Sex, Ecstasy, and Psychedelic Drugs
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History records few human quests as unremitting or as widespread as the
search for a harmless, effective sex stimulant. Recent claims - such as
those made by Timothy Leary - that LSD is the greatest aphrodisiac known to
man, have excited much interest in the sexual potential of psychedelic drugs.
Sober discussion of psychedelic substances was difficult enough before sex
entered the picture; now it is close to impossible. But bearing in mind that
there is a great deal more to psychedelics than sex, it might clear the air
to examine the effects of lysergic acid diethylamide - and several other
psychedelic drugs - on human sexual behavior.
Along with the comparatively new synthetic psychedelics, including LSD
and psilocybin, there are similar mind-altering substances present in many
forms of plant life. Some of these have been used for hundreds and even
thousands of years. Examples are the peyote cactus, the Cannibis hemp plant,
the opium poppy and several varieties of mushrooms and morning-glory plants.
Most have been linked in one way or another with sex.
Whether opium - probably Homer's nepenthe - should be considered a
psychedelic drug is largely a matter of semantics. Some would-be authorities
exclude all addictive drugs, including opium, from the class of psychedelics.
However opium does produce effects similar to those produced by nonaddictive
psychedelics, and among these are sexual effects that merit consideration.
Prolonged use of opium results in mental and physical and mental
deterioration, including impotence. However, before is takes its toll, the
drug can powerfully and pleasurably enhance sexual experience. No one has
described the specific sexual effects of opium as well as the 19th century
French Army surgeon and anthropologist Jacobus Sutor, who authored numerous
sexological studies under the pseudonym Jacobus X. "According to my person
experience," wrote Jacobus, "and from avowals made to me by women, both
Europeans and Asiatics, the effects produced by opium in moderate doses, say
from 10 to 20 pipes, are as follows: Under the influence of erotic
excitement, either direct or merely mental, an erection is quickly produced,
if you want to copulate. But - and this has never been remarked by any other
author - although the penis is in a stiff erection, its nerves, and more
particularly, those of the glans, are anesthetized by the effets of the
opium, and though the erection is strong, the emission, on the contrary, is
much retarded and takes place only after prolonged copulation. This
anesthetic effect is also produced in the nerves of the vulva, the vagina and
the rectum of the woman, and the 'psychological moment' arives slowly. The
constrictor muscles of the vagina, and especially those of the rectum,
undergo a kind of relaxation." He goes on to say that, with larger doses,
more than 15 or 20 pipes, erection becomes incomplete; and with 30 or 40
pipes, it is absent altogether.
Jacobus' remarks also apply to peyote, to the LSD-type synthetics and, to
a lesser degree marijuana. Those under the influence of these drugs describe
the mild surface anesthesia, if that is what it is, as a feeling of
'rubberiness' that effects the penis, the female genitals and also sometimes
the mouth, the breasts, the fingers and other body areas. It is by no means
an unpleasent sensation; often it is descibed as heightened feelings of
voluptuousness. Along with the rubbery sensation, the genitals, if excited,
are felt to be engorged to an unusual degree.
At least as ancient as opium is the hemp plant (Cannibis sativa, or
Cannibis indica). When used as a drug, it is called marijuana, hashish and a
great deal of other names. Scientific reports on the sexual effects of
marijuana are conflicting. For example, the French toxicologist Erich Hesse
(Narcotics and Drug Addiction) tells us that marijuana and hashish provide no
sexual stimulation whatever; but another physician-author Bernard Finch
(Passport to Paradise), declares that "After several inhalations, a feeling
of sexual excitement develops and the smoker is able to improve his sexual
performance, in that erection is stronger and more persistant, but orgasm is
depressed and usually does not take place."
I could provide a great many more conflicting 'authoratative' statements
on this matter, although Finch is the only writer I know who suggests that
marijuana by itself produces a condition of sexual excitation. He also is
the only one to say that orgasm "usually" does not take place.
From many other times and places, we also have claims that hemp is an
aphrodisiac - and other claims that it is an anaphrodisiac, an inhibitor of
sexual desire or of potency. But whichever way they lean, the authors of
these claims are relying on personal predeliction, on very limited interview
data or on the verdict of some favorite 'authority' who has already made
similar errors. We find the same conflicting evidence from "experts" writing
about the sexual effect of peyote or LSD.
Anyone who has carefully studied psychoactive drugs should know that many
different effects are possible, depending on personal, cultural or immediate
situational factors - which are often crucial in determining drug-state
behavior. With marijuana and other psychedelics, people who are sexually
stimulated may find that their stimulation is greater than usual and that
their capacity to respond has been heightened. Others may find themselves
totally indifferent such as the writer Theophile Gautier, who took some
hashish and generalized that "a hashish user would not lift a finger for the
most beautiful woman in Verona." The same individual may find that he is
greatly aroused on one occasion and unexcited on the next. Or his mind may
experience desire while is body is unable to act in concert with it.
Some cultures place great faith in the aphrodisiacal effects of hemp; and
in those cultures the drug often does function as an aphrodisiac - producing
sexual excitation, enhancing potency and pleasure, and prolonging sexual
intercourse. Amoung Arabs, there is a vast lore of the effectiveness of hemp
in maintaining an erection - the prolongation of the sex act being almost an
obsession with some Moslems. A famous poem on this subject begins:
The member of Abu'l-Haylukh remained
In erection for 30 days, sustained
By smoking hashish
Abu'l-Haylukh deflowered in one night
Eighty virgins in a rigid rite
After smoking hashish
The poem goes on to describe still more feats of sexual athleticism; but
underlying its characteristic Arab hyperbole is some solid fact - hemp can,
indeed, prolong an erection. Besides the mild anesthesia described by
Jacobus, the male, with marijuana, may feel that his erect organ is bigger
and more rigid than ordinarily. Sometimes, as happens with LSD and peyote,
too, orgasm does not occur at all, which causes him no great distress, since
he feels that this is a small price to pay for for the pleasure he has
enjoyed, and the impression he has made on his partner. When copulation does
not lead to orgasm, both partners still may achieve it by vigorous
My own data regarding the contemporary use of marijuana use in this
country - in terms of its sexual effects - reflect the conflict in this
literature. Individual testimonials describe both sexual successes and
sexual failures. Overall, it appears that up to now, marijuana has been
about as likely to impair as to improve sexual performance. However, growing
acceptance of the drug may be making the latter effect the more common. Much
can depend on the users intention. Some prostitues smoke marijuana to
eliminate genital sensation - while at the same time they give the weed to
their customer to help him become more stimulated. In this case, it probably
works for the male because it makes him more responsive to the suggestion
that he will be more potent - and simultaniously it may reduce his
inhabitions and anxieties.
It should be noted, however, taht sexual effects may relate to the
potency of the drug. The strength of hemp products can depend on many things
- where the hemp is grown, how it is harvested and prepared and how it is
consumed. From one country to the next, or amoung regions of a country,
there are great diferences in the potency of the plants. As to consumption,
it is believed that smoking gives the strongest effect, by altering the
chemical composition of the drug. Research in these areas are now under way,
but results are still inconclusive. The eventual findings may explain to
some extent the different responses amoung marijuana smokers. But individual
psychology will still be a major factor.
At its best, most marijuana consumed in the U.S. is a maild psychedelic
drug, affording what is rarely more than a pallid approximation of the
experiences possible with LSD and peyote. The effects of these two on sexual
intercourse are virtually identical, and a statement about LSD may well be
understood to apply just as well to peyote - and probably to ther LSD-type
psychochemicals, such as mescaline and psilocybin.
I compiled my data on the sexual effects of psychedelic drugs in a series
of interviews, mostly "in depth" beginning in 1954 and continuing today. My
information is based on more than 300 drug-state sexual experiences on the
part of 94 persons, about two thirds of them males. Nineteen homosexual
experiences are included. The interview subjects were almost college
graduates from middle-class white Protestant backgrounds. Most of them took
the psychedelic drugs outside any formal research or therapeutic context and
then reported their experiences to me.
In other words, I did not study the effects of psychedelics on sex in the
laboratory, as sexual intersourse has been so fruitfully studieds by Wiliam
Masters and Virginia Johnson in St. Louis. My firsthand research with
psychedelic drugs - which was largely concerned with matters other than sex -
has now been abruptly ended by laws prohibiting almost all research in this
area. Buit I did obtain, in the sessions I guided personally, some material
significant in understanding psychosexual disorders. It was surprising how
often these disorders seemed grounded in problem of values or, specifically,
in low self-esteem. Nowhere can values be so quickly and so drastically
changed as in LSD sessions. In several instances, discussed below, persons
with sexual problems showed noticeable improvemnet after their LSD sessions -
quite a remarkable occurance, inasmuch as the sessions were intended as
research and therapeutic results were not expected.
To determine whether psychedelics drugs are, indeed, aphrodisiacs, we
must first determine what we mean by an aphrodisiac. If we mean that the
drugs specifically excite the sexual organs, then psychedelics are not
aphrodisiacs. If we mean that they produce or encourage sexual desire, again
they are not aphrodisiacs. But if we mean that the drugs can profoundly
enhance the quality of sexual acts that occur between people who would, in
any case, have had intercourse, then the drugs are aphrodisiacs, and my only
objection to the term in this context is that it will continue to be misused
by psychedelic or sexual extremists.
Drug-state phenomenea that occur during a sex act occur in other
drug-state contexts, too. The most common are changes in sensory perception,
in awareness of time, in the state of the ego, in one's relations to others
and in the emotions generally. In fact, these changes effect whatever one
does, whether it be listening to music, walking through a forest - or making
The positive effects of LSD in lovemaking can best be appreciated by
describing a hypothetical sexual act between husband-and-wife lovers - or
between single lovers, should that seem more adventurous. I will not,
however, hypothesize a casual erotic encounter between two near strangers,
because such an encounter would be less likely to produce so favorable an
experience. A strong emotional bond, or at least very positive feelings for
the partner, is much more likely to yield the richest, most intense and most
People rarely have sexual intercourse at the very start of a psychedelic
trip. First, as the perceptual changes occur and as consciousness is altered
in other ways, they need to orient themselves in this new world. In my
sample, this was true no matter how many previous LSD experiences they might
have shared. Typically, when there is sexual intercourse, it occurs at least
one hour and usually several hours after the onset of the psychedelic
When the two people are longtime lovers, they may feel, in the drug
state, an emotional closeness as intense as they felt in the early, most
emotion-charged stages of being in love. Since visual perception is highly
responsive to the emotions, each partner may take on an appearance of
extraordinary radiance and beauty. Communication may seem multileveled, with
a greatly hightened sensitivity to nuances of meaning - in gestures, caresses
and words as well. If this couple decides to make love, they will bring this
heightened sensitivity to their union, and their desire and the act itself
may be suffocated with the same positive emotion - and with the same beauty -
that has been present in their perceptions.
As foreplay and intercourse increaase their excitement, the couple will
become aware of the genital sensations described by Jacobus. The man may
feel that his erection is larger and more firm and his potency greater than
it has ever been before, heightening his confidence, producing a greater
sense of total genital arousal and increasing his capacity to respond.
Anxiety about the duration of the act will very quickly dissappear. The
couple will feel that their lovemaking will last just as long as they want it
to last, so that time no longer matters. In the more profound experiences,
there may be a sense of timelessness - of the eternal.
Several elements combine to produce these novel and extrememly
pleasurable awarenesses of time. For one thing, intercourse always does last
much longer in terms of the clock. This is probably because of the mildly
anesthetized state of the sexual organs - although the term 'anesthesia'
seems strikingly inappropriate in describing these very intense sensations.
Moreover, diminished inhabitions soon produce self-confidence and spontaneity
that help reduce concern about the duration of the act. Finally, there is
the distortion - or 'slowing down' - of time that is a usual and important
aspect of the psychedelic state. This distortion (a term that is technically
correct but fails to convey its positive qualities) of subjective time is
experienced because the mental processes have been enormously accelerated.
So much may be experienced in a few minutes of clock-measured time that the
person typically declares that 'hours' or sometimes 'eons' seem to have
passed. A sexual union that in fact lasts 30 minutes or an hour may seem
'endless' or to have 'the flavor of eternity.' Lovemaking that lasts for
several hours is not too infrequent.
The sexual union gathers ever more meaning and beauty as it progresses.
It may even take on symbolic and archetypal overtones. The couple may feel
that they are mythic, legendary, or more-than-human figures as they act out
in a timeless and beneficient space of eternally recurring drama of love and
creation. The feeling of being more than human does not indicate grandiosity
but, rather, that one has transcended the ordinary boundaries of self, the
limits of time and space, so that something more, some infusion of the divine
or supernatural, must have occured. This awareness is accompanied by
profound feelings of security, tenderness, humility and gratitude. Sometimes
only one partner will enjoy this transcendental experience, but with
surprising frequency the feelings are shared.
When sexual union includes altered states of consciousness such as these,
it is properly described as ecstatic. It may progress to include one or even
several instances of apparent physical and psychic melting into and becoming
one with the partner. Whether this occurs in a sexual union or in a mystical
context, or in a combination of the two, it is almost always regarded as one
of the most profound and fulfilling experiences human life has to offer. The
one that the two become is a unity much greater than its components.
Religiously devout or mystically inclined people may have the sense of a
unity that is also a trinity, with God present in the oneness. In any case,
an experience of this order can hardly be dismissed as 'sexual mysticism' - a
term sneeringly used by some of the more rabid opponents of psychedelic
experimentation. Nor can it be tossed away with some labels from
psychopathology, such as 'ego dissolusion' and 'depersonalization.' It can
be one of the most beautiful and important experiences in life.
In view of all that has gone before, the orgasm - when it arrives - may
seem something of an anticlimactic climax. Some people, in this orgasm-happy
society, learn for the first time how much more than can be to sex than the
brief intensity of the climax - and how much their past sexual experience has
been impoverished by the urgent and infantile drive toward orgasm that is so
prevalent in Western societies.
However, the orgasm, too, is 'psychedelic' - that is, magnafied or
intensified. Time distortion can greatly prolong it, and there is an
awareness of the whole process from beginning to end, in far greater detail.
Men very often report sensations of gathering tension, concentration of
energy and then an extremely acute awareness of the spasmodic propulsion of
the ejaculate, which is plainly and pleasurably felt as it travels along the
urethra and is ejected into the vagina of the partner. At the same time,
there is a greatly intensified awareness of the genital organs of the
partner: Their texture, temperature and movement. Some women for the first
time become keenly aware of the pulsations of the male organ as climax begins
- and of the ejaculate as they receive it.
Orgasm is often experienced upon two levels. It is the most intensely
erotic aspect of the act, as consciousness seems totally absorbed in the
orgasmic sensations. And yet there seems also to be another consciousness,
which does not dilute but rather reinforces the genital consciousness. This
is the sense of attaining the beautiful climax of a beautiful experience.
Remarkably, in view of the richness of the experience, throughout these
unions there is an undiminished and sometimes greatly intensified awareness
of the partner. One does not lapse into a selfish and exclusive
preoccupation with the components of ecstasy.
In almost 25 percent of the sexual acts I recorded, one or both partners
did not reach orgasm. This was nothing new for most of the women; but for
some of the men, it was a novel experience. Typically, however, the absence
of orgasm was not a disappointment. The act itself was so fulfilling that
the attitude was: Who cares whether there was an orgasm? This, too, can be a
valuable experience for those women who sledom climax in their ordinary
lovemaking. It teaches them that even without orgasm, sex can provide
Under the influence of psychedelics, the anorgasmic woman can experience
great joy in intercourse and derive gratification from conferring just as
much joy on her partner. If this lesson were learned and applied to all
intercourse, many people - both male and female - would be better off for it.
It is worth noting that at least some have learned it through psychedelic
The foregoing description was of a maximal drug-state sexual experience.
Slightly more than half of my heterosexual subjects reported extraordinary
unions resembling or approaching this at least once. The frequency probably
would have been lower with younger or with less intelligent individuals,
because richness of personality is a key factor in determining the richness
of the psychedelic experience. An earned capacity for appreciating the
complex and profound must already exist.
My intention here is not to promote the haphazard and now illegal use of
psychedelic drugs - with or without sexual intercourse. But it is only
realistic to admit that many thousands of people are taking psychochemicals
without screening or adequate guidance. Of these, a good many are also
experimenting with sex. It seems best that they be informed about
possibilites beyond 'kicks' and trivia, so that they can explore the many
valuable aspects of an experience that might otherwise be wasted.
My research indicates that homosexuals in psychedelic states enjoy
profound, ecstatic sexual experiences with less frequency - and less
intensity - than their heterosexual counterparts. Female homosexuals seem
more likely to have profound sexual experiences than male homosexuals. The
very practical matter of the positioning of the bodies apprears to provide a
partial explanation. The ecstatic experience seems more likely to occur when
one faces the partner while the act is being performed. Social attitude
toward homosexuality, as well as the homosexual's typical guilt and low
self-esteem, may also be deterrents. In the drug state, homosexual acts are
usually specifically erotic and less invested with other positive meaning.
However, the physical pleasure of genital, oral and anal sensations is
enhanced, just as with heterosexuals.
Claims that LSD-state sexual intercourse can 'cure' homosexuality and
frigidity may lead to enormous disappointment - and possibly serious harm -
to psychosexually disturbed people, who have enough problems already. Under
the influence of psychedelics, a failure to funtion as promised might cause a
powerful reinforcement of existing disorders, making any cure more difficult.
Nor is it invariably, or even frequently, true that, in the words of
Timothy Leary, a "neurological and cellular fidelity" delvelops between two
person who have had sexual relations during an LSD experience. The notion is
poetic but inaccurate. Even the most beautiful drug-state sexual unions do
not always guarantee change in a previous relationship. Leary's devotees
sometimes tell me, with what sometimes seems more hope than conviction, that
Leary speaks a 'private language,' the better to convey the ineffable truths.
However, the fact is that he is taken literally by a great many people. He
has said, for instance, that "in a carefully prepared, loving LSD session, a
woman will inevitably have several hundred orgasms." I have yet to hear from
anyone else a single instance remotely approximating this; and I feel rather
confident that if it had been happening with any frequency, the world would
not have had to wait for Leary to announce it.
While LSD can hardly be considered a panacea for sexual disorders, it
does hold promise for becoming an extremely valuable tool in treating those
and many other promises. And it will become even more valuable when
therapists stop regarding it as adjunt to their old procedures and develop
psychedelic therapies permitting them to make full use of the great weath of
Scientific literature on psychedelics includes hundreds of reports of
successful treatment, even with the old procedures, for such disorders as
homosexuality, figidity, impotence, fetishism and even transvestism, one of
the most difficult to treat of all sexual deviations. Good progress in these
areas has been made in England, and it is certainly unfortunate that
psychotherapists in this country are legally unable to work extensively with
Some homosexuals, for instance, as part of their low self-esteem, have a
distorted body image. They think they are ugly or deformed when they are
not, and may believe that they have an abnormally small penis - when they
actually have a normal one. In LSD sessions I recorded, the body image of
homosexualsd sometimes became normalized, heightening self-esteem and
producing definate trends toward heterosexualization. Here, homosexuality
seemed based mainly on values - not on some long past traumatic experience.
In any case, heterosexualization could occur without any trauma being dealt
with. However, when there was no subsequent therapy, the subjects'
homosexuality returned within a few months after their LSD sessions were over.
Some men with potency problems decided in their LSD sessions that their
sexual organs were not too small and afterward their potency improved,
sometimes permanently. A frigid woman discovered that an 'inner voice' had
been calling her a 'fake' and an 'unworthy person.' The voiced ordinarily
talked to her 'on some below level consciousness'; but in her LSD session,
she heard it clearly and she was able to refute it just as clearly. After
freeing herself from this voice, she felt she no longer had to punish herself
by denying herself sexual pleasure. Her frigidity soon was overcome - and
had not reappeard almost four years later.
The therapeutic value of LSD is by no means limited to sexual disorders.
Alcoholics intractable to all previous therapies have quit drinking or become
much improved after treatment with psychedelics. Cure and improvement rates
range anywhere from 25 to 75 percent, and some of the studies have been very
well controlled. In other cases previously withdrawn, schizophrenic children
improved when psychedelics were administered. Given the questionable value
of some approved psychoterapies, it is a wonder that public outcry has not
demanded increased use of psychedelics in the areas where there promise seems
Possibly such a great demand is now discouraged by recent evidence
linking LSD to chromosomal abnormalties. This charge must be considered in
proper perspective. The fact is that no one, at the present time, can say
how important LSD-caused chromosomal damage may be. We do know that rather
similar chromosomal changes are produced by many products widely used -
caffeine (in coffee and cola drinks), alcohol, antibiotics and a wide range
of drugs about which no such furor has been raised. Live measles vaccine, in
particular, quickly produces chromosomal breaks. We know, too, that LSD has
been in use for a quarter of a century, apparently without causing cancer or
deformed infants - the two main specters with which chromosomal damage of
this kind seems to confront us. Moreover, the U.S. Government continues to
sponser a few LSD therapy projects, so Government scientists must not feel
the risks are too great. The sensible position must be to weigh LSD's value
against possible, but not demonstrated, dangers. The evidence is sufficent
to warrant withholding LSD from pregnant females.
This may also be the place to mention briefly a new psychedelic
substance, STP. STP is yet more potent than LSD, producing effects that may
continue for days. It also produces far more bad trips and frequent
aftereffects. The chemical analysis of STP indicates similarities to
mescaline and the amphetamines, but more refind analysis is needed.
Cases brought to my attention include aftereffects such as partial
amnesia, frightening perceptual changes and recurring states of panic. One
man, for example, weeks later, felt his head alternately growing to the size
of a watermelon and shrinking to the dimensions of a pea. It is too soon to
say whether these sensations will be permanent. No one I have talked to
appears to have had sexual intercourse under STP. For those persons, at
least, the experience was much too overwhelming. Neither does it seem likely
at this point that STP will have much value for research or therapy. Pending
further information, the best advice is to leave the drug alone.
With STP, we may be witnessing the unhappy result of too many
unscientific medical pronouncements combined with too many scare stories
about psychedelic drugs. A number of physicians have greatly exaggerated the
dangers of the old psychedelics - and even of marijuana. Now, with a drug
that seems to be much more dangerous, these 'scientists' have forged a
credibility gap that prevents many people - especially those in the
psychedelic underground - from taking their claims seriously. Warnings about
STP from physicians have been much less effective than those voiced by the
underground press. The medical profession should consider this lesson and
perhaps profit by it. More psychedelics will be created and some will almost
certainly be very dangerous. Disaster could ensue unless scientists manage
to regain the confidence in the public.
In the case of LSD and the 'milder' psychedelics, the chances of
unfortunate results can be reduced by following a few basic precautions.
Since psychedelic experience can magnify tendendies in onself, in others and
in the surroundings, psychedelics should not be taken in an environment that
will threaten or displease. When this precaution is ignored, there can be
bad trips - whether or not intercourse is a part of the experience.
Sexologists always urge a pleasent setting for intercourse - as well as a
partner one respects and relates to positively. This becomes even more
important when the couple has taken psychedelics. With LSD, a drab, dirty
room that might ordinarily be ignored can become a filthy, sordid pesthole,
and this perception of the room can saturate the total experience. Similarly,
sex with a person about whom one has negative feelings can become, with LSD,
an experience of extreme repulsion - with guilt, depression or anxiety as a
result. In two cases I know of, males took LSD, picked up prostitues and had
very bad trips. Both men, of course, had basically negative feeling about
prostitues and these emerged in a much heightened form during the sexual act.
Both men were initially aroused, but soon began to feel degraded and then
powerfully repelled by the situation. One felt that the woman's body was
coated with "a dirty, poisonous substance" that rubbed off on his own body
and infected him. He managed to get her out of the room, was near panic for
a long while and, after the effects of the LSD had worn off, he went into a
depression that lasted for some days. In fact, his perception might not have
been completely imaginative, since he contracted gonorrhea as a result of
this contact. In the other case, the male found the girl becoming more and
more ugly as he looked at her. Then the room became similarly ugly. He
became nauseous, then was overwhelmed by feelings of guilt about his
'prejudice.' That man was white and Jewish and the woman Negro made the
situation especially complicated and charged with emotion.
With LSD, some peope may besome aware of what they feel are opposite-sex
components of their personality. This they interpret as evidence that they
are homosexual. Some males with effeminate tendensies, who strongly suppress
their effeminacy, have felt they were undergoing a physical sex change.
Their bodies seemed to have female breasts and genetalia. Understandably,
this kind of experience, too, can lead to anxiety and depression. And
afterward, the person may believe that his 'true personality' was revealed.
One should never regard drug-state as necessarily more revealing than
other types of experience. With LSD-type drugs, what might be a passing and
easily dismissed idea can become a prolonged a vivid mental event. But this
doesn't mean that it necessarily has greater validity than the passing idea
would have ordinarily. Such phenomenea are best regarded as drug-state
curiousities that will not effect the normal personality and behavior.
When negative perceptions or emotions occur, and if they last long enough
to be distressing, it is best not to analyze them. Try to get interested in
something else. Psychedelic veterans have learned to do this. Similarly,
it's often easy to divert the partner, should his or her distress become
obvious. This might be done with an especially interesting or amusing remark
or by telling the other person how much pleasure he or she is giving. If, as
ought to be the case, the two people are lovers or good friends, then it is
likely that they will know how to help each other, should the need arise.
For this reason, too, psychedelic experience is not a desirable arena for
casual sex between two strangers.
Spontaneous changes in visual perseption may also provide very pleasant
experiences. One man, for example, related that his girlfiend changed as he
held her in his arms, first to Helen of Troy, then to Cleopatra, then in
successive metamorphoses to yet other women, so that he quickly "made love to
all the famous beauties in history." After a while, the girl resumed he own
appearance, although her beauty was greatly heightened, and he "thought he no
less lovely than any of the others and appreciated very much her part in
providing such a great experience."
There are a host of similar erotic phenomena that sometimes occur in the
psychedelic state. These might seem trivial and self-indulgent compared with
the transcendence of the ecstatic union, but they are intereting,
nonetheless. For many people, for instance, it is possible to 'genitalize'
almost any part of the body, by consciously transferring the response
capacity from the sexual organs to some otehr part, such as a finer. Rubbing
one's finger against a fabric can provide sensations akin to those
experienced in masturbation. A couple might even genitalize the lips and the
mouth, so taht kissing affords sensations very much like those usually
experienced in mouth-genital contacts or in sexual intercourse.
One man, who had taken a large dose of LSD (about 500 micrograms), found
himself unable to obtain an erection, despite much assistance from his
partner. Abandoning the effort, they lay side by side. Suddenly, he became
aware of his entire body as "one great, erect penis. The World," he said,
"was my vagina and I had a sense of moving in and out of it, with intense
A few research subjects have reported similar erotic sensations from
listening to music. One man reported "the sexualization of my entire body as
I listened to Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony. The music washed over every
inch of my body, giving sexual sensations like those of a very intense
orgasm. The pleasure became so intense as to be unendurable. I had to shut
off the phonograph. I wondered at every instant if I would not have a real
ejaculation." In a subsequent LSD experience, he responded to the same
recording in the same way. No other music produced the phenomenon, and he
never learned why the Pastoral should have such an effect. With another
subject, any symphonic music produced strong sexual sensations.
When males see vivid images or visions, they almost always include
beautiful nudes, with Balinese dancing girls and other Orientals appearing
frequently. Drug-state visions in America are shot through with this
predilection for the East - in archetectural and religious imagery as well as
in nudes. But just as women are less interested in erotic art, so do they
have less erotic imagery.
The aftereffects of drug-state sex can be of very great value, though
often the results don't last. As an immediate aftermath of a good sexual
experience under LSD, some couples report an over-all improvement in their
relationship - and a specific improvement in their sex life. Frequently, a
portion of the drug-state perception of the womans greatly heightened beauty
carries over, so that she continues to appear more attractive. Sometimes,
with psychedelics, inhabitions fall away, allowing people to engage in sexual
practices that are normal and that had been desired, but which inhabition
prevented. Extensive caressing of the genitals and mouth-genital stimulation
are frequent examples. Breaking through such blocks can be permanent.
Especially amoung married couples, who had largely ceased to attract each
other sexually, there can be a reactivation of old desires and emotions.
Most of these beneficial aftereffects are lost in days, weeks or months, but
they can be retained - or possibly reactivated by another LSD session - if
they are regarded as important enough to be worth preserving.
Because ecstatic union is so rich an experience and may have very
positive effects on a relationship, it is obviously desirable that it occur
and be repeated. This is possible without psychedelics, but the necessary
changes in consciousness occur more readily when they have first been
experienced in LSD-type states. After LSD, memories and pathways in the
nervous system have been strongly established and can be explored again more
To take some terminology from the theologians, we have been busy for a
long while 'demythologizing' sexual intercourse - divesting it of a sense of
sin and a necessary connection with procreation. But a totally
demythologized sex can be mechanical, vapid and banal if it remains without
larger significance. Ecstatic sexual experience may be the new and valuable
'remythologizing' agent. With and without psychedelic drugs, we may be able
to invest the sexual union with new beauty and meaning.