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Tom Shroder Takes Us on a Trip With "Acid Test"

COVER STORY:
OCTOBER 2014

LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal

Author Tom Shroder Investigates the Powers of Psychedelic Drugs

By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher
Be Inkandescent

When former Washington Post Magazine editor Tom Shroder was a 21-year-old college journalist, he noticed an article about a charismatic hippie with a pet wolf who was building himself a house in the woods. His name was Rick Doblin, then 22.

“He was trying to live authentically, guided by an inner light rather than society’s preconceived ideas; consciously working to discover and create his own destiny rather than trudging along the rutted tracks set before him,” Shroder explains decades later in his new book, Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal.

In the years since, Shroder has written about Doblin numerous times—the former hippie went on to become a leader in the psychedelic healing community. He founded the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and has been at the forefront of the fight for advancing the responsible use of psychedelic therapy for more than 30 years.

LSD? Ecstasy? Really?

Shroder encourages us to open our minds to the fact that lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) can heal. In fact, that was the premise of Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann, who is credited with being the first person to synthesize the drug back in 1938. Five years later, he was the first person to ingest and learn of the psychedelic effects of the compound.

On his 100th birthday, in 2006, Hofmann said in a speech: “It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes, and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation. […] I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance, LSD. It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.”

Certainly, LSD and Ecstasy are controversial. Taken without medical supervision, these hallucinogens can be dangerous—even lethal. But Shroder insists there is more to the story.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten says of Shroder’s 2014 tome, “A captivating narrative with irresistible characters, [Shroder’s book] will leave you wondering whether we have the moral right to oppose this breakthrough therapy.”

In “Acid Test,” released in September by Blue Rider Press, Shroder contends that there are most definitely therapeutic powers in psychedelic drugs—especially in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression, among others disorders that plague many Americans.

“Since the discovery of the profound alterations of consciousness caused by LSD, psychedelics have played a crucial role in the still-nascent quest to understand the link between mind and matter,” Shroder believes. “From the beginning, compounds like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and MDMA (better known as Ecstasy) have astounded psychiatrists and researchers in their ability to produce profound altered states that can permanently untangle the deep-seated compulsions behind alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and PTSD.”

However, after two decades in which psychedelics became the most studied psychoactive drugs in history, their widespread abuse prompted a backlash that shut down the research. “Ironically,” Shroder points out, “the prohibitions on research did nothing to curb illegal and ill-advised recreational use, which continued to mount. Meanwhile, the promise of psychedelic therapy remained out of reach of the millions of people who could benefit from it.”

In an effort to shed light on the potential healing powers of LSD, Shroder braids together the stories of three men, forming the narrative that he hopes will spur a new age of acceptance.

  • Rick Doblin, Shroder’s old friend, who has been on the forefront of the fight for advancing the responsible use of LSD and other psychedelic therapies.

  • Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a clinical researcher and psychiatrist, who for decades has been conducting clinical trials using MDMA to treat abuse survivors and those suffering from PTSD. Click here to see his YouTube video.

  • Nicholas Blackston, a marine combat veteran who suffered nightmarish hallucinations and panic attacks on his return from the war in Iraq and underwent life-changing treatment under the direction of Dr. Mithoefer.

Don’t stop now! Click here to read our Q&A with Shroder. Scroll down or click here to read the Foreword to Shroder’s book. And listen to our podcast on Inkandescent Radio.

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