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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

Mescal and the Mechanisms of Hallucination.

Klüver, Heinrich. (1966).
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

ISBN: none

Description: Hardcover, second printing, 1969. xviii +108 pages.

Contents: Preface with references, Part 1, Mescal: The 'Divine' Plant and Its Psychological Effects, Introduction by Macdonald Critchley, 4 sections, references; Part 2, Mechanisms of Hallucination, introduction, 3 sections, references; index.

Note: The first part was originally published in 1928 by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner in London. The second part was published in 1942 as a chapter in Studies in Personality, edited by Q. McNemar and M. A. Merrill, published by McGraw-Hill, New York.

Excerpt(s): Our discussion has been chiefly concerned with the formal characteristics of the sensory and perceptual phenomena in the mescal state. If we now recall the fact that some investigators speak even of a "mescal psychosis," it becomes apparent that we have neglected important aspects of the psychological picture produced by the drug. (page 51)

[The subject] has to accept the fact that objective events as well as ego-conditions are changed. But how is he to accept this fact? How is he to react intellectually and affectively to these changes produced by an alkaloid? But his "normal" modes of reaction are also changed: the question, therefore, reduces itself to a consideration of the various changes produced in "ego" and "world," in "subject" and "object" as well as in the subject-object relations. ...

Very often the subjective experience of "time" undergoes definite changes. There may be e.g. "no time" or "eternity" or "a large, empty hole." (pages 51-52)

A study of the Heidelberg records brings out the fact that euphoria is one of the typical mescal symptoms. In spite of marked nausea many subjects "have a good time" ... Some subjects refer to "cosmic consciousness" and to ecstatic states in which "our exclamations of joy become involuntary." A few records indicate that mescal may cause fear and "horrible depressions"; one of the subjects of Prentiss and Morgan felt "that his life was leaving him." ...

In using the term presque-vu-experience we intended to designate special forms of visual experience. Such experiences may become of central importance in the mescal psychosis. The subject feels e.g. that he is near grasping a "cosmic" truth, but that, unfortunately, he does not quite succeed. A subject seeing a fretwork design may identify "himself" or "everything" with the fretwork in the mescal state. ... The fact that one subject experiences a fretwork design as a phenomenon to be explained by certain findings in sensory psychology, and that another subject considers it not only of cosmic significance, but as the cosmos itself, is certainly an interesting contribution to the individual psychology of these subjects. ... We see on the one hand the individual with a critical Einstellung [attitude] who naturally or intentionally detaches himself from the phenomena, and on the other hand, the person who experiences or seeks to experience a unity of the world and I. (page 54)

In some individuals the "ivresse divine' [divine drunkenness] Rouhier speaks of is undoubtedly not very pleasurable; in fact, it is rather an "ivresse diabolique" [diabolical drunkenness]. But in either case it is true that the experiences in the mescal state are not easily forgotten. One looks "beyond the horizon" of the normal world, and this "beyond" is often so impressive or even shocking that its after-effects linger for years in one's memory. No wonder that some of the subjects are disinclined to repeat the experiment and go through experiences which distort the "normal" world. (page 55).

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