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LSD and Mental Illness October 8, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness, Mental Illness and Medication.
Tags: , ,

Everyone knows that LSD is a dangerous drug, capable of driving us out of our minds.  We’ve heard this refrain all of our lives:  LSD is the most dangerous of the dangerous drugs. Stay away from this drug at all costs.

But new evidence suggests that we reconsider this idea. It’s quite possible that this drug is a solution rather than a problem. Instead of driving us out of our minds, new evidence suggests that LSD is capable of restoring a sense of sanity to the insane.

Even in the early 1960’s the drug began to change the face of psychology as we know it. Prior to this, it was common “knowledge” that mental illness was caused by environmental factors.  For example, bad parenting, the theory went, was responsible for schizophrenia.

But LSD’s ability to induce psychotic symptoms in otherwise perfectly normal people gave rise to the concept that chemical changes in the brain were causing the psychotic symptoms characteristic of certain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.  A paradigm shift in thinking about mental illness resulted, and we began to seek solutions to the terrible symptoms of mental illness in pharmacology.

So how did a drug with so much possibility end up on the short list of the most dangerous drugs in the world?

First synthesized in 1938, the drug was made illegal in the United States in October 1968 after it became synonymous with out-of-control counterculteralism of the 1960’s.  The last FDA approved human study with LSD, for use in dying cancer patients, ended in 1980. Even Switzerland stopped its use in 1993.

But today, we are reconsidering the advisability of this action.  Banning a promising drug because of social unrest associated with it seems unwise at best and foolish at worst. As it turns out, current research points to successful use of LSD and other psychotropic drugs to reduce the clinical symptoms of mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and schizophrenia.

In the mid-1990’s Franz Vollenwider’s research showed that LSD, combined with behavioral therapy, could alleviate the symptoms of various psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. With the ability to study the effects of the drug using new tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, scientists are now able to use the new technology to see which areas of the brain are specifically affected by the psychotropic drugs. With this new knowledge, they will be able to make inroads into new treatment options for mental illness, including the administration of LSD.

It’s time to dust off the medicine cabinet and take another look at LSD and other psychotropic drugs. This is 2010, not 1960. We can’t afford to hold possible cures to mental illness hostage to long-ago prejudices.




1. troy - October 9, 2010

Not sure if you caught this, but J. Lehrer talks about LSD’s benefits as well…


2. LSD and Mental Illness « Bipolar: Crazy Mermaid's Blog : Schizophrenia Page - October 9, 2010

[…] Visit link: LSD and Mental Illness « Bipolar: Crazy Mermaid's Blog […]

3. Nancy - October 9, 2010

In 1967 I took LSD when I was 19 days pregnant. (I was able to figure this out since I always kept careful records of everything.) Anyway, when I was flying back to the west coast that Sept., I picked up a magazine, Science, volume 157, no. 3794. It said that pregnant mice given LSD on the 7th day had offspring with major neurological disorders. This corresponded to the 16th to 22nd day in humans. Although I tried to convince myself otherwise, I knew my child would be born deformed. She was born the following January , was anencephalic, and died within a few hours. Of course, there is no way to know for certain that this was due to LSD, but I have always believed it did. Also my older son, who is now 37, developed schizoaffective disorder. We found out later that he had been smoking a lot of marijuana and taking LSD. Again there is no way to know for certain if that pushed him over the edge, so to speak. I’m not against scientific studies being done, but from my family’s history, I only suggest people be careful before they ingest anything illegal. If you are interested, you can check out my blog here at: waywardweed.wordpress.com.

Crazy Mermaid - October 9, 2010

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. While I understand your point completely, which is that the drug is dangerous in the wrong hands, I want to point out that many, many drugs- including alcohol- are dangerous in the wrong hands. To eliminate the opportunity to utilize the drug appropriately for those who need it because of its effects on those who use the drug inappropriately is not good public policy,and is unfair on those who could be helped.

4. Astrid - October 11, 2010

Do you have any references to show that LSD cures mental illness? Besides the fact that it may set off mental illness as well as possibly cure it, however, it is very physically dangerou. I would not take LSD even if it could cure my illness for this reason.

Crazy Mermaid - October 11, 2010

There is some interesting research being done right now. Check out the stuff from Franz Vollenwider.

Ronny Søberg (@cassus) - November 20, 2011

Realize that this is a year old.. But couldn’t resist replying. LSD’s toxicity, as with Marijuana, is ridiculously low. You literally can’t overdose on either of them. Well, you can, but you’d have to use an absolutely insane amount. Like.. gobbling up a whole bag of the stuff. No one has ever died from marijuana, and I think (but not sure) the same holds true for LSD. There’s a theoretical toxicity limit to both of them, and that’s 1000 times that of an effective dose. But as I said, no cases of OD’ing with either drug. LSD, if used responsibly, is not physically harmful. It can mess with your mind, sure, but it won’t outright kill you.

5. Dr.Rajan George-Practising psychologist - March 11, 2015

If used as a medicine, it may help.But most of the people uses it for recreation ithout any control,hich I do feel is dangerous

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