LSD Gets Another Look | Full Report | Retro Report on PBS

LSD Gets Another Look | Full Report | Retro Report on PBS

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(dramatic music) – Tens of millions
of Americans suffer from depression and anxiety. And many don’t respond
to available treatments so finding new medications
has become a priority. But some of the drugs
now showing promise
aren’t new at all and they come from
surprising places. – This year, the FDA
approved a form of ketamine, also known as the
club drug, Special K, for treatment
resistant depression and then there’s
psilocybin, a psychedelic. It’s the active compound
in magic mushrooms and the chemical cousin of LSD. Medicine probably
isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when
you think of psychedelics. They’re far better
known for their place in 1960’s counter culture. (gentle music) When Sherry Marcy was
diagnosed with stage three endometrial cancer, her
life changed overnight. – I had been an
athlete all my life, so to suddenly have
cancer was shocking. I think I looked up
from the phone call and said to Nancy,
“I’m stunned.” – After Sherry’s diagnosis,
even prior to treatment, it was just like this
doom had descended on her and then subsequently on us. – It took away my
whole identity. I wasn’t who I used to be. And I wasn’t the person
that Nancy you know, formed a life with. It felt like I sat on the
couch and did nothing all day. – [Female Host] Then Sherry
read an article about a study for cancer patients
struggling with depression. They were given an unusual
treatment, psilocybin, a chemical cousin of LSD with
one important difference. – It comes down to the
spelling of psilocybin, it’s a hard word to
spell but at least it’s not spelled
L-S-D (laughing) which is a very strong
word that people react to. ♪ Old child ♪ ♪ Young child ♪ – [Female Host] That
reaction can be traced back to the 1960’s when LSD
burst onto the scene. – CBS News, without any
flowers in its hair, is in San Francisco because
this city has gained the reputation of being the
hippy capital of the world. – [Female Host] It
was January of 1967 and thousands of young people
gathered in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to
celebrate a counter culture based on peace, love, and
psychedelic drugs like LSD. – It was political speakers, it was counter
cultural speakers, it was rock music and yes, the LSD
flowed like wine. – [Female Host] A psychologist
who had taught at Harvard, named Timothy Leary,
praised the power of LSD, an increasingly popular
mind altering drug. – Turn on, tune in, drop out. (clapping) – Timothy Leary had an insight
that if you changed yourself, it would change the world
and change the society. – So people say,
“What’s the use of LSD?” I translate that into,
“What’s the use of my head.” And that’s a
fascinating problem. Suppose man can use
more of his brain. – People that took the drug felt if everybody can
have this experience, the world would be a
profoundly different place, a much better place. And within months, this
drug, this sensibility, this counter
cultural revolution, if you want to call it that, attracted mass media
from around the planet and that blew it up. ♪ Everything turned ♪ – The city of San
Francisco has been warned of the hippy
invasion come summer in numbers almost too
staggering to comprehend. – I think a lot of people
intuited, in the establishment, that LSD was a direct
threat to industriousness. – I mean what, you want to
drop out and not get a job? You know, just go and live on
the street in San Francisco? I think this was seen as
profoundly threatening to the social order. – The kids who take LSD
aren’t gonna fight your wars, they’re not going to
join your corporations. – Psychedelics are
not growing, okay? Psychedelics are dangerous. – [Female Host] Former New
York City police commissioner, Howard Safir was an
undercover narcotics agent in the late 1960’s. – Back then, everybody
felt of LSD was for hippies until suddenly kids who looked
like they were straight, showed up in emergency rooms. (sirens) – [Male Newscaster] There
is a steady flow in the San Francisco hospitals
of young people who have freed doubt and been
picked up by the police in a state of desperate terror. – I had seen people
on the street who had no idea where they were. I had arrested people on LSD
who were incredibly violent so it wasn’t the peaceful,
non-harmful, easy drug that Timothy Leary
professed it to be. – Now there is nothing smart, there is nothing grown
up or sophisticated in taking an LSD trip at all. They’re just being
complete fools. – [Female Host] Headlines
warned of additional dangers. – [Male Newscaster]
Instant insanity. – Chromosome damage. – It may effect your
unborn children. – [Female Host] After
Dianne Linkletter fell from a sixth story
window in 1969, her father, TV personality
Art Linkletter, blamed LSD. – Anybody who has said
anything which would encourage my daughter to take LSD
was unwittingly a part of being her murderer. – I think that raised
public consciousness, probably as much as anything
that happened in the ’60s. – President Nixon went to
the Narcotics Bureau today to sign a drug bill. – [Female Host] In 1970, the
Controlled Substances Act made LSD a schedule one drug, the class of dangerous
substances with high potential for abuse and no
accepted medical use. But it turns out that
until that point, researchers had been testing
the medical use of LSD in the lab with some
promising early results. – It was all legal
in those days. Nothing controversial
about it at all. – [Female Host] Bill
Richards helped conduct scientific research with
LSD and other psychedelics as a young researcher
in the 1960’s. He says the early
experiments in the 1950’s were rudimentary. – You’d simply be given a
drug and see what happens. – Do you find any difference
between one half of your body as opposed to the other half? – Well, I have a sort
of a wavering tendency. I don’t know which
half is trying to get
into the other half but somehow or other, I
seem to be going like that. – Most people got
mildly psychotic and the thought then was
that it might help us understand schizophrenia
or other severe forms of mental illness. – [Female Host] The
CIA investigated LSD as a potential truth serum
and the army tested the effect LSD might have on
soldiers in battle. – [Male] After a few minutes, the men found it
difficult to obey orders. And soon the results
were chaotic. – [Female Host] Some early
test subjects had bad reactions and some scientists began to
use LSD in a more controlled manner as one step in an ongoing
program of psychotherapy. – There was a lot of
excitement about the potential of psychedelics in
treating alcoholism and then we moved into working with terminal cancer patients, treating anxiety and depression. – [Male] I was taking
head on the biggest thing that’s bothered you. – [Female Host] The LSD
experience was closely monitored and guided with music and
eye shades used to calm and reassure the patient. – [Male Patient] At the
end I felt a great weight had been taken off me. – There was an incredible
spirit of excitement, international conferences, papers published on
LSD and psychotherapy. – [Female Host] But as
the 1960’s progressed and as people like
Timothy Leary spread LSD from the laboratory to
the counter culture, the drug’s potential for
therapy was overshadowed by stories with
dangerous street use. – I’m a pretty
black and white guy, there was never any
float in my mind that there were
positive uses for LSD. I saw the results and the
results were not pretty. – [Female Host] And
after LSD was declared a schedule one drug in 1970, funding and support for
psychedelic research dried up. – There’s really no other
example that I can think of in science where an
entire area of research was put on the deep
freeze for decades. (gentle music) – [Female Host] Today, the
psychedelic glow of the 1960’s has faded and
recreational use of LSD, which is still illegal, has fallen to low
but steady levels. But in the world of science,
a new age is dawning again. – Folks are studying a lot of
things with psychedelics now. – [Female Host] In recent years, several dozen academic
studies have investigated the use of psychedelic
drugs and therapy to treat problems
ranging from addiction to treatment resistant
depression and anxiety in cancer patients. Sherry Marcy took
part in one of them. – There was sort of a
ceremony about taking the pill and then I was there for six
hours reacting to the pill. And I process by talking so… (laughing) Something I really
learned about myself then. Because every now and
then they would say, “Now why don’t you stop
talking and just feel.” (laughing) But what happened to
me was that I ended up getting totally
reconnected first to Nancy. Nancy and I had a
wonderful life together and it could go on and I
hadn’t known that before. And then also my kids. Getting reconnected to them so there was this family
dynamic that just reformed and that was just great. – She was just lighter. Just immediately a difference. And then we came home
and it persisted. – [Female Host] Today Sherry,
who is now cancer free, says the psilocybin study
helped her re-engage with life. – It wasn’t like it
was psychedelic for me. It just was me, back. I don’t know how it
did that exactly. Except to broaden out, you know. It’s like you lift up your head and you take a good, long look and you start
seeing things again. – [Female Host] Brain imaging
studies have investigated the impact of psychedelics. They found that both LSD and
psilocybin foster connections between parts of the brain that
normally work independently. – It’s an exciting area
in neuroscience right now. More and more groups
are jumping in and it’s only just begun. But people should really
be aware that there are potential dangers. – [Female Host] Those
dangers can range from a temporary bad reaction to the triggering or worsening of an underlying
psychiatric condition. So caution is a guiding
principle in today’s research. But it turns out that
not all of the claims made about LSD in
the 1960’s were true. Studies have found
little evidence that it damages chromosomes
or causes birth defects. And Dianne Linkletter’s
autopsy found no drugs in her system when she died. On the other hand, Sherry
Marcy says Timothy Leary didn’t get it right either. – I think the
emphasis was wrong. I mean, the turn on doesn’t
have to be emphasized at all. The drop out is an
absolute mistake but the tune in is crucial. I tuned in, tuned
into the world, to me, to things I used to love, to my relationships,
to my family. Tune in is what it’s all about.

18 thoughts on “LSD Gets Another Look | Full Report | Retro Report on PBS”

  1. Shrooms are natural. LSD is synthetic. Dont let PBS confuse you. Remember how they told you Hillary was set to win the 2016 election? LSD will warp your mind.

  2. Notice the use of the term mind altering drug, a term perpetrated upon the public to confuse people. It's a mind opening drug, a mind healing drug, and although it is the synthetic version of a more natural substance, it can be quite healing and useful. Never buy into the terminology of those who wood oppress you. Own your own correct terminology.

  3. End the war on drugs and LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS! Every adult should be able to do whatever they want with their own body regardless of the damage it may do to themselves, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, it's absolutely nobody's business what someone does in the privacy of their own home and anyone that wants to control someone's personal behavior either has Authoritarian personality disorder or some other psychological defect.

  4. Notice how they blame the LSD for the freak outs, when we know for a fact that the government tainted the LSD. Duh. Nobody ever peels back a single layer.

  5. Such a shame that Art Linkletter fell for the establishment's lie. LSD didn't kill his daughter, the government killed his daughter. And he willingly became their puppet.

  6. Notice how Nixon kowtowed to Big Pharma, along with the medical industrial complex, which profited the most from the drug war aside from the prison industrial complex. And then he turns around in 1973 and makes the medical industry a for-profit affair to further increase their Lust For more money more money more money. So they could buy more politicians… and the cycle goes around and around.

  7. Physician, heal thyself first and foremost. The medical industrial complex is a scam. They don't want people healing themselves. You can thank Richard Nixon for that 1973.

  8. They only want doctors pushing drugs LOL. And that's the only reason we have doctors now. See how well that worked out for the greedy?

  9. You can't test LSD on your own self, but you can use it on innocent soldiers and other people for purposes of greed and mass population control LOL. No informed consent whatsoever. And when are we going to make it illegal again to advertise drugs on the TV?

  10. I took lsd twice for a couple of hippy concerts… a kind of “experience it all” attitude. Sort of like being “barely” drunk but with no loss of coordination, no physical impairments. In other words not the hallucinating starship freakout death wish and never ending mania that I was expecting. Oh the peer pressure of my 20’s.

  11. Entheogens have helped me immensely. I was an alcoholic and addicted to opioids. Psilocybin helped me gain my freedom and my wife and I are closer than ever.I love plant medicine. Thank you PBS for exposing more people to this information.

  12. I thought this was going to be a discussion of its medical applications. Instead it went lowbrow and sensationaliatic. I expect better, PBS.

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