This second issue (1963) of the Psychedelic Review marks a major change in organization and policy. The journal is no longer published or sponsored by the International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF). The leaders of that organization, Dr. Timothy Leary and Dr. Richard Alpert, do not continue as members of the Review's Board of Editors, and no continuing members of the Board are members of IFIF.
The point of this sharp separation is to avoid the identification of the Psychedelic Review with any single socioideological group or perspective. Amid the controversy—scientific, philosophical, legal—that rages around psychedelics, the Review seeks to be an independent, non-partisan voice.
In the United States there are at present three major groups interested in psychedelic substances and experiences. Each has its own set of models and prescriptions; each uses its own terminology; each has firm ideas about what psychedelic substances are, and how and by whom they should be used.
The first group, historically and in terms of size, is composed of pharmacologists and research psychologists and psychiatrists. They tend to refer to these substances as “psychotomimetic” (meaning that they produce “model psychoses”) and recommend that they be used only to investigate pathological states of mind or to locate biochemical factors in psychosis. Whether or not they are influenced by the extent to which their research has revolved around psychosis, this group is the most apprehensive of the havoc these drugs can wreak.
A recent article in the Archives of General Psychiatry (May, 1963) by Cohen and Ditman, and an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (September 14, 1963) by Farnsworth, are representative statements. This group advocates strict methodological control in experiments and strict social control over use.
The second group, which for want of a better name may be referred to as the “artistic” group, consists of artists, writers, painters, musicians, and young bohemians. They adopt a generally rebellious attitude toward established forms of artistic and social expression. Representative statements are McClure’s Meat Science Essays and the Journal for the Protection of All Beings (both City Lights Books, San Francisco). In keeping with a tradition going back at least as far as Baudelaire and De Quincey, drugs are used to induce trances and visions, to enhance sensibility and creativity, or simply to enlarge awareness. Marijuana and peyote have long been used by them; they have recently turned to LSD and other synthetic psychedelics.
The third group consists of psychologists, philosophers, psychiatrists, theologians, and others who have become interested in the use of these drugs to help induce experiences which transcend ordinary space-time, conceptual, and ego-oriented categories. They tend to view prevailing medical and psychological research models as overly-restrictive and suggest the exploration and application of psychedelic experiences within frameworks which are educational, religious, or scientific in a broader-than-usual sense.
Many members of the International Federation for Internal Freedom fall into this group, but the two are far from co-extensive: some voices in IFIF sound more like those in the artistic group, and many in group three have never been connected with IFIF.
Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard may be taken as representative. (See Heard’s article, Can This Drug Enlarge Man’s Mind? in our preceding issue.) Most of those in this category stress the importance of expectation and setting in influencing the character of the drug experience. Their preoccupation with the internal state of the person undergoing the drug experience reflects a disaffection with approaches that are primarily behavioristic. They also tend to advocate disciplined preparation and follow-up.
Of the three groups, the first is currently the strongest, and legal authorities, charged with the drugs, generally and understandably reflect their attitude.
The second group serves as the “loyal opposition”; its self-styled role of rebel allows it the freedom to express radical and unusual points of view. It would be tidy to think of the third group as representing a synthesis of the other two, but this undoubtedly would be an oversimplification. The three-way debate is likely to become more complex before it becomes less so. In the charged and confusing realm which is that of the psychedelic substances as they now stand,
The Psychedelic Review proposes to serve as a forum for information, expression, and exchange, printing significant reports from each of the three groups now on the scene and others as they may appear. On no topic so fraught with weal and woe are convictions and thought currently in such disarray: on no other subject does one hear from intelligent men who are trying to be responsible such contrary claims and opinions backed by conviction so deep that it can be described only as passion.
To lead us out of this corporate confusion, we have only the age-old tools of reason, experience, and experiment. Their reports need to be focused, and there is no other organ dedicated to this end.
Hence, the Psychedelic Review.