LSD The Problem-Solving Psychedelic
P.G. Stafford and B.H. Golightly
Chapter IX. Drugs Past, Present and Future
IT IS RECORDED that at the time of Montezuma's coronation peyote was passed around to enhance the pageantry and splendor of the occasion. Ololiuqui, a somewhat anemic-looking morning glory with a seed that contains Iysergic acid amides, was used as a "divine plant" by the Aztecs well before the Conquistadores arrived in Mexico. In northeastern Asia, the Tungus, Yalcuts, Chukches, Koryaks and Kamchadeles traditionally intoxicated themselves during the interminable winter months on a hallucinogenic fungus called "muchamor" (Amanita muscaria). Natives of the Amazon had access to another psychedelicthe caapi vinebefore the white explorers first entered that region. As previously mentioned, the Greeks may have employed "mind-changing" mushrooms in their "Mysteries," and the witches of Europe made use of various hallucinogenic substances in ointments and brews during the Middle Ages. The mild psychedelic Cannabis sativa (hemp, hashish, kif, bhang, charas, gangha, dagga, djamba, marijuana, etc.) was described sympathetically by the Chinese Emperor Shen Neng as early as 2737 B.C., and has flourished throughout the world ever since. It presently is used in its varying forms by over 200 million people. By no means is the knowledge of psychedelic drugs confined to the twentieth century.
Nonetheless, the recent "psychedelic explosion" in the United States represents an unprecedented phenomenon and cannot be understood by analogy with the past. Nor can its meaning be explained by reference to the use of peyote by the quarter of a million members of the Native American Church.
In contemporary American civilization, LSD and related drugs are being used in a variety of ways by people from many extremes of cultural heritage who are commonly enmeshed in a swiftly changing, mechanized civilization. The results which ensue from these multitudinous "sets" and "settings" bear little resemblance to those of Indians who sit all night in a teepee, using peyote in a highly ritualized religious ceremony.
In the foregoing chapters the main emphasis has been on LSD and its broad uses in problem solving. But LSD is only the best known of a growing number of psychedelic drugs, and there are many implications for the psychedelics outside of formal problem solving. The following is a brief survey of some of the problems raised by the problem-solving drugssince the solution of one problem invariably represents the creation of another.
The discovery of and enthusiasm for powerful new mind drugs is raising new questions (and new formulations of old questions) about man's relation to nature, his concept of God and, indeed, his very image of himself. Just as the discovery of atomic power raised issues which formerly had been of concern to only a few philosophers and scientists, so the spreading dissemination of the psychedelics is beginning to raise issues questioning man's relationships to man and his total image of the world and himself.
With readily available psychedelics, a new energya potent psychic energyhas entered the world stage and must be reckoned with. Eventually it may have to be integrated into day-by-day existence, just as was the automobile, electricity, television and atomic energy. Despite any nostalgic longings for a return to pre-Huxley days, when the "psychedelic revolution" had not even been conceived, it is as impossible to ignore the psychedelics as it is to wish away the portents of nuclear warfare. The "psychedelic revolution" has passed through its embryonic stage and within the past year been born.
The "psychedelic revolution" contains untold dimensions and at the same time presents extremely difficult problems of "control." The only way to bring reckless use of the psychedelics under control is to entice the desperate or reckless member of the "psychedelic club" to a center where he can be instructed and observed in the proper (non-destructive) use of the drugs. The sooner society settles down to reviewing the psychedelic reality as it exists, rather than carping about its morbid aspects, the earlier enlightened controls can be put into operation.
One of the primary effects of the psychedelics (as more and more people are discovering) is the changing of personal relationships, and this can and will affect people deeplyeven those who never have used and never intend to use these drugs.
Realization of such new realities is beginning to grow, though it will be some time before any of the lines are very definite or before the significance of the psychedelic revolution will be appreciated by a sizable portion of the population. What society faces as a result of recent psychedelic discoveries, and the popular enthusiasm for them, is a tremendous influx of new and for the most part unrelated information on topics that are easily sensationalized, which in the past have been largely ignored. Because developments on the drug front are now coming one on top of another, even those professionally concerned have barely been able to keep up with what has been happening in this field. For a period of five years or so, there is little likelihood that society as a whole will be able to respond appropriately to the astonishing popularity of the mind-changing drugs.
Most LSD research has been done in isolation and researchers have had meager awareness of the work of others. LSD conferences have repeatedly demonstrated that their major contribution is cross-fertilizationand the development in researchers of a sense of their own ignorance, for on almost no point can they agree. Because the state of the drug-administering craft is yet very crude, it is too early to make more than an initial assessment of the role of the psychedelics in the future. However, here are a few likely possibilities.
Other Drugs:LSD is only the most prominent in a long list of drugs which radically affect the mind. There are over eighty psychedelic substances (both natural and synthetic) which are to be had in the form of pills, powders, leaves, fungi, liquids and seeds. Naturalists and psychopharmacologists are continually adding to the list, and such drugs as bufotenin, DMT, yageime, Ibogaine, desoxyn, Ditran (or JB 329) MLD, ALD and UML are well known in the laboratory and may soon reach the streets.
Prior to the legal curb which has affected the worthy and unworthy alike, a number of little-known substancessome of which created appreciably different psychedelic performancewere being used in therapy. Dr. Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean psychologist, favors the drug Ibogaine for his patients, for example, because he feels it enables them to integrate the erupted material in their lives more readily than does LSD, and that it can precipitate greater conceptual understanding of their life situation. As mentioned previously, Dr. Ling and others are of the opinion that an injection of Ritalin facilitates the attainment of "psychedelic experience." Dr. Leuner is another who feels that the psychiatrist should carry a selection of psychedelics in his medicine cabinet:
Psilocybin has proved very valuable to us for a number of years. For a year now we have had similar good results with the psilocybin derivative, CZ74.... Thus, we now have a well-rounded repertoire of three psychotomimetic substances at our disposal, assuring us more control of the therapeutic process.... The short but overwhelming and ecstatic sessions with CZ74, in high dosages within the frame of psycholytic therapy, have been particularly useful in penetrating overly rational and compulsive individuals, often leading to a quickening of the entire therapy.... Psilocybin stands in the middle, while LSD is the strongest and most imposing drug, sometimes made undesirable by overtiring the patient with its slow, torturous decline....
Those familiar with psychedelic history will recall that, in 1963, students discovered that the consumption of "Heavenly Blue," "Flying Saucers," or "Pearly Gates" morning-glory seeds induced effects similar to LSD. Shortly thereafter someone smoked Scotch Broom flowers, and word leaked out that the dried flowers of this hardy, decorative plant (which is grown extensively along highways and in eroding areas) were a good substitute for marijuana. And only recently it was reported that Hawaiian wood-flowers are psychedelic.
The most interesting development in terms of the social consequences of the psychedelics is the discovery by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals of a series of "tryptamines"drugs which bring about LSD-type effects but which can be spaced for almost any length of time the user desires. At present, the quickest of thesedimethyltryptamine (DMT)has reached the black market and is increasingly used.
DMT, an acrid drug, is usually supplied evaporated on parsley leaves and is smoked like marijuana. Almost immediately, however, the user is swept into psychedelia. Taking a "drag" of DMT is like stepping onto a moving roller coaster. Effects are intense, usually immensely pleasurable, and last from ten minutes to half an hour.
Because the drug is a quick "Pleasure Drug," it is sometimes referred to as "The Lunch-hour Special," and is used without much forethought. This development qualitatively changes the psychedelic situation, for it means that use of these drugs no longer will be confined to those who have leisure and can devote a day or two to an LSD session. In addition to growing drug use by students, educators, clergymen, the wealthy and those on the margins of society, DMT makes it possible for the busiest or most harried person to try a psychedelic.
There is another socially significant fact about DMT. Although this drug is little understood and may be considerably more dangerous, both physiologically and psychologically, than LSD, it is easily manufactured. LSD can be produced inexpensively (if available commercially, it might wholesale at about half a cent a dose), but the process is intricate and calls for special equipment. DMT, on the other hand, can be made in the kitchen with no more elaborate paraphernalia than a spoon, a stove and filter papers. Furthermore, the ingredients are easily accessible since each has half a dozen industrial uses. Because of its quick action and the relative simplicity with which it can be made, DMT is likely to become a popular psychedelic.
Looking ahead it becomes evident that the next few years will see the introduction of many other new, powerful, mind-altering drugs that do not fall under the "psychedelic" label. Promising results have been reported, for instance, with Cylert (magnesium pemoline), RNA and DNA. One chemist is working on a drug he calls LLL (a "love of learning lozenge"). Some "psychedeliacs" speak of combining LSD with a "memory pill" in order to engrave the LSD effects, and a few "psychederelicts" are experimenting with a wide variety of other substances. Dr. Stanley Yolles, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, testifying before a Senate sub-committee on the flood of novel drugs emerging from the laboratory, has predicted that "In the next five to 10 years we will have a 100-fold increase in drugs that affect the mind."
There is evidence indicating that science has almost brought mind-control into a reality. As with nuclear power, scientists must confront the immense implications of such a breakthrough, since problems in ethics, politics, international affairs and personal values are generated with these revolutionary discoveries. Dr. David Kretch, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, recently stressed this point to his colleagues in his keynote speech at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:
I don't believe that I am being melodramatic, in suggesting that what our research may discover may carry with it even more serious implications than the awful, in both senses of the word, achievements of the atomic physicists. Let us not find ourselves in their position of being caught foolishly surprised, naively perplexed, and touchingly full of publicly displayed guilt at what they had wrought.
Growth of the Blackmarket:Over half of all Americans are now under the age of twenty-five. Young people are growing up accepting LSD (and related drugs) as simply one more productperhaps the "ultimate product"in the "great American supermarket of sensation." In this affluent, uneasy, technological age, in which the spirit of the times is rather hedonistic, whole sectors of the younger generation form, as it were, "an ideal drug-using society."
In the thirties and forties the greatest number of marijuana smokers were found to be in ethnic groupsi.e., Mexicans and Negroes and those frequenting these circles. Therefore the concentration of users of this mild psychedelic was to be found in California, in port cities on the Gulf of Mexico and in the East in large metropolitan centers which had sizable Negro ghettos. It was not until the Second World War when the armed services were integrated that the drug became interesting and available to the young, white middle class. With few exceptions, those who had previously tried marijuana considered the experience to be dangerous and degrading, in a class with opium-smoking and therefore socially unacceptable. Now, however, since countless authoritiesbiochemists, pharmacologists, doctors, sociologists and psychologistshave pronounced the drug harmless and far more benevolent than alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, it enjoys the same kind of sophisticated popularity that liquor did when the Volstead Act was still in effect Just as no Jazz Age vamp, out on a blind date with a handsome raccoon-coated "hero," could afford to refuse at least one swig from his hip flask while riding along in the "flivver," so today's "swinging chick" or "teeny-bopper" cannot turn down at least one drag on a "joint."
But here the analogy (the rebellion pattern) ends, for once both drugs are accepted, the differences between them are as wide as the differences between "spring tonic" and an elixir. The current generation (and probably those to follow) are now acclimatized to the psychedelic ambiance and undoubtedly will insist upon it as a condition of existence.
"Drop-out" is a word of recent vintage, but as a concept, it is as old as youthful non-conformity itself. However, there are two distinct kinds of drop-out. In the Great Society, administrators are primarily concerned about the disadvantaged delinquent who gives up his formal education before he is equipped for independence. He bears little resemblance to the gifted student who simply cannot condone the state of the world, detests the superficiality and ethical fallacies which are larded into textbook learning and leaves school in disgust. The tragedy here too lies in the fact that such people are probably not ready to strike out on their own, and may on doing so, drop to the bottom of society.
Those gifted drop-outs who are resourceful, however, and serious in their intent, sometimes find means for making active and often positive protest against the standards that drove them from conventional society. They may be labeled outlaws by most traditionalists, but by and large they are decent, concerned individualsnot "hoodlums." To these people the psychedelic scene may seem to offer a place where they can find the high, sweet, human values they seek and esteem.
Traditionally, new movements have been led by people old enough and mature enough to have known better So, too, with the LSD movement which, in Timothy Leary's words, has been led by the "middle-age, middle-class, middle-brow whiskey drinkers." Leary himself, in his late forties, is a former Irish Catholic with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. The Mexican "magic mushroom" was the discovery of Gordon Wasson, a vice-president of J. P. Morgan, with senior membership in the "Establishment." And it was Aldous Huxley, the distinguished author-grandson of the distinguished scientist-philosopher Thomas H. Huxley, who brought the psychedelics to worldwide attention. Watts, De Ropp, Cohen, Michaux and hundreds of others in the psychedelic vanguard will never see forty again.
We live in a "pill age." Millions of people, with no forethought at all, take tranquilizers, penicillin, birth control pills, cold remedies and energizersand the attitude that the "pill" is the solution to everything is carried over in subtle confidence to the psychedelics. After all, it's just another miracle drug, isn't it?so remark the uninitiated. They may try if given the opportunity to belt it down as intrepidly but casually as any other "remedy." These reckless testers have always been in society's midst, sometimes in the least suspected stratas, and they may be the most evangelistic of all "The white-collar pill party" is not the imagination of Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg or Henry Miller or Anais Nin, but is being given by the "man in the street" who has received the "message."
So, too, for the original alcoholic binge, after distilled spirits were happened upon in the 13th century. If we wish to assess the dimensions of the future psychedelic blackmarket, we should ask ourselves these questions: "What if, instead of mind-changes, alcohol had just recently been discovered? What projections would we make about its future? Would we expect people to use it once a month? Once a week? Daily? Would we expect abusesperhaps involving horrible car accidents? And would it be worth it?" The statistics that answer these questions speak for themselves.
Now that LSD is no longer confined to the "Groves of Academe," a diversity of motivations for drug-ingestion and a cross-section of unprecedented results may be expected. Nearly all the "drug experiences" on record have emerged from the same milieu, despite their seeming diversity: they have all come from the classes who have had "higher education," from those specifically who "read." This fact would indicate they have had prior information on the psychedelic experience, no matter how piously conservative they may appear. The enlightened "pragmatists" of the current population may be meek and silent in matters pertaining to the "soul," but they still quest, and have pondered at length upon the intricacies in the meaning of myth and ritual. As time passes, however, more people undoubtedly will be trying the psychedelics who are totally unprepared for the experience. The outcome will be varieties of experience unlike anything seen to date.
The Psychedelic Style:"I have never taken LSD," a young physician declared at a recent symposium, "but it has changed my whole life." And so it is for a growing number of people, whether they are yet aware of it or not. In movies, books, fashions, art, popular music and even in advertising, psychedelics are adding bold, bright color to the everyday scene. A co-existing transformation in values is more subtle, but similarly present. Like this young physician, many onlookers have become entranced with some of the vistas in ordinary life which LSD has apparently opened for its enthusiastic users and are increasingly eager to travel along vicariously to the broadened horizons.
Most LSD users find it difficult to define the way in which a session or two has influenced their life view. Their value systems, however, are often cited as having undergone a profound and liberating alteration. Under the drug's "white heat," intensity and persuasiveness, outlook becomes somewhat different for those who respond, and the new view is carried over into "normal reality." This point is expressed with candor and accuracy by one user:
When I say, "Let's see, how do I look at the world, and how do I look at myself," I observe that much of my present viewpoint is the result of memories of drug experiences which I have forgotten are drug experiences. I mean by that, that thoughts which I have had while using LSD have become amalgamated more Or less into what I consider my normal experience.The psychedelics bring about the vision of a world that is colorful, adventuresome, decent, open, prismatic, gentle, sweet, stimulatingin short, a sort of fairy tale come alive. It is therefore not surprising that the souvenirs brought back by LSD travelers are accepted as validif accepted at allby many who would not themselves consider taking LSD. Success stories have always carried their own appeal, and the injection of some of the LSD experients' spiritual and Dionysian intuitions into America's largely Apollonian society is revitalizing. The upshot is diversified, but the developing "psychedelic style" is bringing a new reverence for life, a kind of humanistic pantheism and a renaissance of belief in the essential goodness in man.
Since this psychedelic style undercuts our l9th century Darwinian conception of the universe and man's place in it, future generations are less likely to grow up inculcated with a sense of basic meaninglessness in life and its buffeting forces, mechanistic behavior made endurable only through scientific advances. In contrast to the present psychedelic movement, which is composed of millions who only vaguely understand LSD, the generation to come may accept as their birthright the humanistic values the world has longed for.
It is hazardous to predict the manner in which such value shifts might take hold. It would be interesting to know if the large scale development of new life styles will have radically changed political systems by the time the century turns. Some spokesmen in the younger generation believe that because of the psychedelics, tolerance will replace extremism on both the left and right; while others feel "harmony" will be established via LSD by an accentuation of the differences between the haves and the have-nots.
Regardless of philosophical speculations about the future role of LSD, there is an abundance of current evidence that the psychedelic movement is well entrenched. Books about the psychedelic drugs are now prominently displayed in bookstores and constitute a sizable proportion of today's psychological literature. These books are not limited to scientific treatises and first-hand accounts of the drug experience, but novels too are now appearing in which psychedelics figure centrally. Thus Huxley contributed Island, a psychedelic alternative to his Brave New World. Psychedelic40 takes a strong science-fiction line. John Hersey's Faustian parable, Too Far to Walk, has a college setting in which LSD acts as the magic elixir. Yarborough, by B. H. Friedman, has a strong sub-plot involving psychedelic drugs. And The Sheppard File has been called the first "psychedelic thriller."
Life magazine has illustrated the strobe-lighted performance of LSD in art, fashion and entertainment. It is becoming increasingly clear that the whole Op-Pop world of art and designsculpture, painting, clothes, fabrics, furniture, lightingborrows heavily from the colors and eidetic images that are encountered in the early stages of the LSD experience.
Serious experimental (or "underground") filmmakers such as Harry Smith, Richard Aldcroft, Francis Lee, Jackie Cassen and Rudi Sternas well as the group known as USCOhave for years attempted to express the psychedelic feeling and mood cinematically, and are beginning to be shown in such places as The Riverside Museum. They have devised techniques and theory now being used by those commercial film-makers who have hitched their trailers to the psychedelic trend. The films "Modesty Blaise," "Arabesque" and "Fantastic Voyage" made early use of definite psychedelic elements.
Psychedelic entertainment has further extended itself to discotheques, a Go-Go nightclubs and "acid cinematiques." As seen in Life's cover story (Sept. 9, 1966), the youth of the country is responding enthusiastically to this "total assault on the senses." Attempts to produce a "drugless trip" often consist of "acid-rock" music played at monumental volume, accompanied by the incessant play of strobe lights, kleig lights, rapidly flickering images in swirling colors, projections from an "infinity machine" and other artificial sensory effects.
These sensory emporiums (one of them is even named "The Brave New World") are packed to capacity and new ones are being opened to accommodate the overflow. On the East Coast, The World, The Cheetah and Andy Warhol's Balloon Farm (with the "Plastic Inevitables") are already famous; on the West Coast "Hippies" of San Francisco jam the Filmore, the Avalon and other such halls in the Haight-Ashbury district. In Los Angeles "teeny-boppers" nightly take over the Strip from the "oldies," installing their own versions of night clubs, and nocturnally they move en masse into such hallowed retreats of daytime business-lunchers as Canter's Delicatessen.
"Far-out" acid-rock groups such as The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company. The Magic Mushrooms and The Quick-silver Messenger Service hold forth with exhilarating frenzy at psychedelic whirligigs, but they are scarcely known outside the "underground," even though they make occasional records. But other musicians, The Beatles, The Fugs, The Byrds and Bob Dylan, are well known for their "acid" songsmany of which have been banned on "popular" radio stations because of an implied encouragement to illicit drug use. "Let's Go Get Stoned," "Rainy Day Woman," "Eight Miles High," "Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Can't Get High" have all achieved notoriety because they are liked by the young, regardless of how shocking they are to most adults. The Beatles' hit album, "Revolver," contains a song straight out of the psychedelic version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, although few parents probably realize it. (The verses begin: "Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream / This is not dying.") And strange as it may seem, Ravi Shankar, the Indian musician, has become something of a pop hero because of growing interest in Eastern music and the esoteric sounds of such instruments as the sitar, and because of the latest addition to the musical vocabulary, "raga rock."
A number of stores do a thriving business in psychedelically inspired goods: clothes, records, books, arts and crafts and such accessories as candles, incense, bells, mandalas, water pipes, kaleidoscopes, "freak goggles" and gigantic paper flowers. These concerns are called by such unbusinesslike names as the Blown Mind, Underground Uplift Unlimited and the Head Shopand there are several "Psychedelic Shops." An "Underground Press Syndicate"UPShas been established coast to coast. Though its papers and magazinesEast Village Other, L.A. Free Press, Inner Space, Berkeley Barb, Psychedelic Newsletter, San Francisco Oracle, The Paper and The Fifth Estateattack what they consider the social and political evils of the contemporary scene, they are unmistakable and vociferous mouthpieces for the cause of psychedelics. There are other non-profit organizations and loose federations that exist to serve psychedelic interests. The Psychedelic Peace Fellowship, Solco, and several information centers are specifically set up along the same lines as Alcoholics Anonymous and offer round-the-clock aid to any LSD user on a bad trip. (One has even issued a directory of psychedelic Good Samaritans.) All of this together adds up to a colossal network of activists; little wonder that the World War II term, the Underground, has been taken over by this movement.
A Capsule Future:Assuming that the stringent laws against responsible LSD use will be relaxed and that public sentiment will eventually appreciate the psychedelic's positive features, it can be assumed that the quality of life as we now know it has a first-rate chance of changing for the better.
It is safe to predict that if LSD treatment of alcoholics is allowed to resume and is expanded, alcoholism will be dealt a crippling blow, bringing it within bounds as T.B. was curbed with isoniazid and polio with the Salk and Sabine vaccines.
If organized religion decides to avail itself of LSD's efficacy in spiritual matters, the church may once again be a strong spiritual force.
If guidance centers for those struggling with personal and psychological burdens are able to use LSD in restructuring programs, the nation's mental health problem could be vastly reduced.
If gifted people in our schools and industries were allowed to participate in LSD programs aimed at making the most of their creative abilities and stimulating peak production, we could anticipate a Periclean age of achievement in all fields.
The last point deserves elaboration, for of all LSD's powers as a problem solver, the greatest appears to lie in its ability to summon and titillate the creative imagination. In treating alcoholics and neurotics, therapists know what to expect (cure rates, family readjustment, etc.); but regarding the exotic and little known chimera which is creativity, we know only that it roams a shadowy world which is, for the most part, closed to conscious exploration.
We have long been aware that the creative instinct is man's most priceless gift. As Huxley observed:
Perhaps the men of genius are the only true men. In all the history of the race there have been only a few thousand real men. And the rest of uswhat are we? Teachable animals. Without the help of the real men, we should have found out almost nothing at all. Almost all the ideas with which we are familiar could never have occurred to minds like ours. Plant the seeds there and they will grow; but our minds could never spontaneously have generated them.But we are also becoming aware that creative abilities can be nurtured, that under auspicious conditions they may flourish, and that deliberate cultivation of creativity pays off handsomely in hardheaded commercial terms.
In 1944 a group of talented men from differing academic disciplines dramatically proved this practical point when they sat down to systematically dissect the creative principlewhich they felt would yield its sacrosanct secrets if properly approached. Their aim was to "rationalize" creativity and set themselves up a problem-solving unit, available for industrial trouble-shooting and consultation. The success of the original group, formed in Cambridge, Mass. under the title Synectics, Inc. was unexpectedly prodigal, so much so that despite the complexity of their approach, other Synectics branches were soon formed to accommodate the growing demand for their services. Such industrial giants as Kimberly-Clark, Singer Sewing Machine, Johns-Manville and RCA-Whirlpool were early and enthusiastic customers. IBM, General Motors, General Electric, Esso, Monsanto, Du Pont, Gillette, Remington and the Pentagon have since been among the most distinguished clients.
Realizing the economic importance of "cultivated creativity" as a result of the practical money-saving improvements and original ideas which have come out of Synectics sessions, such companies have in many instances set about developing their own problem-solving groups, modeled after the Synectics "brainstormers." At a cost of about $3000, less enterprising firms can hire the Cambridge Synectics group to work on its unresolved (or even undefined) problems over a three-or four-day period. For the going price of $10,000, a great number of companies have also sent key personnel through a ten-week, half-a-day-a-week training program in Synectics theory. Because requests are now coming in by the hundreds each month, a Synectics branch has been opened in Mexico, in addition to those in the United States, and others are being set up in Japan, Germany and France.
A Synectics group is not a task force. Indeed, any similarity to the task force make-upsimilar backgrounds, relevant competence and abilities, and a "team" approachis deliberately avoided. Instead the object is to bring together as scrambled a group of opposite personalities as can operate purposefully. Furthermore, a Synectics group is often not so much interested in solving given problems as in "creating problems" which when solved will net the client new revenue from an unsuspected source, or open up opportunities for expansion.
The basic precept in this approach is to synthesize ideas which on the surface and in a rational sense seem in diametrical opposition. Analogies from nature, the elaboration of personal metaphors and a search for evocative questions are the primary tools used for locating new, untried solutions or developing overlooked possibilitiesand the wilder and more disparate the collective thinking, the better. By emphasizing emotional and irrational intuitions and playing them off against analogies from various branches of learning, the Synectics group tries to reproduce consciously the unconscious inspirations that have come to men of genius. Surprisingly, their practice of entertaining far-fetched notions and refusing to reject anything on the grounds that the wildest absurdities might prove serviceable, prods imagination to unusually lively levels of productivity. In repeated instances such irreverent teasing of the creative unconscious gets useful results.
The Synectics rough-and-tumble approach to creative problems is important here because it is a well-understood, systematic method which demonstrated itself. It proved also that there are many ways to skin a cat, and that a creative individual working alone may actually be limiting himself and inadvertently standing still if he adheres to the traditional front-door entrance.
As discussed in chapter III, LSD also takes an unconventional side-door path to technical and creative problem-solving, and like Synectics groups, it too calls forth unexpected intuitive material which may develop into an answer. In fact, the two processes can be viewed as essentially the sameif one thinks of LSD as a catalyst that primarily arouses in a single mind a torrent of conflicting ideas, a good deal of unconsciously repressed relevant material, and preposterous yet tolerated irrelevancies. Sufficiently mulled over and considered, these can bring to life an as yet unhatched synthesis. Looked at in this way, which is a fairly reasonable explanation of the drug's action when "programmed," LSD woos creativity in much the same style as does the Synectics methodthough, of course, in its unfettered fashion it pursues in minutes the range of possibilities which might preoccupy a Synectics group for a lengthy period with little gain.
In a properly prepared and motivated subject, there is reason to believe that programmed use of psychedelics can provoke a level of insight at least as suggestive as that brought into being by practicing Synectics. Since Synectics groups are difficult to establish and require concerted attention, while LSD makes very few demands, the use of the psychedelic drugs in the realm of technical and creative problem solving should grow rapidly and be at least as incisive as was the introduction of Synectics theory. Thus LSD as a problem solver might multiply for untold numbers the satisfactions known to our creative minority; economically and culturally, such an advance could be tremendous; and socially, the promise is great, but of an impact impossible yet to assay. In terms simply of man's quest for new knowledge and innovation, it is now time for the funding of extensive research projects involving the psychedelics, and for the accumulation of information on what exactly the psychedelics can and cannot do when presented with a problem.
Synectics shares something of the uncanny ability of LSD to open new creative avenues, but the psychedelics can delve deeper into the unknown tissue of the unconscious and bring to the surface very curious flotsam and jetsammuch more than can any verbalized cerebral encounter. These drugs are also a superior agent in that they can enable an artist or technician to "visualize" his project as a prototype and perhaps examine or test it; help a scientist crystallize a vague hypothesis; or take an overly rigid conception apart, and reassemble it for inspection in a more workable way.
In addition to all this, the psychedelics yield still another prize, one rarely found to any pronounced degree with Synectics or any other creativity-enhancing medium. After having tried psilocybin, an artist commented on what is perhaps the most valuable aftermath of the drug:
I think that the most important part of what has happened to me since the experiment is that I seem to be able to get a good deal more work done.... When painting it generally takes me an hour and a half to two hours to really get into the painting and three or four hours to really hit a peak. Tuesday I hit a peak in less than a half hour....The impact of the psychedelics upon society depends less in the long run upon the number of users and the nature of their value shifts than it does upon whether or not the highly creative and the highly specialized users learn the advantages of reevaluating their work through an LSD lens. It is significant, therefore, that Progressive Architecture, a journal subscribed to by some 47,000 architects and designers, presented in its August, 1966, issue four lengthy testimonials to the architectural magic of LSD and followed it the next month with another LSD article, "Expanding Architecture." As time passes and the basic principles of session programming become commonplace, other professions may follow suit.
The future is rich with promise for al1 creative people and all who would aspire to become creative. Creative or technical problem solving need not be confined to the lofty regions of art or in the occupations that require years of academic training and painstaking practice before there is the possibility of original thinking or experimentation. The broad reaches of societywhere talent is often smothered by shyness, or atrophied from lack of exercisemay eventually provide the richest, hardiest and most substantial successes.
The achievement of small tasks, or coveted goals, is so personally enriching to the individual involved that it becomes as consequential as the solution of any problemstechnical, personal, or artistic. Through the positive use of LSD, the true essence of each individual can be revealed in a mind-lighting fashion. With LSD, mankind can at last be released from an accumulation of illogical customs and traditions, and Everyman can become a prime problem solver.
AFTERWORDWHEN EUROPEAN explorers and settlers set foot on the North American continent, they encountered a number of Indian tribes in which there existed the custom of sending adolescents on solitary trips into forests or deserts. The youths returned from these retreats with exciting stories of dramatic visitations from their guardian spirits. Whether these visions were the result of imagination, expectancy, physical privation, a sparse diet or the accidental ingestion of psychedelic plants is not known; however, a tradition was firmly established which dealt with mystical experience. Other Indian tribes induced visions by using psychedelic cactus buttons, morning glory seeds or mushroom caps in their religious ceremonies.
The European missionaries were horrified at these practices and attempted to stamp them out, referring to the Indians' visions as "fantasies of the Devil." The Europeans did not object to mind-dulling substances, as they permitted the natives to use narcotics (such as coca leaves) and tobacco. In addition, they introduced distilled whiskey, a substance which produced high percentages of alcoholics among American Indian tribes, as there existed no cultural tradition among these tribes in the use of "fire water." Psychedelic plants, which stimulated mental processes rather than dulling them, were denounced and suppressed becauseaccording to one sixteenth-century friar"their users see visions and are provoked to lust" These are precisely the same arguments being used 400 years later by Establishment figures who have concentrated their efforts on suppressing LSD usage rather than on encouraging research.
The general American culture lacks a tradition in visionary experience, and there is a distrust of any insight obtained during a psychedelic session, a hypnotic trance, a dream period or any other altered states of consciousness. Exemplifying this attitude, Dr. Donald Louria, in a book entitled The Nightmare Drugs, warned parents that "unusual statements concerning awareness of unity with the universe or with God, or indicating a sudden comprehension of the meaning of life and love, should all cause one to consider that the individual is reacting to a potent hallucinogen." Before the arrival of Europeans on the continent, most Indian parents would have praised their children for the very reports that Louria and his colleagues now brand as pathological. One may observe how far the pendulum has swung and may judge for oneself which of the two positions is more conducive to the development of human potentials.
Professional as well as public tradition has omitted serious consideration of creativity, religious development and problem solving during reveries, daydreaming or other unusual conscious states. In fact, there is a basic disinterest in the fields of psychiatry and psychology as regards the entire topic of consciousness. Contemporary psychiatry is dominated by psychoanalytic theory as exposited by Sigmund Freud and his followers. Contemporary psychology is strongly influenced by the behaviorism of J. B. Watson and the neo-behaviorism of B. F. Skinner. Psychoanalysts emphasize the power of unconscious forces, minimizing the effect of conscious activity on human behavior. Behaviorists assert that "mind" and "consciousness" do not exist, while neo-behaviorists display little interest in subjective reactions of the human organism.
Both Freud and Skinner devoted some attention to creative processes, but neither described them as a potential to be developed by the fully functioning human being. Freud's interpretations of creative products by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci stressed the unconscious, pathological, repressed aspects of personality. Freud once interpreted a short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky as "fundamentally a wishful fantasy... that his mother should herself initiate him into sexual life in order to save him from the dreadful injuries caused by masturbation." Skinner described the sonnets of William Shakespeare in terms of the poet's ability to resist '"formal strengthening," a characteristic of "normal verbal behavior." Both Freud and Skinner explained creative processes in terms of their deviance from "normality" rather than as positive, healthy processes to be encouraged and developed. It is not surprising that most American psychiatrists and psychologists are baffled by the reports of LSD activity, puzzled by the subjective reports of LSD users, and skeptical about the value of LSD in man's efforts to understand, describe and change his behavior.
LSD, mescaline and psilocybin are often accused by psychoanalysts of inducing "toxic schizophrenic reactions." The action of psychedelic chemicals is not easily explainable in terms of the Freudian model of man, which was influenced by nineteenth-century physics. Many psychiatrists think of the human personality as a hydraulic pump; if sexual energy (or "libido") is repressed in one area, it will burst forth in another area. The psychoanalyst serves as a master plumber who steers the sexual flow into socially acceptable channels. The perceptual fluctuations and conceptual innovations which characterize the psychedelic experience are difficult to locate on the blueprint of the hydraulic pump and so are thought by many psychiatrists to mimic a psychotic reaction.
Psychologists who are influenced by behaviorism and neo-behaviorism assume that laws of learning can be determined which will provide a solid and reliable basis for psychological science. The human being is viewed as a complex computer with various inputs and outputs. These psychologists note that the LSD experience is unpredictable and suggest that it creates a short circuit in the computer. The results of this short circuit deviate from normal, expected behavior and are to be studied as something apart from the mainstream of the computer's performance.
It is in light of this regrettable situation concerning the twentieth century's image of man that the present book assumes a special importance. The book's contents challenge the hydraulic-pump model of personality as well as the computer model. In addition, the book is filled with material which reveals the shortcomings of the American culture's general avoidance of altered conscious states.
Hopefully, the data in this book will stimulate in some way a resurgence of scientific research with LSD. A careful reading of the experiments described by the authors demonstrates the promise of psychedelic drugs as well as the improvements needed in future research designs. Control groups must be organized, double-blind experiments must be set up, and the variables of set and setting must be more adequately considered. Once the officials of the National Institute of Mental Health have given their approval to additional research, the proposed experiments should be of the highest quality; future investigators can profit from the mistakes of the pioneers. In addition, the directors of future research projects should make every attempt to insure the safety and well-being of their subjects. There is no question that LSD can precipitate psychotic reactions among certain unstable people if used improperly or that the psychedelics can cause physiological complications among users with certain types of liver and kidney dysfunctions. However, the dangers of ill-advised LSD use must not overshadow the potentials of wise psychedelic usage and careful experimentation.
Peter Stafford and Bonnie Golightly have examined the experimental results and the clinical reports concerning LSD which have emerged from the fields of psychiatry, psychopharmacology, clinical psychology, parapsychology, religion and education. The fruits of their quest are a rich repast for the discerning reader. The currently available data suggest that, under the proper conditions, psychedelic drugs can enable the individual to cultivate those creative and spiritual facets of his personality that so often remain unexplored. In presenting this point of view, the book will be welcomed by those members of the medical arts, the behavioral sciences and the public at large who are concerned with the total self-actualization of human beings. These people will direct their attention more to the work of competent investigators than to the alarmists from medical and political Establishments who currently share the publicity spotlight with those "psychedelic prophets" encouraging illegal LSD usage. Despite the provocative social criticism that has been made by the "psychedelic prophets," their activities have contributed little of value in the way of scientific research.
Stafford's and Golightly's book will not win unanimous approval. Even the most carefully collected data in it will be questioned by the representatives of those psychiatric, business and legal Establishments eager to maintain the status quo. The book also will be dismissed by those persons who distrust spontaneity, imagination, unorthodoxy and evolutionthe forces which have, in the past, resulted in humanism, progress, invention and mutation. The situation in regard to psychedelic drugs, the present book and human development in general was well stated by Frank Lloyd Wright who once wrote, "Creation is not only rare but always hazardous... The soul of any civilization on earth... is Art and Religion, but neither has ever been found in commerce, in government or the police."
Footnotes1. The immense psychedelic growth follows the pattern of other drugs developed since the early fifties. The tranquilizer-amphetamine-barbiturate boom began at that time and resulted in wide proliferation of drugs and patents (over 2500 were filed for barbiturates alone). Progress in other areas of medicine has kept pace so that it is now necessary to revise pharmacology texts constantly. After only three years, Andres Goth found he had to preface his new 1964 edition of Medical Pharmacology with the following: "When the first edition of this book was written, many drugs, now widely used, were still unknown. Many important concepts, currently widely held, were not yet recognized or understood." As it was, this re-issue too was out of date within a year. (back)
2. "In contrast with the outcome of LSD experiences which are so often purely experiential and can hardly be translated into words," writes Dr. Naranjo, "Ibogaine seems to lend itself better to the development of intellectual insight.... I only know of one drug that lends itself better to the manipulation of the therapeutic experience, and this is MMDA, but the differences between the two are great. Whereas MMDA lends itself ideally to the probing into the ongoing situation in the 'here and now,' the analytic quality of the Ibogaine experience is useful in understanding the 'there and then'.... I would suggest that MMDA and Ibogaine may complement each other well in successive experiences, and both are in turn complementary to the non-analytical and often impersonal or a-personal experience of LSD." (back)
3. Said one user upon trying the drug: "I took a puff and my arms and legs fell off. And then the garden of God opened up." (back)
4. One of the most enthusiastic proselytizers for the joys of liquor was the alchemist Raymond Lully, who is often credited with the discovery of distillation. Although the art in his time was most rudimentary, calling, for instance, for wine, fermented in horse dung, Lully was so impressed with aqua vini that he thought its discovery meant that the millennium was at hand. (back)
5. LSD-movie buffs would date the influence of psychedelics on commercial movies earlier. "La Dolce Vita," is considered "psychedelic" in feeling by many, and few would deny that "Juliet of the Spirits," and other superior imports"Breathless," "Sundays and Cybele," "Help," etc.bear the marks of the psychedelic style.
Films made by screenwriters and directors who have tried to include some elements of the psychedelic experience in their portrayal of the human tragi-comedy should be distinguished from those which use LSD itself as a dominating theme. There is just the barest outside chance that one of the latter films might succeed artistically and honestly, but indications at the moment do not favor such a possibility. As Lawrence Lipton has written in this regard, "If Hollywood's treatment of the Beat was any indication (and TV's and radio's) we can expect the worst." (back)
6. That is not to say that there isn't a psychedelic "Overground." In New York and Los Angeles, there are courses offered to the public on LSD and its social implications. At San Francisco State one can arrange to audit a class at the Experimental College on "Cybernetics and LSD: A Study of the Application of Consciousness-Expanding Drugs to Technology." Perhaps the most amazing development in the "Overground" (in this case, the academic front) was the resolution by the National Student Association recommending revision of federal statutes against the use of the psychedelics, including marijuana The NSA also called for the creation of inter-disciplinary centers for the integration of psychedelic experience and for monies to establish and maintain a Drug Studies Desk. (This resolution was issued in March, 1966, just before the explosion of LSD hysteria). (back)
7. Synectics, from the Greek, meaning "the joining of seemingly diverse elements." (back)
8. A good, illustrative Synectics session concerned the search for a new product which would have an earning potential for its manufacturer of $300,000 000 per year. To warrant such financial expectations, it was evident that this product would have to be unique and of permanent value.
An early suggestion was that maybe there might be a way to construct a road which would never wear out. Living coral was at first recommended, but soon dismissed as impractical, however self-replenishing.
Then one of the group remarked that in the Arctic extremely hardy lichens grow on top of the snow, and that as a highway surface material they might be more suitable. Because no one had specific information on lichens, an encyclopedia was consulted, and it was discovered that lichenswhich are part algae and part fungiwill grow on any surface, the atmosphere sufficing as the only necessary nutritional source.
Soon someone suggested that lichens might be added to paint, then canned and sold for dressing cement surfaces such as road dividers on super highways (to eliminate the expense and bother of grass) or to beautify desert areas.
The group at this point was extremely excited and called in an expert. Though sympathetic, he pointed out various technical flaws in their thinking, and this possibility was gradually dropped.
Nonetheless, the seemingly insurmountable difficulties were eventually overcome, for in the summer of 1966 a similar product, was put on the retail market.
In this instance, the Synectics group did not work out their idea in the laboratory. But in most cases they are concerned to realize the various products they conjure up, at least in prototype. Says one of their number: "You've got to dirty your hands and see that the thing works, Otherwise, even the most brilliant inspiration can amount to nothing." Some of the realized innovations coming out of the Cambridge group include a better gasoline pump, a mineral fertilizer with a cement base, a water supply for Pakistan, an electric can opener and in the words of one journalist, "the feeding programme of American astronauts." (back)
9. This raises the question, of course, as to whether or not there have been any Synectic sessions carried out under the influence of LSD. To date nothing has been published to answer this question a fact not surprising considering the paucity of literature on psychedelic problem solving until recently.
In the future such experiments undoubtedly will be undertaken If the group is composed of LSD amateurs, probably most will be unable to handle the session effectively because of the enormous number of things happening to each one individually. On the other hand, it is not improbable that a group of serious psychedelic adepts can make much of such an opportunity.
The pilot study into group problem-solving sessions carried out by the Institute for Psychedelic Research of San Francisco State College was inconclusive in this regard, although there were some group members both times it was tried "who felt there was enhancement of their individual creative abilities some of the time." On the whole, the use of psychedelics in a group did not seem as promising as did personal and individual explorations. (back)
10. This case was presented by Frank Barron in his Creativity & Psychological Health. (back)
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