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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index


Hallucinogens: An Update.

Lin, Geraline C., and Glennon, Richard A. (1994).
Washington: National Institute of Drug Abuse.


ISBN: none

Description: Paperback original, NIDA Research Monograph 146, iv + 311 pages. NIH Publication No. 94-3872.

Contents: 15 chapters, NIDA Research Monograph Series information.

Contributors: George K. Aghajanian, Nathan M. Appel, Juan A. Ballesteros, Kevin Chen, Timothy K. Gallaher, Richard A. Glennon, Mark A. Geyer, Xuemei Huang, Peyton Jacob, III, Kirsten M. Krebs, Geraline C. Lin, Danuta Marona-Lewicka, David E. Nichols, Robert Oberlander, Robert C. Pfaff, Elaine Sanders-Bush, Jean C. Shih, Alexander T. Shulgin, Rick J. Strassman, Stephen Szára, Harel Weinstein, Richard B. Westkaemper, Jerrold C. Winter, Daqun Zhang.

Note: This monograph is based on the papers from a technical review on "Hallucinogens: An Update" held July 13-14, 1992. The review meeting was sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opinions expressed in this volume are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or official policy of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or any other part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (page ii)

Excerpt(s): After more than 20 years of deliberate legal neglect and constraints, it is time, especially in view of the current focus on the "Decade of the Brain," to recognize and emphasize the potentially immense heuristic value of these drugs in helping to explore the neurobiological bases of some fundamental dimensions of psychic functions. With this in mind, the author suggests changing the point of view or attitude of professionals and of the public by calling these drugs by a name other than hallucinogens, psychotomimetics, or psychedelics. ... It is for this reason (i.e., implying that it is not that drugs are in control, as it is usually assumed in a drug abuse context, but that the physicians and researchers are using them as tools) that the use of the term "psychoheuristic" is proposed. ... [meaning] "helping to discover" and "stimulating interest as a means of furthering investigation" into the mechanism(s) by which some of the unique psychological effects are produced by these drugs, and, beyond that, to serve as keys to unlock the mysteries of the brain/mind relationship. (pages 39-40)

Nevertheless [visual illusions] are sufficiently striking and sometimes spectacular, so that they have been of some interest to psychologists, and even to mathematicians. Some other unique characteristics might be the alteration of time perception, synesthesia, dehabituation, the extreme individual variability of many of their actions, the religious or mysticomimetic properties, and the so-called cultogenic effects. The reader can probably name a number of others. ... Thus, the author's recommendation is to use these drugs in a heuristic mode to explore the biological correlates and perhaps the mechanism(s) of the fundamental process that is frequently referred to by the psychoanalytic term of disturbance of "ego boundaries" or "oceanic feeling." This aspect has been emphasized especially by psychiatrists, among others. (pages 40-41)

Grof, who has perhaps more clinical research experience than anyone else in the world with LSD and other hallucinogens such as DPT, has concluded that the major psychedelics do not produce specific pharmacological states (i.e., toxic psychosis) but are unspecific amplifiers of mental processes. In other words, rather than producing effects that are specific for the drug, they activate mostly unconscious mental processes from various deep levels. These mental processes are specific for the personality of the individual. ... The common denominator he said [of transpersonal experiences], "in this rich and ramified group of phenomena is the feeling of the individual that his consciousness expanded beyond the usual ego boundaries and limitations of time and space." (Stephen Szára, Are Hallucinogens Psychoheuristic?, page 40)

Again, it should be emphasized that the present meeting was very timely. Certain philosophical issues such as terminology and explicit definition of the actions of classical hallucinogens remain undefined but, while important, have not detracted from other scientific studies. ... there was a consensus that there is an urgent need for new human testing. (page 300)

Legitimate human investigation with classical hallucinogens was severely curtailed about 25 years ago. During the ensuing period, a significant body of information has been accrued primarily on the basis of animal studies. Novel agents have been identified, mechanisms of action have been proposed, new animal models have been developed, and means to antagonize the effects of classical hallucinogens have been described. New clinical data are now required to challenge or validate the results of these studies. (Richard A. Glennon, Summary, page 301).

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