Monday, December 3, 2018

SLOUCHING, part 13

(Comment on the article below: Nathan S. Kline was one of the most important and respected psychiatrists of the Twentieth Century, whose work is said to have revolutionized the treatment of mental illnesses. He may have been the original psychopharmacologist. He explicitly classified LSD as a drug within the class of “psychopharmaceuticals”. His well-written, immensely reasonable but slightly arrogant and ostentatiously “Educated!” tone, in this 1961 review of Adelle Davis’ little known book, reminds me very much of one of our modern day thought leaders and propagandists for the bad guys, none other than Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman... Lieberman has been extensively quoted by The NY Times and others, in recent articles about the supposed promise of Ketamine therapy; and Ketamine, of course, is another psychedelic drug which people pushed since the late sixties for chemical spiritual revelation, in the guise of the “K-hole”, aka “God”.  RK, 12/2018.)


The Mind on the Wing by Nathan S. Kline

Man is far from comfortable with his incompletely and faultily developed self-awareness. The search for identification will become intensified now that within a few hundred years the problems of food and shelter may be solved. One path of identification is toward increasing differentiation, self-consciousness and individual responsibility.

An alternative is to escape from our sweaty selves by dissolving our sense of individual being. Drugs have traditionally been used to assist in the process of achieving such states. We of the West have placed the higher value on good works in the form of accomplishments that will improve the physical well being of our fellow man. I recall the shocked surprise I felt in Bombay when a superb, flashing-eyed white turbaned Sikh agreed that this really was a great motivating force of people in the United States — and that was just what the East meant when it held that we were materialistic: one should be more concerned about one’s spiritual state of being.

In Exploring Inner Space, “a nationally known writer chose to use the pseudonym Jane Dunlap” for the purpose of relating her “personal experiences under LSD-25,” lysergic acid diethylamide, a drug that induces psychotic-like reactions. “When filling out a questionnaire which asked, ‘Why do you wish to take lysergic acid?’ I wrote, ‘In hope of overcoming spiritual poverty.’ Another time I filled in the blank with, ‘To get chemical Christianity’.” Miss Dunlap believes she was successful after discovering that not only does the embryo repeat the history of evolution but so does LSD, since Chapter 2 is entitled “I lived billions of years in eight hours.” The cathedral may soon be replaced by the laboratory: “These convictions have served to formulate and strengthen a new faith in God, a faith so satisfying and rewarding that my lasting gratitude goes to the Sandoz Pharmaceutical Laboratories which not only discovered, and produced LSD-25 but are spending millions of dollars on its research.”

The use of LSD and other psychopharmaceuticals provides valuable research tools and some of them have brought about a major revolution in the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Drugs can certainly induce states of exaltation, but these states do not arise from any integrated, consistent or meaningful development of the personality. “My mommie has gone to take the drug which makes her terribly nice for a whole month,” Miss Dunlap’s 9-year-old daughter remarks. Compare this to the visions of St. Theresa or the exaltations of Blake.

As Ludwig von Bertalanffy puts it, “In supranormal experience of the genius, and mystic, precisely parallel ‘symptoms’ may appear, but they are embedded in an organized universe of the self...” For the same reason, mescaline or LSD intoxication is unproductive even though it may open a field of unprecedented experience and beauty. It is not a general elevation of personality, but only provides an array of paranormal manifestations. It is therefore easy to understand that, for example, artistic production deteriorates in hallucinogen-produced states.

Finally, Miss Dunlap states, “The colossal egotism of anyone who thinks he can write an LSD report! It can’t be done, not with all the languages in the world.” Miss Dunlap is wrong: Baudilaire, DeQuincey, Clautier and Coleridge among others have conveyed some of the drug-induced ecstatic intoxication — in the phrase of Baudilaire “drunken, in love with drunkenness, I plunge and drown.” Miss Dunlap mistakes a travelogue for the esthetic creation of an experience.

Her report appears accurate enough and gives some picture of the flight and range of ideas and moods that the drug caused in her. She does not enable us to share fantasies and feelings which are kaleidoscopic and confusing when described externally. It is not sufficient to be told that it is really just wonderful. Reports of between-drug activities soon come as a welcome relief. The contents of the hallucinations themselves may be of some interest to the researchers (or her psychotherapist) but are not likely to provide the vicarious experience that is promised.

No comments:

Post a Comment