9 LSD Applied
'A lump of sugar with two small dark stains, but it can be all of heaven and all hell to some poor bastard after he sucks it.'
Cassandra, Daily Mirror, 4 April 1966
In the first fine flush of enthusiasm after the war between the fifties and the sixties, L SD was acclaimed as a psychotherapeutic wonder drug. In Canada, for example, it was used extensively for the treatment of acute alcoholics. Under one régime, they were, on Truth Day', given massive, 400 mcg. doses in the hope that they would suffer an experience so profound and shattering that it would change the entire course of their life. For a while, as with every new psychiatric method, successes were reported, but as it became routine, and the real factor in treatment, the interest and enthusiasm of the therapists, waned, so results fell away. After three and a half years none of a representative group who had been given L S D had stopped drinking, and indeed showed hardly any improvement.t
In the same way a group of prisoners treated with psilocybin by Leary and his colleagues did indeed show some improvement, and for a short time after their discharge were jailed less often than one would, expect. But how much this was due to the drug and how much to the researcher's contact, interest and effort to find the men houses and jobs, is extremely debatable.2
It is still used in psychotherapy by a very small number of English psychiatrists; a few more who might like to use it probably do not for fear of a mishap and possible scandal. It is interesting that one of those who does use it is a Jungian; his patients see visions of ancient Egypt and archetypal snakes.* One of his patient's experiences has become a classic in the literature of hallucinogens. It vividly illustrates the drug's ability to bring back to consciousness repressed and troublesome memories, and to break up the tarmac-like coating that holds down these boiling forces. This woman, who at twenty-nineffelt dead, lifeless, useless, had a fortnight's course of L SD. During that time she became again a child of six. She experienced her house during the day as her old school, with her children as her playmates; at night it was her childhood home. She felt child-size again; when she held her doctor's hand, it enveloped hers, she felt her clothes hanging about her in swathes.
I had the sensation as in my first LS D treatment of a snake curling up round me. I felt very sick and dizzy. Then I began to see serpents' faces all over the wall - then I saw myself as a fat pot-bellied snake slithering gaily away to destruction. I felt horrified and thought: 'Whose destruction?' I then realized that it was my own destruction, I was destroying myself. I seemed to be having a battle between life and death - it was a terrible 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 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.... The doctor came in and asked nie howl felt and I told him that there were snakes everywhere. I had the sensation of being right in the middle of them. The doctor asked me if it was like anything I had experienced before. I said it was a dream I had had as a child. He asked me if I knew what that dream represented and I said 'Sex' ... I could see snakes slithering through the grass. The whole atmosphere was as it had been when sexual incidents occurred with boys when I was about six or seven.... I had a vision of life as a dark and murky pool and saw myself dipping my toes in gingerly with first one man and then with another, of being urged on by some of them to go down into the pool with them but I kept drawing back ;- I just had to wait for the right man to experience the pool of life with.
At the climax of the treatment she remembered a series of sexual assaults made on her during her childhood; even seeing the floor of the treatment room carpeted with the flowers and grasses of the wood where it happened.
Another woman who had always had 'something lacking in my life, no spark, a feeling of not really being here, incomplete',/ found herself, eventually, under LSD.
... inside a cell of my subconscious mind. It contained a spider, no longer alert and frightening and vivid, but tired, beaten and almost dead, it looked pathetic. With the spider there were thoughts and feelings and from these the conscious person, myself, sitting on the bed, had to learn a lesson. It was a most peculiar sensation. I found that my conscious self A was speaking to my subconscious self B. A was learning and speaking the lesson, B was teaching it by sending out waves of thought and feelings. A spoke the following words: 'The love I felt' - at this B sent a wave of pure love flowing through my body - 'The tears! shed' - a strong feeling of emotion came to my throat and tears to my eyes - 'the pain' - with this a terrifying weight on my body. At this point I got confused ... Eventually I cried because I was unable to understand and learn my lesson. I came out of my subconscious and sat on the bed thinking about What had just happened. I realized that I had been in the cell of memory containing my mother's death, that in it were the mistakes I bad made at that time and from it I could learn a very valuable lesson.3
The therapist comments that 'LSD gives these people [obsessional neurotics and depressives] some real and tangible experience of their own unconscious and rekindles their faith in their own spirit.' However it is uncertain how much success is due to the drug, and how much due to the psychiatrist's preference for working with patients in this condition. The drug may facilitate his ability to cope with the patient as much as it enables the patient to cope with herself.
Again, the first enthusiasm for the drug as a cure-all having subsided, its use is restricted to fairly small classes of patients.' Cohen gives this list of suitable cases for treatment:
people suffering from an excessively strict conscience, those who have lost confidence and self-esteem, those who are unable to overcome the grief of a personal loss. Depressions due to the environment, lost people who can find no meaning in existence, people with anxiety, passivity or aggression.
But he points out that LSD does no more than break down the mind's long-established defences to let the conscious see the unconscious; there still remains a long period of re-education before the patient can be said to be cured. LSD can only be a road breaker, and the changes it causes in ordinary personalities can only be at a shallow level: 'It is agreed that short-term therapy with L S D is a "super-ego cure" and that it changes only the attitudes and values of the patient' — not what he does with them.4
He gives as poor prospects: the eternal adolescent, the extremely depressed, the hysteric or paranoid — who may become convinced of his actual instead of only suspected god-head. The schizophrenic's symptoms are exacerbated by L SD, and the borderline schizophrenic may well be tipped over the edge. But these are hardly definite rules. Another English therapist had a young schizophrenic who felt he had died at the age of twelve; on his twenty-fifth birthday he was going to kill himself. He had been unsuccessfully in analysis for two years. On the eve of The birthday, he was given a large dose of L SD. There was a danger that he might kill himself, but he was determined to anyway. Instead, the next morning, he came in complaining that he should have had the drug years ago.
But the unwritten history of LSD therapy must contain many episodes like this: the patient showed chronic anxiety in a schizoid personality, he had been in analysis unsuccessfully, so he was given 25 mcg.-of L S D. 'During the next few hours the patient kept repeating, "I see it all now," but refused to communicate with the therapist. Three days later he scratched his wrists with a razor blade. The depression lifted slowly, and he was eventually discharged from the hospital essentially unimproved.'5
The dangers to be expected from LSD are real. They are: personality change, prolonged hallucinations, psychosis, attempted suicide, addiction, poisoning, successful suicide.
Generally, these problems depend on the subject's previous instability, intensified by unfavourable surroundings during the drug experience. Personality change is, after all, one of the principal reasons for taking LSD. Mature, well-organized people who have had the drug claim in general that they are the better for it, they are more realistic in their relationships, more perceptive and mature.2 Attitude tests on other samples show a general decrease in dogmatism and a greater tolerance for opposing views, and with anxious people, more peace of mind. The effect of L SD is on the most superficial level and it leaves the bedrock of personality undisturbed. People who show sudden reversals of character when taking the drug under good conditions are probably like those who suffer sudden religious conversions whose psychic forces were in precarious equilibrium.
One result of taking LSD repeatedly — about once a week — is that it seems in some people to produce a state of permanent cheerful carelessness.
The euphoria and detachment that so commonly follow frequent irse_of the drug seem to be habit [sic] to people who take drugs every week or two. The person who shows this euphoria as a result of repeated use of the drug may intellectually anticipate future problems but not be sufficiently concerned about them to act on the information. To the observer it seems that the drug experience sufficiently reduces general anxiety and customary learned unconscious defence mechanisms to require conscious defence [also sic]. It is as though the drug dissolved both realistic and neurotic fear and anxiety of life. The subject considers this general effect valuable because the majority of life's anticipated dangers and perplexities never materialize. He consequently feels safe and much more free from anxiety; indeed he may feel actually euphoric. Unfortunately when real trouble comes along, he may be too detached to act in what an outside observer would see as his best interests.6
The behaviour of the American L S D proselytizers seems to bear out this idea: one man was recently sentenced to a very considerable term of imprisonment in connection with the smuggling of half an ounce of marihuana through the American customs; five weeks after this sentence his house was raided and more marihuana was found there.7 But one wonders how much this is the effect of the drug, and how much the behaviour of a personality that would rather be free of self-preserving fears — even of a personality that shows the self-destructiveness very characteristic of people dependent on other drugs. This type of behaviour is by no means confined to LSD users. When Christ asked his disciples, 'Is not the life more than meat and the body than. raiment? Behold the fowls of the air.... Take therefore no thought for the morrow. . •'8 their relatives may have been equally alarmed at their euphoria and detachment. Before one blames the drug for the more modern situation, one must ask also about the personality that is willing to take the drug once a week for long periods. It does not seem to be a common reaction; I certainly would rather do anything but, and even those who have had ecstatic experiences are not always willing to repeat them. One of Cohen's subjects who had had the 'most blissful' experience said, when he was offered another dose,
I don't think that! will take the drug again, at least not now. ... I've had one wonderful day. Maybe we shouldn't ask for more than one such day in a life-time..
Even more perhaps than other drugs, the situation in which L SD is taken profoundly affects the subject's experience. When one gets, as in America, serious, intellectual, rebellious people using the drug as the foundation of an in-group rather similar in atmosphere to a closed religious sect, it is going to be difficult to distinguish drug and social effects from each other, or to decide which are undesirable.
A more common problem in England, where L S D use seems not to be so well organized as among some groups in America, is going to be the impact of adverse surroundings on the drug 'experience. The illicit user is unlikely to take the drug in the company of people who understand what is happening to him and are willing to reassure him about it. It is as if someone dressed him in a diving suit and threw him into deep water without telling him how to work the valves. Even in clinical settings the outcome of the drug experience can be uncertain.
If LSD is given under disinterested laboratory conditions while impersonal assistants attach electrodes, take blood samples and perform a number of other puzzling tasks, and if the subject gets the impression that he will be temporarily mad and observers provide neither support nor reassurances, a psychotic state is bound to occur...
Another researcher, writing of clinical applications of LSD:
It would probably be fairly easy to induce psychotic-like behaviour if subjects were put into a more stressful situation and made to feel more insecure.9
As if to prove his point, an associate soon after stole and took in secret 200 mcg. of LSD; it took two years to cure him of the resulting psychosis. It is probable that many people who have trouble after illicit use of hallucinogens resemble the case of a twenty-year-old American girl student who ate 250 morning glory seeds and went to hospital weeping, dissociated, saying she thought she would lose her mind. She had no hallucinations, and the effects were over in six hours. The psychiatrist who examined her comments that she had a 'hysteroid personality with deep, unsatisfied, dependent needs. Although insisting that she took the morning glory seeds out of sheer boredom, it is notable that this episode rallied divorced parents to her supportno
It is probable that illicit LS D use is particularly attractive to intelligent, artistic, disorganized people whom one cannot call mad, but who nevertheless hardly connect properly with ordinary society. One such is a bohemian American female artist who had been in hospital five years before for dissociation, and after a dozen LSD experiences set off for Mexico to join a freedom group, but before she arrived it had disbanded. Her hallucinations were of curtains of light in front of her eyes, of people decomposing in the street, and lasted for five months after her last dose.
One of the tragedies reported in the literature is this, often quoted in opposition to illicit use of hallucinogens:
A twenty-four-year-old student chewed 300 (morning glory) seeds, equivalent to 300 mcg. L SD, had full-blown hallucinations and fantasies of saving the world, which lasted twenty-four hours even with sedatives. Mild exhilaration lasted for three weeks, when the hallucinations started again. Everything had double meanings, there was a ringing in his ears as in the drug intoxication state. He was afraid he was going insane, and needed sedatives again. Weeks later, he woke up one morning; was very upset because he thought he was out of balance again, drove his car down a hill and crashed into a house at 100 m.p.h.il Unfortunately we know nothing of his previous psychiatric history.
There is a growing international literature of LSD disasters - a recent murder in America, a Swiss doctor who ecstatically jumped in a lake and nearly drowned, a Scandinavian woman who went out and stabbed her seducer. A twenty-year-old English musician with no history of mental illness or instability took some LSD alone in his attic room. He locked himself in, scattered everything he possessed, broke the gas stove, the electric light fittings, all the windows and hurled himself off the roof. He fell four storeys onto a brick wall and was killed. Another young man, a bricklayer's labourer, again with no previous history of mental illness, seems to have gone to a club in Soho, where he was given LSD. Then he got to Highgate, some six miles away, climbed a church, took off his clothes, folded them neatly and jumped sixty feet to his death. Bewley comments 'Despite the statements of the protagonists of this drug that it is safe, L SD can be dangerous when taken casually.'21 In 1967 England had its first- murder under the influence of LSD. An American, of the psychedelic sort, strangled an eighteen-year-old prostitute while they were making love: at the trial he said that because of the drug he thought she was a serpent and had defended himself. Because he lacked the intention to kill necessary for a conviction of murder, he was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment.
The Advisory Committee on Drug Depetidence report that Harmful mental states can occur. During the first few hours after taking the drug there may be violent behaviour, a panic-stricken or paranoid patient may attack others or he may hurt himself.' Some users had attempted to kill, or had in fact killed themselves or others, 'because they have apparently developed either a self-hatred or a feeling of superior power and invulnerability . . :22
But alarming as these events are, it seems they happen rarely in comparison with the enormous number of licit and illicit LSD experiences in the Western world. A review of 25,000 reported administrations of LSD to 5,000 people found that among normals chosen for laboratory experiments, hallucinations lasting more than forty-eight hours occurred in 0-08 per cent of cases, and that none of these committed or attempted suicide. Among mentally disturbed patients who were given LSD in therapy, 0•18 per cent had longer than forty-eight-hour experiences, 012 per cent attempted suicide, and 0-04 per cent succeeded in killing themselves. Often suicide was many weeks later, in the patient's deep disappointment at the drug's failure to cure hinoi
The authors of this paper comment,elsewhere,
It is surprising that such a profound psychological experience leaves adverse residuals so rarely. This may lend support to the impression that psychological homeostatic mechanisms for handling acute stresses are more resilient than is commonly believed.I3
A survey of the case papers of 67 people admitted to mental hospitals in Britain during 1966-7 who had used LSD, showed that 26 had had acute psychotic reactions - most of them found raving in public places - two had tried to commit suicide, three had made aggressive attacks on others, and there was nothing to show that the drug had had any effect on the other 36.23
Another review of a large number of LSD administrations showed that it was possible to predict untoward effects on the basis of short interviews before the drug was given. A typical paranoid reaction was shown by a twenty-eight-year-old married man who had complained in the interview that office cliques were plotting against him, refusing him promotion by advancing their own members. He felt that his immediate supervisor was harsh and unfair. He insisted that he was going to be given the largest dose of L SD. After taking the same amount as other subjects, he was surly and uncooperative, glared at everyone, and was cryptic and evasive in his answers to questions. The next day he described the plot he had séen among the other subjects and the experimenters, who wanted to take over the world. One of the doctors, wearing a goatee beard and a Martian uniform, was the master mind. Under the drug, he could tell the members of the conspiracy by the lines on their faces. He felt that the food he had been offered was poisoned, and he heard what is rare in L S D states, voices telling him to 'stay in line'. Remnants of this scheme of delusions stayed in his mind for two s days after the experience.14
To recapitulate: the literature suggests that when L SD is given in proper conditions only those who are already detectably unstable are likely to suffer. Even without weeding, the risks of ' serious schizophrenic breaks or suicide are likely to be slight — no more than the risks we accept in everyday life or in many sports. In illicit use the drug is likely to be dangerous because unstable people are attracted to it, and their experiences are liable to produce unconscious guilts and fears they cannot handle alone. Cohen and Ditman report that the majority of paranoid reactions are found in people who got the drug on the black market.
Curiously, Cohen suggests that people who give L S D under poor conditions are likely to suffer more than the recipients:
After intensive, though sometimes only after brief, contact with the drugs, a few [therapists] have gone on to a psychotic breakdown or megalomaniac ideas of grandeur. Marked depressions in which these agents played a role are known. A couple of practitioners have found themselves in legal difficulties (this was before LSD as such was illegal in the U.S.A.) because of anti-social practices. This is an impressive morbidity, especially in view of the relatively small numbers of American practitioners using the hallucinogens.'
An English psychiatrist who used LSD intensively has given it up partly because 'giving the drug responsibly is even more demanding than taking it 15
The risk of physical addiction to the drug is non-existent. This was demonstrated by an extremely careful experiment at Lexington, in which a group of Negro morphine ex-addicts — who were matched to controls outside the prison for sensitivity to L SD — were given mounting doses over a period of three weeks. After the first few days the hallucinations, delusions and confusion they experienced at first had gone, and by the end of this period almost all physiological signs of the drug's action had vanished. At the end they were being given 180 mcg. a day, in a glass of water; on the last day they were unaware that their dose was any more than water. Within three days their sensitivity to LSD was re-established. One subject was then given the 180 mcg. he had taken with equanimity before: 'he was very anxious, felt he was being shocked electrically, he felt that his body shrank and swelled, that his hands had extra fingers, that the walls were a mass of flickering colours, that he would die or become insane.'16
That is, although the effects of both L SD and heroin decrease with time, with LSD it is impossible to re-establish them by taking more; the body becomes completely insensitive to the drug, and there is no incentive for physical addiction in the ordinary sense.
This result, however, does not preclude the possibility of habituation. This state seems to differ slightly from habituation to other drugs, since it is rare for people to take it more than twice a week — more frequent dosage is made ineffective by desensitization — and the LSD state is chosen as an experience preferable, rather than as an alteration; to ordinary consciousness.
In man LSD has not been found to be toxic. Doses of 1,500 mcg. have been taken safely, though the effects are not pleasant. In animals death is due to respiratory paralysis, and in comparison to man even more gigantic doses are needed.17 In one of the most expensive animal experiments ever performed, a group of Americans killed a borrowed circus elephant with L SD. Children, however, seem very sensitive to the drug, partly because their body weight can be three or four times less than an adult's, and therefore the relative dose is increased by that factor. As this is written, a five-year-old American girl is in hospital with suspected brain damage after eating a 50-mcg. L S D sugar lump she found in her parents' refrigerator.
Illicit Use of L SD
LSD is not only man's most powerful drug, it is the only one illicitly used that can be made informally in the United Kingdom. Heroin needs morphine or poppy from Asia; marihuana can be grown under glass, but it has the lack of flavour characteristic of forced vegetables. LSD can be made without much difficulty from the lysergic acid base; this in turn can be bought from chemical suppliers. If it cannot be bought, lysergic acid can be synthesized by an expert organic chemist who has time and equipment to devote to the problem. Since LSD at £1.50 a dose fetches about 600 times the cost of the commercial base, this synthesis might be attractive and feasible for a well-organized black-market operation. In certain circumstances, as the' law stands, this manufacture and subsequent use would be legal. If the strong demand for it continues, it will be almost impossible to control the drug, for not only 9in it be made easily, it is even simpler to hide or import. The implications of these facts are discussed below in Chapter 11.
The illicit use of L S D is fairly new in Britain, and it is difficult to distinguish a pattern. So far it seems to be used in the same circles as marihuana, mainly among students who are fascinated by the emotional, intellectual and artistic implications of the drug; and as a supplement by the floating, beatnik, pan-addict populations of London, Bristol and Edinburgh. The B.B.C. Midweek survey showed that by 1973 650,000 people had tried LSD.24
This is the statement-of a twenty-five-year-old sculptor, who was living with his parents in an immaculate semi-detached house in a London-suburb when I interviewed him. 'This place is so sterile. I'd been six months sculpting in London, then! tried it in Bristol where there's a great drugs scene. But they're just a little gang of layabouts who hang out in this café with a pin-table and a Negro chewing gum — it looked so like an American documentary, it made you laugh. There was just one guy there, Steve, a seventh son of a seventh son who just radiated. You know, everything lit up when became in. But it was so dill, I came home. I'll get ajob this summer on the Dungeness nuke [the nuclear power station] labouring. I'll earn £33 a week; that'll set me up for the summer.'
He is tall, well-built, red-faced. He wears an eye-concussing shirt in prussian blue with orange and vernkifion flowers. After my own LSD experience the shirt alone proclaimed the drug. His fingers too are smooth and pink and wave about like anemones.
He is talkative, and very uninterested in anything outside himself; his hair is curly and rises at the back in the way mod boys used to brush their beehives a year or so ago. There is something strikingly LSD about the whole of him, deep crude colours, writhing outlines like a vivacious jugendstil painting.
'I had four years at a provincial art school, a year at the one in Berlin. That was such a fantastic scene, it was worth ten. The trouble is I get hung up on teaching — you know, one day a week like most people do. But there's no point being poor so I earn money. After a bit you begin to appreciate the things money buys so you just automatically need more money. I don't really cop society. I mean, just look what they've done to Britain in the last fifty years. It's so ugly. The manifestations of our culture are hardly desirable.' We look out of his bedroom window at the carpet of semi-detacheds rolling over the downs.
`I'm not terribly interested in rational, outside reality. I was reading this book about constructivist architects, and it's so boring. I'm far more interested in — what do you call it — the psychotic-symbolistic reality inside. That's far more exciting. I have accepted these LSD experiences as more real.
'The drawback to these trips is the psychological needs — I need to be loved. I had this girl, it was siimeone to sleep with afterwards, someone to hold on to. You get frightened when you're not able to deal with things when you're away. I am confident now that I can deal with any situation, but these people who go doing murders on L SD area bit worrying.' (Laughs.)
'But I've been there myself. I had this friend who wanted to murder me. I was quite looking forward to it. The scenes! get on are so fantastic — the treacheries and betrayals, I lose all my friends!
Once I took L SD in the morning and walked about London — the fantastic thing that day was that I was a tourist — not the way! looked, but the way! walked, you know like tourists do. It was fantastic all these buildings.
'I got hung up before! started on LSD, over my sculpture —I got hung up over colouring it. I could only do feeble vague colours. Now it's so simple, I don't know what all the fuss was about. I just colour them as if they were living animals. It's so easy.' Here he produced a slightly flattened green polystyrene. ball with half a dozen pin holes in it. 'This is a satellite. Isn't it fantastic? This girl of mine. Once when I was on a trip I saw her as Cathy MacGowan' (a popular teenage announcer on a defunct television show Ready Steady Go) with funny dried-up teeth. She did look so odd.
'The trouble with junkies is that it's all flashing and popping in their heads but they can't concentrate and get it out. It's terribly frustrating. I don't go much on drugs, I suppose because as an artist I want to be in control. There's another problem for junkies — all they think about is junk; they're not interested in people except as a means to getting junk. But they know so much about themselves — just for example, if you're trying to stop smoking, there are all these little scenes passing sweet shops and tobacconists and so on. Well, the junkie knows all this only a hundred times stronger.
'The first trip I was ever on—in Germany in this vast pine wood, I took a great lump of mescaline and walked by the lake until I felt its effects. You're frightened but you don't know how to be frightened — you can feel all the nerves, all down your finger nails and behind your teeth. You know, it's like your first bunk-up's terrifying, ,only this is much more so. Then I set off towards this - tower on the hill — typical! — I don't realize it's bloody miles. Then it got dark — whoosh —' (he waves his hands downwards)
I've never seen it get dark so fast. All the fairy stories, Cinderella and the big bad wolf in the pines. I was petrified, I've never been so frightened. But it was an I've been here before feeling I suppose like nightmares. It was most peculiar, this feeling being too well known.
'As I say, I used to go on trips three times a week for a while; but now I've lost interest. I gave my last lot of LSD away to a bloke — I suppose because he'd never tried to hustle any off me.' He gave the impression of disconnected, slightly irritated concentration on his own internal processes that is typical of young artists or mild schizophrenics.
It is interesting that in this, the first period in which people have cut themselves off from religion and socially acceptable mystical experiences, drug-taking has become a major problem. For the first time in our history, there are no mechanisms for relating the supernatural, visions and ecstasies, to ordinary life. They are taken instead as symptoms of sickness. It seems likely that many young people use LSD, marihuana, amphetamines, according to their education, personality and opportunity, in attempts to fill the void twentieth-century living leaves inside the mind.
Illicit American use of hallucinogens is better documented. Use of hallucinogens in New York follows the lines of marihuana in being confined to more or less closed social groups; the activity associated with it seems to be more varied, perhips because the drug is newer. At some LSD parties 'everyone is sitting about \ and waiting like on New Year's Eve, for something to happen.' At others there are solemn, silent basket makings and a religious atmosphere, at others again there are sexual orgies, `if you fondle a woman's breast she becomes the whole breast ... the orgasm — it feels as though it's spilling right out of you.' The black market in the hallucinogens is rather loosely organized, with friends supplying each other and covering their costs,,rather than an organized network of pushers. The non-addictiveness of the drugs makes for a fluctuation in demand that hardly attracts the established operators, who prefer the stability of the opiate market.
A particularly stupid use of LSD is to give it to an ignorant subject. The story of the girl at a party who 1Ftd some put in her drink as an aphrodisiac, found animals crawling up her arms and jumped to her death out of a fourth floor window, is a hardy chestnut, although it may have some basis in fact Certainly the drug has been used for seductions or simply as a joke. A newspaper story, in April 1966, described a group of people drinking in a pub who suddenly began hallucinating and behaving oddly, Another girl, going to Scotland to meet her future parents-k law, was given a secret dose by a London 'practitioner' just before she set out, and had to endure a most alarming journey and a most difficult interview with these people who were to be rather important to her. The stress of the L SD experience and the risk of psychosis is obviously much higher when the subject has no idea what is happening. For what these are worth, the ' victim has considerable legal remedies: secret drug administration may be both a crime under the Offences against the Person Act* and a civil wrong for which a jury would certainly give very heavy damages. A practical joke which caused an incapacitating psychosis might cost the joker as much as a car accident —perhaps £30,000— without the benefit of insurance.
In America, as one might expect, the illicit use of LSD has become almost institutionalized. There is ajournai, sometimes of a high standard, called the Psydwdelic Review.t There are a number of quasi-religious groups using the drugs; the best known is centred on Timothy Leary who, as this is written, has come into sharp conflict with the American Establishment over drug use, and was last reported advising his followers to renounce the hallucinogens. But the earlier history of his movement is interesting. Blum gives an account of some aspects in Utopiates.2 (It must at once be said that the largest part of this book, devoted to the analysis of five groups of LS D users, is based on such tendentious material that very little reliance can be placed on it The samples used are small, there is no guarantee of representativeness, and the subjects' reactions to the questionnaire seem coloured by the expectations of the interviewers.)
The most striking impression given by the descriptive parts of this book is that the LSD movesnent is much more a reaction against the American way of life — rather similar in some ways to the beatnik or folk-song cults — than a rm.* of the pharmacology of the drug. It is observed that LS D is mainly used by professionals, intellectuals, or other middle-class people – in other words by people who are socially favoured, respected and generally conforming.— If LSD represents for them some kind of a revolt, it is a quiet one.... More and more people 'want out', and this includes, strikingly enough as the study shows, people who have been successful in society and have received the rewards that it promised them.
Some American L SD users take as a manual the Tibetan Book of the Dead,18 annotated in The Psychedelic Experience. 19 This passage seems to explain the authors' intentions:
Following the Tibetan model then, we distinguish three phases of the psychic experience. The first period, Chikhai Bardo, is that of complete transcendence – beyond words, beyond space-time, beyond self. There are no visions, no sense of self, no thoughts. There are only pure awareness and ecstatic freedom from all game (and biological) involvements.* The second lengthy period involves self, or external game reality, Chônyld Bardo, in sharp exquisite clarity or in the form of hallucinations (karmic apparitions). The final stage, Sidpa Bardo, involves the return to routine game reality and the self.
For most persons the second (aesthetic or hallucinatory stays) is the longest. For the initiated the first stage of illumination lasts longer. For the unprepared, the heavy game players, those who anxiously cling to their egos, and for those who take the drug in a non-supportive setting, the struggle to regain reality begins early and usually lasts to the end of their session.... One purpose of this manual is to enable the person to regain the transcendence of First Bardo and to avoid pro-, longed entrapments in hallucinatory or ego-dominated game patterns.
On the cover of the book there is an explanation of how the authors, Leary and Alpert, were forced to leave Harvard. They comment, presumably with this and other episodes in mind.
... Westerners do not accept the existence of conscious processes f. which they have no operational terms. The attitude which is prevalent is: if you can't label it, and if it is beyond current notions of space-time and personality, then it is not open for investigation. Thus we see the ego-loss experience confused with schizophrenia. Thus we sep present-day psychiatrists solemnly pronouncing the psychedelid keys as prhosis-producing and dangerous.19
Devotees of this and other cults have been criticized elsewhere:
Among the effects of the drug are (1) disassociation and detachment (initiates begin to show a certain blandness or superiority, or feeling of being above and beyond the normal world of social reality), (2) interpersonal insensitivity (inability to predict in advance what the social reaction to a "psilocybin party" would be'), (3) omniscience, , religious and philosophical naiveté (many reports are given of deep mystical experiences but their chief characteristic is the wonder at one's own profundity rather than a genuine concern to probe deeper into the experience of the human race in these matters'), (4) impulsivity Corte of the most difficult parts of the research has been to introduce any order into who takes psilocybin under what conditions. Any controls have either been rejected as interfering with the warmth necessary to have a valuable experience, or accepted as desirable but then not applied because somehow an occasion arises when it seems "right" to have a psilocybin session ).20
Whether the use of hallucinogens will develop along these lines in Britain is impossible to say. In the two years since this chapter was written, the frenzied first interest in L S D and psychedelics has died down, probably because once a person has taken half a dozen trips, he has had all the drug has to offer. Moreover, since each experience takes twelve hours, and the after effects are felt for days, ifs a very time-consuming operation. The professional people likely to be interested in the drug are unable to afford the amount of time needed. Continued and widespread use of the drug is something we are likely to have to take into account, and it will be necessary to devise intelligent policies towards it.
*In the same way Hofman, when he experimented with synthesized psilocybin, knowing its derivation from mushrooms used in Aztec religious rites, saw his assistants with bronzed skins and high cheekbones, and thought that bis laboratory was decorated with Mexican motifs.
*This Act oft/WI provides that it is a felony, punishable with imprisonment for life, to administer, or attempt to administer, 'chloroform, laudanum, or other Mooting or overPowering drug matter or thing' in order to procure the commission of an indictable offence, e.g. rape. It (Whet provides that it is a felony, punishable with up to ten years imprisonment, to administer unlawfully and maliciously 'any poison or other destructive or noxious thing' to anyone so as to endanger his life or to inflict upon him grievous bodily harm. The Sexual Offences Act 1966 adds another safeguard: `It is an offence for a person to apply or administer to, or aurae to be taken by, a woman any drug, matter or thing with intent to stupefy or overpower her so as thereby to enable any man to have unlawfW sexual intercourse with her.'
tAvailable at a few London booksellers, orat $2 a copy, plus postage, from the publishers: Psychedelic Book Service, Box 171, New Hyde Park, New York, U.S.A.
5" Games" are behavioural sequences defined by roles, rituals, goals, strategies, values, language, characteristic space-time locations and characteristic patterns of movement. Any behaviour not having these nine features is a non-game: this includes physiological reflexes, spontaneous play, and transcendent awareness:II)