In this article, two covers are presented from conferences proceedings sponsored by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, about Cybernetics – 1953 Macy Conferences – and Neuropharmacology – 1955 Neuropharmacological Conferences, in which U.S. neurophysiologist and behavioural scientist Ralph Waldo Gerard proposed the term ‘psychotomimetic’.
“There is one golden rule that should be applied in working with model psychoses. One should start with oneself.”
“Our psychotomimetics resemble the hypothetical endotoxin that Carl Jung called toxin-X and that we have called M (mescalinelike) substance.”
Osmond views raise an interesting paradox of experience over logos: if in order to discuss rationally about such substances one has to use them and if using them disorganizes the psyche, would it ever be in fact possible to discuss rationally about them? Or the move to use them implies – a priori – an abandonment of human rationality?
“In her book The Secret Ring: Freud’s Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis, Phyllis Grosskurth explains that around 1912, Freud’s primary disciple and intellectual heir, Carl Jung, split with his mentor and began outlining his own theories which deviated from Freud’s work.
Freud, hoping to keep a grip on the emerging field of study, brought together six prominent students and created a “Secret Committee” to propagate and defend his work against Jungian psychoanalysis. To seal the deal, Freud gifted each committee member a signet ring with a Greek or Roman god from antiquity taken from his collection.
He later gifted other rings to friends and students, in total handing out about 20 of the signets during his life.”
“C.G. had a difficult relationship with his father but felt a strong rapport with his grandfather Karl Gustav Jung, even though he died before C.G.’s birth.”
“No account of model psychoses would be complete that did not relate those that are induced chemically to those induced by other means, such as the reduced or specialized environments described by Heron, Bexton, and Hebb and by Lilly. These specialized environments have been used since antiquity.”
“The substances in question can be used to develop very high degrees of that mysterious yet vital quality – empathy.”
“I believe that these agents have a part to play in our survival as a species.”
The broader political meaning of these substances was stated by Osmond from the very birth of the word ‘psychedelic’.
‘Psychelytic’ would appear to be in line with a Gnostic worldview – as presented by Eric Voegelin – requiring the dissolution or disintegration of the psyche. However, instead of psychedelic, for the pneuma to be revealed or manifested a more appropriate term could be ‘pneumadelic’.
“For most of their history, they have been mysterious, dangerous substances and must be treated respectfully.”
The word ‘psychiatry’ was coined in 1808 by a German Doctor, Christian Reil, and the word ‘antipsychiatry’ was coined a century later in 1908 by another German Doctor, Bernhard Beyer.
For the first time here – and by way of two portraits – the inventors of the two words are presented together.
“Volevo evidenziare che a mio avviso noi siamo di fronte – anche soltanto guardando al linguaggio, e non solo – a una trasformazione equivalente, se non più radicale, perché le tecnologie di oggi sono molto più invasive e pervasive, di quella che c’è stata 250, 200 anni fa, con la nascita degli stati nazione basati sulle costituzioni alla Montesquieu. E gia’ lo storico, il grande storico Hobsbawm, quello del Secolo Breve per intenderci, nel suo libro che si chiama L’Età della Rivoluzione, che parla proprio di quel periodo, evidenziava come gli intellettuali, o i politici, a quei tempi, quando il potere stava passando da un potere di tipo sovrano, di tipo anche sempre legato all’ambito religioso, a un potere sempre più secolarizzato, questi intellettuali – fondamentalmente gli intellettuali protagonisti dell’illuminismo – prima hanno iniziato a parlare un linguaggio secolarizzato, a dispetto delle loro credenze religiose private, dopodiché è avvenuta la secolarizzazione anche del potere. Adesso noi secondo me stiamo assistendo al linguaggio che in modo assolutamente, ecco come dire, evidente sta diventando un linguaggio tecnico, medico, psicologico, epidemiologico. E allora prima cambia il linguaggio – se seguiamo il ragionamento di Hobsbawm – e questo ci indica in che direzione cambieranno le istituzioni.”
Quanto è stato importante il ruolo che casi sensazionali di guarigione, riportati su un giornale medico supportato in maniera non trasparente dalla casa produttrice Parke-Davis, esercitarono sulla convinzione che Freud si formò circa i molteplici usi “terapeutici” della cocaina?
E quale può essere stato l’impatto degli effetti di questa sostanza stimolante sull’ideazione di alcuni dei temi, tra cui alcuni fortemente legati alla sfera sessuale, che sono centrali nello sviluppo della psicoanalisi?
In una audizione parlamentare, davanti alla commissione per la riforma del diritto tributario – ‘Riforma dell’IRPEF e altri aspetti del sistema tributario’ – il direttore della Agenzia delle Entrate italiana ha affermato: “appare utile evidenziare come sia necessario prestare attenzione agli inevitabili profili di “psicologia fiscale”.
“La classificazione del comportamento scorretto come malattia” – sosteneva lo psichiatra Szasz – “fornisce una giustificazione ideologica per un controllo sociale sponsorizzato dallo stato come trattamento medico”.
La psicologizzazione del discorso pubblico e’ una delle strategie principali di lungo periodo che servono a de-politicizzare e de-sovranizzare il cittadino elettore.
“Probably the one event capable of instigating so fundamental a change would be a major collapse. Only if the present producing and distributing apparatus should definitely break down, only if hunger and cold should spur the minds of a majority of the nation into unaccustomed activity, could a revolution conflicting with nearly every current belief gain momentum.”
“Since revolution should neither be desired nor expected now, and since the transformation from capitalism to technocracy is so drastic that certain of its stages will certainly be considered to be of a revolutionary nature, it may be asked what preliminary steps should be taken in order to prepare for the crucial moments.”
“Revolution, as Trotsky puts it, can only occur when the class in power has outlived its usefulness and thereby become rotten.”
“As a result, capital has been shorn of its function though the realization of this may not immediately percolate through the group consciousness.”
“There is no a priori reason why a sustained, even intelligent, study of the phenomena which induce these visions cannot eventually permit us to attain them at will.” “And when a being is in possession of them, he knows or thinks he knows the meaning of life and thus, as a secondary benefit, reduces, by the aid of memory, to their proper unimportance, the sorrow, the tragedy, even the ostensible evil which is woven of necessity into the texture of our temporal days.”
“Society since the beginning has discouraged by means of church, school, and statutory restrictions all experimentation in the domain of spiritual living. The consequence has been a stultification of the intellect, a frustration of the emotions, and a damming up of nervous energy which is bringing many people to the verge of a nervous breakdown. A technocracy would attempt to set free that great surplus of vital energy now burning itself out, uselessly, in the business game, and redirect it into unexplored channels.”
“Research work, directed toward discovering the causes of psychic maladjustments, may prove more difficult than devising a machine to pick cotton; and successful achievement in this field will surely be harder to measure.”