Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

LSD deactivates the brain's fear center, study finds

A new study finds LSD — a Schedule I drug with "no medical value" — to be therapeutically beneficial. 

A woman stands in the rain at a protest, her gaze unmarked by fear. Photo Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

  • LSD reached America thanks to schizophrenia.
  • Though Albert Hoffman mistakenly synthesized the potent psychedelic in 1938 in Switzerland, it wasn't until Viennese doctor Otto Kauders told a group of mental health professionals about the substance's ability to drive one “temporarily crazy" in 1949 that researchers began listening.
  • German refugee Max Rinkel immediately ordered a shipment from Hoffman's company.

Why all drugs should be legalized

Interestingly, psychiatrist Robert Hyde decided to conduct his normal hospital rounds after ingesting the first American dose. He grew irritated, believing to have received a bunk dose. Problem is, Hyde was normally a pleasant man. He might not have achieved a schizophrenic state (his dose was rather low), but the LSD certainly had an emotional effect.

The government jumped aboard. The CIA's covert Project MKUltra was instituted in hopes of manipulating Russian spies to spill secrets. Officially sanctioned in 1953 (though trials began earlier), for two decades the US government secretly dosed a range of unsuspecting mental health patients, prostitutes, drug addicts, and prisoners in attempts of discovering LSD's abilities.

Sam Harris: Can psychedelics help you expand your mind?

Possession of LSD became illegal in 1968; the last sanctioned FDA study on its effects took place 12 years later. Being categorized as a Schedule 1 drug (no medical value), few researchers were willing to touch it. But a recent uptick in studies have found that LSD is not medically useless. It is being tested in treatment programs for alcoholics and drug abusers. Microdosing has become a certified fad. And a recent study published in Nature found LSD might help you regulate your emotions.

Twenty healthy participants with no or minimal (one time only) experience with psychedelics ingested either 100μg LSD or a placebo. They were then shown fearful or neutral faces while undergoing brain scans. Three brain regions were focused on: the amygdala, the seat of emotional processing, along with the fusiform gyrus and medial frontal gyrus, both areas that are responsive to fearful faces.

The researchers' hypothesis proved correct: LSD reduced amygdala activity. Those who took the substance were less emotionally volatile in response to fearful faces. To test against the possibility that the psychedelic effects distorted faces, researchers cite a similar response in subjects receiving 200μg LSD to fearful faces, who experienced no alteration in the recognition of neutral, happy, or angry faces.

This leads researchers to believe that LSD might help people suffering from anxiety disorder and depression. By "reducing perception of negative emotions and social cognitive deficits," LSD could soon find widespread usage in the psychiatrist's arsenal of remedies. Of course dose and mental history are important factors, but so far the results are positive.

In 1956, psychedelic advocate Aldous Huxley wrote in his essay, Heaven and Hell:

The psychopharmacist cannot add to the faculties of the brain—but he can, at best, eliminate obstructions and blockages which impede their proper use. He cannot aggrandise us—but he can, within limits, normalise us; he cannot put additional circuits into the brain, but he can, again within limits, improve the co-ordination between existing ones, attenuate conflicts, prevent the blowing of fuses, and ensure a steady power supply. That is all the help we can ask for—but if we were able to obtain it, the benefits to mankind would be incalculable.

Huxley was prescient in many ways. While Orwell's 1984 became a bestseller this year thanks to political turmoil in America, some have argued that Brave New World is a better fit of our current predicament. Though brain scanners were not available during Huxley's time he appears to have understood the nuance of LSD's effects quite well. As research shows, LSD helps us better coordinate our lives by helping us deal with our emotions in a less fearful, more thoughtful manner.

Derek's next book, Whole Motion: Training Your Brain and Body For Optimal Health, will be published on 7/4/17 by Carrel/Skyhorse Publishing. He is based in Los Angeles. Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
Keep reading Show less

Masturbation boosts your immune system, helping you fight off infection and illness

Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?

Sexual arousal and orgasm increase the number of white blood cells in the body, making it easier to fight infection and illness.

Image by Yurchanka Siarhei on Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
  • The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
  • Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
Keep reading Show less

Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast