LSD The Problem-Solving Psychedelic
P.G. Stafford and B.H. Golightly
Chapter I. The LSD Crisis
POLICE RAIDED a Flatbush apartment and found $15,000 worth of
LSD"Enough," a police official declared, "to
get the whole city high."... A five-year-old girl swallowed
a sugar cube treated with LSD, became hysterical and was on the
critical list at Bellevue Hospital for two days... A fifty-seven-year-old
schoolteacher vas brutally murdered, her body beaten and slashed.
When police confronted her alleged killer, he said, "What
happened? Man, I've been flying for three days on LSD. Did I kill
my wife? Did I rape anybody?"
This was the beginning.
These news stories, with over-sized and shocking headlines, appeared
in reputable newspapers across the country. Special interviews
with district attorneys, college presidents, Narcotics Bureau
agents, doctors, biochemists and others who might be considered
authorities in what seemed a national emergency, pre-empted prime
radio and television time to issue warnings, give advice and explain
these events to the public. The chairman of the New York County
Medical Society's Subcommittee on Narcotics Addiction said that
LSD was more dangerous than heroin." The Fl)A and Federal
Narcotics Bureau launched full-scale "drug education"
programs; three Senate subcommittees investigated LSD use; and
bills that made possession of LSD or other hallucinogenic drugs
a felony were introduced into state legislatures throughout the
nation. New York State Assembly Speaker Anthony J. Travia, when
attempting to push through hurry-up legislation calling for a
minimum sentence of seven years, declared that the problem was
so urgent that he would defer public hearings on the law until
after it passed.
Before the month was out, even wilder stories and headlines were
appearing. The Los Angeles Free Press ran a story called
"LSD: Like Swift Death." In one of Walter Winchell's
columns there was an item reading, "Warning to LSD Users:
You may go blind." And Bill Trent, writing m the Canadian
Evening Telegram about an architect's serious and successful
attempt to solve a design problem by taking LSD, titled his story
"The Demented World of Kyo Izumi."
Others were quick to link LSD to sex. Thus The Confidential
Flash asserted in a full-page headline, "LSD KILLS SEX
DRIVE FOREVER" although the story itself in no way bore out
this claim. And, interestingly enough, the Police Gazette,
in its August, 1966, issue, reprinted an article from The
Journal of the American Medical Association which they retitled
"LSD and Sex Madness."
Quite understandably the public responded with horror, seeing
LSD as a grave threat to the general safety, especially of the
youngfor the impression given by the news media was that the
nation's youth was the most imperiled.
Actually, although this period was the true beginning of all the
violent noise and hysteria about LSD, there had been a leakage
of articles from the academic journals to the public press for
several years. However, the fuse of the news bomb, lit a month
earlier, was a series of articles in Time magazine. Here
is what was to be found in the "Psychiatry" section
of its March 11, 1966 issue under the subtitle, "An Epidemic
of 'Acid Heads"':
The disease is striking in beachside beatnik pads
and in the dormitories of expensive prep schools-it has grown
into an alarming problem at U.C.L.A. and on the U.C. campus
at Berkeley. And everywhere the diagnosis is the same: psychotic
illness resulting from unauthorized, nonmedical use of the drug
Irresistible incitement to riot.
By best estimates, 10,000 students in the University of California
system have tried LSD (though not all have suffered detectable
ill effects). No one can even guess how many more self-styled
"acid heads" there are among oddball cult groups....
What LSD actually has done... is to produce "florid
psychoses with terrifying visual and auditory hallucinations,
marked depression, often with serious suicide attempts,
and anxiety bordering on panic.... The symptoms may
recur in their original intensity long after the last dose
of the drug...."
Even junior acid heads boast of taking walloping overdoses.
"I've taken as much as 500 micrograms," says one
youthful user. "At least that's what I paid for."
Happily, addiction is not a problem. Although repeat users
need bigger doses to get an effect, they can "kick
it cold" and suffer no withdrawal symptoms. It
has no physiologic effect.... (Italics added.)
The pulp press, television and radio, having had first fling,
household news magazines then began to examine the LSD situation.
Some of them, Newsweek and The New Republic, for
example, quietly suggestedafter going along with the general
trend of wide-eyed frightthat perhaps the drug might not be
such a menace after all; and perhaps it was deserving of a serious
examination Business Week, in an article entitled "More
Light, Less Heat Over LSD," pierced through some of the fog
of notoriety that swirled around this and other hallucinogenic
drugs by informing its readers that "an imposing roster of
medical opinion was found to credit the hallucinogens with a solid
list of potential medical and psychiatric benefits to match their
oft-trumpeted dangers to the unwary." Some of the major television
and radio networks began to feel this way, too, and CBS actually
put on a special program, "The Spring Grove Experiment,"
that had scarcely a harsh word to say about LSD, used under proper
circumstances. In fact, for most reviewers it may have acted as
a major propaganda piece for the drug.
After the way was paved by these serious re-evaluations, Time
itself decided to do some backtracking, stating "..
. no responsible authority wants to stop research into the potentially
vast possibilities of LSD and other 'mind drugs.' " In this
same "Time Essay" (June 17, 1966), the editors would
have it appear that Time itself was impartial and had always
been: "Since the recent flood of publicity about LSD has
let up somewhat, it is possible to assess the phenomenon more
But the drug's reputation was already so tarnished that no one
could predict its future. One thing was certain: legislation against
LSD had been passed by a number of states
and, as a result, LSD research had come to
a standstill. And there were tragic footnotes: key individuals,
such as Dr. Timothy Leary and the novelist Ken Kesey, received
what was generally considered outrageously unjust and discriminatory
treatment at the hands of the law. Even Time had some doubts
about the anti-LSD legislation (although they believed, in their
words, that Leary "finally got his comeuppance"), as
did the authorities. Thus Joseph D. Lohman, the man in charge
of training Food and Drug Administration agents assigned to LSD
control, and Dean of the University of California criminology
school in Berkeley, criticized hastily enacted LSD laws as "short-sighted
and misdirected." Speaking of the California LSD legislation,
he went on to say, "I question very seriously that this law
would have the deterrent effect some people think it will have."
The spate of publicity regarding LSD was by no means limited to
the popular media or to technical journals. Over 2500 books and
articles were already in existence when the controversy was at
its height. The majority of these were serious inquiries into
the effects of the drugs, though few were impartial, however "scientific."
This material constitutes a vast literature on the subject, to
be sure. It should be the source of enlightenment.
The reasons why it is not are somewhat bewildering. In the first
place, although the body of literature is large, it is at the
same time narrow in scope, and upon initial examination
this flaw is not apparent Initially one is overwhelmed by the
prolific writing and its vitality, and inundated by the diversity
of the reports. But these reports themselves tend to be of only
two types (which primarily accounts for their narrowness): first-person
narratives of LSD experiences, and clinical findings. Neither
offers completely satisfactory explanations for the drug's action.
LSD easily lends itself to misinterpretation. Even if the extremely
difficult problem of communicationfrustrating to every experimenterwere
overcome, clear and plausible explanations of the drug's action
still would not result. The phenomenon is too complex and too
foreign to our culture to be handled in simplistic fashion. Curiously,
however, running like a small strain of precious ore through this
deposit of prose are specific and impressive proofs for LSD's
revolutionary powers. Unfortunately, most of this information
seems to have been put down almost incidentally, sometimes almost
apologetically, or even as an afterthought.
In the present work the primary interest is in mining the existing
material and trying to locate a mother lode. Thus, rather than
just another comprehensive examination of LSD, this book is unique
in its limited aims. To date, no other book or article has concentrated
its explorations in this area.
No LSD investigator, whether from the establishment or the underground,
will deny that this chemical can, has and does solve some problems.
But what are these problems? They are to be found in all areas
of human activity: business, pleasure, sickness, health, birth,
death, ad infinitum. Somewhere you will find in the vast body
of LSD literature specific reference to the drug's ability to
aid in the alleviation of those countless problems by which man
But before undertaking a rigorous presentation of the evidence
for LSD's problem-solving capabilities, some basic principles
of the drug's action must be understood.
1. Following this show, sponsored by IBM,
hundreds of letters from viewers were received at Spring Grove
State Hospital, Catonsville, Maryland. Many asked how they could
arrange an LSD session and went into some detail about the problems
they felt such a session would solve. Hollywood Hospital in Canada
is frequently confronted with the same question, as are many other
hospitals (and private doctors) which have received publicity
about their LSD programs. (back)
2. Nevada, California, New Jersey, Michigan,