Psychedelic drug

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A psychedelic drug is one that induces a lucid altered state of consciousness. Psychedelics are a subset of hallucinogenic drugs along with dissociatives (which produce feelings of detachment, e.g. ketamine) and deliriants (which produce a state of confusion, e.g. Atropa belladonna).[1] Notable psychedelic substances include:

From a biochemical perspective, most of the psychedelics are in the chemical classes tryptamines, phenethylamines, or lysergamides, which bind to the serotonin 5-HT2A receptors.[4]

Possible therapeutic uses[edit]

It is important to note that these studies have deficiencies of one sort or another (small sample sizes,[5] potential for publication bias, issues with control groups and blinding), and hence it is difficult to conclude anything more than the results are suggestive. It is also important to note that the studies are in clinical settings with professional mental health experts present, who often additionally give psychological counseling in addition to drug treatment. Taking psychedelic drugs as part of self-treatment is ill-advised, particularly because there is evidence that LSD can induce schizophrenia in those who are prone to the disorder.[6][7]


There has been recent interest in taking psychelics at below-consciousness-changing doses several times per week, most commonly using LSD or psilocybin. It has been claimed — without evidence — that doing this "can treat anxiety, depression and postmenopausal symptoms; improve creativity and athletic performance; and do much more."[11] Other reasons include treatment of PTSD, ADHD, and chronic pain.[11]

There are few scientific studies on microdosing, and the results of such studies that exist are mixed.[11] Harriet de Wit's lab has studied EEG brain signals of people who were microdosing and did find increased brain signals, indicating that there is at least some measurable effect.[11]

There are potential dangers to microdosing however. One study found that some microdosing increased anxiety in some participants.[11] There is also a risk that repeated microdosing will cause increased serotonin levels, and thus potentially cause irreversible valvular heart disease.[11] For that reason, psychopharmacologist Kelan Thomas recommends taking a two-week breaks in microdosing.[11]

Gaye Bykers on Acid[edit]

Along the lines of Alex Jones' 'gay bomb'/'gay frogs' bullshit, there has been a recurring belief that psychedelics can change a person's ideology from arch-conservative to bleeding-heart liberal, or some variant thereof. This idea can probably be traced back to the phrase popularized by quack psychologist Timothy Leary[12] in 1966/1967, "Turn on, tune in, drop out."[13] If one believes Leary's much later retelling, the phrase was immediately misinterpreted from what he had meant,[14]:253 but what he meant is irrelevant to what it meant in the popular consciousness, essentially turn on to drugs, tune in to rock music and drop out of the establishment. Perhaps belying Leary's claim, the term 'to drop acid' (to take LSD) was derived from Richard Alpert's 1966 book LSD;[15][16] Alpert was a close associate of Leary.[17] Also influential and ultimately more damning of the belief that people could totally change their worldview from psychedelic use was Leary's own published academic research in 1968 that claimed that psilocybin could reduce recidivism among soon-to-be released prisoners.[18] Leary's analysis was shown to be badly flawed in a 1998 reanalysis.[19]

In 1966, an Orange County, California commune called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love (BEL) was started by John Griggs.[20] Starting in 1969, BEL began manufacturing LSD and smuggling hashish, believing that they could start a "psychedelic revolution" in the United States by distributing LSD.[21] Prior to starting BEL, Griggs was "[p]art of a local hotrod gang called the Street Sweepers, "Farmer John" Griggs was a notorious boozer, brawler, and heroin user."[20]

Slick and Hoffman, waiting to dose Nixon outside the White House

In 1966 Desmond O'Brien, co-founder of Chelsea's World Psychedelic Centre, claimed that anyone could control London by putting LSD in the water system, with a former British MP (Donald Johnson) confirming the claim.[22][23] The reality of manufacturing a sufficient quantity of LSD to overcome the vast dilution of a municipal water supply makes the idea highly impractical however.[24] Nonetheless, the idea started to take off when Yippies Abbie Hoffman and Paul Krassner threatened to put LSD in the Chicago water supply on the eve of the 1968 Democratic National Convention during the height of the Vietnam War.[24][25] The prank was in getting people to believe the threat rather than in actually attempting the act.[24][26] In 1969, Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane was invited under her maiden name to the White House by Richard Nixon's daughter Tricia. Slick and Hoffman had plotted to secretly dose Richard Nixon but the plot failed.[27] In 1970, the Indiana State Police superintendent believed that "a conglomerate of organized leftist groups" had attempted to spike the governor's dinner and that they were still attempting to dose Nixon who was about to visit the state.[28]

Historian Mary Kilbourne Matossian hypothesized in her 1989 book Poisons of the Past that ergot poisoning may have had a role in the 1789 French Revolution.[29] Ergot is a fungus that can be found on rye seeds; ergot sometimes contains LSD or LSD-related chemicals; and when ingested can cause a wide range of symptoms (ergotism), including panic, hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis.[29]:11 Ergotism has previously been a cause of historical mass hysteria events.[29]:xi Immediately preceding the start of the revolution was The Great Fear of 1789 based on widespread panic following the just-harvested rye crop that brigands would steal it.[29]:81 The peasants' fear caused further panic among the landowners that peasants would seize their lands.[29]:81 Historians have frequently remarked that the peasants' fears were exaggerated.[29]:82 Also, a physician living in Clisson, France in 1789 noted that the July 1789 rye crop was "prodigiously" affected by ergot, and that ergot was found in one-twelfth of ears of rye.[29]:83 Increased levels of panic also showed a temporospatial association in France that year, appearing first in the north where rye was grown and then later in the south following rye exports.[29]:84-85


A 2018 paper by Taylor Lyons and Robin L. Carhart-Harris reported on their study of treatment-resistant depression with psilocybin and its effects on relating to nature and changes in the libertarian-authoritarian scale. the study had serious problems that make its conclusion of dubious value.[30] The study was not blinded, either to researchers or the subjects; there were only 14 participants, 7 control and 7 dosed (small sample size); it was not randomized; in using a libertarian-authoritarian scale, study suffers from the same problems as found in the Political Compass.[30] The authors claimed a significant reduction in authoritarian attitudes even 12 months after treatment.[30] Despite the study's substantial design flaws, it was touted in some parts of the (low- to middle-brow) popular press.[31][32][33][34] The study authors cited evidence of "enduring changes in personality traits, attitudes and beliefs" from previous studies (some of which by the same authors), though this appears to have been the first study on the effect of a psychedelic on political ideology.[30] Perhaps more worryingly than some parts of the press taking this seriously is that people in the real world are apparently taking this study seriously too:[35]

Along with researchers at Imperial College London, MAPS plans on bringing Israelis and Palestinians together to take ayahuasca and, working with negotiation experts, sift through their respective traumas. The idea is that finding common ground in their spiritual and mystical experiences might help coax political reconciliation between the warring factions.

Nothing else worked for peace in Israel/Palestine, so why not? MAPS is the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, funded in part by Rebekah Mercer through her Mercer Family Foundation.[36] Mercer has been a major funder of both Donald Trump and Breitbart.[37]

Thomasberg's mugshot

This may all be wishful thinking however, because there are numerous counterexamples:[31]

External links[edit]


  1. Some people may not think of MDMA as a psychedelic because it does not cause hallucinations, but it binds to the same receptors (5-HT2A in particular) as other psychedelic drugs do and is in the same class of chemicals as MDA, which does have a "mild psychedelic component".[2][3]
  2. Entheogen is a term used to refer to psychoactive drugs that are used in spiritual development. It overlaps with psychedelics.[39]


  1. See the Wikipedia article on Hallucinogen.
  2. #109 MDMA by Alexander & Ann Shulgin, PIHKAL via Erowid.
  3. Beyond ecstasy: Alternative entactogens to 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine with potential applications in psychotherapy by Hans Emanuel Oeri (2020) Journal of Psychopharmacology doi:10.1177/0269881120920420.
  4. Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects by George Siegel et al. (2005) Academic Press. 7th edition. ISBN 012088397X.
  5. The Therapeutic Potential of Psychedelic Drugs: Past, Present, and Future by Robin L. Carhart-Harris1 & Guy M. Goodwin (2017) Neuropsychopharmacology 42(11): 2105–2113. doi:10.1038/npp.2017.84.
  6. LSD psychosis or LSD-induced schizophrenia? A multimethod inquiry by Michael M. Vardy & Stanley R. Kay (1983) Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 40(8):877-83. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.01790070067008.
  7. Is It a Myth That LSD Can Permanently Fry Your Brain? Pharmacologist David Nichols told me that permanent acid trips make no medical sense. by Mike Pearl (February 5, 2017, 9:00pm) Vice.
  8. 8.0 8.1 The experimental effects of psilocybin on symptoms of anxiety and depression: A meta-analysis by Simon B Goldberg et al. (2020) Psychiatry Res. 284:112749. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112749.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Therapeutic effects of classic serotonergic psychedelics: A systematic review of modern-era clinical studies by Kristoffer A. A. Andersen et al. (2021) Acta Psychiatr. Scand. 143(2):101-118. doi:10.1111/acps.13249.
  10. Efficacy of Psychoactive Drugs for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review of MDMA, Ketamine, LSD and Psilocybin by Tracey Varker et al. (2021) 53(1):85-95. doi:10.1080/02791072.2020.1817639.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Microdosing psychedelics has benefits, users say. Science isn’t convinced. Some people microdose for better mental health, or personal and spiritual growth. Scientific evidence for microdosing, though, is scarce and has been mixed. by Jane C. Hu (June 22, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. EDT) The Washington Post.
  12. Timothy Leary Department of Psychology, Harvard University.
  13. See the Wikipedia article on Turn on, tune in, drop out.
  14. Flashbacks: A Personal and Cultural History of an Era by Timothy Leary (1983) G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0874778700.
  15. LSD by Richard Alpert et al. (1966) New American Library.
  16. Oxford English Dictionary, drop, v., definition 16.c. ("to drop a cap")
  17. See the Wikipedia article on Ram Dass.
  18. Use of psychedelic drugs in prisoner rehabilitation by Timothy Leary & Ralph Metzner (1968) British Journal of Social Psychiatry 2:27-51.
  19. Dr.Leary's Concord Prison Experiment: A 34-year follow-up study by Rick Doblin (1998) Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 30(4):419-426.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Hashish, Hawaii & the Hippie Mafia by Bobby Black (Nov 22, 2020) World of Cannabis Museum.
  21. Film ‘Orange Sunshine’, Trippy LSD Love Story by Rita Robinson (April 8, 2016) Laguna Beach Independent.
  22. Reservoir Drugs: Are the CIA spiking your water supply? by Andy Roberts (May 2010) Fortean Times (archived from May 20, 2010).
  23. "The Drug that Could Become a Social Peril" (19 March 1966) The Tatler, Pages 6-10.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Testimony of Abbie Hoffman Chicago 7 Trial.
    Leonard Weinglass (Hoffman's attorney), "Your Honor, I am glad to see Mr. Schultz finally concedes that things like levitating the Pentagon building, putting LSD in the water, 10,000 people walking nude on Lake Michigan, and a $200,000 bribe attempt are all playing around."
    Hoffman, "I said, 'I read in the paper the day before that they had 2,000 troops surrounding the reservoirs in order to protect against the Yippie plot to dump LSD in the drinking water. There isn't a kid in the country,' I said, 'never mind a Yippie, who thinks that such a thing could be done.'"
  25. Putting LSD in Chicago's water supply Actipedia.
  26. Abbie Hoffman's Cheek by Paula Span (April 14, 1989) The Washington Post.
  27. "White Rabbit": Grace Slick: 1960s-2010s The Pop History Dig. A 'Mickey' for Nixon: Aborted White House Plot.
  28. That time Indy cops feared 'leftists' could slip LSD to Richard Nixon by Will Higgins (Published 10:53 a.m. ET Jan. 3, 2018; Updated 3:39 p.m. ET Jan. 3, 2018) The Indianapolis Star.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 29.5 29.6 29.7 Poisons of the Past: Molds, Epidemics, and History by Mary Kilbourne Matossian (1989) Yale University Press. ISBN 0300039492.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Increased nature relatedness and decreased authoritarian political views after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression by Taylor Lyons & Robin L. Carhart-Harris (2018) Journal of Psychopharmacology 32(7):811-819. doi:10.1177/0269881117748902.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 Lucy In The Sky With Nazis: Psychedelics and the Right Wing by Brian Pace (February 3, 2020) Psymposia.
  32. Could Alt-Right Assholes Be Fixed By Feeding Them Shrooms? A British study says their active ingredient can lead to 'decreased authoritarianism' by Tierney Finster (2018) MEL.
  33. Psychedelic mushrooms reduce authoritarianism and boost nature relatedness, experimental study suggests by Eric W. Dolan (January 23, 2018) PsyPost.
  34. Scientists find magic mushrooms could help fight fascism: Researchers find that magic mushrooms can keep people from developing authoritarian views and more connected to nature. by Paul Ratner (28 January, 2018) Big Think.
  35. The Psychedelics Evangelist: A German Financier Wants to Turn Magic Mushrooms into Modern Medicine: One company the entrepreneur invests in wants to develop psilocybin in a lab — so no need to extract it from mushrooms by Meghana Keshavan (July 9, 2019) Scientific American.
  36. Mercer Family Foundation Grants $1 Million to MAPS for PTSD Research in Veterans Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
  37. See the Wikipedia article on Rebekah Mercer.
  38. 38.0 38.1 White supremacist who praised 'psychedelic Nazis' caught with stockpile of guns and LSD: Drug crime going hand in hand with guns in US far-right networks by Rachel Weiner (21 September 2019 12:14) The Independent.
  39. See the Wikipedia article on Entheogen.
  40. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi (1974) W.W. Norton. ISBN 039308700X.
  41. Papers of James N. Mason Kenneth Spencer Research Library Archival Collections, The University of Kansas.
  42. Atomwaffen Division (AWD)/ National Socialist Order (NSO) Anti-Defamation League.
  43. FBI arrests 3 white supremacists ahead of pro-gun rally (January 16th 2020) WSET.
  44. Neo-Nazi Memoir Describes Terror Group’s Acid-Soaked Ram Sacrifice: The bizarre ritual by the terror group The Base was infiltrated by the FBI.] by Ben Makuch & Mack Lamoureux (June 24, 2020, 9:55am) Vice.
  45. The Making of an American Nazi: How did Andrew Anglin go from being an antiracist vegan to the alt-right’s most vicious troll and propagandist — and how might he be stopped? by Luke O’Brien (December 2017) The Atlantic.
  46. How the founder of 8chan went from creating the 'darkest reaches of the internet' while on psychedelic mushrooms to calling for it to be shut down by Lisa Eadicicco (Aug 5, 2019, 9:36 AM) Business Insider.
  47. Peter Thiel backs Berlin start-up making psychedelics in $125 million round by Sam Shead (Published Mon, Nov 23 2020 • 10:00 AM EST; Updated Mon, Nov 23 2020 • 10:40 AM EST) CNBC.