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  • 1. The Center of the Universe - ContentsThe Psychedelic Library HomepageBooks Menu PageThe Center of the UniverseA Theory of Psychedelic Experienceby William S. MoxleyContentsForeword1. Beginnings2. Models and Theories3. Effects of Psychedelics4. The Neuromechanics of HRS —Introduction5. Neuromechanics — The Minefield6. Instinct7. Evolution8. After the Fall9. The Center of the UniverseGlossary (1 of 2) [5/1/2002 12:45:14 PM]
  • 2. The Center of the Universe - ContentsThe Center of the Universe is available only through this InternetLibrary,readers are authorized to print one copy for their own use. Copyright1996 WSM.Send e-mail to The Psychedelic Library: psd_lib@druglibrary.orgThe Psychedelic Library | Books Menu Page (2 of 2) [5/1/2002 12:45:14 PM]
  • 3. The Center of the Universe - ForewordThe Psychedelic Library HomepageBooks Menu PageThe Center of the UniverseWilliam S. MoxleyForewordIt is perfectly natural that man himself shouldbe the most unintelligible part of the universe.—Alan WattsMAN HIMSELF is the last frontier. The so-called hardsciences, the sciences dealing with objects, atoms andmolecules to stars and galaxies, or with numbers, energies,fields and innumerable abstractions, are nearing a degree ofperfection unimagined in the wildest fantasies of themedieval alchemists. Yet sciences dealing with man himself,despite the confident tomes warping the shelves of ourlibraries and bookstores, remain in a state of rapidevolution, to put it kindly. There are even fundamentaldifferences of opinion as to why the study of humankind isso difficult.Nowhere among the sciences of man do we find controversyand confusion more rampant than in the study of the mind.Some, who profess to study only the hardest of objectivefacts, have proposed that the mind is nothing but a computerprogram. Another school of thought would eliminate mindaltogether. For several decades the academic tyranny ofBehaviorism made it practically obscene even to mention suchwords as consciousness, belief, intention or free will in ascientific journal, a state of affairs which stifled (1 of 5) [5/1/2002 12:45:26 PM]
  • 4. The Center of the Universe - Forewordprogress in psychology for half a century. Now it seems, asJimmy Durante was fond of remarking, "everybody wants taget inta de act." Several top-rate books and a great manyarticles have recently appeared, taking up such subjectswith a vigor typical of the aftermath of some prohibition orrepression, in this case a repression of ideas whosedevelopment in the work of such pioneers as William Jamescame to a halt at the beginning of the 20th Century.It is not my intention to berate the many authors andresearchers who have struggled with such problems over thepast several decades. They have faced the most difficultproblems ever faced in the scientific search for truth, andhard results have been difficult to achieve. Such wide-openfields in fact provide, and have historically provided thegreatest opportunity for the scientific revolutionary, whoshould well know the risks involved in exploring unchartedterritory. But I do wish to stress that with all the so-called progress that 20th Century science has achieved,there remains a rather large and important area ofunderstanding that is still in the stone-age of development:mans understanding of himself; and it is the difficulty ofthe subject, not the intelligence of the professors which isthe problem.With difficult subjects however, we often find withhindsight that fairly obvious leads were ignored at criticalperiods of research: a few strange ideas advanced by someoutsider or non-expert, or some heresy proposed by aniconoclast, seemingly to cause dismay and discord andwithout serious value to ongoing work. Or perhaps anomalousexperimental results were cast aside, ignored as irrelevantor the result of some undetermined experimental ormethodological error. All great truths begin as blasphemies,noted George Bernard Shaw. As established experts in a fieldseldom publish blasphemies, we might learn something fromhistory and pay more attention to outsiders, non-experts andthe like, for if their suggestions really are worthless,this should not be difficult to prove, if the theories andmodels of the established discipline are in order andworking efficiently. The historian of science Thomas Kuhnpointed out that scientific revolutions are almost alwaysinitiated by young workers, or those new to the field theyrevolutionize. It may be objected that the non-expert hasinsufficient grasp of the fundamentals, or is not fluent (2 of 5) [5/1/2002 12:45:26 PM]
  • 5. The Center of the Universe - Forewordenough to distinguish superficial anomalies in a field fromimportant ones, or is lacking in a command of theaccumulated technique of the discipline thus making thelikelihood of his work being the catalyst for an ensuingscientific revolution negligible. Such objections would besignificant in well-developed sciences: we would not expecta non-chemist to revolutionize even a small corner of thefield of chemistry, or a truck driver to provide deep newinsights in quantum mechanics. But in a field in which agenerally agreed paradigm seems a far-distant dream, a fieldstill in the stone-age of development, the outsider, or awell-read amateur, may well be in a position to supply thekey to revolution. For one thing, he has no greatintellectual investment in one competing school of thoughtor another. In a field of study ripe for fundamental changewhere reputations and careers are on the line, we mightexpect the entrenched experts to be the least likelycandidates to introduce revolutionary hypotheses.In the following pages I propose a rather wide-rangingtheory concerning man, his mind and brain, behavior, hisevolution and anthropology, his sociology and psychology,religion and apostasy, myth and metaphysic, sciences andcertainties, and it will already be obvious that no writercan possibly be an expert in such a wide selection oftopics. But my theory may amount to more than armchairspeculation if I have discovered and developed one of theimportant clues largely ignored by the experts, one of theleads which with hindsight will be seen to have provided thekey to a revolution in understanding. Of course my lack ofexpertise in the subjects I need to examine must predictablylead to criticism from the professionals; no doubt I abusetheir terminologies and misinterpret some of the finerpoints of their disciplines, or worse. But I believe thatthe errors noted will be, for the most part, technicalities,or simply part of the ongoing controversy in a given fieldand inconsequential to the overall theory I will present.In constructing this theory, and in the presentdescription of the results of my inquiries, I have tried tolive up to the view expressed by Aldous Huxley, when he sawhis position as one of bridge-builder between areas ofknowledge that had previously been too separated orindependent, one body of knowledge ignoring or evenrejecting another for no reason other than tradition, or as (3 of 5) [5/1/2002 12:45:26 PM]
  • 6. The Center of the Universe - Foreworda result of the peculiarities of the way in which studentsbecome trained and indoctrinated in a field. Thus thedurability of the theory I have shaped will be a functionnot of the accuracy of fine details which will have to befilled in or corrected over time, but of the overall conceptof the theory and its ability to combine and predict:Combine disparate aspects of present understanding andpredict future observations and trends in this primary areaof mans search for truth. And if it is a good theory, itmay also provide an understanding which could assist inimproving the condition of man, the relationships betweenhis societies and nations, and the increasingly fragile bondlinking him with his only available home, the planet Earth.I have tried to write a book which will not only holdthe interest of a wide audience, but contribute tounderstanding both by professionals and laymen alike. Thusthere are some autobiographical passages, hopefullyentertaining and illustrative of yet another, hidden side ofthe cultural and social upheaval of the 1960s, but thestory line is also the history of the ideas which led to thetheory and so is intended as an enticement for the non-technical reader to think about some scientific subjects hehas probably very little knowledge of, or interest in. Forprofessional readers, or those laymen who already arefollowing some of the current debates in the subjects dealtwith here, I have tried to construct the more technicalparts of the book so that they flow smoothly, and areunencumbered by the myriad definitions and explanations thatwould be essential for the non-technical reader. For him, Ican recommend that the more difficult passages may safely bequickly scanned, and the terms and ideas expressed thereinmay be better understood by referring to the Glossaryprovided at the end of the book. But a thoroughunderstanding of some of the more technical evidence for thetheory should not be necessary to grasp its overall intentor scope.Although it is customary at the beginning of a book tothank the friends and co-workers who have contributed to theauthors completion of his task, the many persons who havebeen instrumental to my own work shall remain unnamed withthe exception of other authors whose works are listed in thebibliography. I will not single out any names here forspecial thanks either, as I have had very limited contact (4 of 5) [5/1/2002 12:45:26 PM]
  • 7. The Center of the Universe - Forewordwith them except through their published works. Reasons forthese conditions should soon become obvious from what is tofollow.Chapter 1 | Table of ContentsSend e-mail to The Psychedelic Library: psd_lib@druglibrary.orgThe Psychedelic Library | Books Menu Page (5 of 5) [5/1/2002 12:45:26 PM]
  • 8. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1The Psychedelic Library HomepageBooks Menu PageThe Center of the UniverseWilliam S. Moxley1. BeginningsMEXICO, EARLY IN 1968. With a few friends of similardisposition, I have left the deteriorating summer-of-lovecounter-culture scene of New York City on an adventuredestined to occupy the next quarter-century of my life. Wefollow in the footsteps of many other seekers, bothprofessional and amateur, who have sought to know more aboutthe astonishing collection of psychoactive plants indigenousto the tropical and semi-tropical regions of the New World.Native Americans had discovered these plants many thousandsof years before, and almost without exception they came tobe of major importance for the tribes and civilizationswhich grew to prominence long before the arrival of thewhite man.Each of us has his own reasons for embarking on such avoyage, the immediate and conscious reasons each would havestated having perhaps little to do with underlyingmotivations that would be seen as important only from thedistant future. One friend has come along, offering toassist me in my as yet vague project of finding andexperimenting with some of these mysterious plants. Anotheris to meet a friend who has established a modest trade withrural farmers who grow the famed variety of cannabis knownas Acapulco Gold. Another seems merely to be along for theride. And of course we are all in that stage of youth wherelittle risk is perceived in launching into the most (1 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 9. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1uncertain or unplanned projects with little more than atotal faith in ones ability to improvise. From the wisdomof middle age, this could only be seen as a recipe fordisaster; from the perspective of youth, it is the essenceof opportunity.But, at least for myself, the hidden catalysts whichpropel me in this uncertain direction are not altogetherundiscovered. There is a war going on, Im supposed to befighting it. Im supposed to be a member of a society whichhas been shaped so skillfully with regard to democraticprinciples and respect for freedom that it is not onlyunnecessary, but indicative of some mental or spiritualpathology to question the fundamentals of this system whichnow finds itself living up to the worst travesties it hadimagined of its arch-enemy just a few years before. My fifthgrade teacher had impressed me with the fact that the reasonI didnt know what propaganda was, was that we simply didnthave that sort of thing here in America. But the Russians...And then there are these persistent ideas surfacing inmy mind about Native Americans, for I had been doing myhomework reading about the many ways in which it couldclearly be seen that, despite all current mythology, it hadbeen the Native Americans who had had the superior cultureand wisdom at the point of contact between themselves andthe European invaders. It was the white man who had playedthe role of barbarian on that sad stage of conquest andslaughter, and it was now the white man who continued in hissupreme arrogance by just recently outlawing not only theuse, but even further research with these so-calledhallucinogenic drugs so important to the indigenous peoplesof the conquered land. According to the official doctrine,the effect of these drugs is to mimic psychosis or modelsomething akin to schizophrenia, with the ever-persistentrisk of permanent psychological impairment and even suicide.Each one of us has had several experiences with apsychedelic drug and to us it is not the drug experience butthe official doctrine that is psychotic and symptomatic of asevere collective psychological impairment in societyitself. Never, we feel, was there a successful society soeasy to be alienated from, so absurd in its pronouncementsand ongoing policies of unending conquest.The enormity of the Great Sin of European Civilizationenters into our conversations only briefly, obliquely, for (2 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 10. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1these areearly days and we are more attuned to "what if"than to what was. I have brought along some rudimentarylaboratory equipment and my assistant and I installourselves in a little rented bungalow on the outskirts ofGuadalajara. We plan expeditions into the countryside bothnear and far to look for the psychedelic plants which beckonlike some species of holy grail oh so unholy to that societywe so readily left behind. At the public market buyingoranges we discover we have already succeeded in our firstobjective, for on the upper level there is an entire wing ofthe market devoted to stalls selling traditional medicinesand shamanic items of the most diverse character. Peyotecacti are suspended in rows along the shop windows, and arehawked to gringos passing by. It is difficult to judgewhether the twinkle in the eye of the shamanic apothecary atthe prospect of daily increasing sales of such a common itemis even greater than that in the eye of the prospectiverebel from American Ignorance about to embark on the mostancient voyage of mankind.We negotiate for a fifty kilo sack of peyote cactus tobe delivered the next day and depart. To say that ourspirits and anticipation are high captures only the mostsublunary aspects of the moment. Over glasses of orangejuice, my assistant and I review our plans for isolation ofa total alkaloidal extract of the sacramental plant, apreparation that should produce the exact effect of peyotetaken the traditional way, without the nausea and discomfortproduced by the high content of soap in the raw plantmaterial. The active psychedelic fraction of the plant weknow contains several closely related alkaloids, and we wantto experiment with the hypothesis that this blend ofalkaloids produces a psychedelic experience superior to thatof synthesized mescaline, the principal alkaloid of themixture. We have both taken the synthesized alkaloid in NewYork on one or more occasions, and although the resultingexperiences were complex, mysterious, highly instructive,and certainly intense yet gentle, we feel that there was acertain lack, difficult to put your finger on, of the senseof spirituality described by those anthropologists and otherresearchers who had undergone the experience with thenatural product during the Native American ceremonies. Theritual and setting of such ceremonies play a major role weknow, but our intent is to test the effect of the (3 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 11. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1psychedelic preparation itself in determining outcome.The next few days are occupied with slicing, preparing,and drying the cactus tops, and we even replant the conicaltuber-like remains so that they have a chance to regeneratethe parts we have amputated. A two-liter Osterizer blenderfacilitates a primary extraction with aqueous alcohol, and aseries of liquid-liquid extractions to separate the soaps,chlorophyll and other miscellaneous impurities results inour proud possession of a small flask containing an amber,semi-crystalline syrup, practically odorless but having thecharacteristic taste of synthesized mescaline sulfate. Fromhere, chromatographic or other simple processes would becapable of separating the mixture into its componentalkaloids, but we are interested in this natural blend andload several double-zero gelatine capsules with two hundredmilligrams of the syrupy elixir. From this vantage point,the prohibitionist fanaticism of the land we left only a fewweeks ago seems as remote as home probably seemed to thosefirst barbaric explorers who pillaged this land and tried toeradicate forever the knowledge of the mysterious substancewe have just bottled. How different our intentions fromthose of our ancestors! The sense of triumph over thecollective stupidity of centuries, even on such a small,fragile, and local scale, perfuses the laboratory and eventhough it is very late, we have trouble postponing what weknow will be a twelve hour visionary experience until themorrow.Anyone who has tried to write an account of even a mildpsychedelic experience will know the minimal power of wordsto describe that which is not only indescribable, but beyondlanguage itself. Language seems to me as merely a sort ofresonance to experience, coming somewhat after the fact, andcapable of dealing with only the established habits androutines of thought and perception. The totally novelexperience, if such a concept be allowed, can have no ready-made language patterns to activate. And perhaps the reverseis true as well: in meditation, we are told by its adepts,the quieting of the inner dialogue leads to a purifiedperception of reality, unsullied by the categorizingimperatives of language. Freed from such restrictions, every (4 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 12. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1experience is potentially unique. Even the most trivial ofeveryday situations has its originality, but it is thelearned, devastatingly efficient habits of the mind whichcause one to feel that it is necessary to cope with realityrather than celebrate it. Hence boredom at the apparentsameness of the events of daily routine displaces theinescapable but elusive magic of even a moment of life livedwith true freedom.Somehow the peyote extract we took the next day producedsuch a freedom from the known; pure experience seemed toflow from some mysterious source to which the resonance oflanguage was not only lacking, but completely superfluous.Those of us who sat together during that voyage sensed thisastonishing reality not with fear, nor despair at theinability of normal conscious processes to analyze orexplain this strange way of perceiving, but rather it seemedthat this state of mind, this method of perceiving reality,was aboriginal, the way things happened long ago whenhumankind was only beginning his long journey intocivilization. And what was more, we clearly realized thatthis aboriginal mode of perception was not at all primitive,nor limited in its ability to deal with modern life; on thecontrary, it utilized and required the entire capacity ofones being, it was in fact larger and more comprehensivethan normal everyday, routine consciousness. It seemed thatthis was the way the mind would work all the time if it werenot being impeded by the narrow forms mankind had imposedupon himself through the establishment and maintenance ofcertain styles of civilized societies. From that point ofview, it was obvious that Western Man had, step by step,backed himself into a spiritual corner from which, althoughhe had achieved impressive control of the mundane, physicalaspects of reality, he had lost something not primitive, butessential. Thus it seemed that the Native Americans, who hadused these miraculous plants as existential medicines sincethe beginning, had kept possession of that something whichthe white man had long ago lost, and the Native Americansocieties that resulted were by comparison ecological in thetrue sense of the word, having a balance and correspondinglack of destructive contradiction both within theirsocieties and also in relation to the environment.During the next few days, I began to realize that withthe new restrictions on research with psychedelic agents, (5 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 13. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1and the continued marginalization of the remnants of NativeAmerican societies, Western Civilization was attempting todrive the final nail in the coffin of a vast body ofpsychedelic knowledge, the culmination of a 500-year-oldprocess designed to eliminate an embarrassment to theconviction that wisdom and progress were the rationalebehind the spread and hegemony of European Civilization toevery corner of the earth. And not only the rationale:Western Civilization now appeared to claim to be the solepossessor of the very concepts of wisdom and progress.Anything that could be done to dampen this enthusiasm toignore, vilify, and destroy everything that was not Modern,not Capitalism, not Democracy, not Advanced, not Scientific,not Civilized, not US, I saw as not only a worthwhileproject, but as an undertaking one would be required to doon the basis of simple moral principles. I had noalternative but to apply any modest talents or abilitiesthat I might possess to discovering the mechanisms by whichthese psychedelic chemicals produce their effects not onlyon the brain, but on the mind and spirit; to finding thelink between the widespread use of such substances among themost ancient tribes of men, and what that might indicateabout the evolution of the human species; to understandingwhat the current fanatical attempts to prohibit the use ofthese substances and even stifle further research byqualified scientists indicated about the underlyingpsychology of the Modern American Attitude; to discoveringwhether knowledge about these and other aspects ofpsychedelic use might provide a key so badly needed by thewhole range of the sciences of man to overcome widelyrecognized limitations of these sciences not only to explainbut above all to improve the deplorable condition of humansocial interaction in this century of holocaust. Were thesethe medicines of a long-lost age, of no further use tohumankind in his now modern world, or could we discover thatthey might still be useful, perhaps essential for a futurewhich did not include the suicide of the species?The moral imperative that I perceived then, combinedwith the normal predilection by youth for daring deeds, leftme with little doubt as to my future course of action. Theprobability that I would find it necessary to become anoutlaw was of no great consequence to me, it was an excitingconcept that it might be possible to be an outlaw from (6 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 14. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1American Civilization and be morally justified in doing so.In fact, I was already an outlaw, a draft-evader, and I hadjust been dabbling with forbidden fruits in a most seriousway, as a scientist practicing his art in defiance of thelaw of the land. How rare the opportunity to be able topractice a forbidden science in this day and age! Theconcept itself put paid to many arrogant assumptions aboutthe rationality of the American Way of Life and itsjustification for eliminating any and all competition to itsoxymoronic Philosophy.I cannot pretend that the work in which I engaged overthe next several years was serious research on a par withwhat our modern academic institutions would accept. But inlight of the severe handicaps that have always been thelimiting factor for progress in the understanding ofcontroversial or forbidden subjects, I think I may havenevertheless achieved something of value toward a broadlybased theory of psychedelic experience. Of course there wereothers, many others, in fact, who were working on threads ofthe puzzle presented by modern mans rediscovery of theancient psychedelic medicines. Some researchers who had,previous to the newly instituted restrictions, been workingon the most diverse and interesting aspects of the effectsand uses of psychedelics both therapeutic and esthetic,continued their work in diminished, or at least differentways. Although they were forbidden to give a psychedelicdrug to any patient or (more importantly) research volunteerwhatsoever, substitute methods for activating a psychedelicstate were used, sometimes with reasonable success. Someother workers continued with theoretical work based onpreviously accumulated data, and a very few obtainedpermission to continue with biochemical experiments withpsychedelic drugs given to various laboratory animals.Sadly, permission for such work seemed much easier to obtainwhen the proposed research might show that the psychedelicswere harmful, broke chromosomes, or lived up in some way tothe irrational fears of the prohibitionist elements inAmerican institutions. But even if some of these experimentswere little more than overdose parties for rats, theyproduced, valuable data on, for example, the sites of action (7 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 15. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1of psychedelics in the brain.Even more tragically, however, some very gifted workersleft psychedelic research entirely, unable to continuemeaningful work. Prohibition of the use of some substance,like alcohol, tobacco, tea, cannabis, opium, or anythingelse you can name, is historically so easily shown to beself-defeating, that it bewilders the rational mind toattempt to understand the philosophical outlook of thoseotherwise intelligent humans who propose that man can beprotected from folly by the simple expedient of the passageof law. One would have to hypothesize ulterior, perhapsunconscious motives on behalf of those who propose andmaintain prohibitions, or conclude that they are notrational human beings at all. It is several orders ofmagnitude more difficult to understand the philosophy ofprohibition of an avenue of scientific research. This is notto say that there should be no control whatsoever ofscientific research activities by publicly-electedgovernment. If over-enthusiastic pursuit of profit bybiotechnology companies seems to be leading to dangeroussituations such as widespread release of bio-engineeredorganisms into the environment, safeguards must beinstalled: the biotechnology enterprise is not simplyeradicated by fiat. Government authorities and legislativebodies have not seemed unduly worried about provendeleterious world-wide effects of research on nuclear energyor weapons. The prohibitions on psychedelic research maywell indicate ulterior motives and hidden agendas by thoseat the center of power. More importantly, if more difficultto analyze, the prohibition must indicate some inherentcollective psychological conflict at the very core of thebelief system of Modern Western Civilization. It is as if,collectively, we have no greater fear than that engenderedby the rediscovery of a most ancient, important, and healingpractice and phenomenon, the psychedelic experience. This ismost curious, and I shall return to the topic in chapter 8.In the wake of repression then, there arose anothergroup of psychedelic researchers, which like other groupsdown through the history of acts of repression by thepowerful, was effectively driven underground to an at leasttemporary obscurity. In the middle ages we had thealchemists, purportedly looking for ways to make gold fromsomething less valuable, a project which certainly would (8 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 16. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1meet the approval of the acquisitive ecclesiasticalauthorities of the time. The true alchemical quest, if wecan believe some modern interpretations, would not at allhave met the approval of an authority proclaiming itsmonopoly on spiritual matters. No one today would deny thehistorical existence of the underground aspect of alchemy inthe middle ages, a science which of course bordered onwitchcraft, wizardry, and sometimes sheer lunacy causedperhaps in some cases by exposure to toxic heavy metals suchas lead and mercury, favorite substances for the alchemists.Nor will the modern historian of science deny the influenceand importance of much of the work of the alchemists for thesucceeding generations of researchers who made thebeginnings of a modern science out of a diverse collectionof arcane experimental data. But the existence ofunderground science today, practiced by a fraternity of noless colorful and sometimes equally as crazed individuals asthe alchemists, must be dismissed as a fairy tale by thoseauthorities who have been instrumental in bringing about thevery situation from which underground science mustnecessarily grow.Underground science has many limitations anddifficulties which the establishment scientist never needsuffer. There are no universities and publicly financedinstitutions allowing research to flourish and researchersto enjoy a reasonable standard of living including therespect of society and sometimes even fame and fortune.Under severe repression, underground scientists have littlechance even for peer review of their work, not to mentionjournals for publication of their papers, or conferences,research grants, awards, and always the threat of moderateto severe penalties meted out by the Inquisitors, whichtoday includes not burning at the stake, but languishingincommunicado for periods of time that might make some wishfor a return to the fiery methods of medievalism. Withincreasing calls for the application of the death penalty(in the United States) in cases of "major trafficking", wemay yet achieve or surpass the medieval traditions.To be fair, there do exist a few journals, and someexcellent books that have been published during the thirtyyears of Inquisition, and even a few conferences havebrought together luminaries in the field of psychedelicresearch. Since the late 1980s, a very few limited research (9 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 17. The Center of the Universe Chapter 1projects with humans have been approved using some types ofpsychedelic drugs in treatment programs for addiction orother psychological problems, or in metabolic studies. Butthe scope and extent of such research has not even begun toapproach that seen already in the 1950s, and certainly thecontinuation of important and productive research of the1960s, for example on creativity, or philosophical andreligious aspects of the psychedelic experiencxe, has noteven been suggested to government authorities for approval.And so the fact remains that for the most important andinteresting uses of psychedelics, no one may give apsychedelic drug to a volunteer human being and then publishthe results without drug police knocking on, and today oftensmashing down, the door. Even the time honored tradition ofself-experimentation is cause for arrest, and if one is inthe wrong place at the wrong time with a few bucks notinstantly traceable to justifiable and tax-paid income,civil forfeiture of all moneys and properties by thedefendant (still under the presumption of innocence) ensues.If this seems an exaggerated or surrealistic view oftodays world, then the reader is certainly in theestablishment camp. For as an underground scientist who hashad the pleasure of knowing a few other individualssimilarly motivated, I can attest that the fears are realand certainly not the result of paranoia. I have knownseveral who have languished, forfeited, or both. I myself amno stranger to enforced languishing. And it is with acertain caution that I now attempt to reveal my findingswhile hoping to retain an intact front door.Chapter 2 | Table of ContentsSend e-mail to The Psychedelic Library: psd_lib@druglibrary.orgThe Psychedelic Library | Books Menu Page (10 of 10) [5/1/2002 12:45:30 PM]
  • 18. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2The Psychedelic Library HomepageBooks Menu PageThe Center of the UniverseWilliam S. Moxley2. Models and TheoriesLATER ON THAT YEAR. We have slowly been building up a stockof seeds of the "Heavenly Blue" morning glory, Ipomoeaviolacea, which grows widely in this area of Mexico. A shortdrive out of the city in any direction leads to thediscovery of some extensive stand of the plant, and we lookfor groups of boys playing and gather them round for ashort lesson on economic realities. It seems that we offerhard pesos for anyone who will gather these funny littleblack seeds for us, and be here on this spot in exactly oneweek. Returning after a week we usually find only one or twoof the boys has taken us seriously and actually collectedeven a coffee-can full. But when the scales come out of theback of the pickup, and hard cash changes hands for whatwould seem to all excepting gringos a worthless commodity,eyes widen with dreams of transistor radios. Mexico is atragically poor nation, and our harvest of seeds has, uponlast inventory, attained rather amazing levels with verylittle expense.Our peyote experiments have been a resounding success.We have sent capsules of our extract to several aficionadosof psychedelic preparations, and received very positivereports comparing the natural alkaloidal blend favorablywith both synthesized mescaline and other psychedelics.Institutional researchers would of course immediatelydismiss our results as anecdotal and subjective, and we (1 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 19. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2certainly have not troubled ourselves to do "double-blind"experiments as would be expected for "scientifically"legitimate results. The legitimacy of our results is, forbetter or for worse, not dependent on institutionalacceptance, but upon the opinions of those whose wisdom wehave come to respect. A peyote shaman, asked to perform adouble-blind ceremony using our preparation, would be ascorrect to ridicule our idea as the institutional scientistfor criticizing the lack of such protocol. We quite enjoythe eclecticism of the middle ground we have staked out forour research paradigm.The modern institutional requirements for acceptance ofresearch have been sometimes accused by even notablescientists as not only too strict and exclusive, but also asbeing ignorant of the methods of a great deal of exceptionaland ground-breaking science before the present period. (Seefor example the reference in footnote 5, below, for acriticism of the requirement of "blind" and "double-blind"techniques.) Single-case studies, subjective reports,experiments which are not, in principle, repeatable, andother (according to modern dogma) "non-scientific" methodswe are free to use and interpret with our own guidelines.When an unrepeatable, subjective experiment leads us to anheuristic or empirical model and thus provides a componentfor a theory which then accurately predicts and points theway for further research, criticism based upon the nature ofthe original experiment sends the distinct message that thecritic has "his eyes in his pocket and his nose on theground". And in the field of psychedelic research, more thanany other we know, trying to achieve the "hardness" ofresults that academics insist is so important is often like"trying to catch the wind". (I will presently have more tosay about our concepts of models and theories and how theyrelate to both "hard" science and to the "softer"disciplines such as our own. And in the next chapter I willdeal with the multitude of purported "effects" of thepsychedelic drugs and why experimentation has so often ledto confusion when the presumption of classical cause andeffect relationships is the guiding paradigm ofexperiments.)The one significant disappointment of the peyote extractis that it is unstable. Within even one week, a 500milligram dose is just perceptibly less potent, and within a (2 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 20. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2month the potency of the dose is significantly reduced.Since the stability of the dried cactus tops or "buds" hasbeen reported to be exceptional, a noted authority on thesubject calling the buds "practically indestructible", it isobvious that the "impurities" we have removed in our processare essential to preserving psychedelic activity of the rawalkaloidal mixture. This result, combined with the necessityof processing large volumes of material to produce enoughextract for even twenty or thirty doses, make any practicaluse of the product prohibitive. It is expensive to produceand ephemeral. In addition, we feel that any attempts toproduce a stable preparation by further processing wouldprobably nullify the advantages of the broad-spectrumalkaloidal extract principle that we have tested. We havetherefore turned our attention to preparing andexperimenting with extracts of the morning glory.At least two species of morning-glory seed have beenused since antiquity as divinatory agents by the Amerindianshamans of Mexico. The Ipomoea violacea we have collectedseems to grow just about everywhere, and is, in fact, theexact same plant that horticulturists have introduced inEurope and the U.S., the ornamental "Heavenly Blue" morning-glory vine. The second psychedelic species, Rivea corymbosa,we have found only further south, but in the scientificliterature its reported habitat is the entire coastal areaof the Gulf of Mexico. We obtained about a kilo of seedsfrom a local source, but did not seek out larger quantitiessince our supply of Ipomoea violacea was quite sufficient,and of the two species, was also the most potent. (1)An interesting page in the history of the biochemicalstudy of alkaloids was recorded the day in 1960 when AlbertHofmann presented his findings about the identity of thealkaloids of the morning-glory to a symposium in Melbourne,Australia. Until that day, it was believed that the onlynatural source of the lysergic acid alkaloids was theparasitic fungus of grasses, ergot. In the plant kingdomthere are extremely diverse plants, from primitive fungi tothe highest species of flowering plants, that produce thebiochemical substances known to chemists as alkaloids. Thesenatural plant substances are widespread, and so diverse intheir nature that no simple or unique reason for theirevolution can be postulated. And their diversity andcomplexity is such that it is rare to find the same alkaloid (3 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 21. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2in two different plants even if they are close evolutionaryneighbors. When Dr. Hofmann announced that the alkaloids ofthe morning-glory vine (a plant far removed on theevolutionary tree from the primitive ergot fungus) were alsoderivatives of lysergic acid, many in the audience ofscientists were plainly incredulous. Despite the impeccablereputation of Dr. Hofmann and the Sandoz Laboratories ofwhich he was a director, more than one group of scientistsattempted to disprove the findings. One group thought thatthe seeds used must have been contaminated with some speciesof ergot-like fungus and published a paper to the effect.Painstaking further work in which seeds were carefullydissected and shown not to be infected with any type offungal spore or growth finally proved the location of thealkaloids to be concentrated in the embryonic material ofthe seeds.We had obtained reprints of all the relevant scientificpapers in New York and were now ready to prepare a largesample of the morning-glory alkaloids for furtherexperimentation. As with our peyote extraction, we wished toobtain a total alkaloidal extract of the seeds even thoughit had been postulated by some that only one alkaloid of thegroup was the active psychedelic component. Hofmann hadshown that probably four or five lysergic acid derivativeswere active: lysergic acid amide, isolysergic acid amide,lysergol, elymoclavine and perhaps ergometrine. We thoughtit of great significance that the first two of thesecompounds, and the last as well, have a structurepractically identical to LSD. The fact that the use of LSD-like psychedelic agents had been as significant as of thepeyote cactus or the psilocybin mushrooms, at least in thisarea of the world, made claims that LSD was a modern,synthesized, and therefore "unnatural" psychedelic drug seemrather ill-conceived. (2)Hofmann and his co-workers had made several tests of thepsychedelic activity of their own extracts, both as broadspectrum mixtures and also of the separated alkaloids, buttheir self-administered dosages had not reliably producedmuch more than minor effects. Our first goal would thereforebe to obtain an extract which, when taken in a dose roughlyequivalent to that used in native ceremonies, produced someeffects of significance. We based our extraction proceduresboth on published analytical work, on generally accepted (4 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 22. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2routines for chemical extraction of alkaloids, and gave someconsideration as well to the methods used by the shamans inpreparing seeds for their ceremonies. In tribal use, theseeds are first ground to a fine flour, then soaked in coldwater. After a short time, the liquid is filtered off anddrunk. This would indicate firstly that the activecomponents were readily soluble in water, and secondly thatother components of the seed, not so readily soluble, mightpossibly interfere with the psychedelic effects or producediverse effects of their own. Such a hypothesis mightexplain the inconsistent results of some workers who hadexperimented with Ipomoea or Rivea seeds and found themlacking in activity.A second goal for our work would be to try to obtainpure lysergic acid from the seed extracts by chemicalhydrolysis. A rather large industry had evolved since theturn of the century which produced the alkaloid ergotaminefrom a laborious process of growing the ergot fungus on ryegrass. Ergotamine had been a widely used lysergic acidalkaloid for decades, but recently other derivatives oflysergic acid had been found to be more useful, and toproduce them, the ergotamine yield from ergot was firsthydrolyzed to lysergic acid, then appropriately reacted withvarious amines or other compounds. It was work of this typethat had led Hofmann to synthesize LSD by reacting purelysergic acid, via an intermediate, with diethylamine. Weintended to evaluate the possibility that morning gloryseeds might someday provide an alternate, or even bettersource for lysergic acid than the ergot/rye process. (3) Wewould at the same time be determining if it were possiblefor an underground chemist, using morning glory seedsinstead of ergotamine (which was tightly controlled anddifficult to obtain), might produce small amounts of LSDwith very little risk. I say small amounts, because thealkaloid content of morning glory seeds had been assessed atbarely 0.06%, and assuming normal losses and other factorsit would therefore be necessary to process perhaps a hundredkilos of seeds or more to produce even a gram of LSD. Still,due to the vanishingly small effective dose of LSD, such aprocess was far more a practical possibility than thatnecessitated by the required minimum dose of peyote extract,more than two thousand fold that of LSD. (5 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 23. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2With a view to obviating any objections that publishers,general readers, or various drug control authorities mighthave concerning the description of processes used to produceforbidden substances, I will not further discuss here ourexperiments along these lines. Any competent undergroundchemist will certainly, in any case, already know quiteenough to formulate his plans for the future. And it shouldalready be evident to the reader what my evaluation of theprohibition of psychedelics signaled about my ownintentions. To me, it was one of the greatest absurditiesever perpetrated that persons of reasonable attitude andsituation, and with proper guidance, might not have accessto substances which had proved not only valuable, butessential to so many societies of man down through the ages.If societies that we ignorantly called primitive could usethese medicines to advantage, where was the logic in thebelief that suddenly these same substances presented somekind of grave threat to man in the Twentieth Century? One ofthe top prohibitionist agitators of the time had made thepreposterous statement that LSD was "the greatest threatfacing the country today...more dangerous than the VietnamWar."(4) If certain excesses and unwise use of thepsychedelics were appearing in American society it was notvery difficult to see that if one single thing could bedesignated a cause of the problem, it was the prohibitionitself. And how could a society purportedly so grounded inthe logic, rationality, and intellectuality illustrated byits great scientific achievements come to be so hoodwinked,so deprived of its rationality, so easily led intoabsurdity, when it came to the subject of "drugs"?One clue came from the observation that it seemednecessary to have had some personal experience with thesubstances. This very same problem had been observed in theearly days of psychedelic research, before Prohibition.Almost without exception, the researchers who had themselvestaken psychedelic drugs produced much more intelligible andsignificant work than those who had abstained, for onereason or another. But soon the abstainers were publishingaccusations that personal exposure to the substances hadcaused researchers to be biased, even that they had sufferedpermanent deformations of personality, were delusional and (6 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 24. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2no longer competent to judge the results of their ownexperiments. Two researchers, Cole and Katz, went so far asto flatly state in a paper that "only claims made bytherapists who have not themselves taken LSD are valid"(5).As Osmond wryly observed, the same critics who were accusingenthusiastic researchers of having suffered permanentpersonality changes due to their use of psychedelics, wereat the same time denying that such personality changes couldbe brought about in experimental subjects or patients!It seemed to us that if such irrational battles wereraging in the halls of academia, the only hope for thecommon man to see behind the curtain obscuring the wisdom ofthe ages was to be persuaded by a friend to find out forhimself. The knowledge of psychedelics was then somethingthat would have to pass from hand to hand among friends ofmutual trust and respect; that same knowledge would be metpublicly only with outright rejection, or worse: a situationof superb medievalism right here in modern America. Despitethe apparent confidence of Modern Civilization that it wasthe very epitome of rationality, the issue of theprohibition of psychedelics had to be diagnosed asindicative of grave underlying contradictions in theparadigms and beliefs of that civilization. And the natureof these contradictions could only be understood by viewingthem as a collective psychological phenomenon, a view whichtook on a certain forcefulness and poignancy from within thepsychedelic experience itself. What a privilege to be partyto such knowledge! And it was more than mere knowledge, itwas Wisdom for it made you weep to see it thus, and torealize the odds against counteracting or curing thesituation, even on the simplest of levels. To correct onesown metaphysical outlook in the midst of such confuision wasalready an unlikely achievement for most, even withpsychedelic assistance.I should now briefly discuss the meanings of certainterms I have been using. Models, theories, paradigms,hypotheses, even data, knowledge and wisdom can be thrownabout rather loosely in todays writing, their meaning moredependent on the intended audience of a book than on precisedefinitions. If the definitions I will now give are not (7 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 25. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2acceptable to all, then at least I will be saying what I,personally, take these terms to mean, and what they shouldbe considered to mean when I use them here.At the beginning, in those early days in Mexico, Icertainly had no idea of searching for a theory ofpsychedelic experience. In retrospect, after the passage ofmany years, I see that the work that I did and theexperiences I gained, combined with further study that hasoccupied a large part of my time ever since, fit into apattern the structure of which now seems to constitute arather interesting and multi-faceted theory about thepsychedelic experience, its place in anthropology andevolution, the mechanisms of its functioning, etc. Thus atheory is a broad and explanatory view of a panorama oftopics united by a central fact or aspect of reality. Atheory is a theory of something, although it may deal withthe most diverse subjects in the explaining of that centralsomething. But it falls short of being a paradigm in theKuhnian sense, (6) because it is an expressed, conscious andexplicit structure, continually in the state of furtherrefinement and development. The paradigm is rather a theoryor set of theories that has become transparent to thecommunity or society that employs it in their world view. Itis a set of implicit principles and views that are so takenfor granted that individual components of the paradigm areoften quite difficult to discover, so enmeshed are they inthe view they represent. A paradigm is also static, ornearly so, it is not normally developing with the additionof new experimental evidence. This is why it is found that aparadigm becomes obsolete, and is replaced by a newparadigm. A theory in development, on the other hand, mayevolve in such complex ways that it arrives at a point whichmay be radically changed from its original form. Thus I donot claim that my theory is in any way a paradigm, or arevolution in the underlying assumptions and world-view nowreigning in Western Civilization. But the theory may, incombination with other theories, eventually contribute tosuch a revolution, as I hope it will.The elements which make up a theory are models, and maytake many forms. A model may be logical, deductive,mathematical, and completely abstract as in the descriptionof a certain process or phenomenon by an equation or set ofequations. Einsteins mathematical description of curved (8 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 26. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2space is a good example: no exercise of the imagination canproduce a concrete vision of how empty space might becurved, curvature is always in our experience a curvature ofsomething, and if empty space is anything, it is nothing,not something, according to the common sense way our mindswork. The mathematical model of curvature of space makes upa part of the general relativistic theory of the structureof the universe.Other models may be practically photographic in theirimaginability. The planetary model of the atom with itsdiscrete orbiting electrons around a hard little nucleus ofanother flavor of "stuff" is still a quite useful way ofpicturing matter at this level. Notice in this example, thatthe model may be useful, at the very minimum as a teachingaid, even when the "reality" the model describes has beenshown to be something quite more complex and nebulous. In"reality", the quantum-mechanical model of atomic structureindicates that electrons are far more like probabilityclouds or waves than little hard individual particles. Thusa model such as the planetary one may be strictlyanalogical, metaphorical, perhaps even an outright "lie",and still retain some usefulness in representing aspects ofa theory. The theory of chemical combination of atoms intocompounds, as in the reaction of sodium and chlorine to formcommon salt, for instance, can still profit from theplanetary model of the atom.And when we get to the study of life sciences, where"hard" data is often difficult to come by, a model may evenfall short of the imaginable metaphor; it may simply be theresult of a process of curve-fitting and extrapolation ofseemingly random points on a graph, the extrapolation andpredictions of the model executed with little more thansheer intuition. Thus a model may range from the logical anddeductive hardness of a precise mathematical equation, tosomething as fleeting and a-logical as a sudden inspirationor intuition about the object of study and how it mightbehave under various conditions.Here we might note that a model, no matter how preciseit may appear, is never a complete or "true" picture ofreality, it is merely a temporary device used to formhypotheses about what kind of experiments to perform. Thus amodel can be something as simple as an assumed viewpointtaken just to see what that viewpoint might lead to; it (9 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 27. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2functions as an heuristic aid toward the formation oftestable ideas, ideas which have a high probability of beingrelevant, either positively or negatively, for the formationof a theory.A model is thus a device helping to form hypotheseswhich are then tested experimentally. The results ofexperiments then can be used to form an improved model, oran alternative model, and this circular process may proceedat great length until a summation process has suggested theoutline of a full-fledged theory. But the theory thatresults is more than just another model, or collection ofmodels, for it is more than just a device: it is somethingcomplex, an intricate pattern of relations which in a verysignificant way is more than just the sum of its parts,because a good theory will have many implications andramifications beyond those which are immediately evident, orthose which took part in its formation. A good theoryprovides a framework around which further modeling andexperimentation falls into place almost spontaneously,rather like the growth of a crystal around a small seedparticle immersed in a supersaturated solution. It isperhaps like a nearly-completed jigsaw puzzle, whichalthough was fitted together from pieces which at times onlyseemed to fit approximately, the overall intelligibility ofthe emerging scene lends great weight to its probableaccuracy and applicability, and further pieces of the puzzleseem to fall into place almost effortlessly. A bad theory,by contrast, tends to accumulate ever-increasing anomaly andcounter-argument against it, and it winds up being defendedby its last remaining protagonists using the mostspectacular of intellectual gymnastics, to no avail.Thus a good theory may contain among the many modelsused to construct and support it models which, consideredalone, are difficult to accept, or even completelyunbelievable in light of previously accepted theory andparadigms. Many of the models or pieces of the theory I willnow describe will certainly fall into this category for somereaders, particularly those with established professionalviewpoints to defend. In the next chapter, for example, I amgoing to attack the currently accepted model thatpsychedelic drugs cause a wide range of unpredictable andmulti-faceted effects. Most people would not even call thisa model, they would call it simple observation! The (10 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 28. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2alternative model I will propose is deceptively simple, ifsomewhat tricky to explain, and to support it I have had tocreate new models of psychological functioning replacingsome current models which themselves are so generallytransparent and accepted that their status as models wouldbe questioned. Here is the process described above whereanomaly leads to an alternate model of some phenomenon,which leads to experiments, further models, furtherexperiments, and so on until an entire theory begins to takeshape. If in those early days in Mexico I hadnt the leastinkling that I was working on a theory, I was consciouslysearching for models which made my experiences andexperiments begin to conform to a tentative pattern. And atthat stage of creative work, it is of advantage to dream upeven the wildest and most unlikely models along with themore obvious ones; only once a theory is consciously in themaking is more rigorous selection warranted. (This processof the evolution of a theory parallels what we see inbiological evolution: in the early stages, the wildest andmost bizarre life forms are tried. Later on, afterdisastrous extinctions have wiped out entire phyla, thecourse of evolution is found to be much more conservative).Once the outline of an emerging theory is in place,research may begin to scan widely in many areas. Researchmay at times consist largely of reading about and re-interpreting results of experiments performed by others,from the new viewpoint represented by the maturing theory.New ways of organizing and explaining data in areas as yetunexamined by the theory begin to show that the theoryeither has wide implications, or is not as comprehensive aspreviously thought. This process of testing the theoryagainst many new areas of understanding is what finallyyields the most interesting results. For example, justrecently I began reading about the new research on brainfunction now made possible by the latest methods of brain-scanning techniques such as PET and MRI. Interpreting muchof the data collected in terms of the psychological andcognitive models I had invented for the psychedelic theorywas not only possible, but led to a further refinement ofthose models and a strengthening of the theory as well. Itwas especially interesting to note that some of the brain-scan results which had so far only been interpreted in verytentative ways, could be explained rather well using the (11 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 29. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2psychedelic models of brain function versus cognitiveprocess proposed by my theory.Now that the background has been constructed, it iswith pleasure and relief that I launch my theory ofpsychedelic experience into certainly turbulentwaters. If it be based on delusion and self-deception the sinking will be so rapid as to beunnoticed, saving me intense embarrassment; ifthere is a glimmer of truth therein, the violenceof the storm in which it must survive might sink itas quickly. I can only grease the ways well andhope I have not left any gaping holes in itsstructure!References(1). For further information on the two species of morning-glory and their use by Mexican Amerindian tribes including afew isolated groups still today, the reader is referred tothe Botanical Museum Leaflets of Harvard University,November 22, 1963, Volume 20, No. 6. This issue contains animportant article by R. Gordon Wasson, a luminary and one ofthe originators of the science of ethnobotany, and anotherarticle by Albert Hofmann, inventor of LSD, and discovererof the active principles both of the morning-glory and thePsilocybe mushrooms of Mexico. (back)(2). As further work by Wasson and Hofmann was later toshow, there is a strong probability that an LSD-typepsychedelic preparation was also, over a period of twomillennia, an important and integral part of religious andintellectual life in an area of the world much closer to ourWestern Civilization, ancient Greece. See The Road toEleusis, Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries, by Wasson,Ruck, and Hofmann, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978. (back)(3). We were unaware at that time that two pharmaceuticalcompanies, Sandoz and Farmitalia, were perfecting a methodto grow the mycelium of ergot fungus in stirred vats filled (12 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 30. The Center of the Universe Chapter 2with nutrients. This process was able to produce high yieldsof an alkaloid much easier to use for further synthesis thanergotamine, paspalic acid. With the introduction of thismethod, other processes depending on production and harvestof either ergot or morning glories would be of littlecomparative utility. (back)(4). A statement by C.W. Sandman, Jr., chairman of the NewJersey Narcotic Drug Study Commission. (back)(5). see "Criticisms of LSD Therapy and Rebuttal" in TheHallucinogens, Hoffer and Osmond, Academic Press, 1967,pp197-205. Humphrey Osmond is one of those rare scientistswho is equally at home in the research institute as in anAmerindian peyote ceremony, and his research is illustrativeof the open-mindedness yet scientific rigor which go hand inhand to produce great scientific advance. Dr. Osmond was theone to introduce Aldous Huxley to psychedelics. (back)(6). See Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of ScientificRevolutions, Second Edition, 1970, The University of ChicagoPress, for the introduction of this term into the modernvocabulary concerned with the history and philosophy ofscience. (back)Chapter 3 | Table of ContentsSend e-mail to The Psychedelic Library: psd_lib@druglibrary.orgThe Psychedelic Library | Books Menu Page (13 of 13) [5/1/2002 12:45:34 PM]
  • 31. Psychedelic Library HomepageBooks Menu PageThe Center of the UniverseWilliam S. Moxley3. Effects of Psychedelic DrugsI had originally thought to write a chapter on thehistory of use of psychedelic drugs, but there havealready been several excellent books and researchpapers published in this area, and I have nothingnew to add. (1) At the risk of leaving out animportant body of substantiating evidence for partsof my theory, including the history of what havebeen thought to be the various effects of thedrugs, I will simply recommend that the readeracquaint himself with the subject from the alreadyprolific selection of works, many of which arelisted in the Bibliography. The risk is that areader who holds some prejudice that psychedelicuse has merely been the province of a few oddballtribes, or something that could be safely ignoredwhen theorizing in anthropology or human biologicaland social evolution, will therefore hold the sameprejudice when trying to evaluate my theory.Nothing could be further from the truth.Psychedelic use appears to be the rule, rather thanthe exception, in every corner of the earth whereman has developed. And not just in times we maysafely relegate to the stone age: I have alreadymentioned the strong likelihood that lysergic acidalkaloids were important in Greek Civilization over (1 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 32. period of two thousand years. Once acquaintedwith the wealth of evidence concerning early use ofpsychedelic drugs, the reader or researcher whothen picks up a new book on anthropology, religion,human evolution and the evolution of consciousnessand finds no relevant entries in the index, willhave immediate and compelling reasons to questionthe authors scholarship!The discontinuance of use of psychedelics formost non-Western societies seemed to coincide withthe arrival of European "civilizing" influence, yetstubborn traces of psychedelic use persisted widelyuntil modern times, as witnessed by recent studiesof Central and South American Amerindian tribes,and of course the widely known use of peyote bymembers of the Native American Church. Thediscontinuance of psychedelic use in WesternCivilization itself coincided with the rise of theRoman Church as the primary political power in theworld. From the early centuries of the Christianepoch, the use of such substances became theoccupation of heretics, outcasts, witches,primitives or other similarly uncivilized, satanicelements. (2) The Church, of course, saw nocontradiction in the wholesale slaughter of suchgroups for their own good. Continuing psychedelicuse over the centuries in many parts of the worldhas thus been a carefully guarded secret, andmodern estimates of its frequency and importanceare probably grossly underestimated.The extract of Ipomoea violacea that we had preparedradiated power, just sitting there in its flask. A lightamber, odorless syrup which, in the darkened laboratoryfluoresced brilliantly blue under ultraviolet light, it wasan extreme contrast with the series of messy, difficult topurify, dark-colored and discouraging volumes ofintermediate sludge we had treated, and brought to mind theCuries and their arduous separation of a few tiny crystalsof glowing radium from a mountain of pitchblende. Thedifficulties had, however, taught us much about ways in (2 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 33. we would modify our processes for future work. As forthe extract, the following day would see the first test ofits activity, with myself as the guinea-pig. I was by thistime hardly a novice in self-administration of my ownpreparations or in the estimation of what effects they mighthave. I was, in fact, quite adept at taking most anysupposed substance of enlightenment and avoiding nastycomplications if the brew turned out to be bogus. On manyoccasions in New York, more than a little caution had beenrequired to avoid not only the classic "rip-off" but alsothe inevitable dangers that Prohibition naturally produced.Once, a purported sample of magic mushroom I was offeredproved to be only a few wasted store-bought champignonslaced with powdered datura seeds. Although hallucinogenic,the experience of datura was not the least insightful, nordid it leave me with an experience which hinted atdimensions normally closed to everyday perception. I spent afew unpleasant hours also with Owsleys famous STP, which inthe original dose was far too potent for human consumption.Fortunately I took only a quarter-dose, there having beenevidence of difficult times for others with this syntheticdrug.The morning-glory extract provided not a nasty surprise,but a powerful surprise none the less. It was by far themost powerful experience I had yet encountered. Perhaps themethods of our extraction had yielded a product morerepresentative of the shamans recipe than the preparationsobtained by other investigators, who reported only modestpsychedelic effects. The experience of that day was hardlymodest, from the beginning moments it certainly did not failto inspire reverence and humility, no matter what thedirection to which I managed to guide it. The colors andgeometric patterns, the rippling waves so often seen inwatching clouds in the sky, the slowing of time and othertypical effects so frequently described in the literaturehad some time ago become only minor and unattended aspectsof psychedelic experience for me. Certainly, I still noticedthese effects, if I took the trouble to pay attention tothem. But the psychedelic experience had become for me farmore an arena for the Herculean task of attempting toachieve the truly original perspective for viewing thefundamental questions that man has posed since the beginningof time. It was the task of freeing oneself completely from (3 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 34., from habits of thinking that affected theoutcome of seeking in unknown and unconscious ways. And ofcourse, it was paradoxical, if not impossible to erase thesefilters of comprehension completely. To a very significantextent, comprehension consisted of these filters.Nevertheless, the psychedelic experience seemed to go quitea good distance in providing this ability, if one were readyto use it. Particularly the experience of that day.An additional very serious question that I have examinedpractically every time I undergo an experience is that of myposition in giving a psychedelic drug that I have preparedto another person. The peyote extract, and now the morning-glory alkaloids would be given to friends, and their friendsperhaps, and it seemed necessary to explore where theexperience of these substances might lead for others thanmyself. As I indicated above, I would recommend datura forno-one, and Owsleys invention I would strongly recommendagainst. In the case of providing a psychedelic that Imyself have prepared, it is a great responsibility, not somuch for any immediate risk that an experience might entail,but rather in the sense that one thus becomes a shaman whoinitiates another human being into awareness of thatmysterious something that forever remains just out of reach.The responsibility is to ensure that the one initiated shallsee the significance of this event, of this process ofinitiation. If not, the ability of a person to achieve suchinsight may be stifled, if not completely eliminated fromthat point on, and it is his shaman who is to blame. It islike saving someones life, in the way some orientalphilosophies understand it, if the initiation is successful.Many people, of course, are capable of initiatingthemselves, I certainly had, and so had many others I hadknown. But to manufacture psychedelic substances anddistribute them widely and at random, as had been donerecently in the United States, left something important outof the equation describing the power of these substances toaffect important changes in those who experienced them, andin society at large. On the other hand, I could not ignorethe argument that the Prohibition had denied man one of hismost fundamental rights, and according to the wisdomexpressed by the American Constitutional scholar AlexanderBickel, (4 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 35. cannot, by total reliance on law, escape theduty to judge right and wrong... There are goodlaws and there are occasionally bad laws, and itconforms to the highest traditions of a freesociety to offer resistance to bad laws, and todisobey them.The details of the morning-glory experience that day hadmuch more to do with my personal idiosyncrasies of the timethan with issues relevant to the present narrative. At ahigh point of the experience, a minor earthquake occurredwhich, for the life of me, seemed to be provoked by mypatterns of thought, seeking answers to questions that had acertain air of being forbidden, questions that no mortalcould support the weight of significance the answers wouldunload upon him. The whole scene would of course bedismissed as an hallucination by my analyst, if I had one.But the earth tremor was real, and it did coincide with theclimax of certain thoughts I was entertaining. Although thedetails of such experiences may sometimes represent battlesof the self against its own quirks and limitations, and on apersonal level I have quite satisfactorily concluded whatthe experiences of that day had to teach, one still gains acumulative and more generally applicable knowledge fromprofound psychedelic experience. And I believe it was theexperience of that day which first started me thinking aboutthe "effects" that these substances produced, trying tounderstand how they could be so different from person toperson and from experience to experience. (And theexperience of that day seemed to indicate that psychedelicsmight possibly cause earthquakes!)Some researchers had proposed that the effects ofpsychedelics were more the result of set and setting than ofthe drug per se. This seemed to be a useful model as far asit went, but really it didnt go very far in my opinion. Thesetting of a psychedelic experience was simply thesurroundings, the comfortable living room or beautifulgarden to be contrasted with the sterile and sometimesthreatening atmosphere of the hospital wards where someearly research had been carried out. The set was defined asthe attitudes, motivations, preconceptions, and intentionsof the individual, in combination with the introductory (5 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 36. and instructions that were provided by the researchersor guides, if any. Here is a short illustrative example:Language, however, used to develop anegative set and setting. Jean Houston (1967) hasdescribed one of her initial observations of LSDadministration. The subject was told by thepsychiatrist that he would have "a terrible,terrible experience" filled with "strong anxietyand delusions." The drug was administered in anantiseptic hospital room with several observers inwhite coats watching him. As the effects came on,the psychiatrist asked such questions as, "Is youranxiety increasing?" At the end of the experiment,the subject was in a state of panic. Thepsychiatrist announced to the group that LSD isindeed a "psychotomimetic" substance, which inducespsychotic behavior. (3)Now here is a shaman who has failed most miserably inhis responsibilities. What was so appalling about some ofthis early "scientific" research with psychedelics, was thatit was structured not with just an ignorance, but a willfulignorance of methods used by the aboriginal practitioners ofthe same curing arts as the modern psychiatrists professedto practice. Peyote shamans in the western states of the USwere very likely that same day conducting psychedelicsessions in a somewhat different manner:The ritual developed by the Native American Churchillustrates the use of language to produce apositive set and setting for the ingestion ofpeyote. A ceremonial leader, the head chief,initiates the singing of songs and co-ordinatesrequests by individuals for special prayers. Theritual is so arranged and so coordinated to theneeds of the communicants that the maximum possiblelikelihood of a positive spiritual experience isenhanced. (4)If the prospect of singing for his patients would seem (6 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 37. to the modern psychiatrist, he is also willfullyignorant of the great many psychedelic studies in whichrecorded music and other aesthetic input was successfullyused to create positive set and setting. The work of Hofferand Osmond, or of Masters and Houston are good examples:The LSD treatment is conducted in a comfortable,aesthetically pleasing, spacious room, in no waysuggestive of a clinical setting...the therapistwears ordinary street clothes or something morecasual, depending on the needs of the patient. Nomedical or scientific "uniform" should be worn. Thesession should be presented less as therapy than aseducational and developmental experience. Thetherapist steps out of his role as "doctor" andbecomes more the patients mentor and guide, whowill lead him through the unique world ofpsychedelic experience and enable him to profitfrom it...The patient should be exposed to a rich variety ofsensory stimuli... Objects, when touched may seemvibrantly alive, and when looked at, may seem tobreathe or undergo successive transformations. Anorange that is handed the patient may appear to bea golden planet; from a piece of cork may emerge aseries of striking "works of art." Joyous musicusually is played to help direct him emotionally.Typically, the patient will announce that he ishearing music as if for the first time. All thesenses are given an opportunity to respond"psychedelically." (5)"Psychedelic drugs, such as LSD and mescaline, give riseto awesome and extraordinary mental changes in whichperceptions are so altered from normal human experience,they cannot readily be described." Many similar statementshave been made, this one is by Solomon H. Snyder in his bookDrugs and the Brain. (6) If the concept of set and settingas the determining parameter of the content of psychedelicexperience has only limited value for understanding (7 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 38. such as Snyders, we need a new model which notonly is capable of showing what cognitive and neurologicalmechanisms could facilitate such experiences, how the drugmight catalyze or initiate a chain of events the content ofwhich would depend entirely on the individual, but alsoshowing why statements about the psychedelic experience haveso far been themselves awesome and extraordinary yetdecidedly lacking in explanatory power.I am going to propose a view that attributing fantasticand indescribable effects to psychedelic drugs is naive andmisleading. From all we know about the complexity,ineffability, and continually surprising nature of the humanmind, attribution of such causal power to a molecule seems amere projection, and a symptom of the unwillingness tocontemplate these characteristics of the mind directly.Neither can we justify attributing such power to meremolecules in view of what is known about the neurologicaleffects of psychoactive drugs in general. The primaryneurological effects of psychedelics, like other drugs whichaffect the central nervous system, must be relativelysimple, localized, and perhaps only minimally connected intime with the supposed fantastic attributes which follow.All the facts point toward a simple, quite easily explainedmechanism for the neurological action of LSD or otherpsychedelics. How the mind reacts to this simple change innervous system operation is another matter, for here it isthe complexity of mind itself in question.The argument is that what LSD or other psychedelic drugsdo is simple, what the mind does complex, and if the eventof ingesting a psychedelic substance is followed by someamazing mental events, it must be the case that the mind iscapable of such events all on its own, or under a variety ofdiverse influences. The drug is in no sense analogous to acomputer program, causing the brain and mind to submit toits instructions; if it were, the effects of the drug wouldbe far more reproducible and typical.Before describing what simple mechanism could allow apsychedelic drug to catalyze the events of psychedelicexperience, let us take a closer look at what have beentouted as the "effects" of psychedelic drugs. My task willbe to show how each of these effects is not strictly aneffect of the drug itself, but one of the many things themind may do under various circumstances, one being a certain (8 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 39. yet fundamental change in neurological routinesprovoked by a drug. The choice of the word catalyze isappropriate, I think, for in chemistry the action of acatalyst is to lower an energy barrier which prevents areaction from happening, not to actually take part in thereaction itself.As a starting point in my theory therefore, let us thinkof the effect of a psychedelic drug as eliminative of someobstacle, rather than additive: the drug functions as afacilitator of inherently possible processes, a substancewhich by its neurological action allows or assists certainnatural processes to occur which might otherwise be rare orimprobable. In the following quotation, let us see if we canunderstand each "effect" not as something that a psychedelicdrug does, but as something which we might do, if onlyrarely, under certain circumstances. The list below,although originally compiled as a phenomenology of ASCs (7)in general (including hypnosis, religious trance, deliriousstates, various intoxications other than psychedelic, etc.),has been widely agreed to represent the majorcharacteristics observed of the psychedelic state, althoughsome improvement in their description could be imagined.Where applicable, I have edited the descriptions to accordwith psychedelic experience alone:A. Alterations in thinking. Subjective disturbancesin concentration, attention, memory, and judgmentrepresent common findings. Archaic modes of thought(primary-process thought) predominate, and realitytesting seems impaired to varying degrees. Thedistinction between cause and effect becomesblurred, and ambivalence may be pronounced wherebyincongruities or opposites may coexist without any(psycho)logical conflict...B. Disturbed time sense. Sense of time andchronology become greatly altered. Subjectivefeelings of timelessness, time coming to astandstill, the acceleration or slowing of time,and so on, are common. Time may also seem ofinfinite or infinitesimal duration.C. Loss of control. As a person enters or is in an (9 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 40., he often experiences fears of losing his gripon reality and losing his self-control. During theinduction phase, he may actively try to resistexperiencing the ASC...while in other instances hemay actually welcome relinquishing his volition andgiving in to the experience.D. Change in emotional expression. With thediminution of conscious control or inhibitions,there is often a marked change in emotionalexpression. Sudden and unexpected displays of moreprimitive and intense emotion than shown duringnormal, waking consciousness may appear. Emotionalextremes, from ecstasy and orgiastic equivalents toprofound fear and depression, commonly occur...E. Body image change. A wide array of distortionsin body image frequently occur in ASCs. There isalso a common propensity for individuals toexperience a profound sense of depersonalization, aschism between body and mind, feelings ofderealization, or a dissolution of boundariesbetween self and others, the world, or universe.There are also some other common features whichmight be grouped under this heading. Not only mayvarious parts of the body appear or feel shrunken,enlarged, distorted, heavy, weightless,disconnected, strange, or funny, but spontaneousexperiences of dizziness, blurring of vision,weakness, numbness, tingling, and analgesia arelikewise encountered.F. Perceptual distortions. Common to most ASCs isthe presence of perceptual aberrations, includinghallucinations, pseudohallucinations, increasedvisual imagery, subjectively felt hyperacuteness ofperception, and illusions of every variety. Thecontent of these perceptual aberrations may bedetermined by cultural, group, individual, orneurophysiological factors and represent eitherwish-fulfillment fantasies, the expression of basicfears or conflicts, or simply phenomena of littledynamic import, such as hallucinations of light, (10 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 41., geometrical patterns, or shapes. In someASCs, such as those produced by psychedelic drugs,marihuana, or mystical contemplation, synesthesiasmay appear whereby one form of sensory experienceis translated into another form. For example,persons may report seeing or feeling sounds orbeing able to taste what they see.G. Change in meaning or significance. Afterobserving and reading descriptions of a widevariety of ASCs induced by different agents ormaneuvers, I have become very impressed with thepredilection of persons in these states to attachan increased meaning or significance to theirsubjective experiences, ideas, or perceptions. Attimes, it appears as though the person isundergoing an attenuated "eureka" experience duringwhich feelings of profound insight, illumination,and truth frequently occur.H. Sense of the ineffable. Most often, because ofthe uniqueness of the subjective experienceassociated with certain ASCs (e.g., transcendental,aesthetic, creative, psychotic, and mysticalstates), persons claim a certain ineptness orinability to communicate the nature or essence ofthe experience to someone who has not undergone asimilar experience.I. Feelings of rejuvenation. ...On emerging fromcertain profound alterations of consciousness(e.g., psychedelic experiences, ...hypnosis,religious conversion, transcendental and mysticalstates), ...many persons claim to experience a newsense of hope, rejuvenation, renaissance, orrebirth.J. Hypersuggestibility. …The increasedsusceptibility and propensity of personsuncritically to accept and/or automatically torespond to specific statements...or nonspecificcues (i.e., cultural or group expectations forcertain types of behavior or subjective feelings). (11 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 42. will also refer to theincreased tendency of a person to misperceive ormisinterpret various stimuli or situations basedeither on his inner fears or wishes. (8)Or consider the following list of effects:LSD and peyote are potent psycho-chemicals thatalter and expand the human consciousness. Even thebriefest summation of the psychological effects ofthese drugs would have to include the following:Changes in visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory,gustatory, and kinesthetic perception; changes inexperiencing time and space; changes in the rateand content of thought; body image changes;hallucinations; vivid images—eidetic images—seenwith the eyes closed; greatly heightened awarenessof color; abrupt and frequent mood and affectchanges; heightened suggestibility; enhanced recallor memory; depersonalization and ego dissolution;dual, multiple, and fragmentized consciousness;seeming awareness of internal organs and processesof the body; upsurge of unconscious materials;enhanced awareness of linguistic nuances; increasedsensitivity to nonverbal cues; sense of capacity tocommunicate much better by nonverbal means,sometimes including the telepathic; feelings ofempathy; regression and "primitivization";apparently heightened capacity for concentration;magnification of character traits and psychodynamicprocesses; an apparent nakedness of psychodynamicprocesses that makes evident the interaction ofideation, emotion, and perception with one anotherand with inferred unconscious processes; concernwith philosophical, cosmological, and religiousquestions; and, in general, apprehension of a worldthat has slipped the chains of normal categoricalordering, leading to an intensified interest inself and world and also to a range of responsesmoving from extremes of anxiety to extremes ofpleasure. These are not the only effects of thepsychedelic drugs... (9) (12 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 43. authors here do not leave any doubt about theirattribution of causes, but to be fair, it must be statedthat the more cautious researchers seemed aware, at least tosome extent, of the difficulties in such attributions,although without taking the trouble to deny the implication.Hoffer and Osmond put it thus:The LSD experience is one about which there can beno argument about priorities between chemical andpsychological factors. For there is no doubtwhatever the chemical is given first and must causethe biochemical changes which later find expressionin the psychological experience... A good deal isknown about its [LSDs] phenomenal reactivity. Whatis not known is which one of its many biochemicalreactions is the most relevant in producing thepsychological changes. [italics added]. (10)The authors could be accused of semanticprestidigitation here, but I think it was more a matter ofthe difficulty of understanding the psychedelic experiencerather than a conscious effort to make a statement thatwould be right no matter what the actual pathway of causeand effect turned out to be. Many researchers of the timeshow a dawning awareness in their published works of theunsatisfactory implications of the application of classicalcause and effect paradigms to many of the more unusualfindings in psychedelic research. But if some researchersdid not go so far as to state flatly that LSD causesmystical experience, or that LSD causes perceptual timedistortions, or that LSD causes any number of other effectswhich writers are so fond of describing, at most they seemedjust to add an additional link in the causal chain, asabove. Observe, however, the statements of some (viz.,ardent critics of psychedelic research) that LSD causedpsychosis, or a schizophrenic-like state, or even suicide.Even court-cases, criminal and civil, were resolved on thebasis that psychedelic drugs were a logical cause of variousacts or behaviors, or even instances of "mental illness".In the press and other popular writing, several accountsof hellish, or trivial experiences of an absurd nature were (13 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 44. by those who considered themselves agnostics,skeptics or clear-thinkers, attempting to minimize orridicule the sometimes mystical-sounding claims of thosesuch as Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, or Alan Watts. Thesedebunking attempts uniformly portrayed the results of thereporters psychedelic ingestion as a kind of Hollywoodmovie, as if the drug were some roll of science-fiction filmforcibly projected upon his otherwise quite understandableand controllable life. "The drug made me do this, made mesee that, caused me to think I was a..." etc. If someone hada negative experience, especially if he were a notedreporter or medical practitioner, then his report left nodoubt whatsoever about what the cause was, where the blamelay.I hope that it is now becoming clear that although theingestion of a psychedelic drug may be the first event of aseries of events that culminates in undeniably profoundperceptual and psychological changes, the simplisticdesignation of the first event as the logical cause of theentire chain of following events makes no more sense than mysaying that psychedelic ingestion causes earthquakes. Themind-events of psychedelic experience, I am suggesting, arein an important sense just as "exterior" and coincidental tothe ingestion of the drug as was the earthquake Iexperienced on the roof of my little bungalow inGuadalajara. It is my view that attribution of cause andeffect along these lines must be abandoned completely, it isa misleading model of psychedelic experience and must bereplaced. Even the idea that a psychedelic drug causesdistortions of perception must be scrapped. The whole ideaof causation as it is currently conceived relative topsychedelic experience is a metaphor, but unlike the modelas metaphor which is a useful device to understand andpredict, the metaphor in this case is an impediment to aclear understanding. This is a major reason why the resultsof psychedelic research have been so difficult to interpret,and also a reason why it was so easy to criticize, evenridicule both the research and the workers who produced it.When I took the drug myself, I found that I wassuffering from the delusion that I had beenpsychoanalyzed. I had spent seven and a half yearson the couch and over $20,000, and so I thought I (14 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 45. been psychoanalyzed. But a few sessions withLSD convinced me otherwise.—Mortimer A. Hartman, Psychiatric Institute ofBeverly Hills, 1959As a first step in my replacement of the trivial modelof psychedelic experience, I am going to reverse thesituation at hand and ask, not what causes the psychedelicexperience, but rather what causes us to be in our "normal"state of mind most, if not all of the time? We might saythat the brain in its normal neurochemical state issufficient cause. The champions of reductionism of coursemaintain that the mind and its experiences cannot beanything but states of the brains neurons; this is, ofcourse, Francis Cricks "Astonishing Hypothesis". (11) I,among more notable critics of such strong reductivematerialism, would call it (at best) a Premature Hypothesis,considering the present rudimentary state of scientificknowledge about the nervous system. If recent criticisms andcounter-arguments against the reductionist position havebeen less astonishing, (12) they have been more accurate inillustrating present limitations in understanding causationat and especially across the various hierarchical levels ofcomplexity between the physics and the biochemistry ofneurons at one extreme, and consciousness and mind at thehighest levels of organization. A few paragraphsillustrating the difficulties and paradoxes of the conceptcausation might be in order, although the topic is hotlydebated and I will gain perhaps as many critics as convertsfrom my personal observations:If, (due to the ambiguity of causation when one attemptsto apply the concept across levels of description orcomplexity), the neurochemical state of the brain is notstrictly and exclusively a cause either of normal orextranormal states of mind, this is of course not to denythat there are correspondences between brain processesinvolving neurons, cognitive processes involving systems ofbrain parts, and conscious experience involving the totalorganism. Nor is it to deny the possibility of learningthings about one level from studying another. It is the (15 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 46. of causation of events between one level of thishierarchy and another which is fraught with difficulties.Processes at one level are simply not strictly reducible toprocesses at another, in spite of their mutualinterdependence.The distinction here is important, if seeminglyparadoxical, and may possibly be understood better by theobservation that two entirely different cognitive processesarriving at two entirely different "states of mind", musthave the potential to occur from exactly the same originalneurochemical state of the brain. Stated a littledifferently: exhaustive examination and description of agiven brain state or series of brain states (if it werepossible) cannot in principle predict the overall consciousexperience of the owner of that brain. Conversely, twodifferent dynamic brain states might well have thepossibility of corresponding to the same consciousexperience. If these considerations were not the case, freewill would necessarily be an illusion and absolutedeterminism unavoidable; only the extreme fringe ofphilosophy seriously believes this to be the true state ofmankind. (13) Absolute determinism is, of course, theposition that everyone, all the time, is determined byantecedent, irresistible physical conditions, so that freewill becomes as meaningless as the idea that my computerscreen might suddenly decide to exhibit a "P" when I tap "Q"on the keyboard. Although computers in good repair normallymind their Ps and Qs, consciousness does not.I see the error of attribution of causation concerningpsychedelics as representative of the same error on thelarger scale of the whole question of mind-brainrelationships. In most current models of consciousness, ofwhich there recently have been many, there seems to me afundamental ignorance of the logical repercussions ofsaying, for instance, that the mind, or consciousness, mustbe caused by the brain. John Searle, the author of one ofthe more cautious and measured treatises on consciousness(14) nevertheless writes,It is an amazing fact that everything in ourconscious life, from feeling pains, tickles, anditches to—pick your favorite—feeling the angst ofpostindustrial man under late capitalism or (16 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 47. the ecstasy of skiing in deeppowder—is caused by brain processes. As far as weknow the relevant processes take place at the microlevels of synapses, neurons, neuron columns, andcell assemblies. All of our conscious life iscaused by these lower-level processes, but we haveonly the foggiest idea of how it all works. (15)Searle suggests that objections to brain-to-mindcausation result from a "flawed conception of causation",and he attempts to split the concept in two: event-causation(a causal relation "between discrete events orderedsequentially in time"), and non-event causation which heillustrates with the example of the collective properties ofthe molecules of a table "causing" its apparent solidity.But I would suggest that these two concepts of causation areso radically opposed in their meaning and properties,perhaps being logically mutually exclusive, that it would ata minimum be best to avoid using the same term for bothprocesses. Event-causation rests comfortably within the samelevel of description, whereas Searles non-event causationviolates that comfort. If non-event causation is calledinstead "facilitation", suggesting that in such a processthere are entities and aspects which arise mutually ratherthan depend causally upon each other, we may lose thesecurity of believing that we know something of theunderlying mechanisms of mind-brain relationships, but gaina more pragmatic basis for further understanding. Let usview a collection of wood molecules as "allowing" or"facilitating" the properties we recognize as "table", inthe same sense that a valley allows or facilitates theflowing of a river through it: in neither case is causationmeaningful if we wish this term to retain any concreteusefulness. Does the valley cause the river? (Actually, theriver has caused the valley through the process of erosion!)Yet without the valley: no river! Without the molecules: notable! The table was "caused" by the menuisier who built it:to use the same term in the attempt to see how propertiesarise mutually with the object or process which manifestthose properties only confuses. Causation would logicallyhave to operate bi-directionally in such instances, and thuslose its meaning entirely. Again, it is clear that (17 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 48. to apply the concept of causation acrossdifferent levels of description becomes paradoxical at best.Quite obviously the point of view that brain causes mindarises from that argument of poverty, "well what else couldit be?" (In other words, "dont bring any mystical entitiesinto this discussion or I will dismiss your view asunscientific"). But if brain causes mind or consciousness,and we are to understand causation in a reasonably logicaland precise way, then mind and consciousness are superfluousand inoperative constructs. The two theorems of causation wemust agree to are: a cause must precede its effect in time,however briefly, and, because the brain is composed ofdiscrete, non-infinitesimal components, a cause broughtabout by brain processes may likewise not be infinitesimal,or differential, it must have duration and other measurablecharacteristics. From here it follows that if mind is causedby the brain, and only by the brain, it may have noproperties in and of itself. It is reduced to the status ofa gargoyle, or legs on a snake. If brain states cause mentalstates in exclusivity, then consciousness and mind can haveno part in causation whatever, since whatever is proposed asan effect of mind must actually be the result of priorcausation by the brain. And according to the greatphilosophers of both past and present, the whole point ofmind/consciousness is that it most definitely does have thepower of causation. In a non-trivial sense then, it appearsat least as valid to say that mind causes brain as to saythe reverse, a paradoxical result to be sure.So we see that across the various hierarchical levelsbetween the physics and chemistry of neurons of the brainand the human mind, it is very difficult if not impossibleto attribute clear-cut principles of causation. Causationseems to enter the picture at each and every hierarchicallevel, and is not wholly reducible to prior causation atanother level of organization. About all that can be saidwith confidence at this point is that brain and mindfacilitate and reflect each other, like the valley and theriver, but in no logical sense do they cause each other;that they are parallel processes, and for an analogue ofthis seemingly paradoxical statement I would compare themind-brain duality to particle-wave duality in quantummechanics. The wave attributes of electromagnetic radiationdo not cause the particle attributes, nor vice versa. The (18 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 49. contradictory and mutually exclusive properties alwaysaccompany each other, and whether the one is observed or theother depends entirely on ones point of view, i.e., theexperiment one performs. Once again we see the importance ofpoint of view, or levels of description. Attribution ofcausation between levels is inherently meaningless. This isso far a very rudimentary model, I admit, and gives littlehelp for forming testable hypotheses. But we should not feelthere is some cosmic guarantee that we can devise anunderstandable model in this case. There is, after all, someparadox in the using of mind to understand mind, and weshould expect some limitations.Thus the argument that the normal brain causes normalmind, or that psychedelics cause expanded mind orconsciousness, are both fallacious explanations.Nevertheless, we can, and have found changes in neuralsignaling in the brain which are caused, in the classicalsense, by the psychedelic drugs. If we can combine the factsof these changes with the vastly improved (yet still veryrudimentary) knowledge we now have of the sequential,parallel, and cybernetic cognitive processes that occur inthe various brain systems under a wide range of conditions,and test the resulting overall model of neural signalingagainst an improved cognitive or psychological model of thepsychedelic state of mind, a new theory may be in themaking. To restate some of the essentials of this theory: itwill have to be a theory of processes, parallel processesthat are complimentary ways of understanding an overallaspect of reality, of processes of cybernetic control andfeedback, of processes in which classical cause and effectmay be at best a blurred and uncertain property. If it isobjected that inapplicability of cause and effect seemsunreasonable, remember that physics had to confront the samekind of paradoxes earlier in this century, and succeededadmirably. There is good reason to believe that theories ofthe ultimate structure of mind and consciousness will be noless and probably more mired in apparent paradox thantheories of the ultimate structure of matter and energy.But I am getting ahead of myself. As for my theory, orany theory, being a good explanation of consciousness or (19 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 50., no author should dare such a claim today. A woven webof guesses with a very imprecise weave would be a big claim.I shall deal with the implications of my theory for mind, orMind, only near the end of this exposition, and only assheer speculation. Let me first deal with the cognitive andpsychological models of the psychedelic experience, forthese were the aspects that I first explored, and it wasthrough the construction and testing of these models that Iwas able to devise models of neurological functioning whichcould explain the cognitive processes that I had observed.Now the cognitive model I am going to describe will be forthe moment a "naked model" having no structure to supportit, and since the model will be a radical departure, in someways, from the way we currently believe our cognitiveprocesses to operate, it will be easy for the reader todismiss it. Bear with me as the pieces of the puzzle fallinto place around the chosen starting point.Remember that above I asked that the first considerationshould be: "let us think of the effect of a psychedelic drugas eliminative, rather than additive: the drug functions asa facilitator of inherent processes, a substance which byits neurological action allows or assists certain processesto occur which might otherwise be rare or improbable." Ialso mentioned above that the psychedelic experience seemsto provide a certain freedom from habits of thinking, italmost ensures that one is more sensitive to ones ownprejudicial ways of seeing, hearing, perceiving, acting, andmost importantly, feeling, reasoning and deciding. So far Ihave used the term "thinking" (as in habits of thinking),rather imprecisely, including within its domain all sorts ofmental processes. I will presently re-define thinking todenote two distinct categories of mental processes, thefirst pre-conscious and largely automatic, the secondcomprising the processes we normally think of (!) asthinking: reasoning and deciding, for example. The necessityto provide some careful definitions is evident simply fromthe number of ways I have used "think" in this introductoryparagraph, as well as the obvious overlapping of meaningwith other terms. Starting with the common usage andunderstanding of such terms therefore, I will try to providemore precise and functional meanings as I go along.Considering the power of psychedelic experience torepress in some way, or at least make one more aware of (20 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 51. of thinking as they happen, I am unavoidably led tothe idea that such habits are a far more important factor inthe normal operation of the brain/mind then has beensupposed. But for a long time, something (perhaps theBehaviorist legacy that I mentioned previously), seems tohave stifled not only the study of consciousness but alsothe pursuit of any technical understanding of what a habitis, psychologically and neurologically. The word "habit" isused only non-technically in the literature, with fewexceptions, since the time of William James. But it seems tome that a habit, and there is no denying that we "have"habits galore, must consist of something more definable,more describable technically, the concept must have a moreheuristic value than merely leaving the term to fend foritself in popular use. (16) A habit, or as I will now callthem, Habit Routines, must be something very much like amemory, (17) but different from a memory in that it isroutinely and automatically retrieved and employed withoutany awareness of its presence or effect.In looking for a possible site for the storage of habitroutines, analogous to the idea of memory storage, itoccurred to me that probably the "data" (18) of memory andthe data of habit routine was the same data, but that it wasaccessed in different ways, perhaps by different systems inthe brain. When a memory is accessed, either intentionallyor by some random cue, what pops into awareness is a scene,a representation in the various sense domains of a specificand time-delimited event or series of events. We have amemory of some specific and bounded fragment of the past,although one memory may then cue another representinganother period of time altogether. I call this access ofmemory, Logical Memory Access, or LMA. It is logical in thatthe specific characteristics of the memory, the variousinformational fragments from each sensory modality which areaccessed, are related in time and place and represent asequence of events as they appear to have happened. (19)When a habit routine is called up for use, a process Icall Habit Routine Search, or HRS, the elements of theroutine do not seem to be bound by the same time and placeconsiderations: they may represent fragments of data thatwere recorded at many different times and situations, butwith one or more defining parameters relevant to dealingwith the situation for which the habit routine has been (21 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 52. LMA and HRS are therefore two different means ofaccessing the data of long-term memory for two differentcognitive results. LMA yields a tangible memory, HRS yieldsan unconscious evaluation pattern. (20)I may now advance the hypothesis that the habit routinesearch is a constant and primary process of cognitiveactivity of the mind/brain, and furthermore that it is themain and essential, underlying and pre-conscious process inthe activity we know as thinking. This part of thinking,(let us call it thinking1), I will define as the unconsciousassociational and evaluative process including habit routinesearch which precedes, by just that fraction of a second,the awareness of what is thought through the use of languageor other representational modalities such as the imaginationand manipulation of visual scenes, the use of gestures, thecreation of music and art; these processes are calledsymbolization. (21) And since the mind/brain is cybernetic,current sensory or environmental input must always includeor be mixed with input from trains of thought leading to theinstant we are experiencing.Thus the determining parameters for HRS consist of theenvironmental moment (the total sensory input), plus ongoingfeedback generated by conscious reaction to the currenthabit routine that has already been generated. We can usethe term "thinking2" to denote and include all thosesecondary processes we would normally call thinking,including symbolization, checking and logical analysis,reasoning, decision and feedback of instructions ormodifying parameters to ongoing thinking1. Thinking2 has theproperties that some would label as consciousness, but Iwould, at least for the moment, like to avoid using theword, if only to simplify my descriptive task.The feedback of instructions and parameters to ongoingthinking1 probably uses what is now called working memory, ashort-term limited-capacity memory buffer or store which isthe subject of much contemporary research and debate. Thereare apparently several aspects or domains of working memory:one or more short term stores for spatial and visualinformation, another for auditory information, perhapsdivided between speech-based and musical functions, andperhaps working memory stores for combinations of sensoryand cognitive data as well. I will have more to say onworking memory, its various aspects and functions, and (22 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 53. brain sites for its operation in the next couple ofchapters. For the moment I will hypothesize an "information"storage site in the brain which holds instructions providedby one set of thinking functions (thinking2), for theexecution of another set of thinking functions (thinking1)which provide the raw material for the process as a whole.Thus the habit routine search of thinking1 in the data oflong-term memory is modified and guided by instructions fromthe decisions of thinking2 held in working memory. Thesedecisions may be deliberate, or largely automatic yetavailable for introspection. Figure 1 represents a simpleflow chart of the processes described.FIGURE 1. Flow Chart of Cognitive Processes.ENV=Environmental moment, all sensory input at thegiven moment. HRS=Habit Routine Search function,projects ENV into LTM and retrieves the HabitRoutine. LTM=Long Term Memory. HR+S=Assembled habitroutine plus selected Sensory information.ACTION=implementation of habit routine in physicalaction or approval of cognitive disposition; may berejected in "SW", switch controlled by conscious (23 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 54. The HABIT ROUTINE is both a templatecontaining relevant sensory data from ENV, and atthe same time a prefabricated plan for reaction toENV and its WM (Working Memory) input. HR+S isdelivered to Thinking2 for Checking, Analysis,Attention, to which Symbolization resonates. Theseconscious processes are then used for Decision toaccept or reject the habit routine and optionallyprovide input parameters via WM affecting furtherHRS. Thinking1=unconscious processes not availabledirectly to introspection. Thinking2=consciousprocesses, but may be automatic and unattendedunless Attention is active. Decision based oneither unattended processes, or processesscrutinized with Attention and/or Symbolization.Decision may accept, reject, supply parameters, andrequest further HRS. Decide has a double-headedarrow back to other thinking2 activities toindicate that there are cycles of thinking2processes possible before deciding then altersongoing thinking1 processes. Checking and Analysisare merely representative of all such functionswhich could be said to consciously deal withongoing cognition, Reasoning, Calculation, etc.,could also be included. Checking, Analysis,Attention, and Symbolization could be said toconstitute components of Perception or Awareness.Note that the process of LMA is omitted for thepresent.To restate the model then, thinking1 is the overallautomatic and unconscious process of the comparison ofcurrent sensory input plus the result of previoussymbolization, checking and decision, (thinking2), withinformation stored in long-term memory accessed through theprocess of habit routine search. We are not normally awareof the thinking1 processes at all. Decision, which may beactive or passive, (and is mostly the latter), isconsequently fed back into the thinking1/HRS process as anadditional defining parameter for ongoing HRS. It may alsoact as a switch nullifying the implicit actions recommended (24 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 55. the ongoing habit routine. This is probably a veryarbitrary and primitive attempt to formulate a schematicflow model of some of the overall ongoing everyday processesof the human mind. And it certainly, along with all otherpossible models, must be a great over-simplification. Butlet us just take it as a first faltering step in thedirection we think (thinking2!) we want to go in ourunderstanding of psychedelic experience.Let me illustrate the above proposed processes with ashort cognitive story, the kind of scene that happens to usall quite frequently, but which passes with littlerecognition of just what is taking place. I live in themountains in an area that has seen rural subsistence farmingfor a thousand or more years. During this long period, themountainside has been divided and maintained into flatcultivable strips separated by rock walls put together withno mortar, but a lot of care. Nevertheless, with everyprolonged period of rain, the earth swells and a piece ofwall somewhere is bound to collapse, needing repair.Occasionally, a rock or two will get rolling and wind upseveral terraces away from the point of collapse. Thus in mywalks around the property, it is common enough to see a greyirregularly-shaped stone, or several, in the midst of thepathway, even when no immediate point of wall damage isevident.Recently, walking down to the garden, in a mood ofsimply passively enjoying the walk, thinking not reallyabout any particular topic, perhaps on the border of thatstate known as day-dreaming, nothing out of the ordinaryseems to be happening when...According to my cognitive model above, we could say thatas I am walking, thinking1 is doing its normal, unconsciousand pre-emptive job of actively using all sensory input tocompare the current ongoing activity of my walk with allthat I have learned and experienced, stored in long-termmemory. The component process of thinking1, HRS, isconstantly retrieving the simplest, most readily available,most easily employable habit routines which match theparameters defined by the totality of sensory environmentalinput and my pre-organized intention (walking down to thegarden), and these habit routines are then supplied,firstly, as templates for the automatic regulation of allongoing process including the perception and reaction to the (25 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 56. Secondly, the habit routine, along withrelevant fragments of the sensory data itself, is suppliedto thinking2, which at this moment of daydreaming, is doingvery little analyzing, reasoning, or deciding about thesurroundings. The component process of thinking2,symbolization, is however representing the sensory data(most of which is merely the information of the currenthabit routine) and making it available for awareness, sothat I "see, hear, smell, feel, enjoy..." (and perhaps evenexplain to myself in language: the mountains are nicetoday!) my entire surroundings, although I pay no specialattention to anything in particular. There is even anongoing, if vague internal dialog occurring, partly aboutthe surroundings, but also about other matters entirely.This I am not particularly paying attention to either.Thinking2 is relaxing, simply passively "enjoying" thestroll. Unless thinking1 gives some extraordinary signalthat something is amiss, or unusual, thinking2 is quitecontent to let thinking1 supply all interpretations andresponses to ongoing activity (action). Thinking2 istherefore interfering minimally, if at all, in the thinking1processes through the prerogatives of reasoning and decidingfeedback via working memory....when suddenly, I spy a grey rock in the pathwayahead. As I said, this is not an unusual occurrence, butsince I have not seen a rock at this spot previously,thinking2 goes into action, prodded by the novelty signaledby thinking1, and "notices" the novelty and reviews(checking) the actions of thinking1 which has presented thehabit routine that, there before me, just like several timesin the past, lies a rock that has rolled down from some wallup above. This is a habit routine of interpretation ofenvironmental data (ENV) and carries the actionrecommendation to accept the novel object as "grey rock".The cognitive processes begin to operate fast and furiouslynow, even though this is no emergency, just a minor novelty.Fleetingly I am aware of the analytical checking process inthinking2 that indicates, yes, it rained quite heavily lastweek, (22) so here is the result. Another thread of checkinggoes on, seemingly at the same time, which finds theinformation that there is a wall, two or three terraces upfrom this point, that is known to be in poor repair andlikely to have collapsed. I am aware that somehow this (26 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 57. happens at lightning speed, almost instantaneously,and that the symbolization in language with which I can"explain" these positive checks on the habit routine comesslightly after the fact, perhaps after the checking processhas already told thinking1 that its habit routine isacceptable, proceed with normal operation. Thus the checkingand deciding function in thinking2 seems to be independent,and faster than the symbolization of thinking2 which seemsonly to resonate to the former operation.I am just about to approve the habit routine as anaccurate and true representation of the novelty which liesbefore me when, and this happens so quickly as to be almostsimultaneous with all that has been so far described,something seems amiss. Perhaps the color was slightly wrong,or perhaps I detected some movement in the object, but witha sudden suspicion like that which one feels when onerealizes he has been lied to, thinking2 sends out a strongcommand to thinking1 (the classic double-take!): suspiciousinterpretation! Find alternate habit routine! These commandsalso occur well before any symbolization process can"explain" what is going on. And lo and behold, with thisextra prodding and data, the HRS comes up with the moreaccurate suggestion that here lies a dirty, partiallycrumpled plastic bag from the local supermarket. This habitroutine was probably one of several more that could becalled up, in a series of increasing complexity andunlikelihood, and indeed, if the bag had been red, ratherthan dirty white (almost grey), the "plastic bag"interpretation would have been the first accessed, being themost likely given the ENV parameter of the color red. (Allthe rocks here are grey.) (23) An interesting after-effectoccurs here: I notice that during the next few moments I canview the object and willfully transpose its identity back tothat of grey stone, but this ability fades and finally I amunable to interpret the object as anything but plastic bag.The dependence of perceived reality upon preconceptions,i.e., habit routines, is especially demonstrated by thisresidual if fleeting ability to see the object as eitherinterpretation.Now if it takes the above amount of words toanalytically describe what occurred in probably a half-second, my statement that there are limitations in using themind to explain mind takes on some relevance. And the above (27 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 58. certainly an oversimplification! For instance, I believethat thinking1 and HRS can be multitasking, to use acomputer analogy. Thinking1 and associated HRS can beinterpreting the ongoing activity as described above, andsimultaneously be working on another thread of material inreference to my internal dialog, which I mention above aspossibly being about something completely different than mywalk. I can be actively talking to myself about some subjectin which I have many severe prejudices (which are beingaccessed as habit routines by thinking1), all the whilenoticing grey rocks, plastic bags, or whatever, which alsorequire the HRS system to interpret. Whether the two threadsare simultaneous or "time-sharing", I would not yet care tosay. As for even further aspects of complexity, I have alsomade no mention yet of how the factors of significance orvalue are attached to the sensory data accompanying a habitroutine. More on this later.Let me postpone further theoretical considerations for abit to consider how the psychedelic experience fits with thehypotheses presented so far.The function of a psychedelic drug, according to mytheory, is to interfere in some way with the Habit RoutineSearch function of the brain, and I will call this the HabitSuspension Model of the effect of psychedelic drugs.Since the habit routine search mechanism has veryprobably several functional neural pathways and brain partswhich support its operation, different psychedelic drugs mayaffect the system by differing mechanisms yet yield verysimilar overall results. All further supposed effects of theingestion of these substances are not direct effects of thedrugs themselves, but rather are consequences, which veryprobably are perpetuated and magnified by cyberneticmechanisms, of the changes brought about in the HRS systemof the brain.Now I do not mean to imply that habit routines aredestroyed by the influence of psychedelics, or that thehabits are completely suppressed or inaccessible during thetime of drug influence. It is much more a process oftemporary delay or change in significance and value of habitroutines and their consequently changed use in ongoingcognitive processes. The strength of the effect seems dose-dependent. The habit routines seem to arrive slightly out ofphase, if I may be allowed an electromagnetic analogy, and (28 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 59. thusly to thinking2 do not seem correct or validrecommendations for ensuing evaluation and decision. And itis the habit routines used for perception, analysis,reasoning and symbolization (I will call them the cognitivehabit routines) (24) that are primarily affected: habitroutines which are used to coordinate movement, such aswalking or manipulating objects, are only slightly affected,if at all. Unlike alcohol or some other drugs, even highdoses of psychedelics have very minimal effects on physicalcoordination. As Huxley noted on his first mescalineexperience: although he wondered, when it was suggested thathe take a walk in the garden, whether he would be physicallyable to leave his chair, once launchedinto the act henoticed no difficulty or change in coordination.Now we may state something about the "causes" of thenormal state of mind and the psychedelic state: the normalstate of mind is facilitated by the constant process of HRSwhich finds appropriate, personality-typical responses forall ongoing activity. A "response" may be an interpretationor complex perception, an attitude, an emotional reaction, a"prejudice", or a pilot for actual physical action. Theseresponses are habit routines representing the summedtotality of ways in which similar situations were dealt within the past, and these habit routines are presented tothinking2 as pre-structured ways of perceiving and dealingwith the ongoing situation so as to minimize or practicallyeliminate the necessity for thinking2 to doubt perception oralter the response through analytical decision making.Unless thinking2 is signaled of some unusual significancethat warrants attention, it may not even become aware of thedecisions made on its behalf by thinking1. The process iscybernetic, an endless loop of causation, a process which,after a small delay, may enter consciousness as language andother reflective activities in the process defined assymbolization.The normal delivery of HRs by the HRS mechanism for usein ongoing cognitive activity is precisely what we call anormal state of mind, a state in which the checking abilityand analysis of thinking2 does or needs to do very little. Agood analogy would be driving along a well-known road inlight traffic: practically all required actions areautomatically provided for without conscious effort or theneed for evaluation by the analysis and checking of (29 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 60. This applies to all physical routines needed tosteer, brake, etc., but more importantly to the routines ofperception, judgment, and planning needed to decide, forexample, whether the child ahead is probably going to ridehis bike too close for safety. Although everyone wouldaccept the analogy, I will perhaps not make many friendssuggesting that the totality of life is also a simple matterof habit routines (sometimes of somewhat greater complexitythan those dealing with highway driving!), separated atinfrequent intervals by brief bursts of creativity which maybe little more than responses to temporary emergencies.Psychology textbooks may be full of research showing howautomatic most actions and thoughts really are, but thereader automatically (!) takes the position that thedescription is relevant to others, the objects of study, andcertainly not to him who is right then scrutinizing thephenomenon. We may deduce, perhaps, that a very powerfulhabit routine is the one which gives us the impression ofbeing constantly and fully aware, in an analytic, deciding,and creative sense, of our surroundings and thoughtprocesses, that habits play only a minor, inconsequentialand optional role in thinking. (25) Again, the psychologytextbooks are filled with studies which indicate thecontrary.For the moment I must postpone showing the distinctionbetween physical habit routines on the one hand, (as forexample the physical, learned routines employed in theactual driving of the car, above), and perceptual andcognitive habit routines on the other. For now, we could saythat cognitive habit routines, among their other functions,may constitute a pilot for the selection and implementationof motor routines used to guide and control actual physicalmovement. I believe that two quite independent systems ofthe brain are used to store and implement the instructionsfor these activities. This would explain why, according tomy model as well as experimental observations, cognitive andperceptual habit routines are strongly affected bypsychedelics, but physical coordination is practicallyuntouched.It is the normal and pre-emptive operation of the HRSmechanism which is the impediment preventing the normal mindfrom interpreting sensory and feedback input as anything butcommon, routine, normal, everyday input. (30 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 61. are very much the slaves of the habit routinemechanism, and this is to be expected from an evolutionarystandpoint. HRS is the mechanism all organisms having evenmoderately developed nervous systems use to deal with anyand all situations which do not present a crisis, situationsof normal significance and value for ongoing existence. Thehabit routine is a short-cut, a pre-established patternallowing an organism to comprehend and deal with commonlyencountered situations quickly and with a very minimum ofneurological, cognitive effort. More primitive animals withvery little cognitive ability in reserve must rely stronglyupon the HRS system. The habit routine mechanism wasprobably a very early evolutionary development in the animalkingdom for it would have conferred obvious importantadvantages over any animal which had to treat every singleevent as unique, an animal which would not gain the benefitsof practice and learning about a wide range of everydaysituations.Let us now review the list of "effects" outlined earlierand see how they can be understood in terms of the HabitSuspension Model. As an introduction to the phenomenology ofASCs, I asked, "let us see if we can understand eacheffect not as something that a psychedelic drug does, butas something which we might do, if only rarely, undercertain circumstances." Pretend, for the moment, that youhave never even heard of psychedelic drugs. This may not beeasy, but for someone with some measure of practiced controlover his habit routines, in reading the list, I think itwould be quite normal to be able to say, "Yes, Iveexperienced something like that", or at least admit thatsomeone they know had had similar experiences. In short, theonly thing that makes any of the categories awesome orstrange, is their purported causal connection withpsychedelic drugs. Take the famous alleged time-distortingpower of psychedelic drugs. If you were having a very busyand interesting afternoon with your favorite hobby, youmight look up at the clock and remark, "holy cow, five-thirty already!". But if you heard from some tabloid-reported source that LSD made you feel it was only aboutfour oclock when actually it was five-thirty... (or vice (31 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 62. ).I think it is obvious that we have habit routines fordealing with the everyday perception of the passage of time,so that when we look at a clock, it is really only toconfirm what we already sense about the time of day. If youlook at your watch, and it has stopped even twenty minutesprevious, something seems immediately wrong unless you areparticularly distracted with other tasks. Even uponawakening from a deep sleep in the middle of the night, Iquite often find that I know the time to the nearest tenminutes, in spite of living far out in the countryside awayfrom hourly chimes or audible traffic patterns. In the abovecase of intense absorption in some activity, we have habitroutines available such that we expect it to actually belater than it feels, so that when we express amazement thatits already five-thirty, the knowledge that we have beenbusily engaged does more than a little to take the edge offthe amazement, so to speak.All this is common knowledge. But where my theorybegins, is in the attempt to describe the data and systemsby which this simple everyday process is implemented, anddrastically changed by various influences includingpsychedelic drugs. The hypothesis that it is installedpotential habit routines that deal with everyday perceptionof time gains some credibility from the knowledge that timeperception was quite different before the advent ofwidespread mechanical time-keeping devices. In medievalEurope, daylight hours were longer or shorter according tothe season, somethingthat would probably wreak havoc withour modern sense of time until we had long practiceinstalling the newly required habit routines to deal withthe situation.My theory also departs from simple common knowledge inits attribution of such fundamental importance to the use ofhabit routine; rather than a habit being an occasional typeof response to certain situations,it is now proposed that the habit routine search is theprincipal operation in thinking1, always a precedent toawareness and thinking2, and that the habit routinepresented to awareness for decision making alwaysconstitutes the pre-emptive or default response, seldomoverruled by the active analysis and decision of thinking2except in cases of emergency or particularly unusual (32 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 63. of events.Familiarity breeds indifference, as Aldous Huxley noted,but the cognitive mechanism by which such an aphorism mightoperate has until now never been proposed. All situationsfor which a satisfactory habit routine may be summoned aredealt with as automatically, and with as great a measure ofindifference, as possible. The artist, the great composer,the creative genius in any field may succeed in seeing thesignificant when presented with the merely routine, (26) butthis is not the normal state of brain operation, nor is itthe type of brain operation that evolution has caused to bepredominant.And this is why psychedelic drugs appear to be sooverwhelmingly powerful. When awareness is effectively cutloose from the normal and reliable flow of habit routine,everything seems changed, odd, with unusual, sometimesoverpowering, but not immediately explainable changes insignificance. And as I have indicated, this very change isactively recycled and augmented by cybernetic feedbackwherein current evaluation and checking of awareness is fedback into the stream of thinking1 which is seeking outfurther habit routines, now including parameters whichinstruct it to look for the unusual, and these new habitroutines themselves are then delayed, suspended, or changedin significance. Item C in the phenomenology of ASCs, thesense or fear of loss of control, can be easily understoodfrom the foregoing. An individuals reality, what heautomatically believes to be normal and true in hisestimation of the world around him, is entirely a matter ofthe habit routines he has collected, and himself installed,whether by intentional or unconscious practice. If theindividual is not prepared to surrender his cherishednotions, if he cannot overcome the obvious implication thatreality, seen without the aid of preconceived habitroutines, must appear relative and not absolute, feelings ofloss of control are the naive interpretation to be expected.(And of course, the lesson being taught is, "What control?")As for the other items listed previously as "effects" ofpsychedelic drugs, it should not now be difficult to see howthey are all the result of an individuals having reducedaccess to his habit routines which define how he sees,thinks, perceives objects around him, perceives his own bodyand state of mind, the meaning and significance he attaches (33 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 64. otherwise ordinary thoughts and perceptions, and so on.So-called perceptual distortions are merely ordinaryperception divorced from the normal pre-emptivepreconditioning of the habit routine complex through whichsuch perceptions are symbolized. To those who wish tobelieve that psychedelic drugs cause hallucinations andbizarre perceptual effects, the proposal that perceptionunder the influence of the psychedelic experience is in factcloser to actual reality than normal perception (which isheavily "distorted" by our habit routines) will appearabsurd. But the "habit of thinking" (as in Margolisanalysis, see footnote 16) which prevents a paradigm shiftnecessary to understand the psychedelic experience may wellbe just this: the whole of our experience has establishedthe conviction, in reality a lie, that what we perceive isautomatically and without doubt, reality. Although mostcurrent theories in psychology recognize the lie, asindividuals we still carry on as if this were a merescientific technicality which appears in certain laboratoryexperiments. The example illustrated by the grey stoneanecdote shows how misinformed we are in this conviction.Some of the items in the phenomenology of ASCs may beunderstood as secondary or cascade effects of the moreprimary results of suspended habit routine:hypersuggestibility might be interpreted as a result of thefeelings of loss of control, sense of ineffability, andchange of significance wherein the suggestions of the guideor researcher are given greater weight in the vacuum ofnormal comprehension of ongoing cognition. Change inemotional expression would likewise be a secondary effectderived from perceived alterations in thinking, feeling ofloss of control, etc. The suspension of the normal frameworkof habit routine for interpreting and symbolizing ongoingexperience should obviously result in the sense ofineffability. Feelings of rejuvenation may result fromsuspension of personality habit routines that have becomecontradictory or self-destructive, their temporarysuspension leading the individual to realize that they aremere routines, and capable of being reformed once seen forwhat they are. Here we are led to the hypothesis that thepersonality itself can be understood as a malleable andalterable collection of habit routines; some earlypsychedelic research suggested as much, and made use of the (34 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 65. by successfully treating many personality disorderswith psychedelic therapy.Indeed, the very existence of what we call "personality"as such a strong, pervasive property of a human being arguesfor the prevalence, importance, and predominance of habitroutines and the HRS as the primary cognitive process.Personality, world view, beliefs, desires, opinions, are allunderstandable as complex assemblies of habit routines. Whatthe Freudians have for so long called the unconscious, maysimply be the totality of potential habit routines that canbe accessed! (27) A memory is not a memory until it isaccessed, therefore an unconscious memory is an oxymoron.But a habit routine, (whose elements consist of the verysame data), is not only an unconscious potential pattern forperception, comprehension, and behavior, it is in additionand quite normally, accessed and employed unconsciously, andthe process is not available to introspection.To return to the pathway for just a moment, from my ownpersonal experiences with psychedelic drugs, the grey stonein question would probably have appeared, at first and verybriefly, as an object of some significance (it was new toits location) but without an habit routine to immediatelyidentify it. The first thing my thinking2 would sense wouldbe mystery, the object seen as an unknown. Very quicklythereafter, I think it is common during psychedelicexperience for the HRS of thinking1 to present multipleinterpretations of the object (hence one or moreinterpretations would logically have to be an"hallucination"); I might have sensed two or more possibleidentifications at once, whereupon the relativeness of itsnovelty and significance might stimulate further fundamentalchanges in my interpretation, and so on. As this process iscybernetic, it can quite run away with itself, so to speak,and the ordinary become fantastic through successiveinterpretations and alterations of meaning and significance.The multiple interpretations, the multiple habitroutines appearing simultaneously, might be the mechanismwhereby it has been noticed by researchers that psychedelicexperience can assist in the "recovery and eliciting of vastquantities of unconscious material." It is as if thinking2is signaling, in the absence of a dependable habit routine,"quick, send me all the habit routines youve got, theres abig mystery going on here." And then the habit routines that (35 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 66. arrive are also out of whack... (but also potentiallyvery revealing of the personality and the "unconscious"). Atthis stage there is little to be done except to relax andobserve the process as it unfolds. It is instructive to thepersonality to be shown how dependent it is on normal andperhaps quite artificial automatisms, and it is instructiveconcerning the underlying nature of reality to observe firsthand how its interpretation is also totally dependent onpreconceived structures of the mind which may be more orless arbitrary, if not outright deception. If this bemadness, schizophrenia, psychosis, or folly, a moderate doseof it is certainly more than a homeopathic remedy for thefar greater sickness which quite obviously afflicts modernman "in this century of holocaust."To conclude this chapter, I will quote at length anotheraccount of psychedelic experience and the "effects" as notedby the experiencer. The narrative is that of Aldous Huxley,probably the most famous and widely-read account ofpsychedelic experience to date.I took my pill at eleven. An hour and half later Iwas sitting in my study, looking intently at asmall glass vase. The vase contained only threeflowers—a full-blown Belle of Portugal rose, shellpink with a hint at every petals base of a hotter,flamier hue; a large magenta and cream-colouredcarnation; and, pale purple at the end of itsbroken stalk, the bold heraldic blossom of an iris.Fortuitous and provisional, the little nosegaybroke all the rules of traditional good taste. Atbreakfast that morning I had been struck by thelively dissonance of its colours. But that was nolonger the point. I was not looking now at anunusual flower arrangement. I was seeing what Adamhad seen on the morning of his creation - themiracle, moment by moment, of naked existence... [Iwas seeing] a bunch of flowers shining with theirown inner light and all but quivering under thepressure of the significance with which they werecharged...[And] the books, for example, with which (36 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 67. study walls were lined. Like the flowers, theyglowed, when I looked at them, with brightercolours, a profounder significance. Red books, likerubies; emerald books; books bound in white jade;books of agate, of aquamarine, of yellow topaz;lapis Lazuli books whose colour was so intense, sointrinsically meaningful, that they seemed to be onthe point of leaving the shelves to thrustthemselves more insistently on my attention...At ordinary times the eye concerns itself with suchproblems as Where?—How far?—How situated inrelation to what? In the mescalin experience theimplied questions to which the eye responds are ofanother order. Place and distance cease to be ofmuch interest. The mind does its perceiving interms of intensity of existence, profundity ofsignificance, relationships within a pattern...From the books the investigator directed myattention to the furniture. A small typing-tablestood in the centre of the room; beyond it, from mypoint of view, was a wicker chair and beyond that adesk. The three pieces formed an intricate patternof horizontals, uprights and diagonals - a patternall the more interesting for not being interpretedin terms of spatial relationships. Table, chair anddesk came together in a composition that was likesomething by Braque or Juan Gris, a still liferecognizably related to the objective world, butrendered without depth, without any attempt atphotographic realism. I was looking at myfurniture, not as the utilitarian who has to sit onchairs, to write at desks and tables, and not asthe cameraman or scientific recorder, but as thepure aesthete whose concern is only with forms andtheir relationships within the field of vision orthe picture space. But as I looked, this purelyaesthetic Cubists-eye view gave place to what Ican only describe as the sacramental vision ofreality. I was back where I had been when I waslooking at the flowers—back in a world whereeverything shone with the Inner Light and was (37 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 68. in its significance...Mescalin raises all colours to a higher power andmakes the percipient aware of innumerable fineshades of difference, to which, at ordinary times,he is completely blind... Visual impressions aregreatly intensified and the eye recovers some ofthe perceptual innocence of childhood, when thesensum was not immediately and automaticallysubordinated to the concept. Interest in space isdiminished and interest in time falls almost tozero... Though the intellect remains unimpaired andthough perception is enormously improved, the willsuffers a profound change for the worse. Themescalin taker sees no reason for doing anything inparticular and finds most of the causes for which,at ordinary times, he was prepared to act andsuffer, profoundly uninteresting. He cant bebothered with them, for the good reason that he hasbetter things to think about...This is how one ought to see, I kept saying as Ilooked down at my trousers, or glanced at thejewelled books in the shelves, at the legs of myinfinitely more than Van-Goghian chair. This ishow one ought to see, how things really are... forthe moment, mescalin had delivered me [from] theworld of selves, of time, of moral judgments andutilitarian considerations, the world (and it wasthis aspect of human life which I wished, above allelse, to forget) of self-assertion, ofcocksuredness, of over-valued words andidolatrously worshipped notions...[T]he investigator suggested a walk in the garden.I was willing; and though my body seemed to havedissociated itself almost completely from mymind—or, to be more accurate, though my awarenessof the transfigured outer world was no longeraccompanied by an awareness of my physicalorganism—found myself able to get up, open theFrench-window and walk out with only a minimum ofhesitation. It was odd, of course, to feel that I (38 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 69. not the same as these arms and legs outthere, as this wholly objective trunk and neck andeven head. It was odd; but one soon got used to it.And anyhow the body seemed perfectly well able tolook after itself. In reality, of course, it alwaysdoes look after itself. All that the conscious egocan do is to formulate wishes, which are thencarried out by forces which it controls very littleand understands not at all. When it does anythingmore—when it tries too hard, for example, when itworries, when it becomes apprehensive about thefuture—it lowers the effectiveness of those forcesand may even cause the devitalized body to fallill. In my present state, awareness was notreferred to an ego; it was, so to speak, on itsown. This meant that the physiological intelligencecontrolling the body was also on its own. For themoment that interfering neurotic who, in wakinghours, tries to run the show was blessedly out ofthe way. (28)What a wonderfully poetic way of describing the normalcollection of habit routines that rendered the worldordinary, plain, of merely routine significance: Huxleycalls his habit-routine governed personality "thatinterfering neurotic who, in waking hours, tries to run theshow." He notes that his awareness "was not referred to anego", i.e., that the habit routines of personality thatpreserve self-image, self-importance, selfness, were nolonger available, his awareness "was, so to speak, on itsown." And the following line: "All that the conscious egocan do is to formulate wishes, which are then carried out byforces which it controls very little and understands not atall," is nothing but a poetic description of the operationof checking and decision of thinking2 feeding backinstructions as parameters for further habit routine searchoperations via working memory. If we do not control them, atleast we may now understand them somewhat better. And notethe number of times that increased "significance" ismentioned...... for the moment, mescalin had delivered me (39 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 70.[from] the world of selves, of time, of moraljudgments and utilitarian considerations, the world(and it was this aspect of human life which Iwished, above all else, to forget) of self-assertion, of cocksuredness, of over-valued wordsand idolatrously worshipped notions...In a word, mescaline had delivered him from habitroutines. If the Habit Suspension Model of psychedelicexperience is correct, we may begin to see the enormouspower of the HRS mechanism to shape our every impression,our every word and deed, for if the profound changes ofpsychedelic experience are nothing but reduced access toacceptable habit routines, we would have to say that habitroutines are the cognitive water we swim in, omnipresent andsupportive of our every intellectual movement, yet (untilnow) perfectly transparent and undetectable to ordinaryscrutiny.At the risk of seeing habit routines everywhere, for anew theory often incites such excesses in its newly acquiredadherents, I think it safe to say that most of the "effects"noted by Mr. Huxley, and in the preceding examples as well,can be adequately understood in terms of the HabitSuspension Model. In Mr. Huxleys case, considering hisgreat personal interest in art, the Perennial Philosophy andmystical and spiritual matters, his compassion for the humansituation, and his humility, the effects he describes demandsuch an interpretation.References(1). An excellent and recent entry, complete with 121-pagebibliography: Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic Drugs, their PlantSources and History, Jonathan Ott, 1993, Natural ProductsCo., Kennewick WA. (back)(2). see for example "The Role of Hallucinogenic Plants inEuropean Witchcraft" by Michael J. Harner, in Hallucinogensand Shamanism, Michael J. Harner, editor, Oxford UniversityPress, 1973. This overall if brief survey is a classic of (40 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 71. psychedelic literature, not to be overlooked. (back)(3). "The Effects of Psychedelic Experience on LanguageFunctioning", Stanley Krippner, in Psychedelics, Aaronsonand Osmond, Doubleday & Company 1970. (back)(4). Ibid. (back)(5). "Toward an Individual Psychotherapy", Masters &Houston, Psychedelics, (Ibid.) (back)(6). Drugs and the Brain, Solomon H. Snyder, ScientificAmerican Library 1986, p2. (back)(7). Where the author refers to an ASC, it is an AlteredState of Consciousness. (back)(8). edited excerpts from "Altered States of Consciousness",Arnold M. Ludwig, in Altered States of Consciousness,Charles T. Tart, Doubleday & Company 1972 pp15-19. (back)(9). The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience, Masters andHouston, Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1966, p5. (back)(10). "How does LSD Work" in The Hallucinogens, Hoffer andOsmond, Academic Press 1967 p211. (back)(11). Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis, CharlesScribners Sons 1994, see page three for example. (back)(12)> See for example Stairway to the Mind, Alwyn Scott,Springer-Verlag 1995 (back)(13). I am for the moment ignoring the hypothesis thatquantum indeterminacy may be the source of the brainindeterminacy necessary for philosophically-real free will.(back)(14). The Rediscovery of the Mind, John R. Searle,Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1992. (back) (41 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 72. "The Mystery of Consciousness", in The New York Reviewof Books, November 2, 1995, p60. (back)(16). In The Oxford Companion to the Mind for instance,although "instinct" and other terms frowned upon byBehaviorists have generous entries, "habit" has no entrywhatsoever. On the other hand, Howard Margolis, a student ofThomas Kuhn, has written two admirable books concerning"habits of mind" and how they govern perception, judgment,and even scientific beliefs. See Patterns, Thinking andCognition, 1987, and Paradigms and Barriers, How Habits ofMind Govern Scientific Beliefs, 1993, both University ofChicago Press. (back)(17). When speaking of memory here, I refer to what is nowgenerally called "long-term memory." (back)(18). I enclose the word in quotes to denote mydissatisfaction with the current computer-oriented models ofmuch of cognitive science. In using such words as data,information, computation, etc. when speaking about mind andconsciousness, one does less of explaining than "conjuringaway the barriers between man and machine, betweenconsciousness and mechanism." (Raymond Tallis in Psycho-Electronics). But it is very difficult not to use such termstoday, so ingrained is the idea of some equivalence betweenmind and machine. I hope that the reader will see that as mytheory develops, along with new ways to understand theimportant differences between man and machine, the use ofsuch terms will slowly be replaced by new concepts whichobviate their need. Thus I will from this point in the textsuspend the tediousness of quotation marks provided thereader will keep in mind the limitations I have expressed.(back)(19). Recent terminology as well as theory in the field ofmemory research has blossomed. The process of LMA which Idefine here would be said to access autobiographical orepisodic memory; additionally there have been proposed theterms procedural, semantic, implicit and explicit, short-term, long-term, and working memory to describe other (42 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 73. of memory. I shall define and use these terms as themodel develops. (back)(20). Perhaps an analogy would be helpful here. We mightthink of a unit of memory as like a single frame of a motionpicture. In LMA, a sequence of frames is called up, andexperienced as a sequence or "film clip," in temporal order,and with conscious reference to the time and conditionswhere the frames were recorded. This is not to say that theprocess may not become degraded, with loss of data, loss ofreference to time and place, erroneous mixing of differentmemories, etc., the ideal expressed merely illustrates thetype and mechanics of the process to be understood. HRS,however, would access a variety of single frames recorded atdifferent times and places, a sort of collage of singleframes, associated not as a temporal sequence, and notconsciouslyexperienced, but unconsciously selected andemployed according to a thematic agenda specified by subjectcontent corresponding to current perception. Thus if stoppedon the highway by a "law enforcement officer" for noapparent reason, we may be rather hurriedly accessing, inthe data of all memories of dealings with the police (ourown and knowledge of such dealings by others gleaned fromfriends, newspapers, etc.), for every possible habit routinethat might assist in estimating what is going on. Specificmemories of similar scenes might appear fleetingly, but farmore important would be the unconscious evaluation patternssupplied by habit routine search that would allow and assistour judgment to calculate just how to react to anyeventuality, given the particular parameters of the currentsituation. Thus if he has just gotten off an excessivelychromed Harley, has black ray-bans, razor-sharp creases onhis shirt and a penetrating snarl we will automaticallyreact somewhat differently than if he was a school-crossingpatrolman, tips his hat and says he thinks our signal lightmight be out. No deliberate calculation or access of actualmemories via LMA is necessary, yet the "data" of manymemories is obviously being employed, unconsciously andautomatically, to guide our reaction to the situation.(back)(21). The model described here has parallels to ideassuggested by C.H. van Rhijn, see "Symbolysis: Psychotherapy (43 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 74. Symbolic Presentation" in The Use of LSD inPsychotherapy, Harold A. Abramson, editor, Josiah Macy, Jr.Foundation, 1960. (back)(22). This process must also use a habit routine, thinking2feeding instructions to thinking1 to search forjustification that its previous interpretation of "grey rockahead" is possible. A habit routine is then found whichrelates the cause and effect pattern learned previouslyabout rain and out-of-place rocks. I do not specificallyremember as memories the rainy days and the displaced rocksencountered, but use only "frames" of these memories toobtain the fact that rain has recently occurred on a scalewhich is known from experience to produce grey rocks inpathways. (back)(23). This knowledge must also have been retrieved and usedthrough HRS as a parameter ensuring that a grey object beinterpreted as probably a stone, and an object of decidedlynon-grey hue as not-a-stone. (back)(24). And here I think that we are dealing with two classesof habit routines, some simple habit routines of perceptionare probably called up by the arrangement of sensoryenvironmental data itself, i.e., in thinking1, whereas habitroutines of analysis and symbolization must be habitroutines that are called up by thinking1 on behalf ofthinking2. I will therefore sometimes refer to a habitroutine complex, signifying a composite habit routinecomprising multiple aspects and multiple interlockingrecommendations for action. (back)(25). This might be understood as a habit routine whichthinking2 installs in memory through the process ofconstantly seeing its power to alter the surroundings. Thehabit routine is that thinking2 is in control, while thereality is that, most of the time, it is on vacation. (back)(26). The question presents itself: Who can be best trustedto decide what is, and what is not routine, the creativegenius or the bored assembly-line worker? (back) (44 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 75. Warning! The reaction to such ideas must also beprimarily a matter of habit routines representing onesinvestment in previous theories. (back)(28). Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, 1954, Chatto &Windus. Quotation assembled from various sections of theessay. (back)Chapter 4 | Table of ContentsSend e-mail to The Psychedelic Library: psd_lib@druglibrary.orgThe Psychedelic Library | Books Menu Page (45 of 45) [5/1/2002 12:45:49 PM]
  • 76. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4The Psychedelic Library HomepageBooks Menu PageThe Center of the UniverseWilliam S. Moxley4. The Neuromechanics of HRS — IntroductionBEING AN OUTLAW does have its share of sudden and tragicsurprises. The moralist (if he has read this far, out of ataste for voyeurism or some other vice curious to those whoknow what is right and hesitate not to coerce others totheir views), shall now have permission to gloat. Yet it hasbeen my life experience that sudden misfortune occurs to usall, most unexpectedly and just when we thought we weregoing along quite nicely. Moralists and fanatics of allkinds get their share quite as much as the outlaw, theiconoclast, or the revolutionary, but moralists seem rarelyto commit their misfortunes to pen and paper. The worst ofmisfortunes that men suffer is in my view the slow, life-long and silent tragedy of those who do not, or will notabandon so-called security when opportunity knocks. To besimply dragged along by the responsibility to safety may beinstinctual, but it is hardly creative nor does it lead tothe fulfillment of the more precious potentialities of beinghuman. To arrive safely at the stage of life where it iscertain that the halfway point has passed, yet not even havean interesting story to tell, would be for me a far greatertragedy than the several which awaited.During the later stages of our morning-glory researches,news reached us that two friends, who had been missing for afew days, had been ambushed and shot dead while on anexpedition into the mountains of Michoacan. Several times (1 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 77. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4previously they had brought back with them the mostamazingly potent cannabis for us to sample; in those daysseedless marijuana, or sinsemilla, was almost unknown. Iremember introducing sinsemilla from one of their mountainforays to a few friends in New York who were well acquaintedwith all the varieties of hashish and pot that internationalsmuggling could bring to market. With the exception of thatrare piece of especially strong Lebanese Red, the sinsemillawon all contests.In spite of the new climate of liberalism on both coastsof America, for several marijuana smoke-ins had occurred andwere mostly tolerated (it even seemed like legalizationwould not be too long in the offing), in Mexico associationwith any aspect of marijuana classed one immediately as acontrabandista, and subject to the same wild-west outlaw-style of justice as any train robber, or trafficker of guns,hard drugs, slaves, or revolution. The fate of our mild-mannered hippie friends was adequate proof of this. A fewweeks previous, we had been invited to a luncheon incelebration of I-was-never-certain-exactly-what, and aroundthe great table of Mexican haute-cuisine sat the chief ofpolice of Guadalajara, a couple of army generals chargedwith controlling, among other things, the local drugtraffic, a half-dozen other government types, a whole tribeof the most authentic-looking contrabandistas one couldimagine, including the major marijuana and hard-drug brokerof the state of Jalisco, and three disguised hippies (we hadcut our hair short north of the border to ensure ease ofentry into Mexico). Well it was a merry time indeed, I amashamed that I had not then learned enough Spanish to relatehere the details of the merriment, but the machine guns werecasually reposing along the entire length of the dining roomwall in a manner surpassing even Hollywoodian depictions of1920s Chicago. We hippies, of course, came unarmed.Perhaps the JohnWayneian fables we had been nourished onfrom early youth inured us to such signs of impendingcatastrophe, but the loss of our friends suddenlytransformed the mythology of good guys versus bad guys intoa sobering lesson. It was not the type of sobriety themoralist will now blame me for not embracing, for that isthe sobriety of capitulation to a lie, a lie which is noteven ones own. It was more the type of sobriety gained bythe hard won contest in which a small bit of wisdom is (2 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 78. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4wrested from the ritual of initiation which fate sogenerously supplies in response to boldness. All the ancienttribes had structured their societies with elaborate anddemanding ritual contests whereby the young, expressingtheir natural and new-found boldness, might gain wisdom withminimal risk, but our own advanced Western society haddispensed with such superstition, with the feeble exceptionof First Communions and Bar Mitzvahs, and so the young foundit necessary to express prowess through automotive inanity,alcoholic one-upmanship and other silly sport, the corporaland spiritual fatalities of which seldom prompted scholarsto bemoan the demise of ancient ritual. If anything, newlayers of laws and regulations, and a few new prisons wereexpected to do the trick. But I digress.What the tragedy prompted me to do was not beat apenitent retreat from my errant ways, disobeying laws thatwere written for my own good, but to remove to safer climesand continue on my researches with redoubled enthusiasm.Since the outlawing of all use of LSD in 1967, thepredictable had happened. Clandestine manufacture anddistribution had flourished as had bathtub gin severaldecades before, and parallel to bathtub gin incidents, notall clandestine LSD was of good quality, nor manufactured bythose intending that its use be accomplished intelligently.(And as for parallels between alcohol and psychedelic drugs,this is as far as it goes: either, or both, may be legal orillegal, used or abused.) As a chemist, it seemed aworthwhile project to experiment with the various publishedsynthetic methods it was possible to use in the manufactureof LSD and other psychedelics, in order to develop the mostefficient processes possible. Efficiency here would meanthat the process had to employ a minimum of equipment,easily obtainable chemical precursors and reagents, andstill produce a product of more than just acceptable purity,and in maximum overall yield.And as a shaman concerned with the existential health ofmy tribe, it was also my duty to discover and relate allpossible knowledge to the people who would need suchinformation to use the psychedelic substances wisely. Thisaspect of my work turned out to be by far the moredifficult, for not only had we lost touch with (eradicated,actually) much ancient wisdom gained over millennia by theshamanic traditions, but the modern political, social, and (3 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 79. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4even scientific climates made it practically impossible torecapture much of that early wisdom in the natural way. Themodern situation colored and distorted our abilities toreproduce the mindset that would naturally see thepsychedelic experience as sacrament: the modern orientationhad first suspected the diabolical, then the insane, andsoon thereafter was trying to discover how to usepsychedelics as weapons of war and subterfuge.Luckily, my friends, who were experienced in that sortof thing, were able to import my laboratory back across theborder no questions asked. And so I found myself, back inSomewhere U.S.A., (still a draft evader), and with aninterest that attracted over the next several years variousgroups of persons wanting to promote the clandestine use ofpsychedelic drugs, for reasons which seemed to change fromnoble to pecuniary in proportion to the success achieved.Unfortunately the prohibition of psychedelics has forthe last quarter-century prevented much progress from beingmade on elaborating the details of the neurological effectsof LSD and other psychedelics in the human brain. As Imentioned previously, the very modest amount of work thathas been done was with laboratory animals, or in vitrocultures of nerve cells, and has in general been directedtoward toxicological or forensic ends. Thus there is notalot of reliable data available on how normal doses ofpsychedelic substances affect normal neurochemistry innormal human subjects experiencing the more valuable andinteresting aspects of psychedelic experience.If for the past several years experiments could havebeen performed using volunteers, especially experiencedpsychedelic users, in the attempt to accumulate somereliable data, the task I will now attempt would be far morestraightforward. For example, I suspect that if the new andpowerful scanning techniques of PET and MRI were combinedwith the experimental ingenuity of some of the top cognitiveneuroscientists to illuminate the brain mechanismsparalleling cognitive processes altered by psychedelics, wewould rather quickly find out alot more about not only themechanisms of action of psychedelic drugs, but many otherneuro-psychological realities as well. If mere speculation (4 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 80. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4about the psychedelic experience has led me to discover amajor new brain function (assuming that the HRS mechanism isas important as I suspect, and corresponds to variousdiscoverable patterns of neural signaling in the brain),imagine what a little serious research is likely to turn up.Needless to say, even the underground scientist ofindependent means is unlikely to have access to PositronEmission Tomography equipment.Nevertheless, I have gleaned enough data from existingresearch to at least advance a few preliminary guesses as tothe neuromechanics of the Habit Suspension Model ofpsychedelic experience. But before I venture into thisminefield of complexity I must discuss some furtherimplications and illustrations of the habit routine searchcognitive process that I have hypothesized. In proposing thehabit routine search mechanism as a fundamental butpreviously undiscovered brain/mind process not only out ofnecessity to explain psychedelic effects, but also from theperspective of other psychological, anthropological, andevolutionary viewpoints, I hope to build some badly neededbridges between these disciplines utilizing the new model.The phenomena discussed below, when viewed through thenew lens of the HRS model, start to be understandable in anew way. But in addition, since current discipline-specificmodels leave much to be desired in attempting to explain atleast some these phenomena, they demand a new and global wayof understanding them. The habit routine interpretation isnot just an alternative model for aspects of reality alreadywell modeled, but a viewpoint which may be able to unitepoorly understood and diverse phenomena under a commontheoretical outlook. All of the topics I will mentiondeserve more space than I can give them here, some wouldrequire a lengthy analysis, but at the risk of over-simplification, I dont believe I need an exhaustivetreatment to show just how wide the application of the habitroutine model might conceivably be. My attempts to proposeneurological models also will require reference back tothese many topics:AnthropologyIn anthropology, our understanding of the phenomenon ofshamanism and the ability of shamans to temporarily divestthemselves of their culture-bound cognitive limitations (5 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 81. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4using psychedelic preparations suddenly becomes much morethan the drugged delusions of the primitive mind as somehave suggested. The historian of religion Mircea Eliadewrote in 1951, "But we have seen that, in shamanism itself,narcotics...represent a decadence and that, in default oftrue ecstatic methods, recourse is taken to narcotics toinduce trance." (1) Naturally, if ones whole viewpointconcerning "narcotics" has been shaped by the ProhibitionistIdeal of Twentieth Century Western Civilization, it wouldhave been difficult indeed in 1951 to recognize the truesignificance of the use, not of narcotics, but psychedelicsby tribal peoples. But Eliades view is stillclung to todayby more than a few so-called scholars, yet paradoxicallytheir own "culture-bound cognitive limitations" strikinglyrevealed in the mentioned Prohibitionist Ideal are as inneed of cure as were those of the tribal peoples they see asdecadent.The great importance of shamans and psychedelic drugs toso many early societies can now be seen much more in termsof the temporary yet cumulative cognitive advantages thatpsychedelic experience would have conferred. The success ofshamans in curing some of the diseases of tribal membersunder their care takes on new meaning, as does the use ofpsychedelic agents in rituals for initiation into adulthood,for devination and the making of important decisions, andmore. Psychedelic experience as habit suspension unites theunderstanding of many aspects of the life and evolution ofEarly Man. And far from being a decadent substitute for"true ecstatic methods" as some insist, I will show thatpsychedelic use was and remains the genuine article forwhich many less efficacious substitutes were tried andabandoned. The stability, longevity and ecology of manyancient societies could only have been a by-product ofcultural wisdom; if limited and narrow from our modern pointof view, such wisdom certainly was not accidental, and insome respects represents ideals which modern industrialcivilization has not even pretended to espouse. Ourknowledge of ancient psychedelic plants and their use is thesubject of many excellent books and reviews now available(2); the knowledge represented in these works goes farbeyond the primitive views that were prevalent in 1951.The transformation of shamanism into organized religion,a much discussed though poorly understood process, was most (6 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 82. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4certainly a process which was paralleled by thediscontinuance of the use of psychedelic preparations.Insofar as this transformation has also been one in whichdoctrine and dogma have not only replaced, but forbiddendirect individual experience of spiritual realities, itwould be difficult to maintain that the change worked forthe benefit of the individual in need of spiritualfulfillment. It seems obvious that the transformation was apolitical one, brought about by those requiring control overtheir subjects through the creation and manipulation ofcognitive habit routines, and especially the prevention ofthe use of methods enabling the individual to bypass thelimitations imposed on him.The transformation was certainly not a refinement whichled to peace and harmony among early civilizations havingorganized religions and priesthoods. Lack of peace andharmony among nations and civilizations has, in fact, becomethe most important behavioral characteristic of the humanspecies insofar as it threatens that species withextinction. Individuals, robbed of their access to directexperience of religious truth (and here there is nosubstitute: religious truth is something that must bepersonally experienced), become members of a society whichcan be coerced by petty tyrants into all sorts of collectiveinsanities. In a future chapter I will extrapolate theimportance of early shamanism and the use of psychedelicplants in two directions: firstly to show that a verysignificant role for psychedelics can be hypothesized in theearly evolution of man; and to supply yet one more sermon onthe faults of modern civilization and what might be doneabout it.Meditation and Other TechniquesThe understanding of meditation techniques, sensorydeprivation, religious ecstasy provoked by various insultsto the body, and the panoply of other methods that humanindividuals seeking enlightenment and self-transcendencehave employed down through the ages becomes unified by thepresent model of habit routine search and suspension. Ipropose that all these diverse techniques are more-or-lesseffectivemethods for achieving what the psychedelic drugs domore efficiently and directly, viz., to suspend onesprogramming as represented in the personal collection of (7 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 83. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4habit routines. If there is something to be said for the"naturalness" of non-drug methods, methods whereby theindividual is purportedly gaining the ability to achievetranscendent states at will, there is even a strongerstatement to be made by the obvious unnaturalness of themore violent and self-destructive methods of certainreligious ascetics: extreme fasting and mortification of theflesh, such techniques must be seen as quite primitivesubstitutes for the use of natural psychedelic plants, quitebenign by comparison.Note that I do not propose that these various techniquesaffect brain operation through exactly the same mechanisms:the outcome of altered or suspended habit routines may berealized by quite different mechanisms and points ofintervention in neurological operation, both neurochemicalor self-induced, as I have already suggested. The hypothesisof the HRS system being the fundamental and primarycognitive operation of the nervous system upon which all theensuing processes of thinking are based, fits well with theproposal that there would likely be many diverse ways toalter the system as a whole, especially considering thecybernetic nature of most if not all brain processes.InstinctThe operation of what have been called instincts, bothin animals and man himself, may now be understood in a newway. Although the capacity and characteristics of memory inanimals are generally agreed to be very limited comparedwith man, the use of data implanted by experience, as wellas the genetically-expressed data of the collectiveexperience of a species, not as long-term memory in LMA, butas data for the operation of HRS, seems a promising newapproach in ethology. Chapter 6 will explore some of thisterritory.Personality and the UnconsciousIn psychology and psychiatry we may begin to understandbetter what the personality is, where and how theneurological data that result in observed personality traitsis stored and accessed. A more physiological and operationalunderstanding of the properties of the "unconscious mind"may now be possible, and may extend to understanding how theprevalence of irrational belief can coexist in the same (8 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 84. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4society, even the same individual, with logic andrationality. We may be able to apply the new concepts to theunderstanding of phobias, neuroses, and personalitydisorders, the power of propaganda and the phenomenon ofcrowd madness, the neurocognitive correlates of prejudice,and the practice of methods by certain individuals whichseem to render them much less susceptible to these majorhuman weaknesses.Human - Animal DichotomyThe fundamental difference between man and animal is anancient question, still debated from the perspective of manyopposing viewpoints. The habit routine model may provide anew assessment of mans uniqueness in his ability to suspendor modify the operation of habit routine at will, (withpractice), and so develop and cultivate the ability to becreative. I think it is safe to say that animals have theability to be creative, at least in a simple way, but theyexhibit such ability only when there is little alternative,as in a crisis, or in experiments designed to elicit suchbehavior. They do not do so out of the exercise of freewill, so much is obvious. Man can, however, cultivate andpractice the art, and dwell in a creative state by choice,but this is not to say that most human beings make therequired effort to do so to any significant extent. Thusproposed differences between man and animal have to datealways seemed merely a matter of degree rather thansubstance, animals exhibiting any suggested trait simply ona less complex level. Tool-making, language, music anddance, and other examples could be cited. Understanding thedifference as a major reorientation from a habit routinegoverned mode of existence to at least a potentiallyCreative-Individual Mode (3) may be the characteristic whichis more of substance than degree. Further exploration ofthis topic must also await future chapters.The Binding ProblemThe so-called binding problem in philosophy andpsychology, the lack of an adequate psychological orneurological theory to explain how unitary consciousnessarises out of the multiplicity of sensory signals whicharrive at the brain, (and the multitude of independentchannels of sensory processing that have recently been (9 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 85. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4demonstrated), may have a solution using the ideas I havesuggested. With the recent elaboration of ParallelDistributed Processing models of brain function, where it isnot even suggested that there is a central structure"responsible" for consciousness, the binding problem hasbecome even more mysterious, to philosophers at least. Butif our unitary conscious experience is not the experience orawareness of the totality of sensory input (and mentalreflection) itself, but rather the after-the-fact experienceof our own habit routines activated by the sensory data, andoverlaid with only a sparse sampling of the sensory datarelevant to the habit routine complex called into play, thebinding problem disappears.The relative absence of brain structures which associateall the sensory data from the various sensory inputs andintermediate processing areas to produce overall unitary or"bound" awareness is no longer a mystery, because unitaryexperience of external reality is an illusion. What weexperience are the cognitive or perceptual structuresprovided by our own habit routines which enable theevaluation of only the most salient or attended to aspectsof external reality; we see, hear, and understand only whatwe have already seen, heard, and understood, plus a smallfragment of new sensory data which relates agreement ordisagreement, the presence of novelty or sameness. It isthrough this deceptively small window upon the external thatwe exercise our apparently powerful abilities of free willand creativity. The power over external events whichresults, although demonstrably quite limited, seems great,great enough to install in us an illusion of control fargreater than the evidence warrants.If one of the fundamental questions in cognitive sciencehas been whether perceptual data for which there is noconscious awareness can influence behavior, then from theabove it can be seen that not only is this possible, butsince the total sensory input is used primarily (almostexclusively) to select habit routine complexes in thinking1,which is entirely a pre-conscious operation, then theconclusion is that sensory data is primarily unconscious andthe primary "causative" agent in behavior! I will return tothe binding problem during my discussion of the brainsystems which enable the construction of habit routines. (10 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 86. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4The Experiments of Benjamin LibetThe time delay between sensory signaling and thesubjective conscious perception of sensation which has socarefully been demonstrated by neurosurgeon Benjamin Libetand other experimenters may also have a simpler explanationthan those proposed so far. Libet and others have shown thata pin-prick of the finger, for example, transmits a signalto the cortex of the brain via the thalamus, which arrivesin a few thousandths of a second. All sensory signalingexcept olfaction is similarly transmitted: first to thethalamus which acts as a sort of relay-station distributingthe signals to the appropriate domains of the cortex. Yetconscious perception of the pin-prick can by variousexperimental techniques be shown to be delayed by up to ahalf-second, while "cerebral neuronal adequacy" is achieved.(4) It is proposed that there is then "a subjective referralbackwards in time, after neuronal adequacy is achieved,which antedates the [perception of the] experience tocorrespond to the time of early cortical responses..." [theonset of signaling measured after a few thousandths of asecond].The alternative view that I propose is that the originalsensory signaling, passing through the thalamus, isprojected to all the appropriate areas of the cortex, and itis this signal, by comparison with all the stored datarepresenting the frames of memory, which generates the habitroutine complex which is then used in the thinking2processes of perception and symbolization. The time delaycorresponds precisely to the time necessary for all thethinking1 (pre-conscious) comparisons of current sensorysignals with LTM (long-term-memory) to assemble the habitroutine complex to be presented to thinking2.According to my view then, the original signals from theperiphery of the body, projected upon the cortex by thethalamus, are not at all the "data" of which we becomeaware. This original sensory "data" will be selected,trimmed, and mostly eliminated during the process of HRS(habit routine search), and only details from the data whichare relevant to the habit routine complex brought toawareness will be included. Thus the greatest part, by far,of the "data" which is experienced, the supposed "boundawareness" of external reality, is merely the data thatalready existed as LTM. (11 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 87. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4The problem of how experience is referred backwards intime is also neatly resolved since what is experienced isthe habit routine complex generated from sensory datareceived at the time of the pin-prick or other peripheralinput: the habit routine complex represents the sensory dataat the instant of reception into thinking1, not at the (upto) half-second later instant of perception in thinking2.The variability of the time delay may represent the level ofcomplexity of the HRS process required in each case, astrong sensory signal is perceived more rapidly than aminimal one because less cognitive effort is required toconstruct a habit routine when the salient data is strongerthan the background sensory information. Remember that bothstrong and weak signals arrive at the cortex with the samesmall time delay ("a few thousandths of a second").The idea that "perception is a function of expectation"(5) is, of course, not new. But the dependence has so farbeen seen more as a minor imperfection or inconvenience,easily over-ridden by careful observation especially by hewho is in the act of studying such phenomena. The new viewprovided by my theory shows that very attitude to be aproduct of the "minor inconvenience", the magnitude of itsinfluence being directly proportional to the certainty ofits negligibility. I repeat: in a very literal sense, we seewhat we have already seen, hear what we have already heard,think what we have already thought, believe what we havealready believed, and Im afraid in most instances in mostpeople most of the time, little else. Illusions to thecontrary may well be provided and sustained by installedhabit routines! Disagreement with this analysis may wellprovide evidence for its accuracy!Further ExperimentsIn a further series of investigations, Libet was able toshow a similar and apparently much more mysterious anomaly.A carefully executed series of experiments seemed to callinto question the operation, perhaps even the existence of"free will" as we know it. Again, the results were indicatedby the existence of various time delays in neural signalingrelative to tasks that the subject was asked to carry out.Here is an abstract of theoriginal article:Voluntary acts are preceded by electrophysiological (12 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 88. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4"readiness potentials" (RPs). With spontaneous actsinvolving no preplanning, the main negative RPshift begins at about -550 [milliseconds]. Such RPswere used to indicate the minimum onset times forthe cerebral activity that precedes a fullyendogenous voluntary act. The time of consciousintention to act was obtained from the subjectsrecall of the spatial clock position of a revolvingspot at the time of his initial awareness ofintending or wanting to move (W). W occurred atabout -200 ms. Control experiments in which a skinstimulus was timed (S), helped evaluate eachsubjects error in reporting the clock times forawareness of any perceived event.For spontaneous voluntary acts, RP onset precededthe uncorrected Ws by about 350 ms and the Wscorrected for S by about 400 ms. The direction ofthis difference was consistent and significantthroughout, regardless of which of several measuresof RP onset or W were used. It was concluded thatcerebral initiation of a spontaneous voluntary actbegins unconsciously. However, it was found thatthe final decision to act could still beconsciously controlled during the 150 ms or soremaining after the specific conscious intentionappears. Subjects can in fact "veto" motorperformance during a 100-200-ms period before aprearranged time to act. The role of conscious willwould be not to initiate a specific voluntary actbut rather to select and control volitionaloutcome. It is proposed that conscious will canfunction in a permissive fashion, either to permitor to prevent the motor implementation of theintention to act that arises unconsciously.Alternatively, there may be the need for aconscious activation or triggering, without whichthe final motor output would not follow theunconscious cerebral initiating and preparatoryprocesses. (6)Although Libet himself commented in the closing section (13 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 89. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4of his paper, " is important to emphasize that thepresent experimental findings and analysis do not excludethe potential for philosophically real individualresponsibility and free will", several writers have, atleast in popular presentations, rather exaggerated thepossible implications of the experiments:...The conclusion is that we are deluded inbelieving that each of us is a free agent who maydecide to take an action. Such a decision is aninterpretation we give to a behavior that has beeninitiated someplace else by another part ofourselves well before we are aware of making adecision at all. In other words, the decision hasbeen made before we are aware of the idea to evenmake a decision. If "we" are not pulling thestrings, then who or what is? The answer is, it isan unknown part that is unfathomable tointrospection. (7)...Here we have physiological confirmation ofAmbrose Bierces definition of intention asapprehending the imminence of an action. Behind thescenes the blind brain-mind is determining whataction to take, and when to initiate it. And as itsends out messages to the muscles to move, so italso initiates processes that may end up as aconscious prediction of the act that is already onits way. Consciousness, however, ignorant of itsown foundations, takes this prediction, and re-interprets it as control. (8)Actually there are some elements of truth in theseobservations, as I hope to show below, but they do notsupport the implied positions of the authors. The peercommentary in the same journal as Libets original article,it must be said, did not at all suffer from the sameexaggeration, but presented a range of quite perceptivecriticisms of the methodology of the experiments andsuggested several less extreme psychological, neurologicaland philosophical conclusions, yet Libet was in my opinionable to support his position effectively. But none of the (14 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 90. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4commentators seemed able to simplify the experimentalresults and their implications with a new modelof what mightactually be taking place. Let me first describe some furtherdetails of the experiments:Each experimental subject was asked to observe a kind ofTV monitor on which was projected a spot of light rotatingaround the center of the screen. This was the timing device:psychological and sensory events were timed by observingtheir occurrence relative to the clock-position of the spotof light. The subject could then relate, for example, thetiming of a pin-prick or other event such as a decision, tothe position of the spot at say, three oclock. The subjectwas then asked, at a completely random moment chosen byhimself, to suddenly flex the fingers of his hand, andobserve the clock-position of the spot of light at themoment of his being aware of having made the decision toflex his fingers. What was consistently found was that anelectrical signal in the cortex of the brain, the "readinesspotential", would appear about four-tenths of a secondbefore the subject signaled his awareness that he had madethe decision to flex, and that the actual flexing of themuscles appeared about two-tenths of a second after theapparent time of the decision. The fact that these wereconsidered startling and unexpected experimental results isillustrated by the depth and intensity of controversy thatensued in trying to explain the results within the frameworkof the various critics paradigms. What was debated by allwas the question of volition. How could the decision to takea voluntary act, which in anyones book must certainly be aconscious event, be preceded by an unconscious event of suchregularity that the timing of the ensuing muscle movementcould be predicted from it?The answer, according to the habit routine model, isthat there was no volition whatsoever concerning thedecision to flex the fingers. This was a "decision" pre-programmed to take place as an instruction in working memoryfor the selection and implementation of habit routines thatwould lead to the desired movement. The trigger for thisdecision was another instruction in working memory, theinstruction to "choose a random moment". The volitioninvolved in the overall process consisted of the voluntaryprogramming of working memory by the subject to carry outthe instructions of the experiment, nothing more. And (15 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 91. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4nothing less, especially, for in this process we observequite unambiguously the operation of free will: the subjectchooses quite freely to follow the instructions of theexperiment, and consciously programs his working memory withthe recipe for carrying out the desired sequence, viz.,choose a random moment, notice the position of the timingdevice, and then flex the fingers.Owen Flanagan has expressed a similar interpretation ofthe experiment. But his philosophical intent seems to be toargue against any idea that mind might be anything otherthan something caused by physical, observable-in-principlebrain processes. He calls his position on the mind/braindebate "constructive naturalism", but seems to fall into thesame trap concerning causation that I mentioned previously:I conclude that Libets results, far from offeringsolace to the suspicious epiphenomenalist, areprecisely the sort of results one would expect ifone believes that conscious processes are subservedby nonconscious neural activity, and that consciousprocesses play variable but significant causalroles at various points in different cognitivedomains. (9)The first proposition, "conscious processes aresubserved by neural activity", is in logical contradictionto the second, "conscious processes play causal roles". Ifthe first proposition is taken to mean that for everyconscious process that may be defined or intuited to exist,then there is necessarily a real, durational, and logicalsequence of neurological operations in the brain whichprecedes and causes the conscious activity (causation musthave duration and precede the effect which results), thenthe conscious process of the second proposition must beincluded: it must also be caused by neurological activity,and so its apparent causative power is only a reaction toprevious neurological causation. As I stated above, themind, or consciousness, is thus reduced to having no actualcausative power at all, it becomes an inoperative concept.I must also reiterate my own position that this argumentdoes not automatically make me a "suspiciousepiphenomenalist" nor a closet mysticist. The mind/body (16 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 92. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4debate has, like so many other debates, become polarizedinto a binary reductionism: if youre not in the one camp,you must be in the other. If you dont believe that thephysical manifestation of the brain "causes" all the mental,intentional, qualitative, subjective, and yes, spiritualmanifestations of the human (to say "organism" would alreadybe admitting to the reductionism I am questioning), then youmust be an advocate of mysticism, i.e., unscientific.My previous analogy to the dual nature ofelectromagnetic radiation is apt, I think, for itillustrates the same debate that occurred in physics longago: is light a particle or a wave? Or both simultaneously?Does the particle nature of light cause its wave aspects? Orvice versa? All these questions may only be asked from thepoint of view of classical physics, they only have meaningfrom the classical view. Once quantum mechanical physicsenters the scene, no one even attempts to answer thequestions on the classical level. If my guess that brain andmind are parallel aspects of a more fundamental reality isnebulous, perhaps it will take on some relevance when a"quantum mechanics of philosophy" will be available. Whethera process of mind studying mind will accomplish such a featis still an open question.I hope I may be forgiven for having divergedconsiderably from my analysis of Libets findings to repeatan argument of the previous chapter, for I think that theargument and the logical inconsistency it points out lendsome credibility to the use of the habit routine model as away to resolve many aspects of current debate. The habitroutine model is far from being a mystical proposition, yetit seems that many questions which previously forced opinioninto either the reductionist or mystical extremes are nowmoot. If the habit routine model does not itself show howmind and brain might be parallel and complimentary aspectsof the same thing, it at least weakens some arguments thatsuch a view must be unscientific. To continue with the habitroutine view of Libets results:I would propose that the time of the onset of the"readiness potential" corresponds exactly with theimplementation of the instruction in working memory to"choose a random moment", and that the ensuing delaycorresponds to the time necessary to activate the habitroutine search process to produce a pattern which seems to (17 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 93. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4the subject to satisfy the instruction, "choose a randommoment." At this point, the second and third pre-programmedinstructions to notice the time, and then flex the fingersis launched, and the ensuing delay again corresponds to thetime necessary to select and activate the various habitroutines necessary to implement the physical action. Thesubjective timing of the intention to move the fingersoccurs when it does because it must await the success of thefirst instruction to choose a random moment. When consciousawareness is satisfied that this criterion has been met, it"approves" the continuation of the instruction sequence inworking memory. Notice that I have adhered to my intuitionthat mind and brain are simultaneous, not causative ineither direction; in this example the readiness potential isthe physical attribute of the larger process which isimplementing the instructions of free will.HallucinationsI have already alluded to the idea that the so-calledhallucinations resulting from psychedelic experience are not"real" or strong hallucinations at all. In this case, normalsensory data, perceived without the usual framework ofacceptable habit routines to organize and categorize theperceived sensations, becomes itself seemingly hallucinatory(in the naive subject) because it is perceived "as is". And,as I mentioned previously, the perception of such sensoryinput, especially if the set and setting of the experienceare threatening (as in the above account of a hospital-setting LSD session), will through feedback to furtherthinking1 habit routine search produce even more bizarreresults, greater feelings of loss of control, etc.Classical hallucinations produced by brain pathologiesand various diseases are a quite different phenomenon, aswas noted by many of the early psychedelic researchers. Itwas in fact the widespread dissatisfaction with the term"hallucinogen" (and also "psychotomimetic") which led to thecoining of the term "psychedelic" as a properly descriptivename for these substances. Classical hallucination producedby brain pathology (or as manifested in the delirium tremensof end-stage alcoholism, for example), is probably outsidethe domain of the habit routine model, although thepsychological and cognitive results of certain nervoussystem diseases may assist in devising the neurological (18 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 94. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4model of habit routine search. In the next chapter I willdiscuss some types of brain damage which provide suchevidence.Subliminal PerceptionMany diverse psychological experiments have been able toshow that information from a briefly encountered experience,although not subsequently accessible to normal recall ofmemory, nevertheless provides data which the subject uses"unconsciously". (10) In recent studies, the terms "explicitmemory" and "implicit memory" are used to denote sensoryinformation which can, or cannot be consciously recalled.The terms correspond roughly to what I have called LMA, orlogical memory access (explicit memory) and the output ofthe habit routine search system (implicit memory). Butdefining the two as different types of memory obscures whatthe habit routine model makes clear: the memory "data" isthe same, it is the method of access which is different.A typical experiment would run something like this:Subjects are given a brief exposure to a word presented on ascreen. A 30 millisecond showing is not long enough for thesubject to recognize that he has seen anything at all, yetin subsequent testing the word will be identified morefrequently from lists of random words than statistics wouldpredict. Research on subliminal perception had beenmotivated by studies of amnesic-syndrome sufferers, who hadoften been observed to have intact implicit-memory functiondespite gravely affected ability to recall autobiographicalevents. A patient afflicted with amnesia might be taught aprocedure, for example, and shown by testing to haveretained at least some information that he had learned. Yethe would have absolutely no memory for the time or place northe procedure in which he had learned this information.Daniel L. Schacter (footnote 8) has identified fivetypes of evidence for the dissociation or independence ofthese two memory processes and concluded, "Taken together,the...studies constitute solid evidence for a fundamentaldifference between implicit and explicit memory." Theevidence, I believe, fits the Habit Routine Model like aglove, but it is not at all necessary to propose independentmemory systems to explain it. The Habit Routine Modelproposes that the same memory "data" from exactly the samedistributed sources in the various domains of the cortex, (19 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 95. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4are accessed and assembled by two different processes, oneautomatic, ongoing, and pre-conscious (HRS in thinking1),the other voluntary, deliberate, and accomplished byfeedback of cues assembled from conscious analysis andevaluation of thinking2 (LMA).The model illustrates how HRS can retrieve informationfrom the briefly perceived, subliminal exposition, yet LMA,which must have reference to a process of duration, cannotaccess the same data. The film frame/clip analogy is usefulhere: the 30ms exposure is recorded, just like all sensorydata, but it represents only a frame of a film. LMA mustaccess a sequence of frames during recall, a series of time-related frames of a certain duration, a "film clip". Thismay be a result of the nature of the cues which are used inLMA, or perhaps just the inherent operating characteristicsof the brain system which reconstructs conscious memories.Or it might be hypothesized that the memory of aninstantaneous cross-section in time, like the 30ms.exposure, would simply not register in consciousness, thusno process of cue-construction necessary to retrieve amemory would be possible.An interesting experiment suggests itself to attempt toshow the operation of information collected and useable ashabit routines, but not accessible in LMA. A series ofimages is shown, all subliminally, demonstrating one ofseveral possible logical relations between several differentgeneric objects depicted in the images. By "generic" I meanthat the objects do not have individual or "personal"characteristics, but denote a type, or a class. Numbers orletters in a non-descript font would be a good example, aswould simple geometric figures. In each image is also aprominent and unchanging "reference" object which does haveintrinsic specific characteristics, a photograph of JackNicholson perhaps. The images may be interspersed with otherimages, both subliminal and perceptible, or they may even beinserted in a short film, for instance.Afterwards the subject is asked to deduce a possiblelogical relation between the several types of genericobjects, now shown continuously, in one case with thereference object shown, and in another case without thereference. To deduce any one of the several possible logicalrelations between the generic objects requires a logicalsequence of brain/mind operations, including attention and (20 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 96. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4decision, reference to previously learned knowledge ofsimilar cases, it requires deliberation of a complex nature.The logical relation between the generic test objectsimplied by the series of subliminal frames, if deducedpreferentially over other possible logical relations whenthe reference object is included, would indicate that habitroutines had been installed by the data in the images; theco-presentation of the reference object should reinforce thehabit routine learned about the logical relation indicatedby the images. And not only would the routines be invisibleto LMA, but even recall of the objects themselves would benil.Note that some preference for the required logicalrelation should be present even without the referenceobject. The prediction is that a small preference should befound without, and a larger and much more significantpreference with the reference object present. This isbecause the reference object has obvious and strongindividual characteristics which would be expected toactivate the assembly of habit routines in which it played apart, whereas the test objects have little or no specificcharacteristics. The experiment would demonstrate that evencomplex logical decisions, supposedly made on the basis ofconsciously applied information and calculation, arenevertheless guided by invisible and pre-emptory patternsinstalled in memory in perhaps involuntary and illogicalways. (What would be logical about preferentially choosingone of several relations among geometric figures based on apicture of Jack Nicholson being present?!).Context - Dependent MemoryThis proposed experiment is a reduction to thesubliminal perception level of a more general phenomenoncalled Context-Dependent Memory, which was described as longago as 1690:The British associationist philosopher John Lockerefers to the case of a young man who was taught todance. His lessons always took place in the sameroom which contained a large trunk. Alas, itsubsequently proved to be the case that: "The ideaof this remarkable piece of household stuff had somixed itself with the turns and steps of all his (21 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 97. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4dances, that though in that chamber he could danceexcellently well, yet it was only while the trunkwas there." (11)Experimental studies of context-dependent memory inrecent years have established the importance of the effect,but no general cognitive model has been proposed which mightexplain its operation. The application of the habit routinemodel may consolidate understanding of several currentlystudied aspects of memory. Baddeley reports a particularlyinteresting study, the results of which lend themselvesdirectly to interpretation using the habit routine model.This interpretation of context-dependent memory willadditionally lead us into another question of importance forunderstanding HRS and LMA and how these processes areinitiated:Is it actually necessary for the subject to returnphysically to the same environment for context-dependent effects to work, or is it sufficient toimagine the original environment? This was exploredin a study by Smith (1979) who had his subjectsstudy 80 common words in a distinctive basementroom on the first day, and then attempt to recallthem on a second day in either the same room, or ina fifth-floor room with very different contents andfurnishings. Subjects who recalled in the originalbasement room tended to remember about 18 words,significantly more than those who remembered in thedifferent upstairs room, who recalled only about12. Of particular interest however was a thirdgroup who were tested in the different upstairsroom, but instructed to try to recollect as much aspossible of the original learning environmentbefore starting to recall. They remembered anaverage of 17.2 words, not significantly differentfrom those who had physically returned to thelearning environment. (12)The habit routine interpretation of these experimentalresults would be as follows. The original session in which (22 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:37 PM]
  • 98. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4the 80 common words were studied was, like all ongoingcognitive activities, organized around and facilitated byhabit routine complexes which each individual has developedover his lifetime of conscious activity. They would beroughly similar for all the subjects, but not identical,some persons obviously having developed routines for study(the memorization of a list in this case) which are somewhatdifferent and more or less effective than those of otherindividuals. Nevertheless, for a given subject, habitroutines typical for that subject are used for the learningprocess, and the information learned is incorporated intomemory as further habit routines based on the learningroutines. Thus the learned data is itself organized intohabit routines related to those used in the learning. Wemight think of the learning routine as a sort of template onwhich the data to be learned is imbedded. But more than justthe "data" of the words is recorded! All habit routines arepotentially re-assembled from the entire sensory andcognitive input of the moment (including the habit routinesbrought to bear in implementing the ongoing process): if thewords were printed in red ink, if Beethovens Fifth Symphonywere playing at the time, if one had an annoying itch, allthese, including the general surroundings of the room andthe emotional "feel" thus elicited in the learner, are partof the habit routine which contains the informationconcerning the words studied.In the above experiment, recalling the words later isimproved if the subject is tested in the same room; here theword information embedded in the habit routine created atthe time of learning is accessed more reliably by thepresence of the sensory input of the room (which matcheselements of the original habit routine). But improvement isalso noticed just by asking the subject to imagine theoriginal learning location. In this instance, the habitroutine is activated by thinking2 imagining the originalscene and supplying this as an input parameter to HRS viaworking memory.It has been noticed in many studies that if the words tobe learned can be organized in some way, eitherintentionally with a mnemonic or categorization process, or"unconsciously" by the influence of context, as is the casehere, then subsequent recall is much improved. We may viewthis effect as the production of habit routines having an (23 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 99. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4internal organizational structure, a cross-linking betweenelements of the routine, so that recall or recognition maybe brought about by more numerous cueing situations. Thecontext in which the learning is taking place, the basementroom, provides an organizational framework, as would moreintentional or contrived methods such as relating the wordsto certain categories or classes.This brings us to the related question of the differencebetween recall and recognition. In word learningexperiments, a subject can be tested for his recall ofwords, i.e., the words that he can remember on demand; orfor recognition, wherein he is given a list of words onlysome of which were words to be learned. The subject thengoes through the list and replies yes or no to each entry.Baddeley discusses the many experiments that have been doneand the methods used to correct for various errors inherentin the procedure. (13) It has been shown that, as a rule,recognition is far better than recall, scores for the formerbeing typically twice or more the scores for recall. Asingle case study (of myself) illustrates the disparity andsuggests also that using the experimental paradigm oflearning and recall of words (as opposed to images, orcomposite sensory patterns) may not tell the whole story:In the 1950s and 1960s I often frequented small recordshops to buy cheap (I was a student) and usually out-of-print jazz record albums. Album cover design, even then, wascrucial in promoting records that were not expected to bebig selling items, and so many were quite original inappearance. When sifting through the bins, I almost nevererred in knowing if I had already bought an album, yet aprinted list of titles was much less helpful. To this day Ican look at an old jazz album on display, and tellimmediately if I already own a copy in my collection of wellover a thousand. A list of titles is much less effective.And if asked to recall the cover art from a well-knownalbum, I will usually fail for most items. Out of athousand, I can right now bring to mind the cover of perhapstwenty or thirty, yet somewhere in my head is the "data"required to recognize them all. I predict, on the basis ofmy own experience here, that if experiments on recall vs.recognition were performed using visual and perhaps audiomaterial, as well as composite sensory input, the disparitybetween recall and recognition would far outpace the results (24 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 100. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4found for word study tasks.Baddeley notes, "The question of how recall andrecognition are related is one of the oldest in the study ofmemory. It is also one that remains complex andcontroversial." I think that the Habit Routine Model mayhave some ability to simplify the controversy, for thedistinction between recall and recognition parallels closelythe distinction I have made between LMA and HRS. Inrecognition, the result comes about automatically andrapidly through HRS, the effect of context being entirely"pre-conscious", an operation of thinking1 processes;whereas in recall, the context can be consciously recreatedto assist in the process as in the experiment above. Thus inthe recall of words learned in the basement room, thesubject can improve his score by simulating the context,using LMA to intentionally reconstruct the look and feel ofthe basement room. In the experiment that I have proposed(showing a series of subliminal images containing theconstant context or non-generic item), the context itemautomatically supplies access to habit routines whichproduce the response. In the basement room experiment theworking memory is intentionally programmed with areconstruction of the context (in the case of the upstairsrecall), which then as a parameter for ongoing thinking1assists in recall.Filling InAnother phenomenon of recent interest and debate whichmay benefit from a habit routine interpretation is fillingin. In its simplest aspect, it has long been known that dueto the particular structure of the eye, there is a smallblind spot on each retina at the position of its attachmentto the optic nerve. The portion of the visual sceneprojected here is therefore not represented in the visualcortex of the brain, yet we have no awareness that there aretwo blank spots in our field of view. (A simple experimentthat all children are taught shows the reality of the blindspot.) The process whereby the brain nevertheless producesan apparent continuous field of view is called filling-in,and some examples of recent research and controversy arenicely summarized by Francis Crick. (14) Although thefilling-in of the blind spot may be a quite simple processin normal persons (the retina itself may play some (25 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 101. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4supporting role) a more extensive and higher-order kind offilling-in is known to occur with brain-damaged patients.Crick reviews the research of Ramachandran (15) and hiscolleagues and concludes,Filling-in is probably not a special processpeculiar to the blind spot. It is more likely that,in one form or another, it occurs at many levels inthe normal brain. It allows the brain to guess acomplete picture from only partial information-avery useful ability. (16)The Habit Routine Model agrees entirely with thisassessment that only partial information arrives atconscious awareness, yet an apparently seamless perceptionof reality results. But the model goes even further insaying that most, or nearly all, of the data we believe weare perceiving is the data produced by the "filling-in" thatthe habit routine search process has provided. It is notsurprising then that such a powerful system can fill in theminor amounts of data lacking due to the characteristics ofthe retinae, or even of damage to the visual cortex of thebrain.SynaesthesiaAlong with the renewal of interest in consciousness andthe mind/body problem in the wake of the demise ofbehaviorism has come a wave of new theories about long-knownyet little-understood phenomena such as synaesthesia, thecross-over or confusion of two or more sensory domains.Popular books about such long-standing enigmas have reacheda wide audience. In observing the disparity of proposedtheories attempting to explain some of these phenomena, itbecomes evident that psychology and the study of the mind isstill in its infancy. But also, due to the breakneck pace atwhich research is now eliciting important if uncoordinatedresults, it seems of paramount importance for some part ofthis wide area of exploration to devote its efforts toproviding linkages between the various disciplines,attempting to design overall theoretical frameworks whichdeal with all the phenomena on a unified basis. If not, Ifear we are in for even greater overall confusion, (26 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 102. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4disagreement, and controversy. In reaction, a new brand ofbehaviorist, mechanistic, nothing-but-ism is likely to takehold to again stifle creative approaches in mans study ofhimself. I make these comments here because a recent book onSynaesthesia (17) illustrates the lack of coordination inrecent theoretical approaches. I should not single out thisbook from the many others which have purported to "explain"consciousness or various aspects thereof; reading several ofthese is more like watching a sporting match than anexposition of a deliberate research undertaking.The quotation from The Man Who Tasted Shapes above, inthe section on Benjamin Libets time-delay research,exemplifies the point, I believe. One-upmanship contests,perhaps encouraged by editors and publishers, takeprecedence over accurate representation of others work. Asfor synaesthesia, Cytowic presents interesting theoreticalideas, but limits them by inaccuracy of presentation ofsupporting evidence. This is certainly the case where heattempts to present results of psychedelic research tosupport his ideas. (18) Reported synaesthesia duringpsychedelic experience has occurred frequently enough towarrant attention. Yet scientific attention is so severelylimited by research restrictions that it is certainly adubious conclusion that psychedelic synaesthesia hasanything more than coincidental parallels to naturally-occurring synaesthesia. Cytowic remarks,Ethical considerations guarantee that 1950s-eragovernment research into the effects of LSD onhumans will never be repeated. While nocontemporary research exists, however, the olderdata about the drugs general effects on thenervous system are reliable.The statement reveals, I fear, a dual ignorance. If theunethical 1950s-era research he refers to is that undertakenby the CIA, (and highly unethical it was, along with much ifnot most other CIA "intelligence" activities), then Cytowicdisplays a glaring unawareness of the research of the dozensof workers who administered many thousands of psychedelicexperiences in which ethics were not only respected but aprimary consideration. But if Cytowic is ignoring this much (27 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 103. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4greater body of highly ethical research for the abominablefumblings of the weapons and mind-control crowd of MK-ULTRA/CIA fame, it is highly questionable to then expressconfidence about "older data being reliable."It is simple enough to explain psychedelic synaesthesiain terms of habit routine suspension, (I will leave it as anexercise for the reader!), but I believe that the habitroutine model may also succeed quite well in explainingnaturally occurring synaesthesia. Cytowic states thatsynaesthesia is a product of the limbic system, not thecortex, and with this the habit routine model is in moderateagreement. I will show in the next chapter the interplaybetween the cortex and various centers of the limbic systemwhich brings about the various habit routine cognitiveoperations. But rather than having to postulate anenhancement of limbic activities, or the actual crossing-over at some point of sensory signals as others have done,(both of these hypotheses depend on the supposition that itis the bound awareness of all the sensory domains whichconsciousness perceives), a simple and small change in thelimbic activities which access and apply habit routines isthe only hypothesis necessary.Once again we see that if it is not bound sensoryawareness of which we are conscious, but rather our ownhabit routines, the mechanism underlying the phenomenon iseasily imagined, rather than requiring several hypotheticalnervous system operations unsupported by any existingresearch. And once again I think, the habit routine modelshows its capability to moot certain questions ofcontroversy by providing an overall structure in whichpreviously misunderstood or misinterpreted phenomena are nowbrought together.The Newly - SightedAnother such phenomenon recently discussed in a popularbook (19) concerns persons who have been blind for manyyears and whose sight is then restored, the "newly sighted".Oliver Sacks relates the rare yet typical case of Virgil, aman blind since early youth due to heavy cataracts. At theage of fifty, he undergoes the relatively simple and risk-free operation for cataract removal. All are hopeful forwonderful results, yet, as has been noted in the handful ofcases with other newly-sighted patients, curious and (28 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 104. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4difficult problems arise and persist, and the final resulthas often been disappointment and tragedy: Not because sightis not restored, but as Sacks relates in a lengthy andfascinating account of Virgils tribulations, sight seems tobe extremely difficult to understand and interpret in such asituation. According to the habit routine model, we couldsay that firstly, Virgil had no available perceptual habitroutines to be activated by visual stimulation, thereforewhat he "sees" is only color and motion in a practicallyrandom and significance-less pattern. With effort andpractice, he is able to interpret some of the visual data interms of the world as he has known it through his othersenses, but he has immense difficulty in learning theseinterpretations: they must be repeated each time anew. Forinstance, visually he cannot tell his dog from his cat. Theinstant he touches one or the other however, its identity isobvious. Relating the visual data to the touch is notretained however, for the next time he encounters the animalvisually, again he is lost.Secondly, cognitive aspects of the habit routinecomplexes are also lacking. This was illustrated by Virgilsinability to see photographs and pictures as anything butrandom if interestingly colored surfaces, even after he hadbeen practicing with his new vision for awhile. Along withprevious cases, he could not see people or objects in thepictures, even after he had learned to recognize them in theflesh. He simply did not comprehend the idea ofrepresentation for there were no cognitive habit routinesavailable which would allow and facilitate suchinterpretation.And thirdly, since all Virgils existing habit routinesconsisted of structures building upon his previouslyavailable senses, (it had been remarked how his sense oftouch and smell were acute, and far more developed than innormal persons), there was no possibility of intuitive orautomatic cross-modal association between his new vision andhis established cognitive schemes for understanding theworld around him. With a cane, he could walk up a stairwayeasily, yet the vision of the same stairway gave nocomprehension of its three-dimensional structure and how onemight navigate it. This, in spite of knowing for certainthat what was being viewed was the same object that could beclimbed with ease bytouch alone. There were no cognitive (29 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 105. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4habit routines enabling a connection between the reality asperceived by the two sensory methods.I refer the reader to Sacks description of Virgilssymptoms (which one might call them in the sense that theyare the result of a deficit, in this case a deficit of habitroutines of perception and cognition necessary for thefunction of meaningful vision). With the elaboration of eachstrange effect, the habit routine interpretation is easilyand effectively summoned to organize and understand thesituation as a whole. In one sense, Virgil was in thesituation of a young child, trying to learn and establishthe habit routines necessary for interpreting a strange andcolorful visual world around him. Yet in another sense,since his brain and cognition had already fully developed inother directions, taking account of his deficit, he couldnot hope to achieve what the child does effortlessly. In theyoung child, the entire cognitive structure of habitroutines is nascent and plastic; at fifty years of age thisstructure is rigid, established, and not amenableto radicalchange such as the sudden introduction of a new sensorypathway. In such a case as Virgils we can see that thetotal absence of habit routines enabling the interpretationof vision renders the visual sensation incomprehensible;visual data arriving in thinking2 awareness without anyorganizing habit routine structure results only in aprofound and, in the end, often tragic confusion whichbecomes a liability rather than a gift.Perception of LanguageI believe it is difficult, if not practically impossiblein some situations, to experience raw sensory data; wecannot avoid experiencing external reality in terms of ourown habit routines. Consider what happens when we hearsomeone speak a few words. If the words are in a languagewhich we ourselves speak, they are immediately andunavoidably transformed into meaning! Try studying somedifficult subject while a conversation is going on, orworse, an abusive TV advertisement is running. We arepractically incapable of hearing such auditory sensory dataas just noise, the meanings of the words keep attracting ourattention. But the meaning is not inherent in the sound! Ifthe language is not a familiar one, no meaning is produced!What is the difference? We experience our own habit (30 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 106. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4routines, as I have stated, and when we hear auditory inputwhich calls forth habit routines of meaning, it is thesehabit routines which are pre-emptively experienced, not thepure sound of the words. Even for a foreign language, ourhabit routine search process is still active (if lessinsistent), trying to pick out short successions ofsyllables which might have a correlation to our ownlanguage, in the attempt to get at least some fragmentarymeaning out of the noise. The point is, we are practicallyincapable of just listening to speech as pure noise, thehabit routine search system simply overrides the will to doso. The habit routines turn the sound of speech intomeaning, automatically, unavoidably. (Interestingly, inmeditation, one practices the art of "quieting the internaldialog", of experiencing reality without analyzing it,without attaching ones own semantic interpretation to it.As I mentioned above, meditation seems to be a method forsuspending the significance and use of habit routine inongoing awareness.)Now it is not conscious episodic memory, or LMA whichgives us the ability to understand language; we do notactively recall the many instances in which we learned themeanings of the words and their combinations. Yet the datathat was installed by these instances is certainly beingused. For a particular word I may perhaps be able to recallthe event of learning its meaning, but this is not what isused for present understanding. Rather, the sum total of allinstances in which the meaning took on relevance for me isaccessed (to continue with the analogy of a film), asacollection of frames, by the habit routine search process,and this collection of frames is the habit routine calledforth through which meaning is produced in awareness. Thefact that one can use a word in conversation quiteaccurately, yet find it difficult to produce a satisfactorydefinition of that word upon demand, illustrates the twocognitive processes. Providing a definition requires LMA,(or at least considerable conscious analysis of context todeduce what the meaning must be), whereas the automatic useof a word in proper and meaningful context is entirelycontrolled by the habit routines generated in the thinking1processes.If it is easy to see how auditory input of languageresults overpoweringly in the experience, not of the pure (31 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 107. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4sound, but of the meaning of that sound, (and hence thehabit routines which produce that meaning), I would ask thereader to go back over my arguments concerning the othersensory modalities. The experience of vision, for example,must be parallel to audition of language: we do notexperience the raw sound, nor the raw visual scene, butrather the meaning to which we habitually attach thatsensory input. I cannot stress enough, we experience what wehave already experienced; the view, if it has been stated inmany contexts down through the ages, now represents a newand radical paradigm shift for understanding perception andpsychology, for understanding ourselves in a radically newand more complete way.IllusionsThere are textbooks full of examples of visual,cognitive, and even auditory illusions. How do they work?One of my favorites, since I started playing around with avideo camera and learning how to control the "white balance"so as to achieve accurate color representation in my films,is the Land Effect, named after the inventor of the PolaroidLand Camera. The absolute values of colors as perceived by astandard measuring instrument, like the charge-coupled-device (CCD) in the video camera, change radically accordingto the color balance or temperature equivalent of theambient illumination. As I film my wife in the shade of anorth-facing wall, thence to walk out into full southern-exposure sunlight, the colors of her costume undergo aradical metamorphosis in the final film, if I have notcorrectly regulated the characteristics of the CCD of thecamera, the "white-balance", in order to take account of thechange in illumination. If I film her in close-up, and setthe white balance to automatic, then the costume colorsremain fairly true to what we expect, but at a price: thebackground colors change alarmingly. If I film her littlewalk from further away, with the white balance locked to thesetting which produces the correct background, then it isthe costume colors which change. But as I observe the samescene with my normal vision, no apparent metamorphosis takesplace: blues are blue, reds are just as red no matter whereshe walks, the background and the costume are perceivedwithout significant change even though the color balance oflight actually striking my retinae is changing just as (32 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 108. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4radically as it is at the surface of the CCD. Am I to assumea "white-balance" feedback signal to my retinae, adjustingtheir characteristics? There are no such neural pathways inthe brain. And any such regulation would not be expected tocorrect for the costume and the background simultaneously.Whatever mechanism is producing this color constancyeffect must therefore be in the brain itself, in theprocesses of cognition, although some preprocessing of"data" has been hypothesized to occur in the retinae of theeyes. Edwin Land and other researchers of the effect havecome up with a mathematical model of how various nervoussystem "computations" of intensity information from theentire visual field might allow constancy of colorperception, but I suspect that mathematical computationtheories of brain operation are all, in some sense,artifacts which may have good predictive power, but are notreally good models for understanding what the brain isactually doing. I, for one, am quite certain that my brainis not calculating integrals or differential equations dueto its demonstrated failure to do so on my final "diffy"examinations! Admittedly, due to the very limited andtentative knowledge about the mind that the neuroscienceshave so far been able to provide, mathematical models may beall we have, in some cases. Computer analogies for mindprocesses all suffer more or less from this same failing,which is why I may (as noted previously) enclose "data" and"computations" in quotes when discussing mind processes.Lands experimental findings can be summarized bystating that the perceived color of an object in the visualfield does not depend solely on the color of light enteringthe eye from that object, but on the entire spectrum oflight arriving from all locations in the visual field. Theapplication to the habit routine model of perception isobvious, I think. We would say that the habit routines forthe constant perception of color values overrule to a largeextent the actual signals relayed by the retina. But ifhabit routines can counteract actual color changes with suchefficiency that we are not aware that any correction istaking place, why then doesnt it happen while I watch thecurious effect in the film of the scene which live, causedno such drastic change? Actually, I have noticed that afterwatching such a distorted film many times, as when editingit, that I do begin to get used to the odd change in color (33 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 109. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4values, and correct for it, or at least ignore it (whichmight be practically equivalent). Such habit routines canand are inevitably developed to some degree in artificialsituations such as the film editing, but are strong and well-developed for the experiences of daily life situations sincethey have been practiced and reinforced since earlychildhood. In agreement with Lands theory, we do"calculate" the color of the object perceived by comparisonwith the entire visual field. But we do so through the useof habit routines which define what colors to expect when wesee sky, grass, stone wall, tree, etc., and such habitroutine information is only weakly established, if at all,when divorced from natural three-dimensional surroundings,as in the case of watching the TV film.There are parallel situations concerning the perceptionof the constant size of objects. Some very interestingillusions have been produced to confuse our nervous systemsability to tell us the absolute size of an object in spiteof the wildly varying size of image projected on theretinae, if the object is moving for example. Again, Ibelieve we can improve upon mathematical models of how sizeconstancy is accomplished with the habit routine model.Constancy is again produced from the constancy of the habitroutines in use by the perceptual system. The habit routinesare what is perceived.A Cognitive IllusionAnother quite fascinating illusion that has been aroundfor quite some time was discovered by J.S. Bruner and LeoPostman in 1949. (20) I will quote Thomas Kuhns account ofthe experiments for its concision, and also because heraises a couple of interesting points:In a psychological experiment that deserves to befar better known outside the trade, Bruner andPostman asked experimental subjects to identify onshort and controlled exposure a series of playingcards. Many of the cards were normal, but some weremade anomalous, e.g., a red six of spades and ablack four of hearts. Each experimental run wasconstituted by the display of a single card to asingle subject in a series of gradually increasedexposures. After each exposure the subject was (34 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 110. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4asked what he had seen, and the run was terminatedby two successive correct identifications.Even on the shortest exposures many subjectsidentified most of the cards, and after a smallincrease all the subjects identified them all. Forthe normal cards these identifications were usuallycorrect, but the anomalous cards were almost alwaysidentified, without apparent hesitation orpuzzlement, as normal. The black four of heartsmight, for example, be identified as the four ofeither spades or hearts. Without any awareness oftrouble, it was immediately fitted to one of theconceptual categories prepared by prior experience.One would not even like to say that the subjectshad seen something different from what theyidentified. With a further increase of exposure tothe anomalous cards, subjects did begin to hesitateand to display awareness of anomaly. Exposed, forexample, to the red six of spades, some would say:Thats the six of spades, but theres somethingwrong with it-the black has a red border. Furtherincrease of exposure resulted in still morehesitation and confusion until finally, andsometimes quite suddenly, most subjects wouldproduce the correct identification withouthesitation. Moreover, after doing this with two orthree of the anomalous cards, they would havelittle further difficulty with the others. A fewsubjects, however, were never able to make therequisite adjustment of their categories. Even atforty times the average exposure required torecognize normal cards for what they were, morethan 10 per cent of the anomalous cards were notcorrectly identified. And the subjects who thenfailed often experienced acute personal distress.One of them exclaimed: "I cant make the suit out,whatever it is. It didnt even look like a cardthat time. I dont know what color it is now orwhether its a spade or a heart. Im not even surenow what a spade looks like. My God!"... [italicsadded]. (21) (35 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 111. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4The first italicized sentence raises the question ofwhat kind of illusion is actually happening here. Thereaction to the anomalous card is so automatic and reliablethat one is tempted to say that it is a perceptual illusiontaking place, that the subject actually perceives theanomalous card as a normal card. But unlike many perceptualillusions, in which the illusion persists even whenknowledge of deception is gained, here, as shown by thesecond of the italicized sentences, the illusion tends todisappear after the trick is discovered. It seems thereforethat the illusion is cognitive, having to do with theanalysis or evaluation of perception rather than perceptionitself. A perceptual illusion may rely on habit routinesthat are fundamental to the functioning of the perceptualsystem they involve, and thus be very difficult tocounteract. An example would be the now famous line drawingwhich can be seen alternately as a vase, or as two faces inprofile, but never both simultaneously. (22) An illusiondepending on the analysis or higher processing ofperception, as I believe the anomalous card trick shows, canbe overcome almost immediately by the installation of new ormodified habit routines via working memory, which aresupplied as parameters for further habit routine searchwhich then takes into account the new data that anomalouscards are likely to be presented. It would be interesting toknow more about the few persons mentioned in the experimentwho had difficulty seeing through the trick even after theyknew about it.At this point it might be useful to recall my view inthe last chapter that at least two different categories forhabit routines are postulated, although since a habitroutine is a composite of data from many sources, inmultiple sensory and cognitive domains, the categories willcertainly overlap or be simultaneously applicable in somesituations. But as far as it is useful, we may refer tohabits of perception, and habits of cognition. The latterwill be understood as the habit routines which are used foranalytical and reasoning tasks, or the production of meaningfrom language as discussed above, while the former producesuch things as the visual illusions mentioned.I have suggested the term habit routine complex todenote that the unitary habit routine which is constantly (36 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 112. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4constructed and presented to the awareness of thinking2consists of all these types or aspects simultaneously. Thusif we can usefully isolate a part of an overall habitroutine and see it as a habit of cognition, or a personalitytrait, such a dissection will be only a theoreticaloperation for heuristic purposes. The actual habit routinecomplex is an entity constructed from all levels ofbrain/mind operation from simple perceptual tasks to complexintuitive, deductive and associational processes such as theexpression of personality.Personality as Habit RoutineThe very existence of strong, purportedly inalterable"personality traits" seems to me a perfect illustration ofthe prevalence and importance of habit routines in producingthe range of reactions to the daily life process. As withthe language example above, we do not use LMA to consciouslysearch our memories for the data revealing how to act in atypical situation, consistent with our established"personality". We react typically, but automatically tocertain situations, if not practically all situations, as anobserver who knows us well will attest. Others know us byour personality, which when seemingly a bit different due tounusual troubles or a very bad mood, will invite sincereinquiries of "whats wrong? Youre not yourself today!"People who know us certainly do not expect radical oreven moderate personality change from meeting to meeting; ifencountered, someone will surely recommend a few sessions onthe couch, or medication. The most startling and tragicevent of diseases like Alzheimers is perhaps not thegradual loss of memory and function, but the loss and/orchange of personality which accompanies the disease. For thefamily relative who loved the person as expressed throughpersonality, we may hear the lament, "hes just not himselfanymore." What could the personality be, if not a largecollection of routines suitable for automatic use; what datacould personality arise from if not the very same data fromwhich we extract conscious memories, yet accessed in anunconscious, rapid and automatic fashion by acognitive/brain system not under conscious, analytic anddeliberative control? The thinking1/thinking2 model outlinedin the previous chapter is a far more descriptive andoperational framework than simply saying that personality is (37 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 113. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4a property of the "unconscious mind," as if there were someseparate compartment, some independent source of data whollyother, completely independent of the conscious mind. It isthe same data. It is the method of use and theneurophysiology of access which is different.Cognitive illusions and intellectual traps are moredifficult to explain than visual illusions, no matter whatthe theoretical model. But why shouldnt our opinions andbeliefs, our prejudices and expectations, our ideas aboutreality, our personal metaphysical outlook, the verypatterns we use to evaluate what we believe to be truth orlies, also be not only governed by habit routines, butactually be identical with habit routines modified onlyslightly, in the ongoing perceived normality of dailyexistence, by the precise monitoring of ones presentintellectual intentions? I dont deny that extensive self-evaluation ever takes place, but in most individuals it maytake a life-crisis to stimulate it, while the creativegenius and artist may dwell there frequently. But since weall need to swim in some kind of water, the normal everydayjoe has practically no awareness of his habit routines, andthe artist little realization that partial immunity to habitroutines is his own peculiar suspension medium. But ifcognitive, evaluative aspects of habit routines are asimportant as we see the visual ones to be, psychiatry may bea far more primitive endeavor than had been suspected evenby the pessimistic.As so often happens when one invents a model, or attackssome problem with a new way of thinking, a search of theliterature reveals that someone has already covered theterritory and proposed something very similar. But the habitroutine model is itself applicable here: in having re-invented the idea from a new perspective, without havingpreviously been acquainted with older work, I may haveavoided falling into certain traps or habit routines thatthe original work would have installed in the process oflearning it. Thus I discovered, long after coming up withthe idea of habit routine suspension as the mechanism ofpsychedelic experience, that Sir Frederick Bartlett in 1932had proposed that memory and learning were represented in (38 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 114. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4the mind by being embedded in large scale structures whichhe called schemas or schemata, " active organization ofpast reactions, or of past experiences, which must always besupposed to be operating in any well-adapted organicresponse". (23) But in having developed my own approachfirst, I arrived at a view of the function of schemas, orhabit routines in my terminology, which attributes to them amore fundamental and primary importance than even recentdevelopments of schema theory imply. Daniel Schacter notesthat, "Although Bartletts notion of a schema is ratherfuzzy..., and his experimental results have not proved easyto replicate..., his approach has exerted a strongtheoretical and experimental influence on cognitiveresearch... Mandler...provides a useful summary of thecognitive conception of a schema:. . . [a schema] is a spatially and/or temporallyorganized structure in which the parts areconnected on the basis of contiguities that havebeen experienced in space or time. A schema isformed on the basis of past experience withobjects, scenes, or events and consists of a set of(usually unconscious) expectations about whatthings look like and/or the order in which theyoccur. The parts, or units, of a schema consist ofa set of variables, or slots, which can be filled,or instantiated, in any given instance by valuesthat have greater or lesser degrees of probabilityof occurrence attached to them. Schemata varygreatly in their degree of generality-the moregeneral the schema, the less specified, or the lesspredictable, are the values that may satisfy them.(24)Baddeley summarizes the characteristics of schemasshared by the various recent interpretations of schematheory. The parallels to my own idea of habit routines willbe obvious, but I shall presently point out the importantdifferences in the two conceptions. (Baddeley is heresummarizing a paper by Rumelhart & Norman):Schemas have Variables (39 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 115. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4Schemas are packets of information that comprise afixed core and a variable aspect...Schemas can Embed One Within AnotherSchemas are not mutually exclusive packages ofinformation, but can be nested...Schemas Represent Knowledge at all Levels ofAbstractionThe concept of schema is broadly applicable, fromabstract ideologies and concepts such as justice,to very concrete schema such as that for theappearance of a face.Schemas Represent Knowledge Rather than DefinitionsSchemas comprise the knowledge and experience thatwe have of the world, they do not consist ofabstract rules.Schemas are Active Recognition DevicesThis is very reminiscent of Bartletts originalemphasis on effort after meaning. (25)With a little editing, both of these sets ofcharacteristics could be used to define the nature of habitroutines. I have in fact learned much about what I expect ofhabit routines from a study of modern research on schemas.But there is a fundamental difference between the twoconcepts. Schemas were hypothesized as hierarchicalstructures resident in the mind/brain which provided anorganized template on which knowledge and memory was stored,as well as for the incorporation of new knowledge orlearning. Habit routines, by contrast, do not have anyindependent or inherent existence until they are called up,actually manufactured and assembled from LTM data by brainsystems which I shall define in the next chapter. Althoughin speaking of habit routines, I continually refer to thembeing accessed or called-up for use, the terminology is onlya convenience, for I do not wish to imply that habitroutines have any independent a priori existence in thestorage medium of the brain, which stores only the frames of (40 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 116. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4memory; a habit routine is constructed, in my view, eachtime anew as required by the current ongoing cognitivestate. HRS is thus a process of reconstruction rather thansomething akin to looking up a reference in a library. Also,it must be remembered that Attention does not refer back tohabit routines after having received sensory information inneed of organization. Quite the contrary, for theinformation which is at any moment available for Attentionhas already been constructed from habit routine data viaunconscious thinking1 processes.In addition, much of the research that has beenconducted in the effort to illustrate the characteristics ofschemas has used language oriented material in theexperimental tests. The accuracy of memory in the recall ofstories recounted to subjects was studied, for example, toexplore how the learning of the story was superimposed uponschemas about typical aspects of stories in general. Butsince I have proposed that language is itself only aresonance to thinking1/2 processes, (symbolization),occurring well after and only in reaction to habit routinesearch and resulting thinking2 processes of checking,analysis, and so on, then of necessity habit routines do notthemselves exist in terms of linguistic structures. Languageitself is not what is stored in LTM, although the means (thedata for the construction of habit routines) to produce orreconstruct it most certainly are. I have proposed that theHRS process is one of the earliest to have been evolved inthe animal nervous system, and this would certainly notagree with the hypothesis that the data of habit routineswas stored in terms of language (an error and abuse-prone,add-on option only available on the very latest models ofanimal life!) The study of the manifestation of habitroutines through experiments utilizing language thereforemisses their essential character. If we can observe theeffects of habit routines through the study of symbolizationprocesses we must not overlook the fact that we are noteliciting the properties of habit routines themselves, onlytheir effect upon subsequent mental events.An argument of economy supports the contention thathabit routines are constructed rather than accessed in situ.If schemas or habit routines existed already structured inLTM, then a particular important bit of information thatrelated to many different habit routines would have to be (41 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 117. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4stored in many different ways, redundantly, in order to bepresent in the very many habit routine structures requiringit. If the habit routine is manufactured afresh each time itis needed, the bit of information need only be stored once.This is an oversimplification however, since it is debatablewhether the storage of "data" in the brain can be conceivedof on the computer model of the storage of "bits" or "bytes"of "data". Nevertheless I still believe the argument ofeconomy above is significant.My belated discovery of schema theory as such a closefit to my own model was in one sense a disappointment. It isalways gratifying to believe that ones work hasoriginality. But I also found an encouragement: If I hadproposed the habit routine model of cognition as a deductionfrom observations of the effect of psychedelic drugs, (andin this I was sure to have many, many critics), yet themodel proposed had so many similarities to a theory which"has exerted a strong theoretical and experimental influenceon cognitive research" in Schacters words, then my ideasabout psychedelic experience might not be too far off themark. I had arrived at a theoretical viewpoint from my studyof psychedelic experience which replicated current thinkingin cognitive science, about which I had studied very little.I hope I have been able to convey the cognitive natureof habit routines as I understand them. If "Bartlettsnotion of a schema is rather fuzzy", I expect that it willalso be said that my own notion of habit routines is alsosomewhat nebulous. But the same could be said of manycurrent theoretical approaches to the working of the humanmind. The controversies and radically opposed paradigms inthis endeavor are a sure sign that our knowledge is yetprimitive and introductory, but also that a fruitful andrapid evolution of understanding is imminent. In thischapter I have tried therefore, not to propose a precisedefinition of what a habit routine may be, but rather toillustrate some of the things it may be in relation toseveral known phenomena. I am intentionally leaving theconcept of a habit routine open to further development andmore precise elaboration. If the habit routine search andsuspension model is in fact useful and widely applicable, it (42 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 118. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4will take more time and better minds than mine to developthe idea satisfactorily. It is an ongoing effort on my partto study the great volume of theories, models, opinions,data and sheer speculation that has been advanced in thevery difficult task of understanding the human mind and howit works, but professionals in this field who spend theirlifetimes in the universities and laboratories are farbetter equipped than I to continue this work.Necessarily, I have omitted mention of many researchstudies about phenomena which seem to fit well with mymodel, but which would have overly encumbered the presenttext to describe. If at the end of the last chapter Imentioned the risk of seeing habit routines everywhere, thereader will now see that, if they are not omnipresent, mymodel at least intimates that they are pervasive in a waythat has not at all been suspected in theories of theoperation of mind/brain. I believe that habit routines arefundamental, that HRS is the primary cognitive operation ofthe brain/mind, coming before and providing the verystructure for the operations of mind of which we haveeveryday awareness; and very importantly, due to thesecharacteristics, that the HRS process is greatly obscured byits own operation. Only in the modification of its operation(gradual and unsurprising in the case of meditation, forexample, radical and unmistakable in the case of psychedelicexperience), can we even suspect its existence, and attemptto understand its characteristics and functions.In the next chapter I will attempt to postulateneurological mechanisms of the brain which might beassociated with the formation, use, and modification ofhabit routines, as well as some of the other functions ofmind that I have discussed. Due to the present state of ourknowledge of the nervous system, my attempt will certainlybe fraught with error, not least because my own knowledge ofneuroscience is self-taught, and only (so far) a year in themaking. But I thought it would be useful to at least definesome neurological possibilities for the habit routine model,and it has been quite alot of fun to do so. If professionalneuroscientists will find it childs play to show where Ihave erred, I would ask their indulgence to suggest betterneurological models rather than use my admitted status as anovice to reject the whole theory of psychedelic experience.In the act of too facile a dismissal of the new ideas, (as (43 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 119. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4has repeatedly happened in the history of science), theymight in the present case be providing evidence for the verytheory they are rejecting out-of-hand!"...Psychedelics actually break habits and patterns ofthought.They actually cause individuals to inspect the structuresof their lives and make judgments about them."—Terence McKennaReferences(1) Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Mircea Eliade,Princeton University Press 1951, 1972 p417. (back)(2) See Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hofmann, Plants ofthe Gods, McGraw-Hill 1979; Schultes and Raffauf, Vine ofthe Soul, Synergetic Press 1992; and the numerous referencestherein. (back)(3) This is a term I shall employ in later chapters. (back)(4) See "Neuronal vs. Subjective Timing for a ConsciousSensory Experience", and other reprinted papers of BenjaminLibet in Neurophysiology of Consciousness, Benjamin Libet,1993, Birkhäuser Boston. (back)(5) References here could be cited back to ancient Greece, Isuspect. But a very cogent example is John R. Searle, TheRediscovery of the Mind, 1992, MIT Press, p136. See alsoNicholas Humphrey, A History of the Mind, 1992, Simon &Schuster, chapter 14. Both of these, and other recentpopular treatments give a good overview of such hypothesesin 20th Century research, and what they might indicate aboutthe process of perception and the nature of consciousness.(back)(6) Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10 (4), (1987) p781. Theoriginal article and extensive peer commentary appeared in (44 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 120. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4ibid. 8 (4), (1985) pp529-566, "Unconscious cerebralinitiative and the role of conscious will in voluntaryaction". (back)(7) Richard E. Cytowic, M.D. in The Man Who Tasted Shapes,p170, 1993, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (back)(8) Guy Claxton in Noises from the Darkroom, p224, 1994,Aquarian/HarperCollins (back)(9) Consciousness Reconsidered, Owen Flanagan, 1992, MITPress, pp136-138. (back)(10) See Michael I. Posner, Foundations of CognitiveScience, MIT Press 1989, pp695-697 "Memory", by Daniel L.Schacter for a summary and further references of originalresearch papers. (back)(11) Quoted from Human Memory, Theory and Practice, AlanBaddeley, 1990, Allyn and Bacon, p268. (back)(12) Ibid., p270 (back)(13) Ibid., p271ff. (back)(14) The Astonishing Hypothesis, Francis Crick 1994, CharlesScribners Sons, in chapter 4, "The Psychology of Vision"pp54ff. (back)(15) Crick lists the references: Ramachandran, V.S., "BlindSpots" Scientific American 266:86-91; "Perceptual Filling Inof Artificially Induced Scotomas in Human Vision" Nature350:699-702; and "Filling In Gaps in Perception: Part 2,Scotomas and Phantom Limbs" Current Directions inPsychological Science 2:56-65. (back)(16) Ibid., p. 57. (back)(17) The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E. Cytowic, M.D.,1993, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam (back) (45 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 121. The Center of the Universe Chapter 4(18) Ibid., p128-129. (back)(19) An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks, Alfred A.Knopf , New York 1995. See the chapter entitled, "To See andNot to SEE". (back)(20) Bruner and Postman, "On the Perception of Incongruity:A Paradigm," Journal of Personality, XVIII, (1949), 206-23.(back)(21) Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of ScientificRevolutions, Second Edition, 1970, The University of ChicagoPress, pp62-64. (back)(22) See Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994,Charles Scribners Sons, chapter 4, "The Psychology ofVision" for some nicely illustrated examples of thevase/profiles and other visual illusions. (back)(23) F.C. Bartlett, Remembering, 1932, Cambridge UniversityPress, p201. (back)(24) J.M. Mandler "Categorical and Schematic Organization inMemory", 1979, quoted by Daniel L. Schacter in Foundationsof Cognitive Science, Michael I. Posner, ed., 1989, MITPress, Ch 17, "Memory" p692. (back)(25) Ibid., pp 336-337 (back)Chapter 5 | Table of ContentsSend e-mail to The Psychedelic Library: psd_lib@druglibrary.orgThe Psychedelic Library | Books Menu Page (46 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:38 PM]
  • 122. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5The Psychedelic Library HomepageBooks Menu PageThe Center of the UniverseWilliam S. Moxley5. Neuromechanics — The MinefieldPROPOSING A REASONABLE NEUROLOGICAL MODEL for the operationof the habit routine search process is not the firstminefield that I have had to navigate. Back in the U.S.A. itseemed a straightforward thing to continue the researchwhich so few seemed to have the motivation for; severalpeople had offered varying degrees of support for suchprojects, but as I mentioned previously, motivations are afunny thing. My own seemed at the time to be relativelyuncomplicated, and in retrospect, although I may tend totidy up my autobiographical act with a few convenientomissions and over-telling of some of the high points, je neregrette rien.Coincidences, mysteries, personal lessons, andstrange experiences of the most diverse character, assignificant and soul-searching as the Mexican earthquakeexperience, continued with a very suspicious frequency. Ihave previously mentioned my ability to bear up under theinfluence of any drug or shamanic potion, and I sometimesfound this ability of even greater value in dealing with thepeople and day-to-day events playing a part in the unfoldingof my work. The idea that the shaman himself must deal withforces and destinies on a far more fundamental level thanthe members of his tribe is, of course, the very spirit andtradition of shamanism. If powerful psychedelic experienceswere to benefit members of the tribe, the shaman must have (1 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 123. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5already explored the same territory, and gone well beyond tothe very limits of his abilities. In the present case wherethe shaman not only administers the powerful medicines, butactually creates them with the tools of modern science, hisknowledge and intentions are perhaps even more important.Thus, in the case of what turned out in some ways tobe a rather successful collaboration between myself and atrio of avowedly enthusiastic partners, the passage of timeand the achievement of some degree of success seemed todistort the relations between us in a way very reminiscentof a kind of vicious parody of the psychedelic experienceitself. Meetings and discussions of plans and goals at firstwere nothing less than inspiring. Between us we had theconnections and ability to obtain the necessary rawmaterials, manufacture a high-quality product, anddistribute it in such a way that it would reach the rightpeople.We certainly did not advocate or intend any sort ofmass distribution of psychedelics resulting in their misuseor ignorant use, which would only call attention to asituation easily besmirched by adverse publicity.Sensational, fear-mongering publicity had already made itmuch more difficult to properly initiate or introduce anewcomer to the psychedelic experience. There was certainlya case to be made that many negative experiences were adirect result of the adverse publicity itself, for in theearly, pre-publicity days of psychedelic research, "badtrips" were a rarity, even among alcoholics and psychiatricpatients. With normal research volunteers, the statisticsnoted by the many researchers indicated the astonishingsafety of psychedelic drugs, not risk. Now the publicitymade it seem that, although an Aldous Huxley or Alan Wattsmight get through a psychedelic experience unscathed, thenormal member of society should realize that the potentialrisk was overwhelming. And this kind of official attitudeweighed heavily on the person interested to undergo anexperience: even if such a view could in principle be seenfor the hysterical, prohibitionist, puritanical mindset thatit in reality was, the slightest lingering doubt had thepossibility to poison a persons trust in himself and hisshaman.It is perhaps easier to see demons where there arenone to be found. And if demons are encountered, the idea (2 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 124. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5that they are exterior, real, and caused by something otherthan oneself is certainly not conducive to understandingtheir meaning. As the Habit Routine Suspension modeldemonstrates, the psychedelic experience is no roll ofscience-fiction film projected upon consciousness from theoutside. If demons are encountered, they are in reality oureveryday friends seen without the normal range ofcategorizations which render them ordinary andinsignificant.The demons which appeared to disrupt our successfulenterprise were therefore more real than those of theimagination. I can only suspect a hidden agenda on the partof my co-workers, but the nature of their intentions at theend was so at odds with the honest enthusiasm of thebeginning that I suspect that the hidden motivations musthave developed over time. From the original enthusiasm thereseemed finally to have evolved a plan to demonstrate onceand for all that the psychedelic experience was, in fact,illegitimate, or at least unnecessary, its insightsillusory, its history merely primitive self-delusion. Toarrive at the establishment reactionary position throughfirst having professed a more universal and enlightened viewseemed to me altogether impossible. This demon was real. Andwhat was I going to do about it?The final scene was quite surreal. The night before,one of my partners presented me with a five-hundred dollarbanknote, subtly making sure that I noticed the portrait onthe face of the bill, that of the "assassinated leader",William McKinley, twenty-fifth president of the UnitedStates. At most, I felt only the slightest premonition ofthe events the next day would bring, for which we wereplanning a day of skiing, and restaurant to follow. Whetherthe banknote, and perhaps other similar but unrecognizedintimations were apparent I do not remember, but in themorning I decided to take a small dose of LSD, to appreciatea day in the high snowy mountains from a differentperspective. In retrospect, I find that I instinctivelytended to undergo a psychedelic experience at points in mylife where a certain crossroads was about to be reached,when perhaps only vaguely realized intimations of importantchanges to come had appeared. Without fail, the experiencewould precipitate whatever it was that was pending, andignite the insight and decision that would usher in a new (3 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 125. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5direction.My friends were newcomers to skiing, and I hadpromised to help them get their sea-legs, so to speak. Uponarriving, I sent them off to the rental shop to secure theirequipment, and I took a test-run on the nearest slope. Itwas exhilarating! Although there was quite a crowd that day,the scene was magnificent. Arriving at base, my friends hadnot yet reappeared, so I continued on up again to theirresistible heights. The next time down the crowd wasgetting thick enough to make locating my friendsproblematic, and in my present state of exhilaration Icouldnt begin to devise a sure-fire method for findingthem. I had to assume that, although our original planseemed to be going astray, they would nevertheless havesuited up and found some incidental help with their firstfew glides on skis. After a few more runs I began to feel,in contrast to my exhilaration, a gnawing guilt that I hadignored my friends, even if through a concurrence of eventswhich I could not have foreseen. The LSD experience, despitethe very modest dose that I had taken, was attaining a peakmore spectacular (in more ways than one) than those amongstwhich I was gliding.Suddenly my friends appeared, and I knew that myneglect had ruined their day. But the intensity of myfeelings, and their reaction as well, seemed all out ofproportion to the reality of the situation. There was farmore significance afoot than a simple evaluation of thedays events would warrant. My apologies, and their subduedyet somehow exaggerated insistence that it didnt reallymatter, were a mere facade for the emotion that was all tooevident in just a glance. Somehow aspects of the entirerelationship in our joint involvement in the psychedelicproject were metaphorically represented here, and they werethreatening a tumultuous final act upon the stage whoseplayers had to date seemed so reassuringly withoutcalculation or subterfuge.The situation while driving back continued tointensify. I began to see through the cracks in reality, thephysical manifestations of which became more and more aflimsy veil affording less and less protection againstimmediate dissolution into the hidden dimensions beyond. Ifmy friends were worried about my driving on the slipperyroads, I think that they too must have sensed, more (4 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 126. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5importantly, that loyalties and intentions concerning ourcollective enterprise was the real issue that was coming toa head. At the restaurant, under the influence of good foodand wine and associated conversation, the electricitysubsided somewhat, and it seemed that things might bepatched up with a resulting return to a situation that weall now realized had more of deception than honesty. If wecould return to business as usual, we all now knew that on amore fundamental level, all was changed. This is not, andnever has been, a situation from which effective shamanismcan work its benefits to the full.Later at their house, in front of a warm log-fire, Icontinued to ponder on this last point. So far, absolutelynothing explicit had actually been discussed concerning theimpending crisis that we each knew to be imminent. Anoutsider could not have detected that anything more than thesuperficial was transpiring, yet in each others presence, amere glance was like a trumpet fanfare announcing majordiscoveries about a hidden side of our co-involvement. Itmust have been past midnight when in walked partner numberthree, whom I had seen only a few times. He lived quite faraway, and I was surprised to see him at this late hour, butthe others apparently had expected his arrival. After somelengthy and private discussion in the kitchen, theyreappeared, and, very tentatively at first, began to suggestto me a most surprising plan.I had recently been working on some advancedtechniques for making our product in a more purified form,and had been meditating about my experiments probably as away to suspend thinking about the more serious implicationsof the days events. At my partners first mention of LSD Iimmediately launched into an attempted discussion of myrecent experiments, perhaps also hoping to repair thesituation: At every stage of my work it was of primaryimportance to me to be able to continue, even if thisinvolved having people associated with the project whoneither knew nor cared about the larger implications. If apartner was interested in nothing but the cash-flow, forexample, I tried to cope with the deficit temporarily untilsomething better presented itself.But something was seriously wrong here. One of mypartners was now saying to me that he didnt like the effectof LSD, it seemed dirty to him, made him sick rather than (5 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 127. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5giving him inspiration. Despite the days events and thesuspicions that had been aroused I was quite shocked, andspeechless. Gradually the hidden agenda was presented: whatI was to do, was to prepare a large batch of placebos. Makeup what I would say was a batch of the purest LSD that hadever been made, give them away free to all my contacts fordistribution, and pass along the message that everyone wasto wait until the vernal equinox, then take the newpsychedelic together. The trick was, they would be entirelyinactive, blank doses with nothing but an implied messagefrom... Yes, from whom? Who was the author of this message?Was this idea a brainstorm of my partners, suddenly havingseen a vision that drugs were the tools of the devil? Theapparent honesty of our relationship so far in contrast tothe way that the plan was presented, and the things thatwere said that night, including the implied threats (theMcKinley banknote was burning in my pocket), and also theimplied promises of new and greater projects andresponsibilities for me if I could only see the wisdom ofthis plan, made it plain to me that the tiger I had by thetail was rather larger than I had heretofore suspected.Well, the activation of my consciousness by the doseI had taken, and these astounding changes of identity mademanifest that day, made the indoctrination as effective as alengthy torture and brainwash session in North Korea. Iquite forced myself to believe the idea had some merit, andfor the next few days, more than half-heartedly prepared alarge batch of chocolate covered placebos in line with themaster plan. The chocolate coating was to prevent anyoneexamining the underlying substrate and possibly suspectingthat there was less than meets the eye about this plan for aglorious first-day-of-spring celebration.I carried through with the lie to the bitter end, Idont think there were any suspicions, and I myself boardeda train for the Grand Canyon to be (1)out of reach when thechocolate hit the fans and (2)in a nice spot in case of thehighly unlikely event that the Millennium was actually goingto begin that day. It didnt, and the feedback from theexperiment was less than respectful. My former partnersdisappeared from the scene to cope with more petty problemsand new coincidences materialized out of nowhere to enablethe next stage of my ongoing quest. (6 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 128. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5There is an old Negro Spiritual that was in the1940s made into a "Jazz Soundie", the equivalent of todaysrock video as seen on MTV. I have a wonderful 3-minuteversion of "Dem Bones" by the Delta Rhythm Boys, sung inclose four-part harmony; it starts with the refrain,Ezekiel connected dem...DRY BONES,Referring of course to Chapter 37 of the OldTestament Book of Ezekiel in which the prophet is commandedto "Prophesy upon these bones: and say unto them, O ye drybones, hear the word of the Lord." Whereupon, as in therefrain of the song,Oh, de toe bone connected to de...FOOTBONE,De foot bone connected to de...HEEL BONE,De heel bone connected to de...ANKLE BONE,And so on up to "de HEAD BONE". I hadnt watched mycollection of "Soundies" in quite some time, but humming inthe shower late one night, meditating on my recentneurological studies and lack of satisfaction of their powerto explain processes of mind except in a very rudimentarymanner, the tune suddenly popped into my headbone. Itoccurred to me that current neuromechanical models of howthe collection of parts in the brain is supposed to producemind, behavior, thinking and perception, was very much a DryBones Model of Neuromechanics. (Substituting brain partnames into the song quite ruins the rhythm however: decaudate nucleus connected to de...CEREBELLUM, de locuscoeruleus connected to de...ANTERIOR CINGULATE GYRUS, youget the point.)The textbooks carefully told the student what wasconnected to what, and suggested sometimes that a particularpart "was thought to be involved in" some function or other.And to my further dissatisfaction, slowly compiling againand again my own map of brain connections, my studies had (7 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 129. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5revealed that practically every brain part was connected toevery other brain part: each brain map I plotted quite soonbecame filled up with arrows, and quite useless. It seemedthat mainstream neuroscience, in spite of its great andrapidly increasing wealth of assuredly precise data, hadlittle to say about the functions of all these parts on asystems level; understanding how to get to psychology fromneurology, how to get mind out of brain, was still at thelevel of expecting dry bones to suddenly, as the songssecond verse goes, after "dem bones" have been connected,Dem bones, dem bones gonna...WALKAROUN...The neuroscientists, without such divineintervention as Ezekiel had access to, simply were not ableto show decisively how connections of the nervous systemcould produce even simple psychology, much lessconsciousness itself. My own efforts to suggest brainsystems and connections that might allow the operation ofthe habit routine search cognitive process would thereforebe no less tentative and imprecise, certainly due for majorrevisions as new evidence was discovered.In the case of memory, so fundamentally important toeveryday life and to the operation of my proposed habitroutine system, it is therefore still very much a matter ofdebate as to how information is stored in or associated withthe properties of the neurons in the central nervous system.The "data" representing the various types of memory,including habit routines, must in some sense be "in thebrain" and by extrapolation must somehow be associated withthe properties of neurons and their connections, but thewide diversity between current theoretical viewpointsillustrates more our lack of precise knowledge than anemerging paradigm. Perhaps the most popular model ofinformation storage at present is that of the adjustment andlong-term maintenance of the strengths of the connectionsbetween neurons. This is supposed to occur by themodification of the neurons synapses, the junctions bywhich neurons communicate using chemical neurotransmitters.This "neural network" or "synaptic weight" model (8 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 130. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5lends itself to ready simulation on a computer and isprobably on one end of a scale ranging from extremereductionism, to another extreme which reductionists usuallybrand as mysticism. An example would be the ideas aboutmemory advanced by Rupert Sheldrake, that the actual memoryinformation is resident in some quasi-independent memoryfield which may allow such phenomena as telepathy, apparentreincarnation and so forth, the physical brain being merelythe sender-receiver of memory to the common field by aprocess of morphic resonance. (1) In looking at the broadrange of sometimes very enigmatic properties of memory, andthe admitted uncertainty and disparity of views by theexperts, no model should be routinely dismissed if it hasany explanatory power whatsoever.The synaptic-weight model probably owes its statusto the power and success of computer science, the enormousinvestments and hence large number of talented scientistsworking therein providing a momentum of opinion which mayunduly limit the credibility of other well-constructed butcompeting models. It cannot be denied that very impressivemathematical models and computer simulations of"intelligence" have been demonstrated, and shown to havesimilarities to the ways in which we believe humanintelligence to operate. It has also been well demonstratedthat synapses between neurons (as well as the size andconnectivity of the neurons themselves) can and do changetheir characteristics for varying lengths of time under theinfluence of learning processes. The power andsophistication of neural network models (see for exampledescriptions of the operation of the Hopfield Network as amechanism for the storage/retrieval of information) (2) arecertainly impressive. The fundamental question which remainsto be resolved, however, is whether the brain works anythinglike a computer. There is currently raging a mostentertaining debate on this subject, some of the mostpowerful intellects of our time are joining the battle,(see, among others, works by Churchland, Claxton, Crick,Dennett, Edelman, Flanagan, Fodor, Freeman, Gazzaniga,Hofstadter, Humphrey, McGinn, Penrose, Searle, Tallis,Tulving, the list is so long there is no recourse but toleave out mention of many more. Some titles are listed inthe Bibliography).Steven Rose, himself a veteran of many years of (9 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 131. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5research attempting to identify brain sites involved withstorage of engrams or memory traces, has recently summarizedcriticism of the computer-like, information-processing modelof brain operation. (3) Particularly of interest, as Rosepoints out, is a critique by the neurophysiologist WalterFreeman, for it is solidly based on research findings:Freeman insists that, although changes to various individualneurons can be observed to happen as a result of learning,the "information" that is learned does not subsequentlyexist as "bits of data" recorded in these neurons (thecomputer paradigm). Rather, the memories of the learningexist as fluctuating dynamic patterns of electrical activitygenerated by the entire brain. As Rose puts it,[The] experiments say that it, the engram, isnot confined to a single brain region. But I wantto go further than this, and to argue that in animportant sense the memory is not confined to asmall set of neurons at all, but has to beunderstood as a property of the entire brain, eventhe entire organism. (4)An intriguing suggestion has been that the storageof information in the brain is analogous to the storage ofinformation in a hologram, a model which was first developedby the neurosurgeon Karl Pribram in the 1960s. (5) The ideathat brain activity might be non-local, a process of thegeneration of distributed waves of activity which interactto form interference patterns, had been suggested in 1942 byKarl Lashley, whose pioneering research on the brain hadinspired Pribram during their collaboration at YerkesLaboratories. Freemans experimental findings, as well asthe observations of Steven Rose above, are exactly what onewould expect from a brain operating on holographicprinciples. The view of memories existing as "fluctuatingdynamic patterns of electrical activity generated by theentire brain", could not embody holographic principles morestrongly.Although criticism of the so-called holographicparadigm has come from many directions, the parallelsbetween the mathematical and physical facts of optical (10 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 132. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5holography and many known properties of memory and the brainsuggest that further research will tend to support ratherthan discredit the model. In a recent paper Pribramelaborates on some of these parallels:The following properties of holograms areimportant for brain function: (1) the distributionand parallel content-addressable processing ofinformation — a characteristic that can account forthe failure of brain lesions to eradicate anyspecific memory trace (or engram); (2) thetremendous storage capacity of the holographicdomain and the ease with which information can beretrieved (the entire contents of the Library ofCongress can currently be stored on holofische, ormicrofilm recorded in holographic form, taking upno more space than is contained in an attachecase); (3) the capacity for associative recall thatis inherent in the parallel distributed processingof holograms because of the coupling of separateinputs; and (4) the provision by this coupling of apowerful technique for correlating (cross-correlations and autocorrelations are accomplishedalmost instantaneously). (6)It is a curious fact of the history of neurosciencethat Pribrams work during the 1960s and 1970s was almostunanimously rejected by the mainstream: he was for twodecades practically the only proponent of the theory ofdistributed representation of memory (distributed coding) inthe brain. At the time, nearly all theoretical work leanedstrongly toward the assumption of detector-cell coding, (7)a model strictly analogous to computer, bit-storageprocesses, with a precise location in the machine beingresponsible for the storage of a uniquely defined unit ofinformation. Today the mainstream neuroscientists have takenthe opposite tack: distributed processing and storage istheir byword, yet Pribrams holonomic theory is still widelyrejected, even though in an important sense it is part ofthe foundation of recent theory. Francis Cricks assessmentis typical: (11 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 133. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5This analogy between the brain and a hologramhas often been enthusiastically embraced by thosewho know rather little about either subject. It isalmost certainly unrewarding, for two reasons. Adetailed mathematical analysis has shown thatneural networks and holograms are mathematicallydistinct. More to the point, although [artificial]neural networks are built from units that have someresemblance to real neurons, there is no trace inthe brain of the apparatus or processes requiredfor holograms. (8)To state that neurosurgeon Pribram and his recentmathematician colleagues "know rather little about eithersubject" is a bit stiff, and the observation that theredont seem to be any lasers or such holographic equipment inthe brain itself demonstrates ignorance of the two subjects.Pribram counters such criticism with the warning, "It isimportant to realize that holography is a mathematicalinvention and that its realization in optical systems...isonly one product of this branch of mathematics." In otherwords, optical holography is merely a special case of awider and more fundamental process for the encoding andreconstitution of information. For this reason it wassuggested that the term holonomic (9) be used in referenceto brain/mind properties, a term I shall adopt here. Theterm holonomic as used in physics, also indicates that theprocess is not a static, frozen-in-time representation as isa hologram, but a dynamic, continuous one.Further rebuttal, including a short history of thecriticism of the holonomic theory can be found in a recentpaper by Pribram and his colleagues. (10) The most recentand complete exposition of holonomic theory is presented ina book covering the 1986 John M. MacEachran MemorialLecture, (11) delivered by Pribram. The book demonstratesthat the holonomic theory has progressed both conceptuallyand mathematically far beyond its introductory position ofthe 1960s; it is the original and necessarily simplisticexposition of the theory which is still attacked by thecritics of today who remark (along with other trivial (12 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 134. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5complaints) that "there dont seem to be any lasers in thebrain".Other criticism of the holonomic model of memorystorage and retrieval has been derived from the perceivedcontradiction with the accepted dogma that regulation ofsynaptic weight must certainly be the only possible storagemechanism in the brain. Synaptic weight distributions arequite amenable to neural network, viz. computer-like modelsof brain/mind function, but it was very difficult to see howsynapses could function as a storage medium for theinterference patterns implied by holonomic models. Yet theidea of learning and memory storage by neural networks isitself by no means universally accepted. Concerning the much-touted ability of computer analogues of neural networks tolearn, Jerry Fodor remarked: "Much has been made of this,but, in fact, its a tautology, not a breakthrough." (12)A very promising idea which would obviate some ofthese objections to the holonomic model has been the recentsuggestion that the site for storage of information is notthe synapse per se, but associated with the microtubulesmaking up the cytoskeletal structure of the neuron itself.(13) (The synapse is known to be in indirect yet intimatecontact with the microtubule structure of the neuron.) Thismodel has the immediate advantage, as Hameroff points out,of increasing the potential effective complexity and storagecapacity of the brain by about seven orders of magnitude,(14) but there are many other attractive aspects to themodel as well.It would seem that the synapses are concernedprimarily with the large-scale systems of the brain, theyare the functional units enabling coordination and signaltransfer between distinctly separate, sometimes distantlocations. For example, they enable the experimentally-demonstrated phenomena of the sequential processing ofsensory information from primary sensory cortex throughseveral levels of associational cortex. Another examplewould be a neuron in a brain-stem nucleus such as the locuscoeruleus: it may project the entire distance to an area ofthe cortex before synapsing on another neuron. As a firstconsideration, the synapses thus seem involved with theswitching and transfer of information (analogous perhaps tothe transistors or switches in the central processor of acomputer). To assign them the double duty of also being the (13 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 135. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5storage site for the information which they manipulate seemsmerely a default position (the synaptic-weight model). Thereis more logic to the idea that the information that ismanipulated via the synaptic connections has been accessedin structures or locations independent from the synapses,otherwise the duty of the synapse in one function would seemto necessarily limit its capacity for the second function.Having looked into the neural network models ofbrain function, I realize how easy it would be to reject theforegoing argument if one is convinced of the validity ofsuch a model. But it is my own view that, although neuralnetworks seem to simulate brain/mind operation in sometrivial respects, the "connectionist" paradigm as it iscalled is as primitive and misleading a model of the humanbrain/mind as is the planetary model of the atom (discussedin chapter 2). From this viewpoint, neural networks may beuseful for modeling "intelligent" processes up to the level,say, of creating robots for assembly-lines or for playingchess, but to extrapolate from there to say that by adding afew more bells and whistles, or even many additional layersof mechanical or electronic complexity to these beasts, wewill then have duplicated the human mind in a machine...Well, to me and many others that is sheer folly. I am allfor letting the connectionists connect, and the AI(Artificial Intelligence) crowd continue their quest toreproduce themselves asexually, but they do tend to pummelthe less-well financed competition with epithets worthy ofthe flat-earth advocates of a bygone age. Hence the presentriposte.The combination of the holonomic storage/retrievalmodel with the hypothesis of micro-tubule based storagesites thus seems even more promising: Hameroffs paper evensuggests that the microtubules of neurons might provide alocation where coherent photons would operate (viz., thekind of light necessary for optical holography). Inconstructing my own model of brain operation, I have triednot to depend irrevocably on any particular view nowcontending, including the more conservative ones. Yet due tothe wide disagreement between the positions of the severalgroups of theorists, I have felt justified to freely usesome of the more speculative suggestions such as holonomicoperation and storage, if only as temporary visual,heuristic devices. Since my intention is merely to suggest a (14 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 136. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5possible mechanism for the operation of the habit routinesystem, (and at the present stage of neuroscience, it wouldbe unrealistic to hope for more), my overall theory ofpsychedelic experience would not be damaged by furtherresearch indicating the brain had many further tricks up itssleeve. The holonomic, microtubule hypothesis, although itmay well be found to describe the actual operation of thenervous system, will for my purposes merely provide aconvenient conceptual model facilitating the understandingof the operation of the brain systems responsible for habitroutine search and suspension and other proposed operationsinvolved with psychedelic experience. I thought it valuable,however, to introduce the holonomic model on a level whichwould show that it was far more than "New Age Techno-Babble", an implied if not explicit critical view nowprevalent.Figure 2 illustrates the location of just a few ofthe major brain-parts for the benefit of the general reader.But in the interest of brevity and concision, I will notattempt to diagram or explain entry-level details of themodel I shall now present, either in the case of theproperties of neurons, or the general views concerning thefunctions of the various brain components taking part in myown theoretical view. For the layman, the Glossary will beof some help, but a survey of a textbook such as Principlesof Neural Science (Kandel, Schwartz & Jessell), would beindispensable for evaluating the proposed model in detail,and comparing it to standard textbook views representingcurrent paradigms. (15 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 137. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5FIGURE 2. The Right Half of the Human Brain.Viewed from a vertical plane bisecting the braininto its left and right hemispheres. A through F:Areas of the cortex. A: Prefrontal area. B:Anterior Cingulate Gyrus. C: Frontal Lobe. D:Parietal Lobe. E: Occipital Lobe (primary visualcortex). F: Temporal Lobe: most of this area of thecortex is on the outside of the far side of thebrain, hidden in this view. G: Cerebellum. H:Thalamus. Encircling the Thalamus are theHippocampus, the Amygdala, the Basal Ganglia andother parts of the limbic system. I: Pons. J:Midbrain, area in which are found the various brainstem nuclei including the Raphe Nuclei, the LocusCoeruleus, the Substantia Nigra, etc. K: Medulla.L: Spinal Cord.(Modified from Nieuwenhuys, et. al., The HumanCentral Nervous System). (16 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 138. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5I have mentioned that most brain areas are connectedto most other brain areas, the multiplicity of connectionsbetween parts becoming obvious and soon quite bewilderingwhen one starts examining the various brain "maps" inNieuwenhuys book, for example (the source of the diagram infigure 2). In addition, it is found that nearly all of theconnections are two-way, the connections between thethalamus and the primary sensory areas of the cortex, forexample, being reciprocated by nerve pathways(backprojections) in the opposite direction. It isproblematic therefore to construct a diagram for thesupposed "flow of information" in the brain: if the retinaof the eye, for example, sends its "visual data" to thethalamus (which has been likened to a relay-station forsensory data), and then the thalamus sends this signal tothe primary visual cortex for the first stages in theprocessing of visual information, why should the primaryvisual cortex send a nerve pathway directly back to the samearea of the thalamus from which it has just received thedata? The backprojection is not insignificant: recentfindings indicate in the case of vision that there are tentimes as many nerve fibers in the "backwards" direction asin the direction in which "information" is supposed to flow!The size and importance of the various interconnections (15)seems to indicate that the actual sensory "information", theenvironmental data ENV in figure 1, constitutes only a minorpart of what is being "processed" in the brain! Currentcomputer "data-flow" models of brain operation cannotexplain the facts of the existence and relative importanceof backprojections, as even the best workers in the fieldwill admit.But this is exactly what one would expect for abrain architecture that operated according to the habitroutine model of cognitive function. The environmental datamerely provides cues for the elaboration of the far morecomplex informational entity of which we become aware, thehabit routine complex. It is far more complex, because it isgenerated from the entirety of previous experience stored inmemory, whereas the actual environmental data is quitelimited in scope not least by the limits of the sensoryorgans themselves. In size and complexity, the nervepathways carrying the primary sensory information to the (17 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 139. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5cortex are among the less important connections of thebrain. To be sure, the environmental input is necessary:when you shut your eyes, vision promptly ceases. But thiseffect itself may be heavily dependent upon the operation ofhabit routines. We are all absolutely and automaticallycertain that vision must cease when we close our eyes, andwould be profoundly confused, (if not shocked intopsychosis!), were it to be otherwise, even for a fewseconds.There is a computer analogy that could be made inthe attempt to account for the curious facts of neuralreciprocating connectivity, that the signaled area must sendback a return signal indicating that it has receivedinformation, like two modems do as they talk to each other.But this would not explain why return pathways are so muchlarger. I would propose that something much more interestingis taking place. In the case of the nerve pathways from thethalamus to the primary sensory cortex areas (and backagain) for the various sensory modalities, I believe it isuseful to hypothesize that a reverberation is beingestablished with the two-way signaling, and that thisreverberation is a dynamic informational entity havingholonomic properties.The thalamo-cortical reciprocating nerve connectionsset up for each sensory domain a dynamic reverberatingholoprojection of information, which is constantly updatedand modified with the newly arriving signals from thesensory organs. It would require a much higher density ofnerve pathways to set up and maintain such reverberationthan to feed in the flux of newly arriving ENV data, thusexplaining the relative importance of the brain connectionsbetween the sensory receptors, the thalamus, and the areasof the sensory cortex. The suggestion of similarity to theprojection of a holographic image is intentional, for Ibelieve that, not only are the mathematical principles whichpredict and describe optical holography applicable to memorystorage, but also to the ongoing operation of many of thesystems of the brain. In comparison to optical holography,it can also be maintained that the relation between a givenunitary nerve signal (the electrical action potential of aneuron) and the overall holoprojection to which itcontributes, is analogous to the relation between theunitary nature of one grain of photoemulsion making up a (18 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 140. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5hologram (the "photograph" of the interference patternsproduced in optical holography), and the resulting projectedholographic image. The single grain of emulsion on thephotographic plate may only be either "on or off" like theneuron, yet it theoretically represents the entireholographic projection, (16) albeit with a resolution ofzero. It is the same for a single action potential: itrepresents the entire holoprojection, but with zeroresolution.Someone familiar with holography would certainlyask, but how and where are interference patterns produced,certainly any holonomic process implies their existence, forit implies the interference of two or more signals? Droppingone pebble into a still pond produces concentric waves, butdropping two pebbles produces an interference patternbetween the two sets of waves. So it may be with the nervesignals of the brain. It is well known that neurons in theirvarious nerve pathways have a background rate of firingwhich, for all intents and purposes, seems to be merelyrandom noise. Here is pebble number one. Pebble number two(in the case of the primary sensory holoprojections), is theimpinging signal from ENV (of figure 1), the signal comingfrom the sensory receptors.Thus the resulting holoprojection is the product ofa dynamic interference pattern resulting from at least twodistinct signals, and is amenable to expression asmathematical transform coefficients analogous to themathematical operations which describe optical holography.In the nerve pathways maintaining a primary sensoryholoprojection, the microtubules of these neurons record anddynamically maintain the transform coefficients whichrepresent the information necessary for the neuron firingsto maintain the reverberation. The coefficients areconstantly updated with the sensory signal from theenvironment, which also exists as a transform of theinterference patterns actually received by the sensoryreceptors. Thus there are two sets of coefficientsrepresenting the two signals, together they contain theinformation necessary to maintain the dynamic holoprojectionin time. It will be seen that even the background firing ofthe neurons, the resident signal, is not merely randomnoise, for it is generated from the coefficients resident inthe microtubules and represents the holoprojection in (19 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 141. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5temporal cross-section. The constant arrival of the ENVsignal produces the dynamic aspect of the primaryholoprojection.(note)But the combination of signals to produceinterference patterns does not end with the primary sensoryholoprojections, for as I shall explain below,holoprojections themselves combine and overlap, they becomesuperimposed under the guidance of certain brain componentsso as to produce further interference patterns and thusfurther composite holoprojections. It can be seen that the"processing of information" in the brain is thereforeaccomplished using entire simultaneous fields of bound"data" from several, or even the entirety of all ongoingprocesses. The hypothesis of such a process conflictsradically with the computer, neural network model of thebrain in which the serial processing (in parallel pathways)of discrete bits of information is the proposed mechanism.If experimental results begin to confirm the holoprojectionmodel of brain operation, they will be a significantargument against the pursuit of strong ArtificialIntelligence as it is presently conceived. Let us see howthe fields of information I have called holoprojectionsmight function in stages of brain operation beyond theprimary sensory realm. First let us take a closer look atthe thalamus, which plays so central a role in generatingthe primary sensory holoprojections which are the datafields upon which all further brain activity is based.The thalamus itself is composed of many differentnuclei, widely connected to other brain areas andinterconnected as well. Thus in discussing the variousfunctions of the thalamus, it must be kept in mind the greatdiversity of independent yet interrelated parts andfunctions comprising this centrally-important component ofthe brain. In the case of vision, after the signals havepassed from the retinae through the optic chiasm whichcombines and distributes the visual signals from both eyesto the left and right hemispheres of the brain (the thalamusalso is divided bilaterally), the visual signal that is tobe used for updating the primary visual holoprojectionenters a thalamic nucleus called the lateral geniculatenucleus, or LGN. The LGN then signals the first stage of thepart of the cortex involved with vision, the primary visualcortex, and it is from this area that we note the very (20 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 142. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5important nerve pathways which return directly to the LGN.It is merely a convenience to say, for example, the signalis "passed" from here to there, and "then" passed...etc.,for we must remember that all these processes are dynamic,continuous, and as I have proposed, reverberating andholonomic.The function of the LGN of the thalamus thus appearsto be as a "driver" for the reverberation between the LGNand the first stage of the visual cortex. As I havesuggested, this reverberation may be thought of as aholoprojection which has at least two functions. Firstly,this informational entity is the first stage in thegeneration of (the visual aspect of) the habit routinecomplex, it contains the information which will activatefrom the frames of memory (stored in distributed manner inthe same visual areas of cortex), the actual informationwhich makes up the habit routine presented to thinking2processes. Secondly, since this holoprojection carries, atleast potentially, the original or "genuine" visualinformation, it will be used under certain circumstances togenerate aspects of the visual scene that are detected assignificant and to which the attention is directed. Thiswill occur by a comparison or superimposition of the primaryvisual holoprojection with another holoprojection set up bythe habit routine search system. (As explained below,significance detection may use the primary sensoryholoprojections, or the memory data activated by theseholoprojections instead).An additional function of the primary visualholoprojection results in the phenomenon of iconic memory,the very short term visual memory trace that has beenexperimentally demonstrated. (17) An informational fragmentof the primary visual holoprojection, since the entireholoprojection is being constantly updated with new visualdata, would be expected to have a very short "half-life"comparable to the 200 to 500 millisecond iconic memory (upto three or four seconds under certain experimentalconditions). Experiments with iconic memory have shown thatit persists for greater periods when preceded and/orfollowed by a simple dark field containing little or no newvisual information. Likewise, it may be interfered with bythe process of masking in which a bright field of view, orinterfering patterns are shown. This is exactly what would (21 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 143. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5be expected for the visual holoprojection model. A paucityof new visual data arriving to update the holoprojectionwould allow the reverberation to persist "as is" for agreater length of time. Data intentionally designed toconfuse or interfere with the iconic memory would have theeffect of overwriting the relevant aspects of theholoprojection (the transform coefficients stored in themicrotubules of these neurons).The extraction of the iconic memory must occur byother systems involved with thinking2 processes, againprobably by the comparison or superimposition ofholoprojections. There is more than speculation in the ideathat such projections might be superimposed and compared toshow similarities and differences, for the same kind ofprocess can be carried out with optical holograms (inpractice, I am informed, there are technical difficulties toovercome, but no theoretical restrictions). Two slightlydifferent optical holograms, for example, could at leasttheoretically be projected so that they cancel each otherexcept for the aspects in which they differ: only thedifferences would appear in the projected image. Likewise,two radically differing holograms having just a fewidentical features could be projected to emphasize theircommon features. In the brain, the process might be assimple as the addition and subtraction of the transformcoefficients stored in the microtubules of the contributingneural systems. This would produce another set ofcoefficients representing the superimposition.At the same time that the primary visualholoprojection is being generated, of course, all the othersensory systems are generating their own holoprojections, bysimilar mechanisms involving sensory receptors, the thalamicrelay nuclei concerned with those senses, and areas of thecortex. Thus for hearing we get an audio holoprojection fromwhich can be extracted echoic memory (analogous to iconicmemory). The audio holoprojection is used to activate theaudio domain of the frames of memory going into thegeneration of the habit routine complex. Tactile sensationsand proprioception likewise produce their reverberations,and so forth.The binding and superimposition of all the primarysensory holoprojections is accomplished by a scanningmechanism only recently detected by neurological (22 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 144. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5experiments. (18) This scanning operation is also carriedout by a nucleus of the thalamus, the intralaminar nucleus.Now what is scanned is not the actual primaryholoprojections themselves, but the memory information whichthey activate in the various regions of the cortex. Thisactivation occurs as the holoprojection signal transitsthrough the pyramidal cells of the several layers of thecortex taking part in the reverberation. The sum total ofall ongoing sensory holoprojections, impinging on the memorydata distributed in the same areas of the cortex that takepart in the set up of the various holoprojections, activatesthis memory data such that the intralaminar nucleus, actingagain as a driver for the generation of a holoprojection,creates the habit routine complex holoprojection. The memorydata in this process is thus analogous to the role ofprimary sensory data in the generation of the primarysensory holoprojection. Remember that we are hypothesizingthat this memory data is associated with the microtubules ofthe neurons in the cortex and not their synapses, so whilethe neurons and their synapses in the circuit between thethalamic relay nuclei and the cortex are maintaining theprimary holoprojection using the signals from the sensoryreceptors, the holoprojection itself, as an interferencepattern, is resonating with the stored interference patternsin memory resident in the microtubules.The habit routine complex holoprojection is thebound informational entity presented to thinking2 processes,having the various properties already described in chapter3. The memory information used to generate the habit routineis, as just proposed above, analogous to the originalsensory information: the sensory signals are used to set upthe primary sensory holoprojections, and the activatedsignals from memory are used to set up the habit routineholoprojection. In each case we have a thalamic nucleusacting as the driver for the process, using an input oftransform coefficients to produce the holoprojection. Butthe intralaminar nucleus scan which sets up the habitroutine is deriving its input from the entire cortex, notjust the primary sensory areas. The habit routine complex ismuch more than just primary sensory information taken frommemory, for remember that a habit routine contains pre-programmed associations with ideas, with habits of thinking,and it also contains recommended actions (including not only (23 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 145. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5physical responses but thoughts, opinions, implied valuejudgments, etc.), that represent the sum total of ways inwhich similar situations were dealt with or reacted to inthe past.The higher domains of the cortex itself are usingthe primary sensory holoprojections to derive associationalinformation such as that concerning depth perception, forexample (from both audio and visual sources in combination),as well as perception of motion, types and categories ofperceptions, as well as cross-modal associations. Thus theprimary holoprojections generate far more from the memorydata than just elementary sensory information. This is whythe ILN scan cannot be simply of the primary holoprojectionsthemselves, but of the result of the entire sequentialassociative process they generate in the cortex. The processextends over the entire cortex. For instance, at the mostadvanced level of associational processes in the frontalcortex regions, you have a bound, unitary, and multi-sensoryshort-term-memory of events (and your reaction to theseevents) that just happened a moment ago, produced bysuccessive stages of associational cortex operation. Thismemory information is also scanned and becomes part of thehabit routine complex. In this sense even current experienceis very much like a reverberation, for current evaluation ofreality is based upon the interpretation of reality justexperienced which has been re-injected into the ongoinghabit routine complex. Thus the significances that thinking2decides to examine more closely by extracting informationfrom the primary holoprojections are actively perpetuated.Using this mechanism we can increase the proportion of "rawreality" in the current habit routine to override the"interpretation" of reality that would be supplied by theunmolested habit routine alone. And here is where thepsychedelic experience comes in. The process which is sostartlingly activated by psychedelic drugs, is the very sameprocess that we can accomplish, if on a more limited level,as just described. Let us look closer at this overallprocess, for it involves the generation of additionalcomposite holoprojections which have more to do withconscious thinking2 operations, including free will, thanwith automatic sub- or pre-conscious thinking1 processes andtheir holoprojections.The nuclei of the thalamus are also important for (24 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 146. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5the generation of these composite holoprojections, but atthis stage, other brain nuclei become partners with thethalamus and cortex. Again, these older, more "primitive"parts of the brain act as drivers in dialog with the cortexto produce the composite informational fields. (19) Amongthe brain components taking part are the locus coeruleus andraphe nuclei of the brain stem, the amygdala, hippocampus,the basal ganglia and cerebellum, among others. It iscertainly an ambitious statement to say that I will attemptto explain the role of some these brain areas, but heregoes:First let us consider the role of the locuscoeruleus and the raphe nuclei, for it is the nerve pathwaysconnecting these two brain areas with the cortex and witheach other that are the primary site of biochemical actionof the psychedelic drugs. It is with these nuclei that Imust show how significance detection and the suspension ofhabit routine is accomplished. I would propose that thelocus coeruleus is the master functioning body, the driverwhich through dialog with essentially all brain areas butparticularly the thalamus, the raphe nuclei and the cortex,produces the composite holoprojection containing informationabout significance or salience not only in the environment,but also even in the ongoing processes of thought leading toideas, opinions, etc. I will refrain from presenting adiagram of the connecting nervous pathways between thevarious brain areas cited as it is extremely difficult to doso meaningfully at this stage. Certainly, as I have alreadysaid, there are plenty of connecting pathways between all ofthese brain parts, there are rather too many, it would seem.Now the statement that the connections between theraphe nuclei, the locus coeruleus, and their connections tothe thalamus and cortex are the primary site of biochemicalaction of the psychedelic drugs is based quite solidly onrecent brain research. (20) We know that LSD and otherpsychedelics, for example, exert powerful influence on theoperation of neurons emitting and receiving at theirsynapses the neurotransmitter, serotonin. There remainsconsiderable mystery as to how the drugs react with theseneurons, whether they activate or inhibit serotoninreceptors, which types of serotonin receptors are affected,and so forth. There is also considerable mystery as to howthese affected neurons might bring about the overall (25 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 147. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5psychological result. The first question remains, at thepresent state of research, very difficult to answer. But itis with the second question that I believe we should start,for there seems to be enough information now available toformulate a model.It is generally agreed by neuroscientists today thatthe locus coeruleus acts as a kind of novelty orsignificance detector, its activation (in animals) has beenshown to increase in response to stressful or noxiousstimuli, preferred food and other complex arousing events,and even to changes in body systems such as the level ofoxygen or carbon dioxide in the blood. The psychedelic drugshave been repeatedly shown to greatly increase the activityof the locus coeruleus, but not when applied directly to thecells which make up the nucleus. Thus it has beenhypothesized that the state of the locus coeruleus must beinfluenced by another nucleus or system which itself isdirectly affected by psychedelics. Some relevant factsconcerning the locus coeruleus:The locus coeruleus (LC) consists of two denseclusters of noradrenergic neurons locatedbilaterally in the upper pons at the lateral borderof the 4th ventricle. The LC, which projectsdiffusely to virtually all regions of the neuraxis,receives an extraordinary convergence of somatic,visceral and other sensory inputs from all regionsof the body and has been likened to a noveltydetector. Thus, the LC represents a unique nodalpoint both for the detection of significant changesin the internal and external environment and forrelaying this information to the remainder of thecentral nervous system. It is not surprising thathallucinogenic drugs, which produce such dramaticchanges in perception, would alter either directlyor indirectly the function of LC neurons. (21)In keeping with the holonomic model, I would proposethat the locus coeruleus is the driver which produces acomposite holoprojection consisting of the superimpositionand canceling of primary holoprojections including the habit (26 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 148. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5routine holoprojection to yield a field of informationconcerning significances in the ongoing experience of theorganism. The detection of significance, or salience,normally is derived from the same memory data from which thehabit routine complex is generated, and is merely a repeatdetection of salience that has occurred in the past. Whenthe test animal mentioned above is shown a preferred food,for instance, and its locus coeruleus is shown to increasein activity, the salience detected is obviously relative tomemory data of the preferred food. But when I am the testanimal in a French restaurant, when some unknown yetsucculent dish is placed before me, I begin to extractinformation directly from the primary sensoryholoprojections to try to deduce the composition andpossible methods of preparation of the mysterious delicacy.Memory information in the habit routine will still be theprimary source of information in these deliberations, but myAttention will guide the process to actual examination ofthe "genuine" sensory data contained in the primaryholoprojections. As I mentioned above in introducing thefunctions of the primary holoprojections, we see thatsalience detection may use the primary data, but normally,and routinely, salience is merely a repeat performance ofprevious detection, based on the habit routine complexitself.The connections of the locus coeruleus whichaccomplish the detection of normal salience from the habitroutine data may be simply the interconnections with thecortex. The locus coeruleus receives a modest input fromonly one area of the cortex, the prefrontal cortex, but itsends its output to the entire cortex. We see again (as inthe case of the pathways between the thalamus and theprimary sensory cortex) the situation where the "return"signal is far more important than the "input" signal, andthis suggests, as in the nervous pathways taking part in thegeneration of the primary sensory holoprojections, areverberation, in this case the salience detectionholoprojection. (22) The signal from the prefrontal cortexis the final stage of the entire process of association, soit will obviously represent the complex associational memorydata of past salience detection that was experienced. Thereturn pathways to all cortex areas might also be thought ofas facilitating the cancellation or ignoring of all features (27 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 149. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5of the habit routine except for the salient entities, sothat the resulting holoprojection contains only informationabout these entities. Thus the Attention is directed to thesalience which practically jumps out of its surroundings.The locus coeruleus has several inputs besides that from theprefrontal cortex, but these inputs function to modulate theholoprojection generation in various ways. A particularlyimportant control of the process is accomplished by theraphe nuclei.The raphe nuclei of the brain stem are particularlyimportant to salience detection and to the psychedelicexperience because they contain the great majority ofneurons of the brain which use serotonin as aneurotransmitter. Some of the earliest work on the effect ofLSD in the brain found that "LSD and other indoleaminehallucinogens...have potent, direct inhibitory effects uponserotonergic neurons located in the raphe nuclei of thebrainstem." (23) Now it has been well established that theserotonergic neurons of the raphe nuclei project heavily tothe locus coeruleus, and likewise that serotonin inhibitsthe firing of the type of neuron found in the locuscoeruleus. (24) As mentioned above, studies have alsoconfirmed the psychedelic agents have as their target atleast some of the many types of serotonin receptors onneurons both of the areas signaled by the raphe nuclei, andon the raphe serotonin neurons themselves (autoreceptors).The raphe neurons also project widely throughout the brain,to all areas of the cortex, (strongly to the prefrontalcortex from which the locus coeruleus derives its input),the thalamus, the amygdala, virtually the entire nervoussystem. Thus I would propose that the raphe nuclei are theprinciple mechanism of control, the driver which guides themode of function of salience detection, as well as themanner in which the detection is used and subsequentlystored in memory. It appears that Attention and otherthinking2 process use the serotonergic system of the brain,based in the raphe nuclei, to direct the detection and useof salience, but not simply by "inhibition" as would beimplied by the observed "inhibitory" action of serotonin onthe neurons of the locus coeruleus, or the observed"inhibition" of serotonergic neurons by LSD.It is a curious fact of the human brain, that fully75% of the neurons therein are supposedly "inhibitory (28 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 150. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5neurons", whereas in the monkey the figure is 45%, and inthe cat a mere 35%. (25) Clearly these facts must have sometremendously important significance, not only for the typeof functioning they imply of the brain, but in some sensethey must tell us something very important about thepsychological differences between man and animals,particularly the great disparity of intellectual capacity. Anot very convincing speculation has been that the largeproportion of inhibitory neurons allows a "streamlining ofthinking" in which groups of brain cells are more quicklyreturned to a state of readiness after some operation. (26)I would propose that the inhibitory neurons do not "inhibit"in such a literal manner, but rather are concerned with thesuperimposition of holoprojections in which a cancellationor subtraction of information results, such as the manner inwhich all peripheral information from memory going into thegeneration of the salience holoprojection is removed so asto yield a composite holoprojection consisting of only thedetected entities. It might be said that human mentalpowers, as opposed to that of lower animals, resideprimarily in the ability to discriminate between and detectwidely differing types of significance not only in theenvironment but within thought patterns of abstractions andconcerning ideas and constructs of the intellect. Thesehuman feats, I would propose, are accomplished using thewide network of inhibitory neurons functioning to producecomposite holoprojections derived through the comparison andsubtraction of informational fields one from another, toreveal patterns the complexity of which far outstrips thepower of lower animals to detect.There are probably several brain operations, broughtabout by combinations of brain parts including a nucleus ofthe midbrain or brainstem as a driver, which generate suchcomposite holoprojections. The detection of emotionalcontent, or valence, is probably accomplished using theamygdala as a driver in dialog with the cortex and othernuclei, superimposing the same primary holoprojections asare used for salience detection. But the salience detectionof the locus coeruleus, controlled and modulated by theraphe nuclei connections throughout the brain, generateswhat is probably the most important holoprojection of thebrain/mind, (or in any case, second only in importance tothe habit routine holoprojection). And it is upon the (29 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 151. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5generation of this salience detection holoprojection thatthe psychedelic drugs exert their effects.Now it was soon noticed, after the inhibitory effectof LSD and similar psychedelic drugs on the raphe nuclei wasdiscovered, that other psychedelic agents such as mescalineand the phenethylamine family did not produce theinhibition. The indirect effect on the locus coeruleus was,however, as important as with LSD. The effect is indirect,for as mentioned, the application of psychedelic agents tolocus coeruleus neurons themselves fails to alter theiractivity. But since the locus coeruleus salience detectionsystem involves the entire cortex, and the serotonergicneurons of the raphe nuclei project to the entire nervoussystem, it is evident that the control of salience detectionwould be alterable at many different sites of potentialpsychedelic drug action. A direct change in the raphe nucleiis the possible primary action in the case of LSD, whereas achange in the effect of the signaling by the raphe neurons,either in the locus coeruleus or possibly the cortex itself,might be the mechanism for mescaline. The overall effect isin both cases a change, which appears to be an increase, inthe rate and type of salience detected by the locuscoeruleus system. I am tempted to repeat some of Huxleysobservations about significance quoted at the end of chapter3, but instead will quote Alan Watts, here writing about hisfirst experiment with psychedelic drugs:"I have said that my general impression of thefirst experiment was that the "mechanism" by whichwe screen our sense-data and select only some ofthem as significant had been partially suspended.Consequently, I felt that the particular feelingwhich we associate with "the meaningful" wasprojected indiscriminately upon everything, andthen rationalized in ways that might strike anindependent observer as ridiculous—unless, perhaps,the subject were unusually clever at rationalizing.However, the philosopher cannot pass up the pointthat our selection of some sense-data assignificant and others as insignificant is alwayswith relation to particular purposes—survival, thequest for certain pleasures, finding ones way to (30 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 152. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5some destination, or whatever it may be." (27)I have suggested above that there are two modes ofsalience detection, the first merely automatic and basedupon previously experienced situations, and a second whichis based on the genuine data of the primary holoprojections.Remember my little story of noticing the grey rock in themiddle of the pathway. Automatic salience detection broughtit to my awareness, and interpreted it relative to previousexperience. Yet some unconsciously perceived anomalous data,a slight movement, a color not quite in keeping withexperience, caused me to suspect an error, and choose toexamine the raw sensory data itself and Decide thatsomething was amiss. At this point the original habitroutine was overruled, and a new interpretation activelydemanded by the Attention. This was accomplished by use ofthe working memory, thought to be a function of and residentin the prefrontal cortex, the same cortical area from whichthe locus coeruleus receives its sole input. Remember alsomy stated feeling that under the influence of psychedelics,it seems that the habit routines of interpretation in thiscase would be at least momentarily suspended, and after amoment multiple habit routines might arrive at thinking2processes. All these observations seem to indicate thatpsychedelics would be interfering with the habit routineholoprojection, rather than the salience holoprojection. Butaccording to my neurological model so far, it would appearthat psychedelic agents interfere with the control exertedon the salience holoprojection by the raphe nuclei and theserotonergic neurons extending widely to all areas of thebrain.I would now propose that the profound alteration ofthe salience holoprojection by psychedelics, illustratedboth by neurological data and by the practical observationsof Huxley, Watts, and many others, causes the individual,using the conscious mechanisms of thinking2, to himselfsuspend the dependence on the habit routine holoprojection.It is the cumulative effect of not only added saliencedetected in the ENV both external and internal, but of theinterpretation of this increased salience as itselfextremely significant, that leads to a veritable avalancheof salience detection which simply overwhelms normal (31 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 153. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5acceptance of and dependence on the habit routine system.The habit routines are still assembled and are therein the background, but they are almost completely ignored byAttention, Decision, and other thinking2 processes amidstthe flood of salience perceived. Thus, the psychedelicexperience is, in an important sense, voluntary, and thiswould explain the ability to achieve such states throughmeditation and other voluntary mechanisms. That the habitroutines are still assembled and available to some extent isillustrated by the common ability during the lucid end-stages of psychedelic experience to recognize a duality inexperience: a perception of the way things appear with "thedoors of perception" cleansed, and a simultaneousrecognition of how the same scene would appear in a normalstate of mind governed by habit routine. Such realizationextends to the perception ones personality traits, onesprejudices and automatisms of behavior, from a viewpointthat is essentially outside of the self and beyond the ego.In this state I believe, the habit routines have beencompletely suspended in function, and salience detection isusing the information of the primary holoprojections.At the request of thinking2, the primary sensoryholoprojections become the subject of meticulousexamination, genuine reality floods through, the habitroutines ignored. The raphe nuclei must in some sense beacting as a control mechanism for this switch-over, allowingthe locus coeruleus system to create superimpositions of thegenuine data rather than the memory data. This switch-overprobably occurs in the cortex itself, by the control exertedby the serotonergic neurons from the raphe nuclei whichcontact both inhibitory interneurons and the pyramidalneurons of the cortex. (28)Experimental evidence supporting the above modelrelating the neurological operations of brain systems andthe habit routine search and suspension hypothesis of normaland psychedelic functioning has been easy to find in theliterature. Of course, due to the current state ofneuroscience, it is often found that alternativeinterpretations of experimental results, leading toradically different models, is possible. Such is the case (32 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 154. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5here, and for any specific experiment which I might use asevidence for my model, others would find it just as easy touse the same data for another view. For this reason, as wellas in the interest of brevity, I shall mention only a fewexamples. A thorough survey would require at least anothervolume, and the more important chapters of the presentvolume still await exposition.A vast body of literature concerning brain functionand its perturbation by brain lesions goes back more than acentury. A great many studies have been done concerningpatients whose brains have sustained damage throughaccidents or necessary brain surgery, and experimentally,countless numbers of animals of every description haveundergone destruction, disconnection or removal of variousbrain areas in the attempt to localize various sensory,motor, and cognitive functions of the brain. With such awealth of evidence, it is not hard to find studies thatmight support almost any model one would care to dream up.I will mention just a few cases which have been welldocumented, and which deal with damage to the areas of theprefrontal cortex. This brain area, it will be remembered,has been suggested both in the literature and in my ownmodel as an important center involved with the workingmemory and with the most complex levels of associativeprocessing by the cortex. Such association might be expectedto facilitate complex cognitive phenomena such as theexpression of personality traits, decision making andattention, voluntary action and free will, the perception ofand reaction to complex social situations, i.e., the mostcomplex and human of cognitive functions. (It is the frontallobe, and especially the prefrontal area that has seen sucha massive expansion and development in the recent evolutionof the hominids.) Remember also that it is from theprefrontal cortex that the sole cortical projection to thelocus coeruleus occurs. Projections from the prefrontalcortex also extend to the raphe nuclei and the amygdala.The model I have devised would therefore predictthat disruption of frontal lobe integrity should producealteration of salience detection and the evaluation andexpression of emotion, and radical changes in the assemblyand use of habit routines, especially as they apply to thesemost advanced cognitive and affective functions. Since theconnections to the locus coeruleus, raphe nuclei, and (33 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 155. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5amygdala hypothesized to be important in my model projectfrom the prefrontal cortex, interference with salience andvalence functions should certainly be observed in cases ofprefrontal damage. And prefrontal damage resulting in animpaired function of working memory in supplying parametersfor the ongoing habit routine search process should producesymptoms identifiable as resulting from impaired generation,access to, or use of habit routine in ongoing cognitiveoperations.A very famous case of brain injury in the prefrontalarea, recently the subject of a book and various newspaperarticles, is that of the construction foreman Phineas P.Gage. In 1848 Gage sustained a massive brain injury when anexplosives procedure went terribly wrong and sent an irontamping bar vertically through the frontal region of hisbrain. Miraculously, Gage seemed at first practicallyunaffected, even walking some distance, and conversing withhis men on the way to medical attention. It was only laterthat the peculiar kind of mental deficits that necessarilyresult from this type of prefrontal injury came to light.The case has recently become the subject of detailedattention thanks to the work of Hanna Damasio, who was ableto reconstruct the precise location of Gages brain damageusing state-of-the-art computer techniques to analyze thefeatures of Gages skull, a museum exhibit at the HarvardMedical School Museum for over a hundred years. An overviewof this work together with a detailed examination of thesymptomatic evidence in the case is presented in a recentbook. (29)It was said of Gage that he became a different man,his entire personality was radically changed. It seemed thathe had completely lost access to his previously acquiredsocial conventions and rules and had become childish,irresponsible, yet strangely undiminished in terms ofepisodic and autobiographical memory, language ability,even, one might say, intelligence. In terms of the habitroutine model: In the daily yet complex social relationshipsin which personality is expressed, it appeared that Gagesbehavior was capricious, or even random, the habit routinesof personality which are among the most complex and highlyassociative aspects of the habit routine complex, were nolonger accessible (reconstructible) from the memory of thefrontal cortex and by consequence, his automatic social (34 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 156. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5behavior was based not upon previous experience but wasinstead arbitrary and random rather than merely childish. Intheory, it seems, he could still reason out how one shouldact in a given situation, but when forced into a decision bya life situation, he was essentially powerless to apply suchreasoning. This may illustrate how dependent we are on habitroutine for making decisions and for the expression ofpersonality. In the case of personality traits, it wouldobviously be impossible to calculate logically andconsciously how to react to a situation in accord with ourestablished personality. The reaction must be automatic andinstantaneous. If this is also the case with at least someaspects of decision making, a statement I previously madebecomes even more pertinent: "We see what we have alreadyseen..." and decide in ways that we have previously decidedto an overwhelming degree.The symptoms described by Antonio Damasio (30) couldwell be explained in these terms, but in addition, Damasiodescribes the case of a prefrontal patient which he hadhimself examined in detail. The patient, referred to asElliot, had undergone surgery for the removal of a tumor atthe base of the frontal cortex, just above the eye sockets.Surrounding brain tissue had also been removed or damaged,and thus a large portion of the prefrontal cortices weredysfunctional. As with Gage, the largest part of the damagewas in the ventromedial (lower-central) area, and many ofthe symptoms were repeated, such as radical personalitychange. But particularly striking were symptoms that mightbe interpreted as resulting from interference with thesalience and valence systems involving connections from thedamaged prefrontal region to the locus coeruleus, raphenuclei, and to the amygdala. These symptoms might becategorized as a lack of ability to plan ahead, to makedecisions concerning strategy and the immediate future,almost, one might say, a deficit of free will. The obviousintelligence which Elliot retained could not be mustered toorganize even simple sequences of activity as required forhis job, for instance. In addition, he exhibited anemotional flatness or detachment in striking contrast to hispre-operative character.Interestingly, a lengthy series of psychologicaltests indicated that, like Gage, Elliot could theoreticallymake such decisions, such as those pertaining to moral (35 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 157. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5judgments, ends and means problem solving, awareness ofconsequences concerning both events and social situations,etc. But when a real life situation forced a decision basedon habit routine, the theoretical knowledge seemedimpossible to apply. In the theoretical situation, we couldsay that the records of social information in memory wereactively and intentionally used to reconstruct the requireddecision from scratch, whereas in the life situation whatwas required was an automatic referral to the habit routinesrepresenting such decisions that had been made over alifetime: the records of previous decisions as representedin the highest levels of habit routine had been destroyedalong with frontal cortex, (31) whereas the previousmemories themselves upon which the previous decisions hadbeen based were still intact in other areas of the cortex.The combination of decision deficit with emotionalflatness led Damasio to construct a model he calls theSomatic-Marker Hypothesis, and it has attracted muchfavorable comment. (32) I will not describe it here, butwill instead offer my own interpretation of the concurrenceof the two symptoms. We could describe an inability to makerational decisions not only as due to deficits in theassembly of the highest levels of the habit routine complex,but also on the basis of faulty salience detection, sincethe relative significance of events and aspects of reality,both present and in memory, must obviously play an importantrole in constructing plans based upon contingencies and theevaluation of probabilities and strategies. With both of theabove cases, Gage and Elliot, there was a theoreticalability to make decisions, based upon reasoning processesutilizing episodic and autobiographical memory of eventsthemselves. Likewise, reasoning processes and memory wouldbe able to deduce significance both in the internal andexternal environments, but the automation of saliencedetection would be deficient. The key to understanding theoverall syndrome, however, is seeing that the generation ofemotional content by a holoprojection driven by the amygdalamust be a process based on information in the saliencedetection holoprojection. It is with the varioussignificances detected in the external and internalenvironment that emotional expression deals, all routine andsuperfluous information merely falls by the wayside and isignored. The SD holoprojection feedback to all areas of the (36 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 158. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5cortex accomplishes this cancellation or ignorance ofirrelevancy, to leave the detected significances in starkcontrast relative to the background. From thisholoprojection of detected significance comes the data fromwhich the emotional value or valence is generated.It is easy to see, then, that if the saliencedetection system is perturbed or interrupted, a naturallyresulting symptom should be emotional flatness, or evenrandomly expressed emotion since the amygdala is not itselfdamaged but merely has little or no accurate information towork with. Elliot himself realized perfectly well not onlyhis inabilities in making decisions in the face of real-lifesituations, but also how subjects or situations that hadonce caused him strong emotion no longer evoked any reactionwhatsoever. Here we can see that, since he rememberssubjects which formerly caused an emotional reaction, he canalso theoretically evaluate emotional content just as he cantheoretically evaluate significance, reconstructing theinformation from long-term memory. But it is the automatedaccomplishment of these functions which has been perturbed,and in real-life, on-the-spot decision making,reconstruction does not and cannot substitute for theautomated processes.According to Damasios hypothesis, the deficit fordecision is based on the deficit of emotional content, but Ibelieve the situation is quite the reverse, that emotion isbased on significance detection necessary in the process ofautomatic decision-making, and that both of these functionsare based upon intact operation and connections of theprefrontal cortices to the locus coeruleus and the raphenuclei.Now I cannot tell from Damasios descriptionswhether the actual connections projecting from the frontalcortex to the locus coeruleus, amygdala and raphe nucleiwere damaged or severed during Elliots operation. It wouldseem in Gages case that the trajectory of the iron barmight well indicate that these connections were destroyed:they are grouped together into the medial forebrain bundle,an important nerve pathway passing directly through theventromedial area. This pathway also contains theprojections returning from the locus coeruleus and raphenuclei which connect to all areas of the cortex. Whether thesevering of the medial forebrain bundle alone produces a (37 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 159. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5syndrome similar to the actual destruction of prefrontalcortex is not known, but if my hypothesis is correct, thesevering of the medial forebrain bundle connections to thelocus coeruleus and raphe nuclei should produce a verysimilar result as is seen in cases such as Gage and Elliot.Damage to the frontal cortices may have to be quitewidespread to bring about the same result as the simplesevering of these nervous pathways.There is another type of damage to the frontalcortex which produces rather different results. So far, inthe two cases mentioned, the principal damage was to theventromedial areas, just above the eyes and centrallylocated. When damage to the dorsolateral areas also occurs,psychological tests indicate an important deficit in workingmemory accompanies the syndrome. These same tests, given toElliot, showed no disability whatsoever in his workingmemory function. Inasmuch as the working memory has beenproposed here as an important part of the process of habitroutine search, its disruption should alter the process incertain ways. In the cases of ventromedial damage citedabove, I proposed that the actual memory informationnecessary for construction of the highest associative levelsof the habit routine complex had been destroyed. But withdorsolateral damage as well, an important part of the systemwhich carries out the habit routine search is destroyed: theability to supply parameters for the search is impeded.It was proposed that conscious and unconsciousparameters guiding the successive scans producing the habitroutine complex were introduced via the working memory. TheILN scan, incorporating WM parameters would, on thesucceeding scan retrieve a modified selection of memoryinformation according to the parameters previously scanned.And it was proposed that this "small window on reality" wasessentially the only normal way to guide the processes ofthinking1 using free will or intentional creativity. Inexperimental situations we notice deficits in preciselythese domains. Fuster, in his book on the prefrontal cortex,states that "In general terms, ablation studies indicatethat the cortex of the dorsal and lateral prefrontal surfaceis primarily involved in cognitive aspects of behavior. Therest of the prefrontal cortex, medial and ventral, appearsto be mostly involved in affective and motivationalfunctions..." (33) (such as salience detection and emotional (38 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 160. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5evaluation.)In human prefrontal patients, a strikingexperimental demonstration of working memory disruption dueto dorsolateral damage is the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test,here described by Dudai:The subject is presented with a series ofstimulus cards and a deck of response cards. Thecards bear coloured geometric patterns (e.g. asingle blue star, three red circles), and can bematched by categories (e.g. colour, form, number).The examiner selects a sorting category (e.g.colour), but does not inform the subject. Thelatter is instructed to place a response card infront of a stimulus card, wherever he or she thinksit should go. The examiner then informs the subjectif the response was right or wrong, and the subjectuses this information to obtain correct responsesin the following matches. After ten consecutiveresponses, the examiner shifts the sorting categorywithout warning, and the subject must unveil itagain to obtain correct matches. The procedure isthen repeated with other sorting categories.Patients with prefrontal lesions find this taskabnormally difficult. The interpretation is thatthey have difficulties in using temporarily storedinformation to regulate their actions. (34)The function of working memory as a parameter storefor ongoing habit routine search is well illustrated by theexperiment. The original instructions for the experiment,which the subject has little difficulty in following, createa simple habit routine for performing the sorting accordingto the first learned category. But when the category ischanged, the habit routine developed for the experimentremains fixed, its alteration by new working memoryparameters is difficult if not impossible. Most prefrontalpatients with dorsolateral damage have great difficulty inthis test, but Elliot, whose damage was limited toventromedial areas, passed it with flying colors.Now the evidence concerning prefrontal damage and (39 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 161. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5its interpretation using my model takes on some additionalrelevance in consideration of the following experimentalfindings: In a series of experiments using PET brain scantechniques to observe subjects in altered states ofconsciousness brought about by psychedelics, the primaryeffect noted was a significant increase in the activity ofthe frontal cortices. (35) This result, in combination withAghajanians findings of greatly increased locus coeruleusactivity caused by psychedelic drugs, lends myinterpretation some credibility. Under the influence ofpsychedelic drugs, the cognitive functions of working memoryand habit routine search, significance detection andemotional value detection are all working overtime, and theyall are facilitated by the prefrontal cortices. Whether thisis all mere coincidence, or an indication that pieces of avery intricate puzzle are falling into place only time andfurther research will tell.A vast quantity of experimental evidence awaits theorganizing ability of some yet-to-be-discovered overallmodel of brain function. In reading the many papers dealingwith just the prefrontal cortex in the recently publishedThe Cognitive Neurosciences (36) for example, one isimmediately impressed with both the wealth of experimentalinformation available and the corresponding wealth ofmodels, terminologies, and hypotheses which attempt toorganize this information. But such a cornucopia ofviewpoints must certainly be a sign that we modelers arevery much like the collection of blind men describing theelephant from the feel of merely local areas of the overallbeast. Who will be the visionary to discover the viewpointfrom which all these models and observations become a unitedwhole? I certainly cannot pretend that the cognitive andneurological models I have presented here fulfill thatfunction. I would be the first to admit the highlyspeculative nature of the above neurological model that Ihave presented, and would not be surprised nor indignant ifit were said that the area that I was describing was noteven part of the elephant!In my view, the only claim for consideration of myideas stems from their origin in the attempt to explain the (40 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 162. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5body of evidence that has accumulated concerning thepsychedelic experience, evidence which has been almostentirely disregarded by the mainstream of science for nearlythirty years. Had it not been for such neglect, which inpart was forced by an idiotic international effort to fightan unwinnable, self-defeating and therefore irrational "waron drugs", it seems to me that several fields of study ofhuman psychology and neuroscience would have by now achievedfar greater insight than is the case.But we can blame not only the drug warriors, thepoliticians and intelligence organizations, the religiousmoralizers and puritanical oafs for this ignorance:scientists too are to blame, perhaps equally so. It was easyfor me, from the outside of the scientific establishment, tosee that one of the most important discoveries ever made byWestern science was being ignored, even vilified. But fromthe inside of that scientific enterprise, it was apparentlyno easier to see what was happening than it was for thoseinside the traps of religious fanaticism or the carefullycultivated paranoia which is the paradigm for institutionsproviding much of the raw material for the politicians: theintelligence organizations.Scientists, at least outside the realm of their ownspecialties, often seem as prone to narrow-mindedness as areother intelligent yet confused men. It seems to be almostinstinctual that men follow such narrow pathways throughlife, and the habit-routine model is certainly also anattempt to show how such narrowness might actually bederived from an inherent neurological feature of the humanorganism, rather than something which we must labelinstinctual for want of a better understanding. Thefunctioning of our nervous systems utilizing the habitroutine system might be taken as a convenient excuse for thecurrent deplorable state of civilization, this "century ofholocaust," but now that I have laid bare the roots of thesituation, it is a lame excuse at best. In the next chapterI will explore the idea that this inherent neurological andcognitive feature has been an essential (yet now for man askeuomorphic or vestigial) characteristic in the stages ofevolution not only of man, but of all animal life. (41 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 163. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5References(1) Rupert Sheldrake, The Presence of the Past, 1988,William Collins, publisher. (back)(2) A brief but concise description of the Hopfield Networkmay be found in Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis, ibid.,pp182-185. A more technical and thorough exposition is foundin Churchland & Sejnowski, The Computational Brain 1993 MITPress, p82ff. (back)(3) Steven Rose, The Making of Memory, Bantam Press (GreatBritain) 1992, see chapter 13. (back)(4) Ibid., p322. (back)(5) Karl H. Pribram, Languages of the Brain, 1971 BrandonHouse, New York, recently reissued (1988). See also hisessay "What the Fuss is All About", in The HolographicParadigm, Ken Wilber (ed.), New Science Library, Shambala1982. Other articles in this volume discuss thepossibilities and limitations of the model. (back)(6) "From Metaphors to Models: the Use of Analogy inNeuropsychology", Karl H. Pribram in Metaphors in theHistory of Psychology, David e. Leary, ed., 1990, CambridgeUniversity Press. (back)(7) Sometimes called the "grandmother cell" model, in whicha unit of learning or recognition (of your grandmother, forinstance) was supposedly associated with a single brain cellor strictly local set of interconnections between cells.(back)(8) Francis Crick (1994) ibid. p185. (back)(9) Introduced by George Leonard to refer to entities havingthe nature of a hologram, The Silent Pulse, Dutton, New York1978. (back)(10) "Spectral Density Maps of Receptive Fields in the Rats (42 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 164. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5Somatosensory Cortex" in Origins: Brain & Self Organization,Karl Pribram, ed., 1994, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (back)(11) Brain and Perception: Holonomy and Structure in FiguralProcessing, Karl H. Pribram, 1991, Lawrence ErlbaumAssociates. (back)(12) Times Literary Supplement, London, August 25, 1995.(back)(13) See "Quantum Coherence in Microtubules" by Stuart R.Hameroff, Journal of Consciousness Studies 1, No.1, 1994pp91-118. (back)(14) In the brain there are approximately 1011 neurons(100,000,000,000), 1015 synapses, but Hameroff estimatesthat there may be 1023 dynamic sites or states associatedwith the microtubules. (back)(15) See "Perception as an Oneiric-like State Modulated bythe Senses", Llinás and Ribary, in Large-Scale NeuronalTheories of the Brain, 1994, MIT Press. On page 113 is asummary of brain connectivity illustrative of the inadequacyof current "information-flow" models. (back)(16) In producing a holographic image by illuminating aholographic photographic plate (the hologram) with coherentlight, the same image is produced by directing the lightthrough only a small part of the plate as is produced byilluminating the entire plate. But the image in the formercase carries much less definition, it is of lowerresolution. (back)(17) A review of the experiments is in Human Memory, Theoryand Practice, Alan Baddeley pp14-18. (back)(18) See "Perception as an Oneiric-like State Modulated bythe Senses", Llinás and Ribary, in Large-Scale NeuronalTheories of the Brain, 1994, MIT Press. (back)(19) I might go so far as to suggest that most, if not all (43 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 165. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5cognitive functions of the brain are accomplished by adialog among two or more brain parts, and not by a singlearea acting alone to effect some cognitive result which isthen passed on to another area. The multiple holoprojectionmodel is entirely in accord with this suggestion. The modelhas conceptual similarities to another important "checks andbalances" feedback system of the body, the hormonal system.(back)(20) A publication containing the most recent researchfindings of the important workers in this field is 50 Yearsof LSD: Current Status and Perspectives of Hallucinogens,Pletscher and Ladewig, editors, Parthenon Publishing, 1994.The book presents papers submitted to a symposium of theSwiss Academy of Medical Sciences in October 1993. (back)(21) Ibid., "LSD and phenethylamine hallucinogens: commonsites of neuronal action", G.K. Aghajanian. (back)(22) Another way of thinking about the disparity between"input" and "output" signals again illustrates a basicconceptual fault with the computer model of brain function.In the case of the locus coeruleus for example, it has beenstated that since its "output" extends to such diverseregions, its functions must also be multiple and widespread.This view has the underlying assumption that the locuscoeruleus is sending information it has processed from itsmodest input, to many locations where this data is then usedfor many different functions. But the alternative view Ihave proposed is that the locus coeruleus accomplishes onlyone function. The multiple and widely connected "output"pathways are not to be seen as sending information, butrather as requesting or accessing information of a widelydiverse nature (relating to the detection of salience inmany domains, situations, and complexities). The result ofthis request is then cycled back to the locus coeruleus viaits modest input from the frontal cortex, as a reverberatingholoprojection. (back)(23) Ibid, p27. (back)(24) Chemoarchitecture of the Brain, Rudolf Nieuwenhuys, (44 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 166. The Center of the Universe Chapter 51985 Springer-Verlag, p40. (back)(25) From references mentioned in Stairway to the Mind,Alwyn Scott, Springer-Verlag 1995, p94. (back)(26) A suggestion of Donald Hebb, recounted in Stairway tothe Mind, ibid., p94. (back)(27) "The New Alchemy" in This Is It, Alan Watts, RandomHouse, 1958. (back)(28) Aghajanian in 50 Years of LSD, ibid., pp33-34 (back)(29) Descartes Error, Antonio R. Damasio, G.P. PutnamsSons, 1994, chapters 1 & 2. (back)(30) Ibid. (back)(31) One could view the situation also as an inability ofthe intralaminar nucleus of the thalamus to include in itshabit routine-generating scan the information from thedestroyed frontal region. This is probably the more usefulif not accurate view, as opposed to the view that frontallobe "information" has been destroyed. (back)(32) Ibid., p173-ff. (back)(33) The Prefrontal Cortex, Joaquin M. Fuster, 2nd edition1989, New York: Raven Press, p74. (back)(34) The Neurobiology of Memory, Yadin Dudai, OxfordUniversity Press 1989, p263. (back)(35) F. X. Vollenweider and colleagues in recent paperssummarized in "Evidence for a cortical-subcortical imbalanceof sensory information processing during altered states ofconsciousness using positron emission tomography and[18F]fluorodeoxyglucose" in 50 Years of LSD, ibid., pp67-86.(back) (45 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 167. The Center of the Universe Chapter 5(36) Michael S. Gazzaniga, editor, The CognitiveNeurosciences, 1995 The MIT Press. (back)(note) Update to the 1996 edition of The Center of theUniverse: The proposal that background neural activity isnot mere random noise is supported by recent findingsindicating that background neuron firing is fractal innature. In the Journal of Neuroscience (vol 17, p 5666)Malvin Teich of Boston University notes that the averagerelease rate [of neurotransmitter packets] fluctuates asdramatically from minute to minute as from second to second.Such repetition at different scales is a hallmark offractals. (Quotation from New Scientist, 16 August,1997.)(back)Chapter 6 | Table of ContentsSend e-mail to The Psychedelic Library: psd_lib@druglibrary.orgThe Psychedelic Library | Books Menu Page (46 of 46) [5/1/2002 12:46:48 PM]
  • 168. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6The Psychedelic Library HomepageBooks Menu PageThe Center of the UniverseWilliam S. Moxley6. InstinctTHE IDEAS EXPRESSED SO FAR, particularly those in the lasttwo chapters, were not the starting point for the presenttheory of psychedelic experience. They were, on thecontrary, only recently developed along with my also recentinterest in cognitive neuroscience and the organization ofthe human brain. But rather than present the components ofmy theory in the chronological order of their development,for the purposes of this book it was desirable to constructa theoretical framework within which my principle hypothesiswould, when revealed, already have a persuasive foundation.The actual starting point of the theory began with an ideawhich occurred to me several years ago during my tenure atan institution of "enforced languishing". I had plenty oftime to consider at length my experiences, and to re-readthe many volumes I had collected along the way (volumeswhich, somewhat unbelievably, due to their titles andsubject matter, I was nevertheless permitted to possess). Apart-time library engagement (and a friendly library"director") also allowed me to order in on loan any book Imight desire. The entire situation, despite the shabbysurroundings and lack of intellectual companionship, was notunlike a very productive sabbatical from my former routines.Thus I began early on in my study to think again aboutthings that I had experienced in Mexico, to considermankinds early and ubiquitous use of psychedelic medicines (1 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 169. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6especially with regard to the aboriginal practices ofshamanism, early religion, the curing arts. And given theuniversal importance of psychedelic plants and preparationsfor early man it was not a great extrapolation (but asurprising one nonetheless) to begin to suspect that the useof these sacred drugs must go right back to the very originsof man; they must have played a role in his evolution fromproto-humans, from whatever species it was that wasdefinitely advanced animal, but definitely not-yet-mankind.Whatever the characteristics of this proto-human specieswere, (1) it is generally agreed that they were hunter-gatherers who explored widely for food from many diversesources. Evidence also indicates that climatic changes andother factors had provided a strong impetus for proto-man tomigrate from his African home to the most distant regions ofthe earth, thus bringing him into contact with the diversepsychedelic flora of many new habitats. The period of thismigration, the middle to late Paleolithic, coincidesprecisely with evidence of the birth of human cultureillustrated by the recovery of artifacts such as complextools, body adornments, artwork, evidence of music, etc.McKenna (2) has presented several persuasive argumentsindicating that such generally agreed characteristics whichtypified the proto-human species would have ensured that itsmembers frequently came into contact with a range ofpsychedelic plants. But to hypothesize a role forpsychedelic plants in the evolution of man was easy, todiscover what kind of psychological and cognitive leap wasentailed in that miracle of evolution, and what functionpsychedelic plants played therein, especially whether theirinfluence was a necessary, merely facilitating, or justcoincidental factor, that would require some diligent studyand inventive thought.Although I had studied chemistry and physics in a topuniversity, my knowledge of the biological sciences wasquite limited. In trying to get some ideas about what mighthave been the psychological condition of proto-man, and howpsychedelics might have affected that condition to bringabout major change, I naturally started with only the mostelementary of conceptual tools, the first of which beingthat somewhat discredited concept called instinct. To thepsychologists of the last century the existence of instinctwas self-evident. William James, introducing an extensive (2 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 170. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6chapter on the subject in his famous opus The Principles ofPsychology wrote,Instinct is usually defined as the faculty ofacting in such a way as to produce certain ends,without foresight of the ends, and without previouseducation in the performance. That instincts, asthus defined, exist on an enormous scale in theanimal kingdom needs no proof. (3)Yet soon the Behaviorists, in a half-century crusade toobjectify the science of psychology, would first dispensewith the terms, and later with the very concepts of manysuch self-evident entities for lack of simple experimentaltechniques capable of isolating, measuring, and controllingthem. The difficulty or inability to accurately measure thepredictions of a model is, of course, a serious flaw, forthe purpose of a model is precisely to suggest experimentsthat will yield meaningful measurement. The Behavioriststratagem is thus understandable, and would probably havebeen better justified had the science of psychology alreadyattained a level of perfection comparable to that of early20th Century physics or chemistry. In retrospect, and inconsideration of the still very rudimentary state of thediscipline, the strategy must now be judged as one ofdesperation, for despite the Behaviorists long and powerfulonslaught, concepts such as instinct and consciousnessremain far too vital to justify the elimination of the termsfrom the lexicon of psychology. As I have already pointedout, the study of consciousness is now enjoying a major andfruitful revival, and I think that I can show how at leastone aspect of what has been called instinct is nowdescribable, and perhaps even measurable, in physiologicalterms.At the start of my quest therefore, before I had workedout some of the cognitive and neurological mechanisms forthe Habit Routine Model, I necessarily found myself toyingwith the concept of instinct. Believing that the influenceof psychedelic drugs on proto-humans might have been anecessary catalyst for the rapid (4) transformation toculturally modern Homo sapiens, there seemed twopossibilities to explore. Either the psychedelics might have (3 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 171. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6added something to the psychological abilities of proto-man(which turned out to be the conclusion of McKennas views),or conversely, perhaps the repeated and cumulative effectsof psychedelic drugs had eliminated an impediment to furtherpsychological evolution, an impediment which, up until thatpoint in evolution, had been not an impediment but acharacteristic favorable or essential for the reproductionand survival of the species. And that characteristic, itseemed, should be something very much like an instinct, aninnate psychological tendency governing the normal behaviorof the species. I am assuming that, in the ultimate stages,the change from proto-man to humankind was preponderantly ifnot entirely a psychological change, the facilitatingphysiological changes such as greatly enlarged braincapacity having already been present.The latter hypothesis seemed the more powerful, for ifit had been necessary to add to the abilities of proto-man,the normal processes of evolution are always willing andable to provide such addition. This is the whole idea ofevolution. Additions to the abilities and design features ofa species follow necessarily from the essentials of theprocess. Thus the hypothesis that psychedelic drugs mighthave added to the abilities of proto-man would have carriedwith it the probability that such addition would not, in thelong run, have been necessary. The mere passage of time, andfurther selection pressures, would have surely led to thesame result. Under this hypothesis, the psychedelics wouldonly have provided a facilitation to an ongoing process, orperhaps been merely incidental to it. It didnt seem thatthe ubiquitous use of psychedelics by early man would haveresulted from a merely coincidental influence; the greatimportance of these sacred plants for early man in everycorner of the earth indicated to me that they had beenessential and necessary for the evolution of humankind. Ifthis were the case, their prevalence of use and centralimportance for early man would naturally follow.But if evolution relentlessly provides any required newfeature, we also see the strange result that occurssometimes when a feature becomes obsolete, the case of thevestigial vermiform appendix on the large intestine beingthe example known to all. Evolution is remarkably efficientat slowly bringing about any design feature that is requiredfor the production of new abilities and new species, but (4 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 172. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6does not pay much attention to the intentional removal ofdesign features that have become obsolete, even if theybecome mildly unfavorable as in the case of the appendix.Design features may persist through sheer conservatism or"force of habit", as for example the persistence of a fullrange of digital bones in the fins of whales and other once-terrestrial species; and if the feature has been animportant one at some stage of development, it will be verydifficult to eliminate. One would suspect that such afeature would have to become a significant disadvantagebefore selection pressures and the normal course ofevolution would bring about its gradual removal.Now if evolution could produce physiological"skeuomorphs" (design features which have persisted despitebecoming disused or non-functioning (5)), then it seemedthat the same process might have occurred in the realm ofpsychology. Perhaps instincts, once valuable to a species orrange of species (perhaps even the entire animal kingdom),might have become not only skeuomorphic, but a factor whichwould impede further psychological development in a givenspecies. Although such a skeuomorphic instinct would presentno disadvantage to the species in its given form, it mightwell tend to prevent a radical evolutionary jump such asthat between animal and humankind. The existence ofevolutionary dead-ends in the physiological sense (6) mightillustrate the parallel concept of the case of the advancedape who had every physiological capacity necessary to be aphilosopher, a mathematician, yet...My hypothesis began to take shape: an instinctual orinnate psychological drive or tendency that had been anessential and defining feature of advanced animal life hadbecome the barrier which prevented proto-man from achievingthe most important of all evolutionary quantum leaps. And itwas this barrier, this very powerful and efficientpsychological trait or instinct which had been eroded andthen (at least temporarily) suspended by proto-mansexposure to psychedelic drugs.It would be valuable at this point to provide adefinition and examples of the concept of instinct as it (5 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 173. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6applies to my theory. As I hinted above, I intend to showhow the instinct in question is actually somethingdescribable in physiological terms, but a clearerunderstanding results, I think, from treading the sameconceptual path from instinct to brain systems that I myselftook in constructing the theory. A few general suggestionsconcerning the various possible mechanisms of instinct, andwhat kind of information constitutes an instinct might helpto alleviate some objections to the concept by the moredemanding adherents of hard science. Perhaps we might alsofind that what was once piled together under the label"instinct" is actually a range of quite different andindependently organized processes.It is quite true, for example, that we have not thefoggiest notion of how fledgling cuckoos, at the end oftheir fall migration, find their way to the same trees inAfrica where their parents are nesting, despite the factthat the parents leave Europe a week or more in advance oftheir progeny. Saying that the young cuckoos have aninstinct to do so tells us very little, and it is far-fetched to suppose that the parent birds "teach" theirprogeny how to make the voyage before their early depart.Equally improbable, despite "nothing-but" arguments of "what-else-could-it-be?", is the proposal that cuckoo genes ornervous systems come equipped with maps of Africa. The useof "instinct" as a mere label that only pretends to impartan understanding of how such a phenomenon might arise hasjustifiably drawn criticism. Thus the distinguishedanthropologist Gregory Bateson has commented, (in a"Metalogue", between Father and Daughter),Daughter: Daddy, what is an instinct?Father: An instinct, my dear, is a explanatoryprinciple.D: But what does it explain?F: Anything—almost anything at all. Anything youwant it to explain.D: Dont be silly. It doesnt explain gravity.F: No. But that is because nobody wants "instinct"to explain gravity. If they did, it would explainit. We could simply say that the moon has aninstinct whose strength varies inversely as thesquare of the distance… (6 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 174. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6D: But thats nonsense, Daddy.F: Yes, surely. But it was you who mentioned"instinct," not I.D: All right-but then what does explain gravity?F: Nothing, my dear, because gravity is anexplanatory principle.D: Oh... (7)Such an instinct as cuckoos have still evadesdescription in terms of brain systems or genetic codes, andthus to call it an instinct is about as far as we can go. Inthe last century, due to a very primitive understanding ofthe nervous system, practically all habitual behavior ofanimals had to be labeled instinct. "Early psychologistssought to identify a drive for every aspect of behavior: ahunger drive responsible for feeding, a thirst drive, a sexdrive, etc. It proved impossible to classify animal behaviorin this way without resorting to a reductio ad absurduminvolving drives for thumb-sucking, nail-biting, and otherminutiae of behavior." (8) The examples of proposedinstincts for thirst and hunger illustrate how an inabilityto explain a trait of behavior and the resulting retreatinto mere labeling, can later be resolved with furtherknowledge. Science has today discovered a great deal aboutthe physiological systems which control and produce hunger,thirst, and more. With more advanced knowledge of the brain,some phenomena which were once called instincts, and whichwere indistinguishable from other phenomena like thecuckoos navigational abilities, can be shown to result fromelementary brain-systems operation. Such will be the casewith the "instinct" I have in mind as a candidate for proto-mans impediment. (9)The perceptive reader will certainly, remembering mycognitive and neurological models of earlier on, see wherethis argument is going. But the pathway that was followed, Ibelieve, is not only an interesting view of how one modelleads to the next in theory building, but also of how thepieces of this large puzzle were manipulated to form anoverall and convincing picture.At first, and very crudely, it seemed to me that proto-man might have had some kind of instinct that could beviewed as a "narrow-mindedness", a strong repression of, or (7 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 175. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6inability to use the obvious and recently expandedtheoretical capacity of his brain. I soon coined a nice termfor the effect, the sophiolytic instinct, a behavioral drivethat prevented the ape from becoming wise, that actually"cured" him of any tendency to become wise, for an ape whosuddenly decided to ape not an ape, but a Socrates, wouldnot be very popular with his mates! He would be excludedfrom the group, become solitary with no chance ofreproducing either his weird psychological abilities(through teaching perhaps) nor any physiological "adaptions"that had suddenly enabled him to use his tremendous braincapacity more fully than his contemporaries.The model began to improve as I realized that such asophiolytic instinct should be part of a pair ofcharacteristics which would be precisely what all advancedanimal life would profit greatly from. An animal should havea much greater mental and psychological capacity than itneeds in normal everyday life, for that capacity would be ofenormous value in crisis situations, or other infrequentlyencountered situations where the animal is called upon to becreative in some sense. Obtaining food from a new source,coping with unusual threats to life or habitat, and manyother imaginable situations would demand a level of"creativity" in an animal. If extra brain capacity couldprovide for overcoming merely habitual and stereotypedbehavior in times of need, this should obviously be afavorable evolutionary development in the animal kingdom.But likewise, it seemed that there would have to be astrong tendency for an animal not to use his creativeabilities on a daily basis. Any creative potentials of ananimal would have to be dormant or actively inhibited in thenormal routines of existence, and this would also favorsurvival and reproduction because it would lend greatstability and coherence of behavior between the members of agroup, and within species as well; individuality would besuppressed during routine existence in favor of group andspecies stability. Indeed many species have mechanisms forisolating and expelling members of a reproductive group whoexhibit unusual or disruptive behaviors. Such behavior wouldoften have indicated that a given individual might bediseased, or afflicted with some genetic defect, so aspecies ability to isolate such individuals would be afavorable characteristic for maintaining species integrity. (8 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 176. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6These mechanisms and the sophiolytic instinct wouldtherefore ensure that members of a group all "toe the line"and do not become too much the individual, in spite of thepossession of cognitive capacities going sometimes farbeyond those required for routine existence.The evolution of animal life is not at all a matter ofone exceptional individual providing genetic material forthe future, but of the slow selection of many slightlybetter adapted individuals providing for future inheritance.The hypothesis of excess cognitive capability coupled with amechanism for the normal suppression of this capabilityseemed to fit these requirements quite well. (10) And whatwas more, the dual characteristic should become more andmore important with the complexity of the speciesconsidered: the most advanced animals in terms of socialsituation, reproductive requirements, nourishment-obtainingabilities, protection strategies, etc., should be the veryanimals which would profit most from excess and reservecognitive abilities, and it would be in these very speciesthat the most efficient, powerful and precisely appliedsuppression of these abilities in everyday routine would berequired. The maximums here would have attained their summitin the proto-human species, the recent and sudden increasein cranial capacity indicating a vastly increased cognitivereserve, and my speculations indicating that the restrainingmechanism, the proposed sophiolytic instinct, must also haveattained a corresponding power and efficiency.This scenario seemed to provide a paradox for evolution.On the one hand, in order for evolution to produce modernman, it would have had to proceed through stages in whichanimals gained more and more neurological and cognitiveability, and especially a reserve of such ability, yet anessential requirement of this gain would be that it neededto be increasingly suppressed for normal routines of dailyexistence. It would therefore become impossible for anadvanced animal to use this cognitive power at will, toenter a mode of life, by conscious choice, in which thecreative ability might be used routinely rather than only inextremis. To break through this evolutionary barrier betweenproto-human and Homo sapiens would require an extraordinaryand external influence capable of dissolving this barrier.All the neurological equipment would be in place, thanks tothe normal evolutionary processes, but the final (9 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 177. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6breakthrough would have to be something that the normalprocesses of evolution could not provide. And the drugswhich enabled that cognitive breakthrough were convenientlyscattered about the planet in plenitude...If these hypotheses are at all valuable, it should bepossible to see evidence in animal behavior of the processesthey describe. The idea that animals, even lowly insects,have quite amazing abilities available for use in case ofnovel challenges has been experimentally demonstrated formany different species. Greater cognitive abilities arelikewise reflected by correspondingly larger nervous systemcapacity compared with similar species exhibiting lessversatile behavior. A lengthy review of recent work on"intelligence" in animals is not necessary here, a fewexamples will suffice to show convincingly that not only ourrecent evolutionary neighbors, apes and chimpanzees, havesignificant cognitive reserves, but that the hypothesis ofexcess cognitive capacity describes a universal trait ofanimal life.Although recent presentations by Gould & Gould (11),Griffin (12), Byrne (13), and others show many examples ofrudimentary insight, context-switching intelligence, andconceptual thinking in animals as diverse as beavers,honeyguides, and even insects such as wasps and bees,certain hard-science advocates have done their best to raiseobjections against such evidence. Donald Griffin hasreviewed such argument and presented an admirable rebuttalto what he considers to be a taboo against considering thatnon-human animals might have subjective mental experiencesor an ability to "think", albeit in very primitive ways.The taboo...has become a serious impediment toscientific investigation. Effectiveindoctrination—often accomplished by nonverbalsignals of disapproval—inhibits students and youngscientists from venturing into this forbiddenterritory, and those that do so encounter criticismand ridicule. One result is that students of animalbehavior are inhibited from reporting versatile (10 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 178. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6behavior that suggests conscious thinking; andscientific journals sometimes refuse to publishdata or interpretations that support the inferenceof animal consciousness. (14)I will mention only examples of intelligence in apes andchimpanzees, because here the weight of evidence isexceptional. In suggesting some ideas about the importanceof young animals play for cognitive development, RichardByrne (15) mentions a seeming paradox: Gorillas in captivityregularly show extensive skills in the use of tools, yet inthe wild, tool use in gorillas is practically non-existent.He notes that only young chimpanzees and humans "invest muchtime in play with detached objects. But under the artificialconditions of captivity, young gorillas also play withobjects". Byrnes proposal that infant play with objectsmight be a causal explanation of the paradox may have somevalidity for gorillas, but apparently ignores that manyother tool-using species also do not exhibit play withdetached objects in juveniles. But he also notes that"gorillas evidently have the latent potential to play withobjects in childhood, and to use tools to solve problems inadulthood, yet they do neither in the wild-why?" [myemphasis].The question is answered with the hypothesis of asophiolytic instinct being the factor which all butguarantees that much advanced behavior capability in animalswill remain as "latent potentials" under normal conditions,especially if we understand that the sophiolytic instinctmust be a powerful and primary one, surpassed only perhapsby instincts for sexual behavior without which, of course,there would be no animals around to study. Without thesophiolytic instinct, the force ensuring group stability,survival, and reproduction, individuals would haveconstantly been far more subject to the vicissitudes of theenvironment, to dispersal and separation from potentialmates, to dangers resulting from their constant"inventiveness" and individuality in dealing with everydaysituations better handled with habit than innovation. Thelatent potential which Byrne concedes is evident for apes,is a simple and elegant illustration for the concept of thedual characteristic of excess cognitive capacity and the (11 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 179. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6sophiolytic instinct. Byrne asks practically the samequestion later on, (p158):Ape mentality: why not more? ...But we are stillconfronted with a paradox: if cognitive abilitiesare so useful in social and other spheres, as welike to imagine they are, why arent thesedemonstrations much, much more common and obviousin these animals which apparently can show thecognitive skills occasionally?Nicholas Humphrey, in his paper "The Social Function ofthe Intellect" asks the same question:We are thus faced with a conundrum. It has beenrepeatedly demonstrated in the artificialsituations of the psychological laboratory thatanthropoid apes possess impressive powers ofcreative reasoning, yet these feats of intelligenceseem simply to not have any parallels in thebehaviour of the same animals in their naturalenvironment. I have yet to hear of any example fromthe field of a chimpanzee (or for that matter aBushman) using his full capacity for inferentialreasoning in the solution of a biologicallyrelevant practical problem. Someone may retort thatif an ethologist had kept watch on Einstein througha pair of field glasses he might well have come tothe conclusion that Einstein too had a hum-drummind. However, that is just the point: Einstein,like the chimpanzees, displayed his genius at raretimes in artificial situations—he did not use it,for he did not need to use it, in the common worldof practical affairs. (16)For apes especially, the answer is that the sophiolyticinstinct, in these advanced animals, has attained the heightof its development and effectiveness, for it needs torestrain a nervous system with tremendous inherentcapability. And in light of Humphreys comments I might addsomething obvious, perhaps painfully so, to which I shall (12 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 180. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6return later: the sophiolytic instinct is certainly notsomething that miraculously disappeared once humankind wason the scene, and its power (like the power of otherimportant instincts) is negligibly reduced by awareness ofits effect, or of its skeuomorphic nature for man.Let us consider another example of excess cognitivecapacity, in the chimpanzee. No-one would disagree with theproposal that the use of language is one of the mostadvanced cognitive abilities that has developed. Thus, inthe exploration of potential cognitive abilities of ourclosest evolutionary neighbors, the attempt to teach someform of language to chimpanzees has been going on for a longtime. As usual, any apparent success in this project hasbeen immediately met with objections, mostly from thelingering remnants of the Behaviorist School of Thought (atleast they readily admit that they themselves think!). Adifficulty has been that chimpanzees simply do not have thephysiology for speech (as opposed to neurophysiology), hencespoken language of any complexity is physically, but notnecessarily cognitively impossible for them. Thus attemptshave been made to teach chimps various types of signlanguage as used by the deaf, and quite good results havebeen obtained.The work of B.T. and R.A. Gardner with a chimp namedWashoe constituted a breakthrough, in which the animal wastaught to use correctly about 130 words of the American SignLanguage over a period of four years. Of particular notewas: the achievement of this and other chimpanzees to inventnovel word combinations for new objects and concepts; thefact that chimps in some of these projects began tocommunicate between themselves using the language; andevidence that there began a cultural transmission of thenewly acquired ability. For example, Washoes adopted son,even though the experimenters never used the sign languagein his presence, nevertheless learned over fifty signsdirectly from Washoe. (17)Perhaps the most striking example of language ability inchimpanzees has come from the work of David Premack and ofSue Savage-Rumbaugh and Duane Rumbaugh. These workerssucceeded in teaching chimpanzees a symbol-based language,using either colored plastic shapes to denote words("lexigrams"), or in another approach the use of a keyboard-based language in which keys are marked with arbitrary, not (13 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 181. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6iconic or representational symbols:The most ambitious project to teach language tochimpanzees was initiated by Sue Savage-Rumbaughand Duane Rumbaugh. With their colleagues theydeveloped a keyboard-based language. Each key ismarked with an arbitrary symbol. When pressed, akey lights up and its symbol appears in sequence ona screen, so the chimpanzees can keep track oftheir lexigram sequences. The researchers used aword-order grammar with a generic interrogativesymbol to initiate question sentences. Thechimpanzees in these experiments are typicallytaught a vocabulary of 75 to 90 words.The computer-mediated keyboard approach allowsunprecedented accuracy in recording the linguisticprogress of chimpanzees. Analysis of the painfultransition from the one-word stage of using alexigram to identify an object to a two-word levelthat permits interrogation (by both humans and thechimps) shows that in these experiments the symbolsinitially are learned as operants for obtainingthings (usually food). But once the two-wordconcept is mastered for, say, asking the name of aparticular food, the chimp realizes how it appliesto all other objects. This kind of mentalbreakthrough opens new horizons for the chimp andat the same time demonstrates that they understandconcepts like "food" and "tool."In a further extension of language use, thekeyboard-based approach has allowed two chimpanzeesto communicate with each other. The chimps had tolearn that the keyboard and screen could be usedfor two-way exchanges; just mastering thetechniques for answering researchers questions ormaking requests was not enough. But once thechimpanzees grasped the idea of exchanginginformation, they were able to cooperate to solveproblems. To take a typical example, one chimpwould figure out what sort of tool it needed to getat food left by a researcher, and then use thekeyboard to ask the other animal (in an adjoiningroom) for that implement; the second chimp, who was (14 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 182. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6unaware of the particular problem, would pass therequested tool through a small opening. Again,there was every evidence of a conceptual thresholdhaving suddenly been reached: training acceleratedand error rates plummeted. Moreover, the chimpsbegan to engage in what seems to be interactiveplay via the keyboard link. (18)The idea of "a conceptual threshold having beenreached," is precisely what would be expected from myhypotheses: the excess inherent cognitive capacity of thechimps is sufficient for significant language abilities, butchimps in the wild have never achieved these abilitiesbecause there is a powerful, if not almost unbreachablebarrier which needs to be overcome to allow a specificmanifestation of excess cognitive capacity to be usedroutinely. Thus it requires great and careful effort toteach chimps the rudiments of language in experiments likethese, but once a certain stage is reached, once thesignificance of the new situation and ability hastemporarily nullified the sophiolytic instinct, the newabilities themselves become part of the normal routine ofthe chimps, and are even taught to youngsters independentfrom further human training.I should mention one further example in which evengreater abstract reasoning ability in chimpanzees has beendemonstrated. This is a particularly valuable body ofevidence for my hypotheses since it illustrates that aparticular cognitive ability, once liberated from control bythe sophiolytic instinct, may then facilitate the liberationof further cognitive abilities which would not have beenpossible for the animal to learn or employ without havingachieved the first ability. I will use another extendedquote from Gould & Gould to describe the work, the title ofthis section is "Chimpanzee Logic":Though the reasoning abilities of keyboard-trainedchimpanzees have not yet been explored in anysystematic way, Premack has tried teaching avariety of logical operations to both language-trained and untrained chimpanzees. In the simplesttests, the chimps were faced with the task of (15 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 183. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6labeling pairs of objects as either "same" or"different." This problem is unlike the same-different concept tests described earlier. In theusual form of the task the experimenter shows anexample and then a pair of objects, one of which isthe same as the example and the other different;the animal is rewarded for choosing the member ofthe pair that is different. In the Premack study,however, the two objects to be categorized werepresented simultaneously. Language-trained chimpslearned this discrimination, whereas untrainedchimps did not.Premack also attempted to teach the concept ofanalogies: A is to B as C is to D-lock is to key ascan is to can opener, to choose one of the mostabstract examples he used. The usual format of thetest was to present an incomplete analogy and offera choice of three different objects to finish theverbal equation. Language-trained chimpanzeeseventually handled these tasks with nearly an 80percent accuracy rate; chimps without languagetraining, on the other hand, never mastered eventhe simplest analogy: "apple is to apple as bananais to...."Another task familiar to students of childdevelopment is proportionality. Language- trainedchimps could choose an object—a half circle ratherthan a full or three-quarter circle—thatcorresponded to the proportion visible in the testobject (a half-filled glass of water, forinstance). Chimps without language training couldmaster this task only so long as the choice objectsthey had to select from were similar to the testobject. Interestingly, Premack found that hislanguage-trained chimp had no difficulty with arelated concept that proves very difficult forchildren: conservation of volume. Young childrenjudge the amount of liquid in a glass or the massof clay in a lump by its height or length; thusthey behave as though there is more water in atall, thin glass than in a short, squat tumbler,even if they have seen each filled from identicalcontainers of liquid. The language-trained chimp (16 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 184. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6tested on this task required no instruction: fromthe outset she recognized the two amounts as beingthe same. To be fair, though, this chimp was nearly20 years old at the time, and she had had plenty ofopportunity to learn the basic facts of fluidphysics before testing ever began.Finally, Premack has taught language-trainedchimps to complete cause-and-effect sentences ofthe form "whole apple plus X produces cut apple,"offering three objects (a bowl of water, a knife,and a pencil, for instance) as possibilities for X;in other tests, the goal was to supply the finalitem, as in "dry sponge plus bowl of water producesY." The language-trained chimp mastered these taskswith a minimum of training; untrained chimpsfailed. (19)Clearly, advanced apes have extensive latent languagecapabilities, and even what would have to be called acapability for logical reasoning, and one wonders what mightbe developed by these animals by the training of a hundredgenerations of chimps, first by human instructors but laterby cultural transmission. Unfortunately such experiments aredifficult to carry out without access to a time machine, andphysicists seem loathe to provide us with either a theory orthe technique for constructing one. But extensiveexperimentation attempting to use psychedelic drugs asfacilitators for this process are called for, and might wellreveal a facilitation, perhaps cumulative, for the animalsrapid overcoming of sophiolysis and resultant achievement ofquantum leaps in their cognitive development. Againunfortunately, government restrictions on psychedelicresearch, and especially a strong reluctance for scientiststo engage in research with such "discredited drugs of abuse"make it certain that such work will not soon be attempted.Perhaps the absurdity of my comment on time machines willcall attention to the even greater absurdity of theimpossibility of undertaking, in the present social,political, and scientific climate, even the most elementaryof psychedelic research projects.Gould and Gould continue with a few careful commentsabout what the chimpanzee research might indicate, and (17 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 185. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6certainly caution is necessary when research has barelybegun in a field. But the evidence outlined above, if notyet sufficient for other conclusions, clearly demonstratesthe validity of the concept of excess cognitive capacity andthe sophiolytic instinct. Yet leaving the model at the stageof postulation of yet another mysterious instinct withoutphysiological basis would not have amounted to much morethan another instance of New-Age technobabble if thefacilitating neurocognitive mechanisms for its operationcould not be found or hypothesized.The next stage of my model-building toward thepsychedelic theory therefore involved an attempt to see howthe sophiolytic instinct might actually operate on aphysiological level. The fact that it seemed to be such animportant instinct hinted that a fundamental operation ofthe nervous system might produce what at first would be seenas an instinct, much as the discovery of fundamentalneurological operations had elaborated the nature of suchformer "instincts" as those for hunger, thirst, orbreathing. The idea that instincts were essentially habits,or exhibited themselves as such, and the realization thatthe implementation of a habit could only be using thecontents of long-term memory in an unconscious way, led tothe models described in chapters three and four. Thesemodels were then seen to have a wide explanatory poweracross a range of phenomena, as my examples in thesechapters showed. Thus the sophiolytic instinct became theprimary cognitive operation of the nervous system of alladvanced animal life, the habit routine search function. Nowit was no longer necessary to posit a skeuomorphic instinct,of mysterious origin and operation, to see how the resultthat such an entity would produce was instead brought aboutby a normal brain operation utilizing brain areas common toall mammals right back to the most primitive.The sophiolytic instinct thus turned out to be merely adescriptive artifact resulting from the way animal nervoussystems have evolved to operate, the HRS system as theprimary cognitive operation, and the requirement ofactivation of the SD (significance detection) system,dependent on unusual ENV (environmental) events, foroverruling of the HRS patterns as templates for thinking2and behavior. As to the question of why evolution produced anervous system that detected, not reality directly, but a (18 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 186. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6representation of current reality drawn from memory datathrough the process of HRS, I think that it can be seen thatat each stage of animal evolution, the former type ofnervous system would always lend a greater survival valuethan the latter. With the very first organisms that becamecapable of "taking a decision", it seems to me that suchdecision taking should be a far more efficient anddependable process if it were based on habit rather thanfresh analysis of the entire environmental input which, at aminimum, would require far more time and "brain power". Thuswe can see the normal and necessary parameters of evolutionas the factor which has produced the "sophiolytic instinct"which is the "suppresser of creativity", the characteristicthat we humans are still very much slaves to in lieu ofactive, strenuous and constant striving to free ourselvesfrom our in-built "narrow-mindedness". Needless to say, itis my opinion that the judicious use of psychedelic drugs toaid in this effort is precisely the Rx that is called for,just as it has been for the ancient Greeks at Eleusis, forthe Native Americans, for so many other tribes down throughhistory.References(1) The term "proto-human" is intended to denoteanatomically modern Homo sapiens, before any significantcultural attributes had yet appeared. Anatomically modernhominids probably go back 150,000 years or more, yet theinitial stages of development of culturally modern manoccupied a very brief period, between ca. 50,000 to 30,000years ago, the Upper Paleolithic. (back)(2) At roughly the same time of my own musings about earlyman, and unbeknown to me, Terence McKenna was writing abouthis own evolutionary hypothesis. It was first outlined in apaper Mushrooms and Evolution (personal communication 1988),and later developed in his popular books including Food ofthe Gods (Bantam 1992). (back)(3) William James, The Principles of Psychology Vol. 2, (19 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 187. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6authorized Dover edition of 1950 p383. (back)(4) "Rapid" on an evolutionary scale, i.e., perhaps on theorder of ten to fifty thousand years, whereas normalevolutionary changes, especially important ones, are ingeneral thought to take far longer. (back)(5) Nicholas Humphrey, in A History of the Mind (p196)introduces the use of the term in the present context, andadds that such features are "no longer subject to selectionon utilitarian grounds". (back)(6) Such as the case of the Koala Bear and other examplesdescribed by Arthur Koestler in The Ghost in the Machine,Chapter XII. (back)(7) Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, RandomHouse, 1972, Part I, "Metalogues". (back)(8) The Oxford Companion to the Mind, ibid., "Instinct"p374. (back)(9) From the foregoing, instinct thus seems a mere label forphenomena which have not yet been explained on a morereductionist level. But perhaps there is a more hopefulfuture for the term, and phenomena of behavior andvariations thereof which can profit from a new conception ofthe term. Recent advances in the science of chaos andcomplexity might suggest that at least some instincts, thosenot explainable in simple physiological terms for instance,might be something like state attractors for behaviorpatterns, analogous to the attractors seen in other complexadaptive systems. See for example Complexity, Life at theEdge of Chaos, Roger Lewin, MacMillan 1992, especially theexample on page 176, and also The Origins of Order, StuartKauffman, Oxford University Press 1993. An instinct seen asa biological state attractor for behavior would be more likea mathematical function than some undefined "innate drive"supposedly hidden away in an organisms "genes", and thisbehavioral attractor would guide the formation of habitroutines in an individual animal. Under the influence ofsuch a function, habit routines in different animals of the (20 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 188. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6same group or species would be very similar, but yet showthe small variations commonly seen in instinctual behavior.The idea of instinct as a probabilistic state attractor forthe formation of habit routine is perhaps only a more moderndescription of William James idea that "most instincts areimplanted for the sake of giving rise to habits, and that,this purpose accomplished, the instinctsthemselves...consequently fade away." (The Principles ofPsychology, ibid., vol. 2, p402). Since my conception of thesophiolytic instinct is reducible to the operation of brainsystems however, these speculations would not be of use tothe present work, and I will leave their development forsome future project. (back)(10) The "dual characteristic" might at first seem to betautological: a "reserve" capacity would necessarily implythe selective or only occasional use of that capacity,otherwise it would not be "in reserve". But if weconcentrate first on the aspect of suppression, and then seethat this is only an introductory and oblique way ofunderstanding what an important cognitive system of thebrain is naturally producing, and further, that other brainmechanisms allow the over-ruling of the first system, thenwe see that the tautology is merely the result of arudimentary description of the overall phenomena. Here againis illustrated how an introductory model, primitive and notvery useful in itself, can lead nevertheless to moreadvanced models overcoming the original limitations. (back)(11) James L. & Carol Grant Gould, The Animal Mind,Scientific American Library 1994. (back)(12) Donald R. Griffin, Animal Minds, The University ofChicago Press 1992. (back)(13) Richard Byrne, The Thinking Ape, Evolutionary Originsof Intelligence, Oxford University Press 1995. (back)(14) Griffin, ibid., p6-7 (back)(15) Byrne, ibid., p86-87 (back) (21 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 189. The Center of the Universe Chapter 6(16) from: Growing Points in Ethology, (1976), P.P.G.Bateson and R.A. Hinde, eds., p307, Cambridge UniversityPress. (back)(17) See the account in Gould & Gould, ibid., pp183ff.(back)(18) Gould & Gould ibid., pp186-187. (back)(19) Gould & Gould ibid., pp189-190. (back)Chapter 7 | Table of ContentsSend e-mail to The Psychedelic Library: psd_lib@druglibrary.orgThe Psychedelic Library | Books Menu Page (22 of 22) [5/1/2002 12:46:56 PM]
  • 190. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7The Psychedelic Library HomepageBooks Menu PageThe Center of the UniverseWilliam S. Moxley7. EvolutionDrugs will not be brought under control until society itself changes,enabling men to use them as primitive man did;welcoming the visions they provided not as fantasies,but as intimations of a different, and important, level of reality.—Brian Inglis (1)EARLY MANS RELATIONSHIP with the psychedelic plants hediscovered was a symbiotic one. These plants, which had longbefore evolved biochemical mechanisms to produce substanceswhose ultimate, if incidental function was not to berealized for millions of years, suddenly provided the keywhereby the very process of evolution might overcome a mostformidable barrier. Homo sapiens, the (potentially) Wise Manwas born, and dozens of obscure species of fungi, floweringvines, roots, seeds, trees and cacti, became reveredpartners with him to produce an experiment in evolutionwhich would truly be a final experiment: Either it wouldeventually succeed in producing an enlightened world societyin which the rule of the Perennial Philosophy occurred notthrough force of authority but simple good sense, enablinghumankind to undertake a conscious and deliberatelyecological stewardship of his small corner of the universe,or it would end in the probable destruction of all advancedlife on the planet. There would be no turning back once the (1 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 191. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7barrier of the sophiolytic instinct had been breached.The symbiotic partnership at first enabled a relativelysmall population of Early Man to prosper, to migrate rapidlyfrom his birthplace to all the corners of the earth, toinitiate a veritable explosion of culture wherever he went,and to displace all more primitive species and races ofarchaic man, the descendants of Homo erectus which hadmigrated out of Africa eons before. But as the experimentprogressed and culture, technology, and thus poweraccumulated, repudiation of the beneficial symbiosissometimes occurred in the various regions of earlycivilization. Unfortunately it is a simple fact thataccumulated power and technology may, with the greatest ofease, be used with malign intent, and thus be used by theignorant to enforce their folly on the wise. Wisdom is bydefinition incapable of using force, technological force atleast, to assuage ignorance. Advantageous Ends are simplynot obtainable by Deplorable Means. As the first organizedsocieties grew and accumulated technology, some inevitablysuccumbed to the temptations which occur all too easily tothe ignorant, including the subjugation and eradication ofneighbors whose continuing wisdom threatened their powerstructures. The catalytic factor which had made culture andtechnology possible in the first place was, again and again,ignored, and one by one, such societies declined and wereextinguished, their achievements to be forgotten along withtheir perversions. And so the story continues.In the early years of my work, and with the spirit ofthe 1960s still fresh, it seemed that it was yet possibleto ameliorate by stages and eventually reverse thedestructive momentum that had been building for centuries inthe most modern and recent, and world-encompassing ofcivilizations, Western Civilization (for want of a betterterm). The Twentieth Century had provided horrors which werethe logical extrapolation and epitome of many centuries ofpsychedelic ignorance, and there was something new: thehorrors of the Twentieth Century were in essence terminalones for they could no longer be exceeded without aresulting collapse of the civilization which had broughtthem about, and the novelty was that this time, the collapsewould preclude the possibility of picking up the pieces oncethe ignorance and stupidity of the powerful had run itscourse. But having been born into, and grown up within the (2 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 192. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7best and the worst that civilization had ever offered, itwas natural to hope that the good could be preserved, thebad at least slowly corrected, a small group of wise personsbegin to re-establish the ancient symbiosis at firststealthily and cautiously, the resulting new vision becomingeventually an irresistible ground-swell. Today I am not sosure.The scenes of my several attempts to be a modern shamanfor the tribe of Western Man provided contradictory andparadoxical results. In one sense, I was attempting for thefirst time a "scientific" rather than ritual and intuitiveapproach to shamanism. The teaching and experience of thepsychedelic state was not to be interpreted, as in previoussocieties, in terms of myth and ritual, but in terms of atruly scientific understanding of the eternal religiousquestions concerning origins, destinies, and meanings of thelife-process. This understanding would extend even to thebiological processes of the human nervous system whichcorresponded to the psychedelic state of awareness. Itseemed possible for the first time to answer many of thequestions for which Early Man could only compose tales andenact symbolic ritual, it seemed that we might finally graspwhere the Essential Mystery of life lay. We would be able tosee how all the religions, all the ancient philosophies,were describing a truth with means inadequate to the task,so that their result was not wrong but merely incomplete,each description like that of one of the blind men exploringsome local region of that famous elephant. Now for the firsttime we seemed to have all the tools necessary to step backand view the beast all-at-once, and use the former limitedtechniques to confirm what we now could take in at a glance.Another important difference in what modern "scientific"shamanism was attempting was that the psychedelic experiencehad in the past been a factor in human evolution, whereasnow we were attempting to make it an essential part of ourtechnology, a guide enabling the wise use of thattechnology. It was obvious that we could not achieve anevolutionary effect on such a rapid timescale, we could notexpect to recapitulate the phylogeny of the effects ofpsychedelic experience on Early Man with the ontogeny ofmodern psychedelic research. The new function of psychedelicexperience, although helping the individual to overcome thedisadvantages and limitations of habit-routine governed (3 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 193. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7existence, just like it had done for Early Man, was not thistime a causative factor in the establishment of culture andcivilization, but would instead have to correct apsychedelically long-ignorant civilization from the path ofself-destruction. Such an accomplishment had never beforebeen realized, at least not on the global scale requiredtoday.The intent of this approach was therefore to be directednot just to the benefit of a local tribe as in former ages,or even the now global tribe of psychedelic seekers, but ata corrective experience for the evolutionary life processitself. It seemed therefore that we were involved with anevolution of the function of psychedelic experience. If atfirst the symbiosis had made possible the great experiment,its role was now to help confirm the inevitable showdownimplicit in such an experiment: given the awakening ofmankind from the slumber of animal existence, an awakeningin which man acquires the creative ability, the sense ofright and wrong, and all the other God-like attributes, itis inevitable that such a gift will be repudiated, and manassume for whatever reason that he is self-made, not born ofthe primitive elements of the earth nor of his animalancestors, a pretense of omnipotence. The result of thisgreat experiment would thus usher in an age in whichhumankind in its entirety would finally live up to itspotential, or perish. If psychedelic ignorance had in thepast contributed to the demise of localized civilizations,this time the fate of the entire planet, and all lifethereupon, was at stake.Although the energies which I set in motion in thisproject I know have reached a great many people, andprovided a catalyst to the more positive of thesepossibilities, the scenarios within which I have had tooperate never seemed to take on a continuing spirit of thecooperativeness and enlightened action that might beexpected from a knowledge of the intent of such a project.The chocolate-covered placebo fiasco was neither the firstnor last of the scenes filled with trivial disputes, cross-purposes, deceptions and dishonesty, scenes certain todetract from the business of effective shamanism. Businesswas, of course, one of the problems.Ideally, the enlightening medicine should be free; toattach an earthly value to a sacrament can only devalue the (4 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 194. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7meaning of the situation in which it is given. But we co-conspirators could neither afford to work "for free" in oursociety of institutionalized greed euphemistically calledcompetition, nor could we expect others to do so. And theprohibitionary restrictions of the late 1960s ensured thatpeople who wished to spread the knowledge of psychedelicwisdom would often have to deal with unscrupulousintermediaries who would as soon deal cocaine or othercontraband. Cash flow was the sacred element for such asthese. And paradoxically, the prospective psychedelicinitiate also required that a price be paid for the potion,so paradigmatic was the principle of all things having theirprice in this "capitalistic" society. The power of shamanismin this mundane world had become in one way like that of thepsychiatrist, the effectiveness of his treatment having beenshown by statistical analysis to be proportional to the sizeof his fee!In attempting a modern shamanism I was also at a greatdisadvantage not having the direct contact with tribalmembers which had always been an essential feature of theshamanic art in former societies. Rather than directguidance, the instructions that went with the potion had totraverse the several hand-to-hand transactions betweenmyself and the final recipient. I also had to assume thatpublic information such as that in the published works ofHuxley, Watts, and the many other gurus of our time would bestudied and employed. In the modern situation, it was alsoobvious that there could be no public pronouncement of theintent of such a project in guiding societies to a new andecological direction, although many authors had suggested asmuch, at least obliquely. Personally, it would have beenabsurd to proclaim that this was my intention, not least forthe danger of intervention by the enforcers of theunenforceable. Today, having years ago retired from anyactive continuation of my former activities, it has becomepossible to publish an analysis of the intentions andparticulars of that handful of persons, the modern-dayshamans who were instrumental to the early years of thepsychedelic movement.It is not hard to understand why, with theseretrospective views now available, that of the variousscenes and collaborations of partners involved in theproject, the smaller and more improvisational efforts were (5 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 195. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7the more successful. The same seemed to be true of othergroups doing similar projects. Bigness was a certainharbinger of disaster. When big plans were made, largequantities of psychedelics produced, and sizable sumschanged hands, scenes collapsed, friends became enemies, orat least no longer friends, and those who, like myself,seemed to have an inner vision of the overall purpose of theproject encountered the most unlikely coincidences which setin motion the beginnings of a new collaboration to attemptagain that which had just failed. Many times thecoincidences which arrived, in the course of my own shamanicjourney, were so unusual and unbelievable that I justignored them; it would have been pointless to speculate asto the origin or cause of such unlikely events.The overall lesson that was illustrated by myexperiences with several groups of collaborators was that amodern technological and scientific approach to shamanism,although rewarding for individuals and small groups able toexist on the periphery of modern "bigness", was not going torestore the equilibrium between man and nature within theconfines of the present social reality of WesternCivilization. The modern and artificial distinction of manbeing apart from nature seemed to be a direct result ofpsychedelic ignorance, and the "bigness" of the modernsystem of life exaggerated the distinction so much so thatthe ecology of the life of early psychedelic man simplycould not be re-created within our modern system. Henceevery attempt to produce sizable quantities of psychedelicsinevitably met a swift retribution; and each time thereoccurred a new wave of popularity of psychedelic use whichattracted public attention, that use seemed to degeneratequickly into misuse, and the majority of those seekers losesight of the spirit of their original awakening, just as hadentire civilizations before them.The tribal nature of the societies of early man hadprovided the ideal milieu for beneficial psychedelic use,and the nature of our own society now prevented its ownconversion to a more ecological, satisfying, andpsychedelically-educated way of life. The only project thatmade sense therefore, was to attempt to influence only smallgroups of people, individuals who would themselves integratetheir psychedelic experience by blending in discreetly withour modern insanity to influence again only a small circle (6 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 196. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7of friends, keeping a spark alive and teaching valuableactivities that would be necessary for a future in which theinevitable if slow collapse of modern civilization intochaos would eventually restore regional and small, "tribal"societies to their former importance. Whether that futurewas to be a time of great pain and destruction, orrelatively benign, no-one could hope to predict. Certainly,psychedelic education would help to promote a beneficialtransition and prepare those so educated for the inevitablechanges that lay ahead. The psychedelically-educated wouldhopefully be able to provide the wisdom necessary to guideothers through a transition that will certainly bedifficult, yet perhaps not cataclysmic if the goal of modernshamanism were to be adequately realized in time.It has long been the accepted wisdom among most scientists,as well as the common mythology of public perception, thatthe rise of tool-making, i.e., technology, was an important,if not defining characteristic of the evolutionary processconnecting advanced apes to Early Man. Specifically, it haslong been hypothesized that Darwinian selection forincreasingly intelligent hominids came about throughselection for the best abilities to make and use tools. Inthe extreme, at least before recent studies of tool use andespecially tool-making in some animal species, thetechnology of tools was thought to be a primary definingcharacteristic separating Homo sapiens from the animalkingdom. Also among extremities of interpretation has beenthe idea that tool-making and early technology might evenhave been the force driving the extraordinarily rapidincrease in the size of the primate brain, from the firsthominids of two or three million years ago with a brainvolume of about 400 cubic centimeters, to modern man with abrain volume more than three times this figure.It is understandably important to science to explainthis evolution in brain size, for it has often been notedthat, on an evolutionary timescale, the rapidity of thechange was practically unprecedented. Since the middlePleistocene, about a half-million years ago, the rate ofincrease was particularly rapid, so much so that it has evenbeen suggested that the enlargement might actually have been (7 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 197. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7somewhat pathological, leading to a being whoseirrationality and capability for wanton destructivenessequals or excels his creativity. Certainly, the history ofthe Twentieth Century has been a pinnacle of bothtendencies, and also requires an explanation, and aresulting solution, if we wish to ensure our futuresurvival. But even though we may have vestigial organs suchas the appendix, and "skeuomorphic instincts" as I havediscussed, blaming our present situation on purported faultsof evolution is neither productive nor scientificallylogical. The mere proposal of a hypothesis that we have toomuch brain power for our own good goes a long way to suggestthat we must therefore have the brain power to correct anysuch tendency to let foolishness dominate our lives;scapegoating is seldom a productive hypothesis.It now appears that the tool-making hypotheses also haveresulted less from a careful analysis of the data than fromsuperficial concurrence of two tendencies. We have complextechnology, we have large brains, animals have neither.Seeing that there are facilitations and parallels betweentechnology and brain power does not, however, provide morethan circumstantial evidence for causation. And recent worknow makes it extremely likely that the ability to producetechnology, it has been called object-intelligence for wantof a better term, has been a development that has "piggy-backed" upon a much more important development inintelligence, that which is required for social transaction.A recent collection of the important papers providing thefoundation for the theory of Machiavellian Intelligence hasbeen published as a book (2), and I will not present anextensive argument here for its well-founded conclusions.One quotation should suffice to illustrate that evenanthropologists such as Thomas Wynn, who might be surmisedto have a "vested interest" in the importance of tool-useand making in the development of early hominids, has whole-heartedly agreed with the new view:Given the evidence of brain evolution and thearchaeological evidence of technological evolution,I think it fair to eliminate from consideration thesimple scenario in which ability to make better andbetter tools selected for human intelligence. Atalmost no point in hominid evolution was there even (8 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 198. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7a provocative correlation. The earliest knownhominids, Australopithecus afarensis, had a brainlarger than an apes of equivalent size, but as faras we know, no greater reliance on tools. EarlyHomo at 2 Ma [million years ago] had a much moreencephalized brain, but the tools and even thecontext of use were not beyond the capacity ofmodern apes. Homo erectus did possess technologythat was outside the range of ape behaviour, but bythis time, 1.5 Ma, much of the encephalization ofthe Homo line had already occurred. In sum, most ofthe evolution of the human brain, the presumedanatomy of intelligence, had occurred prior to anyevidence for technological sophistication and, as aconsequence, it appears unlikely that technologyitself played a central role in the evolution ofthis impressive human ability. (3)As one of the contributors to the book remarked, Wynnspaper "is a bombshell to the older Tools makyth Manview... Wynn throws the question of the cause of human brainsize back into the realm of the invisible: either the socialrelationships or the lifestyle which produced technology,not the technology itself." (4)The conclusions of the Machiavellian Intelligencehypothesis fit well with my own theory, and lead to the mostprobable evolutionary scenario for the influence ofpsychedelic plants in the emergence of modern humans. Thearguments of the hypothesis show that the complexity oflogical operations required for social interaction in largegroups of individuals is far greater than that required fortool use or making, or for that matter any other activity ofprimate species. (5) Studies of societies of monkeys andapes in both natural and controlled environments stronglysupport the theoretical arguments. The brain size of variousspecies of modern primates, for example, has been closelycorrelated with the size and complexity of the social groupsof the various species studied. The complexity of socialinteraction would increase geometrically with the number ofpossible interrelations between animals in a groupconsisting of three or more generations of relatively long-lived animals. Complex dominance relationships, alliances, (9 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 199. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7group undertakings such as efficient foraging and hunting,lengthy childhood, and relatively constant possibility ofmating activity add to the complexity. The demands ofincreasing social complexity was a development requiring farfaster biological evolution of the equipment whichfacilitated it than any previous set of demands such as tooluse and manufacture, climate change, interactions with otherspecies, or other hypothesized evolutionary pressures. Thusit is reasonable that the rapid increase in brain size amongprimates requires no other explanation, despite itsunprecedented speed.The proposal of early influence of psychedelic plants onhominid evolution as a factor in brain enlargement (betweenone and five million years ago), as suggested by TerenceMcKenna, is therefore difficult to support. Criticism ofMcKennas theory as presented in his Food of the Gods hasbeen sometimes dismissive, (6) and although I find much ofvalue in the book, I would have to agree that his proposalsthat psychedelics were "mutation-causing" agents that"directly influenced the rapid reorganization of the brainsinformation-processing capacities" are unsupported byevidence, and unnecessary in light of the much morereasonable Machiavellian Intelligence hypothesis. Thetemptation to explain the rapid evolution of the primatebrain has led more than one author to error, however. WhatMcKenna overlooked was a much more recent period ofprehistory in which a proposed psychedelic influence fits awide range of facts like a glove. In the preceding chaptersI have outlined many of these facts, and it remains now toshow at what period an intervention of psychedelic influenceis most likely in consideration of several areas ofknowledge about fossils, human genetics, climate changes andcatastrophic events, and other sources of information. Thenecessity for psychedelic intervention has already beenestablished in previous chapters, the question of when suchintervention occurred is the present concern.Before presenting possible evolutionary scenarioshowever, let me explore further the idea of socialcomplexity and its relation to the habit routine model ofcognitive operation I have proposed earlier. I stated thatthe power of the habit routine cognitive system would haveincreased with the increasing complexity of animal species,and would have reached its summit in proto-man. The (10 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 200. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7Machiavellian Intelligence hypothesis and its proposedincreasing social complexity fits perfectly with my surmise.Increased social complexity and the evolution of a large,expensive to support nervous system go hand in hand withextreme reliance on habit routine generation as the primarycognitive mechanism. One major consideration is that a largebrain requires an excellent and copious diet, a requirementthat would be fulfilled best in a social group able tocooperate on the highest levels to procure and share a widevariety of nutritious foods. An ability to avoid toxicplants as well would depend on complex social relationshipsas I will show in a moment.It might be said that all these requirements would be anargument against the use of psychedelic agents in suchsocial groups, an argument with which I entirely agree! Theincreasing social complexity and food requirements arearguments for the increasing power of sophiolytic tendenciesand habits that would prevent any cognitive breakthrough tousing the new brain for purposes other than the maintenanceof social order and survival, a significant strengthening ofthe habit routine system. Experimentation with new foods,such as psychedelic plants, would not in normalcircumstances have been a common, or even likely occurrence.Two quotations concerning the diet and food sources forprimates will illustrate the point, the first quotationconcerning the necessity for a rich and complex diet, thesecond on the ways this is fulfilled while yet preventingexposure to toxic (or presumably psychedelic) items:Monkeys and apes have to balance their diet, whichthey do by wide ranging and yet selective eating;this is nicely illustrated by a study of Sri Lankanmonkeys, Macaca sinica, by Marcel Hladik. Bycareful observation and quantification of theirfeeding, and phytochemical analysis of their foodplants, he was able to show that for thesefrugivorous monkeys, fruit was always moreabundant than they could ever need. However, themonkeys had large day ranges and occupied a homerange too large for efficient defense as aterritory. Why? Their ranging was apparently aconsequence of a need to eat fungi, rotten wood,insects, bark, shoots-a whole range of items that (11 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 201. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7allowed them to make up the protein, vitamin, andmineral deficiencies of the energy-rich ripe fruit(Hladik 1975). The need for a balanced diet forcesmany primates to eat items that are hard to find.In studying baboon ecology, I was continuallyamazed at the subtle cues that they must use toidentify some of their plant foods; at the mostharsh time of year, the main survival foods wereall either underground, or tiny and inconspicuous.(7)Mother primates of several species pull theirinfants away from novel objects (two species ofmacaque), or remove foods from infants if the foodis not part of the diet (chimpanzee). Caro andHauser suggest that the latter might beaccidental, but having seen it happen ingorillas, I doubt this (Anne Russon, who has notedthe same in orang-utans, shares my scepticism). Aninfant gorilla was fiddling with and chewing at aleaf (of a species not normally eaten), facing awayfrom the mother who was eating herself, when themother broke off her feeding, reached over theinfants head and took the leaf, dropping it wellout of the infants reach. In the case of achimpanzee watched by Mariko Hiraiwa-Hasegawa(1986), the mother not only did the same, butsystematically picked every other leaf of the samespecies in the infants reach and placed her footfirmly on the pile of leaves! But in any of thesecases, the function is unclear: does the behaviourserve to teach, or simply to remove infants fromdanger? (8)It has been proposed (9) that the dietary requirementsof animals with complex nervous systems was itself a factorin the evolution of hominid intelligence, the increasingneed for a high-quality diet selecting for advances inintelligence and larger brains, which itself would demandfurther dietary improvements. This must certainly be thecase, but I think that the methods used by advancing speciesto procure better and better diets are themselves aspects of (12 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 202. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7social behavior, and thus fall under the hypotheses ofMachiavellian Intelligence. It was only through theadvancing complexity of social life that the dietaryrequirements could be met, either for the actual procurementand sharing of foodstuffs or for the transmission of theknowledge of how to obtain them, and how to avoid seriouserrors such as ingesting toxic items.As I have just suggested, if increased social complexityand the need for a correspondingly complex diet to satisfythe needs of a large brain indicate anything, they wouldseem to argue against much use of psychedelic plants inadvanced apes and proto-man. Indeed, an individual whoaccidentally ingested a plant which disrupted his functionand place in such a social system would most likely losethat place, and possibly be ostracized and excluded from thegroup. This is the substance of Andrew Weils comments onMcKennas hypothesis (footnote 6). Psychedelic influence onH. erectus and even more remote human predecessors is ofcourse possible, as McKennas model suggests, but I believeit was unlikely, and if so, unimportant to either social orneurological evolution. Certainly, evidence is very sparseindeed, and there are important counter-arguments to beconsidered: For example, H. erectus lived on 3 continents invarious habitats and through several periods of disruptiveclimatic change for a period of 1 or 2 million years, yetremained in a relatively unchanging state, with few signs ofsignificant cultural or technological innovation. This iscertainly a sign of normal, slow evolution, not psychedelicevolution. By contrast, the culture of early Greece, withpsychedelic influence, advanced dramatically from a quiteprimitive state to an advanced civilization in the space ofa thousand years or so. In addition, the progression fromAustralopithecus to erectus to sapiens involved manydifferent anatomical developments, not only brain size andreorganizations, but speech-enabling changes to the larynx,(10) even an enlargement of nerve canals in the spinesuggested as facilitating the precise diaphragm controlneeded for speech, (11) and many other anatomical changes.This is certainly an argument for slow gradual evolution,not psychedelically-enabled or "psychedelic-mutagenic"evolution as suggested by McKenna.From the preceding arguments concerning socialstability, we may thus surmise that the influence of (13 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 203. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7psychedelics on our immediate ancestors must have alsoinvolved some other simultaneous and important changes orevents which helped to suppress the described tendencies togreater and greater dependence on habit routine and thesophiolytic mode. Some unusual change must have occurred toallow and ensure that psychedelic use would occur on asignificant scale and would rapidly and irreversiblytransform the habits of the hominid group that was theprecursor of modern humans.It is necessary to point out, however, that the verybrain changes which facilitated social evolution and apowerful habit routine cognitive system would be the samechanges that would make an eventual psychedelic interventionmost effective: A greatly expanded cortex to allow thestorage of long-lasting and complex memory data used forhabit routine search, would also implement creativity thatwas far more than random trial and error, creativity thatcould intentionally produce wide-ranging positive results:we would not expect attempts at creativity by a small-brained animal to result in much more than increased riskfor that animal. A greatly expanded portion of the cortexinvolved with "association processing" allowing the assemblyof habit routines of a multisensory and intentionalcomplexity, would also facilitate highly effectivecreativity. And a greatly expanded frontal cortex, the seatof working memory and other advanced cognitive abilities,facilitating habit routine based upon simultaneous nestedlevels of intentionality, would likewise be instrumental toa being requiring the frequent use of improvisation insituations which involved simultaneous trains of logicaloperations. The same nervous system improvements that enableadvanced habit routine generation and use also provide forpsychedelically-enlightened operation that is productive andcreative, and not just hazardous to an animal. Here we havean additional argument against the influence of psychedelicagents at an early, small-brained stage of hominidevolution: psychedelics would not have "worked" on animalswith limited brain capabilities. We might say thatpsychedelics havent really "worked" on humans either,considering our backsliding tendencies to ignore (anderadicate) psychedelic tribal wisdom that has accumulatedfor millennia. The present state of Western Civilization inthis "century of holocaust" is a direct result of that (14 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 204. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7ignorance, and if it should lead to the scenarios ofdevastation and collapse which have all too often beenpredicted by some, we will have to conclude that the greatexperiment, the psychedelic intervention, will indeed havebeen a failure.One further argument will suffice to eliminate fromconsideration an early psychedelic influence on hominidevolution. The role of language in hominid development hasbeen another hotly-debated topic of late. It is mycontention that the psychedelic state of consciousness wouldhave been of little or no value for an individual, and wouldhave provided no evolutionary breakthrough for a socialgroup which did not already have the benefit of complexlanguage abilities. Psychedelic use and its effects are mostvaluable as a cumulative phenomenon. The psychedelicexperience must not only be individually integrated butsocially integrated as well, if it is to provide a key torapid cultural advance. There must arise a "psychedelicculture" which is transmitted and developed from onegeneration to the next, and through which the beginnings ofshamanism can arise. Without symbolic language, it isdifficult to see how such a process might happen. Once afairly complex language ability had evolved, however, we mayimagine that psychedelic experience would have provided animpetus for further important language development intoabilities concerned with the expression of the abstract, themythical, the artistic, language capable of elaborating andtransmitting tradition, the hallmark of culture.Whereas written language is a cultural phenomenon whichmust be taught, (a child who is not taught to read and writewill certainly not pick up the ability spontaneously),spoken language is assimilated spontaneously. Spokenlanguage is a biologically-inherent feature of the humanbrain, a realization that became apparent to the linguistNoam Chomsky several decades ago. Steven Pinker, a formerstudent of Chomsky, has made several conclusions concerninglanguage and its evolution which are pertinent to ahypothesis of the time period in which psychedelic influencemight have played a role in human evolution. (12) On thestrength of much recent research, Pinker concludes that thefirst anatomically modern humans already spoke theequivalent of modern human language. Since language isintrinsic to the brain structures which produce and (15 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 205. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7interpret it, language must have co-evolved with thosestructures, and have been fully realized with the advent ofthe brain with which it co-evolved. Spoken language wastherefore not "invented" at a late stage of that evolution,(although reading and writing most certainly were). Sincelanguage is inherently a social phenomenon, this proposed co-evolution of brain and language fits nicely with theMachiavellian Intelligence hypothesis of brain advancesbeing driven by social requirements, including theadvancement of language capability.Pinker notes therefore that "language did not firstappear in the Upper Paleolithic beginning about 30,000 yearsago, contrary to claims frequently seen inarchaeological...and popular science treatments." (13) Theidea that psychedelics would not have "worked" on our small-brained forbears such as Australopithecus is supported bythe proposed necessity of the existence of complex languageas a precursor for the beneficial influence of psychedelics,and considerably narrows the time frame in which suchinfluence must have played its role. Using conclusions fromlinguistics and brain evolution, we see that such a timeframe should extend from about 150Ka to 50Ka (thousand yearsago). I shall further narrow this window of opportunity forpsychedelic influence in my arguments to follow. Theimportant conclusion which has just been developed is thatpsychedelic plants in the environment cannot have played anysignificant role in either the early development oflanguage, nor in the parallel development and tripling insize of the hominid brain during the period from about 3Mato the appearance of anatomically modern humans about 150Ka.Considering the importance of language in evolution, andthe importance of language for various modern arguments asto how the process of mans evolution took place, somefurther comments are appropriate which will tie togethersome ideas expressed in previous chapters with the task athand. It is widely hypothesized, quite correctly I believe,that major enhancements to spoken language occurred duringthe Upper Paleolithic with the appearance of anatomicallymodern hominids. As Pinker has noted, certain observers thuswish to believe that language itself was practically non-existent before this period. The argument of language beinginherent to the brain structures which produce it, andtherefore of the necessity that language co-evolved with (16 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 206. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7those brain structures is a powerful rebuttal of such ideas,but additional evidence also favors the co-evolution claim.As noted in the last chapter, rudimentary language abilitieshave now been definitively shown to exist in our closestrelative, the chimpanzee. It was also noted that languageabilities are not used by chimpanzees in the wild, but thefact that these primitive language capabilities exist at allmust indicate that rudimentary brain circuitry for producinglanguage nevertheless exists. If such circuitry was present,albeit in very primitive form, at the period of divergencebetween the Panidae and early hominids, it is unreasonableto assume that such circuitry might continue to evolve forthe next several million years, to be used suddenly at theUpper Paleolithic to produce complex language which had noprecedent whatsoever. The only argument here could be thatthese brain areas which later permitted spoken language wereall along used for another function altogether.Although I feel that chimpanzee language ability, andcertainly the arguments of Pinker and other linguists,strongly favor the continuous existence and development oflanguage throughout hominid development, the alternative useargument just cited brings us to another consideration whichis important to my theory. Referring back to figure 1 inchapter 3 and the associated text, it will be seen thataccording to my cognitive hypothesis, language is but one,if the most obvious and important, of the symbolizingfunctions of the thinking1-thinking2 conglomerate. In otherwords, language, the serial realization of thinking inabstract symbolic form, is not itself the material or mediumof the thought process until a late stage, and is notnecessarily a part of the thinking process at all. My modelis, of course, in contention with the majority of recentlyproposed cognitive models of the function and constructionof language, and I do not expect its easy acceptance: onlythe evidence of the many-sided picture that my theory ofpsychedelic experience presents might have the power toconvince scientists today that the cognitive model ofthinking1-thinking2 processes might have some generalapplicability. The neurologist Harry Jerison, for example,proposes that language itself is the medium of reflectivethought and imagery:"The role of language in communication first (17 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 207. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7evolved as a side effect in the construction ofreality," proposes Harry Jerison, a neurologist atthe University of California, Los Angeles, who hasmade a special study of brain evolution. "We canthink of language as being merely an expression ofanother neural contribution to the construction ofmental imagery." Brains throughout evolutionaryhistory have been shaped to construct an innerworld appropriate to a species daily life. Inamphibians, vision provides the principal elementof that world; for reptiles, an acute sense ofsmell. For the earliest mammals, hearing wasadditionally important; and in primates, a melangeof sensory input creates a complete mental model ofexternal reality. Humans, says Jerison, have addeda further component: language, or more precisely,reflective thought and imagery. Thus equipped, thehuman mind creates an internal model of the worldthat is uniquely capable of representing and copingwith complex practical and social challenges. Innerreflection, not outer communication, was thefacility upon which natural selection worked,argues Jerison. Language was its medium-and, at thesame time, an efficient tool for communication.This hypothesis now has wide support. (14)Too bad. I believe the hypothesis that language is themedium of the construction of mental models of reality, ismisguided. But it wouldnt be the first instance in thehistory of science where the experts were wrong. Firstly, asstated here, the model implies that without language, theconstruction of mental models of the world, by animals forinstance, is minimal. Yet the habit routine cognitive modelshows that the habit routine, constructed by thinking1processes and analyzed by thinking2 processes, is the mentalmodel of reality we are concerned with, and that thetransformation into language or other forms of symbolizationis a subsidiary, secondary, and non-essential processoccurring in thinking2. As I have argued previously, thehabit routine system has been the constant companion ofanimal life from the beginning, it is the primary functionof all animal nervous systems, not just advanced ones such (18 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 208. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7as our own. It is interesting how close the above quotationcomes to the idea of the habit routine model as themechanism of construction of the "mental model of externalreality," ("a melange of sensory input creates a completemental model of external reality") but then misses thenecessary conclusion. Jerisons model would have thesymbolization function as the primary cognitive operation,but that would require that the "raw material" ofsymbolization be the primary sensory information rather thanthe generated habit routine, and a great deal of evidence,summarized in previous chapters, argues against this model.Language is not at all the medium of the thinkingprocesses which precedes symbolization, which is a resonanceto the habit routine and its analysis. Language as it isrealized, or other forms of symbolization such as theproduction of gesture or music, perhaps also the expressionof emotion via facial expression and general posture, areserial processes, yet the habit routine, the internal modelof the world, is iconic. It is a Gestalt, a constantlychanging and updated holistic entity not requiringelaboration through a serial process of point for pointrepresentation with abstract symbols as does language. Ourbasic thinking process is in terms of icons or Gestalts,holoprojections, which later, and sometimes verylaboriously, may find only incomplete and unsatisfactoryexpression through the symbolization processes. Considerthis statement by Albert Einstein, describing the way heconsidered his creative thinking to occur:"The words of the language, as they are written orspoken, do not seem to play any role in mymechanism of thought. The psychical entities in mycase are . . . visual and some of muscular type.Conventional words and other signs have to besought for laboriously only in a secondary stage."Thus many recent views of language and thinking miss theessential fact that the great part of what constitutesthinking, both conscious and pre-conscious as with theconstruction of the habit routine, has nothing to do withthe serial process of spoken language at all. The creationof the mental model of reality is not "linguistic" except in (19 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 209. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7the sense that we might define a new type of "language"constituted not of words and the rules for seriallyconnecting them, but of the very iconic Gestalts that arecreated by habit routine search. The evolution of theability to produce the habit routine Gestalt startedprobably with the very first animals, as I have discussed,but the evolution of spoken language only began much later.The two evolutionary processes are very far apart indeed, asare the brain processes which produce them.The problem of the modern understanding of these factsprobably arises from the nature of the methods of modernWestern science itself. It is, above all, a descriptiveundertaking, and therefore a serial process rather than anexperiential, iconic one. So in attempting to"scientifically explain" many of our cognitive abilitiesusing descriptive language, we must necessarily let serialsymbolization rule our paradigm to such an extent that weignore certain aspects of the ongoing iconic thinkingprocess which is the seed of our explanations. Thus thepossible Gestalts which would themselves, if we became awareof them, allow us an experience of the nature of the iconicthinking processes which precede symbolization, of how theyprovide the basis for symbolization, are ignored by therequirements of our paradigm to provide only serialexplanation: these ignored Gestalts, the iconic habitroutines which would give a view of the nearly invisibleunderlying thinking processes, do not activate thesignificance detection system piloted by the locuscoeruleus, because we have ruled them out from considerationby the programming of working memory with the specifics ofour paradigm, this is the conscious feedback process whichis an input, along with sensory information, to the habitroutine generation process in thinking1 (see again figure1). Except in the reflection of those unusually perceptiveand gifted individuals such as Einstein who have developedlife-long habits of looking for the significant in whateveryone else deems the routine, the iconic nature of basicthinking processes is therefore rendered invisible. As Ihave shown, of course, the psychedelic experience canproduce this very same result reliably and safely, althoughit requires considerable experience with the drugs tounderstand that this is what is happening, and to use theeffect to its potential. I might say, perhaps not too (20 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 210. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7ponderously I hope, that this entire book is thesymbolization in language of an iconic entity or Gestalt, a"mental model" of my theory that I have been slowlyconstructing over the years. I "know" full well its entirecontent and form, and yes, it seems to be visual and even"muscular" in a certain sense, but its translation intoserial language is another affair altogether, requiringentirely different types of effort than the construction ofthe informational entity which I am describing.Interestingly, the symbolization in language does have afeedback to the characteristics of the iconic Gestalt: thefine points of its significance, the small details of theinterrelations of its parts seem to be refined as theexperimental process of symbolization attempts to captureits essence in words.Other parts of my theory, such as the neuromechanics ofHRS, the cognitive operations mapped in figure 1, and other"pieces of the puzzle," are models, useful aids, heuristicdevices useful until better models come along, a developmentwhich must surely come to pass considering the speculativemethods which led to their proposal. But the suggestion ofan evolutionary scenario for human development attempts toestablish an actual series of events in history, if pre-history. Considering the very fragmentary evidence in thefossil record, and the indirect nature of other modernevidence to be described below, the chance for error inproposing the story of how Early Man made his way out ofEden is humbling. As we have seen above, the first theory ofpsychedelic evolution, that of McKenna, has suffered,perhaps terminally, from a dose of counterargument all tooeasily supplied by the critics.Much of McKennas book remains admirable however, forinstance his presentation of evidence indicating theprobable importance of psychedelic plants for the very earlytribal societies which lived on the Tassili Plateau ofsouthern Algeria, or Çatal Hüyük in central Anatolia. Theseare examples, along with ancient Greece and the EleusinianMysteries, which illustrate the rapid flowering of culturepossible in societies in which there is strong, if not (21 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 211. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7incontrovertible evidence of psychedelic use. The importanceof psychedelics for early man certainly suggests animportant evolutionary influence as well: the trick is todeduce, using a wide variety of ancient and modern evidence,when and where, and why that evolutionary influence mighthave taken place. Let me start by considering some modernreinterpretations of the fossil evidence which have recentlyreceived overwhelming support from one of sciences mostrecent and fascinating developments, molecular genetics.Chris Stringer, who is today the head of the HumanOrigins Group of the Natural History Museum in London,recounts a most interesting tale of scientific discovery inhis recent book, African Exodus, co-authored by the sciencewriter Robin McKie. It is the kind of story which hasepitomized the romance and excitement of scientificdiscovery and revolution as perceived by the lay public,stories such as the Curies discovery of radium or Galileosroad to revolutionary views of the heavens. The importantperiods of these scientists work were, of course, markedfar more by hard work than by romance! But not only is thestory of these recent discoveries concerning human originsof interest to the general public, it represents ascientific revolution of important scope, comparable to therecent revolution in geology with the advent of thediscovery of plate tectonics, or even the revolution inphysics earlier in the century.The first chapters of African Exodus are concerned witha close examination of the "bones and stones," in which Dr.Stringer shows how the Multiregional Hypothesis (15) ofhuman evolution, the predominant model for most of thiscentury, has just recently been discredited in favor of anOut-of-Africa (actually an Out-of-Africa II) (16) model. Anew mathematical technique, multivariate analysis, used byDr. Stringer during his several years of work on thefossils, led him to doubt the validity of the multiregionaltheory early on in his career. But only a small minority ofpaleoanthropologists were ready to listen to new analyses offossil characteristics which called into question the statusquo of their profession, for many great scientists of thepast decades had analyzed these same fossils and there waswide consensus that a multiregional scenario was the correctone. The upheavals and conflicts typical of a newly-bornscientific revolution ensued. A revolutionary new idea (22 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 212. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7proposed by a small group of scientists, at first rejectedas absurd by the establishment, soon began to topple thatestablishment. Chris Stringer and Robin McKie introduce thebook:For the past few years, a small group of scientistshas been accumulating evidence that hasrevolutionised our awareness of ourselves, and ouranimal origins. They have shown that we belong to ayoung species, which rose like a phoenix from acrisis which threatened its very survival, and thenconquered the world in a few millennia. The storyis an intriguing and mysterious one, and itchallenges many basic assumptions we have aboutourselves... It is a remarkable, and highlycontroversial narrative that has generatedheadlines round the world and which has been thesubject of a sustained programme of vilification byscientists who have spent their lives committed tothe opposing view that we have an ancient, million-year-old ancestry. The debate, which reverberatesin museums, universities and learned institutionsacross the world, is one of the most bitter in thehistory of science. (17)What finally broke the dam of resistance to the newideas was the entry upon the scene of revolutionary newtechniques from a field which had previously played no rolewhatever in paleoanthropology, molecular genetics. Untilvery recently, the possibility that we might learn somethingabout the evolution of our distant ancestors by studying thegenetic makeup of living humans was hardly even suspected,and of course the techniques for doing so completelyunknown. But all this changed rapidly as the science ofmolecular genetics grew from its infancy in the 1960s tothe powerful tool it is today. The use of genetic analysisfor understanding evolution, the science of molecularanthropology, also had its beginning the 1960s, with thepioneering work of Allan Wilson (later to be a key player inthe confirmation of the Out-of-Africa scenario) and VincentSarich. It was their early work that began to topple manysacred cows of paleoanthropology, the first to fall being (23 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 213. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7the idea that apes and humans had diverged very early,between fifteen and thirty Ma. By comparing proteinstructures of modern apes and man, Wilson and Sarichconcluded that the separation could have been no earlierthan 5Ma. "We were variously ignored, abused and scorned,"recalls Sarich. But it was the first of many venerableprecepts of paleoanthropology that was to fall to the newtechniques of genetic analysis. The research of Wilson andthe many others who followed came along at precisely theright time to resoundingly confirm the early work ofStringer.Stringer and McKie mention in their introduction abovethat our species "rose like a phoenix from a crisis whichthreatened its very survival," and propose later on in thebook the occurrence of a population bottleneck sometimeabout 100 to 150Ka. The possibility of such a bottleneck hasalso drawn criticism from defenders of the orthodoxy, yetagain the genetic evidence is what has come to the forefrontto support the proposal.The genetic evidence in question was not at firstconcerned with the DNA of the cell nuclei, found in everycell of the body and which is responsible for control of thegrowing embryo and inheritance of physical traits, but DNAcontained the mitochondria of these same cells. These smallstructures within animal cells act like metabolic power-packs, enabling the biochemical reactions which provide thecell with energy. That these structures contain their ownDNA, entirely different from nuclear DNA, is something of acuriosity, and has led to speculation that very early on inevolution, mitochondria might have been a separate organismwhich developed a symbiotic relationship with primitivesingle-celled life forms to enable the evolution of thefirst true single-celled animals. Whatever theirevolutionary story, the mitochondria and their independentlyorganized DNA strands have provided an important key for theunderstanding of hominid evolution. Two specificcharacteristics of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) figureimportantly: firstly, mtDNA is transmitted only through thefemale lineage, since the mitochondria of sperm reside inthe cells extranuclear protoplasm, and do not enter the eggat fertilization. Thus mtDNA provides a powerful tool fortracing genealogies in animals, and reconstructing recentevolutionary trees. Secondly, mtDNA has a relatively high (24 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 214. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7and constant rate of random mutation which is convenientlyanalyzed, thus constituting a "molecular clock" providinggenetic markers for accurately tracing migration andfissioning in human societies. A recent paper by Rebecca L.Cann, an early associate of Allan C. Wilson, explains morefully the peculiarities of mtDNA which result in its beingsuch a powerful tool for the study of evolution. Concerningthe bottleneck hypothesis resulting from mtDNA studies sherecounts:When I began my study of mtDNA in the late 1970swith Dr. Allan C. Wilson, one of his postdoctoralfellows, Dr. Wesley Brown, was writing up his workon a study of 21 human mtDNAs. Dr. Brown haddiscovered that using restriction fragment lengthpolymorphisms (RFLPs), humans as a species lookeddifferent to other mammals. He found that incomparison to two chimpanzees, or two gorillas, ortwo orang-utans, or two gibbons, or even two pocketgophers, humans had only one-half to one-fifth ofthe intraspecific variability seen in our closestprimate relatives and other genetically well-characterized mammals. In 1980, Brown proposed thatthe level of variability sampled in his study wasconsistent with the derivation of the humanmitochondrial sequence from a single female about200,000 years ago. This was the origin of thebottle-neck hypothesis and mitochondrial Eve.(18)The mitochondrial "Eve" hypothesis naturally made bigheadlines, was featured on the cover of such magazines asTime and Newsweek, and also quite naturally wasjournalistically exaggerated out of all proportion to theoriginal claims. A concerted attack by the multiregionalist"old guard" also helped to make the new idea sound a bitabsurd, both to the public, and to scientists in otherfields not yet acquainted with the genetic evidence. All thecriticisms have been adequately countered however, and thefindings confirmed by newer and more complete studies,including studies on the nuclear DNA. Rebecca Cann wascareful to explain, in the above quoted paper, the intended (25 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 215. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7interpretation of the hypothesis concerning the possiblenumber of individuals existing at the time of the proposedbottleneck. Since mtDNA is passed on only through the femalelineage, the existence of a mitochondrial "Eve" does notimply that our nuclear DNA is also descended from a singleindividual, nor that at one point the human lineage wasreduced to a single, or mere handful of individuals (the"Biblical Eve" scenario!) Recent estimates of the number ofindividuals existing at the time of the bottleneck,including that of Chris Stringer, puts the number at perhapsten thousand. (19) It may be argued that a population of tenthousand individuals is not what one could call a geneticbottleneck, yet the sum of the genetic evidence indicatesthat "there were at least 100,000 adult archaic forebears ofour Africa ancestors about 200,000 years ago." (20) Thus adecrease to 10,000 individuals is certainly a "populationcrash" indicative of important events in the early evolutionof modern man.As for the date of the lifetime of "mitochondrial Eve,"there have been various estimates between the extremes ofabout 60 to 400Ka based on several different methods ofmtDNA analysis. Some best estimates put the life of"mitochondrial Eve" at about 130 to 140Ka, "the date oforigin of modern humans." (21) The uncertainties in theseseveral estimates may be narrowed by considering data fromother fields of study, and from a view of the overallevolutionary scenario which emerges upon consideration ofall the information at our disposal, including my ownhypotheses of the influence of psychedelics on the overallprocess. Using all these sources, a reasonably constrainedsequence of events with fairly accurate dates becomespossible.In looking at the combined evidence from newinterpretations of the "stones and bones," (Chris Stringersfindings), the genetic evidence, (now far more convincingthan just a few years ago), and other pieces of the puzzle,Stringer and other workers have come to the conclusion thatthere must have been some kind of unusual event, somecatalyst, some kind of "trigger" which set in motion thevery rapid rise of human culture and civilization whichbegan a mere few moments ago on an evolutionary scale. Thestrong evidence for a population bottleneck, during whichtime individuals existed who were our sole ancestors, and (26 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 216. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7the ensuing rapid migration and rapid rise of human culturein every corner of the earth, has led these workers to ask acentral and important question for which they have not yetformulated an answer. Stringer and McKie write:It was one of the critical events in mankindsconvoluted route to evolutionary success. Thenature of the trigger of this great social upheavalis still hotly debated, but remains a mystery atthe heart of our progress as a species. Was it abiological, mental or social event that sent ourspecies rushing pell-mell towards world domination?Was it the advent of symbolic language, theappearance of the nuclear family as the basicelement of human social structure, or a fundamentalchange in the workings of the brain? Whatever thenature of the change, it has a lot to answer for.It transformed us from minor bit players in azoological soap opera into evolutionary superstars,with all the attendant dangers of vanity, hubrisand indifference to the fate of others that such ananalogy carries with lt. (22)Reading this paragraph in African Exodus, I realized Ihad been for several years working on ideas whichconstituted the very answer sought by this recent revolutionin thinking about human evolution. It was, as I have said inchapter 2, "Models and Theories," a falling into place ofpieces of a puzzle which justified so much earlier "wildspeculation," a realization that practically by accident Ihad found a key that many others were actively searching forwhich would enable the opening of a door to an importantfuture in understanding.Rebecca Cann asks,We often wonder if language played a part of theprocess, and that our ancestors all had some newmutations which allowed them to spread, at theexpense of the other indigenous peoples. [Resultsof genetic research] suggest the spread of ourancestors was rapid, with little mixing. (23) (27 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 217. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7Although language certainly played a part in theprocess, as I have already discussed, the identity of thetrigger, the origin of the population bottleneck, the reasonbehind mans migration to the ends of the earth, the factorenabling the rapid rise of culture independently in allthese regions, the factor behind the ability of the newhominids to out-compete all former races of archaic man, thesecret of the birth of the human race, may all be intimatelyrelated to one and the same phenomenon: the advent ofpsychedelic use by a regionally isolated group of proto-humans somewhere in Africa. Such use might then have spreadwith the spread of the descendants of this core group ofindividuals, mimicking a population bottleneck in thatpsychedelic use and the advantages it provided were closelyguarded secrets not evident or available to competing"tribes." As I stated previously, if a member of a competing"tribe" were to use the new medicine, it would only serve toisolate him from his own group. Psychedelic use could thenhave been at once the reason for an apparent but notnecessarily absolute bottleneck, and also the trigger, thekey which enabled this original group to expand and prosperby virtue of the cognitive advantages provided by thecumulative effects of psychedelic use. These advantages, Iremind the reader, concern a new and powerful ability tosuspend a mode of existence entirely governed by habitroutine. The advanced ape that was our predecessornecessarily had, as I have shown, the most complete, onemight say irrevocable dependence on habit routine of anyanimal yet evolved, a dependence entirely precluding the useof the most advanced nervous system ever evolved forcreative purposes.But what of that other facilitating factor I mentionedbefore, the one that would allow psychedelic use to becomeimportant and not just an infrequent and disorienting eventfor single individuals who might then expulsed from theirgroup? Some environmental or social situation must haveresulted in the frequent use of psychedelics by asignificant proportion of the core group, and psychedelicuse must then have become part and parcel of the socialstructure of the group. There are several possibilities.Here another body of research information on climate changebecomes important, for during the proposed period between (28 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 218. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7100Ka and 200Ka, drastic climatic changes were occurring ona time scale certain to disrupt all life on the planet,especially those advanced forms of life so dependent onsocial complexity and a diversified diet.In view of the best estimates for the time slot for thepopulation bottleneck and mitochondrial Eve (about 133Ka),(24) a particular period of climatic history stands out: theEemian interglacial period. During the Eemain, warm, wet,and tropical conditions extended much further north than atpresent. The fossil evidence shows that hippopotamusesbrowsed along the banks of the Thames and the Rhine, whilelions and elephants roamed the forests of southern England.Until recently, the Eemian interglacial period was thoughtto have been a stable climatic period lasting from about130Ka to 114Ka, when the beginning of the last ice agecommenced. Climatic information has been obtained from suchmethods as analysis of ocean sediment cores, pollen coresfrom terrestrial sources, and ice cores drilled in suchlocations as Antarctica and Greenland. A recent ice coreanalysis from Greenland however, has given us a radicallynew view of the Eemain climatic era, indicating that it wasnot a period of stability but rather one of wild climaticoscillations: (25)The early part of the Eemian was dominated byseveral oscillations between warm and cool stages.The temperature dropped by as much as 10 degrees,sometimes within as short a time as ten to thirtyyears. Some cold spells lasted a few decades, whileothers lasted several hundred years. After 8000years of fluctuating conditions, the climatesettled into a period of stable warmth lasting some2000 years. This warm period ended abruptly...whenthe temperature in Greenland dropped about 14 °Cwithin ten years. (26)Such a period as the early Eemain seems to provideexactly the kind of opportunities for the disruption andcrisis conditions for groups of human predecessors thatwould lead to the discovery of psychedelic use. Severaltimes there must have been abrupt changes in habitability ofvarious regions, with changes in flora and fauna and (29 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 219. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7resulting dietary pressures, food shortages, theencroachment of and conflict with neighboring tribes, thepossible occurrence of new diseases and a resulting searchfor medicinal remedies promoting population movements, inessence, frequent turmoil. If modern chimpanzees have theneed to roam far and wide to procure their necessary dietincluding "fungi, rotten wood, insects, bark, shoots," wemay safely assume that proto-man had similar if not evengreater exigencies. If uprooted from a home ground, or ifrapid climate change forced him to experiment with newfoods, an opportunity for the discovery of psychedelicplants becomes important.In the case of edible fungi today for example, it iswell known that many, if not the majority of cases ofpoisoning result when individuals or groups, newly arrivedin an area, see and consume a mushroom which they had alwayssafely consumed in their previous home region. Manymushrooms look nearly identical, and some fungi species areknown to be safe in one region, yet toxic in another. Achanging climate might well alter a fungal species, changingits visible characteristics or production of metabolites.Some recent work has shown that fungi tend to proliferate atfar greater rates in a tropical, CO2 rich climate, as musthave existed during the Eemian. (27) In these facts we see apossible, if not probable mechanism whereby a group of ourancestors might have discovered the use of a psychedelicmushroom or other plant, in which the discovery involved theuse of that plant by the entire group, and for an extendedperiod of time. The likelihood of widespread existence ofunfamiliar and unusual species of alkaloid-containing plantsis, of course, much higher in the tropical and humid, andfluctuating conditions of the Eemian, rather than during thedry, cold, and barren ice age conditions which preceded it.And the dates of the climatic disruptions of the earlyEemian that might have led to such a discovery match nicelythe mtDNA evidence of a population bottleneck.The Eemian might well have been the period of mankindsfirst important exposure to psychedelic drugs, for by 90Kawe see the appearance of sophisticated bone harpoons andknives in what is now Zaire, a level of technology that wasnot seen in Europe until 50 thousand years later. (28) Butwe should not expect that the initial psychedelic exposurewould have led to rapid cultural change as we would today (30 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 220. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7define it. Evidence from studies of "primitive" yetecologically stable and wise tribal societies indicates thatpsychedelic use and the associated rise of shamanism doesnot automatically propel a society towards buildingautomobiles and atom bombs, but rather, preferentiallyenables another kind of creativity involving stability andequilibrium. Some of the oldest of tribal societies, thosethat have been discovered in New Guinea, or in thebackwaters of the Amazon basin, or the vast tundra of theSiberian wilderness, all have a long tradition ofpsychedelically influenced shamanism, and have remainedstable for many thousands of years. If we should look atsuch a society and call it "primitive," their practicesbeing seen as "backward" and "ignorant," how much more somay such a stable and ecological society view the all-too-obvious happenings and extrapolations of Twentieth Century"Civilization"? Our view today of what constitutes"progress" and "civilized living" has practically nothing incommon with the views of hundreds, even thousands ofsocieties that have come before, and lasted far longer thanour recent experiment in "progress". With a little luck, theremnants of an isolated tribe or two may well survive us.A psychedelically-enlightened society does not at allproduce rampant technological change, just for the sake ofchange. They do not fly to the moon just because it isthere, or to impressand propagandize tribal members withtheir supposed superiority over a rival tribe in some coldwar scenario. A psychedelically-enabled society does,however, make rapid advances of a creative nature inresponse to real challenges such as climate change, thenecessity to emigrate to new regions, the avoidance ofdisease and a search for new medicines (chimpanzees and evenelephants have been shown to intentionally search out andconsume effective medicinals as required). But in periods ofclimatic and resource-stability the psychedelically-enabledsociety also exhibits an ecological stability: it has thepower and intelligence to make creative changes as itpleases, and chooses consciously to remain in equilibriumwith nature. What could be more illustrative of wisdom thanthis? In times of stability, psychedelically-enabled tribesproduce myth, art, they use their creative powers toelaborate tradition, the hallmark of culture; they do notspend their time in petty schemes to conquer nature, or (31 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 221. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7exploit reality, or develop "backward" regions. Perhaps thelong term lesson that is taught by the psychedelicexperience is that the human animal, having evolved slowlyover millions of years, is ill-equipped to handle suddenlarge advances in technology, which have historicallyresulted very reliably in mass production of weapons,ecological destruction, genocide, waste, and the collapse ofcivilizations. Surely there is a better use for creativitythan this.The point here is to give a better view of what apsychedelically enabled tribe, at the advent of the humanrace, might do with its powers of creativity. If ouroriginal African ancestors began the use of psychedelicagents as the first step toward an organized shamanism, onlyour modern illusions of what constitutes "progress" wouldpredict that such a society, if truly a society of man,would rapidly invent and amass technology. A broader viewwould predict that what would be amassed by the true Homosapiens would be techniques of living exhibiting aconsciously designed harmony and ecology, leading to long-lasting modes of tribal life changing only slowly with time.Psychedelically enlightened tribes would optimally remainstable for millennia. To restate: Creativity in such a groupwould involve the creation and preservation of myth andritual, the gradual perfection of a style of living, theelaboration of tradition, not a headlong rush intoexploitation of "resources" and a supposed domination ofnature.Thus our originally psychedelically-enlightenedancestors, the first humans, would have spread slowly andsurely from their original home, perhaps in East Africa, andcarried with them such traditions of stability andlongevity. Only severe challenges to their survival andcontinuation would result in their use of the creative powerto make radical changes in their technology and lifestyle.Before long even a slow migration would have broughtdescendants of the original core group into the Middle East,as evidenced by fossils of modern humans in Israel dated at100Ka. (29) We must remember that climatic changes after theend of the Eemian, although following a general tendencytoward the next ice age, continued to include occasional butabrupt reversals as is shown by the recent Greenland icecore studies. Migration was likely therefore to have been a (32 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 222. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7sporadic happening, as certain habitats and food sourceschanged. Considering these tribes penchant for stability,intentional migration, just for the sake of migration, wasunlikely. The spread of our ancestors would therefore havebeen slow and occasional, initiated by the occasionalclimatic upheavals and other environmental challenges suchas volcanic eruption, changing food supplies, occurrence andavoidance of diseases, and perhaps the search for newmedicines and psychedelic plants. We know fromanthropological studies how important are therecommendations of the shamans for decisions taken by tribalelders, and it is thus possible that shamans also greatlyinfluenced decisions of our early ancestors concerning theirmovements. The shamans use and search for psychedelicplants may well have initiated some early migrations.It is necessary to understand the above describedtendencies that would naturally follow our originalpsychedelic enlightenment to see why modern culture as weknow it did not get underway for over 60 thousand years.Tradition and stability reigned for many thousands of yearswhile a slow migration brought human ancestors to Europe,Asia, and finally the Americas. But the flowering of modernculture did not really get underway until 40 thousand yearsago, when art and body ornamentation, sophisticated bonetools, built hearths and structured living spaces, open site"religious" burials, storage pits and social storage,quarries, the long distance exchange of raw materials, longterm occupation of harsh environments, and signs of complexforward planning made a wide appearance as evidenced in thearchaeological record. (30) This apparently suddenappearance of the roots of the modern age, in which thebeginnings of modern technology can be seen, is thephenomenon that has challenged anthropologists the most. Ifanatomically and cognitively modern humans began theirspecieshood in Africa 130Ka, why did it take so long for themodern trend to get underway? And importantly, what was thecatalyst which precipitated this event so suddenly? Like allhistory, the answers to such questions, even if they couldbe known, must necessarily be very complex, a story that canbe told in a multitude of ways that might seemcontradictory. Consider the myriad ways the story of theeradication of Native American populations can be told.But some scholars have proposed that the sudden (33 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 223. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7flowering of the modern age beginning about 40Ka mightactually have been more gradual, and sporadic. Such ideasfit in with the above observations on the likelycharacteristics of psychedelically-enlightened societies.The appearance of the previously-mentioned bone harpoons inZaire, and other scattered evidence may well indicate thatlocal tribes made advances in technology in fits and starts,in response to novel challenges, and then returned to longperiods of stability. The appearance of cave art seems todayfrom modern discoveries to be rather abrupt, yet the qualityof such art would indicate a long tradition of artisticendeavor, certainly the artists of the Lascaux and Cosquercaves were no amateurs, thousands of years of tradition nodoubt led up to their remarkable artistic abilities. Newdiscoveries of even more ancient sites are bound to indicatethat the first "artists" did not suddenly appear around 40thousand years ago, but that artistic expression was aslowly maturing phenomenon of very long duration indeed,going back to the Eemian perhaps.The psychedelic model of evolution of culture thereforeagrees that some recent interpretations of evidenceindicating a "sudden flowering" of culture beginning about40Ka is too drastic. Alison Brooks, an archeologist who withJohn Yellen made the important finds in Zaire, states:A closer scrutiny of the archeological record leadsone to inquire, Just how abrupt was the behavioraltransition in Europe? I believe that the gulfbetween the Middle Paleolithic and the UpperPaleolithic has been artificially widened by de-emphasizing the very real evidence of culturalcomplexity in the former and overstressing theachievement of early modern humans, who, in Europe,did not achieve all of the behaviors usually citedas part of the Upper Paleolithic "revolution" untilthe very end of the Pleistocene [near 10,000 yearsago]. (31)One final surmise about the trigger events that may havecontinued to push Early Man along the road to moderncivilization will bring this chapter to a close. If,according to my theory, there was a gradual evolution of (34 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 224. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7culture during the 70 thousand years between the Eemian andthe period in which the beginnings of modern culture aredeemed to have begun 40 thousand years ago, then we mightlook for the rapid, yet sporadic and geographicallyindependent advances in culture and technology to coincidewith known instances of rapid climatic change, withinstances of severe volcanic activity or other known or to-be-discovered radical environmental influences during theperiod. It will certainly be interesting to compare furtherdetailed analyses of the new Greenland ice cores to knownand future archeological discoveries in an attempt tocorrelate cultural change with environmental disruption.Perhaps there will never be enough evidence to write historyabout such pre-historic times, but intriguing clues andparallel developments may well appear that will at leastallow the writing of a probable scenario.The question of how geographically isolated groups ofmodern men all developed astounding cultural andtechnological advances, and how at least two dozen differentregional societies of men experienced along with suchchanges a dramatic increase in population, has been a puzzlefor many archaeologists, linguists, anthropologists, andother workers. In the words of Chris Stringer and RobinMcKie,It is an extraordinary catalogue of achievementsthat seem to have come about virtually from nowhere- though obviously they did have a source. Thequestion is: what was it? Did we bring the seeds ofthis mental revolution with us when we began ourAfrican Exodus, though its effects were so subtlethey took another 50,000 years to accumulate beforesnowballing into a cultural and technologicalavalanche that now threatens to engulf Homosapiens? Or did that final change occur later, andwas it therefore more profound, and much speedierin its effects? (32)I believe the answer is neither of these, or rather acombination of the two: The seeds of the revolution wereindeed carried by Homo sapiens from his birthplace inAfrica, but they were seeds which needed periodic (35 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 225. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7stimulation to grow vigorously. As I have argued,psychedelic wisdom does not of itself propel societies toproduce a "technological avalanche" nor should we believethat "technological avalanches" are inherently good.Psychedelic wisdom rather leads to ecology, stability, andlongevity. But when novel and severe challenges presentthemselves to psychedelically-enabled societies, they areable to react intelligently and with foresight and complexlong-range planning. This is perhaps the most importantdifference between the true Homo sapiens his animalforebears.Thus the periodic and now well-established abruptclimatic upheavals of the post-Eemian world became thecatalyst which successively and cumulatively forced tribesof men living in many isolated areas of the globe to usetheir God-like powers of creativity to advance technology inthe interests of survival. An ice age was approaching, withfits and starts, and global climatic change was frequent andsevere. If the cognitive seeds existed, dormant in the senseof not automatically producing technological change at arate which we moderns believe essential to our species, andthese seeds existed in all the societies of men around theglobe, the fact of climatic change being a global phenomenonwould explain how these seeds flowered, or were forced togrow independently in all these regions.During the post-Eemian period, changes in the earthsorbit were responsible for the climatic disruption and slowonset of a new ice age. But such orbital changes havesometimes been hypothesized as the catalyst for increasedvolcanic activity as well. Whatever the cause, at least oneextremely severe volcanic eruption occurred during theperiod leading up to that famous starting date for thebeginning of modern technology, and in line with myproposals, may have been a major event pushing tribalsocieties around the world toward radical changes in theeffort to survive. Stringer and McKie tell of the eruption:The Earth was gripped by continuing climatic mayhemas changes in its orbit began inexorably to pushdown the worlds thermostat. Then to add to thesewoes, about 74,000 years ago, Mount Toba on theisland of Sumatra exploded in the largest volcaniceruption of the past 450 million years. The blast (36 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 226. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7was 4,000 times more powerful than that of Mount StHelens and would have sent more than 1,000 cubickilometres of dust and ash into the atmosphere,plunging the earth into years-long volcanicwinters. Summer temperatures could have dropped byas much as twelve degrees centigrade, while forestsshrank, deserts spread, and in eastern Asia, aprolonged winter monsoon would have swept clouds ofdust from inland deserts round the globe... Havingevolved in warm Savannah sun we nearly perished,huddled in cold dismal misery as volcanic plumesstraddled the earth. (33)Examination of some recent charts of sea-levels andestimated prevailing temperatures reveals that this eventseems to have brought on the most severe period of the lastice age. The post-Eemian climate between 115Ka to 75Ka isnow known to be more changeable, the Greenland ice core datashowing several abrupt reversals, yet the same data showthat after a significant warming period peaking about 75Kato 80Ka, a severe decline then led into the very coldestperiod of the ice age. The whole of the post-Eemian climaticturmoil may well have been the partner to those originalAfrican seeds of modern culture which required such periodicstimulation to grow. The volcanic eruption might have beenone of the most important instances driving societies toimprovise and find technological solutions in order tosurvive, the aftermath of the Mount Toba event would havedisrupted flora and fauna world-wide, it would have causedfood shortages, driven intentional and planned migration insearch of resources, brought about wide experimentation withnew foods and medicinal plants, and perhaps even led to theappearance of new or altered species of psychedelic plantssuch as the fungi which might have proliferated in the wakeof widespread forest death and an abundance of decayingvegetation. Psilocybe cyanescens for example, usually afairly rare species, thrives in decaying woody debris and incolder climes. It is also one of the more powerful Psilocybespecies.It is certainly a difficult task to sift and weigh allthese factors in the attempt to propose a concise scenariofor psychedelic influence on early man. Two or more (37 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 227. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7seemingly contradictory scenarios might well have happenedsimultaneously in different regions, or consecutively. Theidea of psychedelic evolution is still too new, and muchmore work will have to take place with these new hypothesesin mind, trying to prove and disprove the many resultingimplications before we can decide on a likely scenario. As Ihave said, this task is more than just the construction of atemporary model, it is an attempt to discover actual historyand subject to real error.References1. The Forbidden Game, A Social History of Drugs, 1975,Hodder and Stoughton Limited, U.K. p230. (back)2. Machiavellian Intelligence, Richard W. Byrne and AndrewWhiten, editors, Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press,1988. (back)3. ibid., chapter 20, "Tools and the evolution of humanintelligence," Thomas Wynn, p 283. (back)4. ibid., Alison Jolly, pp373-4. (back)5. See for example the paper by Daniel C. Dennett, "Theintentional stance in theory and practice" for anappreciation of the "levels of intentionality" necessary andimplicit in social interaction, ibid., chapter 14, pp180-202. (back)6. See for example a question responded to by Andrew Weil atthe first Tucson conference on consciousness: Toward aScience of Consciousness, Hameroff, Kaszniak, and Scott,editors, The M.I.T. Press, 1996, p687. (back)7. The Thinking Ape, Richard Byrne, Oxford University Press1995, p178. (back)8. ibid., p142. (back) (38 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 228. The Center of the Universe Chapter 79. Katherine Milton, "Foraging behavior and the evolution ofprimate intelligence", in Machiavellian Intelligence, ibid.,pp285-305. (back)10. See for example African Exodus, Chris Stringer & RobinMcKie, Jonathan Cape, London 1996, p92-93 (back)11. Self-Made Man, Jonathan Kingdon, John Wiley & Sons 1993,p97. (back)12. Steven Pinker, "Facts about human language relevant toits evolution" in Origins of the Human Brain, Jean-PierreChangeux and Jean Chavaillon, editors, A Fyssen FoundationSymposium, Clarendon Press, Oxford, ch17. (back)13. ibid., p271. (back)14. The Origin of Modern Humans, op. cit., p173. (back)15. The Multiregional Hypothesis posits that an earlymigration by Homo erectus from the African heartland to theNear East, Europe, Asia, Australia, was followed by a longperiod of regional and parallel development, with someintermixing between regions, to produce Homo sapiens quasi-independently in the various regions. Under this scenario,racial differences, long thought to be far more significantthan has recently been shown to be the case by geneticanalyisis, were supposedly evolved during this at leastmillion-year period. (back)16. The first "Out-of-Africa" migration being that of H.erectus 1.5 to 2 Ma. (back)17. African Exodus, Chris Stringer and Robin McKie, JonathanCape, London 1996, from the Preface. (back)18. "Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution" in Origins ofthe Human Brain, Jean-Pierre Changeux and Jean Chavillon,editors, Fyssen Foundation Symposium, Clarendon Press,Oxford, 1995, p 128. (back) (39 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 229. The Center of the Universe Chapter 719. African Exodus, op. cit., p150 (back)20. Ibid., p 150 (back)21. The Origin of Modern Humans, Roger Lewin, ScientificAmerican Library 1993, p99. (back)22. African Exodus, op. cit., pp 5-6 (back)23. Ibid., p134. (back)24. see The Origin of Modern Humans, op. cit., p99. (back)25. "Chill Warnings from Greenland," New Scientist, 28August, 1993, pp29-33. (back)26. Ibid., p31. (back)27. "Sneezing while the Earth warms," New Scientist, 24August, 1996, p5. (back)28. African Exodus, op. cit, p5. (back)29. see African Exodus, op. cit, various index entries under"Qafzeh, Israel." (back)30. see the chart in In Search of the Neanderthals,Christopher Stringer and Clive Gamble, Thames and Hudson,1993, p198. (back)31. Quoted in Lewin, The Origin of Modern Humans, op. cit.,p128 (back)32. African Exodus, op. cit., p186-187 (back)33. African Exodus, op. cit., p153. Stringer and McKie givethe reference for the eruption as M. Rampino and S. Self,1993, "Climate-volcanism feedback and the Toba eruption ofca. 74,000 years ago", Quatenary Research, 40: 269-80. (40 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]
  • 230. The Center of the Universe Chapter 7(back)Chapter 8 | Table of ContentsSend e-mail to The Psychedelic Library: psd_lib@druglibrary.orgThe Psychedelic Library | Books Menu Page (41 of 41) [5/1/2002 12:47:02 PM]