Any culture may be regarded as a ramification of a particular technology applied to the particular set of local conditions within which that culture is situated. The term "technology," as used here, refers to the entire set of devices, whether mechanical, chemical, or linguistic, by which adaptations of individuals to their environments are enhanced. Plows, clubs, radios, airplanes, fertilizers, drugs, breakfast cereals, grammars, and concepts are each implements and instances of technology, which influence and are influenced by one another. Some implements operate by directly altering the environment in response to the demands of the individual, as when we turn on an air conditioner on a hot day. Others operate by altering the individual to meet the demands of the environment, as when we "make the last one for the road coffee." Still others may attempt to integrate the two, as when we read a book to gain knowledge that will help us in particular situations.
All systems of technology have certain common characteristics in terms of how they affect those who use them. They set up ways of looking at the world in terms of which new experiences can be encoded. One of the best illustrations of this is given in an old Jewish folk song in which the singing of a new cantor on the Sabbath is heard by a tailor in terms of how one sews a suit of clothes, by a cobbler in terms of making shoes, and by a carpenter in terms of cutting wood. Systems of technology focus attention on certain kinds of relationships and particular ways of conceptualizing those relationships. It is probably no accident that the great Chinese book on time, the I Ching, with its emphasis on seasons and changes and on ways of adapting to these and on the right time for initiating and carrying through action should have arisen as a vegetable oracle, the product of a farming people.
Conceptualizations, once arrived at, interact to produce new conceptualizations, new technology, from which, once more, new concepts and new needs may emerge. Television, for instance, derives as a concept from motion pictures and radio and, even though it was introduced only a comparatively short time ago, has rapidly become a central part of homes at all levels of society in our culture. Watching television has tended to produce a more uniform culture through greater exposure to common stimuli, has reduced the amount of time available for free interaction by members of any particular household, and has resulted in the creation of such implements as "TV trays" and "TV dinners" to accommodate the need for more time around the television set. Automobiles have made possible the movement to the suburbs, the virtual end of public transportation in many parts of our country, and a resultant increased dependency on private means of transportation. In its turn, this has produced a more mobile population, a proliferation of roads, a tendency to think of distance in terms of units of time, the destruction of the countryside, and an increased need to deal with air pollution.
Any technological innovation in any area expands to fill all the analogous gaps to which it can be applied. The technology of clubs developed into the technology of axes and hoes, and, in modern America, into the technology of baseball. Any technological system has a degree of play that makes possible the development of new technologies, which may not be immediately useful, but can become functional or can be combined to be functional when the need arises. The technique for producing light shows has long been available but remained essentially unused until the advent of psychedelic drugs produced its impact on a generation accustomed to TV diffraction patterns.
The technology of drugs is one of the oldest technologies and probably began when our ancestors browsed their way through the forests and found that, among the foods they sampled, some produced interesting changes in how they felt, how they perceived, and how they could accommodate themselves to the world. Substances that alter consciousness are found in use among probably all the peoples of the world (Taylor, 1963). In particular, substances containing alcohol and caffeine seem to be used nearly everywhere, and hemp and its derivatives also seem widely used.
Substances whose main effect is to stop hunger are classed as foods. Even though it is now customary to present an analysis of the chemical composition of many of the foods we eat on the sides of the containers in which they are packaged, their action tends to be studied in laboratories of nutrition rather than in those of pharmacology. The kinds of detailed study of effects on particular structures and organ systems that have historically characterized pharmacological study are rarely undertaken with foods.
Substances that increase conviviality or stimulate the individual are often treated as foods if they can be eaten, or as more like drugs (without usually naming them such) if they must be smoked. Alcohol, coffee, tea, and chocolate represent the edible class of these substances, as does cannabis and its derivatives in many Moslem and Eastern countries. Cannabis and tobacco probably represent the principal common substances smoked. The continuing agitation against the use of alcohol and cannabis by various groups in our culture suggests the anomalous position of these kinds of substances on the food-drug continuum. The fear and anxiety over the moral and physical degradation that might result from enslavement to coffee, tea, and chocolate when these were introduced into Europe are another case in point. It should also be noted that many tobacco smokers often have trouble conceptualizing tobacco as a drug, for the term "drug" has developed very specialized meanings.
Among the foods sampled by our ancestors, some sustained life, others destroyed it. Still others seemed to remove illness. Sometimes those foods that destroyed life could also sustain it and remove illness if administered in proper ways and in proper amounts. It is hard to say when the division of edibles into foods and poisons and into foods and drugs arose, for the divisions already existed at the beginning of recorded history. Legends of the witch woman and the wizard and their herbs, or of the apple whose scent drives away disease are very old. A technology of drug use is found in all cultures along with a technology of poisons, and the control of that technology is vested in individuals with priestly or semi-priestly functions, or in others with claims to special relationships with the supernatural. As the amount of knowledge around the use of the healing arts grew, the priesthood, which dealt in healing, gradually gave way to a more secularized group, with specialized training, called physicians. Another group claimed jurisdiction over the preparation of these substances and were called apothecaries or, more recently, pharmacists. These experts knew which drugs to prescribe and when. It was also apparent that these substances could sometimes be dangerous when improperly compounded or improperly used, so it was important to listen when they told you how to use the possibly dangerous substances in which they dealt. In addition, since they dealt in alleviating suffering, a "good guy" image was easy to come by. As a result, a drug in this context became something that was used on the advice of a physician, and that it was foolhardy to use otherwise.
While a tradition of using minor remedies for things like colds or warts existed, reasonable people left the control of drugs in the hands of the experts. Even patent medicines derived their fundamental cultural status from the implied approval of these groups, or had to go back to their precursors, the medicine men and shamans of primitive days. To this day, television advertisements for patent medicines that will cure headaches, sinus congestion, or "tired blood" are delivered by friendly, fatherly looking men in white coats. On the other hand, the development of modem research technology made possible an expansion of the number of substances recognized as specifics against particular ailments and increased the range of illnesses and conditions for which drugs could be used. In particular, the realization that food-deficiency diseases exist, and the development of vitamin pills to be used as a food supplement, created a dynamic tension between the restricted use of drugs and the use of pills as food. Subsequently, the modern development of mood-changing drugs such as tranquilizers, and their promiscuous prescription by physicians to such a point that some minor tranquilizers can now be purchased without a prescription, completed the breach. We became a pill-using culture, although the earlier caution about the use of drugs remained as a nagging sense of guilt.
Alongside the medically controlled and related concept of drugs, a second conception exists of drugs as substances that produce depressing but exotic sleep states to which the user becomes easily addicted, to the exclusion of the claims and pleasures of ordinary life. In Homer's Odyssey, Ulysses and his crew visit the Land of the Lotus Eaters, whose inhabitants are addicted to a fruit that, when tasted, puts the user into a sleep in whose dreams all thoughts of home and country are forgotten. In our country, in our time, when somebody says he feels "drugged," he is generally referring to a state of depressed apathy. In contrast to this, we may often refer to a situation in which we have been gratified as one in which we have been "fed." A product that does not sell is referred to in business as "a drug on the market," but a new concept or a new perception may be "food for thought." It is a commonplace to hear how opium, the prototype for this conception, destroyed the initiative and capacity for constructive activity of the people in many Eastern countries and kept them from the progress and well-being of the Protestant ethic. It is a fact, moreover, that China did fight a losing war to keep British enterprise from bringing in opium, because the rulers of China felt that the effects of opium addiction would enervate their population.
For us, drugs are often seen as substances used in strange and alien cultures whose customs are the material from which travelogues are made and to which the intrepid traveler may venture only at the risk of being debauched. The early writings on opium by Thomas De Quincy, and the accounts of hashish experiences by Theophile Gautier and Fitzhugh Ludlow stress the exotic nature of the experience. Even Coleridge's famous poem Kubla Khan, written from an opium dream, in which the legendary ruler builds a pleasure dome in Xanadu over a hidden sacred river where women mourn for demon lovers and Abyssinian maids play dulcimers, bears out this aura of the strange. Drugs are substances that not only render us unable or unwilling to function in ordinary life, but make available exotic and forbidden landscapes. In these landscapes, the images of nightmare from which we have fled since childhood, move and take shape.
This view of the dangerous nature of drugs is further buttressed by the modern concept of "the drug addict"an individual so enslaved by his need to escape "reality," a euphemism for the disappointments attendant on the need to survive, that he seeks these dangerous substances to the exclusion of the more conventional activities that keep society functioning. This immediately arouses the fear that if one person finds "illegitimate" states so attractive, others will follow because of their inherent superior pleasure-giving quality. The strictures by Louria (1966) on the hedonism of drug use emphasize this fear. Similar attitudes are expressed in the fear and condemnation of homosexuals by many perfectly adequate and well-adjusted heterosexuals, and in the horror felt by some parents when they find their children masturbating.
The drug addict is seen as becoming less controlled and more apt to express impulses that our society frowns upon, as his drug use continues. He is finally so taken over by his need, and so debauched, and so unable to make his own way, that he is forced to turn to crime to prolong a life that is now a threat to the survival of others. These negative images play an important role with respect to any substance labeled "drug" and not medically prescribed or available in a pharmacy. It is interesting to note that cough medicines containing codeine, an addicting drug, are available without prescription in many of our states, and that, at least until recently, paregoric, which contains a small quantity of opium, was freely available without prescription for use with infants. That these concepts represent an important aspect of the affective reaction to drug use is shown by the fact that campaigns against drug abuse in general, and the use of psychedelics in particular, have centered around appeals to these images.
Psychedelics are the newest addition to drug technology in our culture. While the use of many of these substances in their plant form is very old, their use in our culture is very recent, apart from minor experimentation by early scientists concerned with consciousness, such as William James, Weir Mitchell, and Havelock Ellis (DeRopp, 1957). Written descriptions of the use of hemp date from about 1250 B.C. Datura preparations are used in magic and witchcraft in many areas of the world. Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric mushroom, was not only probably used by the ancient Vikings when they went into battle, but, according to recent evidence, may have been the legendary soma of the founders of Hinduism (Schultes, 1969; Wasson, 1969). It is not possible to say how far back the use of peyote, ololiuqui, or of Psilocybe mexicana goes, for the records were destroyed by the Roman Catholic missionaries to the conquered people of Mexico in their zeal for the welfare of the souls of their charges.
The central property of any of the substances labeled psychedelic is the enhancement of experience. In the anti-drug writings in the popular and semi-popular press, psychedelics have even been condemned as offering "instant experience." They seem to step up the capacity of the organism to respond to fine gradations of stimulus input, to enhance response to stimulation at the upper and lower levels of perceptual responding, and to break down the barriers imposed by the different sensory avenues through which stimulation is received, in order to produce new perceptions, a greater frequency of illusions, and, more rarely, hallucinations. Before Osmond (1957b) coined the word "psychedelic," they were more commonly referred to as psychotomimetics or hallucinogens to stress their capacity to mimic psychoses or induce hallucinations. In contrast, depressants, such as alcohol and the barbiturates, and narcotics, such as opium and morphine, reduce attention to stimulus input, although hypnagogic and dreamlike states are possible with all of these. Stimulants, such as the amphetamines and caffeine, may enhance endurance, improve mood, and increase alertness and work capacity, but they do not promote attention to the fine nuances of sensory experience as do the psychedelics.
The ability of the psychedelics to produce enhanced capacity for experiencing, and for interrelating the data of experience, is central in understanding both their significance and their popularity. Very few books that deal with psychedelics fail to include individual protocols of such experiences. Metzner (1968), Ebin (1961), and Watts (1962) have published entire books containing nothing but protocols of psychedelic experience. Huxley's great book The Doors of Perception (1954), which probably marks the beginning of the modern psychedelic movement, is also such a protocol from his famous initial encounter with the Belle of Portugal rose to his final return to "that reassuring but profoundly unsatisfactory state known as 'being in one's right mind.'" Timothy Leary's recent autobiographical account of psychedelia, High Priest (1968a), is also presented in terms of psychedelic "trips." In discussing the use of psychedelics in therapy for various emotional disorders, Hoffer and Osmond (1967) stress that LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline may all be equally effective. "It is the experience, not the compound which induces it, which is responsible."
The stress on enhanced experiencing as the fundamental characteristic of these substances leads, in the literature, to a stress on the importance of the setting in which the drug is taken. In order for the enhanced capacity for experience created by these substances to show itself, an adequate range of stimuli must first be available to be experienced. Administration of psychedelics under conditions of sensory deprivation seems to abolish most of the usual effects attributed to them (Pollard, Uhr, and Stern, 1965). Hoffer and Osmond (1967) stress the importance of providing adequate environmental support to produce the kinds of experience required to produce change in personality. Alpert and Cohen (l966) also stress the need for adequate settings to provide psychedelic experiences.
On the other hand, as the stimulus situations presented to the drug taker increase in complexity, the variability of possible responses to those stimuli increases, especially when there is perceptual heightening. For this reason, along with the emphasis on setting, a companion emphasis on setthe attitudes, motivations, preconceptions, and intentions that individuals bring to their experienceshas arisen. Mogar (1965a, 1965c) has suggested that contradictory results in different experiments on the effects of psychedelics on different functions can be accounted for by considering the differences in set and setting. Leary, Litwin, and Metzner (1963) have suggested that the total effect of an exposure to psilocybin could be accounted for entirely in terms of set and setting. Krippner (1965) has pointed out that the psychotomimetic reactions of the early studies with LSD occurred within the context of a laboratory in which the individual taking the drug was surrounded by white-coated physicians who were looking for evidence that an analogous situation to schizophrenia was being produced. Hyde (1960) showed that when psychedelics were administered to a variety of normal subject groups under conditions in which they were confronted with impersonal, hostile, and investigative attitudes on the part of others, the subjects responded with devaluative distortions and hostility. Flexibility, familiarity, and the presence of others with a common culture ameliorated the psychotomimetic aspects of the reaction, while rigidity, unfamiliarity, non-acceptance, and absence of others with a common culture exacerbated them.
While few would seek enhanced experience if that experience were negative, the ability to enhance the capacity for experience is an important reason for the increased popularity of psychedelics. People tend to do what they are good at. Well-co-ordinated, well-muscled individuals are apt to be involved in athletics; those with good number ability are apt to enjoy working with numbers. One of the best predictive devices for vocational success is the Strong Vocational Interest Inventory, which provides scores based on the similarity of an individual's interest patterns to those of individuals who are successful in their chosen fields. Virtually everyone has the capacity to react, judge, and seek out experience. People will often go on long and arduous journeys just to see things, or will buy recording equipment, radios, or television just to provide themselves with stimulation. They will register for difficult courses of instruction with no demonstrable practical consequences for themselves, in order to enhance their experience. This is not unique to man, for animals show a similar pattern of experience seeking (Welker, 1961). In human societies, the theater, the church, sports spectaculars, the pomp and ceremony of parades, the rides, color, and glitter of carnivals, all are institutions created to meet the need for enhanced experience. We are built to process stimuli, and an important part of living is seeking out stimuli to be processed. The popularity of psychedelics is not only a function of this general characteristic of stimulus seeking, but it also suggests the relative infrequency of bad experiences resulting from their use, unless we wish to posit masochism as an equally fundamental characteristic of biological adjustment.
Because psychedelics focus attention on individual experience, some important social consequences arise from their use. Individual experience is on the one hand unique to the experienced and on the other characterized by great transpersonal commonality as one goes deeper into the self (Aaronson, 1968d). In spite of the scientific validity of the behaviorist critique that private experience is not available for scientific observation, for each of us, as individuals, our own experiences have a veridicality shared by few other things in this world. We not only seek experience, we respond in terms of our experiences, and accord a special hearing to those who can "speak from experience." Immediate experience is of greater consequence to the individual experiencing it than any promise of future good or ill made by a personal or impersonal authority figure. Any parent who has had to take a child to face a shot administered to him by his kindly pediatrician can testify to this. Any smoker who lights up contentedly as he reads the warning on his cigarette pack also shows its validity.
When individual experience is emphasized, the generalized verbal formulas for societal control based on hoary and long-unquestioned precepts become open to question as they are filtered through the individual consciousness. Various institutions maintain their authority by means of symbols and concepts that evoke traditional emotional reactions, and the more-rational verbal responses function as unconscious rationalizations of these reactions. That is, many logical arguments turn out to be simply elaborations of illogical emotional biases. These traditional emotional biases are inculcated from the earliest age at home, in the schools, and in the propaganda organizations for children, such as the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the YMCA, and other groups. Similar institutions exist in Communist and Fascist societies, except that there the conditioning tends to be more frenetic and compulsive than in our own. The attention to the ways in which these symbols can affect us makes plain the inherent illogic of conventional wisdom. Once the question of "Why, indeed, should I respond in this way?" has been posed, many of the structures of society will tumble if answers cannot be found rooted in the existential being of the questioner.
Many of the consequences of this kind of questioning can be seen not only among the hippies and in Leary's concept of society as a collection of television stage props (1968b), but in the kinds of questions posed by those of our young people who have not obviously taken on the extreme styles of life represented either by the hippies or by Leary. The use of marijuana is sufficiently widespread among our young adult groups that attitudes developing from attention to one's own consciousness have pervaded their style of approach to the world. Before the question of "What career shall I choose?" can be answered, the question of "Why should I choose a career?" must be settled. Before one can agree to fight for flag and country, the existential meaning of flag, country, death, killing, freedom, and a host of other concepts must be considered. The source of power is not seen as being conferred from on high, but as arising from the behavior toward the power wielder of those over whom power is exercised. This attitude has tremendous implications with regard to the kinds of behavior that will be displayed toward the traditional holders of power and the traditional methods of displaying power.
The development of similar emphases on personal revelation and personal consciousness at various points in the history of Christendom led to the formation of many of our existing Protestant denominations and the replacement of the old Catholic concept of an ordained priesthood with a new concept of the priesthood of all believers. The so-called "generation gap" is a mirage that results not from the traditional need of the young to make their way in a world of already established people nor from any traditional traits of impatience or idealism, although all these may be factors, but from differing amounts of attention to the importance of individual experience. Because of the greater willingness of young people to try new things, the consciousness-changing chemicals had their greatest effect along peer-group lines.
Because of the fact that each individual consciousness is located in a body, increased awareness of the body and of our functions as biological organisms seems to occur in the psychedelic-user population. This is not the kind of stress on the body traditionally associated with weight lifting or the overdevelopment of body parts that give a good male or female image, but desire for a well-functioning body that is pleasant to experience. This has led to an interest in hatha yoga and in tai chi, the Indian and Chinese systems of exercise whose aim is not muscular development, but peace, coordination, and good bodily functioning. All bodily functions and bodily needs are more apt to be accepted and, even more important, respected. The ancient verbal taboos limiting sexual behavior have been weakened by the non-verbal nature of psychedelic experience. Excretory functions are accepted without embarrassment. Preferences develop for simple foods with more concern about how these may affect the body, although there is some tendency for this concern to turn to cultishness. Clothes are no longer used to hide the body, but to emphasize the body as the source of experience. The greater openness with regard to the physical self has been accompanied by relaxation of the taboo against touching other people and being touched by them, an event of overriding social consequence in changing the character, intensity, scope, and available possibilities in any interpersonal relationship.
Beyond the perception of the body itself, the enhanced sensory experience has called attention to the pleasures and insights that can be obtained directly from sensory experience. Light shows and modern rock music reflect some of the visual and auditory experiences produced by psychedelics. Aldous Huxley (1956) has pointed out the luminous intensity of colors found in "the antipodes of the mind," and this is mimicked by Day-Glo paints and the eerie glow of colors under black light. The greater sensitivity to color reflections, color shadows, and afterimages, especially as they appear reflected on glossy surfaces like skin, has led to the modern fashion of body painting. Along with the perception of oneself as a biological organism, with its consequent emphasis on the simple and natural, there has been an increased awareness of the complexity and beauty of natural phenomena. This has been further elaborated by the fact that, with many of the psychedelics, the retinal structure of the eye itself enters into the perception, as Kluver (1966) has pointed out. This has complicated the drive for simplicity with a preference for the baroque. The resulting dynamic tension appears in all forms of psychedelic decoration, music, literature, and art. Masters and Houston (1968) have shown this well in their recently published book on psychedelic art, which runs the gamut from simple meditative expressions to welters of clashing stimulation designed to make the viewer leave his senses through overstimulation of his senses.
Going deeply into one's own experience leads to insights beyond those experienced when the focus of attention is on what is experienced rather than the mode of experience itself. The appearance of reality is no longer taken at face value, but is seen as an interaction with the perceptual apparatus of the perceiver. This means that the usual existential primacy given the world around us, probably because we are built to process information coming to us from the outside, gives way to an equality of perceives and perceived, so that the perception itself becomes the primary datum in a conscious sense, as it has always been without our realization. This is, indeed, one of the goals of many meditative systems, and meditation as such has become a popular activity among the psychedelic subgroup and those influenced by them. Indeed, movement within the self away from its more-surface manifestations inevitably invokes religious imagery (Masters and Houston, 1966; Aaronson, 1968a), although images invoking religious feelings may be possible at all levels of consciousness. The sense that depth is expanded, common in psychedelic experiences, is like the environmental conditions most commonly associated with mystical experience, and mystical experiences can be produced by experimentally providing experiences of enhanced depth (Aaronson, 1967d).
Movement within reaches the level of archetype and myth and may transcend these to a point of ultimate mystical union. The archetypes may be an elaboration of current material featured in the concerns of the popular press, as Barron (1967) has pointed out. They may derive from early impressions and concerns fed by other technologies in our culture. Tom Wolfe (1968), for instance, has pointed out the prevalence of imagery from the comic books dear to children in the late thirties and early forties in the group centering around Ken Kesey. They may derive from fundamental perceptions of our own structures and modes of functioning. Barron (1967) has noted, "an experience of Christ, i.e. of Christ free from the institutional embodiment known as Christianity, is common to many psychedelic "trips." Christ on the cross may then be understood simply as "consciousness impaled on the human form, mind hung to die on body to expiate our voluntary participation in the world's heavy materialism." This manner of thinking and perceiving, the concentration on archetype, the sense of an indwelling, immanent God, and the interest in meditation have correspondingly created an interest in those forms of religion that stress these notions: Hinduism, and Tibetan and Zen Buddhism. Psychedelic experience is fundamentally religious, as any experience of life taken as an experience of life must be. Braden (1967) has pointed out that the fundamental thrust of psychedelic experience is religious and its fundamental challenge is to the forms of organized religion. It is one of the forces contributing to the ferment in contemporary Christianity that is presently leading one of the oldest and most tradition-bound of Christian churches to reevaluate its forms, its structure, and many of the engrafted beliefs of its development.
The development of any new major innovation in technology affects profoundly the life and structure of the society in which it occurs. The development of psychedelics is such a major innovation, which promises revolutionary changes and is, in fact, already producing them. Psychedelics may have a potential impact on society equivalent to that of the machine, which in setting off the Industrial Revolution, created much of what we now consider our "natural" and "traditional" styles of life and forms of organizing society. At the time of the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, those dispossessed by the new forms blamed the machines and tried to wreck them in the Luddite rebellion. Our modern Luddites are not the dispossessed, but those who exist at the very center of the power structure. The alteration of values, the questioning of rules by those who have had psychedelic experiences, create much consternation, often by their very own children, among individuals who have made their way by those rules and under the value system of the existing society. In addition, the negative implications of the concept "drug," noted earlier in this discussion, are not without their effects.
Confronted by danger, each carries out his social function. The mass media simultaneously point at the wonders of psychedelic experience and view them with alarm. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and sociologists, whose business it is to find abnormality in deviance, find abnormality in deviance. Government agencies introduce regulations, lawmakers make laws, and policemen police. The upshot of all this activity is that it is now almost impossible to carry out legitimate research with psychedelics. A large user population has developed that uses bootleg drugs, sometimes containing dangerous impurities, and almost certainly producing revenue for organized crime. Drugs are now used by individuals who, under a system of controlled access to them, would probably not have been exposed to them and run the risk of injuring themselves. It is difficult to set up safeguards for the proper use of the major psychedelics when this use is illegal. One segment of our population exists under conditions reminiscent of prohibition, while the other looks on with alarm. A crisis in confidence has been created that cuts across generational lines. A great many people who normally would be law- abiding are placed in the position of outlaws, with marked implications for their further relationships to society and its institutions.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to do any more than outline briefly some of the implications of psychedelic technology and some of its associated problems. The rest of this book is devoted to filling in the picture in more detail. At the present time, the repressive attitudes toward this new technology are so strong that its effects can only show themselves in strange and aborted forms. Perhaps the situation will be eased to permit more-open and controlled development of what is now clandestine and uncontrolled. Hopefully.