Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Expanding Our Minds

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation



A recent clickbait article referenced things from 40 years ago and guaranteed anyone remembering such things were indeed old. Things like waiting for film to be developed, freeing up the phone so mom could use the computer, rewinding cassette tapes with a pencil, etc. Many of my peers remember our youth more as a time of change than accumulated things.

Counter culture experiments like guilt free sex, respect for all people, and mind altering drugs weren’t included in this article but generational divide was swift and clearly defined. My parents’ generation was sure such ideas signaled humanity’s end. Time passing has significantly reduced that hysteria.

I remember mind-altering drugs like LSD being especially foreboding. Lysergic acid diethylamide was first synthesized in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofman. The stuff became more famous and sinister in the late ’60s when Timothy Leary suggested using hallucinogenic drugs to expand the mind. “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” I believe he said.

Unlike other items on the list of things remembered by old people, LSD, and similar mind-altering substances have remained with us and, like lots of other stuff from my youth, have been determined to be of considerable value if applied correctly.

My first experience with mind-altering drugs was based on a teen magazine article that suggested a combination of nutmeg and milk mixed into a mud like consistency and consumed would offer an LSD style experience without all the crazy stuff the anti drug movies depicted. One Friday night, a group of us gathered for the night in a house bordering Forest Lake decided to see for ourselves.

I was either the most adventurous or the most gullible, depending on who you asked, so I was designated as the guinea pig. I remember forcing down the concoction but not much else after that. I think I got real sleepy..for a couple of days. Anyone who knows me or regularly reads my articles can vouch for the fact I didn’t experience any mind expanding.

Fast forward to current times and one finds hallucinogenics front and center in research for all types of conditions involving brain damage. From carefully monitored sessions in America to shaman involved mystical vacations in exotic locations, people are getting promising results from things once considered so dangerous they were to be avoided at all costs.

In addition, a new story that appeared in Frontiers in Psychology suggests our superior brain power possibly evolved from eating magic mushrooms. While the theory is controversial and rejected by many in that field, the authors suggest this might explain how humans developed the large brain we now have, which gives us an edge over other mammals and allows us to believe idiotic stuff posted on Facebook.

Either way, two things are certain. We did develop huge brains at some point, which gives us an evolutionary advantage over stronger critters. And no one is positive what happened to cause those brains to grow. I would like to believe this thesis. Just for the sake of hippies everywhere.

Now if we can only find medicinal uses for bell bottom pants and Strawberry Alarm Clock.

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