A lucid dream is a dream in which the sleeper is aware that he or she is dreaming. When the dreamer is lucid, he or she can actively participate in and often manipulate the imaginary experiences in the dream environment. Lucid dreams can seem extremely real and vivid depending on a person's level of self-awareness during the lucid dream.
The term was coined by the Dutch Psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden (1860-1932).
A lucid dream can begin in one of three ways. A dream-initiated lucid dream (DILD) starts as a normal dream, and the dreamer eventually concludes that he or she is dreaming, while a wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD) occurs when the dreamer goes from a normal waking state directly into a dream state with no apparent lapse in consciousness. A mnemonic-initiated lucid dream (MILD) can happen when the dreamer intentionally affirms to himself or herself that he or she will become lucid during the upcoming sleep. Reaching lucidity can sometimes occur due to dream-signs or spontaneously upon remembrance.
Lucid dreaming has been researched scientifically, and its existence is well established. Scientists such as Allan Hobson, with his neurophysiological approach to dream research, have helped to push the understanding of lucid dreaming into a less speculative realm.
The first book to recognize the scientific potential of lucid dreams was Celia Green's 1968 study Lucid Dreams. Green analyzed the main characteristics of such dreams. She reviewed previously published literature on the subject, and incorporated new data from subjects of her own. She concluded that they were a category of experience quite distinct from ordinary dreams, and predicted that they would turn out to be associated with rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). Green was also the first to link lucid dreams to the phenomenon of false awakenings.
In the early 1970s, Daniel Oldis of the University of South Dakota leveraged the scientific principle of external sensory incorporation in an attempt to influence dream content and evoke lucidity. Three psychological techniques were employed: subconscious suggestion using a tape played before and during sleep; associative signaling using a muffled bell alarm timed to go off during REM sleep; and classical conditioning using a REM detection circuit and a bright eye-light. The results indicated that lucid dreaming can be facilitated using external cues and psychological methods.
Philosopher Norman Malcolm's 1959 text Dreaming had argued against the possibility of checking the accuracy of dream reports. However, the realization that eye movements performed in dreams affected the dreamer's physical eyes provided a way to prove that actions agreed upon during waking life could be recalled and performed once lucid in a dream. The first evidence of this type was produced in the late 1970s by British parapsychologist Keith Hearne. A volunteer named Alan Worsley used eye movement to signal the onset of lucidity, which were recorded by a polysomnograph machine.
Hearne's results were not widely distributed. The first peer-reviewed article was published some years later by Stephen LaBerge at Stanford University, who had independently developed a similar technique as part of his doctoral dissertation. During the 1980s, further scientific evidence to confirm the existence of lucid dreaming was produced as lucid dreamers were able to demonstrate to researchers that they were consciously aware of being in a dream state (again, primarily using eye movement signals). Additionally, techniques were developed which have been experimentally proven to enhance the likelihood of achieving this state. Research on techniques and effects of lucid dreaming continues at a number of universities and other centers, including LaBerge's Lucidity Institute.
Neuroscientist J. Allan Hobson has hypothesized what might be occurring in the brain while lucid. The first step to lucid dreaming is recognizing that one is dreaming. This recognition might occur in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is one of the few areas deactivated during REM sleep and where non sleeping memory occurs. Once this area is activated and the recognition of dreaming occurs, the dreamer must be cautious to let the dream delusions continue but be conscious enough to recognize them. This process might be seen as the balance between reason and emotion. While maintaining this balance, the amygdala and parahippocampal cortex might be less intensely activated. To continue the intensity of the dream hallucinations, it is expected the pons and the parieto-occipital junction stay active.
It has been suggested that people who suffer from nightmares could benefit from the ability to be aware they are indeed dreaming. A pilot study was performed in 2006 that showed that lucid dreaming treatment was successful in reducing nightmare frequency. This treatment consisted of exposure to the idea, mastery of the technique, and lucidity exercises. It was not clear what aspects of the treatment were responsible for the success of overcoming nightmares, though the treatment as a whole was successful.
Australian psychologist Milan Colic has explored the application of principles from narrative therapy with clients' lucid dreams, to reduce the impact not only of nightmares during sleep, but also depression, self-mutilation, and other problems in waking life. Colic found that clients' preferred direction for their lives, as identified during therapeutic conversations, could lessen the distressing content of dreams, while understandings about life—and even characters—from lucid dreams could be invoked in "real" life with marked therapeutic benefits.
The rate at which time passes while lucid dreaming has been shown to be about the same as while waking. However, a 1995 study in Germany indicated that lucid dreaming can also have varied time spans, in which the dreamer can control the length. The study took place during sleep and upon awakening, and required the participants to record their dreams in a log and how long the dreams lasted. In 1985, LaBerge performed a pilot study where lucid dreamers counted out ten seconds while dreaming, signaling the end of counting with a pre-arranged eye signal measured with electrooculogram recording. LaBerge's results were confirmed by German researchers in 2004. The German study, by D. Erlacher and M. Schredl, also studied motor activity and found that deep knee bends took 44% longer to perform while lucid dreaming.
While dream control and dream awareness are correlated, neither requires the other—LaBerge has found dreams which exhibit one clearly without the capacity for the other; also, in some dreams where the dreamer is lucid and aware they could exercise control, they choose simply to observe. A 1992 study examining four forms of lucidity (knowing that dreamt people are indeed dreamt, that objects won't persist beyond waking, that physical laws need not apply, and having clear memory of the waking world) found less than a quarter of lucidity accounts exhibited all four, with scores increasing with experience.
In a study of fourteen lucid dreamers performed in 1991, people who perform wake-initiated lucid dreams operation (WILD) reported experiences consistent with aspects of out-of-body experiences such as floating above their beds and the feeling of leaving their bodies. Due to the phenomenological overlap between lucid dreams, near death experiences, and out-of-body experiences, researchers say they believe a protocol could be developed to induce a lucid dream similar to a near-death experience in the laboratory.
Even though it has only come to the attention of the general public in the last few decades, lucid dreaming is not a modern discovery. A letter written by St. Augustine of Hippo in 415 AD refers to lucid dreaming. In the eighth century, Tibetan Buddhists and Bonpo were practicing a form of Dream Yoga held to maintain full waking consciousness while in the dream state. This system is extensively discussed and explained in the book Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light. One of the important messages of the book is the distinction between the Dzogchen meditation of Awareness and Dream Yoga. The Dzogchen Awareness meditation has also been referred to by the terms Rigpa Awareness, Contemplation, and Presence. Awareness during the sleep and dream states is associated with the Dzogchen practice of natural light. This practice only achieves lucid dreams as a secondary effect—in contrast to Dream yoga which is aimed primarily at lucid dreaming. According to Buddhist teachers, the experience of lucidity helps us to understand the unreality of phenomena, which would otherwise be overwhelming during dream or the death experience.
An early recorded lucid dreamer was the philosopher and physician Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682). Browne was fascinated by the world of dreams and stated of his own ability to lucid dream in his Religio Medici: "... yet in one dream I can compose a whole Comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jests and laugh my self awake at the conceits thereof;". Similarly, Samuel Pepys in his diary entry for 15 August 1665 records a dream "that I had my Lady Castlemayne in my arms and was admitted to use all the dalliance I desired with her, and then dreamt that this could not be awake, but that it was only a dream". Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys was probably the first person to argue that it is possible for anyone to learn to dream consciously. In 1867, he published his book Les Reves et les moyens de les diriger; observations pratiques (Dreams and How to Guide them; Practical Observations), in which he documented more than twenty years of his own research into dreams.
The term lucid dreaming was coined by Dutch author and psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden in his 1913 article "A Study of Dreams". This paper was highly anecdotal and not embraced by the scientific community. Some consider this a misnomer because it means much more than just "clear or vivid" dreaming. The alternative term conscious dreaming avoids this confusion. However, the term lucid was used by van Eeden in its sense of "having insight", as in the phrase a lucid interval applied to someone in temporary remission from a psychosis, rather than as a reference to the perceptual quality of the experience which may or may not be clear and vivid.
In the 1950s, the Senoi hunter-gatherers of Malaysia were reported to make extensive use of lucid dreaming to ensure mental health, although later studies refuted these claims.
The anthropologic studies in 1968 by Carlos Castaneda, for what later became the new age novel, The Teachings of Don Juan, reveals that ancient Mexican natives knew about and encouraged lucid dreaming.
Many people report having experienced a lucid dream during their lives, often in childhood. Children seem to have lucid dreams more easily than adults. Over time, several techniques have been developed to achieve a lucid dreaming state intentionally. The following are common factors that influence lucid dreaming and techniques that people use to help achieve a lucid dream:
Dream recall is simply the ability to remember dreams. Good dream recall is often described as the first step towards lucid dreaming. Better recall increases awareness of dreams in general; with limited dream recall, any lucid dreams one has can be forgotten entirely. To improve dream recall, some people keep a dream journal, writing down any dreams remembered the moment one awakes. An audio recorder can also be very helpful. It is important to record the dreams as quickly as possible as there is a strong tendency to forget what one has dreamt. For best recall, the waking dreamer should keep eyes closed while trying to remember the dream, and that one's dream journal be recorded in the present tense. Describing an experience as if still in it can help the writer to recall more accurately the events of their dream. Dream recall can also be improved by staying still after waking up. This may have something to do with REM atonia (the condition of REM sleep in which the motor neurons are not stimulated and thus the body's muscles do not move). If one purposely prevents motor neurons from firing immediately after waking from a dream, recalling the dream becomes easier. Similarly, if the dreamer changes positions in the night, they may be able to recall certain events of their dream by testing different sleeping positions. Another easy technique to help improve dream recall is to simply repeat (in thoughts or out loud) "I will remember my dreams," before falling asleep. Stephen LaBerge recommends that you remember at least one dream per night before attempting any induction methods.
The MILD technique is a common technique developed by Stephen LaBerge used to induce a lucid dream at will by setting an intention, while falling asleep, to remember to recognize that one is dreaming or to remember to look for dream signs when one is in a dream.
One easy-to-apply method is to count yours or other people's fingers during the day, making sure it is done diligently and reaches the expected number. If this is done frequently when awake, similar behavior may continue into the dream, where by some discrepancy from reality, the dreamer would realize he or she is dreaming and the dream could become lucid.
Another method is to look at text (such as a digital clock, or a road sign), turn away, and then look back. If the person is dreaming, the text may change to something else. The dreamer would then realize he or she is dreaming and the dream could become lucid.
A third method is to pull out a purse or wallet, then attempt to count the money inside. Strange denominations of currency are often present during a dream, such as seven dollar bills rather than a five and two ones. The dreamer would know such denominations are not real and could become lucid. (This method is based on original unpublished research. credit Travis George)
A key element in MILD is reviewing in memory the dream from which one has just awoken. When a point is reached in the dream at which an obvious dream sign occurred (e.g., a man with two heads walks past) individuals performing this technique depart from actual memory and instead imagine they became aware they were dreaming. Upon returning to sleep, these individuals will often find themselves back in the same or similar dreams, sometimes even encountering similar dream signs—a situation that can improve the odds they will remember their intention to question whether or not they are dreaming, and thereby achieve lucidity.
The wake-back-to-bed technique is often the easiest way to encourage a lucid dream. The method involves going to sleep and waking up five to six hours later, focusing all thoughts on lucid dreaming while staying awake for an hour, and going back to sleep while practicing the MILD method. This technique has had a 60% success rate in research. This is because the REM cycles get longer as the night goes on, and this technique takes advantage of the best REM cycle of the night. Because this REM cycle is longer and deeper, gaining lucidity during this time may result in a lengthier lucid dream.
The wake-initiated lucid dream "occurs when the sleeper enters REM sleep with unbroken self-awareness directly from the waking state". There are many techniques aimed at entering a WILD. The key to these techniques is recognizing the hypnagogic stage, which is within the border of being awake and being asleep. If a person is successful in staying aware while this stage occurs, they will eventually enter the dream state while being fully aware that it is a dream.
There are key times at which this state is best entered; while success at normal bedtime after having been awake all day is very difficult, it is relatively easy after sleeping for 3–7 hours or in the afternoon during a nap. Techniques for inducing WILDs abound. Dreamers may count, envision themselves climbing or descending stairs, chant to themselves, control their breathing, count their breaths to keep their thoughts from drifting, concentrate on relaxing their body from their toes to their head, or allow images to flow through their "mind's eye" and envision themselves jumping into the image to maintain concentration and keep their mind awake, while still being calm enough to let their bodies sleep.
One technique recorded by Stephen Wack is a method of attempting to remain in the dream after realizing that you are experiencing a lucid dream by touching something with a lot of detail such as a rough brick house, your hair or a stream of flowing water. But one of the most unique interactions a body can experience is touching the tip of your tongue to the roof of one's mouth. This can be very helpful in remaining in the dream.
During the actual transition into the dream state, dreamers are likely to experience sleep paralysis, including rapid vibrations, a sequence of loud sounds, and a feeling of twirling into another state of body awareness, or of "drifting off into another dimension", or like passing the interface between water into air, face front, body first, or the gradual sharpening and becoming "real" of images or scenes they are thinking of and trying to visualize gradually, which they can actually "see", instead of the indefinite sensations they feel when trying to imagine something while wide awake.
The cycle adjustment technique, developed by Daniel Love, is an effective way to induce lucid dreaming. It involves adjusting one's sleep cycle to encourage awareness during the latter part of the sleep. First, the person spends one week waking up 90 minutes before normal wake time until their sleep cycle begins to adjust. After this cycle adjustment phase, the normal wake times and early wake times alternate daily. On the days with the normal wake times, the body is ready to wake up, and this increases alertness, making lucidity more likely.
A variation on this method is WILD-CAT. Identical in virtually all respects to the original Cycle Adjustment Technique, differing only in such that on the days in which one is allowed to sleep-in (normal wake times), the subject wakes briefly at the earlier wake time then returns immediately to sleep until the normal wake time. This allows the subject to return to sleep in the hope of inducing a Wake Initiated Lucid Dream. One advantage to WILD-CAT is that it can be combined with other WILD induction methods. The WILD-CAT variation was also developed by Daniel Love.
The Lucid Dream Supplement (LDS) technique was developed primarily by LaBerge with others following his lead. LaBerge filed for a patent application in December 2004  that outlined the basic technique of boosting Acetylcholine levels to promote lucid dreaming. The application included misleading details however; such as repeated references of ingesting the supplements at bedtime. It is now known that taking the right balance of supplements after several hours of sleep is far more effective. LaBerge did not name the method nor has he publicly discussed his research. The term LDS was coined by researcher/practitioner Scot Stride who worked with a small group of pioneers, including Thomas Yuschak, to optimize the LDS approach. The LDS method uses primarily non-prescription supplements that are ingested to produce favorable conditions for the brain's neurotransmitters and receptor sites during REM sleep. By increasing or balancing the levels of Acetylcholine, Serotonin, Dopamine and Noradrenaline the person can significantly influence dream vividness, memory, clarity, awareness and mood. Enhancing these mental states during REM sleep significantly increases the odds of becoming lucid. The LDS technique can be combined with other techniques (like WBTB or WILD) to complement or amplify them to produce even better results. Thomas Yuschak describes the details of the technique in his book and is widely credited with popularizing the method. Based on anecdotal accounts from various website forums, many people who have experienced difficulties with the other techniques, for whatever reason, are using LDS as an aid in overcoming their obstacles. Some people use LDS to jump start their LD practice and then move on to one of the other traditional methods. Other people use it recreationally to experience more memorable and vivid dreams than they normally would. As well as the Lucid Dream Supplement some have reported increase in dream vividness using other vitamin supplements such as B6/B12. Vitamin B5(pantothenic Acide) taken right before going to sleep will enhance vividness of dreams. Vitamin B6 will cause frightening dreams.
Various tools have been brought to market to assist in the goal of having a lucid dream. The first widely distributed dream-induction device is the NovaDreamer, designed in 1993 by Craig Webb. The general principle of all devices works by taking advantage of the natural phenomenon of incorporating external stimuli into one's dreams. Usually a device is worn while sleeping that can detect when the sleeper's eyes move rapidly and they have entered REM sleep and are likely dreaming. The device detects the movements and triggers a set of flashing lights that can be incorporated into a dream. For example, flashing lights from the device in your dream may be a flashing light in the sky or flashing headlights, and the dreamer can recognize them and enter a lucid state. The NOVADREAMER was discontinued in 2003 but the NOVADREAMER2 will be available late 2009.
The Lucidity Institute produced the original Dreamlight and NovaDreamer models which were originally on sale for over $1000 and $2450 respectively, the former being only produced in limited quantities due to the high price and complicated design. Funds raised from these devices were used to help fund further research by the Lucidity Institute. A similar device called the NovaDreamer II has been "coming soon" since at least 2004. A similar device known as the Dream Mask has also been produced. Some individuals have created their own devices using foam and simple electronics.
Reality testing (or reality checking) is a common method used by people to determine whether or not they are dreaming. It involves performing an action and observing if the results are consistent with results which would be expected in a state of wakefulness. By practicing these tests during waking life, one may eventually decide to perform such a test while dreaming, which may fail and let the dreamer realize that they are dreaming.
A more precise form of reality testing involves examining the properties of dream objects to judge their apparent reality. Some lucid dreamers report that dream objects when examined closely have all the sensory properties, stability, and detail of objects in the physical world. Such detailed observation relates to whether mental objects and environments could effectively act as substitutes for the physical environments with the dreamer unable to see significant differences between the two. This has implications for those who claim there is a spiritual or supernatural world that might be accessible through out of body experience or after death.
One problem faced by people wishing to experience lucid dreams is awakening prematurely. This premature awakening can be frustrating after investing considerable time into achieving lucidity in the first place. Stephen LaBerge proposed two ways to prolong a lucid dream. The first technique involves spinning one's dream body. He proposed that when spinning, the dreamer is engaging parts of the brain that may also be involved in REM activity, helping to prolong REM sleep. The second technique is rubbing one's hands. This technique is intended to engage the dreamer's brain in producing the sensation of rubbing hands, preventing the sensation of lying in bed from creeping into awareness. LaBerge tested his hypothesis by asking 34 volunteers to either spin, rub their hands, or do nothing. Results showed 90% of dreams were prolonged by hand rubbing and 96% prolonged by spinning. Only 33% of lucid dreams were prolonged with taking no action.
Once the initial barrier of lucidity is broken, the dreamer’s next obstacle is the excitement of being conscious within a dream. It is key that the dreamer immediately relax upon becoming lucid. There are many methods that work, but in general saturating any of the senses with stimuli from the dream is important. Vision is usually the first sense to fade away, with touch commonly being the last. If the dream starts to fade, grabbing hold of anything close by, making sure to feel the tactile sensation, can prevent the dream from fading. Other techniques include shouting in a loud and clear voice, “INCREASE LUCIDITY!” inside the dream. People are often reluctant to do this, but it significantly stabilizes the dream and increases its vividness. The well-known author, Carlos Castaneda, suggests that the dreamer touch their tongue to the roof of their mouth, an action that greatly increases the realness of the dream.
The experience of losing lucidity and waking up has been described as similar to using a camera to unfocus on a distant object while refocusing on a much closer one. The distant object (the dream body) blurs out at first and eventually disappears completely as the closer object (the physical body) comes into focus. Using a different analogy to describe the transition, the mental or dream body image slowly evaporates like water on hot pavement, as the normal physical body image coalesces and takes its place.
When a person is dreaming, the eyes move rapidly up and down and vibrate. Scientific research has found that these eye movements correspond to the direction in which the dreamer is "looking" in his/her dreamscape; this has enabled trained lucid dreamers to communicate whilst dreaming to researchers by using eye movement signals.
In a false awakening, one suddenly dreams of having been awakened. Commonly in a false awakening, the room is similar to the room in which the person fell asleep. If the person was lucid, they often believe that they are no longer dreaming and may start exiting the room and start going through a daily routine. This can be a nemesis in the art of lucid dreaming, because it usually causes people to give up their awareness of being in a dream, but it can also cause someone to become lucid if the person does a reality check whenever he/she awakens. People who keep a dream journal and write down their dreams upon awakening sometimes report having to write down the same dream multiple times because of this phenomenon. It has also been known to cause bed wetting as one may dream that they have awoken to go to the lavatory, but in reality are still dreaming. The makers of induction devices such as the NovaDreamer and the REM Dreamer recommend doing a reality check every time you awake so that when a false awakening occurs you will become lucid. People using these devices have most of their lucid dreams triggered through reality checks upon a false awakening.
During REM sleep the body paralyses itself as a protection mechanism in order to prevent the movements which occur in the dream from causing the physical body to move. However, it is possible for this mechanism to be triggered before, during, or after normal sleep while the brain awakens. This can lead to a state where a person is lying in his or her bed and they feel paralyzed. Hypnagogic hallucination may occur in this state, especially auditory ones. Effects of sleep paralysis include heaviness or inability to move the muscles, rushing or pulsating noises, and brief hypnogogic imagery. Experiencing sleep paralysis is a necessary part of WILD, in which the dreamer essentially detaches his "dream" body from the paralyzed one. Also see OBE or Out-Of-Body-Experience, opposing the scientific theory of these occurrences stating that the paralysis is actually an occurrence to one who is already "separated" from their physical body meaning that "physical action potentials" have no effect here but "mental actions" do - a hint given that those who are finding difficulty moving are using the wrong "mechanism".
An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE) is an experience that typically involves a sensation of floating outside of one's body and, in some cases, perceiving one's physical body from a place outside one's body (autoscopy). About one in ten people think they have had an out-of-body experience at some time in their lives. Scientists are starting to learn about the phenomenon.
Wake-induced OBEs, including those intended to achieve Astral Projection, and waking induced lucid dreams cover such similar ground that common misinterpretation of one as the other (or even equivalence) can be hypothesized. Realistic-seeming yet physically impossible impressions of flying, time-traveling or walking through the walls of an environment matching one's bedroom are equally hallmarks of either. (As those who have experienced them will attest, neither "feels" like ordinary dreams at all.) Their induction techniques are similar, and both are easier to perform at times typical for afternoon naps and late morning REM cycles.
During most dreams, sleepers are not aware that they are dreaming. The reason why this is the case has not been discovered, and does not appear to have an obvious answer. There have been attempts by various fields of psychology to provide an explanation. For example, some proponents of Depth psychology suggest that mental processes inhibit the critical evaluation of reality within dreams. 
Physiology suggests that “seeing is believing” to the brain during any mental state. This being said, if the brain actually believes something so much, it will actually believe that it is real. Even waking consciousness is liable to accept discontinuous or illogical experience as real if presented as such to the brain. Dream consciousness is similar to that of a hallucinating awake subject. Dream or hallucinatory images triggered by the brain stem are considered to be real, even if fantastic. The impulse to accept the evident is so strong the dreamer will often invent a memory or story to cover up an incongruous or unrealistic event in the dream. “That man has two heads!” is usually followed not with “I must be dreaming!” but with “Yes, I read in the paper about these famous Siamese twins.” Or other times there will be an explanation that, in the dream, makes sense and seems very logical, but when the dreamer awakes, he/she will realize that it is rather far fetched or even complete gibberish.
Developmental psychology suggests that the dream world is not bizarre at all when viewed developmentally, since we were dreaming as children before we learned all of the physical and social laws that train the mind to a “reality.” Fluid imaginative constructions may have preceded the more rigid, logical waking rules and continue on as a normative lifeworld alongside the acquired, waking life world. Dreaming and waking consciousness differ only in their respective level of expectations, the waking “I” expecting a stricter set of “reality rules” as the child matures. The experience of “waking up” normally establishes the boundary between the two lifeworlds and cues the consciousness to adapt to waking “I” expectations. At times, however, this cue is false—a false awakening. Here the waking “I” (with its level of expectations) is activated even though the experience is still hallucinatory. Incongruous images or illogical events during this type of dream can result in lucidity as the dream is being judged by waking “standards.”
Another theory presented by transpersonal psychology and some Eastern religions is that it is the individual's state of consciousness (or awareness) that determines their ability to discriminate and differentiate between what is real, and what is false or illusory. In the dream state, many experiences are accepted as real by the dreamer that would not be accepted as real in the waking state. Some religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism describe states of consciousness (i.e., Nirvana or Moksha) where individuals "wake up", and discover a new or altered state of consciousness that reveals their normal waking experience to be unreal, dream-like, or maya (illusion). The assumption is that there are degrees of wakefulness or awareness, and that both lucid dreaming and normal waking experience lie somewhere towards the middle of this continuum (or hierarchy) of awareness. In this context, there must therefore be states of wakefulness that are superior to normal waking awareness. Just as when the dreamer awakens to realize that a nightmare was illusory, the individual can, like the Buddha, undergo a spiritual awakening and realize that what is called normal waking awareness is, in fact, a dream.
It has been hypothesized that Meditation before sleep can also improve the occurrence of a lucid dream as it potentially minimizes the time taken for a person to fall asleep therefore increasing the chances of maintaining awareness to induce a lucid dream.
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Astral projection (or astral travel) is an esoteric interpretation of any form of out-of-body experience (OOBE) that assumes the existence of an "astral body" separate from the physical body and capable of travelling outside it. Astral projection or travel denotes the astral body leaving the physical body to travel in the astral plane.
The idea of astral travel is rooted in common worldwide religious accounts of the afterlife  in which the consciousness' or soul's journey or "ascent" is described in such terms as "an...out-of body experience, wherein the spiritual traveller leaves the physical body and travels in his/her subtle body (or dreambody or astral body) into ‘higher’ realms." It is therefore associated with near death experiences and is also frequently reported as spontaneously experienced in association with sleep and dreams, illness, surgical operations, drug experiences, sleep paralysis and forms of meditation.
It is also sometimes cultivated for its own sake or may be believed to be a faculty derived from or necessary to some forms of spiritual practice. It may involve "travel to higher realms" called astral planes but is commonly used of any sensation of being "out of the body" in the everyday world, even seeing ones body from outside or above. It may be reported in the form of an apparitional experience, a supposed encounter with a doppelganger, some living person also seen somewhere else at the same time. (See Bilocation)
The belief that one has had an out-of-body experience is common: hundreds of personal accounts were published in a number of books[which?] through the 1960s and 70s and surveys have reported percentages ranging from 8% to as many as 50% (in certain groups) of respondents who state they have had such an experience. The subjective nature of the experience permits explanations that do not rely on the existence of an "astral" body and plane. There is little beyond anecdotal evidence to support the idea that people can actually "leave the body".
For further information on explanations and research, see Out-of-body experience
According to classical, medieval, renaissance Neoplatonist, later Theosophist and Rosicrucian philosophy, the astral body is an intermediate body of light linking the rational soul to the physical body, and the astral plane is an intermediate world of light between Heaven and Earth composed of the spheres of the planets and stars. These astral spheres were held to be populated by angels, demons and spirits. 
The subtle bodies, and their associated planes of existence, form an essential part of the esoteric systems that deal with astral phenomena. In the neo-platonism of Plotinus, for example, the individual is a microcosm ("small world") of the universe (the macrocosm or "great world"). "The rational soul...is akin to the great Soul of the World" while "the material universe, like the body, is made as a faded image of the Intelligible". Each succeeding plane of manifestation is causal to the next, a world-view called emanationism; "from the One proceeds Intellect, from Intellect Soul, and from Soul - in its lower phase, or Nature - the material universe".
Often these bodies and their corresponding planes of existence are depicted as a series of concentric circles or nested spheres, with a separate body traversing each realm. The idea of the astral figured prominently in the work of the nineteenth-century French occultist Eliphas Levi, whence it was adopted by Theosophy and Golden Dawn magical society.
Similar concepts of "soul" travel appear in various other religious traditions, for example ancient Egyptian teachings present the soul as having the ability to hover outside the physical body in the ka, or subtle body. A common belief is that the subtle body is attached to the physical body by means of a psychic silver cord.
Taoist alchemical practice involves creation of an energy body by breathing meditations, drawing energy into a 'pearl' that is then "circulated". "Xiangzi ... with a drum as his pillow fell fast asleep, snoring and motionless. His primordial spirit, however, went straight into the banquet room and said, "My lords, here I am again." ... When Tuizhi walked ... with the officials to take a look, there really was a Daoist sleeping on the ground and snoring like thunder. Yet inside, in the side room, there was another Daoist beating a fisher drum and singing Daoist songs. The officials all said, “Although there are two different people, their faces and clothes are exactly alike. Clearly he is a divine immortal who can divide his body and appear in several places at once. ..." ... At that moment, the Daoist in the side room came walking out, and the Daoist sleeping on the ground woke up. The two merged into one." 
The Theosophists also took note of similar ideas (Lin'ga S'ari-ra) found in ancient Hindu scriptures such as the YogaVashishta-Maharamayana of Valmiki.
The expression "astral projection" came to be used in two different ways. For the Golden Dawn and some Theosophists it retained the classical and medieval philosophers' meaning of journeying to other worlds, heavens, hells, the astrological spheres and other imaginal landscapes, but outside these circles the term was increasingly applied to non-physical travel around the physical world rather than the astral. Though this usage continues to be widespread, the "etheric travel" label coined by later Theosophists such as Leadbetter and Bailey is more appropriate to such scenarios.
Commonly in the astral projection experience, the experients describe themselves as being in a domain which often has no parallel to any physical setting, although they say they can visit different times and/or physical settings. Environments may be populated or unpopulated, artificial, natural or completely abstract and from beatific to horrific. A common belief is that one may access a compendium of mystical knowledge called the Akashic records. In many of these accounts, the experiencer correlates the astral world with the world of dreams. They report seeing dreamers enact dream scenarios on the astral plane, unaware of the wider environment around them. Some also state that "falling" dreams are brought about by projection.
The astral environment is often theoretically divided into levels or planes. There are many different views concerning the overall structure of the astral planes in various traditions. These planes may include heavens and hells and other after-death spheres, transcendent environments or other less-easily characterized states.
In contrast to astral projection, etheric projection is described as the ability to move about in the material world in an etheric body which is usually, though not always, invisible to people who are presently "in their bodies." Robert Monroe describes this type of projection as a projection to "Locale I" or the "Here-Now", and describes it as containing people and places that he feels actually exist in the material world. Robert Bruce refers to a similar area as the "Real Time Zone" (RTZ) and describes it as the nonphysical, dimension-level closest to the physical.
According to Max Heindel, the etheric "double" serves as a medium between the astral and physical realms. In his system, the ether, also called prana, is the "vital force" that empowers the physical forms in order for that change to take place. From his descriptions it can be inferred that when one views the physical during an out-of-body experience, one is not technically "in" the astral realm at all.
The subtle vehicle remains connected to the physical body during the separation by a so-called “silver cord”, said to be that mentioned in Ecclesiastes 12:6.
Stephen LaBerge suggested in his 1985 book Lucid Dreaming that all such "out-of-body experiences" may represent partially lucid dreams or "misinterpreted dream experiences", in which the sleeper does not fully recognize the situation. "In the dark forest, one may experience a tree as a tiger, but it is still in fact only a tree."
Although there were many twentieth century publications on astral projection, only a few of their authors remain widely cited as influential after their deaths. These include Robert Monroe, Oliver Fox, Sylvan Muldoon and Yram. Living authors that receive repeated mainstream media coverage include Robert Bruce and William Buhlmann, both of whom have discussed their theories and findings on the syndicated show Coast to Coast AM several times. Michael Crichton gives lengthy and detailed explanations and experience of astral projection in his non-fiction book "Travels".
William Buhlman and Robert Bruce are among the most popular author-practitioners on the OBE. Waldo Vieira is a physician and dentist that claims to have had his first OBE at the age of 9 and has gone on to write numerous articles and over 20 books, including the 1,000-page tome "Projectiology". Wagner Alegretti, president of and researcher at International Academy of Consciousness, is another experienced out-of-body experiencer recently featured in Discovery Channel en Espanol and New York's New Realities series. Nanci Trivellato is another international-circuit speaker and practitioner, based in Portugal, teaching regularly in the Latin America, the US, Europe, and Japan.
Robert Monroe's accounts of journeys to other realms (1971–1994) popularized the term "OBE" and were translated into a large number of languages. Though his books themselves only placed secondary importance on descriptions of method, Monroe also founded an institute dedicated to research, exploration and non-profit dissemination of auditory technology for assisting others in achieving projection and related altered states of consciousness, which has spawned a wave of further publications of assisted projection experiences. His institute remains highly active today.
Hereward Carrington, a psychical researcher, along with Sylvan Muldoon, who professed ease with astral projection, published The Projection of the Astral Body in 1929. Both Callaway and Muldoon wrote of techniques they felt facilitated a projection into the astral. Among these practices included visualizing such mental images as flying or being in an elevator traveling upward, just before going to sleep. They also recommended trying to regain waking consciousness while in a dream state (lucid dreaming). This was done, they wrote, by habitually recognizing apparent incongruities in one's dream, such as noticing a different pattern of wallpaper in one's home. Such recognition, they said, sometimes resulted in normal consciousness, but with the feeling of being outside the physical body and able to look down on it.
Emanuel Swedenborg was one of the first practitioners to write extensively about the out-of-body experience, in his Spiritual Diary (1747-65). French philosopher and novelist Honoré de Balzac's fictional work "Louis Lambert" suggests he may have been a lucid projector (astral projector or out-of-body experiencer).
In occult traditions, practices range from inducing trance states to the mental construction of a second body, called the Body of Light in Aleister Crowley's writings, through visualization and controlled breathing, followed by the transfer of consciousness to the secondary body by a mental act of will.
One of the earliest mainstream portrayals of such experiences is a 1936 Mickey Mouse animation short, Thru the Mirror. In it, Mickey's consciousness is shown as rousing while his body still sleeps, leaving the bed and then climbing through his mantelpiece mirror to a parallel Carrollian version of his room. With perfect timing, it later reintegrates with his sleeping body just as his alarm clock rings.
A pre-lucid dream is one in which the dreamer considers the question, "Am I asleep and dreaming?" The dreamer may or may not come to the correct conclusion. Such experiences are liable to occur to people who are deliberately cultivating lucid dreams, but may also occur spontaneously to those with no prior intention to achieve lucidity in dreams.
The term ‘pre-lucid dream’ was first introduced by Celia Green in her book Lucid Dreams (1968).
It is generally preferred to the term ‘near-lucid’ dream on the following grounds:
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The term psychedelic is derived from the Greek words ψυχή (psyche, "mind") and δηλείν (delein, "to manifest"), translating to "mind-manifesting". A psychedelic experience is characterized by the perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly ordinary fetters. Psychedelic states are an array of experiences elicited by sensory deprivation as well as by psychedelic substances. Such experiences include hallucinations, changes of perception, synesthesia, altered states of awareness, mystical states, and occasionally states resembling psychosis.
The term was first coined as a noun in 1957 by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond as an alternative descriptor for hallucinogenic drugs in the context of psychedelic psychotherapy. Timothy Leary, who was largely responsible for the popularization of the term "psychedelic", was a well-known proponent of their use, as was Aldous Huxley. However, both advanced widely different opinions on the broad use of psychedelics by state and civil society. Leary promulgated the idea of such substances as a panacea, while Huxley suggested that only the cultural and intellectual elite should partake of entheogens systematically.
The use of psychedelic drugs became widespread in the modern West in the mid-1960s.
The impact of psychedelic drugs on western culture in the 1960s led to semantic drift in the use of the word "psychedelic", and it is now frequently applied to describe any brightly patterned or colored object. In objection to this new meaning, and to what some consider pejorative meanings of other synonyms such as "hallucinogen" and "psychotomimetic", the term "entheogen" was proposed and is seeing increasing use. However, many consider the term "entheogen" best reserved for religious and spiritual usage, such as certain Native American churches do with the peyote sacrament, and "psychedelic" left to describe those who are using these drugs for recreation, psychotherapy, physical healing, or creative problem solving. In science, hallucinogen remains the standard term.
At the same time as psychedelic drugs were being used by the counterculture of the 1960s, they were also being used in experiments by governments, who saw them and sensory deprivation as useful agents for mind control; see MKULTRA for the CIA involvement in the use of psychedelic drugs.
One of the first uses of the word in the music scene of this time was in the 1964 recording of "Hesitation Blues" by the Holy Modal Rounders. The term was introduced to rock music and popularized by the 13th Floor Elevators 1966 album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators.
Many artists in the late 1960s and early 1970s attempted to illustrate the psychedelic experience. One example of this experimentation is seen in Mati Klarwein's painting Annunciation, which was used as the cover art for Santana's Abraxas. The cover of Pink Floyd's 1968 album A Saucerful of Secrets is also of this type. The cover of Oasis' 2008 album, Dig Out Your Soul, also has a psychedelic album cover, with a slightly muted color scheme.
The fashion for psychedelic drugs gave its name to the visual style of psychedelia, a term describing a category of rock music known as psychedelic rock, visual art, fashion, and culture that is associated originally with the high 1960s, hippies, and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, California. Psychedelia generally began in 1966, but truly took off in 1967 with the Summer of Love. Although associated with San Francisco, the style soon spread across the US, and worldwide.
The counterculture of the 1960s had a strong influence on the popular culture of the early 1970s, and is well recognized even by those who are naïve to its psychedelic origins. It later became linked to a style of electronic dance music commonly known as psychedelic trance.
Psychedelic therapy refers to therapeutic practices involving the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD, psilocin and DMT. As an alternative to synonyms such as "hallucinogen", "entheogen", "psychotomimetic" and other functionally constructed names, the use of the term psychedelic ("mind-manifesting") emphasizes that those who use these drugs as part of a therapeutic practice believe these drugs can facilitate beneficial exploration of the psyche. Proponents of psychedelic therapy also believe psychedelics enhance or unlock key psychoanalytic abilities, and so make it easier for conventional psychotherapy to take place.
Psychedelic therapy, in the broadest possible sense of the term, undoubtedly dates from prehistoric knowledge of hallucinogenic plants. Though usually viewed as predominantly spiritual in nature, elements of psychotherapeutic practice can be recognized in the entheogenic or shamanic rituals of many cultures.
Some of the well known particular psychedelic substances that have been used to this day are: MDMA, LSD, Psilocybin, Cannabis, Mescaline, Dimethyltryptamine, Ibogaine, Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, Ketamine, Amanita muscaria, Bufotenine, Harmaline, Ayahuasca, and Salvia divinorum. Shamans have historically been well known throughout the world to mix two or more of some of the listed substances to produce synergistic effects. See psychoactive, entheogen, hallucinogen, psychotherapy, psychonaut, meditation, trance, mysticism, transcendence.
The use of psychedelic agents in Western therapy began in the 1950s, after the widespread distribution of LSD to researchers by its manufacturer, Sandoz Laboratories. Research into experimental, chemotherapeutic and psychotherapeutic uses of psychedelic drugs was conducted in several countries over the next 10–15 years. In addition to the release of dozens of books and creation of six international conferences, more than 1000 peer-reviewed clinical papers detailing the use of psychedelic compounds (administered to approximately 40,000 patients) were published by the mid-1960s. Proponents believed that psychedelic drugs facilitated psychoanalytic processes, and that they were particularly useful for patients with problems that were otherwise difficult to treat, including alcoholics, although the trials did not meet the methodological standards required today.
One challenge of psychedelic therapy was the greatly variable effects produced by the drugs. According to Stanislav Grof, “The major obstacle to their systematic utilization for therapeutic purposes was the fact that they tended to occur in an elemental fashion, without a recognizable pattern, and frequently to the surprise of both the patient and the therapist. Since the variables determining such reactions were not understood, therapeutic transformations of this kind were not readily replicable." Attempts to produce these experiences in a controlled, non-arbitrary, predictable way resulted in several methods of psychedelic therapy, which are reviewed below.
Researchers[who?] felt psychedelics could alter the fundamental personality structure or subjective value-system of an individual, to beneficial effect. Psychedelic therapy was used in a number of specific patient populations, including alcoholics and people with terminal illness.
Studies by Humphrey Osmond, Betty Eisner, and others examined the possibility that psychedelic therapy could treat alcoholism (or, less commonly, other addictions). A review of the usefulness of psychedelic therapy in treating alcoholism concluded that the possibility was neither proven nor disproven. Early studies of alcoholics who underwent LSD treatment reported a 50% success rate after a single high-dose session. However, the studies that reported high success rates had insufficient controls, lacked objective measures of genuine change, and failed to conduct rigorous follow-up interviews with subjects. The lack of conclusive evidence notwithstanding, individual case reports are often dramatic. Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, reported that his experience with LSD closely resembled the spiritual transformation that led him to overcome the compulsion to drink. More recently, illicit therapy and limited legal clinics have used Ibogaine as a treatment for drug addiction although this is not sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is thus conducted outside that country.
Richard Yensen, Albert Kurland and other researchers collected evidence that psychedelic therapy could be of use to those suffering from anxiety and other problems associated with terminal illness. In 1965, research consisting of providing a psychedelic experience for the dying was conducted at the Spring Grove State Hospital in Maryland. Of 17 dying patients who received LSD after appropriate therapeutic preparation, one-third improved "dramatically," one-third improved "moderately," and one-third were unchanged by the criteria of reduced tension, depression, pain, and fear of death.
One reason that psychedelic therapy was eventually restricted was concern about the use of drugs by the general public. In the mid-1960s, in response to concerns regarding the proliferation of the unauthorized use of psychedelic drugs by the general public (especially the counterculture), various steps were taken to curtail their use. Bowing to governmental concerns, Sandoz halted production of LSD in 1965, and in many countries LSD was banned, or made available on a very limited basis that made research difficult. Gradually, increasing restrictions were placed on medical and psychiatric research conducted with LSD and other psychedelic substances. In a congressional hearing in 1966, Senator Robert Kennedy questioned the shift of opinion with regards to this potentially rewarding form of treatment, noting that, "Perhaps to some extent we have lost sight of the fact that (LSD) can be very, very helpful in our society if used properly" (Subcommittee on Executive Reorganization, 1966 p. 63).
By 1970, LSD and many other psychedelics were placed into the most-restrictive "Schedule I" category by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, along with widely-used drugs like heroin. Schedule I compounds are claimed to possess "significant potential for abuse and dependence" and have "no recognized medicinal value," effectively rendering them illegal for any purpose without special difficult-to-obtain approvals. The arguments in favour of this regulation are seemingly contradicted by hundreds of scientific and medical articles on the use of psychedelics as aids in psychotherapy. In 1968, Dahlberg and colleagues published an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry that detailed the way in which various forces had successfully discredited legitimate LSD research. The essay argues that individuals in government and the pharmaceutical industry influenced research in the medical community by canceling any ongoing studies and analysis in addition to labeling genuine scientists as charlatans. Despite objections from the scientific community, authorized research into therapeutic applications of psychedelic drugs had been discontinued worldwide by the 1980s.
Research and therapeutic sessions have nevertheless continued to be performed, in one way or another, to the present day. Some therapists have exploited windows of opportunity preceding scheduling of particular substances (eg, MDMA, LSD, Psilocybin, Cannabis, Mescaline, Dimethyltryptamine, Ibogaine, Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, Ketamine, Amanita muscaria, Bufotenine, Harmaline, Ayahuasca, Salvia divinorum) or developed extensive non-drug techniques for achieving similar states of consciousness (e.g. Holotropic Breathwork). For the most part, however, since the early 1970s, psychedelic therapy has been conducted by an underground network of people willing to conduct what they consider to be therapy sessions using illegal substances. Board-certified therapists, in doing this, risked losing both their career and their liberty. However, in many countries, anyone is entitled to adopt the designation of therapist. In recent years, some researchers, including Charles Grob and Michael Mithoefer, have obtained permission for human studies of psychedelics as possible treatments.
The effects of psychedelic drugs on the human mind are complex, varied and difficult to characterize, and as a result many different "flavors" of psychedelic psychotherapy have been developed by individual practitioners. Some aspects of published accounts of methodologies are discussed below.
Psycholytic therapy involves the use of low to medium doses of psychedelic drugs, repeatedly at intervals of 1–2 weeks. The therapist is present during the peak of the experience and at other times as required, to assist the patient in processing material that arises and to offer support when necessary. This general form of therapy was utilized mainly to treat patients with neurotic and psychosomatic disorders. (1) The name, coined by Ronald A. Sandison, literally meaning "soul-dissolving", refers to the belief that the therapy can dissolve conflicts in the mind. Psycholytic therapy was historically an important approach to psychedelic psychotherapy in Europe, but it was also practiced in the United States by some psychotherapists including Betty Eisner.
An advantage of psychedelic drugs in exploring the unconscious is that a conscious sliver of the adult ego usually remains alert during the experience. Throughout the session, patients remain intellectually alert and remember their experiences vividly. In this highly introspective state, they also are actively cognizant of ego defenses such as projection, denial, and displacement as they react to themselves and their choices in the act of creating them.
The ultimate goal of the therapy is to provide a safe, mutually compassionate context through which the profound and intense reliving of memories can be filtered through the principles of genuine psychotherapy. Aided by the deeply introspective state attained by the patient, the therapist assists him/her in developing a new life framework or personal philosophy that recognizes individual responsibility for change.
Psychedelic therapy involves the use of very high doses of psychedelic drugs, with the aim of promoting transcendental, ecstatic, religious or mystical peak experiences. This approach differs strongly from the dialog-based processing of psychodynamic material upon which many other methodologies are based. As such, it is more closely aligned to transpersonal psychology than to traditional psychoanalysis. Psychedelic therapy is primarily practiced in North America. The psychedelic therapy method was initiated by Humphry Osmond and Abram Hoffer (with some influence from Al Hubbard) and replicated by Keith Ditman.
In Czechoslovakia, Stanislav Grof developed a form of treatment that appeared to bridge both of these main forms. He analyzed the LSD experience in a Freudian or Jungian psychoanalytic context in addition to giving significant value to the overarching transpersonal, mystical, or spiritual experience that often allowed the patient to re-evaluate their entire life philosophy.
The Chilean therapist Claudio Naranjo developed a branch of psychedelic therapy which utilized drugs like MDA, MDMA, harmaline, and ibogaine—substances that do not involve the same degree of perceptual and emotional alteration as LSD.
The term anaclitic (from the Greek anaklinein—to lean upon) refers to primitive, infantile needs and tendencies directed toward a pre-genital love object. Developed by two London psychoanalysts, Joyce Martin and Pauline McCririck, this form of treatment is similar to psycholytic approaches as it is largely based on a psychoanalytic interpretation of abreactions produced by the treatment, but it tends to focus on those experiences in which the patient re-encounters carnal feelings of emotional deprivation and frustration stemming from the infantile needs of their early childhood. Accordingly, the treatment was developed with the aim to directly fulfill or satisfy those repressed, agonizing cravings for love, physical contact, and other instinctual needs re-lived by the patient. Accordingly, the therapist is completely engaged with the subject, as opposed to the traditional detached attitude of the psychoanalyst. With the intense emotional episodes that came with the psychedelic experience, Martin and McCririck aimed to sit in as the ‘mother’ role who would enter into close physical contact with the patients by rocking them, giving them milk from a bottle, etc.
Hypnodelic Therapy, as the name suggests, was developed with the goal to maximize the power of hypnotic suggestion by combining it with the psychedelic experience. After training the patient to respond to hypnosis, LSD would be administered, and during the onset phase of the drug the patient would be placed into a state of trance. Levine and Ludwig found the combination of these techniques to more effective than the use of either of these two components separately.
Owing to the largely illegal nature of psychedelic therapy in this period, little information is available concerning the methods that have been used. Individuals who have published information on psychedelic psychotherapy in this period include George Greer, Ann Shulgin (TiHKAL, with Alexander Shulgin), and Myron Stolaroff (The Secret Chief, about the underground therapy done by Leo Zeff) and Athanasios Kafkalides.
Current legal research into possible therapeutic value of psychedelics has been ongoing for several years. The only published pilot study (and Phase I FDA safety study) so far is one that showed that Psilocybin could be safely given to those with OCD and showed trends for improvement of symptoms but the study did not clearly establish whether or not the patients were helped by the treatment.
There are also several ongoing or recently finished clinical trials that have not yet published their results. A study by Charles Grob, sponsored by the Heffter Research Institute, used psilocybin with cancer patients, with the intention of helping them come to terms with their condition, and for pain relief. Roland Griffiths and colleagues at Johns Hopkins are also studying if people with anxiety or poor mood due to current or past cancer can benefit from psilocybin. Unlike the Grob study, the Griffiths study does not require participants be terminally ill. Another ongoing study with cancer patients is with John Halpern at Harvard Medical School's McLean Hospital, but this study is with MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy. MDMA is also being investigated as a possible adjunct to psychotherapy for Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in people who did not benefit from available PTSD treatments. Studies of MDMA and PTSD are currently underway in the United States (South Carolina), Switzerland, and Israel, all sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). MAPS has a twelve-person study in Switzerland to see if a moderately large dose of LSD (200 mcg) is more helpful as part of psychotherapy for patients with life-threatening illnesses than a lower dose (20 mcg).
||This article is missing citations or needs footnotes. Please help add inline citations to guard against copyright violations and factual inaccuracies. (November 2007)|
6, 2004 (aged 86)
|Residence||UK, Canada, USA|
|Fields||Psychiatry & Psychology|
|Known for||Coining the terms Psychedelic and LSD Therapy, acting as a go-between for the Native American Church and non-Native people|
Humphry Fortescue Osmond (July 1, 1917 - February 6, 2004) was a British psychiatrist known for inventing the word psychedelic and for using psychedelic drugs in medical research. Osmond also explored aspects of the psychology of social environments, in particular how they influenced welfare or recovery within mental institutions.
Osmond was born in Surrey and educated at Haileybury. As a young man, he worked for an architect and attended Guy's Hospital Medical School at King's College London. During World War II, Osmond trained to become a psychiatrist while active as a surgeon-lieutenant in the Navy.
After the war, Osmond and his colleague John Smythies perceived a similarity between the effects of LSD and the early stages of schizophrenia. In 1951, Osmond and Smythies moved to Saskatchewan, Canada to join the staff of a large custodial mental institution in the southeastern city of Weyburn, Saskatchewan.
At Weyburn, Osmond recruited a group of research psychologists to turn the hospital into a design-research laboratory. There, he conducted a wide variety of patient studies and observations using hallucinogenic drugs, collaborating with Abram Hoffer and others. In 1952, Osmond related the similarity of mescaline to adrenaline molecules, in a theory which implied that schizophrenia might be a form of self-intoxication caused by one's own body. He collected the biographies of recovered schizophrenics and held that a psychiatrist can only understand the schizophrenic by understanding the rational way the mind makes sense of distorted perceptions.He pursued this idea with passion, exploring all avenues to gain insight into the shattered perceptions of schizophrenia, holding that the illness arises primarily from distortions of perception.
In 1953, Osmond provided English author Aldous Huxley with a dose of mescaline. As a result of his experience, Huxley produced an enthusiastic book called The Doors of Perception, describing the look of the Hollywood Hills and his reactions to artwork while under the influence. Osmond's name appears in the four footnotes in the early pages of the book, references to the articles Osmond wrote regarding medicinal use of hallucinogenic drugs.
Osmond first offered the term "psychedelic" at a meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1957. He said the word meant "mind manifesting" (from "mind", ψυχή (psyche), and "manifest", δήλος (delos)) and called it "clear, euphonious and uncontaminated by other associations." Huxley had sent Osmond a rhyme containing his own suggested invented word: "To make this trivial world sublime, take half a gram of phanerothyme" (thymos meaning 'spiritedness' in Greek.) Osmond countered with "To fathom Hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic."
Osmond is also known for a study in the late 1950s in which he attempted to cure alcoholics with LSD, claiming a fifty percent success rate. One of his patients was Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Osmond participated in a Native American Church ceremony in which he ingested peyote. His hosts were Plains Indians, members of the Red Pheasant Band, and the all-night ceremony took place near North Battleford (in the region of the South Saskatchewan River). Osmond published his report on the experience in Tomorrow magazine, Spring 1961. He reported details of the ceremony, the environment in which it took place, the effects of the peyote, the courtesy of his hosts, and his conjecture as to the meaning for them of the experience and of the Native American Church.
Beyond his interest in drug- and vitamin-assisted therapeutics, Osmond conducted research into the long-term effects of institutionalization, and began a line of research into what he called "socio-architecture" to improve patient settings, coining the terms "sociofugal" and "sociopedal", starting Robert Sommer's career, and contributing to environmental psychology.
Osmond's interests included the application of Jung's Typology of personality to group dynamics. He and Richard Smoke developed refinements of Jung's typology and applied them to analysis of the presidents and other world figures.
Later, Osmond became director of the Bureau of Research in Neurology and Psychiatry at the New Jersey Psychiatric Institute in Princeton, and then a professor of psychology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Dr. Osmond co-wrote eleven books and was widely published throughout his career.
Osmond died of cardiac arrhythmia
Transpersonal psychology is a school of psychology that studies the transpersonal, self-transcendent or spiritual aspects of the human experience.
A short definition from the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology suggests that transpersonal psychology "is concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness" (Lajoie and Shapiro, 1992:91). Issues considered in transpersonal psychology include spiritual self-development, peak experiences, mystical experiences, systemic trance and other metaphysical experiences of living.
Transpersonal psychology developed from earlier schools of psychology including psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and humanistic psychology. Transpersonal psychology attempts to describe and integrate the experience of mysticism within modern psychological theory. Types of mystical experience examined vary greatly but include religious conversion, altered states of consciousness, trance and other spiritual practices. Although Carl Jung and others explored aspects of the spiritual and transpersonal in their work, Miller (1998: 541-542) notes that Western psychology has had a tendency to ignore the spiritual dimension of the human psyche.
Lajoie and Shapiro (1992) reviewed forty definitions of transpersonal psychology that had appeared in literature over the period 1969 to 1991. They found that five key themes in particular featured prominently in these definitions: states of consciousness, higher or ultimate potential, beyond the ego or personal self, transcendence and the spiritual. Walsh and Vaughan (1993) have criticised many definitions of transpersonal psychology, for carrying implicit ontological or methodological assumptions. They also challenge definitions that link transpersonal psychology to healthy states only, or to the "Perennial Philosophy". These authors define transpersonal psychology as being the branch of psychology that is concerned with transpersonal experiences and related phenomena, noting that "These phenomena include the causes, effects and correlates of transpersonal experiences, as well as the disciplines and practices inspired by them" (Walsh & Vaughan, 1993, p203).
Amongst the thinkers who are held to have set the stage for transpersonal studies are William James, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, and Roberto Assagioli (Miller, 1998: 541-542.) Research by Vich (1988) suggests that the earliest usage of the term "transpersonal" can be found in lecture notes which William James had prepared for a semester at Harvard University in 1905-6. Another important figure in the establishment of transpersonal psychology was Abraham Maslow. Maslow had already published work regarding human peak experiences, and was one of the people, together with Grof and Frankl, who suggested the term "transpersonal" for the emerging field. Gradually, during the 1960s, the term "transpersonal" was associated with a distinct school of psychology within the humanistic psychology movement (Chinen, 1996:10).
In 1969, Abraham Maslow, Stanislav Grof and Anthony Sutich were among the initiators behind the publication of the first issue of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, the leading academic journal in the field (Chinen, 1996:10). This was soon to be followed by the founding of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology (ATP) in 1972. Past presidents of the association include Alyce Green, James Fadiman, Frances Vaughan, Arthur Hastings, Daniel Goleman, Robert Frager, Ronald Jue, Jeanne Achterberg and Dwight Judy. In the 1980s and 90s the field developed through the works of such authors as Jean Houston, Stanislav Grof, Ken Wilber, Michael Washburn, Frances Vaughan, Roger Walsh, Stanley Krippner, Michael Murphy, Charles Tart, David Lukoff, Vasily Nalimov and Stuart Sovatsky. While Wilber has been considered an influential writer and theoretician in the field, he has since personally dissociated himself from the movement in favor of what he calls an integral approach.
Today transpersonal psychology also includes approaches to health, social sciences and practical arts such as process art. Transpersonal perspectives are also being applied to such diverse fields as psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, sociology, pharmacology (Scotton, Chinen and Battista, 1996) and social work theory (Cowley & Derezotes, 1994). Transpersonal therapies are also included in many therapeutic practices. Currently, transpersonal psychology, especially the schools of Jungian and Archetypal psychology, is integrated, at least to some extent, into many psychology departments in American and European Universities. Institutions of higher learning that have adopted insights from transpersonal psychology include The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (US), California Institute of Integral Studies (US), John F. Kennedy University (US), University of West Georgia (US), Atlantic University (US), Burlington College (US), Essex University (UK), Liverpool John Moores University (UK), the University of Northampton (UK), Naropa University (Colorado), Pacifica Graduate Institute (CA), and Southwestern College (NM). There is also a strong connection between the transpersonal and the humanistic approaches to psychology. This is not surprising since transpersonal psychology started off within humanistic psychology (Aanstoos, Serlin & Greening, 2000: 23-24).
By common consent, the following branches are considered to be transpersonal psychological schools: various depth psychology approaches including Analytical psychology, based on Carl Jung, and the Archetypal psychology of James Hillman; the spiritual psychology of Robert Sardello, (2001); psychosynthesis founded by Roberto Assagioli; and the theories of Abraham Maslow, Stanislav Grof, Timothy Leary, Ken Wilber, Michael Washburn and Charles Tart.
One must not confuse Transpersonal psychology with Parapsychology. This may sometimes happen due to the overlapping and unconventional research interests of both fields. In short; parapsychology tends to focus more in its subject matter on the "psychic", while transpersonal psychology tends to focus on the "spiritual" (relatively crude though these categorizations are, it is still a useful distinction in this context). While parapsychology leans more towards traditional scientific epistemology (laboratory experiments, statistics, research on cognitive states), transpersonal psychology tends to be more closely related to the epistemology of the humanities and the hermeneutic disciplines (humanism, existentialism, phenomenology, anthropology), although it has always included contributions involving experimental and statistical research.
Transpersonal psychology may also, sometimes, be associated with New Age beliefs (Friedman, 2000). Although the transpersonal perspective has many overlapping interests with theories and thinkers associated with the term "New Age", it is still problematic to place transpersonal psychology within such a framework. Transpersonal psychology is an academic discipline, not a religious or spiritual movement, and some of the field's leading authors, among those Sovatsky (1998:160-61), have criticized the nature of New Age discourse. Associations between transpersonal psychology and the New Age have probably contributed to the failures in the United States of America to get transpersonal psychology more formally recognised within the professional body, the American Psychological Association (APA). A significant breakthrough in this context was the successful establishment of a Transpersonal Psychology Section within the British Psychological Society (the UK professional body equivalent to the APA) in 1996, co-founded by David Fontana, Ingrid Slack and Martin Treacy, "the first Section of its kind in a Western scientific society" according to Fontana (Fontana et al., 2005, p. 5)
Robert Frager, of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and James Fadiman, of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, provide an account of the contributions of many of the key historic figures who have shaped and developed transpersonal psychology (in addition to discussing and explaining important concepts and theories germane to transpersonal psychology) in a textbook on personality theories (Frager and Fadiman, 2005) which serves to promote an understanding of the discipline in classroom settings. An example which points to the possibility that awareness and discussion of transpersonal psychology in mainstream classroom settings may be on the rise can be seen by the inclusion of a section on transpersonal psychology for the first time in a textbook by Barbara Engler (2009) in which she asks the question, "Is spirituality an appropriate topic for psychological study?" Engler offers a brief account of the history of transpersonal psychology and a peek into its possible future in noting that G-H Jennings (1999) "suggests that transpersonal psychology, using Jung's typology, expresses the neglected inferior function in American psychology, needs to be incorporated into it, and offers great potential and promise for the development of psychology in the third millennium (2009, p. 377)."
Transpersonal pyschology is many times regarded as the fourth wave force of psychology which according to Maslow even transcends the self actualization of Humanistic psychology(1968). Unlike the other first three schools of psychology i.e psychoanalysis, behaviorism and humanistic psychology which more or less deny the transcended part of soul, transpersonal psychology integrates the whole spectrum of human development from prepersonality to transpersonality. Hence transpersonal psychology can be considered the most integrated complete psychology, a positive psychology par excellence. From personality to transpersonality, mind to meditation, neuroscience to Nirvana it is a complete wholesome science for all round development and treatment.
The transpersonal perspective spans many research interests. The following list is adapted from Scotton, Chinen and Battista (1996) and includes:
Transpersonal Psychology has made several contributions to the academic field, and the studies of human development, consciousness and spirituality. Transpersonal Psychology has also made contributions to the field of psychiatry. One of the demarcations in transpersonal theory is between authors who present a fairly linear and hierarchical model of human development, such as Timothy Leary and Ken Wilber, and authors who present non-linear models of human development, such as Michael Washburn and Stanislav Grof. Timothy Leary, who was originally a professional psychologist and a professor of psychology, made a significant contribution to transpersonal psychology with the formulation of his "Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness", outlined in his 1980 book Info-Psychology, referenced below.
Ken Wilber's primary contribution to the field is the theory of a spectrum of consciousness consisting of three broad categories: the prepersonal or pre-egoic, the personal or egoic, and the transpersonal or trans-egoic (Miller, 1998: 541-542). A more detailed version of this spectrum theory includes nine different levels of human development, in which levels 1-3 are pre-personal levels, levels 4-6 are personal levels and levels 7-9 are transpersonal levels (Cowley & Derezotes, 1994). Later development of the theory also includes a tenth level (Wilber, 1995, 1996). Wilber has portrayed the development of human consciousness as a hierarchical, ladderlike, conceptual model, with consciousness progressing from lower levels to higher levels. That is, a holarchy of matter, body, mind, and spirit. According to this theory different schools of psychology address different levels of the spectrum. Also, each level of organization, or self-development, includes a vulnerability to certain pathologies associated with that particular level (Cowley & Derezotes, 1994; Walsh & Vaughan, 1996:62-74).
Wilber also describes a situation called the "pre/trans fallacy". According to Walsh and Vaughan (1996:63) western schools of psychology have had a tendency to dismiss or pathologize transpersonal levels, equating them with regressive pathological conditions belonging to a lower level. The pre/trans fallacy describes a lack of differentiation between pre-rational psychiatric problems and valid transpersonal problems (Cowley & Derezotes, 1994).
In contrast to Leary and Wilber, Michael Washburn (1994, 1995) and Stanislav Grof (1975, 1985, 1998) present models of human development that are not hierarchical or linear. Washburn presents a model that is informed by the Jungian perspective, and brings forth the idea of a U-turn. Central to this model is the idea that the ego initially arose out of a "source" or "ground". Therefore, transpersonal development requires a return to this origins, before it can move on (Walsh & Vaughan 1996:64). Finally, Grof applies regressional modes of therapy (originally with the use of psychedelic substances, later with other methods) in order to seek greater psychological integration. This has led to the confrontation of constructive and deconstructive models of the process leading to genuine mental health: what Wilber sees as a pre/trans fallacy does not exist for Washburn and Grof, for pre-rational states may be genuinely transpersonal, and re-living them may be essential in the process of achieving genuine sanity (Rothberg & Kelly, 1998).
Transpersonal Psychology has also brought clinical attention to the topic of spiritual crisis . A spiritual crisis has to do with a person's relationship to existential issues, or issues that transcend the mundane issues of ordinary life. Many of the psychological difficulties associated with a spiritual crisis are not ordinarily discussed by mainstream psychology. Among these problems are psychiatric complications related to mystical experience, near-death experience, Kundalini awakening, shamanic crisis (also called shamanic illness), psychic opening, intensive meditation, and medical or terminal illness (Lukoff, Lu & Turner, 1996:236-39).
The terms "Spiritual Emergence", and "Spiritual Emergency", were coined by Stanislav and Christina Grof (1989) in order to describe a spiritual crisis in a person's life (precedents of Grof's approach in this regard are found in Jung, Perry, Dabrowski, Bateson, Laing, Cooper and antipsychiatry in the widest sense of the term). The term "Spiritual emergence" describes a "gradual unfoldment of spiritual potential with no disruption in psychological-social-occupational functioning"(Lukoff, Lu & Turner, 1996:238). In cases where the spiritual unfoldment is intensified beyond the control of the individual it may lead to a state of "Spiritual Emergency". A Spiritual Emergency may cause significant disruption in psychological, social and occupational functioning. Many of the psychological difficulties described above can, according to Transpersonal theory, lead to episodes of spiritual emergency (Lukoff, Lu & Turner, 1996:236-39; Turner et al., 1995) .
Because of the overlap of spiritual crisis and mental health problems, authors Lukoff, Lu & Turner (Turner et al., 1995: 435) made a proposal for a new diagnostic category entitled "Psychoreligious or Psychospiritual Problem" at the beginning of the 1990s. The category was approved by the DSM-IV Task Force in 1993, after changing the title to "Religious or Spiritual Problem" (Turner et al., 1995: 436). It is included in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) under the heading "Other Conditions That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention", Code V62.89 (American Psychiatric Association, 1994; Lu et al., 1997). According to Chinen (1996:12) the inclusion marks "increasing professional acceptance of transpersonal issues". Besides signifying a greater sensitivity towards spiritual issues, and spiritually oriented narratives, (Sovatsky: 179,187) the new V-Code may also contribute to the greater cultural sensitivity of the manual and could help promote enhanced understanding between the fields of psychiatry and religion/spirituality (Turner et al.:443). .
Criticisms of transpersonal psychology have come from several commentators. One of the earliest criticisms of the field was issued by the Humanistic psychologist Rollo May, who disputed the conceptual foundations of transpersonal psychology (Aanstos, Serling & Greening, 2000:25). Another early criticism regarded the relationship between Transpersonal Psychology and the ideas of William James. Although the ideas of James are central to the Transpersonal field, Alexander (1980) thought that Transpersonal Psychology did not have a clear understanding of the negative dimensions of consciousness (such as evil) expressed in James' philosophy. This serious criticism has been absorbed by later Transpersonal theory, which has been more willing to reflect on these important dimensions of human existence (Daniels, 2005). Criticism has also come from the cognitive psychologist, and humanist, Albert Ellis (1989) who has questioned transpersonal psychology's scientific status and its relationship to religion and mysticism. Friedman (2000) has criticized the field of Transpersonal psychology for being underdeveloped as a field of science, placing it at the intersection between the broader domain of inquiry known as transpersonal studies (which may include a number of unscientific approaches) and the scientific discipline of psychology.
Doctrines or ideas of many colorful personalities, who were or are spiritual teachers in the Western world, such as Gurdjieff or Alice Bailey, are often assimilated into the transpersonal psychology mainstream scene. This development is, generally, seen as detrimental to the aspiration of transpersonal psychologists to gain a firm and respectable academic status. It could also be argued that most psychologists do not hold strictly to traditional schools of psychology — most psychologists take an eclectic approach. This could mean that some of the transpersonal categories listed above are considered by standard subdisciplines of psychology; religious conversion falling within the gambit of social psychology, altered states of consciousness within physiological psychology, and spiritual life within the psychology of religion. Transpersonal psychologists, however, disagree with the approach to such phenomena taken by traditional psychology, and claim that transpersonal categories have typically been dismissed either as signs of various kinds of mental illnesses, or as a regression to infantile stages of psychosomatic development. Thus, as illustrated by the pre/trans fallacy, religious and spiritual experiences have in the past been seen as either regressive or pathological and treated as such.
From the standpoint of Buddhism and Dzogchen, Elías Capriles (2000, 2006, 2007, 2008) has objected that transpersonal psychology fails to distinguish between the transpersonal condition of nirvana, which is inherently liberating, those transpersonal conditions which are within samsara and which as such are new forms of bondage (such as the four realms of the arupyadhatu or four arupa lokas of Buddhism, in which the figure-ground division dissolves but there is still a subject-object duality), and the neutral condition in which neither nirvana nor samsara are active that the Dzogchen teachings call kun gzhi (in which there is no subject-object duality but the true condition of all phenomena (dharmata) is not patent (and which includes all conditions involving nirodh or cessation, including nirodh samapatti, nirvikalpa samadhis and the samadhi or turiya that is the supreme realization of Patañjali’s Yoga darshana). In the process of elaborating what he calls a meta-transpersonal psychology, Capriles has carried out conscientious refutations of Wilber, Grof and Washburn, which according to Macdonald & Friedman (2006, p. ii) will have important repercusions on the future of transpersonal psychology. However Lord Sri Akshunna a master of siddha sampradaya in favour of transpersonal psychology as a psychological science of spirituality says with a same ground "They (Elias Capriles and others) too misses the game 'cause don't they know what Nagarjuna among many buddhist siddhas say "Where there is neither an addition of nirvana nor a removal of samsara; There, what samsara is discriminated from what nirvana?"
Ken Wilber has repeatedly announced the demise of transpersonal psychology.
Transpersonal psychology has been applied to areas such as counselling,Health, spiritual development,mind expansion and to provide psychological security for self growth. Applications to the areas of business studies and management have been developed. Other transpersonal disciplines, such as transpersonal anthropology and transpersonal business studies, are listed in transpersonal disciplines.
Transpersonal art is one of the disciplines considered by Boucovolas (1999), in listing how transpersonal psychology may relate to other areas of transpersonal study. In writing about transpersonal art, Boucovolas begins by noting how, according to Breccia and also to the definitions employed by the International Transpersonal Association in 1971, transpersonal art may be understood as art work which draws upon important themes beyond the individual self, such as the transpersonal consciousness. This makes transpersonal art criticism germane to mystical approaches to creativity. Transpersonal art criticism, as Boucovolas notes, can be considered that which claims conventional art criticism has been too committed to stressing rational dimensions of art and has subsequently said little on art's spiritual dimensions, or as that which holds art work has a meaning beyond the individual person. Certain aspects of the psychology of Carl Jung, as well as movements such as music therapy and art therapy, may also relate to the field. Boucovolas' paper cites Breccia (1971) as an early example of transpersonal art, and claims that at the time his article appeared, integral theorist Ken Wilber had made recent contributions to the field. More recently, the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, in 2005, Volume 37, launched a special edition devoted to the media, which contained articles on film criticism that can be related to this field.
"On Critics, Integral Institute, My Recent Writing, and Other Matters of Little Consequence: A Shambhala Interview with Ken Wilber" PART I THE DEMISE OF TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY 
Shambhala: Do you consider yourself part of the transpersonal movement today? KW: No, I don't. Shambhala: Tell us about that. KW: Well, the basic difficulty is that transpersonal psychology, to its great credit, was the first major school of present-day psychology to take spirituality seriously. Yet because there is a great deal of disagreement as to what actually constitutes spirituality itself, there is a great deal of disagreement as what constitutes transpersonal psychology. These are not minor inner tensions as one might find in, say, the various schools of psychoanalysis or Jungian psychology. They are instead major internal divisions and barbed disagreements as to the nature, scope, and role of transpersonal psychology itself. This makes the field more rife with political schisms and warring ideologies. This is why, I believe, that in three decades, and aside from one or two specific theorists, the actual school of transpersonal psychology has had no major impact outside of the Bay Area, and it is today, many people agree, in an irreversible, terminal decline. What's left of the four forces (behavioristic, psychoanalytic, humanistic, transpersonal) will survive, if they survive at all, only by being taken up and into a fully integral approach [see "A Summary of My Psychological Model," section "The Death of Psychology and the Birth of the Integral," posted on this site.]
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Claudio Naranjo is a renowned Chilean psychiatrist and considered a pioneer in his work as an integrator between psychotherapy and the spiritual traditions. One of the three successors named by Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt Therapy), developer of the Psychology of Enneatypes and leading authority on the Enneagram, and founder of the SAT (Seekers After Truth) Institute, he is an internationally sought-after workshop teacher and public speaker. He travels continuously throughout the world, dedicating his life to aiding others in their quest for human transformation, both on a personal level and collectively. The author of various publications, when Dr. Naranjo is not teaching or acting as a guide to therapists, educators and individuals on the path of self-knowledge, he dedicates his time to writing.
Claudio Naranjo, Chilean psychiatrist, was born on November 24, 1932, in Valparaiso. He grew up in a musical environment and after an early start at the piano, he studied musical composition. Shortly after entrance to medical school, he stopped composing as he became more involved in philosophical interests. Important influences from this time were the Chilean visionary poet and sculptor Tótila Albert, poet David Rosenman Taub, and the Polish Philosopher Bogumil Jasinowski.
After graduating as a Medical Doctor in 1959, he was hired by the University of Chile Medical School to form part of a pioneering studies center in Medical Anthropology (CEAM) founded by Franz Hoffman. At the same time, he served his psychiatry residency at the University Psychiatry Clinic under the direction of Ignacio Matte-Blanco.
Involved in research on the effects of the dehumanization of traditional medical education, he travelled briefly to the USA during a mission assigned by the University of Chile to explore the field of perceptual learning. It is at that time that he became acquainted with the work of Dr. Samuel Renshaw and with that of Hoyt Sherman at the Ohio State Univesity.
In 1962 he was at Harvard, as a Fulbright visiting scholar, at the Center for Studies of Personality and Emerson Hall, where he was a participant in Gordon Allport's Social Psychology Seminar and a student of Tillich. He became Dr. Raymond Cattell's associate at IPAT, the Institute of Personality and Ability Testing, in 1963.
After a brief return to his native country, he was invited to Berkeley, California for a year and a half to participate in the activities of the Center for Personality Assessment Research (IPAR).
After another period at the University of Chile Medical School's Center of Medical Anthropology Studies and at the Instituto de Psicología Aplicada, Naranjo returned once again to Berkeley and to IPAR, where he continued his activities as Research Associate. It is during this period of time that he became an apprentice of Fritz Perls and part of the early Gestalt Therapy community, where he began conducting workshops at Esalen Institute, as a visiting associate. He eventually became one of Fritz Perls' three successors (along with Jack Downing and Robert Hall).
In the years that lead up to his becoming a key figure at Esalen, Naranjo also received additional training and supervision from Jim Simkin in LA, and attended sensory awareness workshops with Charlotte Selver. He became Carlos Castaneda's close friend, and became part of Leo Zeff's pioneering psychedelic therapy group (1965-6). These meetings resulted in Naranjo’s contribution of the use of harmaline, MDMA, and ibogaine.
In 1969 he was sought out as a consultant for the Education Policy Research Center, created by Willis Harman at SRI. His report as to what in the domain of psychological and spiritual techniques in vogue was applicable to education later became his first book, The One Quest. During this same period, he co-authored a book with Dr. Robert Ornstein on meditation. Also, an invitation from Dr. Ravenna Helson to examine the qualitative differences between books representative of the "Matriarchal" and "Patriarchal" factors lead to his writing The Divine Child and the Hero, which would be published at a much later time.
The accidental death of his only son in 1970 marked a turning-point in his life. Naranjo set off on a 6 month pilgrimage under the guidance of Oscar Ichazo and a spiritual retreat in the desert near Arica, Chile, which he considers the true beginning of his spiritual experience, contemplative life and inner guidance.
After leaving Arica, he began teaching a group that included his mother, gestalt trainees and friends. This Chilean group, which began as an improvisation, took shape as a program and originated a non-profit corporation called SAT Institute. These early years of the SAT Institute were implemented by a series of guest teachers, including Zalman Schachter, Dhiravamsa, Ch'u Fang Chu, Sri Harish Johari and Bob Hoffman.
In 1976 Naranjo was a visiting professor at the Santa Cruz Campus of U.C. for two semesters, and later, intermittently, at the California Institute of Asian Studies, and he began to offer workshops in Europe, refining in this way aspects of the mosaic of approaches in the SAT program.
In 1987, he began the re-born SAT Institute in Spain for personal and professional development, with its program that includes Gestalt therapy and its supervision, applications of the Enneagram to personality, interpersonal meditation, music as a therapeutic resource and as an extension of meditation, guided self-insight and communication processes. Since then, the SAT program has extended to Italy, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina with great success, and more recently to France and Germany.
Since the late eighties, Naranjo has divided each year's agenda between his activities abroad and his writing at home in Berkeley. Among his many publications, he has revised an early book on Gestalt therapy and published two new ones. He has published three books on the Enneagram, as well as The End of Patriarchy, which is his interpretation of social problems as the expression of a de-valuation of the nurturance and human instinct and their solution in the harmonious development of our "three brained" potential. He has also published a book on meditation; The Way of Silence and the Talking Cure; and Songs of Enlightenment, on the interpretation of the great books of the West as expressions of "the inner journey" and variations on the "tale of the hero".
Since the late nineties he has attended many Education conferences and sought to influence the transformation of the educational system in various countries. It is his conviction that “nothing is more hopeful in terms of social evolution than the collective furthering of individual wisdom, compassion and freedom”. His book Changing Education to Change the World, published in Spanish in 2004, is meant to stimulate the efforts of teachers among SAT graduates who are beginning to be involved in a SAT-in- Education project, that offers the staff of schools and the students in schools of education a "supplementary curriculum" of self-knowledge, relationship-repair and spiritual culture.
In 2006, the Foundation Claudio Naranjo was born to implement his proposals regarding the transformation of traditional education into an education that does not neglect the human development that he believes our social evolution depends on.
Some books written by Claudio Naranjo:
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|Born||July 1, 1931(1931-07-01)
Stanislav Grof (born July 1, 1931 in Prague, Czechoslovakia) is one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a pioneering researcher into the use of altered states of consciousness for purposes of analysing, healing, and obtaining growth and insight into the human psyche. Grof received the VISION 97 award granted by the Foundation of Dagmar and Václav Havel in Prague on October 5, 2007.
Grof is known in particular for his early studies of LSD and its effects on the psyche—the field of psychedelic psychotherapy. Building on his observations while conducting LSD research and Otto Rank's theory of birth trauma, Grof constructed a theoretical framework for pre- and perinatal psychology and transpersonal psychology in which LSD trips and other powerfully emotional experiences were mapped onto one's early fetal and neonatal experiences. Over time, this theory developed into an in-depth "cartography" of the deep human psyche. Following the legal suppression of LSD use in the late 1960s, Grof went on to discover that many of these states of mind could be explored without drugs and instead by using certain breathing techniques in a supportive environment. He continues this work today under the title "Holotropic Breathwork".
Grof received his M.D. from Charles University in Prague in 1957, and then completed his Ph.D. in Medicine at the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences in 1965, training as a Freudian psychoanalyst at this time. In 1967, he was invited as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, United States, and went on to become Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center where he worked with Walter Pahnke and Bill Richards among others. In 1973, Dr. Grof was invited to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, and lived there until 1987 as a scholar-in-residence, developing his ideas.
Being the founding president of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA) (founded in 1977), he went on to become distinguished adjunct faculty member of the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies, a position he remains in today.
Grof was featured in the film Entheogen: Awakening the Divine Within, a 2006 documentary about rediscovering an enchanted cosmos in the modern world.
The following 51 pages are in this category, out of 51 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
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|Systematic (IUPAC) name|
|Mol. mass||193.25 g/mol|
|Metabolism||Hepatic, CYP450 extensively involved, especially CYP2D6|
|Half life||6–10 (though duration of effects is typically actually 3-5 hours)|
|Routes||Oral, sublingual, insufflation, inhalation
MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine or Ecstasy) is a psychoactive amphetamine drug with entactogenic, psychedelic, and stimulant effects.
MDMA is considered unusual for its tendency to induce a sense of intimacy with others and diminished feelings of fear and anxiety. Some have suggested it might have therapeutic benefits in certain individuals. Before it was made a controlled substance, MDMA was used as an augmentation to psychotherapy, often couples therapy, and to help treat clinical depression as well as anxiety disorders. Clinical trials are now testing the therapeutic potential of MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety associated with terminal cancer.
MDMA is criminalized in most countries in the world under a United Nations (U.N.) agreement, and its possession, manufacture, or sale may result in criminal prosecution, although some limited exceptions exist for scientific and medical research. MDMA is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world and is taken in a variety of contexts far removed from its roots in psychotherapeutic settings. It is commonly associated with dance parties (or "raves") and electronic dance music.
There have been debates within scientific, health care, and drug policy circles about the risks of MDMA, specifically the possibility of neurotoxic damage to the central nervous system (CNS). Regulatory authorities in several locations around the world have approved scientific studies administering MDMA to humans to examine its therapeutic potential and its effects.
MDMA was first introduced clinically under the names "Adam" and "Empathy" when it was used in psychotherapy in the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s.[self-published source?] Later on, upon making it into the recreational drug use scene, it came to be widely known as "Ecstasy", often abbreviated as "E", "X", or "XTC". [self-published source?] MDMA in its pure, powder, crystalline, or capsule form, is commonly referred to as "Molly".
MDMA was first synthesized in 1912 by Merck chemist Anton Köllisch. At the time, Merck was interested in developing substances that stopped abnormal bleeding. Merck wanted to evade an existing patent, held by Bayer, for one such compound: hydrastinine. At the behest of his superiors Walther Beckh and Otto Wolfes, Köllisch developed a preparation of a hydrastinine analogue, methylhydrastinine. MDMA was an intermediate compound in the synthesis of methylhydrastinine, and Merck was not interested in its properties at the time. On December 24, 1912 Merck filed two patent applications that described the synthesis of MDMA and its subsequent conversion to methylhydrastinine.
Over the following 65 years, MDMA was largely forgotten. Merck records indicate that its researchers returned to the compound sporadically. In 1927, Max Oberlin studied the pharmacology of MDMA and observed that its effects on blood sugar and smooth muscles were similar to ephedrine's, but that, in contrast, MDMA did not appear to produce pupil dilation. Researchers at Merck conducted experiments with MDMA in 1952 and 1959. In 1953 and 1954, the United States Army commissioned a study of toxicity and behavioral effects in animals of injected mescaline and several analogues, including MDMA. These originally classified investigations were declassified and published in 1973. The first scientific paper on MDMA appeared in 1958 in Yakugaku Zasshi, the Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan. In this paper, Yutaka Kasuya described the synthesis of MDMA, a part of his research on antispasmodics.
MDMA first appeared as a street drug in the early 1970s after its counterculture analogue, MDA, became criminalized in the United States in 1970. In the mid-1970s, Alexander Shulgin, then at University of California, heard from his students about unusual effects of MDMA; among others, the drug had helped one of them to overcome his stutter. Intrigued, Shulgin synthesized MDMA and tried it himself in 1976. Two years later, he and David Nichols published the first report on the drug's psychotropic effect in humans. They described "altered state of consciousness with emotional and sensual overtones" that can be compared "to marijuana, to psilocybin devoid of the hallucinatory component".
Shulgin took to occasionally using MDMA for relaxation, referring to it as "my low-calorie martini", and giving the drug to his friends, researchers, and other people whom he thought could benefit from it. One such person was psychotherapist Leo Zeff, who had been known to use psychedelics in his practice. Zeff was so impressed with the action of MDMA that he came out of his semi-retirement to proselytize for it. Over the following years, Zeff traveled around the U.S. and occasionally to Europe training other psychotherapists in the use of MDMA. Among underground psychotherapists, MDMA developed a reputation for enhancing communication during clinical sessions, reducing patients' psychological defenses, and increasing capacity for therapeutic introspection.
Due to the wording of the United Kingdom's existing Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971, MDMA was automatically classified in the UK as a Class A drug in 1977.
In the early 1980s in the U.S., MDMA rose to prominence as "Adam" in trendy nightclubs and gay dance clubs in the Dallas area. From there, use spread to raves in major cities around the country, and then to mainstream society. The drug was first proposed for scheduling by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in July 1984 and was classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. on May 31, 1985.
In the late 1980s MDMA, as "ecstasy", began to be widely used in the UK and other parts of Europe, becoming an integral element of rave culture and other psychedelic- and dance-floor-influenced music scenes, particularly house music, with sub-genres such as trance, techno, Madchester and Acid House being most popular. Spreading along with rave culture, illicit MDMA use became increasingly widespread among young adults in universities and later in high schools. MDMA became one of the four most widely used illicit drugs in the U.S., along with cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. According to some estimates as of 2004, only marijuana attracts more first time users in the U.S..
After MDMA was criminalized, most medical use stopped, although some therapists continued to prescribe the drug illegally. Later Charles Grob initiated an ascending-dose safety study in healthy volunteers. Subsequent legally-approved MDMA studies in humans have taken place in the U.S. in Detroit (Wayne State University), Chicago (University of Chicago), San Francisco (UCSF and California Pacific Medical Center), Baltimore (NIDA-NIH Intramural Program), and South Carolina, as well as in Switzerland (University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zürich), the Netherlands (Maastricht University), and Spain (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona).
There have long been suggestions that MDMA might be useful in psychotherapy, facilitating self-examination with reduced fear. Indeed, some therapists, including Leo Zeff, Claudio Naranjo, George Greer, Joseph Downing, and Philip Wolfson, used MDMA in their practices until it was made illegal. George Greer synthesized MDMA in the lab of Alexander Shulgin and administered it to about 80 of his clients over the course of the remaining years preceding MDMA's Schedule I placement in 1985. In a published summary of the effects, the authors reported patients felt improved in various, mild psychiatric disorders and other personal benefits, especially improved intimate communication with their significant others. In a subsequent publication on the treatment method, the authors reported that one patient with severe pain from terminal cancer experienced lasting pain relief and improved quality of life. However, few of the results in this early MDMA psychotherapy were measured using methods considered reliable or convincing in scientific practice. For example, the questionnaires used might not have been sensitive to negative changes and it is not known to what extent similar patients might improve from chance or from psychotherapy.
The therapeutic potential of MDMA is currently being tested in several ongoing studies, some sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Studies in the U.S., Switzerland, and Israel are evaluating the efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treating those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety related to cancer. In interviews, patients and researchers from the South Carolina PTSD pilot study report tendencies for some participants to have reduced disease severity after MDMA psychotherapy. MAPS reported statistically significant results.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction notes that although there are some reports of tablets being sold for as little as €1, most countries in Europe now report typical retail prices in the range of €3 to €9 per tablet. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime claimed in its 2008 World Drug Report that typical US retail prices are higher 10 to 20 dollars per tablet, or can be from 2 to 10 dollars per tablet if bought in stacks of 10 or more.
MDMA is occasionally known for being taken in conjunction with psychedelic drugs, such as LSD or psilocybin mushrooms. As this practice has become more prevalent, most of the more common combinations have been given nicknames, such as "candy flipping", for MDMA combined with LSD,, "hippie flipping" when combined with psilocybin mushrooms and "kitty flipping" when combined with ketamine. Many users use mentholated products while taking MDMA for its cooling sensation while experiencing the drug's effects. Examples include menthol cigarettes, Vicks and lozenges. This sometimes has deleterious results on the upper respiratory tract.
Safrole, a colorless or slightly black oil, extracted from the root-bark or the fruit of sassafras plants is the primary precursor for all manufacture of MDMA. There are numerous synthetic methods available in the literature to convert safrole into MDMA via different intermediates. One common route is via the MDP2P (3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl-2-propanone, also known as piperonyl acetone) intermediate. This intermediate can be produced in at least two different ways. One method is to isomerize safrole to isosafrole in the presence of a strong base and then oxidize isosafrole to MDP2P. Another, reportedly better, method is to make use of the Wacker process to oxidize safrole directly to the MDP2P (3,4-methylenedioxy phenyl-2-propanone) intermediate. This can be done with a palladium catalyst. Once the MDP2P intermediate has been produced, it is then consumed via a reductive amination to form MDMA as the product.
Relatively small quantities of essential oil are required to make large numbers of MDMA pills. The essential oil of Ocotea cymbarum typically contains between 80 and 94% safrole. This would allow 500 ml of the oil, which retails at between $20 and $100, to be used to produce an estimated 1,300 to 2,800 tablets containing approximately 120 mg of MDMA each.
The mechanism of action of MDMA's unusual effects has yet to be fully understood, although it is generally thought that the primary relevant pharmacological characteristic of the drug is its affinity for the plasmalemmal membrane transport protein the serotonin transporter (SERT). The SERT is a part of serotonergic neurons and removes the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)) from the synapse via reuptake for termination and recycling purposes after action potentials. Not only does MDMA inhibit the reuptake of serotonin through its action at the SERT, but it also reverses its action through a process known as phosphorylation. This results in the transporter conversely releasing serotonin into the synapse from inside the cell instead.
For the above reasons, MDMA is classified as a combination serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) and serotonin-releasing agent (SRA), though it is typically only referred to as the latter, since its definition essentially includes SRI properties. In addition to its actions on serotonin, MDMA causes the same effects on the norepinephrine transporter (NET) and dopamine transporter (DAT), thus inducing release of norepinephrine and dopamine as well, respectively, and hence, it can also be called a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) and norepinephrine-dopamine releasing agent (NDRA), or, in full, as a serotonin-norepinephrine-dopamine releasing agent (SNDRA).
MDMA's unusual entactogenic effects have been hypothesized to be, at least partly, the result of indirect oxytocin release via serotonergic neuromodulation. Oxytocin is a hormone released following events like hugging, orgasm, and childbirth, and is thought to facilitate bonding and the establishment of trust. Based on studies in rats, MDMA is believed to cause the release of oxytocin, at least in part, by both directly and indirectly agonizing the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor. A placebo-controlled study in 15 human volunteers found that 100 mg MDMA increased blood levels of oxytocin and the amount of oxytocin increase was correlated with the subjective prosocial effects of MDMA.
MDMA reaches maximal concentrations in the blood stream between 1.5 and 3 hours after ingestion. It is then slowly metabolized and excreted, with levels decreasing to half their peak concentration over approximately 8 hours. Thus, there are still high MDMA levels in the body when the experiential effects have mostly ended, indicating that acute tolerance has developed to the actions of MDMA. Taking additional supplements of MDMA at this point therefore produces higher concentrations of MDMA in the blood and brain than might be expected based on the perceived effects.
Metabolites of MDMA that have been identified in humans include 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-methamphetamine (HMMA), 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyamphetamine (HMA), 3,4-dihydroxyamphetamine (DHA) (also called alpha-methyldopamine (α-Me-DA)), 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylacetone (MDP2P), and N-hydroxy-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDOH). The contributions of these metabolites to the psychoactive and toxic effects of MDMA are an area of active research. 65% of MDMA is excreted unchanged in the urine (additionally 7% is metabolized into MDA) during the 24 hours after ingestion.
MDMA is known to be metabolized by two main metabolic pathways: (1) O-demethylenation followed by catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT)-catalyzed methylation and/or glucuronide/sulfate conjugation; and (2) N-dealkylation, deamination, and oxidation to the corresponding benzoic acid derivatives conjugated with glycine. The metabolism may be primarily by cytochrome P450 (CYP450) enzymes (CYP2D6 (in humans, but CYP2D1 in mice), and CYP3A4) and COMT. Complex, nonlinear pharmacokinetics arise via autoinhibition of CYP2D6 and CYP2D8, resulting in zeroth order kinetics at higher doses. It is thought that this can result in sustained and higher concentrations of MDMA if the user takes consecutive doses of the drug.
Because the enzyme CYP2D6 is deficient or totally absent in some people, it was once hypothesized that these people might have elevated risk when taking MDMA. However, there is still no evidence for this theory and available evidence argues against it. It is now thought that the contribution of CYP2D6 to MDMA metabolism in humans is less than 30% of the metabolism. Indeed, an individual lacking CYP2D6 was given MDMA in a controlled clinical setting and a larger study gave MDMA to healthy volunteers after inhibiting CYP2D6 with paroxetine. Lack of the enzyme caused a modest increase in drug exposure and decreases in some metabolites, but physical effects did not appear appreciably elevated. While there is little or no evidence that low CYP2D6 activity increases risks from MDMA, it is likely that MDMA-induced CYP2D inhibition will increase risk of those prescription drugs that are metabolized by this enzyme. MDMA-induced CYP2D inhibition appears to last for up to a week after MDMA exposure.
MDMA and metabolites are primarily excreted as conjugates, such as sulfates and glucuronides.
MDMA is a chiral compound and has been almost exclusively administered as a racemate. However, an early uncontrolled report suggests that the S-enantiomer is significantly more potent in humans than the R-enantiomer indicate that the disposition of MDMA is stereoselective, with the S-enantiomer having a shorter elimination half-life and greater excretion than the R-enantiomer. For example, Fallon et al. reported that the area under the blood plasma concentration versus time curve (AUC) was two to four times higher for the R-enantiomer than the S-enantiomer after a 40 mg oral dose in human volunteers. Similarly, the plasma half-life of (R)-MDMA was significantly longer than that of the S-enantiomer (5.8 ± 2.2 hours vs 3.6 ± 0.9 hours). However, because MDMA has dose dependent kinetics, it is likely that these half-lives would be higher at more typical doses (100 mg is sometimes considered a typical dose). Given as the racemate, MDMA has a half-life of around 8 hours.
There are a number of reported potentially dangerous possible interactions between MDMA and other drugs. Several cases have been reported of death in individuals who ingested MDMA while taking ritonavir (Norvir), which inhibits multiple CYP450 enzymes. Toxicity or death has also been reported in people who took MDMA in combination with certain monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), or moclobemide (Aurorix, Manerix). On the other hand, MAOB inhibitors like selegiline (Deprenyl; Eldepryl, Zelapar, Emsam) do not seem to carry these risks when taken at selective doses, and have been used to completely block neurotoxicity in rats.
People taking any type of serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) on a chronic basis commonly find that the psychedelic and entactogenic effects of MDMA are near fully abolished, leaving merely stimulation instead. Many people attempt taking a dose around 3x as high and this appears to work as a remedy for the problem to some degree. Additionally, upon discontinuation of the prolonged administration of the SRI in question, such individuals may still not be able to properly experience the full desired effects of MDMA at normal doses for anywhere from a few weeks to as long as several months.
There is a possible risk of experiencing serotonin syndrome if MDMA is combined with another serotonergic drug.
Most people who die while under the influence of MDMA have also consumed significant quantities of at least one other drug in combination. The risk of solely MDMA-induced death is overall relatively minimal.
The primary effects attributable to MDMA consumption are predictable and fairly consistent amongst users. Generally, users report feeling effects within 30–60 minutes of consumption, hitting a peak at approximately 1–1.5 hours, reaching a plateau that lasts about 2–3 hours, followed by a comedown of a few hours which may be accompanied by fatigue and minor effects.
The most common beneficial effects reported by users include:
As well as:
In January 2001, the first peer reviewed paper to have a good overview of the subjective side effects of MDMA was published by Liechti, Gamma, and Vollenweider in the journal Psychopharmacology. Their paper was based on clinical research conducted over several years involving 74 healthy volunteers.
The researchers found that there were a number of common side effects and that many of the effects seemed to occur in different amounts based on gender. The top side effects reported were Difficulty Concentrating, Jaw Clenching, Lack of Appetite, and Dry Mouth/Thirst (all occurring in more than 50% of the 74 volunteers).
Liechti, et al. also measured some of the test subjects for blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature against a placebo control. The increases were noticeable, but not dangerous and not statistically significant (this means that the changes they measured were not certain to be an effect of the drug instead of random chance).
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Effects reported by users once the acute effects of MDMA have worn off include:
When they occur, these after subacute effects are typically reported to last up to 3 to 7 days, with the exception of depression, which in some cases has become chronic or even permanent, likely due to damage to the serotonin producing neurons in the brain.
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Upon overdose, the potentially serious serotonin syndrome, stimulant psychosis, and/or hypertensive crisis, among other dangerous adverse reactions, may come to prominence, the symptoms of which can include the following:
Potential incarceration, hospitalization, institutionalization, and/or death, on account of extreme erratic behavior which may include acts of crime, accidental or intentional self-injury, and/or suicide, as well as illicit drug abuse, may ensue under such circumstances.
There is currently strong evidence of MDMA neurotoxicity in studies done on rodents and non-human primates. MDMA is believed to be specifically neurotoxic to the serotonergic terminals in humans. Some studies indicate that repeated recreational users of MDMA have increased rates of depression and anxiety, even after quitting the drug. In addition to this, some studies have indicated that repeated recreational users of MDMA may have impaired long-term memory and cognitive function. Many factors, including total lifetime MDMA consumption, the duration of abstinence between uses, the environment of use, poly-drug use/abuse, quality of mental health, various lifestyle choices, and predispositions to develop clinical depression and other disorders may contribute to various possible health consequences. MDMA use has been occasionally associated with liver damage, excessive wear of teeth, and (very rarely) Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder.
MDMA is legally controlled in most of the world under the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances and other international agreements, although exceptions exist for research. Generally, the unlicensed use, sale or manufacture of MDMA are all criminal offenses.
In the UK, MDMA is a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess without a license. Penalties include a maximum of seven years and/or unlimited fine for possession; life and/or unlimited fine for production or trafficking. See list of drugs illegal in the UK for more information. In February 2009 an official independent scientific advisory board to the UK government recommended that MDMA be re-classified to Class B, but this recommendation was immediately rejected by the government (see Recommendation to downgrade MDMA). This 2009 report on MDMA stated:
The original classification of MDMA in 1977 under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a Class A drug was carried out before it had become widely used and with limited knowledge of its pharmacology and toxicology. Since then use has increased enormously, despite it being a Class A drug. As a consequence, there is now much more evidence on which to base future policy decisions.... Recommendation 1: A harm minimisation approach to the widespread use of MDMA should be continued.... Recommendation 6: MDMA should be re-classified as a Class B drug.
In the U.S., MDMA was legal and unregulated until May 31, 1985, at which time it was emergency scheduled to DEA Schedule I, for drugs deemed to have no medical uses and a high potential for abuse. During DEA hearings to schedule MDMA, most experts recommended DEA Schedule III prescription status for the drug, due to beneficial usage of MDMA in psychotherapy. The judge overseeing the hearings, Francis Young, also recommended that MDMA be placed in Schedule III. Nevertheless, the DEA classified MDMA as Schedule I. In 2001, responding to a mandate from the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, resulted in an increase in the penalties for MDMA by nearly 3,000%, despite scientific protest calling for a decrease in the penalties for MDMA possession and distribution. The increase makes 1 gram of MDMA (four pills at 250 mg per pill's total weight regardless of purity, standard for Federal charges) equivalent to 1 gram of heroin (approximately fifty doses) or 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of marijuana for sentencing purposes at the federal level. See also the RAVE Act of 2003.
In 1985 the World Health Organization's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence recommended that MDMA be placed in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, despite noting:
No data are available concerning its clinical abuse liability, nature and magnitude of associated public health or social problems.
The decision to recommend scheduling of MDMA was not unanimous:
One member, Professor Paul Grof (Chairman), felt that the decision on the recommendation should be deferred awaiting, in particular, the data on the substance's potential therapeutic usefulness and that at this time international control is not warranted.
The 1971 Convention has a provision in Article 7(a) that allows use of Schedule I drugs for "scientific and very limited medical purposes." The committee's report stated:
The Expert Committee held extensive discussions concerning therapeutic usefulness of 3,4 Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. While the Expert Committee found the reports intriguing, it felt that the studies lacked the appropriate methodological design necessary to ascertain the reliability of the observations. There was, however, sufficient interest expressed to recommend that investigations be encouraged to follow up these preliminary findings. To that end, the Expert Committee urged countries to use the provisions of article 7 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances to facilitate research on this interesting substance.
While the short-term adverse effects and contraindications of MDMA are fairly well known, there is significant debate within the scientific and medical communities regarding possible long-term physical and psychological effects of MDMA.
Short-term physical health risks of MDMA consumption include hyperthermia, and hyponatremia. Continuous activity without sufficient rest or rehydration may cause body temperature to rise to dangerous levels, and loss of fluid via excessive perspiration puts the body at further risk as the stimulatory and euphoric qualities of the drug may render the user oblivious to their energy expenditure for quite some time. Diuretics such as alcohol may exacerbate these risks further.
MDMA causes a reduction in the concentration of serotonin transporters (SERTs) in the brain. The rate at which the brain recovers from serotonergic changes is unclear. A number of studies  have demonstrated lasting serotonergic changes occurring due to MDMA exposure. Other studies have suggested that the brain may recover from serotonergic damage.
Some studies show that MDMA may be neurotoxic in humans. Other studies, however, suggest that any potential brain damage may be at least partially reversible following prolonged abstinence from MDMA. However, other studies suggest that SERT-depletion arises from long-term MDMA use due to receptor down-regulation, rather than true neurotoxicity. Depression and deficits in memory have been shown to occur more frequently in long-term MDMA users. However, some recent studies have suggested that MDMA use may not be associated with chronic depression.
One study on MDMA toxicity, by George A. Ricaurte of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, which claimed that a single recreational dose of MDMA could cause Parkinson's Disease in later life due to severe dopaminergic stress, was actually retracted by Ricaurte himself after he discovered his lab had administered not MDMA but methamphetamine, which is known to cause dopaminergic changes similar to the serotonergic changes caused by MDMA. Ricaurte blamed this mistake on the chemical supply company that sold the material to his lab. Most studies have found that levels of the dopamine transporter (or other markers of dopamine function) in MDMA users deserve further study or are normal.
Another concern associated with MDMA use is toxicity from chemicals other than MDMA in ecstasy tablets. Due to its near-universal illegality, the purity of a substance sold as ecstasy is unknown to the typical user. The MDMA content of tablets varies widely between regions and different brands of pills and fluctuates somewhat each year. Pills may contain other active substances meant to stimulate in a way similar to MDMA, such as amphetamine, methamphetamine, ephedrine, or caffeine, all of which may be comparatively cheap to produce and can help to boost profit overall. In some cases, tablets sold as ecstasy do not even contain any MDMA. Instead they may contain an assortment of presumably undesirable drugs such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, piperizines etc.
There have been a number of deaths attributed to PMA, a potent and highly neurotoxic hallucinogenic amphetamine, being sold as Ecstasy. PMA is unique in its ability to quickly elevate body temperature and heart rate at relatively low doses, especially in comparison to MDMA. Hence, a user who believes he is consuming two 120 mg pills of MDMA could actually be consuming a dose of PMA that is potentially lethal, depending on the purity of the pill. Not only does PMA cause the release of serotonin, but also acts as an MAOI. When combined with an MDMA-like substance, serotonin syndrome can result.
The chief executive of the UK Medical Research Council stated that MDMA is "on the bottom of the scale of harm", and was rated to be of lesser concern than alcohol, tobacco, as well as several classes of prescription medications, when examining the harmfulness of twenty popular recreational drugs. The UK study placed great weight on the risk for acute physical harm, the propensity for physical and psychological dependency on the drug, and the negative familial and societal impacts of the drug. Based on these factors, the study placed MDMA at number 18 in the list of 20 popular drugs.
David Nutt, chairman of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, stated in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in January 2009 that ecstasy use compared favorably with horse riding in terms of risk, with ecstasy leading to around 30 deaths a year in the UK compared to about 10 from horse riding, and "acute harm to person" occurring in approximately 1 in 10,000 episodes of ecstasy use compared to about 1 in 350 episodes of horse riding. Dr. Nutt notes the lack of a balanced risk assessment in public discussions of MDMA:
The general public, especially the younger generation, are disillusioned with the lack of balanced political debate about drugs. This lack of rational debate can undermine the trust in government in relation to drug misuse and thereby undermining the government’s message in public information campaigns. The media in general seem to have an interest in scare stories about illicit drugs, though there are some exceptions (Horizon, 2008). A telling review of 10-year media reporting of drug deaths in Scotland illustrates the distorted media perspective very well (Forsyth, 2001). During this decade, the likelihood of a newspaper reporting a death from paracetamol was in [sic] per 250 deaths, for diazepam it was 1 in 50, whereas for amphetamine it was 1 in 3 and for ecstasy every associated death was reported.
A spokesperson for the ACMD clarified that "The recent article by Professor David Nutt published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology was done in respect of his academic work and not as chair of the ACMD."
In 2000, the UK Police Foundation issued the Runciman Report which reviewed the medical and social harms of MDMA and recommended: "Ecstasy and related compounds should be transferred from Class A to Class B." In 2002, the Home Affairs Committee of the UK House of Commons, issued a report, The Government's Drugs Policy: Is it working?, which also recommended that MDMA should be reclassified to a Class B drug. The UK government rejected both recommendations, saying that re-classification of MDMA would not be considered without a recommendation from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the official UK scientific advisory board on drug abuse issues.
In February 2009, the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs issued A review of MDMA ('ecstasy'), its harms and classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which recommended that MDMA be re-classified in the UK from a class A drug to a class B drug.
From the Discussion section of the ACMD report on MDMA:
Physical harms: (10.2) Use of MDMA is undoubtedly harmful. High doses may lead to death: by direct toxicity, in situations of hyperthermia/dehydration, excessive water intake, or for other reasons. However, fatalities are relatively low given its widespread use, and are substantially lower than those due to some other Class A drugs, particularly heroin and cocaine. Although it is no substitute for abstinence, the risks can be minimised by following advice such as drinking appropriate amounts of water (see Annex E). (10.3) Some people experience acute medical consequences as a result of MDMA use which can lead to hospital admission, sometimes with the requirement for intensive care. MDMA poisonings are not currently increasing in number and are less frequent than episodes due to cocaine. (10.4) MDMA appears not to have a high propensity for dependence or withdrawal reactions although a number of users seek help through treatment services. (10.5) MDMA appears to have little acute or enduring effect on the mental health of the average user, and unlike amphetamines and cocaine, it is seldom implicated in significant episodes of paranoia. (10.6) There is presently little evidence of longer-term harms to the brain in terms of either its structure or function. However, there is evidence for some small decline in a variety of domains, including verbal memory, even at low cumulative dose. The magnitude of such deficits appears to be small and their clinical relevance is unclear. The evidence shows that MDMA has been misused in the UK for 20 years but it should be noted that long-term effects of use cannot be ruled out. (10.7) Overall, the ACMD judges that the physical harms of MDMA more closely equate with those of amphetamine than of heroin or cocaine.
Societal harms: (10.8) MDMA use seems to have few societal effects in terms of intoxication-related harms or social disorder. However, the ACMD notes the very small proportion of cases where ‘ecstasy’ use has been implicated in sexual assault. (10.9) Disinhibition and impulsive, violent or risky behaviours are not commonly seen under the influence of MDMA, unlike with cocaine, amphetamines, heroin and alcohol. (10.10) The major issue for law enforcement is ‘ecstasy’s’ position, alongside other Class A drugs, as a commodity favoured by organised criminal groups. It is therefore generally associated with a range of secondary harms connected with the trafficking of illegal drugs.
The UK Home Office rejected the recommendation of its independent scientific advisory board to downgrade MDMA to Class B, "saying it is not prepared to send a message to young people that it takes ecstasy less seriously".
The government's veto was criticized in scientific publications. Colin Blakemore, Professor of Neuroscience, Oxford, stated in the British Medical Journal, "The government’s decisions compromise its commitment to evidence based policy". Also in response, an editorial in the New Scientist noted "A much larger percentage of people suffer a fatal acute reaction to peanuts than to MDMA.... Sadly, perspective is something that is generally lacking in the long and tortuous debate over illegal drugs."
Demand for safrole in the manufacture of MDMA is causing rapid and illicit harvesting of the Cinnamomum parthenoxylon tree in Southeast Asia, in particular the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia.
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The general group of pharmacological agents commonly known as hallucinogens can be divided into three broad categories: psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants. These classes of psychoactive drugs have in common that they can cause subjective changes in perception, thought, emotion and consciousness. Unlike other psychoactive drugs, such as stimulants and opioids, the hallucinogens do not merely amplify familiar states of mind, but rather induce experiences that are qualitatively different from those of ordinary consciousness. These experiences are often compared to non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as trance, meditation, conversion experiences, and dreams.
One thing that most of these drugs do not do, despite the ingrained usage of the term hallucinogen, is to cause hallucination. Hallucinations, strictly speaking, are perceptions that have no basis in reality, but that appear entirely realistic. A typical "hallucination" induced by a psychedelic drug is more accurately described as a modification of regular perception, and the subject is usually quite aware of the illusory and personal nature of their perceptions. Deliriants, such as diphenhydramine and atropine, may cause hallucinations in the proper sense.
Psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants have a long history of use within medicinal and religious traditions around the world. They are used in shamanic forms of ritual healing and divination, in initiation rites, and in the religious rituals of syncretistic movements such as União do Vegetal, Santo Daime, and the Native American Church. When used in religious practice, psychedelic drugs, as well as other substances like tobacco, are referred to as entheogens. Also, in some states and on some reservations, certain hallucinogens, like Peyote, are classified as part of a recognized religious ceremony and if used in said ceremonies are. therefore, considered legal.
Starting in the mid-20th century, psychedelic drugs have been the object of extensive attention in the Western world. They have been and are being explored as potential therapeutic agents in treating depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, alcoholism, opioid addiction, (of which the last two are being tested to be treatable with Dextromethorphan Hydrobromide AKA DXM, a dissociative listed below), cluster headaches, and other ailments. Early military research focused on their use as incapacitating agents. Intelligence agencies tested these drugs in the hope that they would provide an effective means of interrogation, with little success.
Yet the most popular, and at the same time most stigmatized, use of psychedelics in Western culture has been associated with the search for direct religious experience, enhanced creativity, personal development, and "mind expansion". The use of psychedelic drugs was a major element of the 1960s counterculture, where it became associated with various social movements and a general atmosphere of rebellion and strife between generations.
Despite prohibition, the recreational, spiritual, and medical use of psychedelics continues today. Organizations, such as Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and the Heffter Research Institute, have arisen to foster research into their safety and efficacy, while advocacy groups such as the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics push for their legalization. In addition to this activity by proponents, hallucinogens are also widely used in basic science research to understand the mind and brain. However, ever since hallucinogenic experimentation was discontinued back in the late Sixties, research into the theraputic applications of such drugs have been almost nonexistent, that is until this last decade where research has finally been allowed to resume. In some cases, this includes research in humans, like that conducted by Roland Griffiths and colleagues .
The word psychedelic (From Ancient Greek ψυχή (psychê) mind, soul + δηλος (dêlos) manifest, reveal + -ic) was coined to express the idea of a drug that makes manifest a hidden but real aspect of the mind. It is commonly applied to any drug with perception-altering effects such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, 2C-B, mescaline and DOB as well as a panoply of other tryptamines, phenethylamines and yet more exotic chemicals, most of which appear to act mainly on the 5-HT2A receptor. Common herbal and fungal sources of psychedelics include psilocybe mushrooms (largely psilocybe cubensis), various ayahuasca preparations, peyote, Peruvian Torch, and San Pedro cactus.
Much debate exists not only about the nature and causes, but even about the very description of the effects of psychedelic drugs. One prominent tradition involves the "reducing valve" concept, first articulated in Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception. In this view, the drugs disable the brain's "filtering" ability to selectively prevent certain perceptions, emotions, memories and thoughts from ever reaching the conscious mind. This effect has been described as mind expanding, or consciousness expanding, for the drug "expands" the realm of experience available to conscious awareness. A large number of drugs, such as cannabis and MDMA, produce effects that could be classified as psychedelic (especially at higher doses) but are not considered to be psychedelic drugs due to other effects that are much more prevalent, such as sedation or disinhibition.
Psychedelic effects can vary depending on the precise drug and dosage, as well as the set and setting. "Trips" range between the short but intense effects of intravenous DMT to the protracted ibogaine experience, which can last for days. Appropriate dosage ranges from extremely low (LSD) to rather high (mescaline). Some drugs, like the auditory hallucinogen DiPT, act specifically to distort a single sense, and others have more diffuse effects on cognition generally. Some are more conducive to solitary experiences, while others are positively empathogenic.
Many psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and numerous others) are non-toxic in dosages typically ingested, making it difficult to impossible to overdose on these compounds. Though the natural drugs have a long history of use and usually have an extensive study profile aside from the mortality rates of the drugs, in recent times there has been large production of hundreds of virtually unstudied psychedelics (JWH-018,CP 47,497, DPT, TFMPP, 2C-T-7, 2C-H, Methylone, N-Methyl-N-isopropyltryptamine (MIPT), and AL-LAD to name a few) that may be potentially harmful. This is especially the case with the designer drugs in the psychedelic-amphetamine class. Because of this factor, one should not make the generalization that all psychedelics can not be potentially harmful at normal doses.
Dissociative drugs can reduce (or block) signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain, typically (but not necessarily) by inhibiting perception of the physical senses, such as Ketamine, while others can do exactly what the classification suggests, dissociate them from sensory data. Such a state of sensory deprivation or, sensory separation (as in, the stimuli is there, but can be perceived as separate and, therefore, more easily managed) can facilitate self exploration, hallucinations, and dreamlike states of mind like the psychedelic mindstates of other hallucinogens, but on entirely different levels and different effects. Essentially similar states of mind can be reached via contrasting paths—psychedelic or dissociative. That said, the entire experience, risks and benefits are markedly different.
The primary dissociatives are similar in action to PCP (angel dust) and include ketamine (an anaesthetic) and DXM (dextromethorphan, an active ingredient in many cough syrups). Also included are nitrous oxide, muscimol, and from the Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) mushroom. Also, dissociation is remarkably administered by Salvinorin A's (from the salvia divinorum plant shown to the left) potent κ-Opioid receptor antagonism (dissociation characteristically comes through NMDA antagonism), which is notably the most potent psychoactive chemical harnessed directly from the plant kingdom. Effects from salvinorin A have been infamously documented on youtube and typically last from 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on the route of administration (inhalation and "quidding," respectively).
Some dissociatives can have CNS depressant effects, thereby carrying similar risks as opioids, which can slow breathing or heart rate to levels resulting in death (when using very high doses). However, although DXM and PCP and close neuro-chemical cousins, DXM is an analog of morphine (while PCP is not), but has no euphoric opiate effects, although it has been noted to depress respiration in some instances. Paradoxically, Dxm in higher doses can increase heart rate and blood pressure and still depress respiration. Inversely, Pcp can have more unpredictable effects and has often been classified as a stimulant and a depressant in some texts along with being as a dissociative. While many have reported that they "feel no pain" while under the effects of PCP, DXM and Ketamine, this does not fall under the usual classification of anesthetics in recreational doses (anesthetic doses of dxm can be highly dangerous). Rather, true to their name, they process pain as a kind of "far away" sensation; pain, although present, becomes an disembodied experience and there is much less emotion associated with it . As for probably the most common dissociative, NO2, the principal risk seems to be due to oxygen deprivation. Injury from falling is also a danger, as nitrous oxide may cause sudden loss of consciousness, an effect of oxygen deprivation. Long term use of dissociatives such as PCP and ketamine (and possibly dextromethorphan) have been suspected to cause Olney's lesions (N-methyl-d-aspartate antagonist neurotoxicity), though these lesions have never been demonstrated in primates to date. Because of the high level of physical activity and relative imperviousness to pain induced by PCP, some deaths have been reported due to the release of myoglobin from ruptured muscle cells. High amounts of myoglobin can induce renal shutdown . Along with most, if not all of the chemicals in this article, none of the dissociatives have any physically addictive properties, though psychological addiction has been observed. On a side note, MK-801 (Dizocilpine) is another dissociative that has the strength of ketamine and PCP that has been associated with a lot of adverse effects and was one of the first drugs to exhibit Olney's Lesions through experiments done in 1989.
The deliriants (or anticholinergics) are a special class of dissociative which are antagonists for the acetylcholine receptors (unlike muscarine and nicotine which are agonists of these receptors). Deliriants are sometimes called true hallucinogens, because they do cause hallucinations in the proper sense: a user may have conversations with people who aren't there, or become angry at a 'person' mimicking their actions, not realizing it is their own reflection in a mirror. They are called deliriants because their effects are similar to the experiences of people with delirious fevers. While dissociatives can produce effects similar to lucid dreaming (during which one is consciously aware of dreaming), the deliriants have effects akin to sleepwalking (during which one does not remember the experience).
Included in this group are such plants as deadly nightshade, mandrake, henbane and datura, as well as a number of pharmaceutical drugs, when taken in very high doses, such as the first-generation antihistamines diphenhydramine (Benadryl), its close relative dimenhydrinate (Dramamine or Gravol) and hydroxyzine, to name a few. Native Americans also consumed massive amounts of tobacco during religious ceremonies in order to experience the plant's deliriant effects.
In addition to the dangers of being far more disconnected from reality than with other drugs and retaining a truly fragmented dissociation from regular consciousness without being immobilized, the anticholinergics are toxic, carry the risk of death by overdose, and also include a number of uncomfortable side effects. These side effects typically include dehydration and mydriasis (dilation of the pupils).
Most modern-day psychonauts who use deliriants report similar or identical hallucinations and challenges. For example, diphenhydramine, as well as dimenhydrinate, when taken in a high enough dosage, often are reported to evoke vivid, dark, and entity-like hallucinations, peripheral disturbances, feelings of being alone but simultaneously of being watched, and hallucinations of real things ceasing to exist. Deliriants also may cause confusion or even rage, and thus have been used by ancient peoples as a stimulant before going into battle.
Hallucinogenic substances are among the oldest drugs used by human kind, as hallucinogenic substances naturally occur in mushrooms, cacti and a variety of other plants. Numerous cultures worldwide have endorsed the use of hallucinogens in medicine, religion and recreation, to varying extents, while some cultures have regulated or outright prohibited their use. In most developed countries today, the possession of many hallucinogens, even those found commonly in nature, is considered a crime punishable by fines, imprisonment or even death. In some countries, such as the United States and the Netherlands, partial deference may be granted to traditional religious use by members of indigenous ethnic minorities such as the Native American Church and the Santo Daime Church. Recently the União do Vegetal, a Christian-based religious sect whose composition is not primarily ethnicity-based, won a United States Supreme Court decision authorizing its use of ayahuasca.
Historically, hallucinogens have been most commonly used in religious or shamanic rituals. In this context they are referred to as entheogens, and they are used to facilitate healing, divination, communication with spirits, and coming-of-age ceremonies. Evidence exists for the use of entheogens in prehistoric times, as well as in numerous ancient cultures, including the Ancient Egyptian, Mycenaean, Ancient Greek, Vedic, Maya, Inca the and Aztec cultures. The Upper Amazon is home to the strongest extant entheogenic tradition; the Urarina of Peruvian Amazonia, for instance, continue to practice an elaborate system of ayahuasca shamanism, coupled with an animistic belief system.
The rise of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) caused a decline of entheogenic use of hallucinogens use in its wake, as the authority of scripture and the priesthood gradually reduced the role granted to direct spiritual experience, especially by the laity. Examples of this development include the destruction of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which are now widely assumed to have involved entheogenic rituals, and the Great Witch Hunt of the Early Modern Age, in which practitioners of entheogenic rites in Western Europe were accused of associating with the devil. The Spanish conquistadores associated local entheogenic traditions of South America with heresy and satanism, and uprooted many of them, but nevertheless, some cultures there and elsewhere have kept their traditions alive to this day.
Although natural hallucinogenic drugs have been known to mankind for millennia, it was not until the early 20th century that they received extensive attention from Western science. Earlier beginnings include scientific studies of nitrous oxide in the late 18th century, and initial studies of the constituents of the peyote cactus in the late 19th century. Starting in 1927 with Kurt Beringer's Der Meskalinrausch (The Mescaline Intoxication), more intensive effort began to be focused on studies of psychoactive plants. Around the same time, Louis Lewin published his extensive survey of psychoactive plants, Phantastica (1928). Important developments in the years that followed included the re-discovery of Mexican magic mushrooms (in 1936 by Robert J. Weitlaner) and ololiuhqui (in 1939 by Richard Evans Schultes). Arguably the most important pre-World War II development was by Albert Hofmann's 1938 discovery of the semi-synthetic drug LSD, which was later discovered to produce hallucinogenic effects in 1943.
After World War II there was an explosion of interest in hallucinogenic drugs in psychiatry, owing mainly to the invention of LSD. Interest in the drugs tended to focus on either the potential for psychotherapeutic applications of the drugs (see psychedelic psychotherapy), or on the use of hallucinogens to produce a "controlled psychosis", in order to understand psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. By 1951, more than 100 articles on LSD had appeared in medical journals, and by 1961, the number had increased to more than 1000 articles. Hallucinogens were also researched in several countries for their potential as agents of chemical warfare. Most famously, several incidents associated with the CIA's MK-ULTRA mind control research project have been the topic of media attention and lawsuits.
At the beginning of the 1950s, the existence of hallucinogenic drugs was virtually unknown among the general public of the West. However this soon changed as several influential figures were introduced to the hallucinogenic experience. Aldous Huxley's 1953 essay The Doors of Perception, describing his experiences with mescaline, and R. Gordon Wasson's 1957 Life magazine article (Seeking the Magic Mushroom) brought the topic into the public limelight. In the early 1960s, counterculture icons such as Jerry Garcia, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Ken Kesey advocated the drugs for their psychedelic effects, and a large subculture of psychedelic drug users was spawned. Psychedelic drugs played a major role in catalyzing the vast social changes initiated in the 1960s. As a result of the growing popularity of LSD and disdain for the hippies with whom it was heavily associated, LSD was banned in the United States in 1967. This greatly reduced the clinical research about LSD, although limited experiments continued to take place, such as those conducted by Reese Jones in San Francisco.
As of 2008, most well known hallucinogens (aside from dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine and dimenhydrinate) are illegal in most Western countries. One notable exception to the current criminalization trend is in parts of Western Europe, especially in the Netherlands, where cannabis is considered to be a "soft drug". Previously included were hallucinogenic mushrooms, but as of October 2007 the Netherlands officials have moved to ban their sale following several widely publicized incidents involving tourists. While the possession of soft drugs is technically illegal, the Dutch government has decided that using law enforcement to combat their use is largely a waste of resources. As a result, public "coffeeshops" in the Netherlands openly sell cannabis for personal use, and "smart shops" sell drugs like ayahuasca, Salvia Divinorum and until the ban of magic mushrooms took effect, they were still available for purchase in smartshops as well. (See Drug policy of the Netherlands).
Since the latter part of the twentieth century, this attitude has spread throughout Europe; many European countries no longer actively pursue anti-drug policies, and rarely enforce extant legal penalties for personal-use quantities of hallucinogenic drugs. This is especially true with mild hallucinogens such as cannabis, which is rapidly gaining acceptance in western Europe as a harmless and socially acceptable intoxicant, much as alcohol is considered throughout the West. Despite being scheduled as a controlled substance in the mid 1980s, ecstasy's popularity has been growing since that time in western Europe and in the United States.
Attitudes towards hallucinogens other than cannabis have been slower to change. Several attempts to change the law on the grounds of freedom of religion have been made. Some of these have been successful, for example the Native American Church in the United States, and Santo Daime in Brazil. Some people argue that a religious setting should not be necessary for the legitimacy of hallucinogenic drug use, and for this reason also criticize the euphemistic use of the term "entheogen". Non-religious reasons for the use of hallucinogens including spiritual, introspective, psychotherapeutic, recreational and even hedonistic motives, each subject to some degree of social disapproval, have all been defended as the legitimate exercising of civil liberties, including freedom of thought and freedom of self-harm.
Some people connect the idea of being "high" or going through a psychedelic state, as having brain damage or going crazy. This is due to the effect of the drug which, in some cases, can be overwhelming. Effects of these drugs may mimic psychological conditions such as psychosis, schizophrenia, and thought disorder, but yet there hasn't been any studies to confirm any real similarities between these different states of mind.
Several medical and scientific people, including the late Albert Hofmann, advocate the drugs should not be banned, but should be strongly regulated and warn they can be dangerous without proper psychological supervision.
Most psychedelics are not known to have long-term physical toxicity. However, amphetamine-like psychedelics, such as MDMA, that release neurotransmitters may stimulate increased formation of free radicals possibly formed from neurotransmitters released from the synaptic vesicle. Free radicals are associated with cell damage in other contexts, and have been suggested to be involved in many types of mental conditions including Parkinson's disease, senility, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's. Research on this question has not reached a firm conclusion. The same concerns do not apply to psychedelics that do not release neurotransmitters, such as LSD, nor to dissociatives or deliriants.
No clear connection has been made between psychedelic drugs and organic brain damage; however, high doses over time of some dissociatives and deliriants have been shown to cause Olney's lesions in other animals, and have been suspected to occur in humans. Additionally, hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is a diagnosed condition wherein certain visual effects of drugs persist for a long time, sometimes permanently, although science and medicine have yet to determine what causes the condition.
The class of drugs described in this article has been described by a profusion of names, most of which are associated with a particular theory of their nature.
Louis Lewin started out in 1928 by using the word phantastica as the title of his ground-breaking monograph about plants that, in his words, "bring about evident cerebral excitation in the form of hallucinations, illusions and visions [...] followed by unconsciousness or other symptoms of altered cerebral functioning". But no sooner had the term been invented, or Lewin complained that the word "does not cover all that I should wish it to convey", and indeed with the proliferation of research following the discovery of LSD came numerous attempts to improve on it, such as hallucinogen, phanerothyme, psychedelic, psychotomimetic, psycholytic, schizophrenogenic, cataleptogenic, mysticomimetic, psychodysleptic, and entheogenic.
The word psychotomimetic, meaning "mimicking psychosis", reflects the hypothesis of early researchers that the effects of psychedelic drugs are similar to naturally-occurring symptoms of schizophrenia, which has since been discredited . It remained for a long time somewhat of a shibboleth to be used in the titles of papers as a signal that the researcher disapproved of the casual use of a drug, but has now been displaced in the medical literature by hallucinogen. The latter term is not entirely accurate, since hallucinations, strictly speaking, must be entirely realistic but have no basis in reality, while psychedelic effects are often better described as distortions of the ordinary senses.
While the word psychotomimetic is now outmoded, the theory it implies is still clearly visible in the World Health Organization's definition of a hallucinogen as "a chemical agent that induces alterations in perception, thinking, and feeling which resemble those of the functional psychoses without producing the gross impairment of memory and orientation characteristic of the organic syndromes".
The word psychedelic was coined by Humphrey Osmond and has the rather mysterious but at least somewhat value-neutral meaning of "mind manifesting". The word entheogen, on the other hand, which is often used to describe the religious and ritual use of psychedelic drugs in anthropological studies, is associated with the idea that it could be relevant to religion. The words entactogen, empathogen, dissociative and deliriant, at last, have all been coined to refer to classes of drugs similar to the classical psychedelics that seemed deserving of a name of their own.
Many different names have been proposed over the years for this drug class. The famous German toxicologist Louis Lewin used the name phantastica earlier in this century, and as we shall see later, such a descriptor is not so farfetched. The most popular names—hallucinogen, psychotomimetic, and psychedelic ("mind manifesting")—have often been used interchangeably. Hallucinogen is now, however, the most common designation in the scientific literature, although it is an inaccurate descriptor of the actual effects of these drugs. In the lay press, the term psychedelic is still the most popular and has held sway for nearly four decades. Most recently, there has been a movement in nonscientific circles to recognize the ability of these substances to provoke mystical experiences and evoke feelings of spiritual significance. Thus, the term entheogen, derived from the Greek word entheos, which means "god within", was introduced by Ruck et al. and has seen increasing use. This term suggests that these substances reveal or allow a connection to the "divine within". Although it seems unlikely that this name will ever be accepted in formal scientific circles, its use has dramatically increased in the popular media and on internet sites. Indeed, in much of the counterculture that uses these substances, entheogen has replaced psychedelic as the name of choice and we may expect to see this trend continue.
– David E. Nichols: "Hallucinogens", Pharmacol Ther 101(2):131-181
Hallucinogens can be classified by their subjective effects, mechanisms of action, and chemical structure. These classifications often correlate to some extent. In this article, they are classified as psychedelics, dissociatives, and deliriants, preferably entirely to the exclusion of the inaccurate word hallucinogen, but the reader is well advised to consider that this particular classification is not universally accepted. The taxonomy used here attempts to blend these three approaches in order to provide as clear and accessible an overview as possible.
Almost all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are therefore classified as alkaloids. THC and Salvinorin A are exceptions. Many hallucinogens have chemical structures similar to those of human neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, and temporarily modify the action of neurotransmitters and/or receptor sites.
A classical classification, mainly of historical interest, is that of Lewin (Phantastica, 1928):
One possible way of classifying the hallucinogens is by their chemical structure and that of the receptors they act on. In this vein, the following categories are often used:
Problems with structure-based frameworks is that the same structural motif can include a wide variety of drugs which have substantially different effects. For example, both methamphetamine and ecstasy are substituted amphetamines, but methamphetamine has a much stronger stimulant action than ecstasy, with none of the latter's empathogenic effects.[weasel words] LSD can be seen as both a tryptamine and phenethylamine. Also, drugs commonly act on more than one receptor; DXM, for instance, is primarily dissociative in high doses, but also acts as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, similar to many phenethylamines and in fact, the phenethylamine moiety is embedded in the structure of DXM.
Even so, in many cases structure-based frameworks are still very useful, and the identification of a biologically active pharmacophore and synthesis of analogues of known active substances remains an integral part of modern medicinal chemistry.
The following is a list of some organisms known to contain hallucinogens
The literature about psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants is vast. The following books provide accessible and up-to-date introductions to this literature: