Thursday, January 12, 2006

Tune in, turn on, get a facial

Albert Hoffman, the father of LSD, turned 100 yesterday. He reflects on his discovery here.

What LSD does to the human brain is to remove its built-in reducing valve function such that we experience our environment in all its raw, kinesthetic form, unprocessed and not pre-judged by our conscious self. Everything opens up; a truly mystical experience. In creative people (artists, poets, Hannibal Lecter), this non-judgemental way of getting data from the environment occurs naturally. In most of us, the reducing valve function works overtime. Our brain takes in information from the environment, filters them and determines which information are useful and relevant to our own daily lives, and discards the rest. The lack of the ability to filter this information is also a sign of mental illness.

The difference between the creative type and the crazy is this: the creative type knows what to do with the information. He uses them and channels them towards creative pursuits. The crazy is simply overwhelmed. Intelligence plays a good part in knowing what to do with the information. A study by Harvard University found that what differentiates a creative from a crazy is the former’s high IQ. That’s the only thing that’s keeping the creative from going bonkers, and sometimes he doesn’t succeed. Creative people can be nuts. Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear comes to mind. The stresses of daily life can overwhelm their already wide open brains such that it slips over into the twilight zone.

Knowing what LSD does, and probably knowing how many stupid people are out there, Dr. Hoffman says LSD should be a controlled substance. He called Timothy Leary’s popularization of LSD a crime. On the other hand, he is also frustrated by the chemical’s demonization all over the world, noting its success in the field of psychiatry.

Perhaps a way out of this could be a licensed “LSD parlor” where anyone who wants to alter their consciousness could go. It will be staffed by chemists and psychologists, and to qualify for the treatment, you have to pass an IQ test. A high-priced spa could offer it as one of their services along with the regular fare of Dead Sea salt scrubs and pure oxygen inhalation. Imagine the instant “Hip” factor it’ll give you in social circles. “You look great. Where’ve you been?” “Spent the weekend at my spa. You really should try their aromatherapy, kelp scrub, and LSD treatment.” You’ll not only be seen as rich, with-it, and upwardly mobile, people would know you also have a high IQ without having to tastelessly brag about it.

That’s hot.

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