Psychedelic Sessions

In the following text, I will outline the most important characteristics of an ideal treatment setting as I see it on the basis of past clinical experience with psychedelic therapy. Obviously, in practice these absolute demands will seldom be met and LSD therapists have to be prepared for various degrees of compromise. Ideally, LSD sessions should be conducted in a specifically designed treatment unit or suite. This should be situated on the ground floor and isolated from the rest of the facility, with a separate entrance. A small kitchenette and easily available lavatory would make it possible for the therapists to stay with the patient the entire day without undue interruption, and to choose the optimal moments for a physiological break or a snack. It is important that the patient be able to reach the bathroom in a short time without having to interact with the external world and to face a complex social situation. At times, the abreactive episodes in sessions make it necessary to encourage loud noises such as screaming, growling, or banging, which can be quite upsetting for other patients or visitors. Adequate provision should be made for such situations so that the therapist and the patients do not feel constrained or restricted by external concerns and can follow fully the dynamics of

, the process. If the unit is not in a small separate building but part of a larger complex, adequate acoustic insulation might be necessary.

The treatment room should be homelike, comfortably furnished and tastefully decorated. Soft padding and cushions are preferable to sharp edges and hard metallic surfaces. This not only gives the patient a sense of comfort and protection, but can become an important safety factor in more animated episodes in sessions that involve physical movement or psychodramatically enacted struggle. Freshly cut or potted flowers, a bowl of assorted fresh and dried fruits and nuts, a collection of inspiring pictures and art books, and various natural objects of great beauty such as shells and stones, have become over the years a standard and integral part of our treatment setting. Music is an essential part of psychedelic therapy, and a high fidelity stereo record player and tape deck, several sets of headphones, and an extensive collection of tapes and records of good quality should always be available.

If possible, the treatment facility should be situated in a beautiful natural setting. Although this is of little relevance in the first four to five hours which the patient spends with the eyeshades and headphones on, it becomes important during the termination period of the session. The psychedelic experience tends to bring the subject into intimate contact with nature and dramatically enhances his or her sensory perception of the world, and an encounter with nature at its best can become an aesthetic and spiritual experience of lasting value. It not only contributes considerably to a good integration of the session, but connects the positive energies and emotions to elements of the everyday world. Water deserves special notice; during the session it assumes an almost magical significance for many LSD subjects and has extraordinary capacity to facilitate a positive outcome of the session. A swim in the ocean, a clear lake, or a stream can work wonders in the termination period of LSD sessions. Under more modest circumstances, the use of a swimming pool or bathtub, or a good shower will serve a similar purpose.

It is preferable to start LSD sessions in the morning; if the drug is taken in the afternoon, the experience can continue until late in the evening and the subject might find it difficult to sleep that night. The optimal dosage of LSD seems to be somewhere between 200 and 400 micrograms for most patients. It is determined primarily by the nature of the psychological problems involved, the personality structure of the subject, and certain physical concerns such as age and general health. Body weight seems to play a relatively minor role; the sensitivity or resistance toward the drug appears to be primarily a function of the system of psychological defenses. We mentioned earlier that patients with severe obsessive-compulsive neuroses seem to represent an extreme of resistance, while persons with a hysterical personality structure or symptomatology are at the other end of the spectrum. There seems to be a saturation point for LSD somewhere around four or five hundred micrograms; increase of the dose beyond this point does not seem to produce much additional effect. It is generally more useful to identify the specific mechanisms of resistance and try to influence them psychologically than to use heroic dosages in an effort to "break down the defenses."

LSD is fully effective orally in most individuals and administration by injection is of little practical value. The slight shortening of the latency period that this gives is usually not worth the inconvenience of the injection technique and the introduction of a powerful element of the traditional medical model into the setting. Intramuscular administration is occasionally useful for patients whose clinical problems involve a predisposition to nausea and vomiting. In the case of vomiting early in the session, an uncertainty might arise as to the actual amount of LSD that was resorbed. For similar reasons, LSD was administered by injection to some canccr patients where there was concern about the degree of resorption because the gastrointestinal system was afflicted by the disease.

In general, fasting for a day or two before the LSD session seems to have some advantages. It tends to potentiate the effect of LSD, make the subject more open to unusual states of consciousness, and reduce the incidence of unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms in the session, particularly nausea and vomiting. A compromise solution should be used almost routinely if the subject has not fasted; we usually recommend a light dinner 011 the night immediately preceding the session and only liquids (milk, fruit juice, or tea) for breakfast. This tends to shorten the resorption time and reduce the incidence of nausea.

The subject should have light, casual and comfortable clothes; any restricting garments or potentially dangerous personal belongings should be removed from the body. If this is not done before the session the patient might ask for it later in the experience, or it may become necessary in view of certain special situations. It is thus easier to eliminate beforehand bras, belts, tight pants, watches, pieces of jewelry, artificial dentures, glasses, contact lenses, keys, pocket knives, and similar objects.

LSD should be administered without much delay, after a brief focusing on the "here-and-now." Many patients show a high level of excitement, apprehension, or anxiety, and as a result lose a few hours of sleep before the session. This is quite common before the first psychedelic experience, but is not exceptional even for experienced LSD subjects. It is useful to discuss briefly the physical and emotional conditions and give time for last-minute questions that might be the product of a sleepless night. However, much delay tends to increase the anxiety instead of reducing it. Facing the drug state once it sets in is usually easier than dealing with all the fantasies as to what the experience will be like.

After the administration of LSD there is a latency period of about twenty to forty minutes before the drug takes effect. Its duration depends on the route of administration, the amount of food in the stomach if the drug is ingested, and the level of psychological defenses. The time before the onset of the drug effect can be spent in meditation, listening to quiet music, looking at pictures, or in relaxing discussions. Sometimes it is interesting to leaf through the family album or look at pictures of close family members if one wants to use the experience for a deeper insight into and work on relationships with close relatives.

As the patient begins to feel the effect of the drug, he or she is encouraged to lie down on the couch and put on eyeshades. This helps the individual to focus on the inner world that is beginning to unfold and prevents distraction and interference from the outside. From then on the reclining position is generally encouraged for the next four or five hours, and the experience is almost fully internalized. The subject receives stereophonic headphones and listens to specially selected music; the objective is to let go and surrender to the experience. The task of the sitters is to give support and protection to the subjects, take care of their various psychological and physiological needs, facilitate the full unfolding of the experience, and deal with various forms of resistance as they occur during the session.

In general, excessive talking should be discouraged during the period of intense drug effect; this is particularly true for the compulsive, incessant talking and intellectual analyzing that is usually a manifestation of resistance and interferes seriously with the experience. Long explanations and interpretations offered by the therapist, or involved discussions, are also usually counterproductive. The psychedelic experiences in high-dose sessions usually have many levels and facets; their rapid unfolding and change make comprehensive reporting impossible. In addition, the ability to articulate and communicate verbally is frequently impaired by the influence of the drug.

Verbal exchange between the therapists and the client, although very useful during the preparation, in the termination period of the sessions, and on the following days, should be kept at an absolute minimum during the culminating hours of the drug session. The subject is occasionally asked to give a brief report limited to a few sentences to provide clues for the sitters. An experienced sitter can usually get a sufficient understanding of the nature of the subject's psychedelic state on the basis of external behavior and sporadic verbal communications. This is particularly true if the sitter can draw on his or her own experiences of a similar kind. Thus, general tension, an aggressive facial expression, clawing or clenching of the hands, and occasional primitive sounds, together with statements like: "All this incredible butchery" or "I have been in all the wars since the beginning of the world" give sufficient information to the sitter. Similarly, a statement such as "I cannot differentiate boundaries anymore; all seems to be coming together, flowing into One" from a relaxed, ecstatic subject does not require any further explanation. Sensual movements of the body with an intense involvement of the pelvic area and occasional utterances about love-making, sex, or orgies convey enough content. Any further narratives and descriptions serve the needs of the sitters rather than the experient. Memories of the session are usually quite adequate and discussions and analyses can be postponed to a later time. The only exception is a situation of strong resistance where the sitter needs to have exact information to help the experient through the impasse.

If the client is not giving any feedback, the therapist should interrupt briefly every half-hour or so; the purpose of this "checking-in" is to re-establish contact, obtain some clues about the process, and give reassurance if necessary. One of the reasons the sitters should know the nature of the subject's experience is that music for the session should be chosen with sensitivity to match the psychological state of the experient. Apart from this, mostly non-specific support should be given through non-verbal channels. This can involve hand-holding, reassuring touches, cradling, or various forms of psychodramatic involvement in the experience. It might prove helpful at times to provide resistance for a client who needs to struggle or push, to emphasize certain physical feelings by pressure or massage, or to use some other maneuvers of a similar kind. This becomes more common as the session is approaching the termination period. Early in the experience physical interventions require great sensitivity and good rapport. It is important to maintain a trusting relationship, a sense of cooperation, and a general framework of a play. However, the "as if" atmosphere of synergistic play can be easily lost in the intensity of the experience and the therapist might risk being perceived as an attacker rather than as a helper. Unless the sitters have intuitive certainty about the quality of the relationship, these maneuvers should not be used in the early stages of the session. Another important aspect of the therapeutic interaction is sensitive response to the client's needs—offering a blanket when he or she appears to be cold, wiping the sweat off the brow, cleaning mucus or saliva from the face, wetting the lips when they are dry, or bringing a glass of water.

All that has been said above applies to psyehedclic sessions which have an uncomplicated and relatively smooth coursc. In such sessions, the client is able to maintain the reclining position, stays with the eyeshades and headphones on, keeps the experience internalized, and is capable of handling the emerging unconscious material adequately. In the best sessions of this kind, there is very little for the sitters to do; they listen to music, meditate, and try to tune empathically into the client's experience. A very different situation occurs when the subject is not able to tolerate the experiences and refuses to "go with it."

Minor examples of this are various evasive maneuvers, such as a tendency to take off the eyeshades and sit up, have a cup of coffee or a cigarette, chat about trivial things, pace around, or go for a walk. A more dramatic manifestation of resistance is projection of the emerging material onto the sitters and the treatment situation. The client wants to look at the sitters, get involved in intellectual arguments, discuss their life situation or their problems, or criticize the rules and circumstances of the session. Extreme complications involve a total loss of awareness of the symbolic nature of the experience and confusing it with reality. These usually occur in connection with the experience of dying, fear of insanity, or homosexual panic. The patient may experience acute mistrust and want to escape the situation and the room, confusing the internal danger with the external situation.

When the client cannot maintain the recommended position, starts perceiving and interpreting the situation in a grossly distorted way, or shows a tendency for acting-out behavior, the sitters must move from their passive stance to active intervention. A less urgent indication for therapeutic action is a situation in which the patient stays in the eyeshades and headphones but tends to project his or her feelings on the sitters, rather than tracing them back to their origins. The basic strategy and techniques for dealing with various difficult situations in psychedelic sessions will be discussed later in a special section, (pp. 166-85)

An atmosphere of security, privacy, and full committment is absolutely necessary for a successful psychedelic session. Sitters who answer telephone calls during the sessions, permit people to knock on the door, or leave the treatment room to carry out various parallel activities can hardly expect smooth, fully productive and successful sessions. A single major distraction or unpredictable withdrawal of support at a critical time in the session can become a long-term obstacle in treatment. The patient can lose trust in the unconditional arid constant support of the therapist and never again dare to abandon control and face certain difficult aspects of his or her unconscious.

Ideally, the patient should be attended during the entire time of the drug action by two sitters, a male-female therapeutic dyad, who never leave the treatment unit. The sitters should know each other well, get along with each other, and be used to working together. There are several reasons for having therapists of both sexes in the sessions. There are certain activities which are much more natural for men than for women, and vice versa. By and large, women seem to be more appropriate for comforting, cradling, and physical support, unless the nature of the experience calls specifically for a male figure. This is true for situations in which the subject is dealing with the psychological impact of the absence of his or her father in childhood, or feels a need to express affection in relation to a father-figure.

Conversely, psychodramatic enactment of struggle might require physical strength and be better suited to a male therapist, unless the content of the experience calls specifically for a female. It is also quite common that various problems related to the Oedipal triangle in the client's childhood first become manifest as projective distortions of the relationship with the therapeutic dyad. There are also certain transpersonal experiences, such as archetypal constellations and past-incarnation memories, for which the presence of both sexes is important or facilitating. Thus representation of both the male and the female element is useful not only in terms of division of tasks, but also as specific facilitation of certain experiences and for evocative projection screens. Although deep involvement in projections is generally counterproductive and should be discouraged, the projective distortions can become an extremely powerful source of insight if approached by the subject in a constructive way.

Sincelmusic is such an important and integral part of LSD psychotherapy, we will briefly discuss its role, the basic principles of selecting appropriate pieces, and the specific way in which these are used in the sessions. Music seems to serve several important functions in the context of psychedelic therapy. It tends to evoke a variety of powerful emotions and facilitates deeper involvement in the psychedelic process. It provides a meaningful structure for the experience and creates a continuous carrier wave that helps patients to overcome difficult parts of the sessions and move through impasses. LSD subjects frequently report that the flow of music helps them to let go of their psychological defenses and surrender fully to the experience. Another function of music is to provide a sense of continuity and connection in the course of various unusual states of consciousness. It is quite common that clients have difficulties with the periods when the music stops and the records or tapes are being changed; they complain that they feel suspended in midair, and sense a painful gap in the experience. An additional function of the music deals more specifically with its content; it is often possible to facilitate the emergence of a certain emotional quality such as aggression, sexual feelings, "psychedelic breakthrough," or a transcendental experience, by a specific choice of music. The significance of music for the positive structuring of the reentry period has already been described.

As far as the choice of music is concerned, I will outline only the general principles and give a few suggestions based on my own experiences.2 Each therapeutic team develops after a certain time, a list of its favorite pieces for various phases of LSD sessions and for certain specific situations. The basic rule is to respond sensitively to the phase, intensity and content of the experience, rather than to try to impose a specific pattern on it. Preference should be given to music of high artistic quality, but little concrete content. One should avoid playing songs and other vocal pieces in which the verbal content suggests a specific theme. Where used, vocal compositions should involve a language unknown to the ex-perient so that the human voice becomes an unspecific stimulus. For the same reason, it is preferable to avoid pieces with which clients have specific intellectual associations. Thus, the beginning of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in C minor is usually associated with the imminence of a fateful event (Symphony of Destiny); the use of the wedding marches from Wagner's Lohengrin or Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream suggest a nuptial atmosphere; and Bizet's Carmen would evoke through a similar mechanism the theme of a bull-fight. In Czech subjects, Liszt's Les Préludes tends to bring memories of the war, because it was used by Nazi propagandists as an introduction to the daily news broadcasted on street loudspeakers.

The major objection to the use of music in psychedelic sessions is that even if vvc avoid the gross programming illustrated by the above examples, we will exert a strong structuring effect on the experience by our choice of music. This seems to be in sharp contrast with the tendency to internalize the sessions and eliminate specific optical stimuli by the use of eyeshades, and there is a certain element of truth in this objection. The ideal solution seems to be to play a tape of "white noise"—a sequence of random acoustic patterns produced by a sound generator. Listening to intense white noise through headphones, LSD subjects usually create their own inner music which seems to fit the nature and content of the experience perfectly, since it is coming from the same source. Thus, only non-specific acoustic stimulation is provided, which is then illusively transformed by the subject into music. Monotonous sounds, noises coming from various electric appliances, or recordings of the ocean tide can play a similar role.

However, the danger of programming associated with specific music is not as serious as it might seem. The potential for manipulating and controlling the experience is rather limited. If the subject is in an extremely difficult emotional place, any music, no matter how inspired and ethereal, will be distorted and may sound like a dirge. Conversely, during a deep positive experience just about any music will be enthusiastically accepted by the subject, who will find it fitting and interesting from some point of view. Only in the medium range somewhere between these two extremes can music effectively shape the experience. Even then, although a certain general atmosphere or emotional tone will be suggested from the outside, the subject will elaborate it very specifically. The resultant sequences will still be manifestations of the individual's own unconscious, reflect the content of his or lier memory banks, and represent a meaningful self-revealing gestalt. Moreover, the external input does not seem to reduce the therapeutic significance of the psychedelic experience that it triggers or modifies.

It is useful to discuss the subject's taste in music before the session and get an idea of his or her preferences, idiosyncrasies, and general level of musical sophistication. However, the actual selection usually reflects more the sitters' understanding of the process than the experient's choice. Only the late hours of the session, when no more therapeutic work has to be done, are an exception; this is a period of relaxation and the subject is given the opportunity to determine the nature of the entertainment. In general, the music chosen reflects the usual experiential trajectory of the psychedelic sessions. In the latency period, before the onset of the drug effect, quiet, flowing and calming music seems appropriate. This changes after the experience begins into music which has an opening-up and building-up quality. Within about an hour and a half, the patient is fully under the influence of the drug; this is the time for powerful and emotionally highly-evocative music. If we are choosing from the Occidental repertoire, good classical music, such as less well-known symphonies, concertos, or overtures of famous masters would be appropriate. Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Edvard Grieg, Ludwig van Beethoven, Hector Berlioz, Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Antoin Dvorak and especially Alexander Nikolaevich Scriabin are examples of composers whose music was frequently used by the Spring Grove therapists in this phase. In the fourth hour the LSD session tends to culminate, and in most instances seems to build up to a resolution. This is an opportunity for a major emotional or spiritual breakthrough, depending on the level on which the session is experienced. It seems appropriate at this point to introduce powerful, overwhelming music with a transcendental quality; oratoria, requiems, and masses, combining a full orchestra with a multitude of human voices, can be extremely evocative and effective. Sacred music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, Hector Berlioz, Giuseppe Verdi, Charles Gounod, or Francis Poulenc would be typical examples of this category. The music of the American composer of Armenian-Scottish extraction, Alan Hovhanness, can be unusually powerful and effective in this context. It is extremely evocative and transcendental, yet not sufficiently well-known to produce standard associations. For the termination period of the session quiet, relaxing, and flowing music with a timeless quality is chosen, such as the classical guitar, compositions for harp, and certain pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach or Antonio Vivaldi. Many records of contemporary composers such as Georg .Deuter, Steve Halpern, Paul Horn and Paul Winter are also useful in this context. Oriental selections would include records of Ravi Shankar, music for Zen meditation, Japanese music for the bamboo flute, or Polynesian songs.

The above directives represent a very general outline; in practice the choice of music will depend on the LSD subject and on the circumstances. The sitters should respond very sensitively to the specific content of the sessions, providing Russian, Middle Eastern, Indian, African, Chinese, or other music if the subject reports experiences in those cultural contexts. Specific pieces of music might also be selected to deepen an experience of aggression, sexuality, physical and emotional pain, or transcendental feelings.

Over the years I became particularly impressed by the profound impact of ethnic music, especially those sound performances from certain religious traditions which were specifically designed as techniques for altering consciousness. Some of these are so unusual for an average Westerner that they should be used only with sophisticated individuals familiar with these traditions. Among the most powerful recordings in this category are the multivocal chanting of the Tantric Buddhist tradition in Tibet; the Hindu kirtans; the monkey chant, or ketjak, and other trance-inducing music from Bali; shamanic music from various parts of Asia, North America and South America; the hocketing of the Congolese Pygmies; trance music of the |Kung! Bushmen of the Kalahari desert; and chants from the Sufi ceremonies. Similarly, Greek sirtak dances, flute music from the Andes, recordings of the African oud, songs of the Bauls of Bengal, Armenian liturgical chants, Spanish flamenco guitar music, and other interesting ethnic pieces are useful for psychedelic sessions.

If the subject can stay with the experience, the therapist's task is to change records with sensitivity to the process, give support, protection, and encouragement, and take care of the patient's basic needs. The time when the pharmacological effect of the drug is wearing off—usually the sixth hour after ingestion—is the most critical period of the session. This is the time for the sitters to move into an active mode and try to facilitate a good resolution and integration of the experience. The emotional and psychosomatic condition of the subjects at the time the session terminates is of crucial importance to the final outcome of the session and the longer lasting effects. Even if the LSD subjects had deep transcendental experiences earlier in the session, they can have negative aftereffects if, during the reentry, they get "stuck" in some unresolved psychodynamic material. Conversely, a very difficult session with paranoid states and hellish experiences can be extremely therapeutic if it is well resolved. Two ways in which the sitters can facilitate the resolution and increase the probability of a good outcome of the session are by helping the subject to work through the unresolved material, and by introducing into the situation certain elements that are conducive to positive emotional states.

At the time when the effect of the drug is decreasing it is important to engage in verbal exchange with the subject, to get detailed feedback on his or her emotional and psychosomatic condition. If at this time he or she is experiencing discomfort, such as depression, anxiety, blocked aggression, feelings of guilt, circular thinking, headaches, nausea, muscular pains, intestinal cramps, or difficulties in breathing, this is the time to suggest active intervention. The possibility of this happening should have been discussed during the preparation period. The first step is to find out exactly what type of experience is involved; whether it is an unfinished reliving of a childhood memory, a perinatal sequence, a past-incarnation theme, or some other type of transpersonal phenomenon. It is also important to encourage the subject to scan his or her body for signs of physical pain, tension, or other forms of distress indicating energy blockage. There is, in general, no emotional distress or disturbing and incomplete psychological gestalt that does not show specific somatic manifestations. These concomitant psychosomatic symptoms then become the entry points for the sitters' intervention.

The sitters ask the experient to remain in the reclining position with eyes closed or covered by eyeshades. The instruction is to stop intellectual analysis ("turn off the head") and start intense hyperventilation. The breathing should be faster than usual and very de£p; the experient should follow the air in his or her mind's eye all the way down into the pelvis. This hyperventilation tends to activate any available emotional material. The sitters ask the subject to pay attention to his or her body and surrender fully to the experience that starts unfolding—to allow any postures, movements, grimaces, sounds, shaking, crying, coughing, or gagging. At a certain point, the sitters enter the picture and, after having reached agreement on their roles, they start artificially increasing the physical feelings described earlier by the subject. For example, if there is pressure on the head or a headache, one of the sitters produces more of the same kind of pressure by laying hands on the subject's head. If the complaint is constriction of the chest or difficulties with breathing, more pressure is applied on the rib cage or under the clavicles. Nausea can be activated by rhythmic stimulation of the upper abdomen, combined with massage of the stomach; muscular pains enhanced by deep pressures approaching rolfing, and tension in the pelvic area intensified by holding the loins in an elevated position. All this has to be done in synchrony with the breathing rhythm and in tune with the general theme of the experience. The sit ters have to use their imagination and intuition to enact the content of the unfinished gestalt in the most realistic way. Although this technique was developed in the context of LSD work, I have since used it with great success in experiential workshops where the drug was not administered.

The basic concept underlying this approach is that the subject's conscious emotional and physical distress is a mitigated version of the actual content of the unconscious matrix that is trying to emerge. The resolution of that matrix occurs when the unconscious content is experienced consciously in its original form and full intensity. By intensifying the existing sensations one thus facilitates the convergence of the conscious experience and the emerging unconscious gestalt, to the point that they become identical and merge. In this way the unconscious theme is energetically reduced and ceases to exist as a symptom-producing dynamic structure; this is followed by sudden relief and a feeling of completion. Although it is not always possible to reach optimal resolution and a tension-free, "oceanic" state, the sitters should work toward this goal.

The above technique seems to be a most powerful way of reaching positive closure and good integration of an LSD session. As will be described later, it is fully compatible with other approaches of experiential psychotherapy and can be combined with them. An eclectic therapist can use techniques of gestalt practice, bioenergetic exercises, rolfing, guided affective imagery, asanas from Hatha yoga, elements of primal scream, and many other methods to great advantage. If the sessions are conducted in the context of a therapeutic community, other group members can be introduced into the process during the termination period to assist the experient in working through the residual problems. They can facilitate the experience by enacting a simulated struggle in the birth canal, offering comforting physical support, working with the subject in a warm pool, or creating a transper-sonal field by group chanting.

When it becomes obvious that the available pent-up energy has been released and further uncovering work would require maneuvers that were too forceful, the sitters offer positive inputs to facilitate integration. Physical contact, individually or in a group, can induce nourishing feelings of comfort and security. A walk in nature, with its variety of sensory experiences, seems to be conducive to positive or even ecstatic emotional states. Looking at flowers or trees, sitting in the grass, smelling hay, or watching the sunset can be powerful experiences long to be remembered. It was already mentioned that exposure to water in the form of a ; swim, bath or shower seems to be of special significance. LSD subjects frequently | experience contact with water at this stage as being not only physically cleansing, ' but also emotionally and spiritually purifying. It can bring them into touch with memories of infant bathing, prenatal existence, or early phylogenetic stages, and can induce a state of blissful merging and undifferentiated unity.

When all major residual problems have been worked through, it is time for socializing. At this point the sitters invite into the treatment room, with the previous agreement of the patient, friends or relatives who have been waiting outside. Depending on the circumstances this may be just one person, such as the spouse, a sexual partner or good friend, or a group of family members and friends. All participants in this "reunion" are asked to respond to the needs of the experient and respect his or her special state of mind. It is up to the subject whether this meeting will take the form of a quiet meditation and wordless get-together, or a jovial social event. New channels of straight and honest communication can often be opened in this situation.

In our arrangement, a special "psychedelic dinner" was usually prepared by relatives or friends. It consisted of a variety of meals, snacks and fruits of interesting colors, tastes, and textures. Mandarin, Indonesian, Indian and Japanese dishes became particularly popular in this context. After well-resolved psychedclic experiences most subjects love to experiment with food, and discover that eating can be an adventure involving qualities and dimensions they had never imagined. However, it may happen that the individual feels nauseated or does not show interest in food. This is accepted with understanding and no pressure is put on him or her to participate in the prepared meal. The instruction given to the participants in the "reunion" is to respect the psychological space of the experient. This approach is in essential congruence with the basic orientation of the entire session day. The subject should feel free to do what he or she wants to do or has to do, and see the sitters and later the friends and relatives as helpers or assistants. "This is your day" is the implicit and explicit message given to the subject before the session and reinforced or repeated in various ways during the day. The issue of a reunion is an important one and should be approached with great sensitivity. It should not be done routinely, but always with respect to the specific circumstances. In some instances, it might be wiser and more appropriate not to invite the relatives, or even to cancel previous arrangements if the general condition or special emotional state of the subject seems to indicate it.

On the night following the session the subject should stay in the special treatment suite. Unless the circumstances or the condition of the client do not allow it or make it inadvisable, the spouse, close relative or good friend should spend the night with the subject. A nurse and at least one of the sitters should be on call in case any difficulties arise. On occasion, especially after poorly resolved sessions, a belated upsurge of intense emotions might occur in the hypnagogic period, later at night, or in the morning during the hypnopompic state.

If the session started in the morning there are generally no problems with sleep: this is particularly true if the experience was well resolved and integrated and the termination period was positive. After sessions that had a late start, or where the subject did not complete the emerging emotional and psychosomatic gestalt, sleep may not be easy. Generally, it is better not to use hypnotics and tranquillizers at this time, since they also inhibit the process of natural integration of the unconscious material. Even if the subject loses a few hours of sleep, the completion is usually cleaner and the long-term results better without these. If too much excitement interferes with a good night's sleep and this becomes a strong emotional issue for the subject, Librium, Valium, or a barbiturate might be appropriate.

The basic rule is that the subject should not be left alone for twenty-four hours after the ingestion of LSD. During the evening and the night it is recommended that he or she maintains a quiet meditative mood and does not embark on solving heavy interpersonal problems. If the companion for the night is a sexual partner, the suggestion is to spend the time in quiet non-verbal communication. Talking and sexual interaction should not be enforced by the partner and should reflect the inclinations of the subject.

Continue reading here: Integration Of The Drug Experiences

Was this article helpful?

0 0