Tag Archives | LSD
The New Yorker unravels the military’s secret program to develop the ultimate “humane” weapon for the wars of the future — mass-delirium-inducing gas:
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Colonel James S. Ketchum dreamed of war without killing. He joined the Army in 1956 and left it in 1976, and in that time became the military’s leading expert in a secret Cold War experiment: to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals that temporarily incapacitate the mind-—causing, in the words of one ranking officer, a “selective malfunctioning of the human machine.”
Today, the facility, Edgewood Arsenal, is a crumbling assemblage of buildings on the Chesapeake Bay. But for some of the surviving test subjects, and for the doctors who tested them, what happened at Edgewood remains deeply unresolved.
I spoke to a former Edgewood test subject who was given the nerve agent VX. The effect was rapid. There was a radio on in the room, but the words made little sense.
Colonel James S. Ketchum, was the U.S. military’s leading expert in a secret Cold War experiment: to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals that temporarily incapacitate the mind, reports Raffi Khatchadourian in a lengthy profile for the New Yorker:
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…The drugs under review ranged from tear gas and LSD to highly lethal nerve agents, like VX, a substance developed at Edgewood and, later, sought by Saddam Hussein. Ketchum’s specialty was a family of molecules that block a key neurotransmitter, causing delirium. The drugs were known mainly by Army codes, with their true formulas classified. The soldiers were never told what they were given, or what the specific effects might be, and the Army made no effort to track how they did afterward. Edgewood’s most extreme critics raise the spectre of mass injury—a hidden American tragedy.
Ketchum, an unreconstructed advocate of chemical warfare, believes that people who fear gaseous weapons more than guns and mortars are irrational.
Bioweapons expert Frank Olson unwittingly served as a guinea pig in clandestine CIA mind-control experiments involving LSD. But was the purpose all along to assassinate him? Via the Huffington Post:
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The sons of a Cold War scientist who plunged to his death in 1953 several days after unwittingly taking LSD in a CIA mind-control experiment sued the government Wednesday. They claimed the CIA murdered their father, Frank Olson, by pushing him from a 13th-story window of a hotel – not, as the CIA says, that he jumped to his death.
Olson was a bioweapons expert at Fort Detrick, the Army’s biological weapons research center in Maryland. The lawsuit claims the CIA killed Olson when he developed misgivings after witnessing extreme interrogations in which they allege the CIA committed murder using biological agents Olson had developed.
Olson consumed a drink laced with LSD by CIA agents on Nov. 19, 1953, the suit says.
I went to a Zen temple in my early 20s, and, ever the scientist, every chance I got to speak to a monk one on one, I asked every one of them if they had tripped on psychedelics and how important their trips were in their decision to become a monk. And I'd say 99% of these junior monks in their 20s all got their start on LSD.
"The guy was, like, tearing him to pieces with his mouth, so I told him, 'Get off!'" Vega told Miami television station WSVN. "The guy just kept eating the other guy away, like, ripping his skin." Vega flagged down a Miami police officer, who he said repeatedly ordered the attacker to get off the victim. The attacker just picked his head up and growled at the officer, Vega said.
Could LSD push the brains of our brightest scientists and thinkers to a higher level? The Morning News on the government funded institute which, right before it was shut down, demonstrated just this:
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It was the summer of ’66. At the International Foundation for Advanced Study, an inconspicuously named facility dedicated to psychedelic drug research, an architect and three senior scientists donned eyeshades and earphones, sank into comfy couches, and waited for their government-approved dose of LSD to kick in.
The couched volunteers had each brought along three highly technical problems from their respective fields that they’d been unable to solve for months. In two hours, when the LSD became fully active, they were going to remove the eyeshades and earphones, and attempt to find some solutions…Over the course of the preceding year, IFAS researchers had dosed a total of 22 other men for the creativity study.
Here’s the clincher. The LSD absolutely…helped them solve their complex, seemingly intractable problems.
So what do you think, psychonauts? Pretty interesting article from Adam Halberstadt and Mark Geyer in Scientific American:
What would you see if you could look inside a hallucinating brain? Despite decades of scientific investigation, we still lack a clear understanding of how hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), mescaline, and psilocybin (the main active ingredient in magic mushrooms) work in the brain. Modern science has demonstrated that hallucinogens activate receptors for serotonin, one of the brain’s key chemical messengers. Specifically, of the 15 different serotonin receptors, the 2A subtype (5-HT2A), seems to be the one that produces profound alterations of thought and perception.
It is uncertain, however, why activation of the 5-HT2A receptor by hallucinogens produces psychedelic effects, but many scientists believe that the effects are linked to increases in brain activity. Although it is not known why this activation would lead to profound alterations of consciousness, one speculation is that an increase in the spontaneous firing of certain types of brain cells leads to altered sensory and perceptual processing, uncontrolled memory retrieval, and the projection of mental “noise” into the mind’s eye…
Read More: Scientific American
The return of psychedelics to the medical arsenal seems to be well under way. Lauren Slater writes for the New York Times Magazine about Charles Grob, “a psychiatrist and researcher at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center who was administering psilocybin — an active component of magic mushrooms — to end-stage cancer patients to see if it could reduce their fear of death”:
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…When the research was completed in 2008 — (and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry last year) — the results showed that administering psilocybin to terminally ill subjects could be done safely while reducing the subjects’ anxiety and depression about their impending deaths.
Grob’s interest in the power of psychedelics to mitigate mortality’s sting is not just the obsession of one lone researcher. Dr. John Halpern, head of the Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Belmont Mass., a psychiatric training hospital for Harvard Medical School, used MDMA — also known as ecstasy — in an effort to ease end-of-life anxieties in two patients with Stage 4 cancer.