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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

Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered.

Grinspoon, Lester, and Bakalar, James B. (1997).
New York: The Lindesmith Center.

ISBN: 0-9641568-5-7

Description: paperback, xxvi + pages 3-385. A Drug Policy Classic Reprint from the Lindesmith Center.

Contents: The Lindesmith Center, preface to the 1997 edition, authors' preface to the original edition, acknowledgments, introduction to the 1997 edition, introduction to the original edition, 8 chapters, Appendix: The Legal Status of Psychedelic Drugs, bibliography to the 1997 authors' introduction, bibliography, annotated bibliography, index.

Note: When I am looking for reliable information on psychedelics, PDR is usually the first place I look. This edition reprints the splendid annotated bibliography from the earlier paperback edition, which is divided into chapters and topics within each chapter. Researchers on entheogens will particularly want to read the annotated entries on pages 370-371 and 375-376. Readers with a more historical and anthropological bent will want to read Chapter Two "Psychedelic Plants in Preindustrial Society," and its annotated references on pages 344-347. About 3 dozen new items are also listed since the original hard cover edition in 1979. Congratulations and thanks to The Lindesmith Center for making this book available. It is a deserving leader to the Drug Policy Reprint Series. TR

Excerpt(s): The Lindesmith Center, a project of the Open Society Institute, is a research institute dedicated to broadening the debate on drug policy and related issues. ... The center's guiding principle is harm reduction, an alternative approach to drug policy and treatment that aims to minimize the adverse effects of drug abuse and punitive drug prohibition. (page viii)

Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered is the first book to be republished as part of The Lindesmith Center's drug policy classics reprint series. Grinspoon and Bakalar wrote this book in the late 1970s, when the controversies of the 1960s seemed long past and when research on psychedelics had virtually ground to a halt. Their objective was principally intellectual: to record, synthesize, and reflect upon a rich history of scientific research and societal experience with psychedelics that was rapidly being forgotten. (page xiii)

Is this book dangerous? Perhaps, in its capacity to stimulate curiosity in a realm of drug use and personal exploration that is almost entirely illegal, and not without risks. but those who hope or fear to find in these pages a paean to psychedelic adventuring will be disappointed. Grinspoon and Bakalar have written a sober and comprehensive analysis of a complex subject that includes accounts of extraordinary pleasure, insight, and ecstasy, but also intense pain and fear. this book is most likely to be read by those who have tried psychedelics, and thus find themselves tempted by its title. but it is best read by those who have never tried these drugs, who worry about those who have used or might use these drugs, and who want to know the truth. (Ethan Nadelmann "Preface to the 1997 Edition," page xiii)

The therapeutic promise of psychedelic drugs is still unfulfilled, but new prospects have emerged. Therapists may be able to take renewed inspiration from the ancient traditions of religious psychedelic use always one of the places where spirituality and psychotherapy have converged. The use of peyote by North American Indians has been legitimized by the Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1994, which prohibits the passage of state laws banning the services of the Native American Church. In a recent study of the sacramental use of ayahuasca by Amazon Indians, researchers have found that like peyote, it serves as a treatment for alcoholism. Rick Doblin, the most zealous and effective advocate of continued psychedelic drug research, has reviewed the Good Friday experiment (described on pages 280-281) after twenty-five years and found that most of the men who took psilocybin still thought the experience had genuine mystical features. They believed that the positive changes they reported in the original study had persisted and sometimes deepened over the years, and they said the experience had enhanced their appreciation of life and deepened their commitment to a religious vocation. (pages xx-xxi)

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