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what enhancements we consider unacceptable and A brief overview of psychedelics

Introduction:
Throughout human history people have sought experiences that somehow transcend every day life. Some sort of wisdom that might progress their knowledge of self and of the world that they live in. For some reason they believed that the tangible world just could not be all there is to life. Some believed in a greater force that controlled them, some believed of invisible beings that influenced their lives, some of an actual other world that paralleled their own. Many of these people also believed that it was possible to catch a glimpse of these forces, beings, or worlds through a variety of means that propel individuals into altered states of consciousness. These techniques include meditation, hypnosis, sleep deprivation, and (what will be discussed here) psychoactive drugs, more specifically psychedelic drugs.
 Although in the modern world such drugs have developed an almost taboo status, it is impossible to ignore the tales of enlightenment reported by ancient cultures and even those rebels that use such drugs illegally today. While the American government has been one of the main influences on today’s society’s negative attitudes towards psychedelic drugs, they have granted some scientist and psychologists permission to experiment with such agents, and despite the controversy and varying results there seem to be many positive uses of psychedelic agents. These positive uses and the research that has been directed toward these uses will be reviewed in the following, as well as a brief history of psychedelic drugs.
History:
Native Americans are probably the people most known for their use of psychedelic drugs. Being a very religious people, their entire society revolved around the spirit world, and some believed that access to this world was possible by eating certain plants that were abundant in their surroundings. In what are now Mexico and the Southwestern United States, tribes familiarized themselves with mescaline, the active ingredient in the peyote cactus. Another drug that was used by tribes in these and many other areas was psilocybin, the active hallucinogenic ingredient of the mushroom Psilocybe mexicana and other psilocybe and conocybe species that grow on the pacific coast of North, South, and Central America. Ritual use of psilocybin and mescaline among Mexican and Central American cultures is known to date back to 1500 BC (O’Brien, 1984).
While American Indians are well known for their use of psychedelic agents other cultures have also been known to use psychedelics, especially psilocybin. So-called “magic” mushrooms also grow naturally in many parts of Europe and Asia. Norse tribesmen, for example, were believed to use Amanita muscaria or fly agaric mushrooms to bring on feelings of rage before going into battle. The same mushroom may have also been the inspiration to the founders of Hinduism. Preparations of datura, the agent found in jimson weed, are used in magic and witchcraft in many areas of the world, (Aaronson, 1970). More recently many artist, writers, and musicians have been known to use mescaline and psilocybin and other naturally occurring hallucinogens such as those found in morning glory seeds, and nutmeg, as well as synthesized hallucinogens like LSD. Because of their mind-expanding qualities, the high insight into reality that they seem to produce, as well as highly complex sensory experiences, some report receiving inspiration from such drugs.
The modern world’s first glimpse into the world of psychedelics was through d-lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. LSD was first synthesized in 1938 by two Swiss chemists from the alkaloid lysergic acid found in ergot, a parasitic fungus that grows on rye and other grains. Five years later, on April 19, 1943 Albert Hoffman, one of LSD’s co-discoverers accidentally ingested some of the drug, and was surprised by what he saw on his bike ride home, (Plotnik, 1995). He experienced restlessness and dizziness followed by a mild delirium in which he experienced “fantastic visions of extraordinary vividness accompanied by a kaleidoscopic play of intense coloration.” To be sure that the visions Hoffman experienced were a reaction to LSD, he took another dose of 25 mg which today is considered to be two and a half times the normal dose for a major trip. He again experienced intense visualization as well as synesthesia, or the merging of ... more

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A brief overview of psychedelics

Introduction:
Throughout human history people have sought experiences that somehow transcend every day life. Some sort of wisdom that might progress their knowledge of self and of the world that they live in. For some reason they believed that the tangible world just could not be all there is to life. Some believed in a greater force that controlled them, some believed of invisible beings that influenced their lives, some of an actual other world that paralleled their own. Many of these people also believed that it was possible to catch a glimpse of these forces, beings, or worlds through a variety of means that propel individuals into altered states of consciousness. These techniques include meditation, hypnosis, sleep deprivation, and (what will be discussed here) psychoactive drugs, more specifically psychedelic drugs.
 Although in the modern world such drugs have developed an almost taboo status, it is impossible to ignore the tales of enlightenment reported by ancient cultures and even those rebels that use such drugs illegally today. While the American government has been one of the main influences on today’s society’s negative attitudes towards psychedelic drugs, they have granted some scientist and psychologists permission to experiment with such agents, and despite the controversy and varying results there seem to be many positive uses of psychedelic agents. These positive uses and the research that has been directed toward these uses will be reviewed in the following, as well as a brief history of psychedelic drugs.
History:
Native Americans are probably the people most known for their use of psychedelic drugs. Being a very religious people, their entire society revolved around the spirit world, and some believed that access to this world was possible by eating certain plants that were abundant in their surroundings. In what are now Mexico and the Southwestern United States, tribes familiarized themselves with mescaline, the active ingredient in the peyote cactus. Another drug that was used by tribes in these and many other areas was psilocybin, the active hallucinogenic ingredient of the mushroom Psilocybe mexicana and other psilocybe and conocybe species that grow on the pacific coast of North, South, and Central America. Ritual use of psilocybin and mescaline among Mexican and Central American cultures is known to date back to 1500 BC (O’Brien, 1984).
While American Indians are well known for their use of psychedelic agents other cultures have also been known to use psychedelics, especially psilocybin. So-called “magic” mushrooms also grow naturally in many parts of Europe and Asia. Norse tribesmen, for example, were believed to use Amanita muscaria or fly agaric mushrooms to bring on feelings of rage before going into battle. The same mushroom may have also been the inspiration to the founders of Hinduism. Preparations of datura, the agent found in jimson weed, are used in magic and witchcraft in many areas of the world, (Aaronson, 1970). More recently many artist, writers, and musicians have been known to use mescaline and psilocybin and other naturally occurring hallucinogens such as those found in morning glory seeds, and nutmeg, as well as synthesized hallucinogens like LSD. Because of their mind-expanding qualities, the high insight into reality that they seem to produce, as well as highly complex sensory experiences, some report receiving inspiration from such drugs.
The modern world’s first glimpse into the world of psychedelics was through d-lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. LSD was first synthesized in 1938 by two Swiss chemists from the alkaloid lysergic acid found in ergot, a parasitic fungus that grows on rye and other grains. Five years later, on April 19, 1943 Albert Hoffman, one of LSD’s co-discoverers accidentally ingested some of the drug, and was surprised by what he saw on his bike ride home, (Plotnik, 1995). He experienced restlessness and dizziness followed by a mild delirium in which he experienced “fantastic visions of extraordinary vividness accompanied by a kaleidoscopic play of intense coloration.” To be sure that the visions Hoffman experienced were a reaction to LSD, he took another dose of 25 mg which today is considered to be two and a half times the normal dose for a major trip. He again experienced intense visualization as well as synesthesia, or the merging of ... more

what enhancements we consider unacceptable and

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