The 1960s is a decade that will go down in infamy as one that was steeped in sex, drugs and rock and roll. In 1965, Grace Slick (from the band Jefferson Airplane) wrote the song entitled “White Rabbit,” an anthem about hallucinatory drug use. The song was a spin-off of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In it, the lyrics make reference to hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms and their mind-altering effects. One part of the song says:
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know…”
Woodstock, the largest three-day music festival ever to take place, has been described as an orgy that included massive drug use. No doubt psychedelic /hallucinatory drugs such as mushrooms and LSD were not only on the festival’s menu, but also among the top drugs of choice during the 1960s.
The Sixties was an era defined by its drug culture. People gravitated toward such drugs as mushrooms and LSD because they saw them as a catalyst for promoting creativity and innovation in music, art and literature. Of course, the counter drug culture looked down on the “hippies” because of their involvement with these illicit drugs.
Fast forward 40 years, and we seem to be caught up in a déjà-vu; a world sung about by the Rolling Stones (think Mother’s Little Helper) the Beatles (Hey Jude), and of course, Grace Slick.
The Return of the Magic Mushroom
Recent research coming out of the elite Johns Hopkins Medical Center reveals that the hallucinatory qualities contained in psilocybin mushrooms may actually have medicinal as well as spiritual qualities. The researchers discovered a happy-medium dose that taps into the “transformative state” but avoids taking the participant on a bad trip.
Roland Griffiths, professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins, recently conducted a case study in which 18 college educated middle-aged men and women were given either psilocybin mushrooms in various dosages or a placebo. The study lasted for approximately 14 months. Although the study took place in the hospital in case medical intervention was necessary, the room where it was conducted was furnished to look like a comfortable family room. Each participant wore room darkening blinders on their eyes and listened to classical music. Volunteers were encouraged to pay attention to what was going on inside of them. The group was further broken down into two smaller groups. One half started at a high dose and was weaned over time to a smaller, more manageable dose. The second group started at the lower base dosage and was increased until it hit the maximum dosage. The results? A whopping 94% related that it was one of the top five greatest experiences of their entire lives and 39% said it was the best experience they ever had. Not only did the participants describe the experience in positive terms, but family members and friends noticed marked differences in their mannerisms: Each participant was kinder, compassionate and more peaceful.
Griffiths plans to take this study to a new level: He is presently looking for people with terminal illnesses such as cancer to participate in his study to see if this psychedelic mushroom experience could help allay fears in a person who is facing imminent death. Also in the works is another study to see if “mushroom therapy” could help people deal with issues of drug and alcohol addiction, and other issues such as depression, anxiety and those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Researchers like Griffiths are working toward erasing the negative image psychedelic drugs have been given over the years. This is the same message the hippies tried to convey 40 years ago. Who knows? Maybe they were on to something.
Finally, in the immortal words of the legendary Grace Slick:
“When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
and the White Knight is talking backwards and the Red Queen’s on her head
Remember what the dormouse said,
“Feed your head. Feed your head. Feed your head.”