Saturday, November 3, 2018

SLOUCHING, part 6

PSYCHEDELIC GENERATIONS: ADELLE DAVIS AND GEORGE LEISEY

Jane Dunlap’s 1961 book, Exploring Inner Space: Personal Experiences Under LSD-25(53) is a somewhat pivotal document. It was published before the psychedelic culture began to flower in San Francisco, before there was any black market supply of LSD, just as the national security establishment was losing interest in the drug as a breakthrough intelligence weapon. According to the introduction by clinical psychologist Robert S. Davidson, Ph.D., Miss Dunlap’s book is the report of a subject in a scientific experiment, which “would have been written, as indeed most of it was written, with no thought of publication.”(54) However Dr. Davidson was deeply involved in the experiment himself, and he openly proclaims,

  I encouraged Miss Dunlap to publish her experiences… partly as an inspiration to people who still believe in the intrinsic spiritual power within the universe. I particularly hoped that her experiences would illustrate the possibilities of this drug’s power to expand the consciousness of the already well-integrated individual and those who seek a still deeper wisdom and awareness of a fundamental unity with the life process.(55)

Davidson had already taken LSD twenty-five times when Miss Dunlap’s much anticipated great day — October 24, 1959 — arrived, years before typical American suburbanites ever heard of LSD. Dunlap had begged to become a subject in LSD experiments. She had read Robert Gordon Wassen’s article in Henry Luke’s Life magazine about the magic mushrooms of Mexico.(56) She knew that LSD experiences were often deeply spiritual, and she considered her own spiritual development to be pitifully inadequate despite years of psychotherapy. It was through a therapist friend that Dunlap was referred to “the psychiatric department of a nearby university where research was in progress.” The university, UC-Irvine, was not identified in the book and the therapist friend was only called Dr. Snow.David Snow was a real psychotherapist with a practice in Beverly Hills and excellent research connections, but “Jane Dunlap” was much better known to millions of Americans as Adelle Davis.

It surprises several generations of Adelle Davis’ nutrition disciples, who took her slogan, “You are what you eat!” to heart, that this particular guru would have participated in LSD experiments.(57) A New York Times obituary for Davis in 1974 filled thirteen column-inches without giving any hint of the connection.(58) It mentioned all her books except Exploring Inner Space,* even though the same paper had run a significant 1961 review which identified Jane Dunlap as a pseudonym, without mentioning for whom.(59)

Adelle Davis’ son George Leisey was a teenager working at a beat coffeehouse in Hermosillo Beach when his mother and stepfather were first experimenting with the drug that Ken Kesey would dub “acid” only a few years later. Leisey recalls that Harcourt, Brace & World, the publisher of the various Adelle Davis books on nutrition, pleaded with his mother not to publish a book about her LSD experiences at all.(60) However, Davis was utterly determined, as she always was on almost any issue that attracted her attention. Her publishers eventually came around, on the strict condition that she use a pseudonym. Davis herself apparently was never interested in concealing her authorship of Inner Space, and George Leisey claims that at the time of his mother’s death he dealt with the New York Times personally, giving them a complete list of Adelle Davis books from which the Dunlap book was definitely not omitted.(61) In addition to the New York Times review, Exploring Inner Space was reviewed separately by the Times of London(62), the San Francisco Chronicle(63), the Springfield (MA) Union(64) and several trade and library journals.(65) But whenever the fact of a pseudonym was mentioned at all, the identity of the author remained undisclosed.

The New York Times review deserves special discussion. It was written by an extremely influential psychiatrist, Dr. Nathan S. Kline. Dr. Kline was the founder and director of the Rockland Research Institute in Orangeburg, NY, and was said to be, “more than any other single psychiatrist… responsible for one of the greatest revolutions ever to occur in the treatment of the mentally ill.”(66) The revolution which Dr. Kline apparently helped to lead was the rise of a strictly biochemical, anti-moralistic and anti-spiritual interpretation of human behavior. This new framework developed into a belief system wherein the human mind is the brain, period! and the should is a mythical entity that does not exist in reality. In fact such views go back to Democritus or even earlier, and they have not been conclusively decided by rational argument and empirical evaluation in thousands of years of philosophical attempts. But for America’s Cinderella science of psychology, the issue was a central dividing line in the fifties. Sigmund Freud had envisioned psychoanalysis as a medical specialty, yet the profession evolved without basing its theory strictly enough on experimental science for biologists or the American Medical Association. Sometime in the 1950s, the “headshrinkers” lost their clear leadership position in the mental health movement to shock doctors, lobotomies and pharmacists. Nathan S. Kline was one of the new leaders. He treated mental illness, simply assumed to be brain disease, with drugs; he did not wish to address psychosis or neurosis as non-mechanical phenomena and he had no professional interest in “mind” or “psyche.”

Kline’s New York Times review of Exploring Inner Space was thus the opinion of a medical doctor about a report on a drug study which had become, substantially, a spiritual quest. It inadvertently predicted the cultural turmoil, confused social purposes and conflicting attitudes about life and the universe, which would enthrall America in only a few years. Kline did his best to trump Jane Dunlap’s and Robert Davidson’s promises of a newly open and spectacular spiritual frontier by framing their whole viewpoint merely as man’s “search for identification,” by mentioning his own travels to India, and by implying his own competence with great and obscure names in philosophy and literature. He asserted that LSD and other “psycho-pharmaceuticals”(67) were proper tools for research into mental illness (to be conducted only by orthodox medical authorities, of course), but he obviously regarded Jane Dunlap’s report of her own experiences under LSD-25 with the condescension of a great scientist (or perhaps priest?) toward an ignorant (perhaps confessing, penitent) child.**

This attitude was one of two which contradicted each other during several LSD conferences and symposia during the fifties.(68) An early round table discussion of LSD and mescaline, conducted during the American Psychiatric Association’s May 1955 meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey, included medical and psychoanalytic advocates plus one distinguished man of letters. Aldous Huxley, fresh from his second experience with mescaline and the writing of Heaven and Hell, his sequel to The Doors of Perception, was the only non-doctor invited to participate in a panel on psychotomimetics. The chairman of the Atlantic City proceedings, Louis Cholden, M.D. of UCLA Medical School, expressed hopes that,

The key to understanding psychiatry’s deepest mystery, schizophrenia, might lie in the production of an experimental, predictable, controllable, reproducible state — an artificial psychosis, the state of mind induced by giving laserdisc acid diethylamide (LSD).(69)

Two of Sondoz’s finest M.D. pharmacologists, E. Rothlin and A. Cerletti, were also in attendance to offer their own prognostication for their company’s trademarked product:

(E)lucidation of the mechanism (by which LSD produces its effects) may be of eminent importance for the understanding of the pathogenesis of mental illness, as well as its prophylaxis and therapy.(70)

Other contributors noted EEG changes caused by LSD, preliminary studies of its metabolism in the body and other drugs which tended to counter or alter its effects. In the dominant context of this round table, LSD was a chemical stimulus in a purely electrochemical brain.

However, R. A. Sandison took a different tack during the discussions.

There are good reasons for believing that the LSD experience is a manifestation of the psychic unconscious, and that its material can be used in psychotherapy in the same way that dreams, phantasies and paintings can be used by the psychoanalysts.

He added in an obvious reference to his own use of LSD, “If these drugs can help us to understand more about life as well as to treat our patients, we shall have learned something.”(71) This attitude was more characteristic of the Freudians and Jungians. They were not the kings of the mental health hill they had once been and did not have the same access to inner circles of government-sponsored research, but they still had the attention of a wealthy, influential and bored segment of the American public as well as many artists and intellectuals, perhaps largely due to the association of psychoanalysis with sex and mysticism. R. A. Sandison was reportedly the man who gave Captain Al Hubbard his first dose of LSD.(72) Hubbard later turned Aldous Huxley on and became the early hero and supplier of the Beverley Hills psychedelic therapy crowd which included Oscar Janiger and several celebrities a like Adelle Davis. Needless to say, Aldous Huxley was even farther out on the parascientific fringe than the psychoanalysts at the APA meeting.
__________

*   See Appendix 3 for the full text of the Adelle Davis obituary.
** See Appendix 2 for the complete text of the book review by Kline.
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Footnotes:

53. Dunlap, Jane. Exploring Inner Space: Personal Experiences Under LSD-25. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1961.
54. Ibid, page 4.
55. Ibid, page 10.
56. Wasson, Robert Gordon. “Seeking the Magic Mushroom,” Life, May 13, 1957. On page 11 of the Dunlap book the author states that this fascinated her more than any other article Life had carried from the very first issue. She had saved every issue as a reference archive for her children.
57. I have informally surveyed dozens of Adelle Davis fans about this, and to date I have found only one person who was aware of the connection. Otherwise the closest anyone came to it was some awareness that Davis had been a psychotherapy patient.
58. The New York Times, June 1, 1974; page 32, column 3.
59. Ibid, May 14, 1961; “Book Reviews” page 7.
60. Telephone interviews with George Leisey: April 2, 1998 and December 26, 1997.
61. April 2, 1998 phone interview with George Leisey. The author of the obituary in the Times was Mr. Wolfgang Saxon, who still works there. When I contacted him fo randy information or recollection he might have, he insisted he writes so many obituaries every week there was just no way he would remember anything about this one. Saxon sounded somewhat elderly, with a slight German accent. He said he was not even familiar with the name Adelle Davis. I explained in some detail, told him about the Jane Dunlap book and my conversations with George Leisey, etc., but it didn’t;t appear to mean anything to him. I suggested that he pull up the old obituary he wrote in 1974, in case that would remind him of anything. He responded that there was no use in that because he was sure it wouldn’t remind him of why he didn’t mention the Dunlap book.
62. December 13, 1961.
63. June 4, 1961; page 31.
64. April 30, 1961; page 4-D.
65. The Booklist and Subscription Books Bulletin, Library Journal (April 15, 1961), and Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 1961).
66. New York Times obituary, February 14, 1983.
67. It occurs to me that it might be a very interesting exercise to trace the modern origin and pattern of usage of the term “psycho-pharmaceutical.” It is a fair guess that Kline or a close associate nearly invented it, sometime around or within a few years prior to then Jane Dunlap book review quoted here.
68. It was the attitude of the people who held the public reins of political power and controlled interpretations of the law, and it was definitely the attitude of the MKULTRA crowd at CIA. A subject for research which I have not had the opportunity to complete is whether Nathan S. Kline was in fact an MKULTRA-connected psychiatrist himself. His name comes up in an Internet search of book indexes on intelligence twice, but the two references given are obscure. Kline was “the father of psychopharmacology,” best known as a pioneer and leading authority on tranquilizers and anti-depressants in the treatment of previously untreatable mental patients. (See New York Times obituary, February 14, 1983.) However he served as a research associate in Columbia University’s department of neurology from 1952 to 1955 and in its department of psychiatry from 1955 to 1957, giving him more than ample opportunity for an association with CIA’s Harold Abramson. He also had connections with early computer science and robotics, and he toured many foreign countries, including the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, to evaluate different national mental health systems. He bel;I even that care of mental patients in the Soviet Union was superior to that in the United States, and warned that the U.S.S.R. was deriving propaganda benefits from that superiority in underdeveloped countries. (See Current Biographies, 1965.) All things considered, most readers of the history of modern intelligence organizations would instantly suspect Nathan S. Kline as a spook. Ironically, on May 21, 1982 Kline was forced to sign a consent decree in a Federal Court action in Manhattan, permanently enjoining him from using “in any manner whatsoever any investigational new drug.” Kline had been accused of experimenting on 33 patients with beta endorphin in 1977 and 1978 without obtaining government permission and without the informed consent of some of the patients.
69. Cholden, Louis, M.D., ed. Proceedings of the Round Table on Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and Mescaline in Experimental Paychiatry, Held at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Atlantic City, New Jersey, May 12, 1955. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1956. Page ix.
70. Sandoz had trademarked the name “Delysid” sometime prior to 1953.
71. Cholden, pages 27-33.
72. See Lee and Shlain, page 45. There is some confusion about exactly when this occurred, as there is about most things in Alfred M. Hubbard’s life. Lee and Shlain say Sandison gave Hubbard LSD in 1951, though Jay Stevens mentions Hubbard’s having first heard about LSD oil 1955 (see Storming Heaven, page 55). John Marks makes no mention of Hubbard at all. In my Appendix 1 chronology I have simply averaged the Stevens and Lee and Shlain dates, because I really don’t know which one is more likely.

(Next… PSYCHEDELIC GENERATIONS: ADELLE DAVIS AND GEORGE LEISEY continued.)

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