Given the demonization of the psychedelic drug LSD, it may seem inconceivable that
mainstream , psychiatrists were giving it to patients during sessions. Yet for at least 20 years,
that's exactly what happened.
Created in 1938, LSD was first suggested as a tool in psychotherapy in 1949. The following year
saw the first studies in medical/psychiatric journals. By 1970, hundreds of articles on the uses of
LSD in therapy had appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of
Psychology, the Archives of General Psychiatry, the Quarterly Journal of Studies of Alcoholism,
many non-English-language journals, and elsewhere.
Psychiatric and psychotherapeutic conferences had segments devoted to LSD, and two
professional organizations were formed for this specialty, one in Europe and the other in North
America. International symposia were held in Princeton, London, Amsterdam, and other
locations. From 1950 to 1965, LSD was given in conjunction with therapy to an estimated
40,000 people worldwide.
In his definitive book on the subject, LSD Psychotherapy, transpersonal psychotherapist
Stanislav Grof, MD, explains what makes LSD such a good aid to headshrinking:
...LSD and other psychedelics function more or less as nonspecific catalysts and amplifiers
of the psyche.... In the dosages used in human experimentation, the classical psychedelics,
such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline, do not have any specific pharmacological effects.
They increase the energetic niveau in the psyche and the body which leads to manifestation
of otherwise latent psychological processes.
The content and nature of the experiences that these substances induce are thus not
artificial products of their pharmacological interaction with the brain ("toxic psychoses"),
but authentic expressions of the psyche revealing its functioning on levels not ordinarily
available for observation and study. A person who has taken LSD does not have an "LSD
experience," but takes a journey into deep recesses of his or her own psyche.
When used as a tool during full-scale therapy, Grof says, "the potential of LSD seems to be
extraordinary and unique. The ability of LSD to deepen, intensify and accelerate the
psychotherapeutic process is incomparably greater than that of any other drug used as an adjunct
to psychotherapy, with the exception perhaps of some other members of the psychedelic group."
Due to bad trips experienced by casual users, not to mention anti-drug hysteria in general, LSD
was outlawed in the US in 1970. The Drug Enforcement Agency declares: "Scientific study of
LSD ceased circa 1980 as research funding declined."
What the DEA fails to mention is that medical and psychiatric research is currently happening,
albeit quietly. Few researchers have the resources and patience to jump through the umpteen
hoops required to test psychedelics on people, but a few experiments using LSD, ecstasy, DMT,
ketamine, peyote, and other such substances are happening in North America and Europe.
Universities engaged in this research include Harvard, Duke, Johns Hopkins, University College
London, and the University of Zurich.
We're presently in the dark ages of such research, but at least the light hasn't gone out entirely.