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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

The Speed Culture: Amphetamine Use and Abuse in America.

Grinspoon, Lester, and Hedblom, Peter. (1975).
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

ISBN: 0-674-83192-6

Description: Hardcover, 340 pages.

Note: What great names for authors of a book on drugs!

Excerpt(s): Insightfulness and Religiosity/ Like LSD, amphetamines can produce a great expansion of the realm of "meaningful" or "significant." Ellinwood has observed a dose-related "sense of portentousness and significance," even in extreme amphetamine abusers who have not developed full-blown paranoid episodes. ... There was a strong emphasis on religion, particularly small or arcane cults, and astrology; many abusers have adapted traditional studies of the zodiac to fit private, complex, and incessantly discussed "systems." (page 108)

But an amphetamine-induced increase in suggestibility rarely leads to hypnotic or slavish adherence to the precepts of a "leader" or "code," because the impatience and self-confidence engendered by the drug prevent the formation of any long-term, hierarchical, subgroup stratifications. As Fiddle points out, conventional or systematically rigorous religion holds very little appeal for amphetamine abusers, because these stimulants so easily "give one aspect of the religious experience to the abuser, namely, intensity of feeling toward the sacred." This amphetamine-induced religiosity is characterized by a focus much more compelling, though more transient, than any "centering device" offered by most institutionalized sects or religions organizations. Furthermore, these philosophical, religious, and magical involvements or manias often degenerate-sometimes with amazing rapidity-into paranoid delusions, and eventually full-blown amphetamine psychoses , so stable group relationships are impossible to maintain. A reporter for The Village Voice noted that most drug cognoscenti recognize the vast difference between the religious value of amphetamine and that of LSD, mescaline, and other hallucinogens: "the Underground takes amphetamines seriously. Amphetamine heads are a distinct group, semi-quarantined and often regarded with apprehension by fellow hippies. Amphetamine is not a psychedelic drug like marijuana and LSD. The drugs seem to occupy opposite poles in the underground, in almost a Blakeian perspective of heaven and hell ... An amphetamine comedown is not compatible with the love-joy-ecstasy trip. (page 109)

Indeed, one of the major problems in evaluating the psychedelic experience is that for many- Huxley, Burroughs, and Ginsberg, for example-the experience was significant mainly because of what they themselves brought to it. Their exceptional literary styles have, in a sense, compounded the difficulty of assessing actual drug effects. On the other hand, perhaps no clinical report will ever say more than books like Huxley's Doors of Perception or Watts's The Joyous Cosmology, when it comes to conveying a full sense of what it is like to take drugs such as LSD and amphetamines. (page 110)

This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP

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