Get curious about psychedelics. Responsibly.

Tag: psychedelic

Shifting cultural perceptions of the nonrational

From John Weir Perry’s The Far Side of Madness on shifting cultural perceptions of the nonrational:

It is fortunate [..] that there were no psychiatrists around who might have locked up Paul or Brother Klaus, Joan of Arc or George Fox for their auditory and visual hallucinations. Is our problem, perhaps, to be found more in our conception of what is normal than in what is called sick?

We are living in an age of transition, still under the spell of an era of reason and positivism, but entering a new one of tolerance for the nonrational. Our psychiatry still belongs to the era we are leaving. Then, men looked on mind as consisting of the rational functioning of consciousness, assuming a right way and a wrong way to think and feel. A mental “normal” was assumed by a general consensus and would be demonstrated statistically, such that all so favored could be properly alike, adapted and adjusted one to another. In contrast to such norms were the unusual and nonrational ways, which then were called “disorders.” There could be no room for the Pauls, Foxes, and Blakes in this world of norms; imagine anyone talking with his visions! Things must be called by their proper designations: Trances were hysterical, visions and voices were visual and auditory hallucinations — and nothing more. All that departed from the normal was by definition symptomatic of the abnormal, the pathological.

In a new age that has a degree of tolerance and understanding for the nonrational, how far can we go with it? Have we room in our new world for divine possession, like the Balinese ecstatic dancer or the whirling dervish? If we are not going to expect that all should be alike and are to agree instead that the psyche has its own strange ways of accomplishing its ends, then perhaps what were called symptoms and syndromes may call for a different interpretation and evaluation.

Symptoms are judged by the fact of departure from the norms. If we look upon these same phenomena as expressions of inner experience, as valid psychic process and content, then a thorough reassessment of them is called for.

We might compare this problem with experience in the arts. If we were so governed by a rationalistic age that we expected painting to depict the objective world realistically, then the photographic would be “normal” and the Chagalls and Blakes “abnormal.” Or in literature, if it were expected that “normal” meant clear descriptive and narrative prose, then Goethe’s Faust, Part 2, would be considered crazy. So with psychic life. If health means stark reality-orientation and adjustment, then the adolescent storms have no place; they are sickness, not creative turmoils. If the psyche is expected to grow smoothly in its developmental stages, in gradually ascending steps, like the grades in schooling, there is no place for turbulence. But if we grant recognition to the empirical facts — that the psyche grows instead by cataclysmic upheavals — we must change our model. It is an organism that grows more like the deciduous tree than the evergreen; periods of leafing and flowering alternate with periods of recession and resorption. The psyche grows by renewals — death and new life, revolutions and overthrows of what has been, and the burgeoning of new forms dislodging the old ones.

Excellent magic mushroom trip report from author of “Acid Test”


Tom Shroder recently took psilocybin mushrooms for the first time in 35 years and wrote an excellent trip report on his experience. He’s the author of Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal (book review), and a speaker at the Horizons conference in New York in October 2014; he also recently wrote a great long-form article on psychedelic science and history.

Here’s a quote from the write-up of his first ‘shroom trip in 35 years:

“I can’t think of any other way to put this but to say the sky opened, and grace poured down all around me. Light itself had transformed into a palpable substance, spilling down as if from a fountain. But it was more than light. It was blessings of every kind, goodness incarnate, flowing inexhaustible and immutable from above. I didn’t say to myself, “What is this?” I didn’t guess. I knew, I saw, I was in the presence of God. This wasn’t a God with whom I could have a conversation, at least not two-way. I think I said, or shouted, “Ok, I am DEFINITELY not an atheist,” but God was mute, or rather, I understood, or perceived, that the only response God would ever make was the boundless bounty of beauty cascading over me.”

Read the full trip report here!

(Header credit: shazbot on Flickr)

A Tripper’s Guide to the Galaxy

To complement my article on trip sitting, this week I wrote a brief guide with seven things you should think about if you’re considering taking psychedelics. Among them, the seeming paradox of setting intention while not having expectations; cleaning up your setting; and setting aside the following day for reflection and integration. Check it out here!

For more reading, you should check out Myron Stolaroff’s “Using Psychedelics Wisely”, hosted on Erowid and also appearing as chapter 8 of Charles Grob’s “Hallucinogens: a reader“.


A Psychedelic Renaissance

psychedelic renaissance Madeleine Gendreau

illustration: Madeleine Gendreau

Today I published my first article in The Link! Titled “A Psychedelic Renaissance,” it goes over the need for people to become more educated about the drugs that surround them:

The word “drug” itself often keeps us from developing a more nuanced understanding of these substances. This is a term that places cannabis, heroin and MDMA into the same category, despite their radically different effects and harm profiles.

In political dialogue, the term “drugs” is Orwellian; it’s a scare-tactic word that lumps the good with the bad and the ugly.

. . .

The mindset regarding drugs is similar to sex: if we’re not well-informed, the first thing to do is educate ourselves in order to sort the facts from the stigma and sensational preconceived notions—and to ensure our safety.

Seek out information on substances that you’re curious about; ask friends that have experience with these substances, or spend some time reading the endless trip reports that exist on sites like Erowid to get a better idea of what the subjective experience is like on a particular substance.

The article also gives a brief overview of some exciting recent and ongoing psychedelic research. To check it out, click here!

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