If interested in learning more about LSD and Psychedelics, I recommend reading several books.
Each book focuses on a different topic related to psychedelic use: several are about the history of LSD and other psychedelics, a few concern the practical applications of LSD, and one is even about how humans evolved because of their propensity to consume sub-perceptual doses of psychedelics.
Here is my short list:
1. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide by James Fadiman
“Called ‘America’s wisest and most respected authority on psychedelics and their use,’ James Fadiman has been involved with psychedelic research since the 1960s. In this guide to the immediate and long-term effects of psychedelic use for spiritual (high dose), therapeutic (moderate dose), and problem-solving (low dose) purposes, Fadiman outlines best practices for safe, sacred entheogenic voyages learned through his more than 40 years of experience–from the benefits of having a sensitive guide during a session (and how to be one) to the importance of the setting and pre-session intention. “
2. LSD: My Problem Child by Albert Hofmann
“This is the story of LSD told by a concerned yet hopeful father, organic chemist Albert Hofmann. He traces LSD’s path from a promising psychiatric research medicine to a recreational drug sparking hysteria and prohibition. We follow Dr. Hofmann’s trek across Mexico to discover sacred plants related to LSD, and listen in as he corresponds with other notable figures about his remarkable discovery. Underlying it all is Dr. Hofmann’s powerful conclusion that mystical experience may be our planet’s best hope for survival. Whether induced by LSD, meditation, or arising spontaneously, such experiences help us to comprehend;the wonder, the mystery of the divine in the microcosm of the atom, in the macrocosm of the spiral nebula, in the seeds of plants, in the body and soul of people. More than sixty years after the birth of Albert Hofmann’s problem child, his vision of its true potential is more relevant, and more needed, than ever.”
3. Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain
“Few events have had a more profound impact on the social and cultural upheavals of the Sixties than the psychedelic revolution spawned by the spread of LSD. This book for the first time tells the full and astounding story—part of it hidden till now in secret Government files—of the role the mind-altering drug played in our recent turbulent history and the continuing influence it has on our time.
And what a story it is, beginning with LSD’s discovery in 1943 as the most potent drug known to science until it spilled into public view some twenty years later to set the stage for one of the great ideological wars of the decade. In the intervening years the CIA had launched a massive covert research program in the hope that LSD would serve as an espionage weapon, psychiatric pioneers came to believe that acid would shed light on the perplexing problems of mental illness, and a new generation of writers and artists had given birth to the LSD sub-culture.
Acid Dreams is a complete social history of the psychedelic counter-culture that burst into full view in the Sixties. With new information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the authors reveal how the CIA became obsessed with LSD during the Cold War, fearing the Soviets had designs on it as well. What follows is one of the more bizarre episodes in the covert history of U.S. intelligence as the search for a “truth drug” began to resemble a James Bond scenario in which agents spied on drug-addicted prostitutes through two-way mirrors and countless unwitting citizens received acid with sometimes tragic results.”
4. Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story by Alexander Shulgin
“This courageous and compelling book…provides a marvelous glimpse of altered states of consciousness and a unique opportunity to become acquainted with two exceptional lovers and fearless psychonauts. If phenethylamines become as important in the future as I believe they will, this book will be seen as a treasure trove of historic importance.”‘
– Lester Grinspoon, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard University
5. Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge by Terence McKenna
An exploration of humans’ symbiotic relationships with plants and chemicals presents information on prehistoric partnership societies, the roles of spices and spirits in the rise of dominator societies; and the politics of tobacco, tea, coffee, opium, and alcohol.
6. The Doors of Perception: Heaven And Hell by Aldous Huxley
In 1952 Aldous Huxley became involved in the now legendary experiment to clinically detail the physiological and psycho-logical effects of the little known drug used by Mexican and Native American elders in religious practices. The drug was Peyote-now commonly know as mescalin. By the standards of the time, Huxley was a hard working, respected, and reserved intellectual from a highly intelligent, well-know, and eccentric British family. By any standards, the results of the experiment were remarkable. The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell detail the practic-alities of the experiment and give Huxley’s vivid account of his im-mediate experience and the more prolonged effect upon his sub-sequent thinking and awareness. At first, the reader is drawn in by the sheer naivety and tom-foolery of the proposal but is soon caught in a finely woven net by the juxtaposition of Huxley’s formidable intellect, his remarkable ability to convey the experience in such acute and truthful detail, and his incredible modesty. In 1922 Gertrude Stein famously wrote – A rose is a rose is a rose. In proving her right, Huxley also shows the deeper meaning be-hind the apparently simple verse and goes on to deliver such spec-tacular accounts of the most everyday objects that the reason for their repeated and continual renderings by all the major artists throughout history suddenly becomes quite clear. For the con-scious and willing reader – a trip to the Guggenheim, the Louvre or the Tate Modern will never be the same again.
7. The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin
This book is the story of three brilliant scholars and one ambitious undergraduate who crossed paths at Harvard University in the winter of 1960-61, and how their experiences in a psychedelic drug research project transformed their lives and much of American culture in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s about the intersecting life stories of Timothy Leary, a research psychologist and proponent of enlightenment through LSD; Huston Smith, an MIT philosophy professor and widely read expert on the world’s religions; Richard Alpert, a Harvard psychology professor who traveled to India and returned as Ram Dass; and Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard Medical School graduate who became the nation’s best-known proponent of holistic health and natural foods.
Stanislav Grof’s first 17 years of research into nonordinary states of consciousness induced by LSD and other psychedelics led to a revolutionary understanding of the human psyche. His research was the impetus behind a vastly expanded cartography of the unconscious, including two new realms still unacknowledged by official academic circles–the perinatal domain, which holds memories of the various stages of birth, and the transpersonal domain, which mediates experiential identification with other species and mythic figures, visits to archetypal realms, access to past life memories, and union with the cosmic creative principle.
The research presented in this book provides a map of the psyche that is essential for understanding such phenomena as shamanism and near death experiences as well as other nonordinary states of consciousness. This map has led to the development of important new therapies in psychiatry and psychology for treating mental conditions often seen as disease and therefore suppressed by medication. It also provides a new threshold to understanding and entering the numinous realm of spirit.
9. The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary
he Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead (commonly referred to as The Psychedelic Experience) is an instruction manual intended for use during sessions involving psychedelic drugs. Started as early as 1962 in Zihuatanejo, the book was finally published in August 1964. This version of Tibetan Book of the Dead was authored by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert, all of whom took part in experiments investigating the therapeutic and religious possibilities of drugs such as mescaline, psilocybin and LSD. The book now in kindle edition is dedicated to Aldous Huxley and includes a short introductory citation from Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception. Part of this text was used by the Beatles in the song Tomorrow Never Knows.
“Tom Wolfe’s much-discussed kaleidoscopic non-fiction novel chronicles the tale of novelist Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters. In the 1960s, Kesey led a group of psychedelic sympathizers around the country in a painted bus, presiding over LSD-induced “acid tests” all along the way. Long considered one of the greatest books about the history of the hippies, Wolfe’s ability to research like a reporter and simultaneously evoke the hallucinogenic indulgence of the era ensures that this book, written in 1967, will live long in the counter-culture canon of American literature.” (from Goodreads.com)
Besides the first essay by Sam Harris, every one of my listed recommended essays comes from The Psychedelic Library.
So why bother listing them here?
Well, think of this listing as a collection of the best available essays on LSD and all experiences tied to the psychedelic experience. Essentially, I’ve curated the best essays for you to save you time digging through the extensive resources on the Psychedelic Library.
- Drugs and the Meaning of Life by Sam Harris
- Opening the Doors of Perception by James Fadiman
- Culture and the Individual by Aldous Huxley
- The Acid Queen by Robert Hunter
- Can Drugs be Used to Enhance the Psychotherapeutic Process?
- LSD Psychotherapy and Addictions by Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax
- The Creative Process and the Psychedelic Experience by Frank Barron
- Psychedelics and Self-Actualization by Roger Walsh
- Using Psychedelics Wisely by Myron J. Stolaroff
- Why LSD Should be Legalized by E.J. Mishan
The podcasts listed below are the only podcasts I know about concerning psychedelic use. If you know of any more, please leave a comment below.
This podcast is from Tim Ferriss. He sat down with James Fadiman, author of the Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, to discuss the risks of psychedelics, microdosing, and psychedelic therapy.
Another podcast from Tim Ferriss concerning psychedelics but with a focus on medical psychotherapy.
This podcast is from Joe Rogan. He interviews and talks with Rick Doblin, the man who founded MAPS, an organization pushing for the regulated legalization of psychedelics.
- Psychedelics Could Trigger a ‘Paradigm Shift’ in Mental Health Care
- The Most Convincing Argument for Legalizing LSD, Psilocybin, and other Psychedelics
- Benefits of Microdosing with LSD and Psilocybin Mushrooms
- Erowid – The best known online resource for information related to any type of drug. Erowid has a section for LSD with a plethora of resources.
- Reset.me – According to its Google description, “Reset.me provides journalism on natural therapies and medicines to enhance the mind, body, and spirit. Reset strives to spread more love around the world.” There are a number of articles on LSD, and even more in general psychedelics.
- The Psychedelic Library – Although the formatting sucks, this website is the most comprehensive resource for written material about psychedelics. Much of the content focuses on LSD, but there are also sections on mescaline, psylocibin, and ayahuasca.
Movies and Documentaries
- Inside LSD – This documentary by National Geographic Explorer takes the viewer on a historic tour of LSD.