My Adventures in Psychedelia

Helen Joyce in the New York Review of Books:

It all began with a book review. Last year, I read an article by David Aaronovitch in The Times of London about Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind. The book concerns a resurgence of interest in psychedelic drugs, which were widely banned after Timothy Leary’s antics with LSD, starting in the late 1960s, in which he encouraged American youth to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” In recent years, though, scientists have started to test therapeutic uses of psychedelics for an extraordinary range of ailments, including depression, addiction, and end-of-life angst.

Aaronovitch mentioned in passing that he had been intrigued enough to book a “psychedelic retreat” in the Netherlands run by the British Psychedelic Society, though, in the event, his wife put her foot down and he canceled. To try psychedelics was something I’d secretly hankered after doing ever since I was a teenager, but I was always too cautious and risk-averse. As I got older, the moment seemed to pass. Today I am a middle-aged journalist working in London, the finance editor of The Economist, a wife, mother, and, to all appearances, a person totally devoid of countercultural tendencies.

And yet… on impulse, I arranged to go. Only after I booked did I tell my husband. He was bemused, but said it was fine by him, as long as I didn’t decide while I was under the influence that I didn’t love him anymore. My eighteen-year-old son thought the whole thing was hilarious (it turns out that your mother tripping is a good way to make drugs seem less cool).

More here.