BigThink: Acid Flashback, with Nostalgia

Over at, there's a short article called "Acid Flashback, With Nostalgia". Read about it here. Here's my reply to the article . . .

LSD, acid, Mr. Natural, Orange Barrel, Orange Sunshine, Green Pyramid, whatever you want to call it, it was fantastic. Whatever effect it had on brain chemistry, it was phenomenal. It’s true that it’s not for everybody. But if you’re the adventurous type, you’ll love the insights you’ll glean from the radical perspective of an acid trip.

I was around 17 years old when I first tried acid. Before then, I was an innocent. A teen, wending his way to adulthood. But Orange Sunshine changed all that. My eyes were opened to the possibilities of experience.

One of the greatest insights was the temporal nature of thought. We rarely live in the moment . . . in the now. We usually live in the future: whether that be 1 second or 1 decade from now. Whether or not you stand up, sit down, or invest in stocks, you’re constantly thinking in terms of what’s coming up.

LSD, among other things, removes the future from consideration. You live in the moment; without an inkling of what’s happening next.

I can’t explain what that feels like. All I know is that I started thinking critically after experiencing LSD. It’s been almost 4 decades since my last acid trip. I’ve had a family and career and then retired (early), at the age of 52, back in June 2006. I don't see any ill effect from my experiments with LSD.

I credit my “cerebral awakening” to the aftereffects of LSD. I’ve known many others who responded very differently to LSD; so I can’t say it’s a surefire way to experience something truly transcendent. But if you’re the type who can benefit from mind expansion, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Comment by J.P.M. on April 12, 2010 at 7:10pm
Damn, I remember reading about STP in the '70's. These things are so dosage-sensitive in their effects. Too much can so easily make the difference between a positive and negative experience. LSD is measured in micrograms, after all, 200-250 being the standard range. I can attest to the fact that 750 can be quite disturbing.
Comment by Atheist Exile on April 12, 2010 at 6:45pm
That was an interesting article, J.P.M. It contained a link to a New York Times article, named "Dr. Ecstasy", which showcased the professional history of Alexander Shulgin -- the world's most prolific inventor of psychoactive drugs. It's 6 interesting pages long.

In line with the caveats and warnings about LSD usage that we've already discussed, the article includes the following paragraph:

"With all of these fellow travelers, some very bad experiences are inevitable. In 1967, a Shulgin compound called DOM enjoyed a brief vogue in Haight-Ashbury under the name STP, at doses several times larger than those at which Shulgin had found significant psychoactive effects, and emergency rooms saw a spike in the number of people coming in thinking they would never come down. And while the number of psychedelic-related deaths is orders of magnitude smaller than the number due to alcohol, prescription drugs or even over-the-counter painkillers, they do occur regularly. In October 2000, a 20-year-old man in Norman, Okla., died from taking 2C-T-7, a drug Shulgin describes in 'PiHKAL' as 'good and friendly and wonderful.'''
Comment by J.P.M. on April 12, 2010 at 7:57am
I don't think the connection between psychadelics and native American mysticism (=religion) is any coincidence. I find it strange that we now outlaw psychadelics, but allow the rampant promotion of mind-numbing religions. Check this out:

Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again

"Today, more than a year later, Dr. Martin credits that six-hour experience with helping him overcome his depression and profoundly transforming his relationships with his daughter and friends. He ranks it among the most meaningful events of his life, which makes him a fairly typical member of a growing club of experimental subjects. "

"In one of Dr. Griffiths’s first studies, involving 36 people with no serious physical or emotional problems, he and colleagues found that psilocybin could induce what the experimental subjects described as a profound spiritual experience with lasting positive effects for most of them. None had had any previous experience with hallucinogens, and none were even sure what drug was being administered. "

"The subjects’ reports mirrored so closely the accounts of religious mystical experiences, Dr. Griffiths said, that it seems likely the human brain is wired to undergo these “unitive” experiences, perhaps because of some evolutionary advantage. "
Comment by Atheist Exile on April 9, 2010 at 4:50am
Hi Carver,

I can picture it now . . . colorful ladybugs crawling all over you. That's definitely trippy. :-) A mountain top would be a great place to do some tripping (as long as carnivorous wild animals aren't lurking around).

I used to live on Greenwood Avenue, across the street from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle (the elephants were directly across the street from me). I'd trip and go visit the animals, especially the snakes. I swear they could sense that I was tripping. A wonderful way to spend the day. :-)
Comment by Atheist Exile on April 9, 2010 at 4:44am
One time, 2 friends and I were tripping on acid that was strong enough but not too intense. We were watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His guest was a comedian (I forget who) and they had gotten on the topic of funny-sounding words we use to insult each other. Words like "dip-stick" and "dork".

The discussion reminded me of when I was a valet, at a discotheque in Waikiki, parking customers' cars. The owner of one car, a Ford (forget which model), had taken the chrome letters of the FORD nameplate and swapped the F and the D, producing the word "DORF". I told my 2 friends about it. Just then, Johnny Carson and his guest, in a back and forth exchange, started running through all the insult words they could think of: numb nuts, nimrod, and others I can't recall. Then Johnny Carson said "Dorf. Dorf? That's not even a word. I don't know where I got that!"

I got goosebumps and the other 2 guys looked spooked too. :-)

Weird, cosmic, coincidences like that seemed to happen a lot when I did acid.
Comment by Atheist Exile on April 9, 2010 at 3:57am
Hey Howard,

I was wondering if the crowd at those Grateful Dead concerts accentuated your trip, just by the sheer amount of stimuli surrounding and bombarding you.

I agree that some of the novelty of tripping wears off pretty quickly. But if you've got a potent dose and haven't done any for quite a while, you're still going to be in for a wild ride. As I peak, I always get the fear that I won't ever come back down again. The utter mindlessness of peaking is not very pleasant but the ascent is great, as is the descent.

And, yes, proper disclaimers should be given and precautions taken to avoid potential negative effects.
Comment by Howard S. Dunn on April 8, 2010 at 10:45pm
I have done it around a dozen times. Twice, without my permission, at Grateful Dead shows I was dosed with water, DMSO (to help it permeate my skin) and very large doses of LSD. Long stories - interesting tales - but those were the only two times I had trouble handling it.

I think that the first three times were the only times that it actually had a lasting (and overall positive) effect on me. That's because I think the most beneficial aspect of tripping is the discovery that the world can truly be experienced in a 'whole new light.' It showed me how many things I held to be true were actually simply constructs that were collectively agreed upon to various degrees and not actually as 'real' as I had always assumed.

The trips after that were mostly recreational rather than introspective - the distortion of the drug's affects were simple to delineate as just that - effects of the drugs. A couple of times I found myself face to face with insecurities I wasn't dealing with - and the drug both amplified the intensity and allowed me to face them. So that was, overall, a good thing.

However, I would say that only doing it when three things are true is advisable: 1. You are with people you trust in a place that isn't likely to offer any real threats 2. You are in an emotionally stable place in your life because it will more than likely amplify than alter your emotional state 3. Have a babysitter - someone who understands what it is like but isn't on it themselves - in case reality throws a curve ball - like a cop at the door or a fire in the house.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on April 8, 2010 at 2:59pm
I did acid over several years about 15 - 20 times and I never had a bad trip. I thought I was having a really vivid hallucination when several friends and I trooped up to the mountains one cold but sunny Spring day and dropped some soccer ball acid..
While sitting against a rock contemplating the view of mountain peaks surrounding me I suddenly felt as if bugs were crawling on me. I looked down and sure enough I was covered with Ladybugs. I thought it was cool - my mind was playing tricks and conjured up a bunch of bugs for my amusement. But, when I brush them with my hand they fell off (like real bugs would) - now I was a bit freaked. Somewhere in the acid fog my biology knowledge worked to the top and I realized what it was.
My body heat warmed a nest of convergent / dormant Ladybugs and they became active. For a short time I was sure it was a cool hallucination - reality was a bummer.
The best advice when using acid is NEVER do it alone
Comment by Atheist Exile on April 8, 2010 at 10:02am
Hi J.P.M.,

Over a 1000 trips? Yikes! That's a LOT. I found that I needed a couple of weeks, minimum, between trips, if I wanted to get the full effect. Otherwise, the potency didn't seem to matter -- it would make me feel wired but that's about it.

Did you notice that very, ultra-weird things tended to happen when you're tripping? If you read my reply to John D, then you know about the party house my friends and I used to party at . . .

. . . Well, one time, there was about 6 or 7 of us tripping at this party house. The black-lights and strobe light were on and the walls were full of black-light poster. It was late 1972, in Panama City, Florida and the stereo was playing rock and roll from the local FM station. We were all basically lost in own little worlds when I became aware of somebody knocking at the door.

I opened the door and stood face to face, eyeball to eyeball, with a policeman. I stifled a wild urge to scream. The policeman said, with a sheepish grin, that he had driven his police car into the ditch and needed help pushing it back onto the shoulder.

I looked at the others and saw they were staring at us in complete dumbfounded panic. I told them what the officer told me. As I spoke, I didn't even know if I was intelligible. I had no idea how the other guys would respond.

We all followed the officer out to the front yard and, sure enough, there was his car: half-way in the ditch. By this time, the policeman was eyeballing us suspiciously. Nonetheless, we all helped push his car back on the shoulder.

I was afraid that, with his car back on the shoulder, he would turn his attention to us. But he just thanked us and took off. We were so relieved, we joked and laughed about the experience for a good long time.
Comment by Atheist Exile on April 8, 2010 at 9:29am
Hey John D,

My brother's name is John D. too. He prefers JD.

Anyway, I've known many trippers but none of them violent. I think the ones who are prone to freak out will naturally quit taking the drug. However, I've heard plenty of horror stories about bad trips. In fact, it was those stories that led me to plan my earlier trips in advance. You know, everybody goes to the party house with the black-light posters and strobe lights and bean-bag chairs and just trip together in the security and privacy of somebody's home. After I knew the potency of a hit, I would often trip in public (like the movie theater) if the hit wasn't too strong.

You're right, people should know that acid can be very frightening but I don't think a bad trip causes permanent mental damage. Maybe I'm wrong about that. I can definitely see how somebody could harm himself or others if he loses control . . . I just never witnessed such a case.

People with mental problems should stay away from acid. Also, while tripping, you should avoid negative places, people or situations. Don't take acid you don't know the potency of, then go to a horror movie. That could be disastrous.



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