By Ralph Metzner, 1964
Lysergic Acid (LSD 25) & Ritalin in the Treatment of Neurosis
Book Authors: T.M. Ling & J.Buckman
This book is a collection of case studies by two English Harley Street psychiatrists, who have been using LSD in an outpatient facility under National Health Service arrangements in a hospital in London. Their method consists of giving small doses of LSD (50-150 gamma) combined with intravenous Ritalin, sometimes twice or three times during the course of the session. They believe that Ritalin (a central nervous system stimulant) potentiates the LSD effect and serves to reduce some of the anxiety concomitant with the release of unconscious material.
They experimented previously with Methedrine instead of Ritalin, and found this much less satisfactory. Their outlook is pragmatic and their choice of procedures apparently based on common sense considerations. In this way they avoid some of the pitfalls of the more strictly theory-oriented psychotherapists. Usually six to ten sessions are given, as part of regular psychotherapy, spread out over several months. (One of their cases was described in detail in The Psychedelic Review, this issue).
They point to speed as one of the advantages of the system over other forms of therapy, as well as the fact that “the patient does not hand himself over to an omnipotent therapist but participates actively in his recovery” (p. 16). They see the drugs as pro- ducing a “regression” and are sensitive to the importance of the therapist-patient relationship during and between sessions.
A nurse is always in attendance, but in general they seem to use very little interpretation, leav- ing the patient to follow his own fantasies. They have treated 350 out-patient cases in a period of four years, “of whom one attempted suicide and three had to be admitted to hospital for a variable time” (p.26).
Rorschach and intelligence tests are used to screen out patients with weak ego-strength. Their approach is strictly medical and they give no hint of interest in some of the other dimensions of the LSD experience, even though some of their patients clearly do. They compare LSD treatment to surgery as the most apt analogy:
“It is suggested that deep treatment of this type should be considered in the same light a careful surgeon approaches operating on the abdomen. LSD provides the means of opening the un- conscious and exposing it primarily to the patient in co-operation with the psychiatrist; the surgeon has the ability of opening the abdomen and then making changes or removing organs while the patient is unconscious.”
This book does not provide a statistical evaluation of the 350 cases, and no success rates are given. Instead, a series of detailed case studies is presented, covering migraine; writer’s block; frigidity; sexual perversion; pathological gambling; emotional immaturity; character disorder; excessive anxiety; and psoriasis (a psychosomatic skin-condition).
These are all conditions that have proved fairly resistant to other forms of therapy. The case studies have the outstanding merit of being mostly direct quotations from the patients themselves, in their follow-up reports, with a minimum of psychiatric commentary.
LSD session reports of this kind could provide the basic data for a truly empirical study of the subjective aspects of neurosis (as opposed to the inferences of theory-blinkered therapists). One may question the authors’ use of small doses and suggest that the use of larger doses could shorten the treatment even more, as is indicated by work in some other centers. However, given the need to remain within the framework of an out-patient clinic, with no work interruptions, their method is probably the most feasible.
Shorter-acting, equally powerful drugs such as psilocybin could be used to circumvent the time problem. In summary, this book may be recommended to therapists interested in the use of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of neurosis. The book is printed in London by Lambarde Press, 1963. 172 pages. (Distributed in the U.S. by Medical Examination Pub. Co., Inc., Flushing 65, N.Y., $5.00.) —RM.
The Making of Man
Book Author: Kenneth Walker
The influence exerted by that remarkable visionary and teacher, G. I. Gurdjieff, continues to spread and deepen. Since his death in 1949, perhaps a dozen or so books have appeared related to his work, During 1963-4, no less than six new books have appeared dealing with some aspect of his life or teaching. Daly King’s States of Human Consciousness
, Kenneth Walker's Making of Man
are excellent expositions of his eachings; Thomas de Hartmann’s Our Life with Mr. Gurdjieff
and Fritz Peters Boyhood with Gurdjieff
give fascinating glimpses of his character as a man and his personal style.
Louis Pauwels’ Gurdjieff is a somewhat negatively biased selection of pupils’ testimonies; finally Gurdjieff’s own second book Meetings with Remarkable Men
gives some account of his travels in Central Asia and the experiental background of his teachings, as well as much else besides.
Kenneth Walker, a Harley Street surgeon, has written three other books about Gurdjieff and his pupil Ouspensky, and this short volume is probably the best short introduction to the whole system and the principal characters.
In this book Walker writes directly and frankly of his own first acquaintance with Gurdjieff’s teachings, through Ouspensky’s lectures in London. He discusses the idea of men experimenting with their own lives, to make themselves more conscious; the idea of levels of consciousness higher than the normal level, which can be attained through disciplined effort; the distinction between essence (inherited characteristics, dispositions and physical attributes) and personality (artificial and accidental acquisitions, context-determined, dominant in most people).
If your name is Smith or Brown you will often have to work against ‘Smith’ or “Brown” in order to develop your Essence. At first you will have great difficulty in distinguishing between what belongs to your Essence and what belongs to your Personality and at the start it will be better for you to attribute almost everything. you discover 1n yourself to your ersonality.
There are certain narcotic drugs which have the special property of putting 'personality' temporarily to sleep, and of thus allowing a man’s Essence to reveal itself more clearly. Ouspensky’s cosmological theories are also described, as are some of the relations of the Gurdjieff system to Eastern philosophy and to neurology.
The particular excellence of this book as an introduction to this system lies not only in the lucid presentation of basic ideas, but even more in the concrete descriptions of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff as teachers and the detailed operation of their “school” methods. He describes also the very ancient music that Gurdjieff brought back from Central Asia and the system of sacred dances and special movements which were used to train pupils in self-awareness. In describing Gurdjieff as a teacher, Walker writes:
The more I saw of Gurdjieff, the more convinced I became of my teacher’s uniqueness. I had met famous and unusual men before, but I had never come across anybody who resembled him. He possessed qualities that I had never seen before. Insight, knowledge, control and “being” are the words that flow into my mind when I begin to think what those qualities actually were.
The book ends with a brief commentary on All and Everything
, or Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson
, Gurdjieff’s cosmic allegorical epic, which was designed to clear the mind of all false preconceptions and prepare it for a new development of consciousness and knowledge.
There is, in the writings of Gurdjieff, and his disciples, including Kenneth Walker, a kind of calm rationality, a cool, intense, clarity combined with almost passionate singleness of purpose. One senses a justified optimism in their quest for the expansion of consciousness.—R.M
, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963. Pp. 163
The States of Human Consciousness
Book Author: C. Daly King
This book stands in the tradition of Gustav Fechner and William James. It is an attempt to work out a systematic psychological theory of consciousness. Consciousness has received scant attention in modern psychology because it is hard to measure.
The normal fluctuations of consciousness are too small for our crude cur- rent measurement techniques. You cannot measure something unless it varies in clearly predictable ways. Therefore students of consciousness have always focussed their attention on changes in consciousness. Fechner studied changes in subjective sensa- tion as a function of changes in stimulus properties. James and his modern followers study drug-induced changes of consciousness. Hypnosis, sensory deprivation, psychoanalytic free association, sleep and dreaming through such alterations have psy- chologists attempted to approach the study of consciousness.
The method of altering consciousness which provides the empirical backing for King’s theories is the training in self-awareness developed by Gurdjieff and his school, In particular, King, who obtained a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1946 for electromagnetic studies of sleep, studied with Alfred Richard Orage, who was teaching Gurdjieff’s ideas in New York.
King regards Orage as more “scientific” and “rational” than bey Gurdjieff and less tainted by any hint of “mysticism” or “occultism’’. The thesis of this book may be summarized as follows: in addition to the forms of consciousness known to all human beings (here called Sleep and Waking) there exist two further forms, not widely known (called Awakeness and Objective Consciousness).
Consciousness is defined as a relation between the subjective experiencer on the one hand and the end-products of the organism’s neural functions on the other. In other words it is not identical with sensing, thinking, feeling, etc., which are defined neurologically.
Normally the subjective entity registers passively whatever end-products are provided by the organism. This is why the subjective entity seems so elusive: it doesn’t do anything. But it can become an entity, consciousness can be activated. The difference between ordinary Waking and Awakeness (rarely found) lies precisely in this: when “Awake”, consciousness is active; thinking, feel- ing and acting are initiated by the experiencer, instead of by the organism.
This process of activating consciousness can be accomplished (though it is not easy and requires guided prac- tice) by the technique of active aware- ness. This technique consists in try- ing to become aware of one’s own physical behavior and sensory input according to seven rules:
- No criticism or approval.
- No attempt to change.
- No thinking or logical analysis, observations only.
- No identification with the body observation must be as if of a stranger.
- Exclude external phenomena known only indirectly,
- No selection among sensations to be observed.
- No confinement to particular times and places.
The defining characteristics are all negative: don’t think, don’t select, don’t criticize, don’t infer, don’t identify with the “skin-encapsulated ego”. In simplest terms: turn off the mind, and just become aware of what is going on, in your body, at your sensory receiving stations. King’s evidence for the possibility of another state of consciousness is:
- His acquaintance with Gurdjieff
- His personal experiences.
At the beginning of Chapter VI of this book he writes:
Gurdjieff manifested himself in ways never elsewhere encountered by the writer, in ways so different from those of others that they constituted a plain and perceptible difference in level of existence upon his part... He is the only person ever met by the writer who gave the indubitable impression that all his responses, mental, emotional and practical, were mutually in balance and thus the further impression that everyone else was out of step, but this man himself. It is just what would be expected, though unpredictable, by a sophisticated Waking person, when confronted by someone else in the state of Awakeness. (Pp. 100-101.)
In describing his own experiences resulting from the practice of the Gurdjieff-Orage method he writes (page 122) that some dun-colored bricks he was looking at:
“all at once... appeared to be tremendously alive; without manifesting any exterior motion they seemed to be seething almost joyously inside."
On another occasion King states that:
“now it was chiefly the other people who held the focus of attention. They looked dead, really dead. One expected to see signs of decay but of course there were none. What one did see was stark unconsciousness, scores of marionettes not self-propelled but moved by some force alien to themselves, proceeding along their auto- matic trails mechanically and without purpose.” (Page 123.)
Both these accounts are strongly suggestive of psychedelic experiences and it seems clear to this reviewer that, in terms of King’s scheme, psychedelics move the subject from waking
, simply through biochemical changes.
The LSD literature provides ample confirmation of King’s central thesis that consciousness may be 'activated'. Two further points remain to be discussed briefly. The first is the physiological theory of consciousness propounded by the Gurdjieff Institute
. This theory concerns the derivation of electrical (neural) energies in the organism from a seven-step anabolic sequence, organized like an octave, with reinforcement “shocks” necessary at step 3 and step 7.
The air breathed and sensory input are regarded as two other types of “food”, nasal and neural respectively, which also follow the octave pattern. The activation of consciousness takes place allegedly at the cerebellum, which normally receives impulses from the cortex but 'does nothing' with them.
In Awakeness the cerebellum functions as an integrating and harmonizing center. This theory is fascinating and deserves empirical checking. In this reviewer’s opinion it does not take sufficient account of modern findings on the selectivity of the sensory sys- tems themselves (see e.g. J. S. Bruner’s article on “Perceptual Readiness” in the Psychological Review, 1957), but this does not invalidate the octave theory, nor the psychological theory of consciousness.
The second point concerns King’s fourth state of consciousness, Objective Consciousness, which is defined as clear active awareness akin to that of Awakeness, but directed upon a wider class of objects, namely the whole environment. In the state of Objective Consciousness the relation of the sub- ject to cosmic phenomena (the genuine physics and chemistry of the Universe, for example, and the real nature of sidereal phenomena) is the same as is his relation to his own organism in Awakeness.
To illustrate this state, King draws upon ancient Egyptian religion:
“Their whole culture was built around the concept of the fully developed human being.”
King maintains the Egyptians knew and used the method of active awareness, called by them “Scrutiny” or the method of the Eye of Hur:
“These same techniques often have been employed by others under a somewhat different nomenclature, possibly by every genuine world-religion at the time of its original founding.”
King gives an excellent summary of the Egyptian world view. From this he infers what Objective Consciousness involves. Its primary characteristic appears to consist in a direct awareness of phenomena external to the body, of both planetary and cosmic kinds, which provide a perception of physical and psychic reality much more clear and direct than that given in the state of Awakeness, and far beyond that of the Waking State.
This view includes psychic as well as physical qualities but it appears also that these psychic qualities themselves are defined in purely physical terms, including those of mass, weight and vibration-rate. (Page 152.)
One may compare these descriptions of the state of Objective Consciousness with Leary’s hypothesis (Psychedel. Rev., I, No. 3, p. 330):
“that those aspects of the psychedelic experience which subjects report to be ineffable and ecstatically religious in- volve a direct awareness of the processes which physicists and bio-chemists and neurologists measure.”
The question of course remains: what is one to make of these assertions? What is the evidence for them? How do they fit into our current psychology? It was one of the rules of the Gurdjieff school that no one had the right to make statements about states of consciousness and their relation to “reality”, who could not confirm them from his own personal experience.
Scepticism was required, until one had, through one’s own conscious efforts, so altered one’s level of consciousness that these propositions were appropriate descriptions. In this sense Gurdjieff was far more strictly scientific and experimental than all current academic psychology, which ignores him completely.
The writing in this book is throughly lucid, the presentation of ideas completely rational and cogent. The book can be unreservedly recommen- ded as an excellent contribution to the major scientific puzzle of the 20th century: The nature of consciousness. —R.M.
The Yage Letters
Book Authors: W.Burroughs & A.Ginsberg
In 1953 William Burroughs, author of The Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine
and The Ticket That Exploded
, went to the South American jungle in search of yage (ayahuasca or Banisteriopsis Caapi), a hallucinogenic plant-drug.
In letters to his friend Allen Ginsberg he describes a series of incidents in what appear to be the last outposts of humanity. The letters contain seeds of what was later to develop into Naked Lunch
His yage session was an overdose vomit nightmare, but with lonely courage and sardonic humor unabated he continued his search. Seven years later the poet Allen Ginsberg writes to his friend of his own terror visions under yage in Peru and asks for advice. The reply comes back in “cut-up” form. The “‘cut-up” was invented by Brion Gysin and Burroughs. It is the application of 20th century painters’ techniques the collage to written composition.
These letters are impressive testimony to the extremes to which American bards of the 20th century were prepared to go to find the chemical exit from their minds. The book is published by New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1963. (176 pages) $7.50
Light Through Darkness
Book Author: Henri Michaux
To present this book to our readers we took the unusual step of re-printing a review that had already appeared in another journal. The review was written by Anita Kohsen and appeared in issue No. 34 of Cosmos. This was a highly original and provocative journal. Cosmos was a monthly publication of the Institute for the Study of Mental Images, located in Church Crookham, Hampshire, England. ISMI was “a private non-profit research institute’.
Cosmos was devoted "to the study of man and his world in a cosmological setting.” It was edited, printed and mostly written by L. Gregory and A. Kohsen. This same issue (No. 34) also contained a discussion of Alan Watts’ paper The Individual as Man/World, published in The Psychedelic Review issue one.
For William James the phenomena of mysticism “strengthen monism and optimism”. For many, indeed this has been the effect of drug experiences. Recently this feeling has once more been given expression for example in many articles in the Psychedelic Review
Dr. Nandor Fodor was so impressed with his own mescaline experiences that he says he now refuses to repeat them for fear that he would commit suicide as a means of permanent entrance into that state of bliss (“‘At-oneness—a new phenomenon for parapsychology” in Research Journal of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Vol. 1, “Parapsychology and Yoga”, 1964).
The reaction of others has been very different. Dr. Peter Ringger (Psychische Erlebnisse bei eigenen Meskalinversuchen
, Der Psy- chologe, 1963, XV, 12) describes his own horrible experiences, and incidentally imparts the interesting piece of information that a certain American Foundation had consulted Jung as to whether he would favour putting mescaline on the open market, stating that they proposed making available a million dollars for this purpose: Jung declined to have any- thing to do with it.
M. Henri Michaux’s book Connaissance par les Gouffres was pub- lished in Paris in 1961, and its trans- lation, Light Through Darkness appeared in London this year (1964). M. Michaux is famous both for his writing and painting, and he has made a great many experiments on himself over long periods using various drugs, particularly psilocybine, mescaline and cannabis indica (hashish),
The book is a consummate work of art. Not that it is pleasing or pleasant if we want to see nice pictures there are plenty of chocolate boxes about. Rather it is like some of the late Epstein sculptures, in that it haunts the memory, infests the imagination, makes many other works seem tawdry and thin.
I have not read the French original text, but the verbal virtuosity of the English version (with one or two slight reservations) is such that special mention should be made of the translator’s skill he too must be a creative artist in the realm of language.
Anyone who has tried to capture and record subjective experiences, one’s own and other people’s, knows well the point at which the subject says something like: “There’s a—well, I can see a... Well, I can’t describe it. It’s sort of—if only I could paint...", etc.
Because of his almost unbelievable verbal fertility and subt- lety Michaux has overcome this barrier, which is, of course, only one of many. The work is an affirmation of the worth of experience, any amount of it, good; bad; indifferent; beautiful; ugly; soothing; disturbing; uplifting; irritating; glorious; stultifying; crazy; exalted; an oblique rejection of the assumption that it is proper for man to devote his best talents to striving for what is pleasurable and eschewing what is unpleasant.
It is an account of a quest, and a lust for the life abundant, and a repudiation of the life agreeable. It is, however, a good deal more than this. The book will be exquisitely infuriating to a great many scientists, psychiatrists, philosophers and religious people (a sound reason why they should read it). Why? Freud once wrote that science (whose interests he rather rashly equated with those of psychoanalysis) had three enemies: Philosophy; art; and religion. Of these, he thought only religion counted in practice.
This attitude, if carried to its logical conclusion, (which is much better done by petty literary non-entities than by men of Freud’s stature), is the doctrine of philistinism victorious, the creed of our age. Artists, philosophers and prophets are tolerated only to the extent to which they help make things more comfortable for the particular sector of humanity to which the particular philistine belongs, otherwise: Out!
Now the artists have, by and large, taken one of two paths: the way of compliance, giving pleasure, selling what is wanted, on the one hand, and the way of mirroring bankruptcy, chaos and des- pair on the other. M. Michaux sounds quite a new note a triumphal, unapologetic clarion call, unexpressed, perhaps not even thought, and yet pervading this unusual book: the claim of the artist as saviour. Saviour from what? From insanity, from too much sanity, from the mechanisation of man, from the intolerable hell of isolation to which, (according to Swedenborg at any rate) man is condemned if the main-springs of his actions are the maximisation of his own social and individual pleasures, Michaux has brought the discipline of self-observation and its expression to a high art, and his seemingly insatiable inward curiosity is a drive so merciless that one hesitates to speak of high courage; though one should.
Moreover, his explorations have, if not a mission that is too pedantic and purposive a term at any rate a major incidental application, in sketching, portraying, geting under the skin of, understandng insanity and, in the light of mad- 1ess, the precarious razor’s edge valance that is sanity.
“For centuries, for thousands of years, in all places, in all countries, the lunatic has complained. He says he is beside his body. That his body is elsewhere. That some- one has stolen it from him... He says as best he can, with means that are often meager, by no means prepared for introspection, an introspection which has sud- denly become indispensable... he says that he no longer weighs anything... that he is transparent; that he is empty; that he is artificial; that he is a fake; that another occupies his body... and so forth. He tells the absolute truth to people who are unable to recognise the truth, trying vainly to convince them. As we all know, there are none so deaf as those who have. In every realm, privation is the thing most difficult to convey to those who are well provided. To make things worse, he uses a poetic style, a basic language, to which his disastrous state has made him revert, but which others do not understand, tolerate only ex- ceptionally, only as a ‘speciality’.” (pp. 134-5).
This passage occurs near the beginning of Chapter V, Chasm Situations
, which traces the similarities between drug experiences and insanities, and in which an attempt is made to grapple with madness from within. Michaux is not afraid of mental suffering, the easiest to ignore of all the world’s great miseries, and he has the artist’s sublime and unembarrassed shamelessness in portraying it, like a Goya of insanity:
“Unendurable mechanism of prolongation of the images, the suction- grip images, of which he becomes the powerless prey, like a bare belly offered to gadflies, bloodsuckers or rodents... How [can he] prevent I the evocation, the fatal ‘imagification’? How dispel the images once there? What would he not give to detach them! But he no longer can. The operation which is so easy, known to children, old people, the sick, probably to the most modest mammals, is one which he can no longer perform...” po 141-2)
One fears, in discussing a book like this, which is a deliberate and provocative work of art, rather than a text book or a biography or an exposition, to do much more than write round it, so to speak, for fear of falsifying it by words too crude and overladen with the wrong overtones: he imparts his shocks artistically and economically, sometimes by eccentricities of style, sometimes in a parenthesis. For example:
“Mental athletes that they are, normal men are quite unsuspecting, think they are tired, without strength!”
He had just rung up a friend in the middle of a mescaline session whose “crafty deliquescence” he was trying to shake off, and the contact with a “normal” person had served as “a model of non- enchantment” while telephone contact lasted.) But by no means all of Michaux’s experience was catastrophic. He describes a state:
“...which is without alternation, as well as without combination, in which consciousness in unparalleled totality reigns without the slightest antagonism. Ecstacy (whether cosmic, or of love, or erotic, or diabolic). Without an extreme exaltation one cannot enter into it. Once in it, all variety disappears in what appears an independent universe... A pure universe, of a total energy which those absolutely of the same race; of the same sign; of the same orientation, live together and in abundance” (p. 17).
His reactions to the experience of ecstasy are divided:
“That, and only that, is ‘the great venture’, and little then does it matter whether or not a wave helps this autonomous universe, in which a rapture, comparable to nothing that is of this world, holds you lifted, beyond mental laws, in a sea of felicity... I was entering, clearly, a current which others would have called beneficent... I said aloud: ‘I don’t want to swallow that big caramel’; ‘I don’t want what comes to me with preaching... for I didn’t forget not to want. In a wholly different form from the one I knew, it was still a drug, that is to say an offering of poison which proposes ‘Paradise for you if you accept!’ This paradise—for each drug has its own—was a para- dise of obedience to become ideally normal, submissive to the group spirit (or obedience to conventional education?... The world, perhaps, presents itself as varied, is felt as varied, only if our nervous influx is incessantly varied, uneven, modulated... others in Mexico, venturing to the end of detachment, find ecstacy. Found it a long time ago. They called these mushrooms teonanacatl, which means “God’s flesh”, or flesh of the devil they worshipped, and in this way, with this bitter food, they received their cruel God in communion’ ” (p. 40).
The drugs are described as characteristically different in their effects. Hashish was the least disorientating, helped to conjure up life-like images of people more or less at will and also had the interesting effect on M. Michaux of speeding up and deepen- ing his powers of insight:
“Treacherous hashish, hashish as hunting dog, instructive hashish. It sees quicker than we do, pointing to what we have not yet understood. At the outset, and each time, there is an effort to be made... It is doing violence to the hashish smoker to call on him to make an effort... He has to force himself to make the contact... But once the contact has been made in depth, what an experience! One day, when during one of these moments I was looking at a study in a review with a limited, almost secret, circulation, the study by an erudite young philosopher, I heard something that sounded like the murmur of crowds, gathered to listen to these words. Well, well! The sentence, even when later I read it cold, philosophic though it appeared, was a model of that type of false thinking that is trying for effect, a sentence that could never have come from the pen of one who had not caressed the idea of multiple approbations and... appearing on a platform. Thus, by virtue of a succession of short circuits, I heard the ap- plause with which this writer had felt himself surrounded, having without the slightest doubt sought fear and Hashish opens the inner spaces of sentences, and the concealed preoccupations come out, it pierces them at once. It is curious that this hashish, when I used it to test a few authors, never proved vain, or eccentric. Set at the quarry, it never faltered. It was diligent as a falcon. The author thus unmasked never altogether recovered his mantle or his former retreat”
Michaux seems to repudiate any kind of reality as animating the hashish imagery:
“It would be an illusion to bring forward for the sake of ex- planation some soul or some emanation animating all this"
He gives as his reasoning to support this contention his experience of looking at a picture of a skull which promptly began to work its jaws. But then he continues:
“Perhaps, Perhaps not. Darkness in full brightness, the drug is a petting party. You don’t know what nor whom you have hold of”,
What, according to Michaux, makes the difference between reality and the world of images and dreams?
“Objects, you who stand against, you who resist, who have no truck with music, stubborn, hard, immobile, material, resisting us, who are also material objects, I found you again. I found again our happy opposition. Materiality had returned like a Christmas present” (p. 56).
It is the relationships between the self and material objects, and the feeling of the self as a material object, that are disturbed: in Michaux’s view it is this latter, the loss of the sense of the person as a solid uniquely loca- ted thing that leads to a sense of un-reality of the objective world:
“With the feeling of his mass, he has lost their mass, the imagination and feeling of all masses. Alienated from himself, he is aliena- ted from objects, objects are aliena- ted from him” (p. 137).
And yet, insanity is not regarded as a state wholly pitiful and to be abolished at all costs, There is a curi- ously elusive undercurrent of almost conspiratorial understanding throughout.
“Recent medications prevent the insane from following their alienation through. They have thereby lost their own ‘liberation’, Even when they cannot really be cured they are damped. Strange, dull, ‘improved’ cases, which one encounters at present in the asylums, or outside, madmen frustrated of their madness” (p. 190).
And what is the pathos of madmen that do follow through their madness?
“Rare indeed are the madmen equal to madness. It is as if they did everything to discredit it” (p. 181).
What would he have us do, then?
“Give in to the conscious. Give up the deplorable habit of doing everything ourselves... Sacrifice the ‘first?’ man who makes us live like cripples. Bring back the daimon. Restore relations.” (Pp. 197-8.)
This may, of course, be bad advice. And then, read quite another way, it may be good advice. Bad advice for some, good advice for others. No advice at all but a programme. Or a provocation. An astonishing book, not to be missed. —A.K.
Available from: San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1963. Pp. 68. $1.25
The Cocaine Papers
Book Author: Sigmund Freud
This interesting, but overpriced monograph is one of a series of "translations and monographs on depth psychology, symbolism and related subjects", published in Freud's home town. This is a reprinting and first English version of five papers on coca and cocaine, which Freud wrote between the years 1884 and 1887, before the invention of psychoanalysis. The papers have not appeared in the Collected Works of Freud in either the English or the German versions and have hitherto been available only in extremely scattered archives.
The papers are:
- A very thorough survey of the existing state of knowledge on coca, historical, pharmacological, therapeutic.
- A report on self-experiments with cocaine, including the use of a dynamometer to measure the effect of cocaine on muscular strength.
- A lecture summarizing the above.
- A brief discussion of different cocaine preparations.
- An article on the alleged dangers of cocaine.
These papers are, as so many of Freud's writings, masterpieces of lucid presentation.
The psychic effect of cocaine... consists of exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which does not differ in any way from the normal euphoria of a healthy person. The feeling of excitement which accompanies stimulus by alcohol is completely lacking; the characteristic urge for immediate activity which alcohol produces is also absent...
One may perhaps assume that the euphoria resulting from good health is also nothing more than the normal condition of a well-nourished cerebral cortex which "is not conscious" of the organs of the body to which it belongs...
Long-lasting, intensive mental or physical work can be performed without fatigue; it is as though the need for food and sleep, which otherwise makes itself felt peremptorily at certain times of the day, were completely banished.
In discussing the therapeutic values of cocaine Freud mentioned seven possible uses:
- To increase the physical capacity of the body for a given short period of time and to hold strength in reserve to meet further demands in wartime, on journeys, during mountain climbing and other expeditions etc.
- In digestive disorders of the stomach.
- In cachexia.
- To counteract morphine withdrawal reactions.
- In asthma.
- As a sexual stimulant.
- In local anaesthesia, especially of mucous membranes.
Of these, only the last gained any widespread acceptance as a therapeutic application of cocaine, though even here it is being replaced by synthetic agents.
In his self-experiments Freud showed that cocaine increased muscular power as measured by hand dynamometer. He also pointed out that the effectiveness of cocaine depends to a great extent on the disposition of the individual, perhaps to an even greater extent than is the case with other alkaloids.
Subjective symptoms after taking cocaine vary in different people; only a few experience, as I did, an unadulterated feeling of well-being without intoxication. After identical doses of cocaine, I have observed that some people show signs of slight intoxication, a compulsion to move and garrulousness; in yet other cases subjective symptoms are absent altogether.
The issue of individual variability came up again when Freud discussed the alleged dangers of cocaine. Freud pointed out that addiction to cocaine had occurred only in former morphine addicts, and that in normals it did not produce withdrawal symptoms. The toxic effects occasionally produced when it was used in eye-surgery were attributed to vascular collapse and Freud pointed out the great individual variability in vasomotor excitability. It was this occasional toxicity which lead to the abandonments of the use of cocaine as a general stimulant, and terminated Freud's active research in this field.
Apart from Freud's papers, the Dunquin monograph contains a foreword by A. K. Donoghue and James Hillman, which presents some rather extraordinary speculations and generalizations. Only one of these will be cited here:
The study of drug experiences tends to show that highly varied observers in different centuries and places, and with different substances report similar phenomena. These experiences are principally euphoric. The same enthusiasm attended the discovery of tobacco and coffee as mescaline; the same magical properties were "found" in chloral hydrate and bromides as in tranquilizers; the same rituals surrounded the processing and dispensing of tea and alcohol as heroin and LSD. This similarity points to a common factor, which is not in the substances, but is in the experiences. The authors are led to conclude that Freud, during this period, was
"under the spell of archetypal factor constellated by the drug."
In view of the facts:
- That Freud himself put a very strong emphasis on individual variability in cocaine reactions
- That tobacco, bromides, heroin or LSD have certainly never been said to increase physical power or endurance.
- That the subjective effects of all these substances, in the almost universal opinion of scientific investigators are extremely dissimilar.
While all of these substances may produce euphoria sometimes, so may travel; work; sex; games; and even psychoanalysis. It would, therefore, seem that the authors themselves are perhaps under the spell of some archetypal factor constellated by the word "drug" R.M.
Available from [in 1964]: Vienna: Dunquin Press, 1963. Pp. 62. $3.95. (Obtainable through [in 1964]: Schoenhof's Foreign Books, Inc., 1280 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge 38, Mass., and Blackwell's, Broad Str., Oxford, England)
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