More than 2,000 psychedelic experiences
January 29, 2005 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Dr. Ecstasy. (NYT) A peek inside Sasha Shulgin's infamous lab.
posted by xowie (22 comments total)
Thanks, xowie. I think you might take a little heat from this crowd for a one-link NYT post--and perhaps not without just cause--but I still found the article fascinating.
posted by squirrel at 7:19 PM on January 29, 2005

Dr Shulgin's own writings: PIHKAL

MP3s of Shulgin and others speaking (originally discussed here).

The NYT article looks pretty good though.

[off-topic] And from a personal point of view, you have just made an incredible contribution to the research project I'm working on, which is a study of the New Zealand literature on certain drugs, because that article points out that Ann Shulgin was born in New Zealand - which means that all her work is relevant to my study.

So thank you very very very much.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:35 PM on January 29, 2005

Excellent article, thank you for pointing it out.
posted by loquacious at 8:00 PM on January 29, 2005

Entheogen: the movie.
posted by homunculus at 8:20 PM on January 29, 2005

Shulgin is a fascinating man, and has experienced a kleidoscope of altered states. I think I'd have somewhat more interesting questions to ask him, but overall a good article -- thanks, xowie.
posted by ori at 8:55 PM on January 29, 2005

here's a wired profile :D and you can ask dr. shulgin questions online! [also see, oh and :]

posted by kliuless at 9:31 PM on January 29, 2005

Can't mention PIHKAL without TIHKAL

pronounced "pickle" and "tickle"
posted by zerokey at 12:00 AM on January 30, 2005

Interesting read, thanks.
posted by interrobang at 12:35 AM on January 30, 2005

Thanks muchly, xowie - that was fascinating. I particularly liked his description of working in the lab to the strains of Rachmaninoff with a fire blazing in the fireplace.
posted by taz at 2:21 AM on January 30, 2005

login free link

great article, thanks!
posted by moonbird at 5:39 AM on January 30, 2005

Thanks for the article link and for everyone's subsequent links. A subject that always fascinates me, too bad there's always legal issues for those of us who aren't good friends with the DEA.
posted by melt away at 6:41 AM on January 30, 2005

One and the same... ?
posted by koeselitz at 7:07 AM on January 30, 2005

I didn't like the way the article framed Shulgin and his research.

"It's far from a revolution, but it is an opening, and as both scientist and advocate, Shulgin has helped create it. If -- and it's a big ''if'' -- the results of the studies are promising enough, it might bring something like legitimacy to the Shulgin pharmacopoeia."

As if Shulgin's research needs to be legitimated by the medical establishment. People have been feeling the benefits of the chemicals he has created and championed for a long time now.

I am glad that these studies are happening, and that this article will give wider attention to Shulgin and his work.

But the NYT magazine has such an air of telling yuppies what it is trendy to think about these days, and I worry that people learning about psychadelics this way are going to miss the history and context, the fact that there are already strong subcultures of people using these drugs toward amazing ends. Why are they only important when mainstream medicine begins to think so?
posted by mai at 3:22 PM on January 30, 2005

mai, the NYT is a paper of record. What do you expect them to say: "Psychedelics can be helpful tools, but the Man has been keeping them down."? They aren't going to stir the pot, unless they're looking for a fight.

For anyone looking for an authoritative overview of hallucinogens, look here. It gets really technical, but many sections are readable, with some effort. BTW, hallucinogens is a pretty inaccurate label. So is psychedelics. Both are value judgements. The former is wrong because LSD, psilocin..etc don't really make you hallucinate. They alter how stimuli are perceived, interpreted and integrated within the gestalt of conscious experience. There are a few substances/situations that produce true hallucinations, but they are a subset. Psychedelic is wrong because that assigns an interpretation to what these experiences mean. Better labels would be metacognosis or metanoesis, basically anything of the form: meta [change of] + stem of something that refers to cognition + suffix [denoting an agent, like -ogen which I suppose stands for 'generator of'].
posted by Gyan at 4:00 PM on January 30, 2005

I'm not surprisedat their coverage, but that doesn't mean I can't criticize it.

And many labels contain implicit value judgements. That doesn't necessarily make them wrong.
posted by mai at 4:35 PM on January 30, 2005

crap. surprised at.
posted by mai at 4:35 PM on January 30, 2005

Good points, mai.
posted by squirrel at 4:59 PM on January 30, 2005

mai: And many labels contain implicit value judgements.

These labels are explicit value judgements: Hallucinogens. What makes that word unsuitable, is primarily that it is not accurate. From the beginning of the reference I linked earlier:
What are hallucinogens? This term was originally coined because of the notion that these substances produce hallucinations, an effect, however, that they do not ordinarily elicit, at least at typical dosages. Thus, that name is a misnomer. Today, unfortunately, hallucinogen appears almost to have become a catchall category, often representing pharmacological substances ranging from cannabinoids and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonists to anticholinergic agents, ecstasy (MDMA; 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), and many others. The common theme of all these classes of pharmacologically active substances is that they alter consciousness, often in dramatic and unpredictable ways, and in high doses may produce delirium, true hallucinations, loss of contact with reality, and in some cases death.
posted by Gyan at 5:39 PM on January 30, 2005

The NYT interviewed drug policy expert -- and blogger -- Mark A. R. Kleiman; he recently criticzed the paper for its obtuse reporting on the topic.
posted by dhartung at 8:13 PM on January 30, 2005

I second Mai--this article has a bias displayed in almost every single word. A good display can be made by replacing a few words:

"Asked whether he could imagine a voter so destructive that he or she should not be allowed to vote, he said no. With his fervent belief in democracy--he says the only appropriate restriction on voting is one to prevent children from casting ballots--he has inoculated himself against any sense of personal guilt."

Apples and oranges, you say? I say that's irrelevant. If the Times wants to say that psychedelics/hallucinogens/entheogens are harmful and should be banned, then they can damn well back it up with hard data. I don't care if they're a "newspaper of record"--as a matter of fact, I argue that because they're supposedly a newspaper of record, they are even more responsible for avoiding the kind of bad journalism they consistently display here.
posted by goodglovin77 at 4:32 PM on January 31, 2005

goodglovin77:I don't care if they're a "newspaper of record"--as a matter of fact, I argue that because they're supposedly a newspaper of record, they are even more responsible for avoiding the kind of bad journalism they consistently display here.

I certainly don't mean to exonerate them because of their status. All I'm saying is that it's not surprising at all. It's somewhat like criticizing an Intelligent Design newsletter for pissing on evolution. Sure you can poke holes, but it's not very productive or unexpected.
posted by Gyan at 6:38 PM on January 31, 2005

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