LSD

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FEATURES OF THE EXPERIENCE

There are two reasons why the LSD experience does not lend itself readily to verbalization. Firstly, the sensory aspect of the experience is outside the bounds of the usual experience from which language has developed and for the description of which it is intended. Secondly, the experience is mainly in the sphere of emotions or feelings which are difficult to objectify or verbalize at the best of times.


Before attempting to draw any conclusions about the suggested value of LSD one would want to know something of the nature of the experience which the drug induces. Also, it is inevitable that effective methods of using the drug must be dictated by the nature of the experience.


Because of the difficulty in describing the experience in any but subjective terms, our knowledge of it has been built up bit by bit from personal LSD experience and through observations and reports of other individual and group experiences.


In reading accounts of the experience, one cannot fail to be struck by the fact that although there is tremendous variety in these reports there is a relatively consistent communality in certain areas of the experience. In an earlier report (13) we enumerated these commonly reported areas and illustrated them briefly with transcriptions from actual experiences as follows:


  1. A feeling of being at one with the universe. "I had finally understood by experience. The feeling of union with the cosmos."
  2. Experience of being able to see oneself objectively or a feeling that one has two identities. "If we had the gift to see ourselves as others see us, well, I did this morning. There seemed to be two of me and there seemed to be a conflict between these two."
  3. Change in usual concept of self with concomitant change in perceived body. "I had the feeling of leaving my body and drifting off into space. I had no worldly connections and felt as if I was only a spirit."
  4. Change in perception of space and time "I was looking deeply in the picture until the objects in the picture were beside me."
  5. Enhancement in the sensory fields. "The flower was a thing of inestimable beauty as was its scent. It quite transfixed me in essential contemplation, ecstasy and timelessness."
  6. Changes in thinking an understanding so that the subject feels he develops a profound understanding in the field of philosophy or religion. Associations of ideas are much more rapid and clear and one tends to see many alternate solutions to each problem. There is a great tendency to think anologically. "I found I was outside our bounds to space and time and had an understanding of infinity."
  7. A wider range of emotions with rapid fluctuation. "During this period I was swept by every conceivable variety of pleasant emotion from my own feeling of well-being through feelings of sublimity and grandeur to a sensation of ecstasy."
  8. Increased sensitivity to the feelings of others. "I was conscious of an extremely acute sense of awareness of perception of another's mood, almost thoughts. I likened it to the recognition of emotional atmosphere that the child or animal seems to have."
  9. Psychotic changes. These include illusions and hallucinations, paranoid delusions of reference, influence, persecution and grandeur, thought disorder, perceptual distortion, severe anxiety and others which have been described in many reports on the psychotomimetic aspects of these drugs.


There is much individual variation in regard to the levels of experience attained. Most people pass though a phase in which they struggle against the effects if the drug and a period in which they try to explain the effects themselves. Only individuals seem to attain the psychedelic level rapidly in the first experience and, if they lapse at all into denial, confusion or paranoid thinking, do so but briefly and infrequently. Still other individuals may spend as much as a half a dozen sessions being frightened or ill or paranoid or otherwise distressed before they attain the psychedelic experience. The methods utilized by the therapist play a critical part in determining both the level which [the] subject can attain and the ease with which it is accomplished.


LSD: The Problem-Solving Psychedelic - Peter Stafford and B.H. Golightly. excerpts with commentary

Physical sensations: slight chill; dilation of the pupils; vague physical unease concentrated in the muscles or throat; tenseness; queasy stomach; tingling in the extremities; drowsiness. [excellent, evocative description.] Thoughts seem to race, carelessly tossing off extraordinary by-products of subsidiary thoughts. Suggestibility, Vulnerability. In the kaleidoscopic whirling of sensations, thoughts and emotions [notice classic theme of 'circularity'], to which the LSD subject is hyper-attuned, he feels himself completely fragmented, totally helpless, yet masterfully in control. He reacts to literally everything that comes within his range of senses. He is highly suggestible and responds in some way to all stimuli , whether it is through auto-suggestion, by some movement or remark made by his guide, or by what is going on in the room. Because he is so "opened up," he is indeed vulnerable. Therefore, it is extremely important that disruptive and disturbing factors be avoided as much as possible and that the guide be on the qui vive and keenly receptive. If conditions are not harmonious, smooth, and at the same time "natural," the person under the influence of the drug can easily have paranoid reactions to all-and everyone-around him and this can lead to untold terror. Normally, however, he will be more at ease and freer with others and his surroundings than he has ever before found himself to be in his everyday associations.


Memory and the Sense of the Self. The "flight of thoughts" quite often flushes a large covey of personal memories from the deep recesses of the subject's mind. They may be trivial, joyous, painful, ludicrous-anything-but they will probably be more alive than any recalled previously, except perhaps in dreams; and, as in the dream state, they will seem to be happening in the "now," with the subject violently participating at one moment and standing aside in the next. It is as if he has a second self superimposed on the one he brought to the session. He may find himself examining the "selves" he has conjured and react with guilt, pride, pleasure, regret or a multitude of other emotions. Insight, Judgment, Concentration. Unburied memories often produce the conviction that the subject is seeing himself for the first time as he really is-with all mental blocks and defenses down. His findings will strike him as absolutely astounding; his insights so sharp, his judgments so valid, that only a miracle could have occurred to change him into such a genius. His excitement over this transformation may make him want to laugh and cry at the same time, for he may feel he has at last hit upon the way to know everything to its fullest: ecstasy, sorrow, radiance, serenity, happiness, poignancy, wisdom, patience. He will want-and be able-to concentrate on any "staggering discovery" of his choice. He may find that all life and its secrets, all mankind and himself, are concentrated in the ear of corn he is holding in his hand, and he may contemplate it and stare at it for long moments, even hours.


Philosophic, Religious, Mystical Sense. The subject will want to employ his new abilities in exploration. During this time, he may have a deep and moving religious experience in which he understands the pattern of all life and with awe, gratitude and total understanding, accepts the "Divine Being" responsible for it all. He may also reach philosophic conclusions of rare profundity and of "absolute truth," perhaps in areas completely foreign or little known to him previously. Since he feels he has been metamorphosed into an incredible being with gigantic gifts, it will probably not surprise him at all that he can see into the future and the past with equal ease, make predictions and exhume long-interred historical secrets [for me, this would concern the interpretation of the Turin Shroud and the revised meaning of the Crucifixion.]


Sense of the Past. As said before, a}most anything from staring at a painting to a fleeting thought can trigger the so-called "sense of the past," with seeming total historical recall. Archetypal memories from the vast mass unconscious, in the Jungian sense, would appear to be aroused and activated. For an observer sitting in on a session, this portion of the experience can be the most interesting if the subject is communicative and reasonably articulate. Comments: Eight to ten hours-perhaps longer-after all this strenuous activity, the LSD subject "comes down," the apex of the experience probably having been reached in the fourth hour. The coming down is usually a thoughtful, sober-minded, reflective process without the explosions of mirth, joy, surprise, and intense pain that accompanied the "going up." The subject will realize with equanimity and sensible acceptance that some of his insights and conclusions were absurd and ridiculously funny; he will wonder about others. In any case, once down, he will find himself restored intact to "normal" reality, just as he left it, if the session has been a successful one. One LSD experimenter has called the drug a "psychic broom"; for indeed it does seem to sweep out the cobwebs and bring alive those senses so little used that they are all but atrophied. ... 1) sensory changes, 2) personal memories, 3) "transformation of figures," 4) spatial changes and 5 ) cosmic experience. ...


Of all the strange permutations which occur with LSD use, two of signal importance for researchers have been found to be heightened sensitivity and vulnerability. Unlike the hypnotic trance, this "defenselessness" is coupled with consciousness and will power. Therefore, the subject, if he has a problem to solve, can put his altered responses to this task. Among the endless variety of problems which LSD can help solve, the most clear-cut and spectacular-for which there is unequivocal proof-are creative and technical problems. Hopefully, as more and more technical and creative problem solving is done with LSD and word of it comes to light, valid non-medical uses of the drug will be publicly recognized and understood.


Factors in creativity, in general: a) Low degree of psychological defensiveness; lack of rigidity and permeability of boundaries in concepts, beliefs, perceptions and hypotheses; tolerance for ambiguity where it exists, ability to receive and integrate apparently conflicting information; sensitive awareness of feelings and openness to all phases of experience. b) Evaluative judgment based primarily, not on outside standards or prejudices, but on one's own feelings, intuition, aesthetic sensibility, sense of satisfaction in self-expression, etc. c) The ability to "toy" with ideas, colors, shapes, hypotheses; to translate from one form to another; to think in terms of analogues and metaphors. ... Poetic economy (getting the most out of the complex in a direct, singular manner, what the mathematician would know as "elegance"); seeing things in a larger or more meaningful context; a powerful feeling of commitment and an enduring desire to leave behind a testament, and if possible a proof of the validity of the conviction; finally, a fluid sense of humor, one which enables the creative individual to view his work lightly as well as seriously.


Directed use of LSD might result in a tremendous impetus to creative thought-both for the artist and the ordinary individual who gets very few "flashes of insight" in his lifetime. Such has proved to be the case, as indeed has the obverse. "One of our engineers, who was a subject, could get 100 per cent under LSD in certain of the tests we used, which he never did without LSD... There was another subject, a young woman, who was a technician working at Columbia, who was determined to get all her mathematics examples correct, and practiced at home. Although she was very disturbed [over other matters]... under 100 mcg. of LSD, she got 100 per cent on her mathematics test." When under LSD the universe seems to be exploding, when one has suddenly made the first intuitive breakthrough in years, when the world seems sublimely pure and cleansed of the corruption of the ages, it is no time to be repeating a long run of numbers, as called for in the Stanford-Binet I.Q. test. As Dr. Hoffer observed in this regard, "I would suspect that learning in tasks which are trivial for the subject would be impaired, e.g., psychological learning tests, whereas matters of great importance to the subject might be learned even more quickly. Memory after the event is usually extremely good and insights learned are never forgotten even if they are not always used." But before going deeper into the way LSD can be used to harness creativity and put it to use in problem-solving, it is appropriate to note that numerous instances have indicated that a "flash of insight" [without LSD] has been the thunderbolt that cracked open major discoveries. Since the solution of technical and artistic problems lies mainly in keeping channels of thought free and letting ideas flow, LSD has been found to be of incalculable assistance if problem solving is the point of the-session and if a few fundamental directive techniques are used. It has become increasingly apparent that these breakthroughs are by no means uncommon. They have come about both in planned sessions and by happy accident. There is abundant word-of-mouth testimony which eventually will appear in print with proper documentation. Even though investigation into this aspect of LSD's effects has so far been rather timid, this does not mean that such responses are not strong and valid-and on the increase as sophisticated use of the drug becomes more and more prevalent. ... At the time of this particular lecture, the agitation and legislation against LSD was well under way, and there seemed to be little promise for continued study of the drug-certainly private use and experimentation was legally out of the question. Most of those who came to this lecture were dedicated to the future of the drug for serious, scientific reasons, and ABC-TV was on hand to record the proceedings. The lecture was a little like a televised wake, with the audience as depressed yet keyed-up as survivors of a shipwreck. Dr. Beresford that night spoke very briefly, candidly admitting that although there was well-founded reason to believe in LSD's efficacy in creative and technical problem solving, so far only scattered evidence had appeared in scientific journals. He then threw the discussion open to the floor. The audience reaction was electric. Everyone wanted to talk at once, to testify as to how LSD had helped solve individual problems.


SET AND SETTING

"Set" is the expectations a person brings with them. "Setting" is the environment that a person is in. Set includes expectations about the drug's actions and how the person will react. Setting includes the social and physical conditions. For LSD and the hallucinogen-type drug more than other psychoactives, set and setting are very important in determining the nature of the experience. These factors make the difference between, e.g., the experiences of someone taking the drug for enhancement at a concert, for psychotherapy in an doctor's office, in a religious context, or in the outdoors for an aesthetic experience. For best results, one should take LSD only with people one trusts in safe, comfortable surroundings, free of everyday intrusions.


MINDSET PREPARATION

Try to prepare yourself for this experience by being well rested. It is rather tiring and more enjoyable if you are feeling fresh. The experience will take all day so arrange to be absolutely free of any and all commitments on your time or attention for the entire day.


You can ensure that they are pleasant by simply relaxing and enjoying them. For example, you may feel your body becoming weightless and may feel that you are letting. Accept such changes and enjoy them as novel sensations for they are a part of the treatment and will offer you a chance to explore new areas of experience. If you fight against them you not only make them disturbing to yourself but tend to lessen the benefit you can hope to gain through this treatment.


This is true of all aspects of the experience which you are to have. Accept what happens and how you feel with as little questioning as you can. If during the experience you try to make everything fit into your everyday experience you will cheat yourself both of the good effects of the drug and the pleasure you can find.


At times during the experience you may feel much like laughing or crying and you should not try to hold back these expressions of feeling. Nearly everyone who takes the drug finds himself moved to laughter and to tears several times during the experience. Actually these feelings will bother you less if you accept them as a normal part of the experience and do not try to fight against them.


DOSAGE

A single tab usually contains anywhere from 30 to 100 ug. The modern street standard is usually around 50 ug.


A psycholitic dose, generally 75 or 100 - or at most 200 - micrograms, causes a rush of thoughts, a lot of free association, some visualization (hallucination) and abreaction (memories so vivid that one seems to relive the experience).


A psychedelic dose, around 500 micrograms, produces total but temporary breakdown of usual ways of perceiving self and world and usually some form of "peak experience" or mystic transcendence of ego. "Bad trips" usually occur only on psychedelic doses."

A blotter is put on or under the tongue for 15 minutes and then spit out.


Effects typically begin within 30 to 90 minutes of ingestion and may last as long as 12 hours.


SIDE EFFECTS

Although most LSD trips include both pleasant and unpleasant aspects, the drug's effects are unpredictable and may vary with the amount ingested and the user's personality, mood, expectations, and surroundings.


LSD can cause pupil dilation, reduced appetite (for some, it increases), and wakefulness. Other physical reactions to LSD are highly variable and nonspecific, and some of these reactions may be secondary to the psychological effects of LSD. The following symptoms have been reported: numbness, weakness, nausea, hypothermia or hyperthermia (decreased or increased body temperature), elevated blood sugar, goose bumps, increase in heart rate, jaw clenching, perspiration, saliva production, mucus production, hyperreflexia, and tremors. Some users report a strong metallic taste for the duration of the effects.


Occasionally people will experience Acid Indigestion, which is often easily alleviated by loosening tight clothing and by performing relaxation exercises.


The physical symptoms tend to fade away after about two hours. However, if you begin to question the reality of the experience or to become dissatisfied with the experience or with yourself or with me or with other people, the experience may become confusing and unpleasant or you may find yourself growing extremely suspicious and afraid. At these times some of the unpleasant physical feelings will be likely to return.


Insomnia occurs frequently after the trip. A mild, over-the-counter sleeping aid can help, and these antihistamines do not produce adverse interactions. Also, some people like to consume a small amount of alcoholic beverage to "smooth the jitteries". The usual precautions about sleeping aids if alcohol has been consumed apply of course.


LSD is not considered addictive by the medical community. Rapid tolerance build-up prevents regular use.


ADULTERANTS

Several problems are associated with street drugs: their unknown purity and their unknown strength. Because of its extreme cheapness and potency, the purity of LSD in blotter form is not an issue: either it's lsd or untreated paper.


BAD TRIPS

The pitfalls with LSD primarily occur when people resist facing the dark side of themselves, or letting go of their egos, or when they get into recursive negative thought loops, or when unpleasant things happen to them or when they want to come down before the experience is ready to end. As befits a true psychedelic, what is inside a person often comes out on LSD. However, while some people do keep Valium around to neutralize the effects of LSD in case things get uncomfortable, it usually seems best to just face what LSD helps reveal about oneself, and be prepared to be stimulated and altered for a good 8-12 hours. BTW, engaging in dancing or other enjoyable physical activity is often a wonderful way to spend a trip or to bring an uncomfortable one out of the doldrums.


A person on LSD who becomes depressed, agitated, or confused may experience these feelings in an overwhelming manner that grows on itself. The best solution is to remove disturbing influences, get to a safe, comforting environment, and reassure the tripper that things are alright. It may comfort those who fear that they are losing their minds to be reminded that it will end in several hours.


THINGS TO CONSIDER

Any danger are purely psychological hazards, not harmful to body. May release latent psychosis or exacerbate depression, leading to irrational behavior. Psychosis is almost always already obvious or within family history. There is also a danger of foolish or incautious behavior. For instance, misjudging distances. So take time to remind yourself to stay relaxed and think critically! Physical overdose is not a hazard, though one may easily ingest more than one may be able to handle psychologically. Start with a small dose; you won't be disappointed and its safer for your well being.


Lethal (toxic) doses of LSD are conservatively several tens of thousands of times as much as a normal dose, making it (in the toxic sense) one of the safest drugs known.


A simple explanation of LSD flashbacks, and of their changed character after 1967, is available. According to this theory, almost everybody suffers flashbacks with or without LSD. Any intense emotional experience--the death of a loved one, the moment of discovery that one is in love, or a narrow escape--may subsequently and unexpectedly return vividly to consciousness weeks or months later. Since the LSD trip is often an intense emotional experience, it is hardly surprising that it may similarly "flash back." They are typically quite rare.


No definitive explanation is currently available for these experiences. Any attempt at explanation must reflect several observations: first, over 70 percent of LSD users claim never to have "flashed back"; second, the phenomenon does appear linked with LSD use, though a causal connection has not been established; and third, a higher proportion of psychiatric patients report flashbacks than other users.


It is common to see 'tracers' for a few days after the trip.


MYTHS

LSD does not form "crystals" that reside in the body to be "dislodged" later, causing flashbacks. LSD is a crystalline solid (though it is unlikely that one would ever have enough to be visible to the naked eye) but it is easily water soluble, thus cannot form bodily deposits. Furthermore, it is metabolized and excreted in hours. LSD does not cause chromosome damage.


DRUG TESTING

No risk. Its not looked for, hard to find, and transient.