Books from 1950–1959
The Macy Conferences (1954–1959)
The Doors of Perception
(New York: Harper)
First edition of Aldous Huxley’s seminal work on the subject of the psychedelic experience, which would spark great interest and curiosity among the general public.
The Splintered Man
(New York: Rinehart)
The first fictional(?) novel featuring the use of LSD.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide & Mescaline in Experimental Psychiatry
(New York: Grune & Stratton)
This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first English-language book-length work on the use of LSD (and, in this case, mescaline) in psychotherapy.
Notable in this work — as with all the early works on this subject — are both the wonderful reports/case studies of the quite remarkable successes that were being seen with LSD (along with confusion about why such great strides were made with some patients, while no progress was seen with others), along with great curiosity and conviction that these drugs need to be studied and understood further.
Heaven & Hell
(London: Chatto & Windus)
First edition of Huxley’s follow-up to his The Doors of Perception.
The Peyote Religion: A Study in Indian-White Relations
(Glencoe, IL: Free Press)
Early look at the peyote tradition, providing a good overview of its history as a cultural tradition, along with how that tradition has had an effect on Native/non-Native relations. Written from a very “anthropological” perspective, it misses out on the heart of how various Native peoples use/perceive peyote, nevertheless it’s still a significant work for the time in which it was published (a couple decades before there was much greater interest, starting in the 1970s, in researching traditional uses of psychedelic plant medicines).
Drugs & The Mind
(New York: St. Martin’s Press)
Early work on the psychological effects of drugs, written for the general lay public — not specific to psychedelics, discussing everything from cannabis to opiates to prescription drugs, and only of marginal interest with regard to the use of LSD (etc.) in psychotherapy — nevertheless this book was of no small significance in my own life. After the Consumer’s Union lengthy report on Licit & Illicit Drugs (1972), this was the first major work that I read back when I first became interested in the subject of “drugs” back in grade school. I first read it via the school library, of course (I think every school library had it), although decades later I picked up a copy from a used bookstore, pretty much merely out of “sentimental value” more than for any informational value. Still, though, as an overview of how all the commonly-used drugs-of-abuse that were around at that time, and with the understanding of things from that time, it’s a reasonably good book. If I remember anything from it after all these years, it’s not anything related to psychedelics, however, but rather the vivid descriptions of heroin addiction (and withdrawal).
A Drug-Taker’s Notes
(London: Victor Gollancz)
The first published account (of book length) by an author who underwent several sessions of LSD psychotherapy, in which he recounts each of his experiences, the insights and revelations he had, as well as some rather interesting musings on the nature of “consciousness,” etc.
The Macy Conferences (1954–1959)