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Grof on LSD Therapy 4

From “Principles of LSD Psychotherapy” in LSD Psychotherapy (1980):

There should be “a specifically designed treatment unit or suite” isolated on the ground floor (148). There should be a kitchen and a bathroom. Soft environment for safety. Flowers, fruits, nuts, and art. Music is essential. The patient should be able to shower or bathe. Fast a day before the LSD session if possible. Start the LSD session in the morning or when the patient wakes to minimize stress on the patient’s sleep cycle. Take LSD orally. Do not inject LSD unless the patient has a specific oral issue or a vomiting problem (e.g. cancer patients). Wear comfortable clothes (no bras/belts/watches/jewelry/dentures/glasses/contacts/keys). No knives.


The therapist may not use a phone, accept visitors, or otherwise leave the session. Grof recommends two therapists for ‘sitting’ the patient. One therapist should be male and one should be female in order to facilitate the projection of gendered object-relations in psychodramatic reenactments of “the Oedipal triangle” (153). The two therapists should know one another well and have worked together before (e.g. in training by dropping LSD together). The therapist should maintain a matter-of-fact attitude.

During the latency period, after ingesting but before onset, you should meditate, listen to music, look at pictures, or have relaxing discussions. Grof suggests having a family album on hand. When the drug starts to take effect, the patient must recline, keep eyes closed, and listen to music in order to keep the experience internal. Keep music continuous to stabilize the patient’s grasp of time. Avoid lyrical music in order to de-intellectualize the music. Grof suggests trance music. If music prevents the patient from internalizing the LSD session, play “white noise” (154). The patient must surrender to the experience. No talking until after the peak - talking is resistance. No analysis during the peak of the drug’s effect. The therapist may respond to requests for water, blankets, napkins, and lip balm. After the peak of the drug’s effect the sitter/therapist can intervene.

The LSD should have peaked by the six-hour mark. Start intervening by asking the patient to give feedback on their condition. Tell the patient to hyperventilate to “activate any available emotional material” (156). You can touch the patient to manipulate the experience of physical problems like pressure in the head. If the LSD does not take as strong of an effect as it should, mark the sobriety as a psychological defense which must be analyzed rather than bulldozed-over with increased doses. Using a psychoanalytic diagnostic schema for resistances, Grof claims that “patients with severe obsessive-compulsive neuroses seem to represent an extreme of resistance, while persons with a hysterical personality structure or symptomatology are at the other end of the spectrum” (149). The subject’s distress while on LSD is a manifestation of unconscious distress, so if you deal with the subject’s distress on LSD then the unconscious distress should disappear. The patient may have “a feeling of completion” or other feeling of transpersonal stability like oneness with the world (157).

After the trip is over, have a “psychedelic dinner” in support of the patient, since “‘This is your day’ is the implicit and explicit message given to the subject before the session and reinforced or repeated in various ways during the day” (158). The patient should sleep at the treatment suite, preferably with a sexual partner. Do not give the patient tranquilizers to help them sleep. If the lack of sleep becomes a severe emotional issue, “Librium, Valium, or a barbiturate might be appropriate” (158). The patient needs attention up to twenty-four hours after dosing, and should not engage in analysis before the end of this period. Allow the patient to sleep in. The day after a trip should be relaxing and may include “basking in the sun, or swimming” (159). Listen to the music played during the trip, again. The therapist should be available to discuss “transference phenomena” (159). Pay attention to the significance of any dreams during the night after the trip. Allow the patient to watch the video of their LSD trip, if a video was made. The patient should be encouraged to do art.
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