Dream Drugs – GUILTY of MURDER! (Nov, 1959)
“The high priest of the craze is the celebrated Aldous Huxley, an expatriate Englishman with a whole string of best sellers to his credit. Huxley stumbled on the weird idea while living in his ivory tower in sunny Southern California, probably under the invigorating influence of that daffy birthplace of innumerable fads.”
Dream Drugs – GUILTY of MURDER!
In this Public Service Feature, TOP SECRET exposes the current craze of hypnotic drugs that produce technicolor dreams — but also death!
BY DICK HILLER
A dangerous new craze for hypnotic drugs that produce dreams in color has recently been uncovered on the West Coast.
The shocking story of these dope dreamers came to light when 18-year-old Michael Hawks, a brilliant freshmen student at Redlands University, in California, died mysteriously after going on a dream drug binge.
The son of die chairman of the board of directors of a Sierra Madre engineering firm, Hawks had been warned by University authorities about dabbling with hypnotic drugs that make addicts have dreams in color.
But the youngster ignored the warnings and experimented with the extract, derived from mushrooms, that is used by Mexican Indians in secret tribal rites.
His death, as described by his roommate, Richard Lehman, was sudden and dramatic, Hawks sat up in his bunk “as if he were intoxicated, and then collapsed in a convulsion.”
Although Hawks was rushed to the hospital and heart massage was immediately applied through an incision in his chest, he nevertheless failed to ever regain consciousness.
Police found several of the Jars of hypnotic drugs in the freshman’s room, many of them capable of stimulating the strange hallucinations and technicolor dreams.
“He had been warned about dabbling with these drugs,” said Edward P. Doyle, chief deputy coroner of San Bernadino County.
A relative told police that the youngster was “always interested in dreaming in color.”
Among the dead youngster’s papers, police found technical articles about hypnotic derivatives of a rare mushroom from Switzerland. A tape recording on which Hawks had described his feelings and his hallucinations while under the influence of the dream drugs was also seized by the police. Investigators announced that another person was involved with Hawks in his drug experiments, but they refused to name him.
Since the tragic death of the University student, California police have learned that dream drug kicks are the latest fads among people of all ages in the West Coast area. Because the drugs are not violent in their effects, if taken in moderation, but only send the victim into a deep coma, the addicts had managed to keep their vice a secret — until the death of Hawks blew the lid off the whole shocking business.
How did this dangerous dream drug kick get under way?
The high priest of the craze is the celebrated Aldous Huxley, an expatriate Englishman with a whole string of best sellers to his credit. Huxley stumbled on the weird idea while living in his ivory tower in sunny Southern California, probably under the invigorating influence of that daffy birthplace of innumerable fads. Now he’s going all out to beat the drums for a drug called Mescalin. He recommends that we swallow it regularly instead of imbibing liquor or smoking cigarettes.
He was so seized by the brilliance of this idea that he took time out from his more serious literary pursuits to write a whole book about the panacea. Called “The Doors of Perception,” it’s the most blatant invitation to addiction ever dumped on an unsuspecting public.
According to Huxley, most of us live humdrum lives both painful and monotonous, poor and limited, and most of us try to escape from reality.
Religion and circuses were invented to satisfy this collective yearning of our hungry souls. For private, everyday use, we have chemical intoxicants; these “modifiers of consciousness” must be taken under doctor’s orders, or elst illegally and at considerable risk. But we have unrestricted access to alcohol and tobacco.
Huxley isn’t necessarily agin’ sin, but he sure is agin’ alcohol and tobacco.
“In spite of the growing army of hopeless alcoholics,” he says, “in spite of the hundreds of thousands of persons annually maimed and killed by drunken drivers, popular comedians still crack jokes about alcohol and its addicts. And in spite of the evidence linking cigarettes with lung cancer, practically everybody regards tobacco smoking as being hardly less normal and natural than eating.”
MIND OWN BUSINESS
What, then, is the solution? According to Huxley, it’s Mescalin! In his blind advocacy of the bizarre idea, he goes all out to sing the praises of this dangerous drug.
“To most people,” he says, “Mescalin is almost completely innocuous. Unlike alcohol, it does not drive the taker into the kind of uninhibited action that results in brawls, crimes, and violent traffic accidents. A man under the influence of Mescalin quietly minds his own business. Moreover, the business he minds is an experience of the most enlightening kind, which does not have to be paid for ( and this is surely most important) by a compensatory hangover.”
Huxley supports his proposal with the story of his own experience. He frankly presents himself as the happy addict of Mescalin and insist that he’s much better off than most of us because he lives merrily in his private land of lotus eaters without getting drunk on whiskey or developing lung cancer from smoking.
He stumbled upon Mescalin in the spring of 1953, when he found life in Southern California too difficult to endure. He calmly swallowed four-tenths of a gram in a glass of water as an experiment. Then, puttering about the house under the influence of the drug, he embarked on an imaginary trip to the gorgeous Orient via the moon.
He suddenly noticed the beauty of a bamboo chair and imagined himself as being one of its legs. When not thus engaged in being a chair leg, he found special fascination in the sight of his rumpled flannel pants. They suddenly blossomed out to his Mescaline-shot eyes like draperies from a painting by El Greco.
A more squeamish fellow might have been content to leave matters there and regard his cockeyed addiction as a strictly private matter. But not Aldous! He concluded that ordinary people like you and me may be helped to a personal millenium by an occasional tot of mescalin. So he sat down and wrote his book, insisting that we drop the bottle, stop smoking cigarettes, and take mescaline-and-water instead.
In egghead circles, Huxley’s drug became the rage. It seemed to have all the advantages. It was somehow daring and chic, the fashionable thing. It obviously put its habitues in a class apart from the pathetic teenage vipers and the men with the golden arms. It was a sort of religious experience in the bottle. There was nothing sordid about it—Mr. Huxley had said so, himself.
The idea was picked up by “The Saturday Review,” the weekly journal of the literati, which gave publicity to the new cult under the dubious headline: “Mescaline—An Answer to Cigarettes?” Then the fad began to spread. It’s still somewhat spotty in points between, but it’s going strong in those cultural antipodes of the lunatic fringe: in Hollywood and in Greenwich Village, wherein Mescaline is giving marijuana a stiff run for its money.
SEE THE WORLD.
People gag about the drug, particularly in paraphrasing the Navy’s famous slogan. They say: “Take Mescalin and see the world, and you never have to leave home!” Others quip, “Take Mescalin and be masculine!”
From the eggheads, the fad spread to others. Cases are now on record of wayward little individuals who happened to stumble upon Huxley’s book on the shelves of public libraries and decided to try his “experiment” on themselves. They promptly became Mescaline addicts, Huxley having opened wide for them his special door of perception.
One day, last March, the seventeen-year-old freshman daughter of a prominent Hollywood screenwriter had to be rushed to a headshrinker in downtown Los Angeles with sudden symptoms of acute mental disorder.
Her parents were horrified. Until they suddenly found her in a state of great physical and mental excitement, she was a perfectly sane, average teenager. Now all of a sudden she showed signs of what the medics call psychosis. She wasn’t exactly “nuts,” but she wasn’t exactly “normal,” either. To put it bluntly, she was a mess, a real crazy, mixed-up kid.
In the doctor’s office, the young woman presented the familiar picture of the schizophrenic — a patient living happily in an unreal world, suffering from hallucinations, seeing and hearing things which do not really exist. Her personality was split down the middle. Her pulse was slow and she complained of a faint nausea. That was the only complaint she had. Otherwise she was quite happy — in fact, she seemed to be a bit too happy for her own good.
As she lay on the psychiatrist’s couch, she talked a constant stream of unconnected remarks, as she described scenes of incredible beauty and variety, bizarre daydreams in glorious technicolor. Through it all she sounded coherent enough, but she nevertheless revealed a profound derangement in personality and thinking.
Even so, the doctor wasn’t alarmed. His patients include many Hollywood big-shots, and thanks to Huxley, he has seen a whole string of such cases in recent months. As soon as the girl came into his office, he recognized her as a juvenile casualty of the Mescalin craze.
“She’ll be all right within a few hours,” he told her father. “But I suggest you search her room and find the drug that brought about her condition, then do your best to make her stay away from it. Your daughter suffers from a self-inflicted temporary madness. You may call it do-it-yourself lunacy. It’s becoming quite fashionable these days, especially in these parts.”
When the girl snapped out of her trance and had a heart-to-heart talk with her father, she confessed that it was a 0.5 gram dose of Mescalin that made her go on that fancy flight. She found the prescription in Huxley’s book, of course, and procured the drug with the help of a chum whose father was a pharmacist. It wasn’t easy. It had to be ordered especially from New York. But, hopped up by Huxley’s vigorous prose and tempted by the great writer’s personal experience, the little lady was hell bent on doing as the eggheads do.
If it hadn’t been for this energetic paternal intervention and the threats that she’d be sent to a hospital, she’d have surely developed into an addict, going continually off into the wild blue yonder.
What is the cockeyed drug, anyway? it is an alkaloid derived from the so-called peyote, the spineless mescal cactus which grows widely in Mexico and Texas. Today it’s manufactured synthetically by a firm that owns the brand name “Mescalin.” It’s available in powdered form, with or without a doctor’s prescription.
The history of Mescaline is as colorful as its strange, intoxicating effect. When Cortez came to Mexico in the sixteenth century, he found the Indians drying the buttonlike tops of the mescal cactus and using them to produce intoxication during religious ceremonies.
A Spanish priest called Huxley’s favorite plant “an evil mushroom which intoxicates like wine.” Later, Indians in Texas and New Mexico took up the custom of mescal-eating and got drunk on it.
More recently, scientists have begun to investigate the curious power of the peyote alkaloid. Psychiatrists in Europe and the United States took the drug themselves and, like Havelock Ellis, the British psychologist, saw “dazzling lights and beautiful gems” under its influence. They gave it to their patients and found that it helped them to interpret the painful gropings of the mentally ill.
The drug which Huxley now hails as the ideal substitute for alcohol and tobacco is today actually used in the treatment of schizophrenics in an effort to induce experimental psychoses in normal people and then construct from their reactions the mysterious, hidden world of genuine schizophrenia.
Mescalin is a drug that creates madness! All psychiatrists know that and, therefore, warn sharply against acceptance of Huxley’s preposterous suggestion. While its effect may not be more than temporary and the drug itself may not be habit-forming, it creates conditions which are definitely detrimental to the mental and physical well-being of the person foolish enough to swallow even a tiny bit of this potent drug.
On taking Mescalin, there is first nausea. This is soon followed by a derangement of the brain centers of sight and sound. This starts up a stream of bizarre experiences in color and grandeur. The form most frequently seen in a Mescalin trance is tapestry, such as a wallpaper pattern that breaks into grotesque shapes. Other familiar forms are lattice works of checkerboards, spirals, funnels, funnels, alleys, and cones.
The hallucinations Mescalin induces usually jibe with past experiences. An airline pilot who swallowed Mescalin saw mechanical dream cities from the air, floating like clouds, brilliantly colored. An archaeologist saw mythological people and prehistoric monsters.
The Mescalin action begins about thirty minutes after taking the drug, and its effect lasts from ten to twelve hours. The patient is not turned into a genuine schizophrenic.
The real victim of schizophrenia lives in a world of his own that is inaccessible to the normal mind. He cannot communicate to others and no psychiatric research has so far been able to penetrate completely into this darkness.
The people who inflict upon themselves Huxley’s mescal madness are not only able to describe their bizarre experiences even while under the influence of the drug but are even eager to talk about them.
Because of this quality, a famous British psychiatrist Doctor G. Taylor Stockings, of Birmingham, insists that the drug “is of the greatest importance as a method of approach to the understanding of the nature of mental disorder.”
But as a drug swallowed by normal people just to create a mental disorder for kicks, as Huxley proposes, it is distinctly dangerous. As a fad it could have the most serious consequences.
In fact, different people react differently to Mescalin, and therefore Huxley’s own experience cannot be accepted as valid for all. The dried peyote “button,” or the “tea” made from it, usually does not have a pleasant taste. Often it produces violent vomiting.
Huxley himself concedes that the drug now on the market is not yet “ideal,” as he puts it. He urged scientists to find a harmless form of Mescalin to be marketed, in a suitable pack age, over the counter at any drugstore, as a definite alternative to alcohol and tobacco.
CAN’T REPLACE TOBACCO.
To this, Dr. W. C. Cutting, of Stanford University’s Medical School, had an answer, neatly wrapping up this mad controversy about Mr. Huxley’s self-inflicted madness: “I would say that alcohol, tobacco, and the like are not used only to escape from problems, but that at least alcohol and tobacco are even more widely used as simple, moderate pleasures, without the stern overtones of the chemical intoxicants. In this light I see them as relatively satisfactory and innocuous.
“As for Mescalin, whether it would present a more perfect solution, or whether a drug yet to be synthesized would be such, and so fulfill Mr. Huxley’s goal of safe escape, I don’t know.” I would be inclined to doubt it.”
Dr. J. S. Slotkin, famous anthropologist of the University of Chicago, added: “I do not think that Americans would be interested in Mescalin. Certainly they would not find it a substitute for alcohol, tobacco, or for the barbiturates and benzedrine.”
Aldous Huxley’s grotesque suggestion must have occurred to him while he was under the influence of Mescalin himself. And that the drug can cause such brainstorms in itself militates against his idea.
So light up a Lucky and say when! The least we can tell Huxley about his idea is that Mescalin may come and Mescalin may go, but alcohol and tobacco are here to stay.
In many cases, neither euphoria nor hyperactivity results and there need not be significant hallucinations. Some people who, inspired by Huxley, have tried mescal madness on themselves, have found that Aldous’ devilish drug is a dud.