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Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered

Lester Grinspoon & James B. Bakalar

Pages: 387
Price: 12.95
Publisher: The Lindesmith Center
Pub Date: 1979 (1997 Edition)
ISBN: 0964156857

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Table of Contents >
1. The Major Psychedelic Drugs: Sources and Effects
2. Psychedelic Plants in Preindustrial Society
3. Psychedelic Drugs in the Twentieth Century
4. The Nature of Psychedelic Experience
5. Adverse Effects and Their Treatment
6. Therapeutic Uses
7. Psychedelic Drugs and the Human Mind
8. The Futre of Psychedelic Drug Use and Research

Appendix: The Legal Status of Psychedelic Drugs
Bibliography to the 1997 Authors' Introduction
Annotated Bibliography

Description >
Classic on social history and uses of psychedelics. Describes the major psychedelics, preindustrial and post-industrial uses, nature of the experience, adverse effects and their treatment, and therapeutic and research uses. New introduction and preface describes latest research. Bibliography and index. Recommended.  - Mind Books

From Back Cover -

Two of the world's leading experts on drug use provide the general reader with a comprehensive survey of psychedelic drugs and the scientific and intellectual issues they raise.  The authors review the chemistry of psychedelics, their effects, and the history of human experience with them as well as assessing the potential value of the drugs.

Reviews/Excerpts >

"An exceptionally well-balanced scientific discussion of every aspect of psychedelic drugs...  It is a courageous book which simultaneously succeeds both for the popular and scientific audiences." - Carl Sagan

"Our social policy has all but ignored the extraordinary potential of psychedelic drugs for therapeutic use and inner development.  This book has played and will continue to play a significant role in bringing the weight of scientific reason to bear on re-opening the research opportunities that are a necessary prerequisite for rectifying this situation." - Ram Dass

"I don't recall ever seeing a single book treat in so scholarly yet lucid a fashion all of the historical, social and scientific aspects of drugs with accuracy, balance, and thoughtful reflection." - Solomon H. Snyder, M.D.


The Lindesmith Center, a project of the Open Society Institute, is a research institute dedicated to broadening the debate on drug policy and related issues. ... The center's guiding principle is harm reduction, an alternative approach to drug policy and treatment that aims to minimize the adverse effects of drug abuse and punitive drug prohibition. (page viii)

Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered is the first book to be republished as part of The Lindesmith Center's drug policy classics reprint series. Grinspoon and Bakalar wrote this book in the late 1970s, when the controversies of the 1960s seemed long past and when research on psychedelics had virtually ground to a halt. Their objective was principally intellectual: to record, synthesize, and reflect upon a rich history of scientific research and societal experience with psychedelics that was rapidly being forgotten. (page xiii)

Is this book dangerous? Perhaps, in its capacity to stimulate curiosity in a realm of drug use and personal exploration that is almost entirely illegal, and not without risks. but those who hope or fear to find in these pages a paean to psychedelic adventuring will be disappointed. Grinspoon and Bakalar have written a sober and comprehensive analysis of a complex subject that includes accounts of extraordinary pleasure, insight, and ecstasy, but also intense pain and fear. this book is most likely to be read by those who have tried psychedelics, and thus find themselves tempted by its title. but it is best read by those who have never tried these drugs, who worry about those who have used or might use these drugs, and who want to know the truth. (Ethan Nadelmann "Preface to the 1997 Edition," page xiii)

The therapeutic promise of psychedelic drugs is still unfulfilled, but new prospects have emerged. Therapists may be able to take renewed inspiration from the ancient traditions of religious psychedelic use always one of the places where spirituality and psychotherapy have converged. The use of peyote by North American Indians has been legitimized by the Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1994, which prohibits the passage of state laws banning the services of the Native American Church. In a recent study of the sacramental use of ayahuasca by Amazon Indians, researchers have found that like peyote, it serves as a treatment for alcoholism. Rick Doblin, the most zealous and effective advocate of continued psychedelic drug research, has reviewed the Good Friday experiment (described on pages 280-281) after twenty-five years and found that most of the men who took psilocybin still thought the experience had genuine mystical features. They believed that the positive changes they reported in the original study had persisted and sometimes deepened over the years, and they said the experience had enhanced their appreciation of life and deepened their commitment to a religious vocation. (pages xx-xxi)

CSP's Entheogen Chrestomathy entry for Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered

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