Award-winning journalist Tom Shroder reports on the therapeutic powers of psychedelic drugs in his latest book, ACID TEST: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal (Blue Rider Press; September 9, 2014), focusing on the use of MDMA (better known as Ecstasy) in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the potential benefits that represent for thousands of military servicemen and veterans, as well as ordinary people.
Since the discovery of the profound alterations of consciousness caused by LSD in 1943, psychedelics have played a crucial role in the still-nascent quest to understand the link between mind and matter. From the beginning, compounds like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and MDMA have astounded psychiatrists and researchers with their ability, to produce profound altered states that can permanently untangle the deep-seated compulsions behind disorders like alcoholism, drug addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress. But after two decades in which psychedelics became the most studied psychoactive drugs in history, their widespread abuse – and the cultural panic that resulted – prompted a backlash that shut down the promising research cold. It was as if, one scientist recalled, “psychedelic drugs had been undiscovered.”
Ironically, the prohibitions on research did nothing to curb illegal and ill-advised recreational use, which continued to mount. Meanwhile, the promise of psychedelic therapy remained out of reach of the millions of people who could benefit from it.
In ACID TEST, Shroder tells the moving stories of three courageous men whose lives braid together to form the epic narrative that has brought psychedelic therapy to the brink of a new age of acceptance: Rick Doblin, the colorful founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a widely respected and influential voice in the psychedelic healing community who has been at the forefront of the fight for advancing responsible use of psychedelic therapy for more than thirty years; Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a clinical researcher and psychotherapist who has been conducting clinical trials using MDMA to treat abuse survivors and those suffering from PTSD; and Nicholas Blackston, a young Marine combat veteran who suffered nightmarish hallucinations and panic attacks upon his return from the war in Iraq and underwent life-changing treatment under the direction of Dr. Mithoefer, allowing his intimate journey to be told in these pages.
Provocative, informative, and wildly entertaining, ACID TEST is a timely and controversial take on the potential psychedelic renaissance that is changing lives, clinical trial by clinical trial.
About the Author
Tom Shroder, author of Old Souls, the classic study of the intersection between science and mysticism, is an award-winning journalist, writer and editor. As editor of The Washington Post Magazine, he conceived and edited two Pulitzer Prize winning feature stories. Shroder has edited humor columns by Dave Barry, Gene Weingarten and Tony Kornheiser, as well as conceived and launched the internationally syndicated comic strip, Cul de Sac, by Richard Thompson. His last book, written with former oil rig captain John Konrad, is Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster. His most recent editing project, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte was a New York Times bestseller.