Supplementary Lecture Notes: Chapter 7: Psychedelics
й 2013-18 Imants BaruЪs
Note about these "Supplementary Lecture Notes"
Please note that these "Supplementary Lecture Notes" consist of an Outline and a summary of some of the material covered in class that is not in the textbook. The textbook is actually the "lecture notes" (that got published). So, except for the outlines, which are usually just a list of the sections from each chapter in the book, these supplementary lecture notes cover only supplementary material that is not in the textbook.
The invention of LSD
Some technical information about psychedelics
Long term effects of psychedelics
The Good Friday experiment
The charts shown in class about the harmfulness of drugs can be found in the following articles:
Nutt, D., King, L. A., Saulsbury, W., & Blakemore, C. (2007). Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse. The Lancet, 369(9566), 1047Ц1053.
Nutt, D. J., King, L. A., & Phillips, L. D. (2010). Drug harms in the UK: A multicriteria decision analysis. The Lancet, 376(9752), 1558-1565.
You can access these articles either directly by going to The Lancet website http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(07)60464-4/fulltext and filling in the registration or, if you don't want to register for The Lancet, you can access them online through the UWO library. Or, for those of you who want the tactile experience of handling a real book, you can go to the Taylor stacks and read the paper version with call number W1.LA453.
As a way of thinking about the acute physiological effects of drugs, I defined the therapeutic index of a drug as the ratio of the lethal dose to the effective dose where the lethal dose is defined as the minimum dose that will kill 50% of the population and the effective dose is the minimum dose that will produce the intended drug effect for 50% of the population (cf. Grilly, 2006). So, for instance, alcohol has a therapeutic index of approximately 6, which makes it a dangerous drug (Levinthal, 2005, p. 216).
Psychedelic drugs can be classed into two categories based on their chemical structure: Indole derivatives and phenylalkylamines. Indole derivatives, which resemble serotonin, include LSD, psilocybin, DMT, beta-carbolines, and bufotenine (found in the sweat glands of some toads; Grilly, 2006). Phenylalkylamines include mescaline and MDMA (Grinspoon & Bakalar, 1979; Grilly, 2006).
Therapeutic Uses of Psychedelics
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit has been giving patients psilocybin on an experimental basis in an effort to counteract "existential terror" that leaves people in a "spiritual deficit state" (p. 65). From functional MRI data it appears that psilocybin reduces activity of the "brain's default mode network" thereby diminishing preoccupation with the self. Erica Rex, a participant in the study, has said that "I have come to realize the universe consists of more than what readily meets the eye. An abiding sense of the inexplicable vastness of what is real and what is possible has affected my worldview. I no longer define myself by what has happened to my body, or even my emotional life, since my cancer diagnosis" (Rex, 2013, p. 66).
Grilly, D. M. (2006).
Drugs and human behavior (5th ed.). Boston:
Allyn & Bacon.
Grinspoon, L, & Bakalar, J. B. (1979). Psychedelic drugs reconsidered. New York: Basic Books.
Levinthal, C. F. (2005). Drugs, behavior, and modern society (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Nutt, D., King, L. A., Saulsbury, W., Blakemore, C. (2007). Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse. The Lancet, 369(9566), 1047-1053.
Nutt, D. J., King, L. A., Phillips, L. D. (2010). Drug harms in the UK: A multicriteria decision analysis. The Lancet, 376(9752), 1558-1565.
Rex, E. (2013, May/June) Calming a turbulent mind. Scientific American Mind, pp. 59-66.
Shanon, B. (2002). The antipodes of the mind: Charting the phenomenology of the ayahuasca experience. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.