HW: Various

Nick Medford nickmedford at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 2 20:30:47 EDT 2004

On Fri, 2 Jul 2004 19:18:09 -0400, Doug Pearson <jasret at MINDSPRING.COM>

>I recall reading that one's mental state under the influence of LSD is
>very similar to the mental state of a schizophrenic

In the 60s there was a vogue for some psychiatrists to take LSD, allegedly
so that they could get better insights into the experiences of their
psychotic patients, although this may just have been a handy "acceptable"
reason to put before more conservative colleagues who would otherwise have
judged their curiosity and experimentation "unacceptable". (Leary, of
course, made no bones about *his* reasons for taking it, but that's another

However one has to be cautious about overstating the similarities between
LSD and schizophrenia. For starters, while visual phenomena do sometimes
occur in schizophrenia, they are actually relatively uncommon- whereas they
are very much the norm with LSD. Secondly, schizophrenia almost always
involves auditory hallucinations ("hearing voices"), whereas the perceptual
distortions induced by LSD are often illusions rather than true
hallucinations*, though this does vary between individuals and between
experiences. Then there is the question of the emotional content of the
experience: many LSD experiences are reported as highly enjoyable- hardly
something one could say about the terrifying paranoia of acute
schizophrenia. And while LSD and schizophrenia may both involve feelings of
mystical revelation or cosmic insight, in psychosis these often have a
highly unpleasant flavour, and frequently involve ideas that are so bizarre
as to be unique (and baffling to anyone else)- whereas LSD "insights" -
whether or not one judges them worthwhile- tend to be more benign, and
expressed in ways that are more consistent with the general cultural
approach to such things. But on these last points a "bad trip" may indeed
be much more akin to a paranoid psychosis.

*illusion= distorted perception of something that _is_ actually there e.g.
seeing a table as a four-legged animal. hallucination= percept in the
_absence_ of a stimulus.

>>Amphetamines, on the other hand, are well-known for producing a psychosis
>>that is pretty much indistinguishable from schizophrenia.
>'A Scanner Darkly', by (notorious speedfreak) Philip K. Dick provides an
>incredibly disturbing fictionalized version of this phenomenon, which, as
>I understand, does require long-term exposure to become a semi-permanent
>condition.  (And is what I was talking about when I mentioned people who
>had screwed up their lives from amphetamine abuse to the point where they
>were unable to carry on human relationships.)  Later in his life, Dick
>reported seeing visions of pink laser lights, and of being spoken to by
>his sister who had died in infancy, both classic symptoms.

Didn't he also claim to have been contacted by extraterrestrial
intelligences... weren't the "Valis" books based on these experiences? I
haven't read any of his later work but everything I've heard about it does
indeed suggest that it bears all the hallmarks of speed psychosis.

Anyway Doug I'm glad you popped up because I recently came across this
rather fine site:


and somewhere in there is an MP3 from one of your bands Primodial
Undermind, though as far as I can make out you didn't play on that
particular track.. unless it was under a pseudonym? Anyway it's interesting
stuff, how do I get to hear more?


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