A Mad Scientist

Dr. Paul Hoch, an early advocate of the the theory that LSD and other hallucinogens were essentially psychosis-producing drugs, performed a number of bizarre experiments for the army while also serving as a CIA consultant during the 1950s. He administered intraspinal injections of mescaline and LSD to psychiatric patients, causing an "immediate, massive, and almost shocklike picture with higher doses." Aftereffects ("generalized discomfort," "withdrawal," "oddness," and "unreality feelings") lingered for two to three days following the iniections. Hoch, who later became New York State Commissioner for Mental Hygiene, also gave LSD to psychiatric patients and then lobotomized them in order to compare the effects of acid before and after psychosurgery. ("It is possible that a certain amount of brain damage is of therapeutic value," Hoch once stated.) In one experiment a hallucinogen was administered along with a local anesthetic and the subject was told to describe his visual experiences as surgeons removed chunks of his cerebral cortex. In another study, Hoch gave mescaline to a thirty-six-year-old male diagnosed as a "pseudoneurotic schizophrenic." Afterwards Hoch reported: "He had some visual hallucinations. He saw dragons and tigers coming to catch him and reacted to these hallucinations with marked anxiety. He also had some illusionary distortions of thc obiects in the room. The emotional changes were apprehension and fear at times mounting to panic, persecutory misinterpretation of the environment, fear of death, intense irritability, suspiciousncss, perplexity, and feelings of depersonalization. He verbalized the feelings of depersonalization as 'floating out of space,' seemed 'between this life and the next,' and had the feeling of being born. The paranoid content concerned essentially why the doctors were taking notes and fear that he would be attacked by them. He also expressed an ecstatic grandiose trend of having the feeling that he was God in heaven and then, however, had the feeling of being in hell...The mental picture was that of a typical schizophrenic psychosis while the drug influence lasted."

As an afterword, Hoch noted, "This patient received transorbital lobotomy and showed temporarily a marked improvement in all his symptoms, losing most of his tension and anxiety. Postoperatively he was again placed under mescaline. Basically the same manifestations were elicited as prior to the operation with the exception that quantitatively the symptoms were not as marked as before."

Dr. Hoch also tried electroshock treatment on patients who had been given mescaline. "It did not influence the clinical symptoms at all," he reported matter-of-factly. "The patients continued to behave in the same way as prior to electroshock treatment." On the basis of these tests Hoch concluded that electroshock "has no influence on mescaline-produced mental states." He might have revised his "objective" assessment if he had taken the drug himself and had one of his assistants apply the volts while he tripped the lights fantastic. But those who secretly funded his research required only that he dish it out to mental patients and prisoners.

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An excerpt from Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties and Beyond, by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain (Grove Press)
Copyright 1985 by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain
The Acid Dreams web site: http://www.levity.com/aciddreams/