Against Nostalgia: The Return of LSD 2.0?


Against Nostalgia…

Strange to read all this new stuff on LSD having grown up within the culture that spawned it. It’s like we were all just out to have a good time, to enjoy sex, rock-n-roll, and life. A rainbow holiday from the Reality Matrix of our parents… thumbing around the country at 15 was like living in a hidden pocket of freedom, no parents or authority to bug the shit out of you. Here we were just trippers in a paradise of evil (energy). Loving every moment… then the Nam slayed us, we got serious again, began protesting and falling into decay of horse and snow, yellows and reds, pill world U.S.A. till the rock-a-belly aftermath and they shut the highways down to thumbing and the world stopped us from our little freedom spin among the roadways. …

Then we all grew up, married, had families… some drifting into Yuppie lands, others to Communes, others to the low-end noirish spin cultures of goth and punksville… while they were stomping the Situational tarmacs of Paris in 68′ we were dumping our load on flags against Viet Nam in Chicago, L.A., NYC… and elsewhere…

I ended somewhere in Seattle in the old Frye Hotel, a sort of Freddie’s Nightmare land where pre-cyberpunkish thugs ruled the roost, and noir was the state of art piss pot we all partook of. Needle marks skimming every knuckle, joint, vein in my body living on the dime, nothing left but a sack of bones… almost wanted to turn back to God, but realized he was another of those nightmares I’d left back in my childhood. Instead I just did what people do made up my mind to go on. Exit the bullshit and realize one can’t escape the System as Pynchon described it in Gravity’s Rainbow. One can only hollow out a black hole and dive in, adapt to one’s own piece of the shitworld and rebuild a life worth living.

Of late there have been all these new studies on LSD:

As Vox tells it:

“In many psychiatric disorders, the brain may be viewed as having become entrenched in pathology, such that core behaviors become automated and rigid,” the researchers wrote. “Consistent with their ‘entropic’ effect on cortical activity, psychedelics may work to break down such disorders by dismantling the patterns of activity on which they rest.”

The new brain imaging study, for instance, found a connection between some of the changes in brain activity and what’s known as “ego death”: a phenomenon in which people lose their sense of self-identity and, as a result, are able to detach themselves from worldly concerns like a fear of death, addiction, and anxiety over temporary — perhaps exaggerated — life events. The research increasingly suggests this could help people not just with medical issues but with more typical everyday problems as well.

When people take a potent dose of a psychedelic, they can experience spiritual, hallucinogenic trips that can make them feel like they’re transcending their own bodies and even time and space. This, in turn, gives people a lot of perspective — if they can see themselves as a small part of a much broader universe, it’s a lot easier for them to discard personal, perhaps insignificant and inconsequential concerns about their own lives and death.

That may sound like pseudoscience. And the research on hallucinogens is so early that scientists don’t fully grasp how it works. But it’s a concept that’s been found in some medical trials, and something that many people who’ve tried hallucinogens can vouch for experiencing. It’s one of the reasons why preliminary, small studies and research from the 1950s and ’60s found hallucinogens can treat — and maybe cure — addiction, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Albert Hofmann and Stanislav Groff

Dr. Albert Hofmann first synthesized the compound lysergic acid diethylamide in 1938 but did not discover its psychopharmacological effects until five years later, when he accidentally ingested the substance that became known to the 1960s counterculture as acid.

He then took LSD hundreds of times, but regarded it as a powerful and potentially dangerous psychotropic drug that demanded respect. More important to him than the pleasures of the psychedelic experience was the drug’s value as a revelatory aid for contemplating and understanding what he saw as humanity’s oneness with nature. That perception, of union, which came to Dr. Hofmann as almost a religious epiphany while still a child, directed much of his personal and professional life.

Hofmann would later say of his experiences:

“Through my LSD experience and my new picture of reality, I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the animal and plant kingdom,” Dr. Hofmann told the psychiatrist Stanislav Grof during an interview in 1984. “I became very sensitive to what will happen to all this and all of us.”

Dr. Stanislav Groff would work closely with Hofmann over the years and develop his own practice. He is one of the founders and chief theoreticians of Transpersonal Psychology and received an Honorary Award for major contributions to and development of the field of Transpersonal Psychology from the Association for Transpersonal Psychology in 1993. Dr. Grof is also the founding President of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA) and was its President for many years.

He has organized large international conferences throughout the world and continues to lecture and teach professional training programs in Holotropic Breathwork and transpersonal psychology. Currently, Dr. Grof is Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness in San Francisco, CA, and at Wisdom University in Oakland, CA.

Dr. Grof was born in 1931 in Prague where he received an M.D. from Charles University and a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine) from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. Between 1960 and 1967, he was Principal Investigator in a psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia.


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