LSD: Why it is so useful, and…problematic.














Two words explain both: disrupted associations.

I don’t know if expanding on this will make this more clear or just as unintelligible, but the central effect of LSD is to disrupt the pre-defined connections, or meanings, or references, between all known things in the mind of the taker.

Everything you thought you knew now stands dissociated from everything else. For example, a boat in the ocean, most of the time, we understand automatically. It is so understood that to point out that a boat you see in the ocean is where it should be: boats don’t fly, they float, in water, at sea, assuming we’re at sea.

On LSD, that reference we normally take for granted is no longer automatic – the synapse connections in the brain are working differently and nothing means what it once did. Not only do boats not have to float in the sea, they possibly can fly, and/or we could just get stuck on “boat” as Marcel Duchamp did with a urinal (Google it), and see it as an entirely different thing.

What’s the benefit? And I am speaking from experience, past, past, late sixties experience (and no, I am not recommending taking LSD, it is powerful and potentially dangerous stuff – do as I say, not as I did) – the benefits are several, the hazards are few and potentially horrific.

Benefit one: you may realize that your way, and everyone else’s way, of seeing and understanding things, is biased, not necessarily God-sent truth, but only a point of view.

Benefit two: freed from a standard and habitual way of seeing things, you may think of something that is truly new for you, make a discovery that you find useful or pleasurable (one of mine was a new found sense of rhythm in music).

Benefit three: you may obtain a respect for the power of the mind and of the possibility of seeing and understanding the patterned behavior around you – these patterns or habitual behavior, you may notice, exist in politics, personal relationships, art and self expression. The power of noticing this is the ability to see limitations – in politics, personal relationships, art and self expression, and the ability to see more and different options in those things.

From my experience, I see LSD as having real value, for certain people in certain circumstances, and it makes me sad seeing this form of exploration slip away, along with book stores, personal book libraries, and off-line public funded education.

And this is what I thought on the train today, on the way home from work. It’s the weekend. And no, I will not be taking LSD. A little wine maybe, but not LSD.