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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

Psychiatry and Religious Experience.

Linn, Louis, and Schwarz, Leo W. (1958).
New York: Random House.

ISBN: None

Contents: Preface, 10 chapters, notes and bibliography, index.

Description: Hardcover, xii + 307 pages.

Note: These excerpts give a good idea of why the psychoanalytic and psychological communities of the 1950s and 1960s were unprepared to deal with psychedelics when they emerged in this period.

Excerpt(s): Although the circumstances in which the mystical state may arise are various, they all involve a retreat from reality, withdrawal from one's fellow men, and a sense of union with the ineffable Absolute. It is well known that there are many chemical substances capable of facilitating such withdrawal. Depending on the size of the dose, they partly or wholly cut consciousness off from reality and thus induce the mystical state in all or most of its typical features. And they are often employed for this purpose. Many accounts exist of religious ecstasies brought about by the use of chloroform, ether, nitrous oxide (laughing gas). A group of Indians of Christian faith living in the West conduct their religious ceremonies under the influence of a drug (peyotl or mescal) derived from a cactus plant. In the reverie induced by the drug they devote themselves to the contemplation of God. This clouding over of the mind, which appears to be a prerequisite of the mystical experience, may also be induced by isolation from other people, by fasting or self-inflicted physical hardship. It was in the desert, fasting, and praying, that the Hebrew prophets experienced their greatest mystical transports, as did many of the later Christian mystics. (pages 197-198)

Eating, sleeping, and sinking into the very substance of the loving mother are called by the psychoanalyst the "oral triad." The child at the mother's breast or in other feeding situations experiences a satisfaction amounting to ecstasy as his imperious demands for food are fulfilled. In the warmth and softness of the mother's bosom and arms the child acquires its first memory traces. And they are lasting. The experience of this infantile paradise, since it occurs before the child has learned to speak, will always seem to him inexpressible when he recalls it in later life and tries to put it into words. The "recollections" of absolute security and contentment, of inexpressible ecstasy, of union of a tiny self with a greater being which gave it life and could be depended on for protection and for the provision of its every want, are in fact "recollections" of the infant's feeding situation. And it is these "recollections" that charge the emotions of mystical experiences in later life. As for the intimations of immortality and glimpses into eternity of which the mystic speaks, they may also be a "recollection," namely of the child's awakening from contented sleep into the world of the ever present and loving mother. (page 201)

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