LSD, Medicine or Madness?

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Freedom was the battlecry of the sixties. Freedom from war, from the social pressures exerted by the older generation, and perhaps even freedom from oneself. The goal was to live in an uninhibited environment where experimentation of all sorts could thrive. It was within the context of this "hippie generation" that lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as "acid" on the street, came to pervade the lives of millions of American youth. The best known of all psychedelic drugs, LSD had a profound effect on the outlook of the counterculture that emerged on the streets of San Francisco in the sixties. It gave people "freedom from the restraints of ordinary consciousness and everyday sorts of socialized behavior" (Debold and Leaf 1967). As a result of LSD's saturation of American society and the negative connotations that came with it's rampant abuse, LSD was categorized as a schedule one drug, indicating that it had no accepted medical use in the U.S. Despite this claim, many researchers have asserted that LSD has proven to be a useful aid in psychotherapy and in other settings as well. This issue is one that has stirred controversy and many remain skeptical to it's genuine benefits. The objective of this paper is to understand LSD and it's effects, as well as to present a discussion on possible benefits of it's use in psychotherapy.

The Discovery of LSD

LSD is a semisynthetic preparation derived from ergot, which grows as a parasite on rye wheat and other grains (Snyder 1986). The hallucinogenic properties of this substance were first discovered by Albert Hofmann in 1943 when he accidentally took in some of the drug during it's purification and crystallization. What Hofmann actually took in was LSD-25, so named...

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...dical use in the U.S. Many still await the day when doors will be opened to conduct further research on this intriguing topic.

References

1. Aghajanian, G.K. Serotonin and the action of LSD in the brain. Psychiatric Annals 24(3): 137-141 (1994).

2. Bonson, K.R. & Murphy, D.L. Alterations in responses to LSD in humans with chronic administration of tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors or lithium.

Behavioral Brain Research 73: 229-233 (1996).

3. Debold, R.C. & Leaf, R.C. LSD, Man & Society. Wesleyan University Press (1967).

4. Sankar, D.V. LSD: A Total Study. PJD Publications (1975).

5. Snyder, S.H. Drugs and the Brain. Scientific American Library (1986).

6. WWW1. LSD Use and Effects.

7. WWW2. Visual Phenomenology of the LSD Flashback.

8. WWW3. Serotonin, LSD, and the Epiphysis (Third Eye).
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