Thursday, May 22, 2008

Could an Acid Trip Cure Your OCD?


At a handful of sites across the country, after a four-decade hiatus, psychedelic research is undergoing a quiet renaissance, thanks to scientists like Charles Grob who are revisiting the powerful mind-altering drugs of the 1960s in hopes of making them part of our therapeutic arsenal. Hallucinogens such as psilocybin, MDMA (better known as Ecstasy), and the most controversial of them all, LSD, are being tested as treatments for maladies that modern medicine has done little to assuage, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, drug dependency, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cluster headaches, and the emotional suffering of people with a terminal illness.

Looks like they're dusting off the psychedelics again, and to good effect it would seem. By the early 1960's there were over a thousand studies of these substances, the vast majority showing promise for individuals with all sorts of psychological problems. Then some guy thought he was a bird and jumped off a building, the Manson family came along, (trivia: Sharon Tate and co. took LSD shortly before they were murdered by the Manson family.) the shriekage began in earnest and serious study of these substances was largely shelved. By the 1980's the followers of the Grateful Dead and Alexander Shulgin were some of the only people keeping psychedelic culture alive. Now after forty years of relatively widespread amateur research, the sci and psy folks are back in the game.

A couple things to note when reading this, especially those of you unfamiliar with psychedelics: First, although many of these substances discussed in this article are chemical cousins, their experience signatures are decidedly unique. Secondly, back in the day, the researchers usually experimented on themselves first. I'm not so sure they do this, or admit to it, these days. Rick Strassman, a University of New Mexico researcher who conducted groundbreaking studies of DMT, claims to have never taken it himself.

Below is an clip from the film Hofmann's Potion featuring the research conducted by Humphry Osmond, (who coined the term "psychedelic") Abram Hoffer and Duncan Blewett in Saskatchewan during the 1950s. These guys experimented on themselves. With a lot of substances.


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