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Better than an extra-strength placebo?
June 18, 2011 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have published a new study (behind paywall - summary) on the effects of "magic mushrooms". Volunteers were given 4 doses of psilocybin spaced one month apart. The study built on previous work and attempted to optimize the experience for long-lasting positive effects:
61% of volunteers considered the psilocybin experience during either or both the [highest dosage] sessions to have been the single most spiritually significant of their lives, with 83% rating it in their top five. Consistent with this, 94% and 89% of volunteers, respectively, indicated that the experiences on those same sessions increased their well-being or life satisfaction and positively changed their behavior at least moderately.
At the 14-month follow-up, these ratings remained high. The types of behavior change most frequently cited by volunteers were better social relationships with family and others, increased physical and psychological self-care, and increased spiritual practice (Table 6). Ratings by community observers before and after the study as well as ratings by study monitors after the study were consistent with the persisting positive changes in behavior and attitudes claimed by the volunteers.
Psilocybin is classified as a schedule 1 substance in the United States, having "high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use"

(previously: 1, 2)
posted by crayz (172 comments total) 84 users marked this as a favorite

 
I heard magic mushrooms is the gateway drug to Hinduism.
posted by PapaLobo at 2:36 PM on June 18, 2011 [19 favorites]


So when will we classify religion as a schedule 1 substance?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:37 PM on June 18, 2011 [44 favorites]


Also worth noting:
In its completed and current studies combined, the Hopkins research team has given more than 210 psilocybin sessions to more than 100 volunteers. Nearly all volunteers have reported that their psilocybin sessions have lead to significant and lasting increases in well-being.
posted by crayz at 2:38 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


BUT DOES IT MAKE YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE?
posted by invitapriore at 2:43 PM on June 18, 2011 [32 favorites]


I've long felt that having a quality psychedelic experience is the ctrl-alt-del for my soul. It lets me reset and clean out and approach life anew. If only Lucy would return my calls...
posted by hippybear at 2:43 PM on June 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


So it's a cure for the opposite of well-being?
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:43 PM on June 18, 2011


I've been pining for this from when I first read an article about it. If anyone knows how to participate in one of these studies, please memail me. Great post crayz!
posted by rockhopper at 2:44 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been considering converting to Judaism ever since a night of seeing Matisyahu live (had never heard of him before) and then listening to Shake Off the Dust... Arise for about eight straight hours on shrooms with some friends.

Okay, not super serious about converting but any time I'm feeling down I put that album on and feel good and I don't think the music is the only reason why.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:50 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


This should go over really big with the idiocracy.
posted by gallois at 2:55 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Psychedelic drugs make you a better person.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:03 PM on June 18, 2011 [25 favorites]


We need more of this, scientific studies that show how drugs effect humans, be it good or bad.

Yeah, I'm looking at you marijuana.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:04 PM on June 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wrote about this study and interviewed Griffiths here.

Interesting thing I didn't get to mention in the article: they're actually having trouble recruiting end-stage cancer patients for the next study (the link is in my story if anyone wants to volunteer). I think people are scared of having bad trips while dying.
posted by Maias at 3:04 PM on June 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


In time, when the older generations of Americans passes away, we will have the public consensus to legalize drugs like this, drugs which do not cause genuine addiction and so do not cause users to commit violent acts to facilitate a habit. These drugs do no harm to society compared to the callous and costly war against them, and the organized crime their prohibition generates. As this study shows, they may even benefit some of us in the long-term.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:04 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought Kevin Drum had a good write-up of the study.
posted by andoatnp at 3:10 PM on June 18, 2011


(it's in the post)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:13 PM on June 18, 2011


I thought Kevin Drum had a good write-up of the study.

Surprisingly linked in the FPP!

But you knew that, right?
posted by hippybear at 3:14 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree that psychedelic drugs can increase your feeling of well-being, but a lot of people have never met 'that guy'. The one that did a lot of psychedelic drugs and can have a conversation with a pile of laundry while picking invisible insects off of his skin. I've met him.

Be careful and use controlled doses of quality ingredients, please.
posted by Malice at 3:15 PM on June 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


They'll never declassify psilocybin. The military-industrial-pharma complex understands exactly how dangerous it would be for them to allow people to experience increasing rates of well-being and/or life satisfaction outside the current paradigm that money = happiness.

Advertising, consumerism and the economy-at-large depend on low levels of well-being and high levels of fear, frustration and anxiety to keep people spending their hard earned money and wasted time on useless shiney things.
posted by isopraxis at 3:16 PM on June 18, 2011 [63 favorites]


Surprisingly linked in the FPP!

I already said that!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:19 PM on June 18, 2011


"considered the psilocybin experience ... to have been the single most spiritually significant of their lives"

Damn. It was on my list, but I never got to that one. On the other hand, some of the others were really keen.
posted by Twang at 3:20 PM on June 18, 2011


Damn. It was on my list, but I never got to that one.

The good news is, if you're able to comment on MetaFilter, chances are you're still around enough to seek out some shrooms and spend the 4-8 hours required to trip on them.

Have fun, don't forget to write about it when you're done!
posted by hippybear at 3:22 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm really feeling good about how the researchers worked to minimize the occurrence of bad trips.
posted by Hoenikker at 3:22 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I already said that!

You did, but I didn't see it until after I'd already sent my comment up to the Great Big Blue for viewing.

I'll strive more fervently in the future to keep from duplicating anything anyone else has said.

Meanwhile, I'm really pleased with how much the researchers worked to keep people from having bad trips.
posted by hippybear at 3:24 PM on June 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


D'oh!
posted by hippybear at 3:24 PM on June 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


"considered the psilocybin experience ... to have been the single most spiritually significant of their lives"

I cannot disagree one bit with the above statement.

Of all the substances I experimented in my long-ago youth, mushrooms remain the one thing I would still eagerly indulge in at the drop of a hat, were they available to me. Unfortunately, I don't hang out with the cool kids...
posted by Thorzdad at 3:24 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Joe Sixpack sends his son or daughter away, on his own dime, to UBC to complete a Business degree. One weekend, while enjoying the sunset with some friends at Wreck Beach, shrooms are passed around, and they find themselves having one of these so-called "spiritual experiences." The next thing you know they're self-identifying as an anarcho-primitivist activist that rejects modern industrial capitalism, and dropping out of school to practice biodynamic farming on an eco-commune in the Gulf. When Joe finally re-establishes contact (which is difficult because they obviously don't have a phone, let alone Facebook) he's horrified to discover they are happily in a polyamorous relationship with some like-minded individuals who acknowledge that so-called "traditional" gender roles are fictions violently imposed by the dominant, colonial culture. And they're raising foster kids!

Gateway drug, man.
posted by mek at 3:27 PM on June 18, 2011 [34 favorites]


mek: you make shrooms sound like they should be mandatory!
posted by hippybear at 3:28 PM on June 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Science confuses me. Was it an active placebo they used? Otherwise this would seem to "break blind" because as soon as you aren't tripping balls, you rightly assume to got the placebo, no?
posted by acheekymonkey at 3:33 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aren't magic mushrooms kind of hard to get ahold of nowadays? Several people have asked me over the past year or so, and I've asked folks I know who oughta know, but everyone's coming up empty. I could just be getting old...
posted by carsonb at 3:35 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that psychedelic drugs can increase your feeling of well-being, but a lot of people have never met 'that guy'. The one that did a lot of psychedelic drugs and can have a conversation with a pile of laundry while picking invisible insects off of his skin. I've met him.

I've also met the guy who can't stop at one drink.
posted by bradbane at 3:36 PM on June 18, 2011 [18 favorites]


Um, yeah, still really easy to find in Vancouver.

so i've heard
posted by neuromodulator at 3:36 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


*waxes nostalgic, then kitchen floor*
posted by pracowity at 3:40 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


If anyone knows how to participate in one of these studies, please memail me.

Clinicaltrials.gov Just search for what you are interested in. But the studies can be a bit out of date, they still have this one as recruiting volunteers.

This sounds great, eventually we may see some of these substances in at least a medical setting.

Ummm...but wait a second, from the quotes of the volunteers: "I now believe I have something to important to tell people about how the universe works". Forget it, lock those druggies up and throw away the key.
posted by roquetuen at 3:42 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Aren't magic mushrooms kind of hard to get ahold of nowadays? Several people have asked me over the past year or so, and I've asked folks I know who oughta know, but everyone's coming up empty. I could just be getting old..."

They take persistence and knowing people that go to jam band or trance concerts.

As I've gotten a lot less good at pretending I like shitty music, I've gotten a lot less good at finding drugs regularly.

Though if they were legal, I'd open up Hallucitoriums stocked with trip toys and huge moire patterns and make a mint.
posted by klangklangston at 3:43 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let's make one thing perfectly clear: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE between 8 wet grams and 8 dried grams of shrooms. HINT: The dry dosage may end with your friends having an awkward conversation with the security guys at the Bellagio as you stare, enraptured, at the fountain. /Oceans Eleventy Billion
posted by Optamystic at 3:47 PM on June 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Quick efreeti, hide the tray!
posted by clavdivs at 3:51 PM on June 18, 2011


Yeah, for all its built-in trippiness and "what happens here stays here" advertising, Vegas is surprisingly intolerant of any illegal substances. You'd be better served to take your shrooms in your car before you walk into Disneyland around 4pm and aim for a peak around the time of Fantasmic's early evening performance.
posted by hippybear at 3:51 PM on June 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


In time, when the older generations of Americans passes away, we will have the public consensus to legalize drugs like this...

I remember thinking that thirty years ago.
posted by marxchivist at 3:51 PM on June 18, 2011 [30 favorites]


Magic mushrooms saved me from a world of pain. Seriously. Psilocybin and other tryptamine hallucinogens are a great preventive for cluster headache, the most painful headache known to medical science. Three or four low, barely-psychedelic doses a week apart kept what we clusterheads call "the beast" away for months.

Researchers are now looking at a non-psychedelic tryptamine called BOL-148, basically LSD with a bromine atom stuck on the molecule. It's just a very small clinical trial, but it seems to be working well. There's a better chance of getting it legally available, and is a good alternative for those who fear or need to avoid psychedelic trips.

Meantime, shrooms, LSD and LSA-containing seeds are more readily available, if illegal (actually the seeds are legal as long as you don't eat them).
posted by tommyD at 3:58 PM on June 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


I once was convinced a friend of mine had been making mints when he gave me one of those hard white ones and I was wondering if he had literally painted a rock and convinced me to eat it. True story.

Anyway, here's the actual value of hallucinogens in my experience, and I would like to be clear that I really hate the romanticization of them, and anything pseudo-spiritual. They have shown me to what degree my perception of things is shaped by my mood, and that degree is greater than sober experience would suggest. But I've come to believe that this disparity between sober experience and high experience is not because the high experience is fundamentally different, but because this is part of the illusions we have about the way our consciousness works. And being high, in exaggerating this illusion, helps me see its presence in my day-to-day.

And here's a sort of mundane example that I think it would be easy to undervalue, because I feel like this lesson has really been much more subtle than this: I spent some time being angry at a bunch of things, and they all seemed to my rational mind like "things I should be angry about". That is, it seemed my anger was justified, given each and every scenario. And it was when I was high that I kind of put together that maybe all this anger actually came first, in a sense, and that all the justification was actually some sort of post hoc rationalization.

Like I said, I think that sounds a bit obvious, because it's an obvious example. But it's deeper than that, and important to me, and doesn't relate to any bullshit about like "reality is all in your mind" or shit like that (if it sounds like it). I wouldn't trade the sum of the experiences for anything.

Anyway: I don't know of anything finer than being in a park with friends and laughing your fucking heads off.
posted by neuromodulator at 3:58 PM on June 18, 2011 [55 favorites]


Mushroom spores are legal to purchase and posses in all but a few states. Cultivating them with rigorously sterilized common household supplies using a technique such as pftek is not legal, but you might perhaps enjoy studying your scientific samples under a microscope
posted by crayz at 4:00 PM on June 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


I remember going shroom picking in Hawaii, where they just grow fucking EVERYWHERE, and thinking of how ridiculous it was that they were illegal. I mean, you go out to any cow pasture after it rains, and BOOM. Mushrooms. The prohibition was just so stupid. I mean, here they are, telling me it's illegal to eat something that grows wild within like a foot of where I'm standing. At what point is it illegal? Is it illegal for me to walk past them and know what they are? Or do they become illegal the moment that I pick them? What if I just pick one off the ground and eat it? Is it legal until it enters my mouth? Or is it only illegal if I enjoy it?

(NOTE : you should never eat wild mushrooms without first doing a sporeprint and finding out EXACTLY what you've got. lotsa little brown mushrooms can kill you dead in very short order)
posted by Afroblanco at 4:01 PM on June 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


The military-industrial-pharma complex understands exactly how dangerous it would be for them to allow people to experience increasing rates of well-being and/or life satisfaction outside the current paradigm that money = happiness.

That's just paranoid. There's no evil committee of army generals and fatcat pharma executives with a monthly meeting in which they smoke cigars and try to find ways to keep people from being happy. It's semiannual, at most.

The reality is that a lot of people in power, and particularly those who support the people in power (elderly voters and rich white people) have inherited a complex moral history which demonizes certain types of intoxicants. That history is informed by both individual experiences and cultural influence, and does not usually reflect any conscious attempt to profit from the misery of other people.

There was a snark above about productivity, but how about that? It seems callous, but a society that only pursues Major Spiritual Experiences seems just as flawed as one that prohibits them, in my view. A shroom experience may indeed change your life for the better, but how would it affect the average person to have unrestricted access to those experiences?

I'm generally pro-legalization, pro-regulation, and pro-treatment with respect to drug policy. But the simple argument that "it makes people feel good" doesn't end the debate no matter its scientific backing or the magnitude of that feeling. No shit it makes people feel good, otherwise why would we even be talking about it?

In particular, you can't base your argument on a study that "attempted to optimize the experience for long-lasting positive effects." The true study justifying legalization would be what happens when people have the ability to self-regulate their consumption.
posted by Riki tiki at 4:05 PM on June 18, 2011 [25 favorites]


when the older generations of Americans passes away, we will have the public consensus to legalize drugs like this

Those older generations raise like-minded children. Lousy stinking hippies ate magic mushrooms and you want to legalize it? They don't even want to legalize medical marijuana.

Waiting for recreational drugs to be properly grouped with alcohol (or vice versa) is like waiting for racism or religion to go away.
posted by pracowity at 4:06 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


you should never eat wild mushrooms without first doing a sporeprint and finding out EXACTLY what you've got. lotsa little brown mushrooms can kill you dead in very short order

The ones I was picking in a Texas cow pasture on a misty wet night were pretty much glowing blue and purple. Or at least, that's how it looked to me. I was told to stay away from the ones which didn't have that magical blue/purple glow, and nothing I picked was the kind I wasn't looking for.

It is kind of nuts that plants and growing things are illegal, isn't it?

The point they become illegal is when they're plucked from the ground. Or at least that's what one law enforcement type told me quite a while back. They can't make natural things illegal, only the noticing of natural things by humans who then reach toward them.
posted by hippybear at 4:06 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The reality is that a lot of people in power, and particularly those who support the people in power (elderly voters and rich white people) have inherited a complex moral history which demonizes certain types of intoxicants. That history is informed by both individual experiences and cultural influence, and does not usually reflect any conscious attempt to profit from the misery of other people.

I think that Jung would have plenty to say on the shadow side of the concept of the collective unconscious. And in the US, that shadow manifests frequently as submerged cultural strictures on experiences which would break people's consciousness out of the dominant paradigm.

What I"m saying is, "The military-industrial-pharma complex understands exactly how dangerous it would be for them to allow people to experience increasing rates of well-being and/or life satisfaction outside the current paradigm that money = happiness." can easily be understood as not being a conscious phenomenon and still be equally valid a statement.
posted by hippybear at 4:10 PM on June 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


It seems callous, but a society that only pursues Major Spiritual Experiences seems just as flawed as one that prohibits them, in my view. A shroom experience may indeed change your life for the better, but how would it affect the average person to have unrestricted access to those experiences?

So Major Spiritual Experiences for some, miniature American flags for others?
posted by mek at 4:11 PM on June 18, 2011 [24 favorites]


A shroom experience may indeed change your life for the better, but how would it affect the average person to have unrestricted access to those experiences?


OK, who let the Narc in?
posted by Optamystic at 4:15 PM on June 18, 2011 [6 favorites]



A shroom experience may indeed change your life for the better, but how would it affect the average person to have unrestricted access to those experiences?


Scientifically, there is only one way to answer that. Let's try a trial run with a sample size of 308,745,538.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:20 PM on June 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


If the average person had unrestricted access, most people would use the substance in moderation for occasional fun. Some people would use it too much and suffer health consequences that would require treatment.

If we made the substance illegal, we might not be able to stamp out use. We would have to use law enforcement effort towards eliminating the use of the substance and put people in jail for using it which would make it harder to handle the health consequences which were our original concern.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:24 PM on June 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


I agree that psychedelic drugs can increase your feeling of well-being, but a lot of people have never met 'that guy'. The one that did a lot of psychedelic drugs and can have a conversation with a pile of laundry while picking invisible insects off of his skin. I've met him.

Dude did too much acid. Shrooms are a whole different trip.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:34 PM on June 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


BUT DOES IT MAKE YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE?
But what are you trying to produce, man?
"Aren't magic mushrooms kind of hard to get ahold of nowadays? Several people have asked me over the past year or so, and I've asked folks I know who oughta know, but everyone's coming up empty. I could just be getting old..."
Do you live in California or Georgia? Those two states have laws against shipping the spores, but in other places you can order spores off the internet, and grow them yourself. It is actually not very difficult at all.

I've also seen what I'm pretty sure were magic mushrooms growing around in nature from time to time. I did look at an online mushroom guide and couldn't match them with anything else, but I had zero confidence in my wild-mushroom identification skills to try them.

But yeah, mushrooms are not hard to get if you're willing to wait a few months or so for the mycelium to grow.
posted by delmoi at 4:45 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that psychedelic drugs can increase your feeling of well-being, but a lot of people have never met 'that guy'. The one that did a lot of psychedelic drugs and can have a conversation with a pile of laundry while picking invisible insects off of his skin. I've met him.


Yeah. That.

Playing with brain chemistry is not for amateurs. I wish I never had.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:59 PM on June 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


grow them yourself. It is actually not very difficult at all.

Just remember folks, penalties for manufacturing drugs are a lot harsher than possession laws.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:02 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I found mushrooms and most hallucinogens to be helpful to me as a person, but that's not to say they weren't without their share of anxieties. Every single time I hallucinated (many times over the course of 7 or so years) I would have an initial stage of angst and fear as I started losing some control of my emotions and everyday rationalities, many of which served to keep me from thinking about how horrible many elements of the world and humanity are. My personal observations about hallucinogens (which also may be obvious to those who've used it): in everyday life your brain naturally filters out so much stuff. You're sitting on a park bench talking to a friend. You don't really pay much attention to the dog chasing the frisbee behind your friend, the cars driving back and forth in the distance, the birds, the grass blowing, your impending death and your friend's eyelashes. But hallucinogens take away these filters. You can't help but take it all in, all at once. Someone's turned on all the light switches in your head. Everything you say is connected with everything you're seeing and feeling and with all of the things you think are real and true or that you're suddenly realizing.

It always freaked me out, the people who would trip and be totally like, "Yay! This is just great!", all happiness and lightness, no anxiety. It seemed they must be really repressed or out of touch with their emotions, because I didn't understand how they could be tripping and think about how fucking crazy people act all the time and be easygoing about it. They probably were just happier, I don't know. Like I said, every time I tripped I would get wrought up for some hours feeling kind of crazy and upset about the negative aspects of life. I had to be out in nature somewhere, away from people; the few times I was around people it didn't go too well. I was at a big street festival one time and it was like every face I looked at gave me a transparent window into peoples interior minds, and not enough of them reassured me. Some would just downright freak me out. So I would tend to go somewhere lovely and enjoy the beauty unfiltered, wrestle with my anxiety and finally, after a while, I would always come to terms with it. Just accept that that was the way things were, people were really mostly nice if flawed and impending death was normal, etc. It shook me up, shook up my perceptions, and gave me some perspective. To me it wasn't magic, or tapping into my soul, anything like that. It just forced me to look at things without the automatic filtering and see it more broadly. It's not that you don't already vaguely think those things in everyday life, but the reality of it impacts you more. Well, it did me. Those feelings of coming to peace with it still linger with me, nearly 20 years later.

I guess. Something like that, anyway. But it can be dangerous. Some people are unstable already, and these drugs do bad things to them (yes, mushrooms included, though they seem to be safer). I also know a couple people who actually used hallucinogens too much, like, definitely more than was really good for you. One guy I know had been taking it weekly or bi-weekly for over 20 years; he had to take 15 or more tabs of acid to really experience what he wanted, and I think he was kind of an emotional shell. He may have always been a shell, though.

I think it's certainly worth researching. I think it can be very good for mental health, but it needs to be done carefully.
posted by Red Loop at 5:04 PM on June 18, 2011 [37 favorites]


Sometimes I think that the tell-tale litmus test on whether a society is, on the whole, evil rather than good, is a disproportionate (to a bizarre degree) punishment for lsd and psylocibine use. It's a genuinely uncomfortable thought for me but I don't think I can pretend it's just a paranoid thought.
posted by rainy at 5:10 PM on June 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm convinced that Mushrooms saved my life. I haven't taken them in nearly a decade but I'm glad I did that night.
posted by schyler523 at 5:11 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I should point out that it's possible that much of my anxiety could have been related to dosage (as noted in the study), which I always remember being difficult to work out; as Optamystic pointed out, dry weight and wet weight is an issue— as well as, I expect, a number of other factors inherent in dosing with a funky old mushroom that has been grown in shit ,stored in unknown conditions and transported unknown distances.
posted by Red Loop at 5:45 PM on June 18, 2011


Legalizing all drugs would be less costly to our society than our drug war. Less dollars wasted, less theft, fewer deaths, lower costs on damn near every front.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:50 PM on June 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


Red Loop, some of us are just prone to anxiety too, and anxiety attacks are much more common when you are outside your comfort zone (which is a biological as well as social zone). I also find mushroom tripping to be highly sensitive to your immediate surroundings... I find consuming them in just about any type of (sub)urban environment will lead to bad results. Try them on a camping trip when you will have no immediate demands placed on you for an extended period of time. Out of cellphone range. (With a sitter.)

I am just as astounded as you are that some people are able to consume them recreationally and just goof off at a party, as well. I have close relatives that have exactly that experience, which I have no explanation for. For myself (and many others I know) they are a very introspective and challenging trip, which offers great rewards if treated with the appropriate respect.
posted by mek at 5:55 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have a simple and elegant solution: Psychedelics legal for anyone with a college degree.
It'll prevent "that guy" and improve the demographics and delightfully deranged dialogues of dabbling drug... users.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:56 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This idiot friend of mine once took three times his usual dose and went on a 4 day "shamanic voyage". He was no less douchey when he returned.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:57 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Be careful out there. If you partake of large doses of psychedelics be sure to have a benzodiazepine handy for bad trips.
posted by mrhappy at 6:02 PM on June 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Psychedelics legal for anyone with mandatory to complete a college degree.
posted by mek at 6:02 PM on June 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


There are perfectly natural ways - and safer ways - to experience oneness. Try meditation. We always want a pill; well, the ancients weren't dropping acid or taking mushrooms as a pastime; they were doing it in highly structured religious or social settings without the weight of complex social dynamics that we experience. In a way, this makes our use of these substances "out of context" re: their original use.

To reinforce what others have already said: Be careful with these substances. I know of some users who never recovered from a single hit of acid. Maybe mushrooms are safer, but disorienting the world of a seriously overwrought person can tip the scale in a bad direction. Caveat emptor.
posted by Vibrissae at 6:14 PM on June 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


A fungus is a religious experience's way of making more of itself.
posted by storybored at 6:24 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've been suffering from anxiety/depression all of my adult life, and shrooms are the only thing that have consistently worked for me with its effects lasting for several months at time.

I worry about long term brain damage though!
posted by pakoothefakoo at 6:32 PM on June 18, 2011


I want to take mushrooms quite badly, and am on the fence about wether to actualise this, because I am severely depressive, and have an autism spectrum disorder. I don't know if it would help or harm the construction of my brain.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:34 PM on June 18, 2011


Dillonlikescookies: "I have a simple and elegant solution: Psychedelics legal for anyone with a college degree.
It'll prevent "that guy" and improve the demographics and delightfully deranged dialogues of dabbling drug... users
"

Sure. "Elegant".
posted by Red Loop at 6:36 PM on June 18, 2011


This is one of my all-time favorite Bill Hicks bits. As you might imagine, being as how it's in this thread, it's his take on magic mushrooms. Really fun.
posted by dancestoblue at 6:51 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that psychedelic drugs can increase your feeling of well-being, but a lot of people have never met 'that guy'. The one that did a lot of psychedelic drugs and can have a conversation with a pile of laundry while picking invisible insects off of his skin. I've met him.

Be careful and use controlled doses of quality ingredients, please.

Malice, that reasoned, cautious, and not-at-all one-sided commentary has no place in American political discussions.

I am ashamed for you, and despair for our generation(s).
posted by IAmBroom at 6:52 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


PinkMoose: if you plan your trip ahead of time and have an experienced tour guide, it shouldn't be a negative experience. In my experience, most of the negative experiences happen when a trip participant begins to feel self-conscious about what they need to do or be at the moment and are not comfortable doing or being that thing because of the circumstances or company in which they find themselves.

I've taken over 150 people on their first psychedelic experiences and haven't lost one yet. But then, I plan carefully and work to provide options all along the path.
posted by hippybear at 6:53 PM on June 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


I have a simple and elegant solution: Psychedelics legal for anyone with a college degree.

Maria Sabina would have totally supported this oh wait no she wouldn't because it's fucking despicable.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 7:09 PM on June 18, 2011


MetaFilter tends to run liberal on the issue of drug usage, but this should not be taken to reflect the policies of the local, state, or Federal eyeballs who might read this thread or subpoena MeFi's logs.

As we were . . .
posted by mistersquid at 7:13 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


@Dillonlikescookies

what

are you shitting me
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:17 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


My experience? Mushrooms a much, much gentler run than LSD. (Peyote made me physically sick so I don't really know how I'd have done.) I am a person who never, ever should have taken LSD, I'm pretty sure it loosened bolts in my head that've never gotten bolted all the way back, the trips I took were so, so intense and I've panic disorder anyways, it was such a bad show.

But psilocybin? A different animal. I was able to maintain, I was able to be in public, smile at the nice people and say hello how are you etc and etc. Very pleasant, really beautiful. Peace. Ease. Maybe joy, even. But my main experiences of them, they were picked fresh, and done with people I really trusted, so that might be part of it all. No telling.

*************************************************

Kindling. It's called kindling.

Let's say you've potentially got you a good physiologically based illness, say manic depression maybe. So let's say that it was sortof onboard, latent, but then you got raised by Ward and June Cleaver, and there were no huge stressors on your life or in your life, well, hey, you might go all the way through life and be Mr. Normal.

But then say maybe your family, while rich in love, was broken in many ways, or, worse, let's say there wasn't much love in your family. And let's say maybe that you did lots of drugs, and lots of drinking, got married too damn young and then divorced too damn young, and maybe car wrecks banging your head up too, and let's say that all rained down, and lots of other jive, too.

Each and every one of those things, they're like kindling tossed onto a fire, and that fire can spark up fast and furious and hot as hell and burn the heck out of a person, and anyone near to that person, too.

And you can't know ahead of time. So -- are you adventurous, are you daring, are you willing to take a (likely small) risk for a potentially huge reward? Okay, then shove a handful of these things into your head. But be aware that things can get left-handed real damn fast if you do too much, get you a good sitter, maybe do the nature thing until you know yourself well.

Overall I say it's a good thing, and that most -- as in, WAY most -- of the people that I know have really broadened their lives through using it, and had lots of fun.

I haven't done them in almost thirty years, and I want to, but there's a lot of things I want to do, and I sometimes don't trust my judgments too terribly much, and when I've run this past people who know me well, people I've entrusted to tell me the truth, well, they get this look on their faces, and they mention some things I maybe have sortof forgotten briefly, and then I don't look down if I am somehow in a pasture, and I don't go looking for pastures either.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:20 PM on June 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


memail if you want the full text of the paper.
posted by cashman at 7:38 PM on June 18, 2011


My first comment on a FPP after years of lurking.

I want to echo the sentiments of many people in this thread. Take them away from the city, take them when you are feeling solid emotionally, take them only with a small group of trusted friends (or just one very trusted friend/significant other), and if things get too heavy, remember it's just an altered state that will pass.

I was once a completely self-absorbed person. I don't want to credit my first trip with changing that, but it put me well on my way. The long term depression relieving benefits of dosage a couple times (or more!) a year cannot be exaggerated.

I have become deeply familiar with this subject, so the last comment I would like to make is about abuse. It is nearly impossible to abuse psilocybin. At a young age I took it three times in a week. The second and particularly the third dose felt shitty and marginal compared to the amazing first. This stuff is self-limiting.
posted by Elminster of Labor at 7:50 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is nearly impossible to abuse psilocybin. At a young age I took it three times in a week. The second and particularly the third dose felt shitty and marginal compared to the amazing first. This stuff is self-limiting.

Quite true. And it's interesting to consider that psilocybin (actually psilocin) is used in the brain as a serotonin analogue. The fact that mushroom users recommend waiting up to a month between doses for the best effect (and it appears these researchers may agree) should give the enthusiasts of "maintain a constant level in your bloodstream for life" SSRIs serious pause

That's how addicts use drugs
posted by crayz at 8:04 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


They'll never declassify psilocybin. The military-industrial-pharma complex understands exactly how dangerous it would be for them to allow people to experience increasing rates of well-being and/or life satisfaction outside the current paradigm that money = happiness.

A lot of smart, liberal people are still uncomfortable about speaking out for drug legalization. This sort of Coast to Coast AM jive is part of the reason why. If you talk too much to someone about the potential benefits of psilocybin or whatnot, they start to think about talking to dolphins, "self transforming machine elves", and bong hit sociology theories about how The Man is trying to keep our mushrooms away to make sure we keep buying flat-pack furniture and taking Prozac. It's not helping.
posted by abcde at 8:24 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I worry about long term brain damage though!

You shouldn't. Strictly in terms of physiological effects, the common psychedelics (especially LSD) are some of the safest drugs we know of. Dissociatives may cause lesions in the brain over time, but the biggest risk with psilocybin (and most common psychedelics) is probably emotional or psychological trauma. Which can still be very serious, of course, but it shouldn't be confused with brain damage.

There! That's one less worry for you.
posted by byanyothername at 8:29 PM on June 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


The military-industrial-pharma complex

You mean the one that has all the money, all the drugs, all the guns and all the incentives to keep the truth from us, man, but like, couldn't get their shit together to block this one study?

Right.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:43 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's funny that when people say, "Use it or lose it!", referring to exercise and muscle-building, everyone nods in agreement, but say the same thing in the context of stimulating one's capacity for joy and empathy and suddenly people think you're a hippie burnout.

Taking a reasonable dose of psilocybin in a relaxed and comfortable setting will make you happy to be alive. It'll make you feel connected to other people, to the rest of the world, to the parts of your self you shut away out of shame or fear or ignorance.

"But that's just ILLUSORY!" some cry, "a chemical reaction in the brain! Not REAL!" which is just silly. Cognition itself is an electrochemical reaction. Jumping out of an airplane will give you an adrenaline rush. Making love will give you a serotonin rush. And those things are very real.

I'm glad to see a study showing what pretty much everyone who had taken them already knows.

Meatbomb is absolutely right -- hallucinogens make you a better person.

And to the people who didn't enjoy or learn from their peek behind the curtain, well, I don't know what to say. Except I'm sorry that happened to you. And maybe the lesson is still there, waiting for you to learn it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:51 PM on June 18, 2011 [22 favorites]


You mean the one that has all the money, all the drugs, all the guns and all the incentives to keep the truth from us, man, but like, couldn't get their shit together to block this one study?

To quote the late philosopher Mulder, "the truth is out there."
posted by mek at 8:57 PM on June 18, 2011


Acid bad, mushrooms good. Right?
posted by stargell at 9:52 PM on June 18, 2011


But hallucinogens take away these filters. You can't help but take it all in, all at once. Someone's turned on all the light switches in your head. Everything you say is connected with everything you're seeing and feeling and with all of the things you think are real and true or that you're suddenly realizing.

Awareness meditation did this for me. I could feel it changing my brain chemistry. I would be sitting there meditating, feeling pretty much as before, and then at some point, usually 10 or so minutes in, it was like a switch was thrown. I could almost feel my brainwaves change. My default "face" would be a smile - you know how you are not using any facial muscles and your face is not smiling right now? Well it would feel as if I was not using any facial muscles and be smiling - as if I had to strain to NOT smile. I became aware of everything, every little detail. The colossal emptiness, meaninglessness, and interconnectedness of everything was overwhelming.

I've never done mushrooms. More power to the people who have/do, I've heard only good things. But this fucking world effects me so much already, I don't know if I could take any more of it.
posted by 3FLryan at 9:56 PM on June 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mushrooms always just made me confused and agitated for way too long, like acid, only not quite as harsh. I’m sure I wasn’t doing it "right", I was just trying to take a lot of drugs.
posted by bongo_x at 10:06 PM on June 18, 2011


I'd also like to give a piece of advise if you find yourself tempted to start using hallucinogens on a semi-regular basis: don't increase your dose.

Follow that rule, and you'll be okay. You won't get as high as you would like - you'll often be chasing the glory of those first few times - but if you don't increase your dose, you won't get in much trouble, either. YMMV, and the range of substances with which I'm familiar is very limited, but everyone that I've known who has had deeply bad hallucinogen experiences, they started doing mammoth quantities because they thought they could handle it. And you probably can until the stars align a certain way, and suddenly what under good circumstances seemed totally handleable you'll realize under poor circumstances is indeed too much.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:39 PM on June 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


All this talk about having a 'tour guide' or a "trip buddy' or any kind of designated driver for while you go chasing the girl with kalidescope eyes just reminds me of why I've never ever tried any drugs; everyone says "you should have a buddy" and there is NO ONE I trust that far, anymore. I'd rather try it solo and end up dead/eating my own eyeballs in a hotel room, than be so potentially 'naked' in front of another human being.
posted by The otter lady at 11:17 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Much like the movement behind using MDMA as a treatment for PTSD, anxiety disorders, and even interpersonal relationship therapy, I can see a legalization of hallucinogens as a distinct possibility, but they would make a move from blanket proscription to becoming available by in a controlled therapeutic environment.

Like many in this thread, I've seen enough people eat proverbial holes in their brain (yes I know that's not how psilocybin works) using and over-using this, such that I think allowing people to regulate their own intake of hallucinogens to be not ideal.

I think access to psilocybin and other hallucinogens under some level of professional supervision could be a definite net-positive.
posted by chimaera at 11:20 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Acid bad, mushrooms good. Right?

Wrong.

It's all in the dosage and, of course, the situation you find yourself in. True, my single worst psychedelic experience was acid inspired, but two and three were both shroom experiences. As with the acid, they were situations where I miscalculated the strength of what I was taking and suddenly found myself overwhelmed ... for a bit.

As mentioned already in this thread, one positive about shrooms is that they tend to wear off quicker than acid (a slightly shorter peak, a much quicker comedown). But the downside with shrooms is their unpredictability. As they're just raw spoor found in the ground, it's really impossible to know how strong a given batch might be -- or even to be sure that all the shrooms in a given batch are equally strong (just like not all carrots in a carrot patch are the same size, or density). It's always a bit of dice roll. Acid on the other hand tends to be quite consistent within a given batch. Once you've had one hit from a certain sheet of blotter, you can be pretty sure the rest will all have more or less the same kick.
posted by philip-random at 12:03 AM on June 19, 2011


I've also met the guy who can't stop at one drink.

Yeah, but getting hammered one time (most likely unless you make a bad decision such as getting behind the wheel of the car or getting alcohol poisoning) won't leave you brain damaged. One bad time with psychedelic drugs will. That is why I say err on the side of caution when choosing where you're getting your shit from. I'm not sure what you're arguing here, that someone shouldn't be careful? That's silly.
posted by Malice at 12:36 AM on June 19, 2011


One bad night with alcohol can leave you dead of an overdose.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:46 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you have a link for one time shroom use = brain damage?

I understand what you are saying, but it's an illegal drug there is only so much careful people can do. The fact that the risks for alcohol are still more severe is telling.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:51 AM on June 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, for all its built-in trippiness and "what happens here stays here" advertising, Vegas is surprisingly intolerant of any illegal substances. You'd be better served to take your shrooms in your car before you walk into Disneyland around 4pm and aim for a peak around the time of Fantasmic's early evening performance.

Dropping your Sid at the Santana/Dead concert in Henderson will work, too, but don't try to waltz into the Stardust Casino gliding on purple clouds afterward, 'cause those security dudes will be on you within 30 seconds of your coming in the door.

Of course, the Stardust is now GONE, and I am still HERE! So I WIN, Vegas!

As much as I appreciated acid, shrooms were my bestest, deepest and most joyously grokworthy experience ever, while listening to Laurie Anderson's album "Mister Heartbreak". I still remember "Kokoku", lying on the floor of my friend's apartment. Ahh...
posted by darkstar at 1:59 AM on June 19, 2011


A lot of smart, liberal people are still uncomfortable about speaking out for drug legalization. This sort of Coast to Coast AM jive is part of the reason why. If you talk too much to someone about the potential benefits of psilocybin or whatnot, they start to think about talking to dolphins, "self transforming machine elves", and bong hit sociology theories about how The Man is trying to keep our mushrooms away to make sure we keep buying flat-pack furniture and taking Prozac. It's not helping.

Yeah, I'm with you. Honestly, I've learned not to talk too much about my psychedelic experiences on MeFi. When MeFites get to talking about psychedelics, they start to sound like a bunch of college freshmen. I did a ton of drugs in my younger years, and sorry, no, my experiences were not uniformly positive. Not uniformly negative either. Real life is so much more complicated than that. I ultimately came to the conclusion that, while drugs have their helpful aspects, that isn't to say that they don't block you off from other forms of experience. I mean, people are all like, "acid made me who I am, blah blah blah", but how do they know they wouldn't have become that person anyway? Or maybe even a better person? I mean, you don't know, and you can't know. So I get a little annoyed when people act like it's the philosopher's stone or something.

Anyway, I think all drugs should be legal, because drug laws only make drugs more harmful. That's one thing we do know.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:59 AM on June 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Like many in this thread, I've seen enough people eat proverbial holes in their brain (yes I know that's not how psilocybin works) using and over-using this, such that I think allowing people to regulate their own intake of hallucinogens to be not ideal.

I've seen people destroy their lives over their lack of ability to moderate their own appetites, for food, alcohol, etc. However, just because a small percentage of people will have difficulty with their own appetites is not a reason to prevent everyone from making their own choices.

I will say that psychedelics saved my life, or at least prevented me from becoming a gutter alcoholic. In preventing people from having safe and legal access you are causing more problems, not solving them. Humanity must be able to look at its own shadow instead of forever attempting to run from it.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:33 AM on June 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


bong hit sociology theories about how The Man is trying to keep our mushrooms away to make sure we keep buying flat-pack furniture and taking Prozac. It's not helping.

But I think that is broadly true, Afroblanco. I can't think of another good reason that psychedelics are classified the way they are.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:35 AM on June 19, 2011


I mean, people are all like, "acid made me who I am, blah blah blah", but how do they know they wouldn't have become that person anyway?

An experience with LSD forever changed my life when I was just about at the bottom (and it wasn't planned to end up that way, and it wasn't anywhere close to my first time). Would I have ended up OK without it? I really don't know. I don't think it's manna from heaven or anything like that, but the experience was profound in a way that would be difficult if not impossible to recreate otherwise. I am grateful in any event, even if I just happened to stumble in the right direction.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:37 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dropping your Sid at the Santana/Dead concert in Henderson will work, too, but don't try to waltz into the Stardust Casino gliding on purple clouds afterward, 'cause those security dudes will be on you within 30 seconds of your coming in the door.

Uh ... well, I did exactly that on that particular round in Vegas (as well as the next few years), and the casino was full of freaks who were all pretty much doing the same. Nobody seemed to mind as we all had cash enough to buy drinks or gamble, as long as you can keep it together. If you're just tripping and hanging out without spending money, it's better just to wander around the strip outside and stay out of the casinos. But nobody in any casino back then had a problem with my trippin' ass being anywhere in Vegas, as long as I had the cash ...
posted by krinklyfig at 3:46 AM on June 19, 2011


I'd rather try it solo and end up dead/eating my own eyeballs in a hotel room, than be so potentially 'naked' in front of another human being.

The experience includes this fear dissolving. You might be surprised. But if you do end up walking down that road I'd recommend against trying it by yourself the first time. You need to be with people you trust, but anyone who has any experience with this is well aware of the potential to feel vulnerable. You don't need to worry about being exposed so much as making sure you're with people who care about you and will help you if you do encounter anything overwhelming. A guide is not there to judge but to make sure you don't trip and fall, so to speak ...

I have done a lot of psychedelics and spent a lot of my time with other people who have. It's true that not every experience with psychedelics will be profound or even fun, and going back too many times too soon is bound to get boring after a while - you need to live your life in the meantime to be able to bring something to the experience, in order to get the most benefit, which matters quite a lot IMO. However, I have yet to hear any horror stories like you describe, except in after-school specials from the '80s "Just Say No" era.

You want a horror story from my crazy days back then? One of my good friends from high school committed suicide after a drunken night back from his first semester in military school - IIRC he didn't even like tripping very much and only did it once or twice. He was just really drunk when he killed himself with his dad's pistol in the local miniature golf parking lot. Another friend who worked there discovered his dead body after hearing the shot. That's my horror story.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:07 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, the thing about having a quality tour guide for these kinds of experiences is, they plan ahead for the trip. They understand what the curve of the effects of the substance is, and they keep in mind how the atmosphere may need to be changed along the way. They set the mood with the right music and know how and when to change it to keep things rolling smoothly. They have a variety of activities picked out and ready at hand, and yet don't have a fixed plan as to what happens when. This way there is a lot of possibility, and yet nothing rigid, and distractions are always available, yet nothing HAS to happen.

I usually try to have a variety of little art things handy. Clay (usually a couple of different kinds -- texture can make a huge difference sometimes), pens/pencils/markers/crayons and plenty of paper and coloring books, maybe even watercolors or other paints... fingerpaints seem like they might be fun, too. Also I try to set out a bunch of coffee table art books of various sorts and other interesting things to look at... Maybe have some interesting visuals available for television viewing...

Also, there's a HUGE difference between nighttime and daytime tripping. I usually characterize it as "look at the pretty colors" and "look at the dancing shadows".

Anyway, a lot of that fear... I understand the fear, but it really does dissolve during the experience.

The MAIN thing which I have found which makes me and others anxious is when you're feeling nauseous during the climb up into the trip and you feel self-conscious about your need to be in the bathroom while you get over that feeling. That self-consious feeling is what can start the negative ego spiral, and as long as you're in a situation where you either have access to a toilet (not in a crowded party where you can't get to one and monopolize it easily for the time it takes to get over that nausea) or you aren't worried about sitting someplace with a pail nearby, you'll generally be just fine.

And this has been hippybear's little guide to shrooming. Tune in next time...
posted by hippybear at 4:22 AM on June 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


I can't think of another good reason that psychedelics are classified the way they are.

Read this book. Most of the interesting stuff comes from declassified government documents; it's pretty legit.

Basically, the OSS (which later became the CIA) experimented on unknowing citizenry for years, not just with LSD but other psychs as well, under the aegis of the MKULTRA program. Basically, they were trying to find some sort of ideal truth serum. But it didn't work, so they turned it over to the academics, e.g. Leary et al. The academics did some actual research with it for a while, but then Leary went off the deep end and told everyone they should do it. The straight world freaked the fuck out, and it was all like, "oh no, hippies comin' to get us!" and it became a full-on moral panic. No surprise really -- that's also what brought us shit like mandatory minimums. Anyway, they passed some draconian-ass drug laws that aren't in any way commensurate with the actual danger of the drugs. Keep in mind, this was the generation that thought Reefer Madness was an honest account of marijuana use. You could imagine what they thought of LSD.

Anyway, I'm glad to see people doing more genuine research with psychedelics, because I truly do believe they have their uses. I think Leary and Alpert and the others started out doing valuable work, but they took a serious wrong turn at "tune in, turn on, drop out". I don't think that just everyone should do psychs, and I don't think it's a great idea for people to do them without knowing what they do or how to do them. Again, I don't think they're as dangerous as they're made out to be, but you can't deny there's a possibility for damage and misuse.

Keeping psychedelics illegal has done a lot of harm to people and society. Their illegal status makes them seem cool and outlaw and romantic, especially to teenagers and other people who don't know any better. It also makes real information about them scarce; urban legends and mythology proliferate. People have bad trips. Occasionally, very bad things happen. And of course, people wind up in jail -- for doing something that's less harmful to the world than driving a car. It's really not a good situation.

But it bugs me when people make psychs out to be some kind of mental health panacea -- because they aren't. All drugs are potentially medicines, and all medicines are potentially poisons. It's all in how you use them. I wish we had a legal and healthcare system that encouraged people to use drugs correctly. When people are allowed to do actual research, there's room for truth to take the place of mythology and propaganda, and that can only be a good thing.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:39 AM on June 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Basically, the OSS (which later became the CIA) experimented on unknowing citizenry for years, not just with LSD but other psychs as well, under the aegis of the MKULTRA program. Basically, they were trying to find some sort of ideal truth serum. But it didn't work, so they turned it over to the academics

There is some truth in there, but Albert Hofmann discovered and first synthesized LSD while working for Sandoz Labs (Germany) in 1938, not the US military or intelligence services. They were working with it therapeutically before the CIA became interested. It was a bit backwards from how you describe it. It started in pharma-academia and ended up in the hands of the US government, but all along the way it attracted the interest of academics, Leary included (but he was nowhere near the first).
posted by krinklyfig at 5:07 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Again, I don't think they're as dangerous as they're made out to be, but you can't deny there's a possibility for damage and misuse.

Life is full of risks. Opening a window and seeing a world outside can be amazing and terrifying. Imagine looking into your own soul. Well, any healthy society would not fear this but rather embrace it as a tool of spiritual and mental health, and sometimes just a lot of fun. It's not the substance or what it does that is the problem but rather the ignorance and fear of such experiences. It's not about the CIA or anything like that, really, but that psychedelics are a bit counter to the whole Puritan work ethic and nationalism. I don't think it's a conspiracy so much as a fear of an imagined ideal passing with new understanding and a loss of innocence. Hard to put that genie back in the bottle, but Nixon tried pretty hard to do just that, as did Reagan ...
posted by krinklyfig at 5:13 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've wanted to take one of these voyages for years but there's so many issues around it that are unrelated to the trip itself that it just doesn't seem wise. By which I mean the legality, the lack of accurate dosing, the dearth of good guides. There should be a whole "flight plan" approach to it with caring people and procedures and a safe place to be for a soft landing. Without all that it seems just too damn fraught.

Sometimes I feel like I'm half a person, and something like this could help knock down the wall to the other half. Or at least help me understand what the hell the "half a person" feeling is.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:15 AM on June 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Can someone explain to me why the summary (and I assume, the study) is framed in the context of "spirituality" so much? I suppose people are doing research in areas considered spirituality, but dose response to drugs is normally a physiological/psychological study, isn't it?
posted by Red Loop at 6:25 AM on June 19, 2011


If you want the worst of an acid trip without all the nice introspection, find yourself some Salvia and smoke the crap out of it. It's mostly legal (for now) and it is widely available at head shops. It doesn't last long, but it scared me worse than anything else. It doesn't take much to completely transport you from the couch to... well, anywhere else really.

Acid trips (even ridiculous doses) were pretty intense and extremely long-lasting, but they don't hit like a freight train. It feels like taking unfiltered selfishness for breakfast, but that isn't as bad as that sounds.
Mushrooms make you feel all warm and fuzzy and light things are pretty and you want to talk to people and man that music sounds great are you hungry? I'm pretty hungry we should go walk somewhere with lights are my pupils big? No way!

I would happily sign up for a study involving psylocybin. It's better than alcohol, and better for you to boot.

For your health!
posted by tmt at 6:42 AM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


dose response to drugs is normally a physiological/psychological study, isn't it?

Spirituality is a component of human psychology, and one which can produce benefits. Facing your weaknesses and resolving to work through them is a form of spiritual growth that is tied closely with psychology.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:43 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want the worst of an acid trip without all the nice introspection, find yourself some Salvia and smoke the crap out of it.

Of course it has its benefits as well. I know people who use it regularly for similar benefits as other psychedelics but without the typically long time commitment. It's like DMT, though, a rocket ship rather than a door opening, to mix metaphors. It can be terrifying, however, and people without experience would do well to have a sober sitter with experience with salvia specifically. It's much less terrifying once you learn how to let go and just ride with it. That's when it gets very interesting...
posted by krinklyfig at 6:47 AM on June 19, 2011


Sometimes I feel like I'm half a person, and something like this could help knock down the wall to the other half. Or at least help me understand what the hell the "half a person" feeling is.

Funny: I didn't go into psychedelics expecting anything like this. I was expecting hallucinations and not much else. But that "knocking down the wall" sounds an awful lot like what happened to me. It's not like dropping acid suddenly changed fundamental parts of me. But it helped me take a good hard look at myself and realize all the ways in which I wasn't living and behaving the ways I really wanted to, either out of fear or uncertainty or misguidedness.

I came off that first trip determined to behave differently than I had been, and that's still resonating with me. Even more importantly than that, it made me realize that it's possible to be different. Which is the kind of thing I "knew" before, but rarely had the courage to act upon with any frequency. Now I'm more willing to change parts of me, because I know that acting differently truly does have a significant impact.

The central realization that I have on every trip is a stupidly basic concept, and just thinking it usually doesn't help me; I have to realize it. That everything is a weave of matter and energy; that our entire makeup and behavior is just a sequence of elaborate patterns, some of which we are capable of changing, some of which are a fundamental part of who we are. But that essentially all we are is a construct, and that everything we see and know is an interpretation of what's actually there by that construct, which, again, is partly under our control, partly completely arbitrary.

There was a joyfulness to that realization for me. A joy that came from grasping, for the first time, that I was accepted, that no part of me was unnatural. All of my or anybody's quirks were simply surface changes in a bigger pattern; the differences between me and other people mattered much less than the similarities. So I could stop worrying a bit about what made me different, and also stop reacting so harshly to other people's differences. It helped me see people as human.

But, just as importantly, it helped me understand just how much of my life I spend inside my own mind, obsessed with what I think, how I'm feeling, how I behave. Like most (I assume) youngish people, I spend a lot of time assuming that my every behavior is on public display and judged; I overthink my every action because I assume that if I do something and people notice and people for some reason dislike that action, it will forever be a part of their judgment against me. Talking when I have something to say, making jokes, asking girls on dates, I couldn't help but beanplate it all.

Dropping acid helps me realize just how much effort I put into obsessing over myself, rather than being fascinated with the world. And it helps me notice just how much effort other people put into their self-obsession, and that's a LOAD of fun. Because if other people are staring at themselves rather than you, you're free to basically do anything. Most people won't notice you for longer than a second, and the ones that do will have forgotten about you by tomorrow. You can skip and dance and sing all you'd like, you can go anywhere, it doesn't matter to anybody but you what you do. And you can be certain that the only exceptions to the rule, the people who really are quietly watching you and judging you, are being silly and weird and you should laugh gently at them if they get in your way and skip along.

All of which I could have realized without acid or shrooms, of course. I could have instead meditated on wise words, or stared at an Impressionist painting until I saw the people behind the paint splotches, or just gone out into the woods and stared past the leaves into the sun until people problems stopped mattering so much. And now that I know that, I also make an effort to fill my life with the kinds of beautiful things that keep me happy, and that's a positive thing too. But they're still great social drugs, and as long as I'm in an art school with good connections to cheap, reliable substances, I'll take advantage of them. The first time was the most profound, but it's fun sometimes to tune up, have a profound experience, and stay up with your friends until the sun rises and you realize, like you've never realized before, just how far away the sun really is to look so small, and just what that means about the time you're spending on the Earth.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:55 AM on June 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's much less terrifying once you learn how to let go and just ride with it.

Ah, control. It's such a funny thing to face when you are sliding into an unstoppable abyss.

I will try salvia again, and hopefully this time I'm not stuck in a salvia reality that is 45 degrees perpendicular to our reality. Every time I would try to sit up I would literally get torn out and put back on the couch, only to fall back on my side so that I could escape my sweating, tingling, husk.
posted by tmt at 6:58 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want the worst of an acid trip without all the nice introspection, find yourself some Salvia and smoke the crap out of it.

Experiences vary widely. My take is that it's such an alien experience, even compared to mushrooms, that people tend to misidentify it - it's not scary in a threatening way but its otherness is so intense and pure it's hard to characterize and align to the "normal" range of experiences.

Then again such things are very personal, there's people for whom weed has a stronger effect than ecstacy, as hard as it may be to believe.

One of the strangest experiences I've had was doing salvia while on ecstacy.. let's just say s completely obliterates e, as if it never even existed in the world. Like a sunny cloudless day at noon is changed into a starless night in less than a second. I do not recommend it.
posted by rainy at 6:59 AM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


The central realization that I have on every trip is a stupidly basic concept, and just thinking it usually doesn't help me; I have to realize it.

It's a pretty old buddhist concept that whenever you realize a fundamental truth, you end up laughing because it is so simple.
posted by hippybear at 7:00 AM on June 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm constantly delighted and bewildered by how intelligent, perceptive, and funny Buddhist thought is. I can't have a decently clever thought without Buddhism's having it first. Which is why I've pretty much outsourced all my deep thoughts now.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:02 AM on June 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I will try salvia again, and hopefully this time I'm not stuck in a salvia reality that is 45 degrees perpendicular to our reality.

If you can get reasonably fresh leaves you might try chewing them or making tea instead of smoking it - chewing dried leaves isn't so great but it makes better tea than fresh leaves. It's the same substance but the experience is usually far more gentle and not so much hallucinating like crazy in outerspace but rather meditating or drifting. But with these things YMMV. I do know people who won't smoke it at all because of the intensity but will make a tea regularly, and those people in my experience tend to be able to incorporate the positive effects into their lives without the adjustment necessary to go to another world and back again in 5 minutes.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:30 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is really interesting research. I've been following this type of stuff for years (thanks for the post).
Psychedelics have there place and time. I have enjoyed them, particularly psilocybin (lost count) and haven't had a trip in about a year and a half.
I agree that they are not some solve all, but damn can they flip the world over on you and provide some personal introspection. I've had almost all positive experiences with them, with only one negative trip. Even the negative trip, my dear friend was nothing but kind and was completely awesome at helping me out (by nothing more than cleaning up after my mess...the only time and playing guitar while I came back to a more positive place).
Hippie bear makes many good points about being in a safe environment, no phones (its just fucking weird trying to have a conversation with a head full of psychedelics, and people you trust/love. Its really interesting and somewhat of an honor to be with people willing to trust you either by providing the dose or simply sharing the experience with a someone new to psychedelics.
For people interested in trying these substances, always do your homework and research about what you put in your body. It doesn't matter if its from a doctor or a dealer, its your one and only body so be sure to know wtf you are doing. Mushrooms are relatively easy to come by, or if your patient and don't care about law breaking two months or so away. Its easy to dose, use a scale and if you are concerned take a low dose. Psilocybin is active in low quantities (even took a gram at a concert, which was really cool, but if it was a higher dose I would have been uncomfortable). Just be smart. Nature is amazing, and being in the woods/lake/beach/hiking trail cannot be beat. Music just flows, as do thoughts. You will not want to eat until you are back to baseline. The next day will feel different, and generally be more optimistic as well as have a great sense of well being.

Now as I have more responsibility and so many things going on, a day spent tripping is just hard to come by. While its been a while, I'm sure I'll stumble down the path of psychedelics again. Side note, salvia while legal is perhaps one of my most bizarre and uncomfortable 30 minutes of my life and the headache in combination with the nasty smoke taste that I couldn't brush out makes me leary of telling others to try that first as a benchmark for psychedelics that I've tried.
posted by handbanana at 7:37 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The people involved in the John Hopkins research studies REALLY GET IT. A number of my friends have participated in their psilocybin and salvia studies---I went through the screening for one study (turned down for having small veins). There is a very, very good reason why they consistently are able to draw out the positive effects of psychoactive drugs: the researchers absolutely DO NOT treat volunteers like specimens. They foster comfort and trust first and foremost with participants. They are interested in your experience, no matter how new-agey, confusing, spiritual and non-scientific it is.

I'm a bit of a professional research participant and can guarantee that this is not generally the case with most institutions. Not to imply that every other drug investigation is bullshit, but the people at John Hopkins have really gone above and beyond the standard and have an incredibly open mind.
posted by supernaturelle at 9:30 AM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've done a lot of psychedelics in my time. Hundreds of acid trips, maybe not so many shroom trips. But, short of the very occasional minor excursion, that's all in the past now, confined to about fifteen years between ages 20 and 35 (I'm 52 now), with most of it winding down before I turned 30. So yeah, I really could write a book about it all (or nine), which makes commenting in threads such as these problematic. How not to just go on and on ...

seanmpuckett: I've wanted to take one of these voyages for years but there's so many issues around it that are unrelated to the trip itself that it just doesn't seem wise. By which I mean the legality, the lack of accurate dosing, the dearth of good guides. There should be a whole "flight plan" approach to it with caring people and procedures and a safe place to be for a soft landing. Without all that it seems just too damn fraught.

Yes, there are dangers inherent in psychedelics, but then, there are dangers inherent in riding your bike, or crossing the street, or falling in love, which is maybe the best analog I can think of, because falling in love is something that happens to all of you (physical, mental, spiritual). Talk about losing control. I mean, nothing's ever done as much damage to me as falling in love ... although psychedelics have come close.

But would I undo that damage if I could? Never. Because I survived it. I grew because of it. To undo it would be like undoing a huge part of who I am.

So the question surrounding psychedelics shouldn't be, are they dangerous? (Of course they are, but then so is everything except perhaps Smurfs.) The question should be, are the dangers worth it? The answer, I think, is in the rest of seanmpuckett's comment:

Sometimes I feel like I'm half a person, and something like this could help knock down the wall to the other half. Or at least help me understand what the hell the "half a person" feeling is.

I'm not saying seanmpuckett's going to find succinct answers to these concerns by taking one sip of mushroom tea, or one hit of blotter ... but he will encounter some very illuminating perspectives that could well help him become a more "complete" person. Which gets me to my long view on psychedelic usage.

Assuming our culture continues to evolve, I can't help but think that we will eventually get a pragmatic grip on what psychedelics have to offer, that we will figure out how to include them as an educational tool that helps us define ourselves (individually and collectively). Maybe it will take the form of some kind of "religious" ritual, involving weird masks, flowing robes, trippy music. Maybe Psychedelics-12 will be a requisite for graduating high school. I do think that the time for them is when we're younger, still trying to figure out the world. I do think that a guided psychedelic experience (or nine) could well be a part of how a "tribe" instills in its adolescents a sense of where they've come from, where they are, where they're going.

And so on. This is a very big topic.
posted by philip-random at 9:39 AM on June 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I do think that the time for them is when we're younger, still trying to figure out the world.

And when I say younger, I mean "the warrior years" -- from puberty to say age 25.
posted by philip-random at 10:05 AM on June 19, 2011


I do think that the time for them is when we're younger, still trying to figure out the world.

And when I say younger, I mean "the warrior years" -- from puberty to say age 25.


See, and I would argue that's the worst possible time to do them. I mean, shit, that's when life is mot confusing. You're body's changing, you're going crazy with hormones, your brain is still forming, and you're trying desperately to keep up. Furthermore, you likely have no money and low social status. It's a tough time. Pretty much the worst time to hijack your consciousness and start pulling out wires and re-connecting them at random. You just have so much shit to deal with at that age, adding psychedelics into the mix is probably one of the worst things you can do. In fact, if I were to do one thing differently, it would have been to wait until I was older to start doing drugs. As it is, I'll never know what "me without psychedelics" would have been like.

I think it's a cultural accident that, here in the US, psychedelic drugs are mostly consumed by the young. Since it's illegal, you need underground connections, and you need to be reckless enough not to care if you get caught. As people get older they lose both. Probably lots of people >25 would like to do psychs -- and could benefit from them -- but they never will because they don't know any ravers, and they don't want to risk having their kids taken away from them by court order.

But I guess if you think that psychedelic drugs are these wonderful unicorns that shit rainbows into your mind and make you one with the universe, hell, why not give them to teenagers? Why wait until you're a responsible adult, when you can be eating those sweet, sweet chemicals that make your brain more AWESOME, right at the time when your brain is capable of being made more AWESOME?

I'm sorry, I'm a skeptic, and I'm just not buying it. I suspect we aren't going to agree on this.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:58 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco,

I agree with age being important to consider. I was drug free untill 19 and I am glad I waited as I've seen first hand what drugs can do to peoples lives during the time frame. Not to say a slippery slop arguement, but many people I knew back in the day that started drug use early have od'd or been locked up for the most part.
While age is somewhat just a number, I think once one is a legal adult they should be free to consume chemicals of their choosing.
posted by handbanana at 11:28 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always had much better, more proud experiences on acid. Am I the only one?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 11:33 AM on June 19, 2011


I always had much better, more proud experiences on acid. Am I the only one?

No, you are not. I would always choose LSD over shrooms given the choice. LSD is, for me, cleaner and much more worthy of my time than shrooms. Plus, well, I have this tendency when doing shrooms to have the ceiling turn into a swirling mass of asian-style worm/dragon things which are generally unfriendly in attitude, something which never happens on LSD for me.

Plus, I like the lengthy duration of LSD. When I'm done, I feel like I'm really really done. With shrooms, it's always over before I want or need it to be.

It's not like either of them have come my way in ages, so the point is pretty much moot right now. But back in the day when I knew the right people, I'd nearly always pick the blotter over the caps.
posted by hippybear at 11:48 AM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


61% of volunteers considered the psilocybin experience during either or both the [highest dosage] sessions to have been the single most spiritually significant of their lives, with 83% rating it in their top five.

People need to get out more.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:06 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Salvia is not a great drug. It's too fast to really work out what's happening - but also, for a lot of people, there is a tremendous positivity associated with acid or shrooms, and salvia is neutral.

I agree that the world would overall be a better place if experimentation with psychedelic drugs were allowed. I've know some people for whom psychedelics were bad or very bad - but these were dwarfed by the number of people who had even more serious issues with alcohol or other drugs.
"
Remember, "talking to dolphins, "self transforming machine elves"," and such might be a little weird, but also extremely rare - guys talking to their own brand of invisible sky fairies start wars that kill hundreds of thousands and these guys and their supporters are everywhere in America.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:12 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


> People need to get out more.

hal_c_on, what was your most spiritually significant experience, then?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:12 PM on June 19, 2011


I could never leave my regular state of consciousness with Salvia because the smoke tastes like Satan's asshole and the disgust kept me grounded.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:21 PM on June 19, 2011


Salvia is not a great drug. It's too fast to really work out what's happening - but also, for a lot of people, there is a tremendous positivity associated with acid or shrooms, and salvia is neutral.

It's not like that for me at all, first of all it's not too fast because afterglow lasts for 1-2 days. I've felt more peaceful in the afterglow than on anything else including mushrooms. I feel like salvia digs way deeper than anything else.
posted by rainy at 12:34 PM on June 19, 2011


I've done shrooms in Amsterdam back when they were still legal. I had a great time and ended up going on the Amsterdam Dungeon tour and had no ill experiences. I had a bit of nausea, but that is probably because I was eating a fungus and I don't normally eat fungii finding them to be non-food.

I had a fun time, but didn't end up seeing anything odd, other than trails coming out of peoples eyes and their heads being a bit floaty. All in all something that I wouldn't mind experiencing again, including the horrors of the dungeon, no bad trips for me.
posted by koolkat at 12:50 PM on June 19, 2011


MetaFilter: including the horrors of the dungeon, no bad trips for me.
posted by hippybear at 12:52 PM on June 19, 2011


And when I say younger, I mean "the warrior years" -- from puberty to say age 25.

See, and I would argue that's the worst possible time to do them. I mean, shit, that's when life is mot confusing. You're body's changing, you're going crazy with hormones, your brain is still forming, and you're trying desperately to keep up.


I agree with you, assuming it's the generalized current scenario of young people sneaking off into the bushes (or wherever) and dosing themselves with no preparation, no guidance, no degree of mentoring. Myself, I did shrooms for the first time when I was 18 or 19, and didn't drop acid until I was almost 21. And I'm thankful for the comparatively late entry into the psychedelic realm as by then, I had at least an approximation of a grasp on life-the-universe-hormones etc.

What I was getting at with that previous comment was the notion of making "teaching" psychedelic consciousness part of how we prepare young people for the complexities of the world. In the case of young males, call it part of the manhood process. Certainly, in any number of religious and/or tribal situations, there is a very organized and deliberate series of rituals/processes/ordeals that young people are required to experience before they are formally welcomed into the tribe/community as respected, mature adults.

We secular western types seem to totally lack this. We just coddle our kids through their cute years, then increasingly cringe with fear them as the hormones (and their passions) hit, and pray the no-longer-darlings make it to their 25th birthdays alive and intact. Which makes incidents such as what happened in Vancouver the other night anything but surprising.
posted by philip-random at 12:58 PM on June 19, 2011


I used to take psychedelics pretty often. Never had a bad trip. Even alone, in a cemetery, looking into a copper plaque that was placed like a window into a mausoleum and hallucinating my vague reflection as the Face of Death (feminine). I knew it was the LSD. I finally got the spiritual trip I was looking for and stopped taking them.

But, yes, the drugs were the gateway into meditation. Years later, I tried shrooms again, in the mountains, and all I experienced was my brain not working as it should be. It didn't touch my inner self. I think I'll leave hallucinogens to the youngsters.
posted by kozad at 1:53 PM on June 19, 2011


Both LSD and psilocybin exert their psychedelic effects on humans by binding to a subclass or classes of serotonin receptors.

Insects seem to use only acetylcholine (warning: old information I haven't confirmed recently), but slugs and snails also use serotonin:

In crawling snails ...Serotonin stimulated locomotion and accelerated crawling significantly...

It tickles me no end (often to breaking out laughing) to think that we soar to our highest highs and plumb the abyss because of chemicals fungi and a few other plants evolved to send slugs and snails packing.
posted by jamjam at 2:17 PM on June 19, 2011


jamjam: correlation is not causation.
posted by rainy at 2:24 PM on June 19, 2011


correlation is not causation.

Yet another hobgoblin of small minds-- or should I say a mantram, in this context?
posted by jamjam at 2:40 PM on June 19, 2011


"The types of behavior change most frequently cited by volunteers were . . . increased spiritual practice"

So, it makes you more irrational, to the point that you start to believe in things that aren't really there? And more compliant with existing social structures, too?!

Gee. Get me some of that!
posted by markkraft at 2:45 PM on June 19, 2011


Sounds a lot like a Soma holiday!
posted by markkraft at 2:50 PM on June 19, 2011


So, it makes you more irrational, to the point that you start to believe in things that aren't really there?

My experience of psychedelics is that they don't make me believe anything new. Far from it. What they do is inspire me to question my assumptions about all manner of stuff, including the degree to which I just accept that so-called reality is defined by what my five senses can detect. What if there's more? Again, that's a question -- not a belief.

And more compliant with existing social structures, too?!

Where are you getting this compliance from? No one's mentioned it in this thread. It doesn't pop up in any of the links.
posted by philip-random at 3:56 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always been fascinated by how things work -- you know, taking the back off a clock to see all the gears and bits and how they move -- and it seems to me from what's described that a good psychedelic experience allows one to "take the back off" the mechanism of your perceptions, consciousness and/or self-awareness (depending on the drug/trip). Seriously, how can that not be a good thing, to know how your self works?

Assuming proper dose, set and setting. Nothing's for certain but when I go cycling I put on a helmet and reflectors and check the tyres and take all the other reasonable precautions; when undocking from consensus perception one should be at least as careful.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:12 PM on June 19, 2011


I've seen people destroy their lives over their lack of ability to moderate their own appetites, for food, alcohol, etc. However, just because a small percentage of people will have difficulty with their own appetites is not a reason to prevent everyone from making their own choices.

I will say that psychedelics saved my life, or at least prevented me from becoming a gutter alcoholic. In preventing people from having safe and legal access you are causing more problems, not solving them.


Nice strawman, there. You apparently only read only one sentence of my entire comment -- and that being right between TWO sentences that say very clearly that I advocate that it be legalized and provided under safe, supervised conditions.

Not only that, but you seem to have taken the "I think allowing people to regulate their own intake of hallucinogens to be not ideal" part of the sentence to be advocating that it be inaccessible to people. Are you thinking clearly?
posted by chimaera at 4:49 PM on June 19, 2011


chimaeara - I must admit that the "I think allowing people to regulate their own intake of hallucinogens to be not ideal" part of your comment did creep me out a bit ... because it leads instantly to, "Well then, who should be doing the regulating?" This is the chemical balance of people's brains and bodies we're discussing here. Do we want the government in there? The church? Parents? The high school guidance counselor?

There's no easy answer here.
posted by philip-random at 5:14 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I must admit that the "I think allowing people to regulate their own intake of hallucinogens to be not ideal" part of your comment did creep me out a bit

Perhaps it would've been better phrased as "time/quantity/location completely left to the consumer" because there are few things that can affect one's state of mind than hallucinogens.

Even something as basic as "not allowed to ingest without a chaperone who has had basic training in dosage and dealing adverse effects and must purchase dose from said chaperone" is the sort of supervision/guidance I'm talking about.
posted by chimaera at 5:24 PM on June 19, 2011


*dealing with adverse effects
posted by chimaera at 5:25 PM on June 19, 2011


Perhaps it would've been better phrased as "time/quantity/location completely left to the consumer" because there are few things that can affect one's state of mind than hallucinogens.

You know, I'm a total hippie, but I understand your point here and agree wholeheartedly. While I totally object to the public drunkenness / open alcohol laws as they currently stand, and the (hilariously ineffective) attempts to regulate drug consumption at clubs/bars/concerts, a "no being off your rocker on LSD in public" law seems, to my prudish mind, to be a very sensible limitation on the legalization of hallucinogens. Drunk people on the bus are usually just an annoyance, but people actively hallucinating in that kind of environment would be absolutely unsafe to themselves and others.

But of course, part of any legalization effort would absolutely include education on responsible use and sensible limitations on the wheres, whens, and sizes of purchase. The goal is harm reduction before recreation, always.
posted by mek at 5:43 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it would've been better phrased as "time/quantity/location completely left to the consumer"

Yeah, I suspect we're on the same basic wavelength here. But my issue remains, how do we determine who this "chaperone" should be, who should set the guidelines? Because as soon as we start formalizing something like this, it becomes another church/school/institution/organization ... which is touchy ground indeed when (again) you're dealing with putting limitations on what one can do with the chemical balance of their brains/bodies. Yeah, make it illegal to drive, operate heavy machinery, stumble around in playgrounds etc ... but to deny use of psychedelics altogether? By whose authority?
posted by philip-random at 5:52 PM on June 19, 2011


Drunk people on the bus are usually just an annoyance, but people actively hallucinating in that kind of environment would be absolutely unsafe to themselves and others.

Um... no.

People hallucinating on a bus are generally either giggling to themselves or saying things which make others uncomfortable because they're detached from reality, but they aren't actively dangerous or unsafe. Certainly not "absolutely unsafe". There are very few documented cases of people who are tripping actually causing harm to others. I'd welcome being proven wrong by any statistically significantly measure, but I doubt it'll happen

Now, if you're thinking about the effects of PCP or other such drugs, THOSE are actually dangerous, because people are detached from the input they're receiving from their sensory input. Some might even argue that cocaine or meth are entirely dangerous to have people using in public. The ego boost they provide plus the desperation they induce as they fade could, in the wrong people, prove to be truly dangerous.

Even alcohol might be negative on public transit. People routinely get belligerent or violent on alcohol. It's a well-documented phenomenon across centuries of use.

But LSD and shrooms? I've been on literally hundreds of trips and been around thousands of people who are tripping. None of them have ever been a threat to others or even themselves beyond having a bit of an emotional moment or inappropriate laughter. Even bad trips aren't outwardly directed, and so pose no danger to anyone else.
posted by hippybear at 6:08 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm late to this party but need to chime in here. First of all, the conflation going on in this thread is mind-boggling. You mefites always impress me with your intelligence but, people! Magic mushrooms are not the same as LSD, which are not the same as cannabis, which is not the same as salvia, which is not the same as peyote. Enough of the broad strokes already. If you believe [hallucinogen X] should be kept made illegal, make a case for [hallucingen X's] illegality. (Or if you think all hallucinogens should be made illegal, say that as well.)

That said, I think that magic mushrooms are a special kind of "drug". Strike that, let's talk about psylocybin--the drug responsible for the trip. As I was saying to a friend just last week, I haven't done any hallucinogens for seven or eight years no, but if I had about 12 hours of zero responsibility, 12 hours of totally selfish me time and had the opportunity to take some shrooms, I'd do it in a heartbeat. (I don't have 12 or so hours of selfish me time now, but one of these days...)

I don't have much to add to the positive experiences discussed here, just that there's something about shrooms that are just different about everything else. They are so happy and warm and fuzzy that it's the only mind-altering substance (including mundane things like alcohol and coffee) that actually produces an anti-hangover. You wake up feeling better the next day. Happy. Prozac-y. It genuine lifts your mood for days afterward.

I've done LSD a number of times, but am done with it. It's very useful, but more of a jet airplane to magic mushrooms' nekobus. Peyote, tried it once, felt feverish, sick and stupid for 5 hours; hated that stuff. Mushrooms, though, are a difficult thing for me to find fault with. Other than they taste absolutely horrible, and the initial phase of a trip is usually a 30-minute spell of nasuea, but they more than make up for the that afterwards.
posted by zardoz at 6:37 PM on June 19, 2011


but they aren't actively dangerous or unsafe

One time, back in college when I was living in the dorms, I came across a screaming girl slumped over in the elevator. I'm not sure how she got there. She was violently nodding her head and screaming (yes, screaming) "TV Guide". She was completely oblivious to the world. She just kept screaming "TV Guide!", "TV Guide!", "TV Guide!". She didn't seem panicked or scared; more like deliriously happy.

I remember holding her head so she wouldn't bang it against the concrete floor. She didn't respond to anything we said. In truth, I don't believe she was even aware we were there. She was locked in some crazy, flailing, screaming dream.

None of us sober people knew WTF was happening to her, so we called the paramedics. They showed up with the cops. They tied her to a stretcher and took her away.

In retrospect, she was clearly on some kind of massive hallucinogen trip. I imagine we fucked up her life somewhat by calling the cops. On the other hand, what do you expect strangers to do if you flip the fuck out in public?


The stories in this thread make me curious to try mushrooms. But the crazy screaming TV Guide girl gives me pause. What made her snap? What if it happens to me? I'm a big guy; it would be bad if I ever lost control like that. How do I do this safely?
posted by ryanrs at 8:15 PM on June 19, 2011


ryanrs: I'll see if my contacts can come up with any supplies. Then you come up and visit for a weekend. You'l be safe and have a great time and you won't snap. I promise.

I'll MeMail you once I have the needed substances in hand.
posted by hippybear at 8:19 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the offer, but going to some stranger's house a thousand miles away isn't the solution I'm looking for.
posted by ryanrs at 8:32 PM on June 19, 2011


Well then, who should be doing the regulating?" This is the chemical balance of people's brains and bodies we're discussing here. Do we want the government in there? The church? Parents? The high school guidance counselor? There's no easy answer here. posted by philip-random at 5:14 PM on 6/19

Yes there is an easy answer. Self autonomy, not very difficult. I am not sure where or when it became acceptable to tell others what they do with there own bodies.
posted by handbanana at 9:04 PM on June 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


ryanrs--there are any number of reasons why that girl snapped. For one thing, I take it you still don't know it was hallucinogens that caused that, or what type of hallucinogen. You don't know if she had a medical condition, psychological or otherwise. Was she on medication? Did she mix certain drugs together? Was her flipout due to totally legal substances? (It wouldn't be impossible that her state was caused completely by alcohol alone).

In short, there are dozens of scenarios why that girl was in that state. If you spend 30 minutes researching shrooms, or better yet finding out from people who have actually done them (and like them), then you'll find that you really shouldn't be too worried about a magic mushroom trip. You should set aside time, plan things out, not be too flippant about a trip. It's not quite a "party" substance, but it is great fun to do with a group of fellow trippers. And just like someone who doesn't want to get too drunk and limits himself to a few beers, you can simply limit your dose to a bare minimum and give it a trial run. (Other hallucinogens, namely LSD, can last a very long time--somewhere along the lines of eight hours minimum--which is one of the main reasons people have a "bad trip". Even if you like roller coasters, you'll get a little freaked out if you're strapped into one for hours at a stretch.)

Feel free to memail me; I can give you my personal experiences and maybe answer questions you have.
posted by zardoz at 9:07 PM on June 19, 2011


ryanrs: Set & Setting, the two most important things to consider before a psilocybin trip.

Take some time maybe a day or so to get your set. Meditate, or mentally go through your life, or sleep on it, or do whatever it is you do to take stock of you. Be honest with yourself.

Make sure your setting is safe. Nature isn't always safe, but if you choose your outdoorsy experience carefully it can be wonderful. Beaches, woody campgrounds, sunny meadows, etc. Home is good. A sober, trusted (knowing!) friend's home is good. Anywhere too public or crowded is probably not a good idea. Get a sitter, someone who'll hang out with you and stay cool & sober while you progress. Buy them a pizza or two. Knowing you won't be disturbed or called upon for the next half day or so is good too.
posted by carsonb at 11:00 PM on June 19, 2011


Also, very important! Make sure you give your sitter the pizza with NO shrooms.
posted by carsonb at 11:01 PM on June 19, 2011


hal_c_on, what was your most spiritually significant experience, then?

It was sitting in a college dorm with the windows open, and the door shut with a wet towel at crack at the bottom so that no smells could get out.

We were smoking out of an alien head shaped bong, and talking about how time on the Cartesian coordinate system should totally be on the y-axis.

It was winter, so we all had our coats on in the Indiana February. One of the dudes who was a friend of a friend realized that he had his roommates coat on. And inside a pocket was a bag of shrooms that was "lost". We all shared some...and man was that awesome. It was a totally religious experience.

Oh wait. That wasn't it at all.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:34 AM on June 20, 2011


Looking back, this whole thread is actually pretty hilarious. I mean, on the one hand, you have people who are all like, "It ain't all roses, you should really be careful" and people on the other side who are all like "do acid! do it, do it now! TAKE THE ACID." I mean, it's hilarious, because my friends and I always used to joke about how ridiculous the After-School Specials were, with like the dealers who would try to get kids to take drugs, or slipping drugs in their food or whatever. And we were all like, yeah right, who gives away free drugs? And who the hell actually tries to convince anyone to take drugs? Don't they pretty much sell themselves? But here you some of you are, being all like, "hey man, you should really take acid, it's great! don't listen to the killjoys, they just didn't do it right!"

I mean, nobody here's saying that people should go to jail for the stuff. I just think it's funny how much resistance I'm running into just for urging people to exercise moderate caution. Some of you really are not doing a good job of representing the side of decriminalization.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:48 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but getting hammered one time (most likely unless you make a bad decision such as getting behind the wheel of the car or getting alcohol poisoning) won't leave you brain damaged. One bad time with psychedelic drugs will.
I'm not sure about that. Plus people die from alcohol poisoning all the time, which I think technically counts as brain damage. (Also, I don't think it's actually the case that you can get permanent brain damage from a single session on mushrooms)
posted by delmoi at 7:25 AM on June 20, 2011


It could be the most educational, live-changing, positive, awareness-enhancing thing in the universe, but if someone can't get rich off of it, it will stay illegal. Forever. Period.
posted by kinnakeet at 8:02 AM on June 20, 2011


People need to get out more.

I've been out a bit, lived in Japan for 13 years, have been to 15 countries in 4 continents, meditated in Buddhist temples, taken solo wilderness trips, explored mountain tops and ocean bottoms, and none of that holds a spiritual candle to the experiences I've had with cannabis. I suspect when I finally try P. cubensis it will surpass cannabis and anything any amount of 'getting out' could impart.

Some might even argue that cocaine or meth are entirely dangerous to have people using in public.

I'm willing to be some here.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 10:35 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading these comments about life-changing moments and spiritual awakenings makes me wonder about the occasions when I've taken psychelics (the last one nearly 30 years ago now) which generally fell on the side of mildly entertaining (and occasionally visually beautiful) but which never illuminated anything about who I was or why I was living the way I was or any of the other things which I thought aboutall the goddam time back in the day. One experience with peyote, many many years ago up in the bush in Northern BC, I remember fondly because I was felt so happy to have my mind turned off for a few hours. I also have no desire to repeat it. As for pot, all it ever has done for me-- aside from making music sound awesome-- is send me down the devastating self-examination spiral. And it's because of ideas like the ones discussed here-- about enlightenment and psychelics for therapy-- that I took those experiences seriously, which did me damage, back when I was 15 and 16. I don't doubt that drugs work for some people, but I could delete every drug experience I've ever had and I'd likely be the better for it, I think. Mileage, varies, etc.
posted by jokeefe at 12:50 PM on June 20, 2011


And it's because of ideas like the ones discussed here-- about enlightenment and psychelics for therapy-- that I took those experiences seriously, which did me damage, back when I was 15 and 16.I don't doubt that drugs work for some people, but I could delete every drug experience I've ever had and I'd likely be the better for it, I think. Mileage, varies, etc.

I think this bears repeating.

It's really, really unfortunate that these drugs are illegal, and that legitimate avenues of research have been blocked off for so long. Because of this, the small amount of actual, useful information out there is dwarfed by mythology and propaganda. People tend to fall into two camps : enthusiastic supporters (psychedelics changed my life and made me a better person! if they didn't change your life, there's something wrong with you!) and over-the-top propagandists (it will make you jump out of a window or think that you're a glass of orange juice!) Their illegal status makes them most accessible and appealing to young people, who are most susceptible to the mythology of the enthusiastic supporters. I fell for that shit hook, line, and sinker. I can't categorically say that I would have been better off without my psychedelic experiences, but they were mixed enough to make me cringe at the siren song of the enthusiastic supporters.

I guess what gets me the most is that, in their rush to share their positive experiences, people forget that they're talking about a drug. Sure, it may be a drug you had good experiences with, but it's still a drug. Or hell, call it a medicine if you want. Whatever. The point is, I don't think I'd ever tell anyone they should just go out and do a drug -- any drug -- especially if I didn't know them personally.

This is one of the reasons I applaud research efforts like the ones mentioned in the OP. The more psychedelics research moves into the realm of science, medicine, and therapy, the more actual knowledge we'll have, and the less likely people will be to get their "knowledge" from a DARE cop or that dreadlocked dude their brother knows.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:26 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person who hasn't had something they'd consider a spiritual experience? Seriously curious.
posted by Justinian at 4:18 PM on June 20, 2011


krinklyfig, hippybear; I'm not actually saying I think drugs are bad (m'kaaay?) or all that dangerous, but they do (at least, I gather, if you're doing it right) open up new and hidden parts of the mind. I'm just saying, that is a level of intimacy I would not be comfortable with sharing with someone I didn't know really, really well. Like, at least well enough to have sex with. And that's a kind of trust I don't have for anyone anymore.

The one exception would be if there was someone 'certified' as a trip guide; sorta like I'm willing to let my OBGYN do things I wouldn't let anyone else do. I really wish there was some sort of certification for people who could administer and 'guide' hallucinogenic trips; someone who you could go to, pay a fee, and know that 1. you won't get poisoned from bad shit and 2. someone to guide your trip, help you experience and understand and learn from it, and NOT post it to YouTube or insert a Barbie doll's head into your anus while you're out.
posted by The otter lady at 4:37 PM on June 20, 2011


The otter lady: I am not your priest yet, but I could be.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:40 PM on June 20, 2011


The otter lady: That's an interesting analysis. Seeing as how my own proclivities have me having more sex with people I barely know and reserving real friendship for very special people. And, well, because I don't shove anything into the anus of a female, and don't own even just the head of a Barbie doll.

But while I can hold up my credentials as having taken a giant number of people on their first psychedelic experiences without any untoward occurrences, mental disconnects, or ill-advised YouTube postings, I completely respect your choices as you make them and don't feel at all insulted about anything you decide to do with your own body and time.

However, look back up in the thread for my little guide to tripping. If you make the appropriate plans for your own self, preparing a variety of things to do, giving yourself the opportunity to engage in things at will and not be locked into a single path, and provide appropriate settings for yourself (music and visuals), you'll probably be fine tripping on your own.

Also... do it in the daytime the first time you do it. Nighttime tripping is so much more... um... just so much MORE. Daytime tripping gives you bright colors to play with and doesn't contain dark hidden spaces which let your mind perhaps wander down unwelcome paths. It's truly a completely different thing to trip in the day, and I recommend that for nearly all trepidatious explorers. There's an edge to the dark of night which is best avoided if you carry any misgivings with you.
posted by hippybear at 5:04 PM on June 20, 2011


I'm curious how this study would contro for the fact that volunteers expectations. It seems like a placebo would be likely to have a reduced impact since the users wouldn't really experience nearly the level of hallucinations and short term brain impact. What seems more interesting is the number of people who were given the control and yet ranked the experience as so spiritual and life changing.

Suppose we replicated the same study with alcohol, or some other non-hallucinogenic drug that affected cognition while giving the participants a supportive and safe environment. I'm by sure how different the results would be, especially if we had a limited pool of participants eagerto try the experiement.
posted by humanfont at 5:28 PM on June 20, 2011


Afroblanco--I see what you are saying, but what's your solution? Make hallucinogens legal for those who...what? Take a test? Have a sitter with them? Either drugs are legal or not, though I'm sure we can all agree that decriminalization is probably the best route to take; anyway, it's easier than outright decriminalization.

People tend to fall into two camps : enthusiastic supporters (psychedelics changed my life and made me a better person!

Yes, I think that's what a lot of people are saying. Myself included.

if they didn't change your life, there's something wrong with you!)...

Come on, no one is saying that. Of course, many of us would like more people to understand the positive aspects of psyilocybin, but I must've missed the taunting of folks who abstain.

As for the danger of these substances. Yes, they should be taken with some care and precaution, but if the "pro" hallucinogen people are guilty of something, they're (we're) guilty of giving people the benefit of the doubt and letting them choose their own adventures, as it were. Who is anyone to say that this guy or that girl or you or me can't take hallucinogens? How could you possibly regulate that? Sure it's potentially dangerous, but so are a lot of things. If we, as a people, allow shrooms to be a normal and accepted thing, then of course there will be some growing pains with what's the best and proper way to use them. We've never done that before, so we'll be making it up as we go along. Much better that than to throw our hands in the air and declare "It can't be done!"
posted by zardoz at 9:22 PM on June 20, 2011


zardoz : Afroblanco--I see what you are saying, but what's your solution?

Information. More information. Science. Research. Studies. Knowledge. Anything other than propaganda and urban legends. Erowid has been a great step forward in this, but it's far from scientific.

zardoz : Come on, no one is saying that.

BitterOldPunk : Meatbomb is absolutely right -- hallucinogens make you a better person. And to the people who didn't enjoy or learn from their peek behind the curtain, well, I don't know what to say. Except I'm sorry that happened to you. And maybe the lesson is still there, waiting for you to learn it.

zardoz : Who is anyone to say that this guy or that girl or you or me can't take hallucinogens? How could you possibly regulate that?

We need to know more about these drugs, and that knowledge needs to be accessible by everyone. We need a cultural context for doing drugs. How many trips have turned sour because of paranoia? How many of those trippers would have enjoyed their trips if they didn't have to worry about being busted? The idea of a "trip sitter" or shaman is nice, but obviously wouldn't work for everybody. What we need to do is enfold this, make it part of our culture, legitimize it, say "okay, some people are gonna do acid. let's let people do acid, and let them build acid churches, lets let them have their acid retreats, let's let them have their MDMA therapy sessions, or throw festivals or raves or whatever, as long as they aren't hurting anyone, let them have it because it's better than arresting them." There's a thousand million ways to trip, there's no single right answer. But if we had science, knowledgeable practitioners, and a legal framework for taking psychedelics, I'm sure we'd find a way.

Okay. Now for some personal tales. I've gone on in other threads about the bad side of psychs. And mostly that's because it pisses me off how enthusiastic trippers like to pooh-pooh the dark sides of these drugs, just because they never took too much or had a bad experience or known anyone who seriously fucked their lives up. Fuck that noise. But you know, I think I'm going to leave this thread with a happy tale, because I don't think I've told it here yet.

So, back in the early 2000s (god I'm old), 5MEO-DMT was basically legal. Like, you could order it over the internet. And I did. Lots of it. A WHOLE LOT. I experienced everything there was to experience about the 5MEO-DMT molecule. I had some outstanding highs, and some lows that were just kinda embarrassing. But the best part, the best part, the BEST PART was that it helped me build my connection to music and to my drum. I play the doumbek -- not very a popular instrument in the states, but really common in Middle Eastern music. If you've seen belly dancers perform, you've heard the doumbek. Been playing for 14 years. Anyway, my favorite thing to do was take a big hit of 5MEO and play my goddamn drum. And goddamn did I play. I built a straight-up connection with that drum. And granted, I was pretty good when at it before the DMT, but I took it to a whole new fucking level. And I kept it too. I can still play like that. I've had people tell me that they don't know how I do it. (I don't play in the "traditional" style) Actually, I've seen videos of myself playing, and it does look kinda cool. But from my perspective, what I'm really feeling while I'm doing it : it's like there's a zone of no-gravity above my drum head. My hands are weightless. They fly. They follow their own wave patterns. It's effortless. It's awesome. And granted, I was pretty good at playing before I took DMT. But really, it was that summer, the summer of 2002, when I really built that connection.

And yeah, things went bad and things went shitty and I ultimately wound up flushing my DMT down the toilet, and then the feds started prosecuting the analogue act and now you can't get it anymore, and for a few years I was still kinda crispy and it took a while for me to fully come back down. But you know what? I can still fucking play.

I can still fucking play.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:30 AM on June 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Doing psychedelics is like sightseeing in a beautiful place where you've heard rumors that there may be an unimaginably deep chasm somewhere nearby, but you're not sure because many of your companions insist it's just a rumor.

So at first, it's all pretty safe. You just don't go too close to where you think that edge might be. But over time, you get more brash. You keep looking for that edge, because the view is better there, of course. But it's a weird edge, enshrouded in mist. It takes very skilled, experienced footwork to actually find it.

Most of us don't really try to find. We just find a spot where the view is good enough. But some us don't. And, assuming youth, recklessness, lack of respect for the "reality" of the situation, that means we eventually go too far, we fall off, often without realizing ... because first we get caught in an updraft. We're flying, we think ... but then we fall.

And it can be a very long, incomprehensibly deep fall.

But it usually doesn't kill us (drive us mad). It just shakes us the fuck up, smacks us around, it wounds us. Sometimes deeply. To the extent that what we're left with is something approaching post-traumatic-stress-syndrome -- a wound that takes a long time to heal, assuming it can ever be fully healed.

At least, that's how it was for me.

My happy ending goes something like this. It took more than a year before I'd really shaken the "shaking" I'd taken, the deep, gnawing, almost Lovecraftian existential dread I was haunted by in the aftermath of my "bad fall". But I did get over it to the extent that I was eventually doing psychedelics again, but I was wiser now, I was more cautious now. I now knew for sure that there was an edge and no, I couldn't tell you exactly where it was, but I could always sense it when I was getting close ... so I learned to stop right there, close to the edge, not over it. And over time, I kept edging closer such that, eventually, I was getting right to it. I had the footwork figured out. I could even catch the updrafts and float around a bit ... without going over.

That was amazing.

But that was almost two decades ago. Now I'm just glad to have had the experience, and the wisdom it gave me (for lack of a better word), and the tale to tell.
posted by philip-random at 10:44 AM on June 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


The thing I disliked most about about acid/mushroom tripping was that the effect went away! Every single time, I would go Yes! This is the way I should be and want to be forever! And then time passes and it leaks away and is gone and I'm back to being the same old hyper-analytical, scrutinize everything with a jaundiced eye jfuller. Insights sure, tons, and a lot of 'em can be put into words and written down for later. But something (actually pretty much everything) essential is missing from a note that says DON'T FEAR! when you can't recapture the lived experience of being entirely OK and easy with, entirely un-anxious and un-apprehensive about, anything that might happen--without taking another hit.

Funniest Maharishi line I ever heard was "Wouldn't you know the West would find consciousness through a material." I'm no longer tempted by substances because they're so easy come easy go. I do meditate and maybe if I live long enough and sit mindfully long enough and work mindfully long enough and feed the cats mindfully long enough I'll find a way through to ...it... or at least become more confident that there is a way and I'm plodding along it.


N.b. Metafilter--yea, even mannerly, moderated-by-librarians mefi, let alone worse sites--is a hindrance, not a help. Especially political and religious threads. Is it remotely possible to get across to certain persons that neither psychedelics nor meditation has a SINGLE FUCKING THING to do with religious belief in supernatural supreme beings? No, it is not possible. Fundamentally you can't tell people anything except instrumental knowledge (preheat the oven to 350 before you put in the cookie sheet) and I am not easy about that. I see others announcing self-imposed timeouts and think yeah, that might be the right thing to do.
posted by jfuller at 12:12 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bob Jesse left his VP post at Oracle in 1994 to form the Council on Spiritual Practices.

"CSP's efforts and those of Prof. Roland Griffiths at the Johns Hopkins Medical School lead to the formation of a controlled study, conducted by Hopkins and CSP staff, of the psychological and spiritual effects of psilocybin in healthy volunteers"

Bob will be posting at Mark Kleiman's blog about the psilocybin studies and responding to the common critiques such as

" 1. “I took mushrooms, and my experience was neither ‘spiritual’ nor life-changing. So what’s the big deal?”

2. The studies used volunteers with a spiritual orientation, so of course they reported spiritual experiences, and so the studies prove nothing.

3. Hallucinogens cause hallucinations; hallucinations cannot be a source of learning, healing, or betterment.

4. Psilocybin may cause people to adopt untrue beliefs (e.g., about the nature of ultimate reality).

5. The substance may harm some people or cause them to harm themselves or others.

6. An enlightening experience doesn’t necessarily lead to an enlightened life.
"
posted by daksya at 9:30 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


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