Recreational Drug Research

LSD, the miracle drug, part 1

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abdul Mati Klarwein

Part 1 of Chapter IV, from Psychedelic Library at

  LSD — The Problem-Solving Psychedelic

    P.G. Stafford and B.H. Golightly

        Chapter IV.   Everyday Problems (part 1) (part 2)

EVERY PERSON has everyday problems, just as every person has an everyday life, with mounds and hills of pleasure, and ruts and pitfalls of trouble.
    What are these "everyday" problems? They are usually related to any situation common to the human condition. Nail-biting; hostility toward one's family; awkwardness; an uncontrollable temper; timidity; lethargy; unpopularity—all are familiar and rather general manifestations of "everyday problems." Such manifestations, of course, can sometimes be cured with aspirin or mouthwash or some other product from the neighborhood drugstore. On the other hand, everyday problems can be seeds that grow into "serious" problems—marital or sexual dissatisfactions that daily worsen, drinking much more than "too much," for instance—problems which may send the sufferer to his minister begging for advice, or to the psychiatrist's couch, or to a hospital bed.
    LSD, that quixotic giant, has been of service here, too. The drug has found its way into countless "everyday lives" and has solved countless "everyday problems." The publications on LSD—both clinical and popular—abound with accounts of "small" lives that have been made larger, richer, smoother, as a result of the LSD experience. Many such endorsements have been given by those who would be terrified to take "drugs" (dope), and who will readily swear that they take no drugs (alcohol, tea, coffee and tobacco do not count) except upon the doctor's orders when they are "sick." "Sickness," therefore, has accounted for much of the first-hand information we have about everyday problem solving. Numerous medical practitioners as well as psychologists and psychoanalysts, have used LSD to help patients over various impasses. And, of course, there are thousands of private individuals who, through their own experiments, have found many of their problems dissolved. The reason for this is that LSD usually acts as a "true mirror," and in a large number of cases that true mirror is an inescapable one, revealing oneself to oneself with awesome and sometimes painful accuracy. Since most people are braver than they think themselves to be, they often profit significantly from this honesty.
    While there exist many independent and spontaneous accounts of such experiences, those bearing the "official" seal are unquestionably more creditable. For this reason, the individualistic, first-hand reports, which are often brilliantly stated and filled with sharp, persuasive detail, must bow out, or at least for the time being take a seat in the rear.
    Referring directly to one of the most authoritative works in the field, any number of applicable examples of everyday problem solving can be found in The Use of LSD in Psychotherapy.
[1] The case of one seriously disturbed child is cited in this work as having been effectively solved, or aided, through LSD therapy:

Dr. T. T. Peck.[2] The 5-year-old girl was a real behavior problem, completely rebellious about everything. Knowing her background, I couldn't blame her. We gave her about 40 mcg over a 1 and 1/2 hour period. and she became completely uninhibited. It was a typically schizophrenic reaction. Afterward, she was very happy. The only untoward reaction was a very slight tremor and an over-elation, to some extent. But, for 2 weeks, she was just a perfect child. Of course, she went back into the same environment and continued much the same pattern. But then we showed the parents where they were really planting the seeds of her difficulties in her. By changing the environment, we solved the problem.

    This example is deliberately cited, in spite of its negative aspects, to show that the drug is only as good as the subject is, and that a bad environment acts as a magnetic field and can draw back the best LSD recipient, unless the subject has maturity and/or some control over his circumstances. In this case at least some of the proper environmental corrections were made. Another account of a "problem child" had clearer, more patently satisfactory results, although the case was more expressly difficult:

Murphy:[3] One 8-year-old made a very good recovery. That was completed 3 years ago, and I hear from the family quite often. She had a long-standing extremely chronic, and extremely restive, character disorder. She was an enuretic child with deep sexual conflicts, whom I had had in unsuccessful psychotherapy for a year before she started LSD. I was getting absolutely nowhere with her. In treatment, she worked up to 300 mcg (of LSD) and took them regularly, once a week.

    Asked if the parents had had LSD too, Dr. Murphy replied that there was no father, and that although the mother had talked of taking the drug, she never did. However, the mother was a "very intelligent, cooperative, and resourceful person," and there was a "very thoroughgoing change in the child."
    Dr. Murphy went on to explain the child's satisfactory recovery:

Her enuresis, which had been with her every day for several years, stopped after the second session, a very violent one, in which she became disoriented and called continually for her mother. But then she went on to a great deal of characterological change. She had been a thoroughly dull and boring person, a narrowly moralistic, unimaginative child. She stank of urine most of the time. She was a "straight A" student in school. During treatment she changed so that everyone, relatives and friends, as well as her mother and herself, noticed it. It wasn't so much "spectacular" as it was profound and convincing. She was by no means free of problems, but became so free and creative and so much more outgoing and generous, that it was clear her behavior was springing from something spontaneous within herself.

    Passing for the moment from the reports on the clinical level to those from other qualified and serious investigators lacking medical/psychiatric credentials but highly respected, there is the case of "S," who was in the grips of an odd but troublesome behavior disorder concerning "spilled" liquids. This is recounted in The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience by R. E. L. Masters and Jean Houston.[4]
    Before "S"
[5] took LSD, he was by habit a rather sloppy person who kept his office in "a mess," was oblivious to clothes strewn about the house, dirty dishes and so forth. But one thing he could not abide was liquid spilled on any surface. Seeing such unsightliness threw him into unaccountable rage and set him immediately to cleaning it up.

    About an hour into his session, S was led into a dining room where he immediately noticed that some rather slimy looking soup had been spilled on the table top and left there, seemingly by accident. His initial reaction was the usual one, and at once he began to search for something with which he might wipe up the spilled soup. Finding nothing, he pulled out his handkerchief and debated whether he ought to use that. Then, however, he became aware that what he was experiencing was much less anger... than fear. He looked closely at the droplets and turned noticeably pale. Before his eyes, as he subsequently related, those few tiny drops began to expand, rise up, bubble and seethe, take on a "horribly slimy and gelatinous" appearance, and then surge like a miniature but rapidly growing tidal wave toward the edge of the table. At the same time, he recognized as a cause of his anxiety the fear not only that the room would be flooded with liquid but also that it would infect whatever it touched.... He leaped back in horror, wiped away the drops with his handkerchief, and appeared almost ready to faint. But then he approached the table again, picked up the soup bowl, and deliberately poured a good bit of its contents on the table top. He became increasingly calm and described to the guides the visual distortions he had perceived.
    S now was urged to "go deeper," to go down into the depths of his own psyche and try to find there some explanation for what he had seen. He fell silent for a minute, then spoke in a voice that sounded as if, in fact, it were coming up from the depths. The phenomenon he had just witnessed, S said, was one that occurred on a level below consciousness whenever he was confronted with spilled liquid. He could tap, from "some deep source," many memories of having repeatedly had such experiences before, although they never had emerged into consciousness.

    In working through this strange insight, S finally realized that the "viscous putrefaction so corrosive as to 'rot [anything] upon contact'... was 'bound up with... a wet, slimy and corrupt sexuality,' which simultaneously attracted and repelled, setting him in 'painful conflict with moral values.' "
    The LSD experience for S was like sailing in a glass-bottomed boat. As he continued to peer into the opaque depths, he discovered still other facets of himself that eventually led to his "recovery" and his saying—and his wife agreeing with him—that his relationships with his family were much better, "mainly as a result of 'the loosening of a rigid puritanism.' "
    This absorbing if small "everyday" problem is notable not only for the subject's keen perception, but because it is a prime example of an "everyday" problem—nothing disastrous but an unhappy condition that could, and did, create untold hours of anxiety for its owner. Just as a thorn in the heel torments the bear unable to communicate his trouble, so the inarticulate human being who has a small, out-of-the-way, but constantly troublesome problem can be made miserable by the most trifling of "thorns."
    The lonely widow is, in a way, luckier. At least she has a historical precedent, an accumulated warehouse of human sympathy to draw on, when she has lost her spouse and cannot accept her loss. Masters and Houston present the case of a widow who had turned to the bottle for solace shortly after her husband's death six years before. In consequence, she had lost her friends and herself, but adamantly remained maudlin and inconsolable over her loss of her husband.
    During her session she reminisced about her happy life before her husband died. He had been all things to her, and had protected her in every way. Though he had left her well provided for economically, she felt she had no emotional resources to live on and was too old to find any. Drink, and acting as custodian of mementoes from the past—her husband's clothing, his toothbrush and other possessions—were her only interests, aside from speaking of him as often as possible, almost as if he were alive.

    S brought with her to her session a pipe that had been her husband's favorite and which she often looked at and held when she wanted to feel especially close to him.... Finally, she closed her eyes and reported that the pipe was "getting warm—and then that she had the feeling of holding not the pipe but instead her husband's hand. She now experienced the first of many vivid memory sequences during which she "relived" with intense emotion a great many past events.... Her husband seemed "real as life" and she wept with joy at his "return from the grave."
    S then began to talk to her husband, telling him how much she had missed him since his death, how difficult life had been for her, and how their friends had abandoned her since she had started to drink. To the guide's inquiry, she explained that the sense of her husband's presence was "completely real" and that he listened "very seriously" to her discourse and sympathized with her plight, but managed nonetheless to convey the idea that he "didn't really approve" of the way she had been behaving. She fell silent, and finally reported that the pipe was only a pipe again, that it was growing cold, and the sense of her husband's presence was becoming very faint. Then, however, it returned once again—a presence so powerfully felt that she thought she could "reach out and touch him." She felt her husband smiled at her lovingly, conveying "whole worlds of encouragement and strength," then slowly turned his back and walked away. Then the sense of presence was extinguished and somehow she knew that he would "come no more." The pipe now was "cold and lifeless" in her hands and had "nothing more to do" with her husband.... "At long last," she said, he was "gone. Dead. Really dead. He has made me understand that and I have got to accept it. That is what he would want me to do. That is the meaning of what I just went through."

    S, from that time on, was gradually able to make adjustments, to "grow up, create a new life" for herself; and she discontinued her drinking immediately and did not revert to it.
    That environment is a stern dictator, co-ruling man's fate with chance, is clearly true in the case of another "victim" of himself, an amateur gambler who might more realistically be termed an amateur loser. The subject, a clerk in a small English bank, was deep in debt and in constant friction with his wife and children because he was a regular and compulsive gambler at the dog races. LSD and ritalin treatments, under direction of Drs. Ling and Buckman, were suggested when it became apparent that betting at the dog races was the dominant activity of his life. (This patient also had an immature dependency on his mother, a characteristic which did not help his marital situation. ) Even at the outset of treatment, however, he realized his own weaknesses to a certain extent and acknowledged that he really gambled in order to lose. He "obtained a strange satisfaction in the misery that followed losing, and the humiliations that followed on the financial crisis," as he himself put it after his second LSD-ritalin session.
    In time this man came to understand that he was not behaving like an adult in calling on his mother for emotional reassurance and that some of his problems were sexual. He was successful early in the series of his twelve sessions in giving up his deliberate losing at the races and, upon occasion, he won some money. His relationships with his family, including sexual relations with his wife, were markedly improved, and his trips to the dog races became infrequent. Still, although he was more content, in better financial condition and no longer in the grip of his compulsion, he found himself unable to settle down. At the end of the ninth session it was decided that he should take a rest from treatment for a time, to see what would happen.
    He did not have a genuine relapse, but again he got along badly with his wife and children, and he had to make a conscious effort to resist urges that he return to his former preoccupations. His wife, a pragmatic type of person, lost patience with him. Finally he went on a gambling spree, and afterward he felt "purged" because he had lost all his money. He also made a full confession to the bank that he had done this, as he had on a previous occasion when his employers had been paternally understanding about his difficulties. At that point he returned to treatment.
    By the end of the final session, the former gambler had a subtle but telling insight into his difficulties: he had not made the proper adjustment prior to his gambling spree because, having been relieved of his compulsions, he had found no interests or outside occupations to replace them. When he learned that he would have to "learn to live without it" (gambling), he then settled down to doing so, and quite successfully. Six months after dismissal he was still living a satisfactory life, free from his previous problems.
    Had this man not been capable of learning to live without his destructive and immature preoccupation, his story might not have had its successful conclusion. All too often "relapses" occur when the individual, freed from his problems, feels not his loss so much as he does an inner void. Failure to find a constructive substitute, or to "fill in the hole," may engender a state of anxiety and be as detrimental as returning to the same environment, unchanged in atmosphere or reality; and makes full non-backsliding recovery virtually impossible.
    Even more vivid than the gambler's case is this solution of a "life problem," presented by Dr. Donald D. Jackson at an LSD symposium held at Napa State Hospital, Imola, California:

The patient was a 35-year-old accountant who had been in intensive psychotherapy for five years because of chronic depression and crippling obsessive traits. He had had a brief psychotic reaction and had made an abortive attempt at self-castration. His oldest sister was a semi-invalid; he was placed in a position of great responsibility for her; yet he had always to be deferential and to accept continuous criticism. He had no pleasant experiences of adolescence, and no dating. At the beginning of therapy he complained of intense loneliness. Both patient and therapist were frustrated by his meager progress. His solid intellectual defenses were refractory to interpretation. Occasionally he made efforts to improve his isolated social position; each time he neatly sabotaged the effort.

    The patient was given 100 mcg. of LSD at this point. Although he was eased somewhat, he was still blocked and the doctor was unable to instigate any fantasy on the part of the patient that might point toward the cause.
    Upon speculating about the kind of fantasy a boy might entertain about a father he had hated, the doctor finally produced an image that suited the patient. He suggested that if the patient—

    —reverentially mowed the grass over his father's grave, and if each passage of the blades over his father's grave cut a little deeper, there might be a gradual diminution, or shearing off of the parental authority, a trimming of the father imago. I shared this fantasy with the patient and suggested that he might well have had such a one. The effect was electric. He exploded with laughter. The feelings and fantasies about father came pouring out, as though Moses had smote the rock. For the balance of the afternoon we reveled in an exchange of fantasies about his father.
    From that day he was a changed man. Previously he had been a Milquetoast at work, whom everyone pushed around. Now he became self-assertive and positive. He no longer let advantage be taken of him. He was poised and comfortable. It occurred to him he might do better working by himself. During the next LSD session (150 micrograms) he was able to continue the work of the preceding session. With the dread father laid to rest, he could relive his adolescent days with the therapist, not as they had been, but as they might have been. He expressed for the first time the desire for a girl. In the month following, astounding changes developed. He developed a sense of humor; he became efficient; he began to date; he made plans to leave his job and set up his own business, and this he actually accomplished. He enjoyed dating and experienced intense sexual feelings. In therapy he expressed the desire for marriage and children. He struck up a friendship with another man, with whom he discussed topics formerly tabu: sex and women.
    Following LSD he began to have intense dreams, sometimes pleasurable, often in color, which he had not had before.
    In seventeen (now nineteen) years of practicing psychotherapy, I have never seen as much change in an individual with a rigid obsessional character. The change has been permanent. While it has leveled off, there has been no backsliding since our first Encounter using LSD.

    One of the reasons why LSD had met with limited public acceptance—aside from the adverse publicity it has received and the fact that the drug is acknowledged even by enthusiasts to be fraught with considerable-dangers unless expertly used—is that today the public, in general, is quite accustomed to claims made for "miracle" cures. Every unusual advance is suspect to the majority which, with some amusement, sits by and watches hopeful converts practice Spectro-chrome Therapy, Dianetics, Grapho-Therapeutics or whatever else is in vogue that season.
    This is not at all surprising. Well-attested claims for cures burgeon for almost every remedy ever recommended, and cure claims for primitive and unusual nostrums will probably always have a following. (Some of them, oddly enough, have even proved to have scientific validity. )
    But prior to Hofmann's accidental discovery of LSD, there was never any miracle cure that claimed revolutionary benefits in the alleviation of mankind's mental and emotional imbalances. Not until LSD has there been a therapy, a drug or any other problem-solving means that reached so many different levels.
    The nineteenth-century medicine show and its medicine man must have given hope and therefore aid, as well as entertainment, to the audiences which bought patent medicines. The purveyors were not all charlatans, whether or not they had personal faith in, or experience with, the product they peddled. The claims they made for their goods always had any number of honest adherents to back them up. The endorsers believed that the medicine did them good, and quite often it did, if only because they thought it would.
    To ignore the power of suggestion, with or without drugs, is perhaps to become fallacious. Even scrupulous investigators who would like to think of themselves as unprejudiced are constantly being surprised by unacknowledged errors. This is why most seasoned researchers accept all findings with caution and attempt rigorous self-examination to rout out their hidden biases.
    Some reports made by members of the Josiah Macy Foundation's LSD conference, relating to experiments made with LSD and placebos, revealed how great the powers of suggestion can be:

Abramson: "I have also seen rather violent reactions when tap water was administered. One subject became so upset from a tap water 'dose' of zero LSD administered in the morning that I had to be with him until 11 o'clock that night, and he was upset for a week thereafter. One young girl became paralyzed in both legs after tap water. Possibly the more violent reactions are due more to the underlying personality than to the drug itself."

    Dr. Abramson was asked if the placebo subjects were integrated with the group which had actually received the drug; the answer was in the affirmative. He went on to say that extreme reactions on the part of the tap-water subjects invariably occurred in a group setting and were typical. Another member of the conference, Dr. Betty G. Eisner, related that one of her placebo patients in an experiment had had a violent skin reaction that persisted for some months later. And Dr. Keith S. Ditman spoke of an unusual situation that came up in his work:

One of our subjects showed a reaction indicating he did not believe the physician had given him LSD. This is a reverse situation; that is, the drug reaction was affected by the knowledge that placebos were sometimes given.

    This rather startling incident would seem to indicate that if there is one thing that is superior to LSD in its power to alter the human psyche, it is the human psyche itself! There are few cases on record, however, of the subject's successfully resisting LSD. Indeed, most people who take the drug do so because they want to, or are advised to. Most LSD subjects look forward to the prismatic, climactic, revealing experience which LSD promises and usually fulfills. They are prepared to be persuaded.
    In the matter of marital relations or sexual experience while under LSD, the elements of extrasensory perception and suggestion play a crucial part. If the drug is taken in an impersonal group setting, or with a guide whose interest in the subject is purely clinical, sexual arousal seldom occurs. LSD is not a "sex drug," although in sexual matters it can act as a strong stimulus if the setting and the people involved have sexual participation in mind. LSD can influence every area of human activity, and when sex and LSD do converge, the experience is said to be indescribably ecstatic.

Marital Problems:

    As novelists, psychologists, and sociologists continue to observe, people today generally do not have good relationships with each other—relationships that are healthy, joyous and open. Nor are many modern marriages sound. Marriage may begin with a great deal that favors success and yet there is an appalling rate at which the relationship deteriorates.
    Rates of divorce, annulment and separation are almost at a par with marriage figures, and in countless situations a married couple only remains together for "the children," or for "old time's sake." In our society, loneliness, alienation and incompatibility are increasingly familiar conditions.
    One of the most revealing studies made of marital mores and attitudes—a survey of 624 housewives who had been married for an average of ten years—was reported by Marya Mannes in The New York Times, November 15, 1965. Most of these women thought of themselves first as "a mother," then as "a wife." Asked about the role of the man in the family, some 63 per cent thought of him primarily as "a breadwinner" (only 14 per cent considered him first of all "a husband"). Despite this emphasis on the "breadwinner" aspect, however, "most of the wives felt that their husbands' work was something entirely outside of their lives, and they commented on it only in terms such as 'My husband is a good provider' or 'He has a good job.' " As an explanation of the remarkable "evasive tactics" engaged in by husbands in our society—television, the papers, long working-hours, golf, drink, "outside sex," girlie magazines, Marya Mannes says:

Throughout their responses, the conclusion was inescapable that the wives cared far more about what their husbands did than about what they were, as persons. About one-third of the women not only put their own role as mothers first, but indicated that the husband was essentially outside the basic family unit of herself and her children.

    In such a situation, LSD has a remarkable ability to help people overcome problems of alienation. Sometimes this comes about simply from bettering sexual relations:

Before I started taking LSD, I had all but lost interest in sex. As you know, I'm married—have been for three years—but it hasn't turned out too well. To be frank, it hasn't worked at all, not even in the beginning when we were still very much in love.[6]

    This husband then goes on to say that after experiencing LSD he went to bed with his wife and found "It was like discovering her all over again. Her body, and I know it as well as I know my own, suddenly became new and fresh and exciting. Imagine all that... and I was barely speaking to her a month ago."
    In certain popular magazines, LSD has been presented as a powerful sex drug. To a greater extent than with presumed "sex drugs," which are not really effective, the claims are justified, for experiments are repeatable and LSD's sexual reputation is deserved. This is not to say that it is in any way an aphrodisiac, but since LSD heightens all sensory perceptions, it follows quite logically that, used during sexual activity, fresh sexual values are garnered.
    Since sex, even in an age of enlightenment, is still a veiled subject, few serious investigators have publicly revealed the value of LSD in melding sexual relations, the cornerstone of any good marriage. An established authority on sexual behavior recently decided against the publication of a paper he had written on the sexual aspects of psychedelic experience—on the grounds that such publication might jeopardize his career. Such attitudes have left honest reporting of what occurs when LSD is introduced into the sexual experience to the maverick writer, or the reckless.
    When the LSD session is directed toward problem solving in the psycho-sexual area, the drug can help to uncover one's "essential self," and may transform the image of a loved one from a person fallen from favor due to his nagging and irritating traits, to someone far more human and attractive. The drug is able to change the pessimist, who sees nothing but the half empty glass, into an optimist delighted that the glass is half full. This value rearrangement, shifting from being petty and faultfinding, to being impressed by the fundamental unity of life, is an opening to maturity.
    In April, 1963, novelist Alan Harrington was getting along rather badly with his wife. They were "frequently at odds, and just not connecting," at the time when he had his first LSD experience. As he wrote later, "I know that the vision revealed by psycho-chemicals can help overcome feelings of alienation and loneliness":

    [In] the next few hours... I loved and desperately wanted my wife. This was a surprise to everyone, including ourselves, because as I said we had been through a bad time together. But under LSD it is impossible to fake anything: she was my connection with life.
    Someone commented later: "Well, what's so surprising about two people who have been together for twelve years having a bond between them?"
    Nothing, I suppose, except that the bond can be buried in the details of everyday living; it can be forgotten; the bond can be taken for granted and become boring if you let it, but just the same over the years it may still be the main cable attaching you to life. During the parts of the LSD torment when an ego is being shredded, you know who your friends are.

    LSD seems to strip away ordinarily superficial motivations and interests. Under the influence of this drug, material accumulations come to mean very little; of importance are relationships that are honest and meaningful, and the ability of the senses to derive the most from experience.
    The drug is able to effect these alterations in thought process because it short-circuits old techniques for self-deception. During the LSD experience, the subject loses his accustomed habits of thinking and feeling (much of the literature refers to this as "depersonalization"), and goes "outside" of himself, away from the old grooves of normal defenses. From this new perspective, he sees through the ways in which he avoids intimacy and spontaneity, participation and openness—what may lead to being "an utter fake," and what Eric Berne has discussed in terms of "evasions" in his book Games People Play. There is a grim reality and embarrassing humor to such "games" as Harried, Kick Me, Stupid, Wooden Leg, Rapo, Look How Hard I Am Trying, Sweetheart, and Uproar (to name a few on Berne's list).
    LSD has very little patience with fraudulent defenses or with artificial environments or with status, and it rips away the facade that keeps us from understanding how preoccupied we may have become with the trivial. The drug also seems to shorten the gaps between events that are, or prove to be, meaningful, and thus it forestalls deliberate "forgetfulness," or blockage. In consequence, a more realistic appraisal of oneself and one's behavior patterns seems possible. A 49-year-old married man explained it this way after having undergone a series of LSD treatments at Marlborough Day Hospital in London:

I am able to talk to my wife more freely and frankly than I ever used to be. I am not so afraid of saying what I really think even if I know she will not agree. Apart from the restoration of intercourse we really get on much better than before. That is because there was a time, which was very difficult while it lasted but which has borne fruit, when we were both quite open in our talking about the breach that had come between us. When one pretends that all is well and is afraid of speaking about how one really feels there is no hope that things will get any better. When, as happened in our case, one has the courage to be honest then there is a very good chance that all will be well.

    An improved grasp of the problem does not guarantee, of course, that a couple will be brought closer together. Often an attraction is little more than a matter of both partners having needs which may be somewhat satisfied through living together. There are many persons who are living with partners they do not really like, or who are continuing a relationship just to be continuing something. Under the influence of LSD, such situations can become very clear; it may emerge that the alliance is essentially sick, or at best unsatisfactory. Many an LSD user has claimed to realize that, for him, the time has come to "move on" and that the "marital game has ended." A few, aware of the uprooting effect in their life arrangement, have stopped LSD sessions because, as one woman put it, "I just can't permit that much honesty in my life."
    Although risks like learning more than one cares to know do exist, the "advice" given by LSD is for the most part benevolent. Instead of encouraging disparagement of a mate for shortcomings, as may result from greater intellectual clarity, the drug generally activates emotional tolerance, if not empathy, and highlights hidden or forgotten attractive qualities.
    In one of Masters' and Houston's sessions where this development occurred, a man in his early thirties, while looking in a mirror, saw an image of himself as the source of great circular loops of neon that entirely surrounded him. Hundreds of thousands of such "loops" appeared. He felt they were made up of all of his self-attachments and pertained to every point of his life:

"... memory loops, love loops, hate loops, eating loops, mental block loops." Upon re-entering the living room he saw his wife and immediately became absorbed in studying her since she, too, appeared to him to be surrounded by her loops. He had always thought of her as being "a rather simple person" and was "altogether amazed to discover that she is every bit as complicated as I am."

    Afterwards the subject felt that he had been able to recapture a view of his wife that he had held at the time of their marriage and that he understood her better. Similarly, through the "loops" important things about the characters of other people seemed to be revealed to him.
    Reports of successful marital adjustments with LSD increasingly give evidence of restored appreciation for the partner and the partnership. It seems not unreasonable, therefore, that one day LSD may be regarded as a strong asset to marriage counselors. As a forerunner of this possibility, Dr. Richard Alpert, an expert on psychedelics, has included in his book, LSD, co-authored by Dr. Sidney Cohen, a section entitled "A Manual for Making the Marriage New."
    Along these lines, others have suggested that, in the future, LSD sessions might include the play-back of previously taped events, specifically a family quarrel. Some of the precipitating factors might dissolve into trivia under the light of fresh insight.

Frigidity, Impotence, Homosexuality and Perversion.

    In 1962, when screen-writer, novelist-actress "Constance Newland" (a pseudonym) published her book, My Self and I, frigidity in women was an accepted, but relatively unexplored, problem. At the same time, LSD was an enigmatic drug, also relatively unexplored. Since My Self and I appeared, joining the two topics in major context, LSD and the cure of frigidity have been linked in the public mind.
    In My Self and I, the author explains that for a number of years she had been undergoing psychotherapy, without progress, for several problems, chief of which was frigidity. Regarding this, she was perfectly prepared to live with it, because:

I knew from friends (and from Dr. Kinsey, who reports that approximately one third of American women suffer similarly) that frigidity among women is almost as prevalent as the common cold—and just about as incurable.

    Even so, she was a healthy, functioning member of society. As Dr. Harold Greenwald says in his foreword to the book, "To me it seems quite clear that most people meeting her even before her experience in self-discovery would probably have considered her well balanced, adjusted or emotionally mature."
    However gracefully she was able to accept her disorder, Constance Newland was agreeable when LSD was suggested as an aid for her basic problem, frigidity. She found the results of her twenty-three sessions with the drug so rewarding that she felt obliged to publicly share her achievements with others.
    Constance Newland's husband had died just after her second child was born, and her feeling of emptiness, which she had thought could only be filled with her career, was to be expected. That her career failed to gratify her emotional needs was also to be expected. Her long, detailed account, with pronounced Freudian overtones, shows the two predominant effects of LSD when used to treat sexual repressions. First, the drug is incisive in that it brings to the patient a conscious image of his condition. Second, it returns him to childhood memories and events, which he relives, thus enabling him to come to new terms with them and to slough them off selectively.
    In her first session, Constance Newland had several clear indications of her frigidity. Almost at once she felt cold and her teeth chattered as her body trembled. She felt herself sucked down to the bottom of a dark ocean, alone on the ocean floor, a closed-up clam. Then she saw a "white marble statue of a nude woman with two gaping holes where her breasts should be." This she recognized as a statue, which had actually been erected after the second world war, in the center of a German city, christened, "The City Without a Heart."
    In later sessions indications of her frigidity were again revealed, but in other images: she saw herself on one occasion as a fragile glass vase, about to break. Then it occurred to her that she thought of herself as being "Inviolate," and that it was no accident that "violet" was her favorite color and that she often dressed in it.
    The second major effect of the drug was to return her to repressed traumatic incidents of childhood from which she had never been emotionally released. Re-living these experiences, with all their original pain, she was freed from the sexual blockage which had made her frigid:

As a baby, I had seen the act of intercourse which looked to be an act of violence in which father "choked" mother. That scene had so alarmed and sickened me that, as a protection, I had determined "never to feel anything so that I would not be hurt."

At long long last, I had uncovered the classic Freudian "trauma" responsible for my sexual difficulty: one too-strong, too-hot enema, received when I was two and a half years old. It was preposterous. But undeniable.... My ego would have been able to manage a too-strong enema with the "utmost ease" had it occurred later in life. But at the age of two and a half, my ego was "helpless" and could only fend off the problem—by repression, which later turned out to be ineffective and involved the "permanent hindrance to further development''—of frigidity....

    Thus LSD took Constance Newland to the base of her problem and released her from her deep-seated fears. Much to her amazement, she discovered that there is indeed an "unconscious" and that her own had unknowingly served her as an emotional catch-all. Because so much that was buried there was repellent to her, she had rejected the concept of the unconscious. But as her LSD treatment gradually opened mental and emotional horizons for her conscious inspection, she recognized the unpleasant elements for what they were, deflated them and dismissed them from her life. With their disappearance went the desperate emptiness which her unconscious symptoms had brought about—the unrealistic quest for something to fill the void within her. As a result of her thorough and courageous exploration of self, she gained understanding, adjustment and cure. As she says, "My life has new savor, new meaning—and new mystery."
    Life is repetitive in its processes and similar results were achieved in sixteen other cases of frigidity treated by Drs. Thomas A. Ling and John Buckman of Marlborough Day Hospital in London. They report the case of a twenty-six-year-old Indian girl, for example, who feared she could never marry or have sexual relations, although she consciously wanted to. After treatment with LSD and Ritalin, she uncovered early memories which she came to understand were the sources of her adult sexual fears. Re-experiencing birth, she felt she had been "created for creation."

This to me was orgasm and this joy was what I ought to look for ... This was also unity with the "absolute."... I had my first practical lesson in how to have and enjoy intercourse. I learnt to lie back relaxed and offer myself....

    As a result of therapy, her tensions disappeared and she gained emotional freedom. At the time the account was written up, she was maintaining a successful relationship and was "able to get full satisfaction out of sexual intercourse and always achieved full orgasm."
    Another interesting LSD treatment by these doctors, as reported in the Psychedelic Review, was that of a married woman who had never obtained satisfaction from sex and reacted to it with distaste. It was soon discovered that because she had had a "baby love affair" with her father, who nonetheless had no affection for her, she had rejected all sexuality. In her third session she wanted to remember her first awareness of sexual feeling, and returned to infancy:

I was a tiny baby about six months old, lying on my back with my legs in the air, with no clothes on and my father was looking at me. He was looking at my private parts and I expected him to react in an approving way, but he did not. It was a shattering blow to my self-esteem. I felt that here was the very essence of my femaleness and the one male I most wanted to show approval did not do so.

    Following this insightful LSD experience, the patient felt "enormously released." She found that she began to enjoy male relationships which previously had resulted in feelings of shame and which afterwards she preferred not to think about. After treatment she "felt a wonderful outpouring of love" and wanted to have a second child, though previously she had thought another pregnancy would be "disastrous." In later sessions she summoned other childhood sexual detail that made even further progress possible, and at the close of treatment she had her first full internal orgasm during intercourse. Six months later she reported to her doctors:

I am completely free of all the feelings of distaste and guilt that I had, and am able to enjoy [sex] in a "down to earth" and healthy way. I know my husband finds me much better company and I have a much more positive approach to him and life in general, and I have much more patience with my children.

    It is true that in many cases of frigidity women have sublimated their sexual drives by turning to careers, and the indications are that such women seek treatment only when the career (or other substitute) becomes disrupted or unsuccessful. One of the reasons frigidity has been virtually untreatable in the past is that the sufferer could retain her sex substitute and persuade herself that it was "fulfilling." LSD, however, reaches to the bottom of the disorder and the subject cannot take refuge from the truth she finds, whether her career is "fulfilling" or not.
    Recognition of the problem is an important first step, but this in itself solves nothing. In frigidity cases, LSD seems to first define the problem, then dissolve it, thus freeing the patient to make a suitable adjustment.
    The history of LSD is marked by important accidental discoveries. The first, of course, was the unexpected and stunning discovery of the powers of the drug itself. It was then only by chance that two investigators happened upon LSD's usefulness in the treatment of chronic alcoholism. Another discovery several years later was made when a few researchers noticed that the drug enhanced the evocation of "religious" or "mystical" experience. Still others, looking for a new pain-killer, found that LSD could help the terminal patient to a greater serenity in acceptance of death. And much to the surprise of many homosexuals who had been given the drug for other disorders, LSD coincidentally was found to help their homosexual adjustment as well. This is evidenced again and again (almost as an aside) in case histories dealing primarily with other matters, but to date such information has remained obscure and has seldom drawn comment.
    Individual clinicians, however, have reported improvement in homosexual adjustments—almost as a by-product of other treatment. Homosexual alcoholics, for example, have not only been able to solve their alcohol problems as a result of using LSD, but have resolved sexual guilt to the point where they could accept their homosexuality without shame or overemphasis of its importance to their lives, or they have become more involved in heterosexual behavior. Dr. Ruth Fox and Dr. Jack Ward are two experts on alcoholism who have had several such cases in which homosexual symptoms have disappeared or been alleviated, although specific treatment was not intended for this condition. Non-clinical investigators have also noted this result. Masters and Houston, in giving LSD to college-educated subjects simply to study their reactions—with no intention of "curing" anything—reported a number of subjects in whom there was a change in homosexual behavior patterns:

    Like most (twelve out of fourteen) of the limited number of overt male homosexuals who have been psychedelic volunteers, there is to be found here a distorted body image.... Certainly, the normalizing of the distorted body image produced a marked trend towards heterosexualization.... In the streets, he consistently saw what he had "never seen before": He noticed the "beasts and bottoms" of women and found them attractive. This was a source of much astonishment to him, since before he always had passed women by without seeing them at all, or noticing them only as if they were objects, "like lampposts or fire hydrants."
    ... all of the homosexual subjects have had a rather passive demeanor.... A frequent post-session effect is then a heightened aggressiveness, an impression of greater self-confidence and probably better self-esteem, with a noticeable deepening of the voice in some cases. Also, gestures may become more vigorous, posture more erect, and movements generally more decisive and, in some cases, more "masculine."

    Coincidental homosexuality adjustments have occurred with sufficient frequency that at lectures and conferences on LSD, the question has been raised as to why LSD has not been put to direct use more often for treating the condition. The answer lies in the fact that so far there has been no systematic attempt to measure the significance of LSD in this specific treatment.
    It would appear, however, that LSD is successful in homosexual problems because it can reveal early traumas which underlie the condition. Further, it can bring about, through insight, a lessening of morbid dependency on parents. As mentioned in the foregoing quotation, it can alter an individual's inappropriate and/or pejorative total self image and lead to self acceptance.
    There are many therapists who believe that it is not possible to work through problems of a sexual nature, whether they be narcissism, over-dependency, blockage or a variety of perversions, without abreaction—that is, the patient must first return to the early periods of his life when his attitudes and values were originally damaged and the construction of "mental dams" was begun. In conventional psychotherapy, which consists mainly of "talking it out," some part of the dam usually remains. This is why "dynamiting" it with Psychodrama, Marathons, and Vegetotherapy and other methods based on "shock reactions" have a growing appeal. But compared to these methods, the potentials in LSD therapy seem vastly superior.
    Several techniques have been developed for combining certain shock processes with LSD. One far-sighted team of English doctors reported on their system (used in sixty cases over the last three years) at the Second International Conference on the Use of LSD in Psychotherapy at Amityville, Long Island. They had an impressive number of successful cases to their credit, with only two treatment failures and one relapse.
    An example of their treatment, as applied to homosexuality, was presented by Dr. Joyce Martin, Senior Hospital Medical Officer at Marlborough Day Hospital, and indicates the delicacy, patience, and discernment required on the part of the therapist:

    ... active participation of the therapist is needed, since the drug regresses the patients to the earliest experiences so dynamically that they literally feel as a baby and are unable to cope or fend for themselves; but this is no longer frightening if their present mother, that is the therapist, is warm and understanding and can supply their needs at that level in some practical way, such as giving warm milk, holding their hand or putting an arm round them, and also talking to them at a conscious level, since consciousness is always maintained in the treatment, and reassuring them that it is good and normal to want these things, which all babies need and want, but do not always get.
    ... we can enable him to face up to all the painful factors in his life and upbringing, which originally the ego was not strong enough to accept; but now with the transference to the therapist, these things can be accepted. And it is, in fact, the therapist's job to point them out, so that they are accepted, however unpleasant, which is possible when the therapist, unlike mother, does not criticize or reject.
    Freud maintained that, in certain types of neuroses, called the narcissistic neuroses, the transference relationship did not develop. This made psychoanalytic treatment very difficult and lengthy, and was the cause of much criticism. We have, however, had many narcissistic neuroses to deal with under LSD, and find that, if we know the right role to play, then they gradually respond and develop a transference, develop and integrate. For example, a man of forty-nine, obsessional schizoid, suffering from extreme sexual frustration causing tenseness, irritability, inability to communicate with others and depression, was eventually able, through the right attitude of the therapist, to communicate freely with her and eventually to have sexual feelings and show his penis to her, which was the first time in his life that he had done such a thing, but he felt pleased and not ashamed of it...
    The... case I wish to describe... is that-of a man of twenty-five, a dentist.... His father died when the patient was one or two years old....
    He remembered having a bicycle accident at 12 years of age and being treated in a hospital and then having to stay in bed at home. He felt something horrible and frightening had happened to him during this time.... The therapist had an intuitive feeling that there had been some sexual incident, and so she lay beside him. He remembered feeling cold and miserable after the accident and asking mother if he could get into her bed, which he did. She offered him her breast and later put her hand on his genitals. The therapist-intentionally put her hand on his thigh and the patient said he felt a weight on top of him, which she interpreted as someone lying on him, so she got on top of him. This then brought back the memory that his mother had sucked his penis and made it erect and then pushed it into her vagina. He said he felt like a horse being ridden by a cowboy and that his mother was very masculine.
    Later... he went through an extremely suicidal depression. He sat in front of the fire holding out his handkerchief and saying that he saw patterns of a tombstone on it and this was his tombstone. He then remembered feeling mad after the incident with his mother; and when she left him to go off to work, he crawled back to his own bed and masturbated for the first time. The whole horror of the experience came over him and he tried to forget it. He then began to see his mother as wicked and evil and ugly and he determined never to let her touch him again. He locked his door at night and hardly spoke to her for weeks. Eventually the whole incident became repressed and he never looked at her or touched her again.
    The suicidal depression continued for some time, and the patient would drive his car at 60 miles an hour up one-way streets, etc. He projected his hate against his mother on to the therapist at times, seeing her as ugly and evil, but with her interpretation about it he was able to accept that it was only his feelings about his mother, and he continued to come for treatment.
    His next memory was of having been picked up by an older boy in the park, when he was fourteen years old, and allowing the boy to touch his penis and later seduce him, which he admitted enjoying and said it made him feel like a woman. Later on, he also had successful sexual relations with virgins, and realized that he was getting his own back on his mother in doing this, but that he did not have such a good orgasm as when playing the female role. He now remembered doing this with his brother.
    The transference to the therapist was now fully developed and therefore, in order to get him out of the homosexual stage of development, she praised a mutual acquaintance as being a fine virile man, and this made the patient very jealous, so that the next week he told her that he had made two conquests with virgins during the week. He then asked the therapist to lie on the bed with him, which she did, and he put his arms across her shoulders and said he felt merged with her as one person and they were going into a tunnel together, which was identification with his mother. Later on, he said he didn't want to be a woman any more, as he felt she wanted him to be a man, and she agreed she did want this, since he had been born a boy. He said his aim now was to become a man and possess her.

    The insights which some homosexuals have had from LSD therapy have enabled them to marry happily, adjust to an existing marriage, or decide that they are essentially homosexual and want to stay that way. Other patients who feared homosexuality and had decided to have no sexual relations at all have found the courage to experiment, and some are leading fulfilling heterosexual lives.
    Since the causes of homosexuality are diffuse and not well understood, a continuance of homosexuality after LSD is not necessarily a treatment failure and should not be thought of as relapse. It may represent the establishment of a positive nature of the self.
    As a group of Canadian psychotherapists put it,... "many [homosexuals] have derived marked benefit in terms of insight, acceptance of role, reduction of guilt and associated psychosexual liabilities." This is an estimable development, for as Eric Berne points out in his book about symbolic game-playing, an understanding of the sundry homosexual dodges and reassuring apologies indulged in by insecure homosexuals can lead to a more highly integrated life:

[In] "Cops and Robbers," "Why Does This Always Happen to Us," "It's the Society We Live In," "All Great Men Were" and so forth, the "professional homosexual" wastes a large amount of time and energy which could be applied to other ends. Analysis of his games may help him establish a quiet menage which will leave him free to enjoy the benefits that bourgeois society offers, instead of devoting himself to playing his own variation of "Ain't It Awful"

    Because homosexuality has been considered an endemic and deep-rooted condition since times of antiquity, hopes for its alleviation, until very recent times, have been faint. But lately, since other resistant mental aberrations have been overcome by new methods, somewhat drastic treatments are being used and advocated for the homosexual in some quarters. In one current technique the homosexual patient is shown a picture of an attractive male and is simultaneously given an electric shock. Such a method, perhaps of some use, nevertheless may have deleterious effects—which is why most thoughtful therapists are opposed to such "reconditioning."
    Unbelievable as it may seem to the conservative therapist, however, LSD not only works better in the treatment of the homosexual problem, but it does not seem to require the substitution of a surrogate symptom. Here is how one analyst,
[8] familiar with the LSD studies, states it:

I went to the International Congress on Psychotherapy in London last year. There were quite a large number of papers on LSD therapy. The different approaches were really quite astonishing; people seemed to claim, at any rate, that they get almost equally good results from different viewpoints. Some people, indeed, seemed to think that one would get a result, in some cases, entirely from the effect of the drug, with very little in the way of psychotherapy. When one goes to the A.P.A. meeting, one hears the enthusiasm of the behavior therapists and their claims, with much conviction, that by deconditioning and getting rid of patients' symptoms, you can get patients better, and they do not relapse, and they do not produce other symptoms! Contrary to the expectations of the analysts, who have all said that if you get rid of these symptoms, you will only produce other ones.

    In the layman's mind, homosexuality is often confused with other inversions—transvestism, fetishism, sadomasochism, etc. While this confusion may cause concern among homosexuals and sexologists, there is a grain of truth in this misidentification in that a wide range of sexual disorders spring from the same general source, and to a certain extent they are interchangeable. Because this is the case, a number of uncommon and bizarre aberrations, also engendered early in life, can be treated with therapy similar to that for homosexuality.
    Although seldom classed as perversion, sexual promiscuity is closely related. As therapists know, patterns of promiscuity can be altered by an emotional recall of certain past events on the part of the patient. This may be the explanation for the reports, which have puzzled some authorities, that LSD not only can help the asexual person to "normality," but also can moderate wanton behavior and create the capacity for more lasting relationships.
    It is known that homosexuality and the other perversions are dependent upon fantasy for their maintenance. Most of this fantasy stems from childhood daydreams and is unsatisfactory for transition to adult life. The grown-up daydreamer does not recognize this because he has updated and embellished his fantasies with images and impressions he has found suitable along the way. But he builds of necessity on shaky ground: infantile vision, inexperience and immature understanding. In consequence, the fantasy, though it may be firmly established as ritual and heavily depended upon, can never reward and comfort as it did when first conceived. When the fabric of the fantasy wears thin, as it must occasionally because of environmental change, the daydreamer is in trouble.
    In contrast, the LSD fantasy that the patient experiences in treatment usually is a means of redressing old grievances, but it contains elements appropriate to maturity. Characteristically it reinterprets happenings of the past (for which the subject was unprepared) from the perspectives of deeper maturity and this entails a re-examination of the meaning of one's personal existence and a symbolic passage into a new order. The LSD fantasies seem particularly directed toward the rebalancing of maladaptive functioning, in much the same way as Jung saw the purpose for dreams. This can lead to growth and transformation. In a society that lacks formal initiation rites, a factor which consequently leaves uncertain the termination of childhood and adolescence, LSD fantasies seem to facilitate entry of the chronologically grown-up but emotionally infantile adult into a mature world. This applies to the whole gamut of perversion: sadomasochism, bestiality, chronic masturbation, flagellation, nymphomania and so forth.
    This growth—like all significant change—can be frightening to the patient and may seriously disrupt the life condition. It can also bring about undesirable changes in family life unless precautions have been taken and an expectancy has been established. As those familiar with domestic relations know, improvement in one partner can bring about deterioration in the other. With LSD therapy there is the additional problem that any marked gain may be dismissed on the grounds that "a drug can't do such things." This attitude is sometimes disastrous.
    In one case, a woman who had become withdrawn, gloomy and listless because she felt that her successful husband had "outgrown" her and should divorce her, was restored after LSD therapy to the amiable, outgoing person she had once been. The husband had been completely loyal to her during her travails, but he lost all interest in her when it became clear that her recovery and renewed interest in life were genuine. He found as time passed that he could not accept her as an equal, his childhood asthma attacks gradually returned, his business no longer prospered and eventually divorce did occur.
    As a final comment on LSD's role in sexual and domestic matters, it is fitting to reiterate a plea made by R.E.L. Masters when he published for the first time a series of case histories about the use of psychedelics as they affect sexual behavior:

    ... problems connected with sex relations have plagued humanity for a long while, as they certainly do today. And I do not see how there could be any legitimate objection to the development and marketing of drugs aimed at helping people generally to enrich their sexual relations when they do have them, and which would assist in relieving the anguish and misery of persons whose sexual problems are so severe that they are either driven into very bizarre perversions or forced to get along without any sex lives at all.
    Since most of humanity's present day sexual problems, including impotence and frigidity, are psychological in origin, drugs which merely work upon the genitals, producing engorgement, are often of little value; and it is likely that the drugs capable of solving or helping with these problems will have to be drugs powerfully affecting the mind. That is why [psychedelic drugs are] so interesting and promising and why [they] should be thoroughly explored in this connection.

(chapter IV continued)


    1. This volume, edited by Dr. Abramson, is a record of the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation's LSD conference held in April, 1959. 1,099 case histories of patients formed the basis of the report. (back)
    2. Of the Psychiatric and Public Health Departments, San Jacinto Memorial Hospital, Baytown, Texas.
    3. Dr. Robert C. Murphy, Jr., Waverly, Penn.
    4. "Psychedelic," a word coined by Dr. Humphry Osmond, comes from Greek roots and means "mind-manifesting." It was expressly invented to describe the growing list of "mind" drugs which have effects similar to LSD. There are at present about eighty such drugs aside from LSD; the most commonly known are psilocybin, mescaline and DMT (dimethyltryptamine).
    5. Masters and Houston refer to all of their subjects as "S."
    6. From an interview in Dude magazine, September, 1966.
    7. While the published case histories of frigidity cures with LSD have been emphasized, LSD has similar effects and results in the treatment of male impotence. Men are by and large more successful than women in diverting sexual energies into their careers when confronted with their problem, and the incidence is less in any case. Consequently, less attention has been paid to the causes and treatment of this condition. Since here again the disabling agents that lead to impotence are anxiety, unconscious blocks, fear and inhibition, LSD can bring about an effective cure.
    8. Dr. Donald Blair of St Bernard's Hospital, London.

(chapter IV continued)
Table of Contents
Chapter V


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