What LSD tells us about human nature
Healthy volunteers were injected with LSD while lying in an MRI scanner, and subjected to several other neuroimaging methods at the same time. This amounted to an arsenal of measurement that previous decades of psychedelic researchers could only dream of.
Humans have gathered, cultivated, distilled, and manufactured all kinds of drugs for thousands of years. Some of them relieve pain and bestow comfort. Others provide the energy we sometimes need to complete our tasks. And our old friend alcohol helps us relax and have fun. But the psychedelics contribute nothing to our day-to-day functioning. Rather, we use them to see the bigger picture, to connect with a reality that is difficult to see using our normally functioning brains. We are literally small-minded most of the time. And though meditation and mindfulness nudge us toward openness, acceptance, and relinquishment of our egos, humans continue to turn to psychedelics to wake us up to the possibilities of a universal perspective. Not all drugs are created equal, and I would never encourage anyone to soothe their existential discomfort with heroin or amphetamine, both of which I have taken. But psychedelics have a value I can’t help but admire. And now we understand more about how they do what they do. A simple code unlocks the gates in our brains, gates that normally act as walls.