Aldous Huxley must be on drugs to even think of psychedelic drugs, as a means to solve a number of great mysteries and human problems. Oh, but he was on drugs, and so it figures. But as a respectable figure of the literature world, Huxley’s drug forays should be given a deeper introspection.
In “The Door in the Wall: Part II,” Jay Stevens describes the experimentations of Huxley and his associates with mescaline and LSD. Huxley believes that mescaline opens doors to the Other World, while Stevens mulls over the drug’s ability to solve mental illnesses, because of its seemingly cathartic effect. Huxley also underscores the mental paradise that mescaline opens: “Wafted across it on the wings of mescaline… we reach what may be called the Antipodes of the mind…” (qtd. in Stevens). This paper focuses on the place of mescaline in the field of psychology.
It will be hard for psychotherapists to use mescaline, LSD, and other drugs to dissolve psychic defenses and help people resolve their mental problems, because not many people are prepared to take a psychological trip to the subconscious, where innermost insights, dreams, and demons can be found.Mescaline opens the worlds of innermost desires, and recognized desires can help people become more aware of their unconscious drives or they may find insatiable needs instead. An example is: “Mortimer Hartman [who] was always eliciting violent sexual fantasies” (Stevens). What does it mean to have these kinds of fantasies explored in the mind? Will it stop right there, in the corner of a man’s mind, or is it possible that these violent sexual fantasies are expressed outside, in the real world? It is hard to fathom how Freud’s concept of sexual drives can be a way of beneficial catharsis for all kinds of personalities, particularly for those people, who already have a weak grasp of reality or morality or both. Huxley himself knew that people must have self-control, when taking these drugs. He must have acknowledged that for weaker-willed people, something might go wrong, when the rawest of desires are explored. Knowing about one’s desires can lead to adverse effects, especially when coupled with violence. Huxley and Stevens cannot be certain that opening a world of innermost desires will be a good thing for all people.
It might just turn out for the worse, as people crave for a real physical experience, no matter how violent and disturbing these desires might be.The mind buries the most intimate dreams too, and drugs can help explore these unmet needs. Novelist Ana?s Nin illustrates her mescaline trip: “Without being a mathematician I understand the infinite” (Stevens).
She remembers “a Picasso painting, an asymmetrical man with one large, prying eye. Prying into her very soul” (Stevens). Ellis also took mescaline and remembers a parade of colors: “mostly a vast field of golden jewels, studded with red and green stones, ever changing.” On one hand, this ability to know what people want and need can be a spiritual endeavor. It can be connected to finding one’s mission in life. It can be a source of artistic or intellectual inspiration. Seeing life from a different perspective can also work magic in changing values and beliefs.
It makes possible for psychotherapist to shape people’s dispositions, such as from anger to acceptance. Nevertheless, not everyone can properly handle these beautiful experiences and profit from it. There are people who would rather discover this artificial paradise and stay in it, instead of dealing with real-life problems. Pearce criticizes the negative impacts of living in engineered paradise: “Linda, the Savage’s mother, takes too much: up to twenty grammes a day…Linda eventually dies of an overdose.” Pearce makes a point in saying that mescaline-induced dreams are not for every person, especially those who have found too much enjoyment and escape in the artificial paradise.
The unconscious is the gateway to hell too, because inside it lurk inner demons. Mayhew shares his experience of the dark side of the Other World: “There were occasions when I knew with terrible vividness what being mad was like” (Stevens). Ellis invites an artist to try mescaline and the latter also gets in touch with paralyzing fears: “From this moment I had a series of attacks or paroxysms, which I can only describe by saying that I felt as though I were dying.
” Apparently, mescaline also opens the doors to innermost fears and anxieties. These fears and anxieties are like dreams, but people can have a hard time differentiating reality from delusions, because the mind has a powerful influence on perceptions. Freud and other psychologists want people to face their fears and anxieties, but perhaps not this way- not in a way that they would feel more engulfed and oppressed. Stevens asks about the possibilities of using mescaline to investigate the therapeutic advantage of exploring the unconscious.
His hypothesis makes sense. Open the mind and it can help people realize their unconscious desires, dreams, and demons, so that they can find their own resolutions to their mental illnesses. Stevens suggests that controlled settings can help direct the engineering of this mental therapy. But as far as Huxley and the rest have tried, the controlled setting cannot assure a controlled experience. Drugs elicit different reactions from people and the responses to these reactions cannot be “modified” either.Mescaline represents a journey into paradise or hell.
People who need to settle their psychological troubles can use it, and explore their innermost battles at length, and perhaps win them too. But as these references have shown, one man’s ecstasy is another man’s nightmare. The in-betweens can also range from beauty to torment.
Mescaline’s effects cannot be controlled enough to prove that it can help science advance psychotherapy. Thus, people would have to go back to traditional non-drug options of counseling and self-analysis, so that they can understand their subconscious and find their own means of feeling peace and happiness once more.;