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  LSD — The Problem-Solving Psychedelic

    P.G. Stafford and B.H. Golightly

        Introduction by Dr. Duncan B. Blewett

IN THIS VOLUME the authors have performed a service which has long been badly needed. They have collected and presented all of the important evidence to date on the use and effectiveness of LSD. It is a tribute to their ability that the material is presented in a clear and straightforward fashion and in a style which does not lapse into either the vague other-worldliness of mysticism or the sterile irrelevancy of scientism.
    This comprehensive presentation of evidence regarding the psychedelics has become imperative because the power of these compounds has forced them upon the notice of the public. Agencies of government, reflecting a widespread resentment at this intrusion, without bothering to investigate the evidence have begun attempts to prohibit the use and eliminate the spreading influence of the psychedelics. It has long been evident to those working with the psychedelics that suppression will not be successful and that governments should, both in wisdom and in prudent regard for potential excise revenue, aim at education, which would be relatively easy, instead of attempting prohibition, which would be costly and unavailing. Stafford and Golightly highlight, illustrate and underline this point. In this volume they present the reading public with so clear an intimation of the potential utility and humanizing influence of the psychedelics that the reader will come to question the humanity, the wisdom and the ethics of legislation which effectively withholds relief from those whose suffering could be ended or eased by the use of the psychedelics—the autistic child; the person suffering the otherwise uncontrollable pain of terminal cancer; the neurotic; the alcoholic; the sexually maladjusted; the psychopath; or the dying individual who finds death the ultimate terror.
    It is inevitable that time, human need and the search for self-understanding and self-actualization will force upon those in control a closer, more serious and honest appraisal of the psychedelics. When this situation develops—and it will not be many years in coming—this book will serve as a resource work of major importance. It will serve too to stimulate other writers to follow the authors' lead and to produce further objective and useful volumes. One can but hope that many of them will approach the standard which Stafford and Golightly have established.
    The discovery of LSD marked one of the three major scientific breakthroughs of the twentieth century. In physics the splitting of the atom provided access to undreamed-of energy. The biologists are upon the threshold of learning how to manipulate genetic structures and bringing the process of evolution under human control In psychology the psychedelics have provided the key to the unimaginable vastness of the unconscious mind for, as Suzuki stated, "Our consciousness is nothing but an insignificant floating piece of island in the Oceanus encircling the earth. But it is through this little fragment of land that we can look out to the immense expanse of the unconscious itself."
    In the last of these discoveries lies the key to survival. For if man is to cope with his new-found physical and biological power and responsibility, there must be an abrupt and decisive revision of human psychology. The motives which have made human history a chronology of bloodshed and brutality will otherwise certainly and shortly lead to the annihilation of the species.
    The psychedelics offer the hope that we are on the threshold of a new renaissance in which man's view of himself will undergo dramatic change. Alienated and encapsulated, he has become trapped by his history in outmoded institutions which disfigure him with the creed of original sin; corrupt him with fear of economic insecurity; dement him with the delusion that mass murder is an inevitable outcome of his nature; debase him to believe that butchery in the name of the state is a sacred duty, and leave him so crippled that he is afraid to seek self-understanding or to love and trust himself, his neighbor or his God.
    Only the psychedelics offer the hope that man can grow rapidly and fully enough to meet the challenge mounted by his technical accomplishments.
    The models of man and the frames of reference involved in our technologically centered society are proving increasingly inadequate in the face of the profound, revolutionary transformation of the times in which the dividing walls of social, political and economic structures are rapidly being eroded. A new morality is called for in a world in which conception is becoming voluntary; genetic structures are becoming open to deliberate manipulation; socialization can be controlled to fit a "Brave New World" and traditional sex roles are proving unacceptable. New political institutions are required in the face of the power to exterminate the race, the immediacy of communication, the emergence of political awareness among all the peoples of the world, and the need to protect democracy against the consequences of specialization. New economic structures are demanded to balance supply with actual demand rather than with purchasing power; to permit the distribution of constructive, nutritive, helpful things with the same level of organization and skill with which we are able to distribute deadly and noxious things in time of war, and to permit men to find a sense of dignity, worth and accomplishment in an automated world.
    Already in the arts we have seen old forms shattered. In the social sciences, and particularly in psychology, we are being forced to re-examine those aspects of man's nature which cultural and scientific specialization have neglected. But this age of transformation is also one of crisis and intense anxiety. Dread confronts mankind and, in its shadow, fundamental questions which have long been neglected grow imperatively urgent.
    Every man has asked himself, "Who am I?"; "What is this thing I call myself?"; "What is its purpose?" and "How can I fulfill that purpose?". These are basic questions which each individual must answer. The quality of his life depends upon the nature of his answers. They lie at the foundation of self-knowledge and self-understanding, without which all other knowledge is useless.
    But how is self-knowledge to be attained? Our vision, and consequently our comprehension of our selves, is blocked out in many areas by repression. Even where the aspects of the self are open to our scrutiny, our past experience keeps our observations and interpretations bound in the ruts of conditioned response.
    The creative potential of the psychedelics lies in the fact that they change one's relation to one's self. When this change induces fear and attempts at escape, it is known as depersonalization, but when it evokes pleasure, it is called self-transcendence. In either case, one stands outside one's defensive structures in such a manner that they are seen clearly for what they are—methods of effacing or distorting uncomfortable features of reality. Having seen through them, one can no longer hide behind them for they have become transparent. This opens to conscious awareness a wider, clearer, more complete view of the world—an unhabitual, unified and undistorted "new look" which is the basis of the creative capacity and the problem-solving ability which the authors have clearly described and carefully documented.
    The transcendent process also lies at the core of the therapeutic use of the psychedelics. When the defense mechanisms are obviated, one sees one's self objectively. One is, as it were, emotionally naked to one's own gaze. This is the confrontation of the self with no means left to defend against one's own scrutiny and one's own enmity. This is the crux of the process which transforms the value system and hence the man. In this defenseless and indefensible state one cannot fight, and surrender alone is possible. In this case it is self-surrender—a process which leads to being "born again" or of "finding" one's self. It is the final and ultimate acceptance of reality, including the self, as it is in essence. In this way one learns to accept the self; to be content to be one's self and to find one's self an object of his own compassion. The importance of this process is evidenced in that our self-concept conditions our thinking. It makes us respond with trust, understanding, love-and affection or, conversely, with suspicion, prejudice and hostility toward ourselves and toward others. Because the feelings are the wellsprings of behavior, they color—indeed determine—all of our relationships.
    However, the importance of the psychedelic or transcended levels of consciousness extends far beyond their effectiveness in problem solving or in more directly psychotherapeutic activity. The paramount importance of these states of mind lies in the field of basic research into the nature of man. The psychedelics, by inducing these levels of consciousness which are vast extensions and enlargements of normal experience, provide a microscope for the psychologist through which the details of structure and function of personality can be clearly observed.
    Science requires the objective observation of the elements which comprise the field of study. Among the sciences the study of the human mind encounters the unique problem that the mind itself is simultaneously the observer and the observed. From within normality its very homogeneity prevents the recognition of much of its nature. Freud's remarkable contribution to the field of psychology lay in his inspiration to compare and contrast normal and abnormal states of consciousness. Thus he used abnormality as an outside reference point a mirror in which some of the lineaments of normality could be discerned.
    The psychedelics provide us with another external reference point from which to view the normal mind. The mirror of the abnormal is constricted, distorted and devitalized. In using it, the investigator must interpret from minimal data, since he must infer the nature and scope of repression; and he must, to obtain information, overcome the resistance of maximal defense in painfully fearful, withdrawn and hostile individuals. The mirror of the psychedelics, however, suffers from no such distortion. It reflects a clearer, larger, more complete image than that of normal observation. As a cinematic film, when projected upon a screen, is enlarged until each detail can be clearly seen, so is the personality projected and enlarged through the enhanced awareness and extended consciousness of the transcendent experience. In this state the problems of constriction, enervation and distress are obviated. The individual is more open, less defended, easier of access, friendlier, more competent and open-minded in observation and better able to report.
    The psychedelics give warrant of being man's most valuable resource to date in solving problems and in treating emotional disorders. Readers will find themselves puzzled by the paucity of psychedelic research in the light of the findings which have been made, and they are likely to be even further perplexed by the regrettable restrictions even now being placed in the road of further intelligent investigation. Perhaps the chief barrier to extensive research is the fact that the scope and power of the psychedelics render them a fundamental "novelty," to use an expression of Whitehead's:
The universe is vast. Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge. Sceptics and believers are all alike. At this moment scientific sceptics are the leading dogmatists. Advance in detail is admitted; fundamental novelty is barred This dogmatic common sense is the death of philosophic adventure. The universe is vast.

    This book offers the promise that the expressed concern of an informed public and an open-minded scientific community may overcome the fear and dogmatism which characterize present official attitudes toward the psychedelics. It pioneers the way for a wide-scale scientific and philosophic adventure into the vastness of the universe of the mind.

    Department of Psychology           
    University of Saskatchewan
    Regina Campus
    Regina, Saskatchewan


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