Ivo Gurschler

In 1905, several women (and one man), detained at a psychiatric institution in Breslau, now Poland, were administered extracts of the Peyote cactus intravenously. At least two of them had, as it seems, full-blown “mystical” experiences. In 1920, a student of medicine, Leni Alberts, did the very first experiments with pure mescaline at the University Clinic in Heidelberg, which was to become the hotspot of Psychedelic Studies (avant la lettre) during the interwar period. Her experimental subjects were trained psychiatrists, who appeared to be extraordinarily cheerful while “under the influence.” What makes these two historic instances of investigating the plant and its main psychoactive substance exceptional is that they documented aspects that were generally either ignored or even suppressed in the scientific exploration of psychedelics’ original conception: 1) the entheogenic dimension of the cactus-induced experiences, and 2) the therapeutic potential of mescaline, useful for the treatment of depression… continue reading.

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