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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 Use of LSD in Psychotherapy and Alcoholism.

Abramson, Harold A. (Editor) (1967).
Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.


ISBN: none

Description: Hardcover, xxvi + 697 pages.

Contents: Introduction, Address: The Second International Conference on the Use of LSD in Psychotherapy and Alcoholism by Andre Rolo, Preface by Frank Fremont-Smith, Registered Participants, 36 unnumbered papers divided into 8 sections: 1.Cultural Pharmacology, 2. Psychopharmacology, 3. Psycholytic Psychotherapy, 4. Psychedelic Psychotherapy, with Special Reference to Alcoholism, 5. Probation Case Work, 6. Childhood Schizophrenia, 7. Effect on Religious Experience, 8. Mechanisms of Action in Man, reference by section and paper.

Note: The text is composed of the full versions of shortened papers which were presented at a conference held May 8th - 10th, 1965, at South Oaks Hospital in Amityville, NY.

Excerpt(s): On December 2, 1965, The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical publications in this country, published an editorial under the title, "LSD-A Dangerous Drug." This editorial ignored the entire body of published data, including the report published by the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation on the First International Conference on LSD, "The Use of LSD in Psychotherapy," in stating "...today there is no published evidence that further experimentation is likely to yield invaluable data." (Emphasis mine). Such unwarranted denigration is almost the ultimate expression of an anti-scientific attitude. ("Preface," Frank Fremont-Smith, p. xv)

The 18 categories listed below in Table 1 represent the composite experience of 74 subjects who had 100 to 200 mcg of LSD orally in a clinical setting without psychotherapy. This was obtained by having each subject, after he recovered from the drug, sort 300 cards, each containing different statements descriptive of the LSD experience, on the basis of how well the cards described the experience. The statements were culled from numerous accounts of the experience, and represented fairly completely the varieties given. These 300 items were then grouped into 18 categories, rank-ordered, so that the first are most highly descriptive of the experience.

TABLE 1
Categories Descriptive of LSD Experience
1. Euphoria, humor, relaxation 10. Unusual body sensations
2. Understanding, meaning 11. Somatic discomfort
3. Mystical sense of wonder 12. Hypnagogic Feelings
4. Aesthetic appreciation 13. Imagery
5. Empathy or human closeness 14. Depression
6. Unity or religious feelings 15. Delusional, paranoid
7. Alertness 16. Hostility, irritation
8. Perceptual distortion 17. Anxiety, fear
9. Thoughts, recollections 18. Hallucinations


As can be seen, there is a variety of moods, sensations and thoughts representative of the experience. The first category indicates that LSD is primarily a euphoriant, relaxing drug. The next five categories indicate that the drug produces feelings of greater understanding and awareness, deeper insights and enhanced aesthetic appreciation..This sense of increased understanding can be in the areas of self, of others, and of ideas, including philosophical, spiritual or religious ones. For example, one subject felt that after LSD he had "gained insight into the most important issues of existence as presented by the major world religions in their most esoteric aspect, and that listening to Bach's music he realized that Bach's secret of success was the application of this Highest Truth." Feelings of distortion of toxicity are also present in the LSD experience, but are less descriptive. Such feelings include perceptual distortions, unusual body sensations, dysphoria and depersonalization. Mood disturbances such as depression and anxiety occur, as well as thought disturbances such as delusions and paranoid feelings, but they too are less descriptive of the experience. It can be seen from the last category (18. Hallucinations) that calling these drugs "hallucinogens" would appear to be standing the truth on its head. ("Evaluating LSD as a Psychotherapeutic Agent," Keith S. Ditman and Joseph J. Bailey, page 76)

F. Transcendental experiences These include a number of not easily explainable experiences, such as floating in space, being in the presence of God, being at peace with everybody, being spiritually re-born. Many therapists believe that a transcendental experience a feeling that it is a good world and one is part of it is a curative experience in itself. They also believe that such an experience early in the treatment is a good prognostic sign.Others see it as just a sign of disappearance of ego-boundaries, an escape experience, especially in the dependent individual. ("Theoretical Aspects of LSD Therapy," John Buckman, pages 93-94)

For a period of time I was quite curious about the effect of the expectation of the therapist on the LSD productions. This was accentuated by the reports of the Jungians who fostered the "transcendental experience." However, in reviewing this phase of the problem, I perceived that my patients had their share of transcendental experiences were not a zenith, except momentarily. The rapturous narcissistic self-affirmation that evolved from these episodes might carry the individual through a couple of days or a couple of months. In all instances, they fitted into the total therapy as a jumping off place, a place at which the patient had divested himself momentarily of the previously self-paralyzing negations and experienced a positive if regressive self-image from which further motivation to grow was crystallized. ("Six Years Experience with LSD Therapy," Fred W. Langen, page 125)



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

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