Thursday, 31 July 2014

Placebo Effect & The LSD Prank

Blotter Acid
 “If the Thinker thinks “holy water” from Lourdes will cure its lumbago, the Prover will skilfully orchestrate all signals, from the glands, muscles, organs, etc. until they have organised themselves into good health again.”
— Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising

Along with meditation, neuroplasticity, intuition and psychedelics, the Placebo Effect is one of the various mind-over-matter topics I’m discussing in my book. The following is a related joke, which we can now call an experiment that my friends and I took part in when we were about 20 years old.

One night, we were a total of five people and we were going to a friend’s house. Having always been a prankster, I convinced my buddies to pretend that we are all tripping on LSD. Once in the house, we started to act tripping and happened to do quite a good job.

The next step was sharing the fake stuff with our friend. So I asked him for scissors, hid a pack of cigarettes in my pocket, and headed to the bathroom. I then took the side carton and cut it up to many square ‘hits’ and put two on my tongue before going out to join the group. I stuck my tongue out for my unwary friend to see, pretending that it’s my fifth hit for the night. And then I gave him two. 

The guy bought the whole act. I remember him going to my friends and telling them to stop me from taking any more because I will really lose my head. We were pretty convincing. One of us would start with some fake laughter and then when we make eye contact and remember that our buddy truly got into it, we start laughing for real, and then he joins in. This loop kept happening for a long time.

We spent a few hours at his place; smoking up, acting up, and having lots of fun. Then we all went home except one who was spending the night at our friend. His excuse that he will be going to bed by 5 am is that he took some Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) which were big in Egypt at the time where people took them recreationally, not as a date-rape tool.

Little did I know, but our ‘tripping’ friend stayed up till the next morning. He actually called me home by noon, telling me that when he looks at himself in the mirror he can see his face in black and white. Yep. 

Note that this is someone who has done acid before. And though I wouldn’t call him an ‘expert’ in psychedelics, but he knows well what they are. However, aided by our little skit, the power of suggestion and the placebo effect here made his mind and body believe that he was tripping, inciting them both to act accordingly.

The remarkable thing is that a week later, I could not shut up and was too excited to see my friend's reaction once he would find out. So I decided to tell him about the farce, but he would not believe me or them. He had concluded that it wasn’t the strong type, though it was indeed LSD. I sincerely tried to convince him but he wouldn’t listen, so I simply just dropped it. I think he still believes it until today.

On that same note, many years later a couple of friends discussed this article with me after reading it. One of them said, she wholeheartedly agree because it happened with her, though with a different drug: Heroin. So, apparently one day she had withdrawal symptoms after doing heroin for multiple weeks when her friend gave her a certain medication to ease her pain. She took it, felt better, then went to sleep. Only the next day they found out that she took a simple aspirin instead of the pain killer, by mistake ― in the dark. And again here, the withdrawals went away as she was able to sleep; simply because her mind registered that she should feel better after taking the pill, so she did feel better. Wicked crazy huh?

This experience reminded me of my own addiction days. Because I had noticed that the heroin withdrawals almost disappeared whenever I would be going down to meet the dealer. Knowing that I will be getting my fix soon, the mind gets one up there way before ingesting the drug.

Remarkably, one more person told me the same happens with him, this time with cocaine. “Once that baggy is in my pocket, and I can hold it in my hand, I am already high,” he stated.

All that said, it seems from said anecdotal evidence that the process has little to do with the type of drug. The mind truly remains notoriously powerful.  

More about the history and early days of acid can be found in my dense exposé: The LSD Experiments of the 1950s and 60s [Videos & Documentaries]

These real-life examples offer us more evidence that beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and intent do work. The Placebo Effect shows that our brain and perception have a profound effect on our body chemistry; consequently on our physical health as well as our reality as a whole. It is so mysterious, it could be looked upon as an energetic phenomenon which works when the mind and heart (intent) match the energy of the result or the healing we wish to achieve. So the act of believing that we’ll heal, or trip, helps making us heal or trip in real; or at least speeds up the process in the case of the healing.

Fascinatingly, more than two decades later science came to support our story. New research published in Psychopharmacology showed that placebo can indeed induce psychedelic effects, including perceptual alterations. In simpler words, subjects tripped following ingesting a sugar pill, which they were made to believe was a psychedelic drug resembling psilocybin found in magic mushrooms. 

To boost expectations, confederates subtly acted out the stated effects of the drug and participants were led to believe that there was no placebo control group.” So just like our skit, the ones in charge of the study played along to make it believable.

Another reported finding from the same study was that participants with no previous experience with psychedelics were more likely to feel the fake effects of the placebo, or some of them, compared to those with previous experience ― with 70 percent of the first group and 50 percent of the second.

As seen, placebo shows that our minds have immense powers capable of manifesting the reality we wish. Aided by appropriate context and convenient expectations, it occurs when we align our frequency with the desire. Placebo is equally a reminder that if we want things to change, we should simply change the way we look at them.

Mike Bannon -


Funny Drug-Related Stories

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The LSD Experiments of the 1950s and 60s [Videos & Documentaries]

Surviving the Madness of Sakarana — Hyoscyamus muticus

Opiated Then Hatin' It

Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, and Crystal Methamphetamine — A Psychonaut’s Review

Out-of-Body Experience and Ego Death on a “Heroic Dose” of Mushrooms 

My Correspondence With a 31-Year-Old Reader Before He Passed Away

The Egyptian Man Who Kept a Piece of Hash in His Stomach for Four Years

Animals Getting High: Weird Nature ― Peculiar Potions [Documentary]
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