neuroses, depressive reactions, anxiety, phobias or conversion-hysteria. And Dr. Ling states in an evaluation of his work at Marlborough Day Hospital in London:
An analysis of 43 patients treated privately in 1962, i.e., three years ago, shows that 34 are completely well and socially well-adjusted. Six are improved, one abandoned treatment, one had to leave for Africa before treatment was finished, and one failed to respond satisfactorily, so treatment was abandoned.
Such recovery rates speak so positively that even those LSD specialists who have definite reservations about the drug's use in therapy are, nonetheless, of the opinion that LSD should be used when accepted techniques have failed after a year or more, as long as there is high patient motivation for change. Dr. Donald Blair, an English consultant psychiatrist, says, for instance: "People who have had psychotherapy or psychoanalysis for some time, as much as eight years, and haven't gotten anywhere, do so with the drug; it does break resistance... You get neurotic patients who have been to numerous therapists, analysts, and they don't get better. Then they come to one of us who are using LSD and thanks to the effect of the drug, they do get better."
In using psychedelic drugs for psychotherapy, European doctors seem to be considerably more enlightened than American doctors, and until very recently there were no legal restrictions that made these drugs difficult to obtain. Now European laws are being tightened, too. In the United Kingdom, where once any hospital could buy and dispense LSD at its own discretion, and the drug was available to approved psychiatrists, new bills restricting LSD distribution have been passed by Parliament. Since these rulings, the black market there has grown and may soon be comparable to that in America; British research and therapeutic programs are now also curtailed. The same situation may eventually spread to the Continent, where psycholytic therapy has been widely available for ten years.
Based upon Leuner's successful work at the University of Gottingen, 17 centers using the psychedelic drugs in multi-session therapy were set up in Europe. Experience indicated that best results came about when the patient had had an average of 26.7 sessions. The average number of treatment hours for the doctor amounted to 55.5 per patient, in addition to about ten hours of pre-treatment and after-care. Sixty-five therapy hours per patient may seem a disproportionate amount of attention, but as Dr. Leuner explains it:
... keeping in mind that psycholysis is a causal therapy for most severe and previously incurable cases, to those resisting all other forms of therapy, including long years of psychoanalytic treatment, this expenditure seems slight. If we were to carefully assume that on the average our cases would have required 300 individual psychoanalytic sessions, our time expenditure is less than one fourth, completely ignoring the far greater effect. Furthermore, new indications such as sexual perversion, psychopathy and borderline cases can be treated.
Another advantage to LSD therapy is that the patient need not necessarily be institutionalized, even if his case is severe. Such therapy has the advantages of speed and intensity as well. Dr. Ling cites an illustrative example:
A senior executive of an international advertising agency who had had two years of analysis, four days a week, stated that he had derived more insight in his third LSD session than in the two years' analysis. As a busy man, he made it clear he was not going to spend "endless hours" between sessions in view of his failure to improve previously with one of the leading orthodox analysts in London.
As with traditional methods of therapy, one of the basic components of psycholytic LSD therapy is abreaction, i.e., the patient's recall of events in his life in which negative and threatening experience was dominant and never subsequently resolved. When such material is repressed, the individual's emotional and intellectual maturation may be stunted. Freud, in fact, was of the opinion that no symptoms of any kind were removable unless abreaction occurred. If these traumatic events also happen during critical growth periods in a person's life, their effect will be even more serious—and more elusive. This is particularly true when treatment is on the verbal level only.
In the successful session with LSD, abreaction is spontaneous and almost inevitable. In addition, this process can be elicited and abetted by means of "props," such as Panda bears given to the patient to fondle, hot water bottles, dolls, mirrors; and the creation of homelike atmosphere and practices such as reading children's stories aloud to the patient, tucking him in bed, "cooing," calling the patient by a childhood nickname, etc. Because the LSD experience produces vacillating states of past and present (or co-existing past and present), the patient can bring his mature viewpoint to bear on a problem that occurred in childhood; thus what might have heretofore seemed incomprehensible, unfair or cruel can—in the light of the LSD insight—seem perfectly natural or of no adult importance.
Abreaction, however, is only part of the story. Dr. Jack Ward has some discerning remarks to make which are pertinent here:
It is my conviction that in both the Psychodramatic and LSD treatment experiences the forces leading to growth are somehow concentrated in greater intensity than in other forms of therapy.... In both forms of treatment there is no room for the "as if" operation. In Psychodrama, if the protagonist, group or auxiliary egos are acting instead of living what they are doing, the session will be almost useless. If the converse is true, the session is very productive. In LSD there is no "as if" experience. One is not "like" something; one is. It is not as if one were looking at one's self; one looks at one's self. It is not as if one had a heart attack like that which killed father; one has it and so convincingly that on one occasion an empathic physician present felt the same acute physical symptoms himself....So far, the majority of successful reports on the treatment of mental patients with LSD are those which deal with neurotic patients who have had at least reasonable motivation to get well. There seems to be a tacit agreement among therapists that LSD will not be effective in the psychoses, and those practitioners who undertake LSD treatment of schizophrenics are often regarded by many as brave and/or reckless.
.... the intense experiences of the LSD patient are basically common to all of us. This is probably the reason why the LSD patient feels that he has shared with the observers a basic experience even though he often has not spoken about it while going through it. It is obvious that everyone has an exquisite perception of the reaction of those about him when he is undergoing the effects of the drug. Negative comments often bring out paranoid reactions as in one patient who said to a physician who was his friend and who began to probe, "Your fingers are growing long and claw like. It's amazing how someone can change in one minute. I'm not going to answer anybody's questions from now on." More usual, if one has a skilled LSD "Audience," is the unexpected comment, "Thank you for being here and going through this with me."
Impressive in both techniques is the amount of spontaneity that human beings are capable of under favorable conditions.... the individual is freed or forced to experience a great outpouring of feeling often far beyond his conception of his own emotional capabilities. Sometimes the patient becomes so overwhelmed by the unexpected extent of his own spontaneity that he experiences acute (fortunately temporary) panic because of his own "lack of control." However, such feelings are usually followed by a feeling of great peace, a result which is also similar to many successful Psychodrama sessions.
In general, it is true that LSD does not work particularly well with the patient whose mental derangement is well developed. It may, in fact, precipitate a worsened condition. Nevertheless, there are indications that those who have administered LSD in such instances have nonetheless obtained positive reactions that are impressive and worthy of broader consideration. Dr. Fred W. Langner, who has had wide experience with LSD, has used the drug effectively with severely disturbed persons whose disorder was preponderantly schizophrenic. His conclusions, after using LSD in over two thousand patient sessions, are that pseudo-neurotics and paranoid schizophrenics do not respond favorably, and may, in fact, suffer regression; but that schizoid personalities, whose egos are not too brittle, may through LSD have their first experience with "feeling." One of his patients said, "I know now that I never knew what people were talking about when they talked about feelings till I took LSD. I didn't know till toward the end of my second year of therapy that feelings could be good as well as
Dr. Edward F. W. Baker of Toronto has also found LSD "extremely effective" in treatment of acute psychoses. After he presented a paper on his work with schizophrenics and others, Dr. Savage commented:
I really admire Dr. Baker for his courage in using LSD with involutional manic-depressives and paranoids. It suggests to me that perhaps we have been a little too fearful and timid in our approach. Have we been threatened by others in the hostile field with which we have been surrounded?
While many physicians are reluctant to give LSD to psychotics who are out of contact with reality, latest indications are that more will eventually come to agree with Dr. Savage (seeing that it is a matter of "bedside manner" with these badly regressed patients, and that trust and understanding in LSD application may be the sine qua non for positive results). It is clear now that spectacularly beneficial changes can be obtained, even in severe cases where prognosis has been poor. The present conflict of opinion closely resembles the earlier arguments concerning LSD and the treatment of alcoholics who had liver damage. Many were emphatic on the subject at the time and said a definite contraindicant was a diseased liver. But when alcoholics—who had been abandoned as hopeless because of advanced liver deterioration—received the drug, it was found that no deleterious effects resulted.
Ironically, another reservation about the wisdom of giving LSD to the psychotically disturbed is fear that the initial jolt that the drug brings to the state of consciousness may so alarm the patient that he will become further disoriented. This attitude, however, fails to acknowledge the fact that LSD's action resembles the psychotic state itself, and that the psychotic mind regularly wanders in and out of everyday reality. Consequently, the psychotic might actually be a more likely and appropriate candidate for this treatment than the average person, because he is already familiar with oscillations of consciousness and can more easily accept them.
It is to be hoped that a thorough systemization of sundry techniques and methodologies will soon be undertaken so therapists in the field will have a clearer picture of the directions being taken, their significance, and a delineation of future avenues of investigation. Such a clarification may prove of vital importance to the mental health movement. Work with autistic children was also considered forbidden territory for LSD, but in the past few years research has broadened surprisingly—however quietly—and using the drug on autistic children is only one of the new areas which has come under LSD exploration. Casework has also been done with juvenile delinquents and potential suicides—and even with such unlikely subjects as dolphins.
Early in 1966, The New York Times picked up a story from the American Journal of Psychiatry concerning the LSD treatment of five-year-old twins who had almost completely withdrawn from human contact; this was the first case reported in a series of eighteen at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA. The twins, after receiving the drug, "markedly reduced their bizarre repetitive movements, their preoccupation with mechanically rhythmic activities," and indications were that for the first time they might be reached. As theTimes reported it, "One reason why childhood autism has been so resistant to treatment is that its victims can make no contact or express any interest in the people who try to help them. There is little eye contact, no speech, lack of concentration on everything but mechanically repeated activities." This study was especially important not only because the twin boys became subjectively more accessible, but also because the procedure was witnessed by independent observers unaware that the pair had been given LSD. The Times report on this study was significant, for it constitutes one of the first accounts of such work to appear in a newspaper of wide circulation.
In the following case, which concerns an adult who had been institutionalized since childhood for retardation, the therapist took the drug along with the patient, and there was a psychologist present as an observer.
PATIENT: (Lying on cot) I haven't had the same opportunity as those outside. I had to learn by my surroundings... (Referring to the staff) Their expressions tell me what they think... (Referring to patients) The worst one to watch for is the quiet type. They can talk but won't talk...
THERAPIST: How would you feel if you were a whitecoat?
PATIENT: If I took a liking to a particular patient, I would not show this in front of the other patients. It is just the way you would treat your own children. You should not favor one over the other.
THERAPIST: Do you think that a lot of the patients here need help?
PATIENT: Not a lot of them, all of them... One little word of kindness sparks a whole new world of love... I would like to talk to you in 3 or 4 weeks, after the drug has worn off. Then compare what I say then and what I say now.... You people talking to me after 30 years is like the world coming to an end... Other boys feel this way. It is like a key is opening a door and the light is flowing in. And this means a great deal to me....
THERAPIST: When he goes through these gates, what do you think that he should do first?
PATIENT: He should get to know others. There is no return. Do not look back, go ahead... Find a girl who feels the same way you do and maybe get married... Why have you given me your time when nobody ever did before?
OBSERVER: How much is enough time?
PATIENT: Eternally... I don't know whether to laugh or cry ... Do you get the feeling of closeness as humans, instead of like man and patient?... If I get out, write and let me know when you have helped another patient...
At this point, the discussion turned to religion. The patient told the therapist that as a psychologist he should have a Bible in his office, which he did not.
PATIENT: I feel sorry that you don't know the Bible. You are never too old to learn and you'll never learn any younger. If you want to know the patients, read the 5th chapter of Matthew. Work out these verses, verse by verse.
OBSERVER: Unfortunately we can't do that.
PATIENT: (Shouting) Can't or won't. The truth hurts. I want it to hurt you as it hurts me... You have to give kindness in order to get it. You won't get kindness by poking somebody ...
Following this episode, the patient grew increasingly critical and verbally aggressive. Possibly this could have been avoided had the observer humored the patient about the Bible verses. (In the original report it was noted that one alert observer, visiting temporarily, did bring in a copy of the New Testament when the subject of religion was first mentioned. In any case, the session deteriorated from that time on and did not fulfill its original promise.)
At the same institution, another patient who was "opened" by the LSD treatment responded more positively. Like the patient in the previously cited case, he also seemed to enjoy himself at times during his LSD session. He responded with laughter, displayed intuitive ability and made some rather sharp observations.
The second case is especially interesting in that through the patient's LSD sessions, the therapist was made aware that such patients, although suffering from advanced mental disorders, may—within their virtually impregnable mental "fortress"—be far more alert and rational than is generally assumed. If this is true, it becomes obvious that great care must be exercised in dealings with such patients, for it may well be that they are so oriented to minutiae that even an inadvertent blink of the doctor's eye can destroy trust that has been established and close the patient up once again. "These are human beings," the therapist remarked, "not vegetables."
As a result of this particular session, the therapist reported that he has gained a number of other insights as well. He found the patient's response to religious material and to music indicative that much more daily attention should be paid to these interests and that a music therapy program might be of considerable benefit to such patients.
Additionally, the therapist stated that this case presented, in a new light, the importance that work and doing a job successfully has for these patients. It became apparent that rotating jobs for the patients was ill-advised. Continuing on the same project helped the patients define themselves and establish at least an island in reality. Work therapy was the institution's primary means for helping the patients pass time, yet as a result of this patient's LSD session, the doctor realized that mere employment was an inadequate answer to the patients' needs. The doctor was able to see that the patients would benefit from exposure to the same diversions as those found in life outside the institution:
Once these people are oriented to outside living and are trained in specific skills which they can offer the community, they must not be tossed out of the institution like a man swept off of a ship into the raging sea. They need to feel the security of companionship while in the new environment—to learn to share the pleasant experiences of Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, picnics in the park, and all those little things which give value to living. It is not enough to train them for a job—this is only a part of the outside world, a very essential and important part, but only a part of the whole.Repeatedly the "need for love" is stressed by LSD therapists. At the Amityville LSD Conference, for instance, the "plea for love" was made 60 frequently that the moderator, Dr. Frank Fremont-Smith, commented on it:
It is not enough to have a social or guidance worker drop around to see how you are doing occasionally—these people need real love and understanding, the love and understanding which seems to come through LSD. Maybe it is an artificial way of achieving it, but if it achieves the end of a fuller life, then this, in my opinion, is good.... If LSD has brought this idea to a more prominent place in my thinking, then although it may have its drawbacks, it is beneficial—at least for me.
If all nursing staff was administered one shot of LSD under suitable conditions, we may have the growth of a new approach to the mentally handicapped, an emptying of our overfull garbage cans.
It is a great advance to have people who are courageous enough in a scientific meeting to speak of love. I am delighted... It is crucial.... But for doctors to admit they have to give love of the appropriate kind, as described by Dr. Kramer, to their patients is something we are afraid of. Because of the suffering of patients and the call upon us as medical students for a kind of love that we don't know how to manage, we don't know how to put it in the right frame of reference. We have had no training in this respect at all. We tend, rather, to build up our defenses against it.... We have to make it respectable in the nursing profession, in the medical profession, and in the whole therapeutic team. The appropriate way to manage an expression of love is not only highly respectable but absolutely a demand.
One of the most unusual bits of evidence suggesting that LSD can create affection and end alienation is to be found in the work Dr. John Lilly and his associates have done with dolphins. An experiment conducted in the Virgin Islands included a female dolphin who had been accidentally injured and thus had developed a phobia for human beings that lasted for two years, i.e., until she was given 100 mcg. of LSD. Prior to that she had remained on the far side of the pool, remote and isolated. Given LSD, she proved a particularly interesting subject for Dr. Lilly, one of many scientists experimenting with dolphins (because of their superior intelligence) in an effort to "communicate" with them in their language and ours.
Forty minutes after the dolphin's LSD injection, she approached Dr. Lilly and looked him in the eye for ten minutes without moving. This reaction was exciting because it was totally without precedent on her part. To test her further, Dr. Lilly began to circle the tank—and she followed him right around the edge. When an assistant took over, the dolphin followed him also. Now she approaches Dr. Lilly to within five feet instead of maintaining the twenty-foot distance she had kept between them previously.
One English case-worker who learned of this response, Mary S. Wicks, likened it to her own experience in working with delinquents and others whose reaction to past experience had rendered them incapable of trust and mutuality:
I know from... working with these people for years, who never give in, and who always hit back at society, and I have had the same experience you had. After one or two treatments with LSD they are feeling for the first time that they are actually relating, and that it is possible to get near someone, and that it is all part of the process of loving—and then being able to accept love.
Among those most alienated from the rest of humanity are the incipient suicides. According to statistical prediction, some 20,500 Americans this year will elect to die. This group presents an especially baffling mental health dilemma because often there are no warning signals that suicide is contemplated. However, LSD has been known to identify latent suicidal tendencies and alleviate them. Such instances may be found throughout the LSD literature.
The majority of doctors who use LSD in practice are exceedingly cautious in treating known potential suicides because there are on record a number of cases in which the drug may have actually pushed the patient over the edge. In fact, this is one of the few areas in the LSD controversy where specialists are in general agreement. Yet, at the same time, such contraindicant persons are known to have responded well to the drug when it has been given in instances where histories of past suicide attempts have been concealed from the therapist. Dr. Baker, for example, in discussing a suicide case he had treated also mentioned four other patients who were suicidal (and had, in fact, been in barbiturate coma when admitted to his hospital), who later, after LSD, lost their suicide drive. In the case where an actual suicide had occurred, Dr. Baker said that he did not know whether it could be ascribed to the LSD interview which had taken place two weeks earlier, to the patient's schizoid personality or to other unknown factors. Dr. Cohen, when asked to compare LSD-induced suicide with that brought about through the therapeutic use of other drugs or other forms of treatment, replied:
The comparison can't be made. If a group of potentially suicidal patients has any kind of therapy, a few will commit suicide, and many will be rescued. If a drug is involved, it will be of less importance than the skill, alertness, and devotion of the therapist.
In explaining how LSD has upon occasion helped to subvert suicide, two rationales are generally given. The first focuses upon the drug's ability to produce a state of euphoria at the same time it creates the fantasy of death and rebirth—which together can replace and satisfy the suicidal urge. Some people seem to feel attracted to death by suicide from early childhood, and in such cases there is as a result good theoretical justification for the LSD experience.
One example of such a case occurred when Masters and Houston were conducting their research. It concerned a businessman in his late forties who had definitely decided to kill himself and who took LSD as a last resort. However he did not mention suicide to his guide either before or during his session. Even after the drug began to take effect, he gave no sign that anything out of the ordinary was happening to him except when, for a while, he assumed the foetal position. Only two weeks later did the subject confess his chronic suicide compulsion, stating that previous treatment with various therapists had actually intensified it. But after taking LSD, he found himself free of his depressions. During his session he felt as if he had died and been reborn, and consequently no longer needed to kill himself. Here are the subject's own words, describing his feelings before and after:
It was absolutely essential that I die. It was not the depression alone that created this urgent need within me. I had lived with the depression for years and while it was extremely painful it was not beyond my ability to endure. No, there was something else that I cannot explain beyond saying how I felt. There was this inescapable and irresistible feeling that I must die. I am absolutely certain that had I not "died" in the LSD session I would have had to die in some other way, and that could only have meant really dying. Committing suicide, destroying myself, as I surely would have done.
A second way in which LSD seems to eradicate suicidal promptings is to bring forth long-repressed death wishes which might have tragically surfaced in dramatic fashion. One of Dr. Sandison's patients, who was in a state of depression, describes her experience:
I had the sensation... of a snake curling up around me.... I then began to see serpents' faces all over the wall—then I saw myself as a fat, potbellied snake slithering gaily away to destruction. I felt horrified and thought, "Whose destruction?" I then realized it was my own destruction—I was destroying myself. I seemed to be having a battle between life and death—it was a terrific struggle, but life won. I then saw myself on the treadmill of life—a huge wheel was going round and round with hundreds of people on it. Some were on top going confidently through life, others were getting jostled and trodden on but still struggling to go on living (I saw myself as one of these people) and then there were the others who just couldn't cope with life and were being crushed to death in the wheel. I had another realization of how I was destroying myself—by carrying on this affair with this married man.... I knew it must cease and knew that I must never see him again.
It is clear that in the case just cited the problem centered in a drive toward self-destruction, but it took an LSD session for these impulses to emerge; all that was specifically known before was that this patient was "deeply depressed"—a diagnosis which might never have been understood in enough detail, even with lengthy treatment under ordinary analysis.
Sometimes when LSD has not been used for therapy itself, analysts have employed small quantities of the drug as a diagnostic tool. Prior to actual treatment, as an exploratory measure, the candidate was given a sample dosage, along with standard psychometric tests to establish the nature and depth of the patient's disorder. This served to clarify in the therapist's own mind the nature of the patient's problem—and the patient himself, gaining insight under the drug, became more cooperative. One particular patient who had been oblivious to all of her symptoms, cried out, during her second diagnostic LSD session, "I am a sex maniac," much to her own astonishment. Her therapist, Dr. Baker, commented on this outcry and the relation it bore to her "gun-phobia," for which she had entered treatment:
[It] brought her to realize the male genital symbolism involved (you must believe that this was not suggested by the therapist). At the same time she realized her own marked, hitherto repressed, genital sexual drive.
LSD has proved useful, too, in determining whether certain homosexual patients have such a deep-set disorder that their only hope is to accept it, or whether the condition can be corrected and the patient's life situation thereby brought into normal focus. This prognostic ability of LSD also applies to neurotics; the drug helps the therapist gauge the patient's amenability to psychotherapy.
Dr. Johnsen on this subject says:
If we get sexual perverts, for example, we may question what kind of treatment to give them; we want to find out a little more about them. We could use three or four weeks finding out, but we shorten that and say we will try if we can find out more with one or two LSD sessions. We use small doses then. We find that the symptoms are clearer; they are willing to speak more openly to us; we can get a clearer picture of the diagnosis. We have used it in that way to save time.
A second indication for limited LSD use is in the termination of regular analytic treatment. LSD will be administered in small doses when the therapy is nearing its end to bring about a clarification and emotional summary of the preceding gains. It may also bring to light any important material that has been overlooked. Just as in technical and creative problem-solving, LSD seems to synthesize and provide a fuller understanding of stored-up intellectual matter previously apprehended primarily on a verbal level. It forces an emotional crisis in those who have over-intellectualized, and makes their cure sounder, on an unsuperficial level.
That LSD can benefit others beside the patient involved was indicated earlier in speaking of what therapists have learned of "feeling the psychotic experience" instead of simply witnessing the performance from the outside. Through clearer understanding of the schizophrenic process, valuable and entirely new tests have been devised, based upon a closer look at the details of mental disorder, unavailable before. The Hoffer-Osmond Diagnostic Test (the HOD Test) explores the experiential world of the schizophrenic, and though it is a crude instrument, it is unexpectedly effective. An ex-schizophrenic said of the HOD Test, "I wish you had had this test when I was ill. I would have known you knew something about my illness."
And, as might be expected, artists and other creative people have contributed their personal psychedelic findings to the drug's growing body of literature at the disposal of the clinician. Henri Michaux, the distinguished French painter-poet, used his experiences with mescaline, psilocybin and cannabis to picture for the layman the difficulties and problems encountered by the mentally deranged. In the "Chasm-Situations" section of his book, Light Through Darkness, and in the "Experimental Schizophrenia" section of another volume, Miserable Miracle, he vividly describes what it is like to be a "model psychotic." His work is of great value to psychologists and medical students.
Perhaps the outstanding instance of creative problem solving lending itself to therapeutic implementation occurred when Kyoshi Izumi, a prominent architect, was asked to design a mental hospital in Canada and decided to take LSD in search of better insight into the problem. In his words:
Psychiatrists talk one language and I talk another. They knew what they wanted but someone had to translate their wishes into architecture. To me there was really no other way. If I were to really understand the fears and problems of the schizophrenic, I would have to look at things the way they did.
Consequently, when he took LSD, Izumi paid extensive visits to old mental institutions in an attempt to see them through the eyes of derangement. He found himself terrified by literally dozens of standard hospital accoutrements and features which had always been taken for granted as adequate. The tiles on the wall glistened eerily, thereby projecting hideous fantasies that sprang at him from the cracks. The recessed closets seemed to yawn like huge, dark cavities, threatening to swallow him alive. The raised hospital beds, too high for a patient to sit on and at the same time touch the floor, were like crags jutting out over abysses. There was no privacy, and the time sense was nil, due to the absence of clocks, calendars or any other measuring device which might help a patient find his bearings. The bars on the windows were a constant reminder of incarceration. But worst of all were the long, endless corridors leading into more of Nowhere which, nevertheless, had to be traversed.
After his LSD insights, Mr. Izumi was able to design what has been called "the ideal mental hospital." The first was built in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, and five others have been modeled upon it elsewhere in Canada. There is a similarly-inspired hospital in Haverford, Pa., and because commendation has been made for this outstanding architectural advancement by the Joint Information Service of the American Psychiatric Association, it is possible that the present outdated hospitals will give way to new ones resembling Izumi's designs.
The Yorkton hospital consists of small, cottage-like clusters of rooms, thirty to a unit, joined together by underground passageways. Seen from the air, the entire structure resembles a Maltese cross. There are many windows, low and unbarred, eliminating the old, dismal barnlike aspect of mental hospitals. The walls are painted in pleasant, flat colors, and each patient has his own room in one or another of the clusters, rather than a bed in an austere, nearly bare ward. The beds are low to the floor, and the rooms are furnished with regard to making it easier to define the floor as a mere floor, not a pit. Also, the furniture is comfortable and not unlike that with which the patient is familiar at home. The closet problem has been solved by installing large, moveable cabinets which the patient can clearly see possess both a back and a front. Clocks and calendars abound, while floor tiles are sparingly used. The emphasis throughout puts patient needs foremost, without sacrificing utility. Izumi's ingenious designs for mental hospitals are monuments to humanitarianism, making it clear that LSD can be not just a "mind-or consciousness-expanding" drug, but a "conscience-expanding" one as well. For so many centuries the doors to compassion for the mentally ill have been closed, barred by fear, superstition and misunderstanding. One doctor [Dr. Savage], who had thought himself reasonably kind and understanding, made an explicit statement regarding the therapeutic and humanitarian implications that have flowed from experience with LSD:
First, I would suggest that we be more alert for the early onset of schizophrenia, which is commonly accompanied by strong feelings of unreality and perceptual distortions. Very often the schizophrenic makes early appeals for help, often repeatedly calling his friends or his family, yet he is so blocked that he does not get his message across. Such patients make frequent appeals to the doctor.... I believe that if we can recognize them at this point and somehow reduce the level of anxiety, we can materially impede the perceptual distortions and the rapid disintegration of the ego....It is difficult to imagine "madness" with any sense of accuracy or intensity. One can imagine blindness, to some extent, by simply closing the eyes; one can empathize with another "normal" personality, regardless of sex or idiosyncrasies. But the acute derangement of the senses falls beyond the imaginative and empathetic powers of most individuals. This is, perhaps, the explanation for the paucity of "inside understanding" of schizophrenia and the general feeling of revulsion towards the insane. It may be that LSD is on the verge of changing all this. Just as the LSD therapists who worked with alcoholics found that the drug brought about cooperation both with the patients and among themselves, so those who have used psychedelics in treatment of mental disorder are finding the same rewards and gaining new and vital knowledge. Dr. Savage, as quoted above, has been joined by similar spokesmen in this branch of medicine. Dr Robert C. Murphy, Jr., in a paper entitled, "A Psycho therapist's Debt to LSD," gives the drug credit for enabling him to become better acquainted with his patients and to "give freely and unguardedly" of himself.
Second, I would like to suggest that our treatment of the acute schizophrenic reaction is all wrong. At a time when the schizophrenic is desperately trying to hold on to some vestige of reality, we do everything in our power to destroy his hold on reality. We take him from his home, to a police station; from there to the emergency hospital, then to the admission ward, and finally either to the treatment ward or to the mental hospital. We cloud his sensorium with soporifics and shock, dealing a blow to his grasp on reality. We isolate him, putting him in a quiet room—as unreal an environment as one could ask for. We change his doctors and nurse; every eight hours a new shift comes on and several new faces appear.... The talking is important, but more important is the presence of another person, whom he can learn to trust and whom he feels is capable of understanding. I think that during an experience when time is meaningless, to have the attendant disappear for prolonged intervals is devastating. As one subject with LSD put it, "Your physical reality disappears, and then your body disappears, and you have only another person and something gets between you and the other person, and you're cut off from the only thing that can save you."
Appreciation for this progress in physicians' under standing of their patients (and the ensuing shifting of personal attitudes toward the patient) was recently voiced by Norma McDonald, a former schizophrenic: 
One of the most encouraging things which has happened to me in recent years was the discovery that I could talk to normal people who had had the experience of taking mescaline or Iysergic acid, and they would accept the things I told them about my adventures in mind without asking stupid questions or withdrawing into a safe smug world of disbelief. Schizophrenia is a lonely illness and friends are of great importance. I have needed true friends to help me to believe in myself when I doubted my own mind, to encourage me with their praise, jolt me out of unrealistic ideas with their honesty and teach me by their example how to work and play. The discovery of LSD-25 by those who work in the field of psychiatry has widened my circle of friends.
Today government restrictions make further LSD therapy and experimentation virtually impossible, no matter how grave the need or plentiful the evidence that LSD can be effective in reversing the upward trend of mental disease. (Of all the promising projects that were in process, only six conservative investigations into the area of human response have been allowed to proceed at this writing.) There is now a general despondency among LSD practitioners—who have the feeling that they have been needlessly "laid off" and will continue so until the governing agencies can come to grips with the nature of the disagreement and realistically define the role of LSD in therapy. Dr. Langner, for instance, asks, "Do I feel any patients are being denied an experience of significant value as a result of non-acceptance of LSD as a therapeutic tool?" and answers, "Yes, I do."
Footnotes1. Dr. Johnsen of Modum Bads Nervesantorium in Norway, has treated about 200 patients in 1500 sessions with LSD, psilocybin and CZ-74. (back)
2. An account of Dr. Sandison's work with LSD can be found in The Hallucinogenic Drugs and Their Psychotherapeutic Use (C. C. Thomas, Inc.), edited by Crocket, Sandison and Walk. (back)
3. [At that time] Director of Research, Spring Grove State Hospital, Maryland. (back)
4. Dr. Kenneth Godfrey, and Dr. Fred W. Langner of Albuquerque, New Mexico. (back)
5. Psychodrama is a technique developed by Dr. J. L. Moreno in which the "acting out" of problems in group therapy is the principal method used. (back)
6. This work was carried out at the Saskatchewan Training School, Saskatchewan, Canada. (back)
7. Dr. Humphry Osmond describes the effects of curious moldings and other standard hospital decorations upon the mentally ill: "When you look at them with LSD, you suddenly realize how very strange they are. In many mental hospitals there are literally thousands of square feet of nicely polished tiles on the walls, which act like distorting mirrors at a fun fair. These are illusion-producing machines par excellence, and very expensive ones at that. If your perception is a little unstable, you may see your dear old father peering out at you from the walls and you may become extremely frightened, particularly if it happens you didn't get on too well with him. And even If you got on very well, it would be a little upsetting, if he has been dead a few years." (back)
8. Dr. Osmond also indicates how the mental patients constancy of perception becomes disorganized when he looks down a long corridor: "One of the best places to see this without taking LSD is at the TWA Building at Kennedy Airport. In one of the octopus-like legs of that contraption, we have inadvertently produced a machine for destroying constancy of perception. You cannot be sure whether the people walking toward you, along those sinuous corridors, are dwarfs close by or normal-sized people far away. And in such a corridor, when people walk toward you, instead of getting closer (our normal way of describing things), they merely seem to become larger, and if you don't realize what is happening, this can be quite frightening. The architect who has become sensitive to these matters, quickly recognizes the need to avoid vague and strange spaces." (back)
9. Such a design, influenced by psychedelics, may only coincidentally embody religious symbolism. Certainly, however, it has an intriguing metaphorical aptness. It is interesting to note that the Maltese cross was the symbol of the order of the Knights of Malta (Knights Hospitalers), who in the eleventh and twelfth centuries were noted for ministering to the sick and wounded. (back)
10. The difficulties in describing unfamiliar colors even to those who have their sight are yet formidable. For instance, Webster (Third New International, Unabridged) is put to some pains to describe "onionskin pink": "a light brown that is stronger and slightly redder and darker than alesan, stronger and slightly yellower and darker than blush, lighter, stronger and slightly redder than French beige; and redder, stronger, and slightly lighter than cork." (back)
11. From The Inner World of Mental Illness, R. Kaplan, ed. (N.Y., Harpers, 1964) (back)
12. Some of the evidence fits well in current psychological testing. Indications are, for instance, that the Rorschach, while not a very good guide to the selection of patients, does reflect LSD recoveries by a definite change in the approach to the test. "We think the Rorschach test definitely points to a permanent alteration of outlook in a significant number of cases," says Dr. Sandison, "and it will be interesting to see whether this correlates with permanent freedom from neurosis. Looking through the results, I have been impressed by the quite remarkable changes that have taken place in the tests over a period of 12 months."
Dr. Savage has this to say about the effect of LSD on the depression scale of the Minneapolis Multiphasic Personality Inventory: "I am coming more and more to the conclusion that LSD might be the treatment of choice with depressions, because according to MMPI data, at any rate, it moves the depression scale down further than anything else being used. It stays down; it doesn't come shooting right back up." (back)
Chapter VIII. Guidelines to the Use of LSD*
* The "guideline" hints given here, it should be understood, are offered mainly for future reference—in the event that the present restrictions against use of LSD are loosened. The authors to not intend them as encouragement to illegal experimentation.
Since LSD is at present so easily available, despite the measures taken against it, many other people are likely to use it from a similar lack-of-knowledge starting point. I should say here that although I came through the experience unharmed, I now think my casual approach to the drug was extremely dangerous. I've taken many other drugs, including heroin and cocaine, and never experienced anything as powerful and overwhelming as the LSD experience.
— Tom McGrath, Peace News
EARLY IN 1966, Lawrence Schiller, a journalist-photographer for Life magazine, traveled around the country making a survey of LSD use and distribution. When he learned from a UCLA psychiatrist that 10 to 15 per cent of the University's students had taken LSD, he found it hard to believe. Even harder to believe was the fact—soon verified by Schiller—that the story was neither local nor restricted to the campus:
An eighteen-year-old girl in Los Angeles gave me the name of the president of a major corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange. A seller gave me the phone number of an established sculptor. One boy introduced me to a major supplier and I confirmed that even the editor of one of the most respected magazines in this country admitted taking LSD.
Because Life's facilities for collecting and checking data are fairly exhaustive, Schiller's report has to be taken seriously. Bearing in mind that this investigation preceded the recent "psychedelic explosion," which has led to more experimental drug-taking rather than less, the implications of Schiller's findings are sensational: "I believe approximately four million Americans took LSD last year, judging from conversations with suppliers ... one out of eight take it at least every month."
While conservative estimates of LSD users still hover around the one million mark, it would seem that Schiller's figure is the more accurate because other sources of information indicate that metropolitan centers are inundated with LSD. (The Los Angeles Narcotics Bureau states that in the Southern California area alone more than a million doses are distributed per month.)
Of these millions of Americans purportedly taking LSD, how many know how to use it properly? How many understand the necessity for a sound pre-knowledge of the drug's action? Only a minute percentage, if one is to judge by the availability and sale of "guide manuals." Leary, Metzner and Alpert had sold fewer than twenty thousand copies of their book, The Psychedelic Experience, at the time Schiller made his survey—yet this is the only detailed guidebook, with do's and don't's for psychedelic sessions. In light of the importance of knowing what to expect of the drug, it is unnerving to realize that so many users were unaware of the manual, or did not think specific guidance necessary, or just did not want to spend five dollars to buy the book. The situation is somewhat analogous to home-doctoring with modern "miracle drugs" or such highly dangerous drugs as penicillin.
Now that the number of LSD users has mounted even higher, there are still no more than half a dozen articles or sets of guidelines available and none is very satisfactory. The Psychedelic Experience is biased and unacceptable to the reader who cannot or will not accommodate himself to Eastern thought and mysticism. Houston and Masters devote a chapter of their book to the training of a guide, but it is generalized and offers little to the non-professional or the uninitiated. A fairly good short set of directions is available from Dwight Bulkley of Newport Beach, California, a layman who describes himself as a "reasonably responsible senior citizen, knowledgeable in these materials and in the technical sciences." And an article by Gary Fisher in The Psychedelic Reader supplements the foregoing, as it goes into the matter of dosage levels in some detail.
Set and Setting:"Set and setting," a phrase coined by Dr. Leary, has become a permanent part of the psychedelic idiom because in very simple terms it gives the components which determine what happens in an LSD session. "Set" refers to the user's state of mind, his personality, his expectations and any memory material which may surface when he is under the drug. "Setting" is a term used to designate the environmental factors that might influence the occasion—other people present, selection of music, comfort, locale (indoors or out-of-doors), aesthetic background, amount of privacy, etc. By properly understanding the concept of "set and setting," it is possible to "program" a session for particular goals.
In the beginning of clinical research with LSD, reports from the experimental centers were perplexing because of their unevenness. This was especially apparent when representatives of several psychiatric disciplines got together at the Josiah Macy Conference and began comparing notes on their work with LSD. Some stated that not one of their volunteers ever wanted to take LSD again, whether the "setting" had been the office or the hospital. This came as a shock to those who maintained the exact opposite about their groups—all of their people had thought the experience rewarding. In time, because of this divergence of responses, it was realized that the drug itself played a minor role in determining the effect of the experience and that the salient point was to have a warm, supportive atmosphere.
Observers who have audited many LSD sessions and have seen the range of reactions that arise from various sets and settings claim that professional accreditation of the guide is no assurance of a productive experience; conversely, strictly regulated circumstances need not rule out a pleasurable "trip." Seasoned witnesses, however, do stress that the "warm, supportive atmosphere" contains the essence of the outcome and unless something close to "implicit trust" is felt by the experient for the guide, there is not sufficient "warmth" in the setting.
The session can be programmed by choosing a setting complimentary to the "set." As the mind under the drug works by an associative principle, cues from the guide and the environment are fed into the participant's stream of activated consciousness and can color it entirely. Thus, if the session has been planned with art appreciation in mind, the selection of appropriate "props" must be made with careful forethought. (If a decorator feels it important to understand "Action Painting," that is to say, it will not be appropriate to surround him with reproductions of Academic paintings simply because they fall under the heading of "art.") All sessions, of course, are "programmed," whether advertently or not, since they are shaped by set and setting. A consciously programmed session, however, is superior to an unplanned session for it eliminates the "channel-shifting" aspect and possible "static" that brings about confusion. Also, unplanned sessions may not readily move beyond "visual" material.
The Guide:The function of the guide is multifold: head nurse tutor, baby-sitter, Mother Earth, sympathetic ear, scullery maid, priest, trouble-shooter, tourist guide, doctor, navigator, soulmate, and blank screen
The competent guide knows that it is the subject's session, not his. This is why he must void all of his own emotional involvements to the best of his ability, become as nearly "blank" as he can, and in the twelve-or-so hours of the session, superimpose as needed the various other guide roles upon himself. He must be prepared to make a quick change from soulmate to scullery maid; or priest to trouble-shooter.
Probably the guide has had many sessions, at least one of which was devoted to concentrating on the clues to becoming a good guide. Without personal, first-hand experience with the psychedelics, it would be virtually impossible for him to appreciate what there is to be guided and to know how vital this trusteeship is. An involved non-involvement is the desideratum
This didactic point of view, shared by the majority of serious LSD advocates, is contested by some conservative clinicians. They argue that a guide who has had the drug has no objectivity and cannot properly maneuver the subject or evaluate the outcome. Masters and Houston are emphatic in their rebuttal of this and similar charges:
The argument that the person who has taken the psychedelic drugs thereby disqualifies himself as a person able to objectively view and evaluate the experience, must strike most seasoned researchers as simply ludicrous... Work done by those who refused to take the drugs does not demonstrate greater objectivity than that of persons who have had the drug experience; and doubtless refusal to experience the psychedelic state is a product, in some cases, of anxiety about the person's ability to cope with that state...In the early days of clinical use of the psychedelics, it was taken for granted that the "medicine" need not be tried by the therapist, but that it was like other medicines and could be prescribed automatically for specific purposes. Because of this, the few rather than the many actually took LSD themselves, and when they did, it was usually out of curiosity. The patient was given his "dosage" and left in a room by himself while the drug took effect, with only a bell or signaling device to summon help if he needed it. Gradually therapeutic practice recognized that more than a signaling device or a "watcher" was required. Now those specialists who have used the psychedelics for eight or ten years know that a guide is absolutely necessary and that he must be highly trained to cope with crises and to interpret and direct the session. Dr. Van Rhijn, who at the Macy Conference expressed the opinion that patients could get along on their own, had by the time of the Amityville meeting (six years later) recognized new variables which require more subtle and complicated techniques, and therefore demanded the presence of an expert guide. Specifically he suggested the following qualifications:
It is agreed by most persons who have worked with the psychedelic substances that the guide, to be effective, must himself have taken at least one of the drugs, preferably on several occasions. We see neither the need for nor possibility of a satisfactory alternative to this, and would add that the psychedelic experience of the guide-to-be should include at least two guided sessions in which he is a subject.
I think the method could be learned by a qualified psychiatrist in about half a year, through studying and observing methodology while assisting a colleague (who should have, I think, at least three years' experience in psycholytic therapy), in combination with at least five of his own experiences, with dosages ranging from 50 to 500 mcg.
A question frequently discussed is whether or not the guide should have at least a minimal dosage of LSD during a session. There are good arguments on both sides, but most cautious investigators agree that anything above 25 mcg. for the guide would necessitate the presence of a third person.
It is believed that a small amount of the drug helps to establish a quicker and more fluid rapport between guide and subject and also lessens the possibility of boredom on the part of the guide. It is far from easy to sit from eight to twelve hours with a person who may be silent and motionless much of the time. Furthermore, the guide's responsibilities are so much greater and more complex than that of an ordinary nurse that inattention may be disastrous. A small quantity of LSD is in most cases considered adequate to keep the guide alert and interested, while leaving him capable of fulfilling his function. Having a bit of the drug himself also frees his imagination, and his interpretations of the subject's material are more trenchant.
A good rule of thumb is never to accept as guide a therapist or anyone who is antagonistic personally, for vulnerability and naturalness will be inhibited to some extent at least, regardless of good intentions.
A well-trained LSD therapist will never try to manipulate the subject, i.e., probe obviously, ask loaded questions, etc. If detected, these will be taken as hostile manifestations. Because of the sensitivity aroused in the LSD subject, hints of underlying ambivalence, either positive or negative, will be telegraphed and will distort the session.
The following is an example of "discoloration" of the LSD session through such material:
One group of five patients was tested while under LSD. Each was accompanied by a selected nursing assistant throughout the test experience. Only one patient had a psychedelic experience, and he did so "because I found it too painful to come back into consciousness to answer the questions. I just gave up and paid no attention to the questioners." The other four patients had psychotomimetic reactions, mostly at the paranoid level, and were most vociferous in telling us so after the tests were over. Because of our understanding the basis for the disruptive impact of psychological testing, we gave them another opportunity to have LSD, but in the informal, completely supportive environment. We will not test patients anymore while they are undergoing an LSD experience....
This observation was made by Dr. Kenneth Godfrey, Assistant Chief, West Psychiatric Service, at Topeka Veterans Administration Hospital. He continued giving the drug to the group of four, using 500 mcg. dosages, and all had psychedelic experiences. By doing away with the testing program and providing a congenial setting, Dr. Godfrey and his colleagues found that "almost 100 percent of the patients began to reach a high level of psychedelic experience within one and one-half to three hours.... Experiences of ecstasy became somewhat commonplace."
A final word on guiding—if full self-confidence is lacking, more harm than good can result. As Drs. Leary, Metzner and Alpert say:
From our own research studies and our investigations into sessions run by others—serious professionals or adventurous bohemians—we have been led to the conclusion that almost every negative LSD reaction has been caused by fear on the part of the guide which has augmented the transient fear of the subject.
The Candidate:There is continuing argument among professionals as to who is a good candidate for LSD and who is not The matter is simplified if it is understood that the guide can be no more than an expert navigator, and that the subject is both the captain and the ship. No reliable captain would take his ship out without a navigator worth his salt, but no navigator can save a ship from peril if the captain refuses to act on his advice. This is why splendid results have sometimes occurred in the most unpromising cases. Among the proscribed have been middle-aged spinsters, neurotics and social isolates. Yet if motivation and guide-trust are high, these are among the very people who stand to gain the most from psychedelic drugs. With poor motivation and an indifferent guide, almost anybody, on the other hand, can run aground.
The success of a psychedelic "voyage" seems to depend less on the psychological label of the candidate and his personal history than it does on his willingness to surrender to the possibility of great chaos. "Swingers," those who enjoy wild, uninhibited activity, or those who can cope with a good deal of tumult, usually do well in their sessions. On the other hand, if flexibility is all pose, LSD can shred such protective facades, and at some point it probably will. Being unprepared and defenseless under a flood of confusion may give rise to shock and anxiety.
There are also those orderly, cautious personalities who require an explanation for everything, who are most comfortable in a static set of circumstances, and who are compelled to maintain a favorable self-image—those in this group tend to find the LSD experience terribly upsetting, if not devastating. This need not always be the case, however, if the pre-session briefing has been intelligent and thorough, and if the guide is astute and gifted.
The cardinal qualification for the LSD odyssey is ultimately one of honesty. In time of personal catastrophe, the most appropriate reaction is an honest one, in which the individual functions with a minimum of hysteria. So, too, when LSD swirls the voyager into unknown regions. He must be prepared to confront, without panic, unsightly scenes (his own image included), threats and tragedy. Some who have had LSD experiences that they called "delightful cruises," without "bad weather," may yet run into heavy seas. Somewhere along the line there usually does comes a reckoning from which there is no escape, especially if the subject has been dissembling. Without a well-trained guide, the psychedelic experience is best avoided by those individuals who must maintain defenses that keep self-exposure at second remove.
Except for those who have been involved in drug usage for therapeutic reasons, it would appear that the prerequisite of granite-bound honesty deters many who might otherwise benefit from a well-guided LSD session and restricts it to those already possessing the positive attitudes the drug tends to elicit. This dilemma, however, is resolvable. Those who desire such atrophied qualities rejuvenated can overcome their hesitancy and face up to the fact that the ultimate destination is worth the trip. To borrow the clinician's term, the "highly motivated" are promising subjects.
Of course this, too, amounts to problem-solving. The awakening or revitalization of such human qualities may be one of the greatest benefits of the psychedelic experience. If the drug should be taken with a definite problem-solving goal in mind, the shoals encountered in the LSD trip will be far easier to navigate.
Dangers and Precautions:The dangers of LSD use have popularly been presented in bogey-man fashion—i.e., exaggerated and not fully explained. In almost every incident of failure, the subject has been left ignorant of basic facts. The guide has been careless in his duty and neglected to remind his ward that he must never forget that whatever is happening to him is simply the effect of a drug, and that the experience will terminate in a matter of hours. The subject must understand in advance that although he may feel capable of "flying" while under the drug, he must not let himself be deluded in this regard. Properly prepared, his residual judgment will remain intact and keep him away from windows and other danger areas. Similarly, he must be reassured that the guide will not attempt to "freak" him by misrepresenting realities. If the subject thinks he is in eternity and that the whole universe is in similar condition, he must be assured that on another level the old reality still exists and that he will be able to return to it when he wants to. Therefore, one of the main obligations of the guide is to provide the subject with a firm perspective, whenever necessary; if this is met, the dangers inherent to the drug are minimal.
Over-guiding, in contrast, can actually cause dangers where none exist. Too much forewarning in a negative fashion implants anxiety—if not fear—which may become overwhelming in session, especially if the guide is not especially capable. This was particularly true when the drug was first known. Psychiatrists would say to their volunteers, "You know you may go mad, don't you?"—a suggestion more appropriate to brain-washing techniques than keeping the patient out of harm's way.
Most LSD experients spend part of their session bewildered by their surroundings, dazzled and in doubt of their external world. When Albert Hofmann first tried psilocybin, for instance, he saw his hospital ward change to Mexican scenery (earlier he had been thinking about the source of the "magic mushroom") and his German doctor transformed to an Aztec priest, hovering over him with an obsidian knife. Try as he would, for several minutes he could not return the situation to normal. In most cases such alterations in externals are fascinating to the subject rather than disturbing, especially if it is known that these visions will pass and give way to other things. But to some of the inexperienced who have received poor preparation and mediocre guidance, "traveling via the mind to other lands" may not be at all pleasant, especially if the sensation of being "lost" comes as a surprise. The novice wanders into a side room or down a hall and suddenly no longer knows where he is. His disorientation—like other LSD mishaps—is then amplified and reverberates. "How did I get here?" "Will I ever get back?"
"Getting lost" is probably the most disagreeable portion of a misguided trip as well as the most obvious step-off into psychotic trauma. Yet it is possible to avoid, since it stems from surprise and general ignorance of the drug-induced state of mind. Advance preparation for the possibility of temporary dislocation is usually enough to sustain the bewildered experient until he can regain his bearings.
The next danger zone, not uncommon to the casual LSD session, is sexual paranoia. The subject may feel victimized and spied upon and fear that at any moment he will be helplessly swept up into an obscene orgy with unwanted sexual partners. This suspicion usually occurs to the subject when he has sent out distress signals and his guide is trying to comfort him by physical reassurance. If the subject and guide are of the same sex and if the subject's libido is insecure, well-meant gestures may be interpreted as an accusation of homosexuality and the subject may have a deep psychotic reaction. This possibility will be obviated if there is prior understanding of the guide's function.
It is not unusual to find cautionary advice in the psychedelic literature, although the details are often scanty and tend to be forgotten as soon as they are read. Without a frame of reference, it is difficult to keep their importance in mind. It is all too easy to gloss over such warnings and assume they are only for the "other guy." Likewise, many assume that a first-hand knowledge of marijuana or any other psychedelic drug is more than enough preparation for LSD. This is simply not the case. To avoid the obvious craters, and the small ruts as well, thorough and concentrated briefing must take place, preferably including both reading and discussion.
Dosage:Dosage is regarded as the last serious consideration in an LSD session, being preceded by set and setting, preparation and choice of guide. The drug is, after all, only a key, and as long as it is of sufficient strength, it will open the door to psychedelic realms. Once these provinces are available for exploration, the question really is how far the subject wishes to "travel." Those people who are experienced with the "lock," who know their way with LSD, can travel far and fast on small dosages, and "setting" becomes secondary to "set" for them. But the inexperienced adventurer who is reluctant to go far afield may absorb a massive dose and stubbornly resist its effect. There are even those who rely on heavy dosage to anesthetize fear of "crossing the threshold," yet are unable to attain psychedelic experience and escape instead into the safety of blackout. This would seem to illustrate that initially the subject must take the drug or the drug cannot "take" the subject.
The easiest way to understand the various strengths of dosage is to think of the drug as a high-powered microscope with a range of optic lenses that can be manipulated to suit the individual eye or the matter being observed. The dosage in this scheme determines the magnification.
LSD, because it is the most potent drug known to man, is not measured in the usual milligrams, but in the smallest unit in the scale, the microgram (a millionth of a gram). Anything lower than 15 mcg. rarely has an effect on humans and doses higher than 2000 mcg. are extremely rare in clinical literature.
The range between 25 and 75 mcg. brings the psychedelic microscope into low focus and gives an effect similar to that of marijuana At this level the drug is useful in group therapy. It also causes perceptual alterations and heightens reception of auditory and visual entertainment—the ballet, for example. A dosage between 100 and 250 mcg will change the focal length so that the subject is projected into the realms of the unconscious and will be concerned with psychological and sexual matters. If his session has been programmed for intellectual and artistic reasons, suitable material will be brought into focus. This is the dosage most commonly used. An increase in dosage to 300 to 600 mcg. will produce cosmic and mystical experience, and above 600 mcg. the LSD field shifts into what are often called "cellular" or "molecular" realities. Because the dosage changes the type of experience, the concept of "overdosing" in the narcotic sense is not applicable and is inaccurate. The lethal human dose, if any, is not known as yet
Each of these dosage levels should be understood as a necessarily rough approximation since the effects depend upon so many variables. With alcoholics and addicts, twice the dosage is needed to achieve characteristic effects. Women require about 75 per cent of the amount required by men—body weight being one of the determining factors. Once above a certain dosage, a session has some aspects of all of the LSD "states"—the goal is more the determinant than the dose. Nonetheless, the dosage defines the intensity even though it does not rigidly restrict the terrain.
Many scientific researchers feel that the first experience requires a "super dose" in order to get the subject propelled with dispatch. Others, objecting to a rapid escalation, suggest a "boost" if the subject remains on a low plateau. If such a "boost" is necessary, it is generally thought that a duplicate dosage should be given within the first three hours. It is considered important, however, to allow more than the standard 20 to 40 minutes for the drug to take hold, for some people have high thresholds of resistance.
The other psychedelics, usually measured in milligrams (thousandths of a gram), often have side-effects not ordinarily associated with LSD. The dosage range for psilocybin falls between 10 and 40 mg., and one may expect some initial physical effects; perhaps slight nausea, chill, slight cramp. The emotional impact is gentler than that of LSD and the subject slips into the drug state instead of being thrust into it. The same applies to mescaline (derived from the emetic, peyote), for which the dosage range is 100 mg. to 600 mg. In the gross sense, all the psychedelics lead to the same "beyond within," but to the adept, the approaches are quite different.
There are some scientists and laymen who feel that a combination of drugs is the best way to put the psychedelics to use. As mentioned earlier, Drs. Ling and Buckman, Dr. Ruth Fox and Dr. Jack Ward, among others, gave LSD with a number of less potent substances such as ritalin, librium, methedrine and other amphetamines and some barbiturates. To prevent nausea, particularly induced by peyote, some doctors recommend using Marezine, Bonamine, Dramamine, etc.
Should it seem advisable to terminate the session, a strong phenothiazine-type tranquilizer such as Thorazine (chlorpromazine) is used. An injection of 100 to 200 mg., or 80 to 100 mg. taken orally, brings the subject "down" when an average psychedelic drug dosage has been ingested. For heavier doses, one milligram per microgram (of LSD) is the usual terminant. Some doctors, on the other hand, prefer nicotinic acid (200 to 600 mg.)—in the larger doses to end the session, and in smaller doses to reduce confusion and anxiety. Nicotinic and ascorbic acid (vitamins B3 and C) are increasingly used because they are readily obtainable and there is no danger if an excessive amount is taken. If the intent is simply to ameliorate the session and calm the subject without ending the experience, 20 to 100 mgs. of librium are also considered adequate.
Tight Spots:A "dry-run" examination of an LSD experience would be incomplete without a consideration of "tight spots" and how to get out of them. Such moments of potential crisis are due to the nature of the experience, for like any voyage, it is not all smooth sailing. The following points out some of the "reefs" upon which LSD users have run aground and suggests a few methods of circumvention: 1) Under LSD, the user is not simply adrift, a tourist cast off at the mercy of the elements and in the grip of forces that cannot be influenced. He is, instead, the master of his ship and can change directions. Because of the overwhelming nature of what occurs, however, this may not be easy to remember.
One subject became hopelessly enmeshed in a net of music and could not break the thrall. He was listening to a recording of "Spellbound," and believed that the eerie music somehow was emanating from his nervous system. As each recurring theme built to a climax, he would twitch and wriggle along the floor. He felt "unable to do anything" until a thoughtful assistant walked over to the record player and turned it off. He was released at once.
Since "real life" continues after the ingestion of LSD, there is always the need during the session to get up, move about to some extent (to go to the bathroom, to cite a practical example). But in the psychedelic state, few people feel capable of doing so—until they try. The subject under LSD can function normally and he can also alter the experience as he wishes. He should fully grasp this fact before taking the drug. Once into his session, he should take time out and practice "reversing" sensations. He can turn water into wine (at least his taste buds will tell him so) just by thinking it; he can make a light object feel heavy; he can turn a tin can into a silver samovar; or he can turn another's glistening tears into a dry-eyed expression of joy. When he is sufficiently skilled, he will be able to "select hallucinations" for himself.
2) For the initiate, some difficulty may be encountered in "take-off," since the transition is comparable to a jet thrust. Care should therefore be taken to reduce rigidity and awkwardness. The best approach for entering "inner space" gently is made with the aid of a "fluid" selection of music and simple breathing exercises, or a massage, since a tense, tight attitude may grow out of "waiting for something to happen."
3) During the eight or ten hours of altered reality under LSD, much that is shocking or distasteful may occur within the subject, especially unpleasant fantasies of a physical nature. Cardiac specialists as well as other doctors often direct their heightened psychedelic sensitivity to their bodies and witness in surgical detail the actions of internal organs. They may develop the delusion that they are bleeding to death, suffering an attack, or experiencing the collapse of lungs or other organs. These physical scrutinies also preoccupy the layman of course, and birth experiences—being born or giving birth—are within the ordinary line of LSD events. As mentioned previously, disorientation with regard to time can terrorize the most valiant.
All of these "hallucinations" are merely subjective experiences with little basis in everyday fact. If the subject wants them to "go away," his best remedy is to dispense with the natural impulse to "fight them." "Going with them" or "giving one's self over" disperses the unwanted vision and the "screen" is cleared for something else.
Facing terrifying LSD events calls for courage and stamina in the early sessions.
4) If resistance remains high, the experience may become repetitious, leading up to a crucial point but without a breakthrough. The subject vacillates—hot and cold, back and forth, endlessly affixed to the same treadmill. He cannot make decisions. He has been through this all many times before.
In such instances, "boosting" may be called for. An additional dosage is usually enough to "break the set" and move the subject off his plateau. Dr. Duncan Blewett gives the rationale:
One of the things we discovered is that if you don't give a large enough dose of the drug, a person gets into a sort of interim position. He has one foot in the camp of the usual frame of reference and the other in the camp of unhabitual perception. He finds it impossible to make a break between these two... But if a large enough dose of the drug is used, so that the person is propelled rapidly out of the old context and cannot maintain the self-context as he has known it, he then—rather than becoming more uncomfortable as you would think—becomes much more comfortable and able to accept as valid this new and novel way of seeing the world.
One of the reasons for the occasional vortex-like recurrence of the same material seems to lie in the fact that the drug effects come in waves, and if the subject is allowed to persist in one particular area too long, he may be caught in an undertow. The favored method for breaking through this "hangup" is to change the subject matter completely—with the intention of returning to it later if it seems worthwhile. If the recurrent material is deliberately brought up again after some time has passed, the subconscious will have had a chance to devise other approaches and the insight level will probably be more acute. A good technique in such instances, borrowed from hypnosis, is to suggest to the subject that in a specified length of time he will return to his problem and then be able to resolve it 5) The development of physical symptoms (such as coldness, nausea, pressure on the spine, restlessness, tingling, tremors or "a pain in the kidneys") is often the body's way of evading psychedelic effects. With peyote, and to a lesser extent with magic mushrooms or morning-glory seeds, these effects may be attributed to the drug, but with LSD and other synthetics, such symptoms are a sign of the subject's resistance. The guide should in such cases recognize these symptoms as an indication that the drug is about to take effect, and he should reassure the subject that these physical symptoms will soon pass, with "the psychedelic experience" taking their place.
6) Another evasion of the full psychedelic experience may involve over-intellectualizing what happens and talking on and on throughout the session. Because language depends upon familiar ways of thinking, reliance on words keeps much that is non-verbal from developing and restricts the LSD experience. To carry on a lengthy conversation confines "psychedelia" even further, since the subject when questioned or spoken to is somewhere "out in orbit" and must then come back and touch down before replying. For the average person, a period of verbalization may not develop into a problem, but a rigidly defensive person, on the other hand, may use words to avoid the experience, and as time passes he may become increasingly desperate. This may make him aggressive, causing him to react with hostility toward the guide. He may impute a variety of menacing motivations to him. In such a situation the guide should refuse the various "ploys," gently reminding the subject what he is there for.
7) If terror grips the subject continuously during the session, physical comforting may lend the needed reassurance. But as pointed out previously, this is a delicate matter unless the guide is certain that the subject will not misinterpret the gesture. Because attendant LSD distortions may seem too vile or alien to be shared, the subject who has lodged himself in a crevasse can most successfully be brought out, if other means have not been satisfactory, by the guide's taking him into his arms and soothing him.
8) If "reversing" the disturbing hallucinatory material has not dispelled anxiety, counter-diversion should be attempted. The subject should be encouraged to try some appropriate physical activity such as dancing, keeping time to music, playing the piano or even typing. Taking deep breaths and paying attention to the lungs as they expand and contract is quite effective. Such diversionary efforts will in all probability become the new focus of attention.
9) The skilled guide always has extra resources up his sleeve or is capable of fast, imaginative thinking. One example, which can serve as a pattern for the latter, occurred when the subject decided she was made of metal and was unable to move. "Oh, you're the friendly robot in that TV serial," the guide remarked genially, and as the subject was familiar with the program referred to, she immediately "recognized herself" and began moving about gaily in a deliberate parody of an automaton's gyrations.
Dr. Leary had an amusing and instructive episode to recount along these lines. An electronics engineer had taken psilocybin and was reacting with great anxiety:
... his traveling companion was unable to calm him down. The psychologist in charge happened to be in the bathroom. He called to his wife, who was drying dishes in the kitchen: "Straighten him out, will you?" She dried her hands and went into the living room. The distressed engineer cried out: "I want my wife!" and she put her arms around him, murmuring: "Your wife is a river, a river, a river!" "Ah!" he said more quietly. "I want my mother!" "Your mother is a river, a river, a river" "Ah, yes," sighed the engineer, and gave up his fight, and drifted off happily, and the psychologist's wife went back to her dishes.10) Pinpointing the source of the unpleasant hallucination can eliminate it rapidly. One subject, for instance, convinced that the house was on fire said he could actually see his "charred limbs" in the ruins. He was set straight when he was shown a burned-out candle in an ashtray, still smoking because the wax had been set afire by cigarette butts. Another person was able to deal with distasteful hallucinatory material when told that he was "merely a visitor passing through a slum" and that "a better neighborhood would soon emerge." 11) Crises do sometimes arise even in well-planned sessions. If the subject is unable to cope with them in a sober manner, the guide may suggest "game-playing." The subject should be instructed to think of himself as a versatile actor who must portray a character in a serious role, stand aside and let the play begin.
12) If the subject has insisted upon taking a stroll through heavy traffic, wants to drive a car or undertakes some other ill-advised pursuit, and if the guide has been outwitted or has lost contact, the subject should remind himself that what is happening is due to the drug he has taken and that its effects will, in time, wear off. He should realize that finding his way home is not an impossible feat. He should try to recall, step by step, how he did it the day before. Since evaluating distance may be difficult, he should force himself to obey all traffic signals rigorously in crossing streets, taking his cue from the surge of the crowd. He must curb his inclinations toward bizarre behavior and bear in mind that his mission is simply to get home.
If the subject has been driving a car, upon realization of his situation he should park as soon as he can and take a cab, a bus or proceed on foot. Although he may not believe it, most people will have no idea of his condition, either through their own preoccupation or the simple fact that it is not always easy to detect psychedelic drug behavior.
These final precautions have been deliberately emphasized because they deal with the rare mishaps which the popular press has presented as run-of-the-mill, without suggesting any means for avoiding or coping with them. In point of fact, "runaway" and out-of-control sessions are extremely unusual. Rather, those who fear the ballooned Mr. Hyde (promised by the press to lurk just beneath Dr. Jekyll's thin, suave veneer) and who reject the drug, sight unseen because of this, usually find if they eventually take LSD that the "Mr. Hyde" who lives in their unconscious is not such a bad fellow after all.
The carry-over of the psychedelic experience, once the session is completed, depends upon where the stepping stones have been placed, or if the desired bridge has been reached. A single resolve, clung to throughout the whole of the session, strengthens the effects. So does the delay, or avoidance, of return to established routine. Ideally, time should be allowed for relaxation in "normal reality" to let the subconscious integrate its new insights. This is the time to put the "psychic house" in order; to speculate about what has been resolved and what remains to be resolved.
Footnotes1. It has been recently disclosed that grants to study the effects of LSD are not available to applicants who have used the drug, whether they have done so professionally or not. Since the National Institute of Mental Health is the sole legal distributor, this decision limits research even further. (back)
2. Another danger situation is over-preparation, or too much eagerness for the experience, especially if long awaited. Jane Dunlap, in her LSD memoirs, Exploring Inner Space,unwittingly records well over fifteen episodes during her five experiences which any objective reader would find gruesome, disgusting or terrifying. Miss Dunlap, however, seemed to take them all in good stride because she was so grateful for the other aspects of her LSD experience. The point, though, is that all of her negative sensations were intensified as a result of inadequate guiding. When she felt utterly helpless in the early part of her first session, for instance there apparently was no one who knew what to do. "This blood-freezing emotion, I knew, could be relieved if Dr. Snow, seated near us, would pray for me. Although I asked him to pray and he is a deeply religious man, he was now wholly a psychiatrist and remained silent." (back)
Chapter IX. Drugs Past, Present and Future
IT IS RECORDED that at the time of Montezuma's coronation peyote was passed around to enhance the pageantry and splendor of the occasion. Ololiuqui, a somewhat anemic-looking morning glory with a seed that contains Iysergic acid amides, was used as a "divine plant" by the Aztecs well before the Conquistadores arrived in Mexico. In northeastern Asia, the Tungus, Yalcuts, Chukches, Koryaks and Kamchadeles traditionally intoxicated themselves during the interminable winter months on a hallucinogenic fungus called "muchamor" (Amanita muscaria). Natives of the Amazon had access to another psychedelic—the caapi vine—before the white explorers first entered that region. As previously mentioned, the Greeks may have employed "mind-changing" mushrooms in their "Mysteries," and the witches of Europe made use of various hallucinogenic substances in ointments and brews during the Middle Ages. The mild psychedelic Cannabis sativa (hemp, hashish, kif, bhang, charas, gangha, dagga, djamba, marijuana, etc.) was described sympathetically by the Chinese Emperor Shen Neng as early as 2737 B.C., and has flourished throughout the world ever since. It presently is used in its varying forms by over 200 million people. By no means is the knowledge of psychedelic drugs confined to the twentieth century.
Nonetheless, the recent "psychedelic explosion" in the United States represents an unprecedented phenomenon and cannot be understood by analogy with the past. Nor can its meaning be explained by reference to the use of peyote by the quarter of a million members of the Native American Church.
In contemporary American civilization, LSD and related drugs are being used in a variety of ways by people from many extremes of cultural heritage who are commonly enmeshed in a swiftly changing, mechanized civilization. The results which ensue from these multitudinous "sets" and "settings" bear little resemblance to those of Indians who sit all night in a teepee, using peyote in a highly ritualized religious ceremony.
In the foregoing chapters the main emphasis has been on LSD and its broad uses in problem solving. But LSD is only the best known of a growing number of psychedelic drugs, and there are many implications for the psychedelics outside of formal problem solving. The following is a brief survey of some of the problems raised by the problem-solving drugs—since the solution of one problem invariably represents the creation of another.
The discovery of and enthusiasm for powerful new mind drugs is raising new questions (and new formulations of old questions) about man's relation to nature, his concept of God and, indeed, his very image of himself. Just as the discovery of atomic power raised issues which formerly had been of concern to only a few philosophers and scientists, so the spreading dissemination of the psychedelics is beginning to raise issues questioning man's relationships to man and his total image of the world and himself.
With readily available psychedelics, a new energy—a potent psychic energy—has entered the world stage and must be reckoned with. Eventually it may have to be integrated into day-by-day existence, just as was the automobile, electricity, television and atomic energy. Despite any nostalgic longings for a return to pre-Huxley days, when the "psychedelic revolution" had not even been conceived, it is as impossible to ignore the psychedelics as it is to wish away the portents of nuclear warfare. The "psychedelic revolution" has passed through its embryonic stage and within the past year been born.
The "psychedelic revolution" contains untold dimensions and at the same time presents extremely difficult problems of "control." The only way to bring reckless use of the psychedelics under control is to entice the desperate or reckless member of the "psychedelic club" to a center where he can be instructed and observed in the proper (non-destructive) use of the drugs. The sooner society settles down to reviewing the psychedelic reality as it exists, rather than carping about its morbid aspects, the earlier enlightened controls can be put into operation.
One of the primary effects of the psychedelics (as more and more people are discovering) is the changing of personal relationships, and this can and will affect people deeply—even those who never have used and never intend to use these drugs.
Realization of such new realities is beginning to grow, though it will be some time before any of the lines are very definite or before the significance of the psychedelic revolution will be appreciated by a sizable portion of the population. What society faces as a result of recent psychedelic discoveries, and the popular enthusiasm for them, is a tremendous influx of new and for the most part unrelated information on topics that are easily sensationalized, which in the past have been largely ignored. Because developments on the drug front are now coming one on top of another, even those professionally concerned have barely been able to keep up with what has been happening in this field. For a period of five years or so, there is little likelihood that society as a whole will be able to respond appropriately to the astonishing popularity of the mind-changing drugs.
Most LSD research has been done in isolation and researchers have had meager awareness of the work of others. LSD conferences have repeatedly demonstrated that their major contribution is cross-fertilization—and the development in researchers of a sense of their own ignorance, for on almost no point can they agree. Because the state of the drug-administering craft is yet very crude, it is too early to make more than an initial assessment of the role of the psychedelics in the future. However, here are a few likely possibilities.
Other Drugs:LSD is only the most prominent in a long list of drugs which radically affect the mind. There are over eighty psychedelic substances (both natural and synthetic) which are to be had in the form of pills, powders, leaves, fungi, liquids and seeds. Naturalists and psychopharmacologists are continually adding to the list, and such drugs as bufotenin, DMT, yageime, Ibogaine, desoxyn, Ditran (or JB 329) MLD, ALD and UML are well known in the laboratory and may soon reach the streets.
Prior to the legal curb which has affected the worthy and unworthy alike, a number of little-known substances—some of which created appreciably different psychedelic performance—were being used in therapy. Dr. Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean psychologist, favors the drug Ibogaine for his patients, for example, because he feels it enables them to integrate the erupted material in their lives more readily than does LSD, and that it can precipitate greater conceptual understanding of their life situation. As mentioned previously, Dr. Ling and others are of the opinion that an injection of Ritalin facilitates the attainment of "psychedelic experience." Dr. Leuner is another who feels that the psychiatrist should carry a selection of psychedelics in his medicine cabinet:
Psilocybin has proved very valuable to us for a number of years. For a year now we have had similar good results with the psilocybin derivative, CZ74.... Thus, we now have a well-rounded repertoire of three psychotomimetic substances at our disposal, assuring us more control of the therapeutic process.... The short but overwhelming and ecstatic sessions with CZ74, in high dosages within the frame of psycholytic therapy, have been particularly useful in penetrating overly rational and compulsive individuals, often leading to a quickening of the entire therapy.... Psilocybin stands in the middle, while LSD is the strongest and most imposing drug, sometimes made undesirable by overtiring the patient with its slow, torturous decline....
Those familiar with psychedelic history will recall that, in 1963, students discovered that the consumption of "Heavenly Blue," "Flying Saucers," or "Pearly Gates" morning-glory seeds induced effects similar to LSD. Shortly thereafter someone smoked Scotch Broom flowers, and word leaked out that the dried flowers of this hardy, decorative plant (which is grown extensively along highways and in eroding areas) were a good substitute for marijuana. And only recently it was reported that Hawaiian wood-flowers are psychedelic.
The most interesting development in terms of the social consequences of the psychedelics is the discovery by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals of a series of "tryptamines"—drugs which bring about LSD-type effects but which can be spaced for almost any length of time the user desires. At present, the quickest of these—dimethyltryptamine (DMT)—has reached the black market and is increasingly used.
DMT, an acrid drug, is usually supplied evaporated on parsley leaves and is smoked like marijuana. Almost immediately, however, the user is swept into psychedelia. Taking a "drag" of DMT is like stepping onto a moving roller coaster. Effects are intense, usually immensely pleasurable, and last from ten minutes to half an hour.
Because the drug is a quick "Pleasure Drug," it is sometimes referred to as "The Lunch-hour Special," and is used without much forethought. This development qualitatively changes the psychedelic situation, for it means that use of these drugs no longer will be confined to those who have leisure and can devote a day or two to an LSD session. In addition to growing drug use by students, educators, clergymen, the wealthy and those on the margins of society, DMT makes it possible for the busiest or most harried person to try a psychedelic.
There is another socially significant fact about DMT. Although this drug is little understood and may be considerably more dangerous, both physiologically and psychologically, than LSD, it is easily manufactured. LSD can be produced inexpensively (if available commercially, it might wholesale at about half a cent a dose), but the process is intricate and calls for special equipment. DMT, on the other hand, can be made in the kitchen with no more elaborate paraphernalia than a spoon, a stove and filter papers. Furthermore, the ingredients are easily accessible since each has half a dozen industrial uses. Because of its quick action and the relative simplicity with which it can be made, DMT is likely to become a popular psychedelic.
Looking ahead it becomes evident that the next few years will see the introduction of many other new, powerful, mind-altering drugs that do not fall under the "psychedelic" label. Promising results have been reported, for instance, with Cylert (magnesium pemoline), RNA and DNA. One chemist is working on a drug he calls LLL (a "love of learning lozenge"). Some "psychedeliacs" speak of combining LSD with a "memory pill" in order to engrave the LSD effects, and a few "psychederelicts" are experimenting with a wide variety of other substances. Dr. Stanley Yolles, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, testifying before a Senate sub-committee on the flood of novel drugs emerging from the laboratory, has predicted that "In the next five to 10 years we will have a 100-fold increase in drugs that affect the mind."
There is evidence indicating that science has almost brought mind-control into a reality. As with nuclear power, scientists must confront the immense implications of such a breakthrough, since problems in ethics, politics, international affairs and personal values are generated with these revolutionary discoveries. Dr. David Kretch, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, recently stressed this point to his colleagues in his keynote speech at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:
I don't believe that I am being melodramatic, in suggesting that what our research may discover may carry with it even more serious implications than the awful, in both senses of the word, achievements of the atomic physicists. Let us not find ourselves in their position of being caught foolishly surprised, naively perplexed, and touchingly full of publicly displayed guilt at what they had wrought.
Growth of the Blackmarket:Over half of all Americans are now under the age of twenty-five. Young people are growing up accepting LSD (and related drugs) as simply one more product—perhaps the "ultimate product"—in the "great American supermarket of sensation." In this affluent, uneasy, technological age, in which the spirit of the times is rather hedonistic, whole sectors of the younger generation form, as it were, "an ideal drug-using society."
In the thirties and forties the greatest number of marijuana smokers were found to be in ethnic groups—i.e., Mexicans and Negroes and those frequenting these circles. Therefore the concentration of users of this mild psychedelic was to be found in California, in port cities on the Gulf of Mexico and in the East in large metropolitan centers which had sizable Negro ghettos. It was not until the Second World War when the armed services were integrated that the drug became interesting and available to the young, white middle class. With few exceptions, those who had previously tried marijuana considered the experience to be dangerous and degrading, in a class with opium-smoking and therefore socially unacceptable. Now, however, since countless authorities—biochemists, pharmacologists, doctors, sociologists and psychologists—have pronounced the drug harmless and far more benevolent than alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, it enjoys the same kind of sophisticated popularity that liquor did when the Volstead Act was still in effect Just as no Jazz Age vamp, out on a blind date with a handsome raccoon-coated "hero," could afford to refuse at least one swig from his hip flask while riding along in the "flivver," so today's "swinging chick" or "teeny-bopper" cannot turn down at least one drag on a "joint."
But here the analogy (the rebellion pattern) ends, for once both drugs are accepted, the differences between them are as wide as the differences between "spring tonic" and an elixir. The current generation (and probably those to follow) are now acclimatized to the psychedelic ambiance and undoubtedly will insist upon it as a condition of existence.
"Drop-out" is a word of recent vintage, but as a concept, it is as old as youthful non-conformity itself. However, there are two distinct kinds of drop-out. In the Great Society, administrators are primarily concerned about the disadvantaged delinquent who gives up his formal education before he is equipped for independence. He bears little resemblance to the gifted student who simply cannot condone the state of the world, detests the superficiality and ethical fallacies which are larded into textbook learning and leaves school in disgust. The tragedy here too lies in the fact that such people are probably not ready to strike out on their own, and may on doing so, drop to the bottom of society.
Those gifted drop-outs who are resourceful, however, and serious in their intent, sometimes find means for making active and often positive protest against the standards that drove them from conventional society. They may be labeled outlaws by most traditionalists, but by and large they are decent, concerned individuals—not "hoodlums." To these people the psychedelic scene may seem to offer a place where they can find the high, sweet, human values they seek and esteem.
Traditionally, new movements have been led by people old enough and mature enough to have known better So, too, with the LSD movement which, in Timothy Leary's words, has been led by the "middle-age, middle-class, middle-brow whiskey drinkers." Leary himself, in his late forties, is a former Irish Catholic with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. The Mexican "magic mushroom" was the discovery of Gordon Wasson, a vice-president of J. P. Morgan, with senior membership in the "Establishment." And it was Aldous Huxley, the distinguished author-grandson of the distinguished scientist-philosopher Thomas H. Huxley, who brought the psychedelics to worldwide attention. Watts, De Ropp, Cohen, Michaux and hundreds of others in the psychedelic vanguard will never see forty again.
We live in a "pill age." Millions of people, with no forethought at all, take tranquilizers, penicillin, birth control pills, cold remedies and energizers—and the attitude that the "pill" is the solution to everything is carried over in subtle confidence to the psychedelics. After all, it's just another miracle drug, isn't it?—so remark the uninitiated. They may try if given the opportunity to belt it down as intrepidly but casually as any other "remedy." These reckless testers have always been in society's midst, sometimes in the least suspected stratas, and they may be the most evangelistic of all "The white-collar pill party" is not the imagination of Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg or Henry Miller or Anais Nin, but is being given by the "man in the street" who has received the "message."
So, too, for the original alcoholic binge, after distilled spirits were happened upon in the 13th century. If we wish to assess the dimensions of the future psychedelic blackmarket, we should ask ourselves these questions: "What if, instead of mind-changes, alcohol had just recently been discovered? What projections would we make about its future? Would we expect people to use it once a month? Once a week? Daily? Would we expect abuses—perhaps involving horrible car accidents? And would it be worth it?" The statistics that answer these questions speak for themselves.
Now that LSD is no longer confined to the "Groves of Academe," a diversity of motivations for drug-ingestion and a cross-section of unprecedented results may be expected. Nearly all the "drug experiences" on record have emerged from the same milieu, despite their seeming diversity: they have all come from the classes who have had "higher education," from those specifically who "read." This fact would indicate they have had prior information on the psychedelic experience, no matter how piously conservative they may appear. The enlightened "pragmatists" of the current population may be meek and silent in matters pertaining to the "soul," but they still quest, and have pondered at length upon the intricacies in the meaning of myth and ritual. As time passes, however, more people undoubtedly will be trying the psychedelics who are totally unprepared for the experience. The outcome will be varieties of experience unlike anything seen to date.
The Psychedelic Style:"I have never taken LSD," a young physician declared at a recent symposium, "but it has changed my whole life." And so it is for a growing number of people, whether they are yet aware of it or not. In movies, books, fashions, art, popular music and even in advertising, psychedelics are adding bold, bright color to the everyday scene. A co-existing transformation in values is more subtle, but similarly present. Like this young physician, many onlookers have become entranced with some of the vistas in ordinary life which LSD has apparently opened for its enthusiastic users and are increasingly eager to travel along vicariously to the broadened horizons.
Most LSD users find it difficult to define the way in which a session or two has influenced their life view. Their value systems, however, are often cited as having undergone a profound and liberating alteration. Under the drug's "white heat," intensity and persuasiveness, outlook becomes somewhat different for those who respond, and the new view is carried over into "normal reality." This point is expressed with candor and accuracy by one user:
When I say, "Let's see, how do I look at the world, and how do I look at myself," I observe that much of my present viewpoint is the result of memories of drug experiences which I have forgotten are drug experiences. I mean by that, that thoughts which I have had while using LSD have become amalgamated more Or less into what I consider my normal experience.The psychedelics bring about the vision of a world that is colorful, adventuresome, decent, open, prismatic, gentle, sweet, stimulating—in short, a sort of fairy tale come alive. It is therefore not surprising that the souvenirs brought back by LSD travelers are accepted as valid—if accepted at all—by many who would not themselves consider taking LSD. Success stories have always carried their own appeal, and the injection of some of the LSD experients' spiritual and Dionysian intuitions into America's largely Apollonian society is revitalizing. The upshot is diversified, but the developing "psychedelic style" is bringing a new reverence for life, a kind of humanistic pantheism and a renaissance of belief in the essential goodness in man.
It is now very unclear to me exactly how I've gotten my present values—how I see out of my eye. Ordinarily, for instance, time has a certain, identifiable effect upon the actions of human beings. But suppose as a result of using LSD, time no longer registers for you in the same way it does for other people? You can't say that what you have learned from the psychedelics is better or superior than the pre-LSD experiences, just that it seems more enjoyable and complete. You simply have to accept your new life in a world more acutely sensed than the everyday world.
In one sentence, I suppose what I am saying is that you must accept the fact that your drug experience and your daily experience will become fused, and that your future perception of reality will be affected by your drug consciousness, and not only in ways which you have control of. This may be better, or it may be worse, but you must accept it. It will happen. It's a terrifying thing, it's absolutely terrifying, to think that a pill you swallow will influence you for the rest of your life. Taking psychedelics is a transforming experience, like getting educated, changing jobs, moving to another country, or falling in love.
Since this psychedelic style undercuts our l9th century Darwinian conception of the universe and man's place in it, future generations are less likely to grow up inculcated with a sense of basic meaninglessness in life and its buffeting forces, mechanistic behavior made endurable only through scientific advances. In contrast to the present psychedelic movement, which is composed of millions who only vaguely understand LSD, the generation to come may accept as their birthright the humanistic values the world has longed for.
It is hazardous to predict the manner in which such value shifts might take hold. It would be interesting to know if the large scale development of new life styles will have radically changed political systems by the time the century turns. Some spokesmen in the younger generation believe that because of the psychedelics, tolerance will replace extremism on both the left and right; while others feel "harmony" will be established via LSD by an accentuation of the differences between the haves and the have-nots.
Regardless of philosophical speculations about the future role of LSD, there is an abundance of current evidence that the psychedelic movement is well entrenched. Books about the psychedelic drugs are now prominently displayed in bookstores and constitute a sizable proportion of today's psychological literature. These books are not limited to scientific treatises and first-hand accounts of the drug experience, but novels too are now appearing in which psychedelics figure centrally. Thus Huxley contributed Island, a psychedelic alternative to his Brave New World. Psychedelic40 takes a strong science-fiction line. John Hersey's Faustian parable, Too Far to Walk, has a college setting in which LSD acts as the magic elixir. Yarborough, by B. H. Friedman, has a strong sub-plot involving psychedelic drugs. And The Sheppard File has been called the first "psychedelic thriller."
Life magazine has illustrated the strobe-lighted performance of LSD in art, fashion and entertainment. It is becoming increasingly clear that the whole Op-Pop world of art and design—sculpture, painting, clothes, fabrics, furniture, lighting—borrows heavily from the colors and eidetic images that are encountered in the early stages of the LSD experience.
Serious experimental (or "underground") filmmakers such as Harry Smith, Richard Aldcroft, Francis Lee, Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern—as well as the group known as USCO—have for years attempted to express the psychedelic feeling and mood cinematically, and are beginning to be shown in such places as The Riverside Museum. They have devised techniques and theory now being used by those commercial film-makers who have hitched their trailers to the psychedelic trend. The films "Modesty Blaise," "Arabesque" and "Fantastic Voyage" made early use of definite psychedelic elements.
Psychedelic entertainment has further extended itself to discotheques, a Go-Go nightclubs and "acid cinematiques." As seen in Life's cover story (Sept. 9, 1966), the youth of the country is responding enthusiastically to this "total assault on the senses." Attempts to produce a "drugless trip" often consist of "acid-rock" music played at monumental volume, accompanied by the incessant play of strobe lights, kleig lights, rapidly flickering images in swirling colors, projections from an "infinity machine" and other artificial sensory effects.
These sensory emporiums (one of them is even named "The Brave New World") are packed to capacity and new ones are being opened to accommodate the overflow. On the East Coast, The World, The Cheetah and Andy Warhol's Balloon Farm (with the "Plastic Inevitables") are already famous; on the West Coast "Hippies" of San Francisco jam the Filmore, the Avalon and other such halls in the Haight-Ashbury district. In Los Angeles "teeny-boppers" nightly take over the Strip from the "oldies," installing their own versions of night clubs, and nocturnally they move en masse into such hallowed retreats of daytime business-lunchers as Canter's Delicatessen.
"Far-out" acid-rock groups such as The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company. The Magic Mushrooms and The Quick-silver Messenger Service hold forth with exhilarating frenzy at psychedelic whirligigs, but they are scarcely known outside the "underground," even though they make occasional records. But other musicians, The Beatles, The Fugs, The Byrds and Bob Dylan, are well known for their "acid" songs—many of which have been banned on "popular" radio stations because of an implied encouragement to illicit drug use. "Let's Go Get Stoned," "Rainy Day Woman," "Eight Miles High," "Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Can't Get High" have all achieved notoriety because they are liked by the young, regardless of how shocking they are to most adults. The Beatles' hit album, "Revolver," contains a song straight out of the psychedelic version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, although few parents probably realize it. (The verses begin: "Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream / This is not dying.") And strange as it may seem, Ravi Shankar, the Indian musician, has become something of a pop hero because of growing interest in Eastern music and the esoteric sounds of such instruments as the sitar, and because of the latest addition to the musical vocabulary, "raga rock."
A number of stores do a thriving business in psychedelically inspired goods: clothes, records, books, arts and crafts and such accessories as candles, incense, bells, mandalas, water pipes, kaleidoscopes, "freak goggles" and gigantic paper flowers. These concerns are called by such unbusinesslike names as the Blown Mind, Underground Uplift Unlimited and the Head Shop—and there are several "Psychedelic Shops." An "Underground Press Syndicate"—UPS—has been established coast to coast. Though its papers and magazines—East Village Other, L.A. Free Press, Inner Space, Berkeley Barb, Psychedelic Newsletter, San Francisco Oracle, The Paper and The Fifth Estate—attack what they consider the social and political evils of the contemporary scene, they are unmistakable and vociferous mouthpieces for the cause of psychedelics. There are other non-profit organizations and loose federations that exist to serve psychedelic interests. The Psychedelic Peace Fellowship, Solco, and several information centers are specifically set up along the same lines as Alcoholics Anonymous and offer round-the-clock aid to any LSD user on a bad trip. (One has even issued a directory of psychedelic Good Samaritans.) All of this together adds up to a colossal network of activists; little wonder that the World War II term, the Underground, has been taken over by this movement.
A Capsule Future:Assuming that the stringent laws against responsible LSD use will be relaxed and that public sentiment will eventually appreciate the psychedelic's positive features, it can be assumed that the quality of life as we now know it has a first-rate chance of changing for the better.
It is safe to predict that if LSD treatment of alcoholics is allowed to resume and is expanded, alcoholism will be dealt a crippling blow, bringing it within bounds as T.B. was curbed with isoniazid and polio with the Salk and Sabine vaccines.
If organized religion decides to avail itself of LSD's efficacy in spiritual matters, the church may once again be a strong spiritual force.
If guidance centers for those struggling with personal and psychological burdens are able to use LSD in restructuring programs, the nation's mental health problem could be vastly reduced.
If gifted people in our schools and industries were allowed to participate in LSD programs aimed at making the most of their creative abilities and stimulating peak production, we could anticipate a Periclean age of achievement in all fields.
The last point deserves elaboration, for of all LSD's powers as a problem solver, the greatest appears to lie in its ability to summon and titillate the creative imagination. In treating alcoholics and neurotics, therapists know what to expect (cure rates, family readjustment, etc.); but regarding the exotic and little known chimera which is creativity, we know only that it roams a shadowy world which is, for the most part, closed to conscious exploration.
We have long been aware that the creative instinct is man's most priceless gift. As Huxley observed:
Perhaps the men of genius are the only true men. In all the history of the race there have been only a few thousand real men. And the rest of us—what are we? Teachable animals. Without the help of the real men, we should have found out almost nothing at all. Almost all the ideas with which we are familiar could never have occurred to minds like ours. Plant the seeds there and they will grow; but our minds could never spontaneously have generated them.But we are also becoming aware that creative abilities can be nurtured, that under auspicious conditions they may flourish, and that deliberate cultivation of creativity pays off handsomely in hardheaded commercial terms.
There have been whole nations of dogs... whole epochs in which no Man was born. From the dull Egyptians the Greeks took crude experience and rules of thumb and made sciences. More than a thousand years passed before Archimedes had a comparable successor. There has been only one Buddha, one Jesus, only one Bach that we know of, one Michelangelo.
In 1944 a group of talented men from differing academic disciplines dramatically proved this practical point when they sat down to systematically dissect the creative principle—which they felt would yield its sacrosanct secrets if properly approached. Their aim was to "rationalize" creativity and set themselves up a problem-solving unit, available for industrial trouble-shooting and consultation. The success of the original group, formed in Cambridge, Mass. under the title Synectics, Inc. was unexpectedly prodigal, so much so that despite the complexity of their approach, other Synectics branches were soon formed to accommodate the growing demand for their services. Such industrial giants as Kimberly-Clark, Singer Sewing Machine, Johns-Manville and RCA-Whirlpool were early and enthusiastic customers. IBM, General Motors, General Electric, Esso, Monsanto, Du Pont, Gillette, Remington and the Pentagon have since been among the most distinguished clients.
Realizing the economic importance of "cultivated creativity" as a result of the practical money-saving improvements and original ideas which have come out of Synectics sessions, such companies have in many instances set about developing their own problem-solving groups, modeled after the Synectics "brainstormers." At a cost of about $3000, less enterprising firms can hire the Cambridge Synectics group to work on its unresolved (or even undefined) problems over a three-or four-day period. For the going price of $10,000, a great number of companies have also sent key personnel through a ten-week, half-a-day-a-week training program in Synectics theory. Because requests are now coming in by the hundreds each month, a Synectics branch has been opened in Mexico, in addition to those in the United States, and others are being set up in Japan, Germany and France.
A Synectics group is not a task force. Indeed, any similarity to the task force make-up—similar backgrounds, relevant competence and abilities, and a "team" approach—is deliberately avoided. Instead the object is to bring together as scrambled a group of opposite personalities as can operate purposefully. Furthermore, a Synectics group is often not so much interested in solving given problems as in "creating problems" which when solved will net the client new revenue from an unsuspected source, or open up opportunities for expansion.
The basic precept in this approach is to synthesize ideas which on the surface and in a rational sense seem in diametrical opposition. Analogies from nature, the elaboration of personal metaphors and a search for evocative questions are the primary tools used for locating new, untried solutions or developing overlooked possibilities—and the wilder and more disparate the collective thinking, the better. By emphasizing emotional and irrational intuitions and playing them off against analogies from various branches of learning, the Synectics group tries to reproduce consciously the unconscious inspirations that have come to men of genius. Surprisingly, their practice of entertaining far-fetched notions and refusing to reject anything on the grounds that the wildest absurdities might prove serviceable, prods imagination to unusually lively levels of productivity. In repeated instances such irreverent teasing of the creative unconscious gets useful results.
The Synectics rough-and-tumble approach to creative problems is important here because it is a well-understood, systematic method which demonstrated itself. It proved also that there are many ways to skin a cat, and that a creative individual working alone may actually be limiting himself and inadvertently standing still if he adheres to the traditional front-door entrance.
As discussed in chapter III, LSD also takes an unconventional side-door path to technical and creative problem-solving, and like Synectics groups, it too calls forth unexpected intuitive material which may develop into an answer. In fact, the two processes can be viewed as essentially the same—if one thinks of LSD as a catalyst that primarily arouses in a single mind a torrent of conflicting ideas, a good deal of unconsciously repressed relevant material, and preposterous yet tolerated irrelevancies. Sufficiently mulled over and considered, these can bring to life an as yet unhatched synthesis. Looked at in this way, which is a fairly reasonable explanation of the drug's action when "programmed," LSD woos creativity in much the same style as does the Synectics method—though, of course, in its unfettered fashion it pursues in minutes the range of possibilities which might preoccupy a Synectics group for a lengthy period with little gain.
In a properly prepared and motivated subject, there is reason to believe that programmed use of psychedelics can provoke a level of insight at least as suggestive as that brought into being by practicing Synectics. Since Synectics groups are difficult to establish and require concerted attention, while LSD makes very few demands, the use of the psychedelic drugs in the realm of technical and creative problem solving should grow rapidly and be at least as incisive as was the introduction of Synectics theory. Thus LSD as a problem solver might multiply for untold numbers the satisfactions known to our creative minority; economically and culturally, such an advance could be tremendous; and socially, the promise is great, but of an impact impossible yet to assay. In terms simply of man's quest for new knowledge and innovation, it is now time for the funding of extensive research projects involving the psychedelics, and for the accumulation of information on what exactly the psychedelics can and cannot do when presented with a problem.
Synectics shares something of the uncanny ability of LSD to open new creative avenues, but the psychedelics can delve deeper into the unknown tissue of the unconscious and bring to the surface very curious flotsam and jetsam—much more than can any verbalized cerebral encounter. These drugs are also a superior agent in that they can enable an artist or technician to "visualize" his project as a prototype and perhaps examine or test it; help a scientist crystallize a vague hypothesis; or take an overly rigid conception apart, and reassemble it for inspection in a more workable way.
In addition to all this, the psychedelics yield still another prize, one rarely found to any pronounced degree with Synectics or any other creativity-enhancing medium. After having tried psilocybin, an artist commented on what is perhaps the most valuable aftermath of the drug:
I think that the most important part of what has happened to me since the experiment is that I seem to be able to get a good deal more work done.... When painting it generally takes me an hour and a half to two hours to really get into the painting and three or four hours to really hit a peak. Tuesday I hit a peak in less than a half hour....The impact of the psychedelics upon society depends less in the long run upon the number of users and the nature of their value shifts than it does upon whether or not the highly creative and the highly specialized users learn the advantages of reevaluating their work through an LSD lens. It is significant, therefore, that Progressive Architecture, a journal subscribed to by some 47,000 architects and designers, presented in its August, 1966, issue four lengthy testimonials to the architectural magic of LSD and followed it the next month with another LSD article, "Expanding Architecture." As time passes and the basic principles of session programming become commonplace, other professions may follow suit.
Sunday afternoon I did about six hours work in two hours time. I did not worry about what I was doing—I just did it. Three or four times I wanted a particular color pencil or a triangle and would go directly to it, lift up three or four pieces of paper and pull it out. Never thought of where it was—just knew I wanted it and picked it up. This of course amazed me but I just relied on it—found things immediately. My wife was a little annoyed at me on Sunday afternoon because I was so happy, but I would not be dissuaded.
The future is rich with promise for al1 creative people and all who would aspire to become creative. Creative or technical problem solving need not be confined to the lofty regions of art or in the occupations that require years of academic training and painstaking practice before there is the possibility of original thinking or experimentation. The broad reaches of society—where talent is often smothered by shyness, or atrophied from lack of exercise—may eventually provide the richest, hardiest and most substantial successes.
The achievement of small tasks, or coveted goals, is so personally enriching to the individual involved that it becomes as consequential as the solution of any problems—technical, personal, or artistic. Through the positive use of LSD, the true essence of each individual can be revealed in a mind-lighting fashion. With LSD, mankind can at last be released from an accumulation of illogical customs and traditions, and Everyman can become a prime problem solver.
AFTERWORDWHEN EUROPEAN explorers and settlers set foot on the North American continent, they encountered a number of Indian tribes in which there existed the custom of sending adolescents on solitary trips into forests or deserts. The youths returned from these retreats with exciting stories of dramatic visitations from their guardian spirits. Whether these visions were the result of imagination, expectancy, physical privation, a sparse diet or the accidental ingestion of psychedelic plants is not known; however, a tradition was firmly established which dealt with mystical experience. Other Indian tribes induced visions by using psychedelic cactus buttons, morning glory seeds or mushroom caps in their religious ceremonies.
The European missionaries were horrified at these practices and attempted to stamp them out, referring to the Indians' visions as "fantasies of the Devil." The Europeans did not object to mind-dulling substances, as they permitted the natives to use narcotics (such as coca leaves) and tobacco. In addition, they introduced distilled whiskey, a substance which produced high percentages of alcoholics among American Indian tribes, as there existed no cultural tradition among these tribes in the use of "fire water." Psychedelic plants, which stimulated mental processes rather than dulling them, were denounced and suppressed because—according to one sixteenth-century friar—"their users see visions and are provoked to lust" These are precisely the same arguments being used 400 years later by Establishment figures who have concentrated their efforts on suppressing LSD usage rather than on encouraging research.
The general American culture lacks a tradition in visionary experience, and there is a distrust of any insight obtained during a psychedelic session, a hypnotic trance, a dream period or any other altered states of consciousness. Exemplifying this attitude, Dr. Donald Louria, in a book entitled The Nightmare Drugs, warned parents that "unusual statements concerning awareness of unity with the universe or with God, or indicating a sudden comprehension of the meaning of life and love, should all cause one to consider that the individual is reacting to a potent hallucinogen." Before the arrival of Europeans on the continent, most Indian parents would have praised their children for the very reports that Louria and his colleagues now brand as pathological. One may observe how far the pendulum has swung and may judge for oneself which of the two positions is more conducive to the development of human potentials.
Professional as well as public tradition has omitted serious consideration of creativity, religious development and problem solving during reveries, daydreaming or other unusual conscious states. In fact, there is a basic disinterest in the fields of psychiatry and psychology as regards the entire topic of consciousness. Contemporary psychiatry is dominated by psychoanalytic theory as exposited by Sigmund Freud and his followers. Contemporary psychology is strongly influenced by the behaviorism of J. B. Watson and the neo-behaviorism of B. F. Skinner. Psychoanalysts emphasize the power of unconscious forces, minimizing the effect of conscious activity on human behavior. Behaviorists assert that "mind" and "consciousness" do not exist, while neo-behaviorists display little interest in subjective reactions of the human organism.
Both Freud and Skinner devoted some attention to creative processes, but neither described them as a potential to be developed by the fully functioning human being. Freud's interpretations of creative products by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci stressed the unconscious, pathological, repressed aspects of personality. Freud once interpreted a short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky as "fundamentally a wishful fantasy... that his mother should herself initiate him into sexual life in order to save him from the dreadful injuries caused by masturbation." Skinner described the sonnets of William Shakespeare in terms of the poet's ability to resist '"formal strengthening," a characteristic of "normal verbal behavior." Both Freud and Skinner explained creative processes in terms of their deviance from "normality" rather than as positive, healthy processes to be encouraged and developed. It is not surprising that most American psychiatrists and psychologists are baffled by the reports of LSD activity, puzzled by the subjective reports of LSD users, and skeptical about the value of LSD in man's efforts to understand, describe and change his behavior.
LSD, mescaline and psilocybin are often accused by psychoanalysts of inducing "toxic schizophrenic reactions." The action of psychedelic chemicals is not easily explainable in terms of the Freudian model of man, which was influenced by nineteenth-century physics. Many psychiatrists think of the human personality as a hydraulic pump; if sexual energy (or "libido") is repressed in one area, it will burst forth in another area. The psychoanalyst serves as a master plumber who steers the sexual flow into socially acceptable channels. The perceptual fluctuations and conceptual innovations which characterize the psychedelic experience are difficult to locate on the blueprint of the hydraulic pump and so are thought by many psychiatrists to mimic a psychotic reaction.
Psychologists who are influenced by behaviorism and neo-behaviorism assume that laws of learning can be determined which will provide a solid and reliable basis for psychological science. The human being is viewed as a complex computer with various inputs and outputs. These psychologists note that the LSD experience is unpredictable and suggest that it creates a short circuit in the computer. The results of this short circuit deviate from normal, expected behavior and are to be studied as something apart from the mainstream of the computer's performance.
It is in light of this regrettable situation concerning the twentieth century's image of man that the present book assumes a special importance. The book's contents challenge the hydraulic-pump model of personality as well as the computer model. In addition, the book is filled with material which reveals the shortcomings of the American culture's general avoidance of altered conscious states.
Hopefully, the data in this book will stimulate in some way a resurgence of scientific research with LSD. A careful reading of the experiments described by the authors demonstrates the promise of psychedelic drugs as well as the improvements needed in future research designs. Control groups must be organized, double-blind experiments must be set up, and the variables of set and setting must be more adequately considered. Once the officials of the National Institute of Mental Health have given their approval to additional research, the proposed experiments should be of the highest quality; future investigators can profit from the mistakes of the pioneers. In addition, the directors of future research projects should make every attempt to insure the safety and well-being of their subjects. There is no question that LSD can precipitate psychotic reactions among certain unstable people if used improperly or that the psychedelics can cause physiological complications among users with certain types of liver and kidney dysfunctions. However, the dangers of ill-advised LSD use must not overshadow the potentials of wise psychedelic usage and careful experimentation.
Peter Stafford and Bonnie Golightly have examined the experimental results and the clinical reports concerning LSD which have emerged from the fields of psychiatry, psychopharmacology, clinical psychology, parapsychology, religion and education. The fruits of their quest are a rich repast for the discerning reader. The currently available data suggest that, under the proper conditions, psychedelic drugs can enable the individual to cultivate those creative and spiritual facets of his personality that so often remain unexplored. In presenting this point of view, the book will be welcomed by those members of the medical arts, the behavioral sciences and the public at large who are concerned with the total self-actualization of human beings. These people will direct their attention more to the work of competent investigators than to the alarmists from medical and political Establishments who currently share the publicity spotlight with those "psychedelic prophets" encouraging illegal LSD usage. Despite the provocative social criticism that has been made by the "psychedelic prophets," their activities have contributed little of value in the way of scientific research.
Stafford's and Golightly's book will not win unanimous approval. Even the most carefully collected data in it will be questioned by the representatives of those psychiatric, business and legal Establishments eager to maintain the status quo. The book also will be dismissed by those persons who distrust spontaneity, imagination, unorthodoxy and evolution—the forces which have, in the past, resulted in humanism, progress, invention and mutation. The situation in regard to psychedelic drugs, the present book and human development in general was well stated by Frank Lloyd Wright who once wrote, "Creation is not only rare but always hazardous... The soul of any civilization on earth... is Art and Religion, but neither has ever been found in commerce, in government or the police."
|— STANLEY C. KRIPPNER, PH.D.|
Footnotes1. The immense psychedelic growth follows the pattern of other drugs developed since the early fifties. The tranquilizer-amphetamine-barbiturate boom began at that time and resulted in wide proliferation of drugs and patents (over 2500 were filed for barbiturates alone). Progress in other areas of medicine has kept pace so that it is now necessary to revise pharmacology texts constantly. After only three years, Andres Goth found he had to preface his new 1964 edition of Medical Pharmacology with the following: "When the first edition of this book was written, many drugs, now widely used, were still unknown. Many important concepts, currently widely held, were not yet recognized or understood." As it was, this re-issue too was out of date within a year. (back)
2. "In contrast with the outcome of LSD experiences which are so often purely experiential and can hardly be translated into words," writes Dr. Naranjo, "Ibogaine seems to lend itself better to the development of intellectual insight.... I only know of one drug that lends itself better to the manipulation of the therapeutic experience, and this is MMDA, but the differences between the two are great. Whereas MMDA lends itself ideally to the probing into the ongoing situation in the 'here and now,' the analytic quality of the Ibogaine experience is useful in understanding the 'there and then'.... I would suggest that MMDA and Ibogaine may complement each other well in successive experiences, and both are in turn complementary to the non-analytical and often impersonal or a-personal experience of LSD." (back)
3. Said one user upon trying the drug: "I took a puff and my arms and legs fell off. And then the garden of God opened up." (back)
4. One of the most enthusiastic proselytizers for the joys of liquor was the alchemist Raymond Lully, who is often credited with the discovery of distillation. Although the art in his time was most rudimentary, calling, for instance, for wine, fermented in horse dung, Lully was so impressed with aqua vini that he thought its discovery meant that the millennium was at hand. (back)
5. LSD-movie buffs would date the influence of psychedelics on commercial movies earlier. "La Dolce Vita," is considered "psychedelic" in feeling by many, and few would deny that "Juliet of the Spirits," and other superior imports—"Breathless," "Sundays and Cybele," "Help," etc.—bear the marks of the psychedelic style.
Films made by screenwriters and directors who have tried to include some elements of the psychedelic experience in their portrayal of the human tragi-comedy should be distinguished from those which use LSD itself as a dominating theme. There is just the barest outside chance that one of the latter films might succeed artistically and honestly, but indications at the moment do not favor such a possibility. As Lawrence Lipton has written in this regard, "If Hollywood's treatment of the Beat was any indication (and TV's and radio's) we can expect the worst." (back)
6. That is not to say that there isn't a psychedelic "Overground." In New York and Los Angeles, there are courses offered to the public on LSD and its social implications. At San Francisco State one can arrange to audit a class at the Experimental College on "Cybernetics and LSD: A Study of the Application of Consciousness-Expanding Drugs to Technology." Perhaps the most amazing development in the "Overground" (in this case, the academic front) was the resolution by the National Student Association recommending revision of federal statutes against the use of the psychedelics, including marijuana The NSA also called for the creation of inter-disciplinary centers for the integration of psychedelic experience and for monies to establish and maintain a Drug Studies Desk. (This resolution was issued in March, 1966, just before the explosion of LSD hysteria).(back)
7. Synectics, from the Greek, meaning "the joining of seemingly diverse elements." (back)
8. A good, illustrative Synectics session concerned the search for a new product which would have an earning potential for its manufacturer of $300,000 000 per year. To warrant such financial expectations, it was evident that this product would have to be unique and of permanent value.
An early suggestion was that maybe there might be a way to construct a road which would never wear out. Living coral was at first recommended, but soon dismissed as impractical, however self-replenishing.
Then one of the group remarked that in the Arctic extremely hardy lichens grow on top of the snow, and that as a highway surface material they might be more suitable. Because no one had specific information on lichens, an encyclopedia was consulted, and it was discovered that lichens—which are part algae and part fungi—will grow on any surface, the atmosphere sufficing as the only necessary nutritional source.
Soon someone suggested that lichens might be added to paint, then canned and sold for dressing cement surfaces such as road dividers on super highways (to eliminate the expense and bother of grass) or to beautify desert areas.
The group at this point was extremely excited and called in an expert. Though sympathetic, he pointed out various technical flaws in their thinking, and this possibility was gradually dropped.
Nonetheless, the seemingly insurmountable difficulties were eventually overcome, for in the summer of 1966 a similar product, was put on the retail market.
In this instance, the Synectics group did not work out their idea in the laboratory. But in most cases they are concerned to realize the various products they conjure up, at least in prototype. Says one of their number: "You've got to dirty your hands and see that the thing works, Otherwise, even the most brilliant inspiration can amount to nothing." Some of the realized innovations coming out of the Cambridge group include a better gasoline pump, a mineral fertilizer with a cement base, a water supply for Pakistan, an electric can opener and in the words of one journalist, "the feeding programme of American astronauts." (back)
9. This raises the question, of course, as to whether or not there have been any Synectic sessions carried out under the influence of LSD. To date nothing has been published to answer this question a fact not surprising considering the paucity of literature on psychedelic problem solving until recently.
In the future such experiments undoubtedly will be undertaken If the group is composed of LSD amateurs, probably most will be unable to handle the session effectively because of the enormous number of things happening to each one individually. On the other hand, it is not improbable that a group of serious psychedelic adepts can make much of such an opportunity.
The pilot study into group problem-solving sessions carried out by the Institute for Psychedelic Research of San Francisco State College was inconclusive in this regard, although there were some group members both times it was tried "who felt there was enhancement of their individual creative abilities some of the time." On the whole, the use of psychedelics in a group did not seem as promising as did personal and individual explorations. (back)
10. This case was presented by Frank Barron in his Creativity & Psychological Health. (back)