Edited by Roger Walsh and Charles S. Grob,

Did Anything Good Come from Psychedelic Drugs?

Review by Gunnel Minett

Psychedelic drugs have been illegal since the 1960’s – for good reasons we have been told. The wave of drug use that swept the world in the sixties hippie era caused a lot of problems to a lot of people. The worse examples were people who became psychotic, thought they could fly and threw themselves out of windows etc. In order to stem this misuse and prevent hippies taking over the world completely, the drugs were banned in most countries.

But although psychedelic drugs led to obvious misuse and disastrous effects in many cases there was also a group of researchers who saw great potential in these new drugs. They conducted very serious research with quite remarkable results. Their studies found that psychedelic drugs administered under strictly controlled conditions were able to create results with patients suffering for serious mental conditions where conventional techniques failed. The drugs also often led to opening up to a completely new understanding of consciousness for the researchers that tried them on themselves.

Since the banning of these drugs brought an end to this research, there are now few researchers left with this kind of in-depth knowledge. This is why Roger Walsh and Charles Grob decided to interview fourteen of the most eminent in this field and record their first hand accounts. Among them are Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), Betty Eisner, Gary Fisher, Stanislav Grof, Michael Harner, Laura Archera Huxley, Huston Smith and Myron Stolaroff. They offer their knowledge, anecdotes and sometimes hard-won wisdom in their own personal style.
Between them they present a very interesting account of the ‘other side of the arguments’ which led to the banning of these drugs. One of the views shared by all of them is that the set and setting is an essential part of their successful use and that it was the lack of understanding of this by people who used the drugs for ‘recreational’ purposes (as well as experiments by the CIA) that caused so many problems.