Renewed Psychedelic Drug Research is a Bad “Trip” for Mental Health

The facts show LSD and/or amphetamines cause ‘unrelenting rage,’ can trigger ‘violent behavior,’ ‘frenzied attacks,’ ‘aggressive and assaultive,’ behavior and ‘precipitates mental disorders.’ Whether given in a clinical setting or abused, the drugs can have harmful outcomes and, arguably, have no use in the mental health field.

Current research into psychedelic drugs in the treatment of mental disorders is heading in a dangerous “Brave New World” direction. With a history of psychiatric-intelligence abuse, the drugs should have no role in treating Americans today, watchdog says.

By CCHR International
The Mental Health Industry Watchdog
February 5, 2020

A psychiatric drugs side effects online database may soon add hallucinogenic drugs to warn consumers of the drugs’ mind-manipulative history and risk of inducing violent and psychotic behavior. The mental health industry watchdog group, Citizens Commission on Human Rights International’s (CCHR) online side effects database already contains hundreds of psychotropic drugs that have amassed over 400,000 adverse effects reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), yet one-in-four Americans, including 6.7 million children, are still taking them.[1]

CCHR says that even if psychedelic drugs are administered to consenting subjects, such research demonstrates a fundamental disregard for human life because of the drugs’ mind-altering properties, born out by the psychiatric-intelligence community’s past research of LSD, psilocybin (magic mushroom) and amphetamines.

Despite the risks of LSD, the FDA has now granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to a Europe-based company, COMPASS Pathways, for its psilocybin therapy for “treatment-resistant depression.”[2] The company is running a 216-patient clinical trial and has made enough synthetic doses of the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms to supply more than 30,000 patients. [3]

COMPASS raised $58 million in venture funding, including from Thomas Insel, former Director of The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), who, along with Paul Summergrad, former head of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), sits on the company’s board of advisers.[4]

The FDA, National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) also support research into psychedelic drugs.[5] DARPA has a dedicated program called Focused Pharma that researches psychedelics such as MDMA (Ecstasy) and psilocybin to treat PTSD or depression in military healthcare settings.[6]

Harvard University boasts a Harvard Science of Psychedelics Club.[7] In the 1950s Harvard received substantial funds from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for mind-control experiments using LSD.[8] Students from Harvard and other Boston area universities were given LSD.[9]  NIMH also received CIA funding in the 1960s.[10]

Under the CIA’s MK-Ultra program there were more than 150 human experiments involving psychedelic drugs, paralytics and electroshock treatment also aimed at programming assassins. Universities involved also included Stanford University.[11]

A 1977 Congressional Hearing heard from Adm. Stansfield Turner, the Director of Central Intelligence, that the C.I.A. covertly sponsored research at 80 institutions, including 44 colleges and universities, from 1953 to 1963. [12]

Congress shut down the mind control research. This should have spelled the end of, not a rebirth, of such drugs. Yet today, reports at least 10 studies with psilocybin for the treatment of depression, some involving Stanford University’s Department of Psychiatry and the University of California San Diego. [13]

The research into LSD and amphetamines, as documented by Tom O’ Neill in Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, begs the question about hallucinogenic drug research today. The extensively researched book is based around Charles Manson and the Family who, after many months of LSD use, gruesomely murdered 9-month pregnant actress, Sharon Tate (Valley of the Dolls) and four others in August 1969.[14]

In less than a year of starting to take LSD, “Manson turned a group of peaceful hippies, mainly young women, into savage, unrepentant killers,” O’Neill wrote. Their grisly crimes “have now inspired Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. But little is known about how Manson became Manson,” he said.[15]

While not excusing the grisly crimes committed, Manson was dropping acid on a daily basis when he lived in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco from late Spring of 1967 to June 1968.[16] At the time, two researchers had an influence on his life: Roger Smith, his parole officer and Dr. David Smith (not related).[17] Roger Smith was “a part of a so-called San Francisco Project, an experimental parole program funded by the NIMH that monitored the rehabilitative progress of newly released felons.”[18]

Chaos provides information about their LSD and amphetamine studies:

  • A doctoral student at UC’s Berkeley’s School of Criminology, Roger Smith studied the link between drug use and violent behavior in Oakland gang members.[19] He led a study on amphetamines and their role in the violent behavior of the Haight-Ashbury hippies. NIMH funded this.[20] His Amphetamine Research Project (ARP) hoped to learn why some people, but not others, became psychotically violent on amphetamines—and to see if this violence could be controlled. [21] Roger Smith ran ARP out of the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic (HAFMC), a clinic that Manson and the Family members also regularly attended.[22]
  • David Smith had been a postdoctoral student at UC San Francisco and the chief of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Screening Unit at San Francisco General Hospital. There, he injected mice with amphetamines and within 24 hours, and as O’Neill notes:  “they transformed from docile animals into frantic combatants, fighting one another until they died….The violence was unremitting: Smith described ‘frenzied attacks of unrelenting rage.’ Afterward all that remained in the blood splattered cages were scattered, dismembered body parts.[23] The mice on speed, Smith wrote, “become inordinately aggressive and assaultive…[turning] upon one another with unexpected savagery. Their violent behavior is probably intensified by confinement for it is strikingly similar to that observed in amphetamine abusers who consume the drugs in crowded atmospheres.”[24] He moved to Haight-Ashbury with plans to establish the free clinic, HAFMC, which opened in June 1967.[25]
  • In a 1969 issue of the Journal of Psychedelics, Smith wrote that the main purpose of his experiments with mice was to “isolate” the “behavioral” traits of the rodents that would kill after they’d been aggregated and injected with amphetamines—and then to “modify” their behavior using other drugs. As O’Neill pointed out, in the two years before the Manson murders, several papers in the Journal of Psychedelics and other periodicals looked into the increase of psychotic violence in the Haight and its link to amphetamines, LSD and population density.[26]
  • Eugene Schoenfeld, who was involved in the study, said the rats were also injected with LSD in hopes of making them more suggestible before they were given amphetamines.[27]
  • Smith wrote that in “people with prepsychotic personalities,” LSD precipitated “a long-term psychological disorder, usually a manic depressive reaction of a schizophrenic process.”[28]
  • In 1966, psychiatrist Louis Jolyn (“Jolly”) West was in Haight-Ashbury to study hippies and LSD. In a 1967 psychiatry textbook, West wrote that LSD was known to leave users “unusually susceptible and emotionally labile.” Now deceased, his project was funded by the Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry, Inc., a front for the CIA.[29] At the time, West established a “hippy pad” near the HAFMC where David Smith could furnish willing subjects and provided him with an office. Smith said the center helped West with his research.[30]
  • West had previously been part of the CIA’s MK-Ultra program, using a combination of psychotropic drugs and hypnosis to extract information during interrogations and to hone “techniques for implanting false information into particular subjects…or for inducing in them specific mental disorders.” According to O’Neill, “West wanted to reverse somebody’s belief system without his knowledge, and make it stick.”[31] West hypnotized mental patients and “normal subjects” and exposed them to a host of drugs, including chlorpromazine (antipsychotic), reserpine (an antihypertensive and antipsychotic[32]), amphetamines and LSD[33]—the same drugs David Smith used.[34] West headed the psychiatry department at UCLA and the school’s renowned neuroscience center until his retirement in 1988.[35]

O’Neill also pointed out that David and Robert Smith were both studying amphetamines and LSD, the latter being the crucial component of Manson’s “reprogramming” process with Family members.[36] Both Smiths and Manson were often in the same place, at the same time, with the Smiths having received funding from a federal institute later revealed to be a CIA front.[37]

Further, Manson arrived in Haight Ashbury “as an ex-con and left a confident, long-haired cult leader. It was at the Haight that he began to use LSD. He learned how to attract weak, susceptible people, and how to use drugs to keep them under his thumb.”[38] As such, O’Neill asked: “Wasn’t it suspicious, at least, that [Manson] was coming to HAFMC to see two people who were studying that very phenomena, the use of drugs to control and change behavior?”[39]

U.S. research into LSD had begun soon after the end of World War II, when American intelligence learned that the USSR was developing a program to influence human behavior through drugs and hypnosis. The U.S. believed that Soviets could extract information from people without their knowledge, program them to make false confessions, and perhaps persuade them to kill on command.[40] Nazi doctors had also conducted extensive experiments with mescaline at the Dachau concentration camp, and the CIA was very interested in figuring out whether mescaline could be the key to mind control. They hired the Nazi doctors who had been involved in that project to advise them.[41]

LSD has a history of research abuse, including administering LSD in a scurrilous attempt to “cure” homosexuals.[42] “LSD is very difficult to work with therapeutically,” an article on this stated. “My own conclusion is that psychedelics offer the possibility of enriching sexual life of the average individual and show some promise in alleviating sexual pathology,” the author wrote.[43]

The fact that it is even used today in research is suspect and outrageous given its history of creating psychotic and violent behavior.

  • It’s been reported that DARPA may label what are “deleterious neurological” side effects of hallucinogenics as fundamentally what makes them “work.”[44]
  • In 2017, The New York Times argued for allowing studies into the use of psychedelics for therapy, including a study about LSD for anxiety and another about MDMA (Ecstasy) for PTSD.[45]
  • Ketamine, a “disassociate anesthetic,” often used in veterinary practice, is another drug of interest as it can cause disassociation, produce frightening hallucinations and is also proved addictive.[46] It’s abused as a “club drug” and at high doses causes delirium and amnesia, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.[47] Yet, the FDA recently approved the use of a nasal spray derived from ketamine—Johnson & Johnson’s Spravato (esketamine)—for treatment-resistant depression.[48]
  • Researchers with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa claimed the effectiveness of repeated ketamine infusions for “treatment-resistant depression”[49]—a term that, in reality, means that prior psychiatric treatment had “failed.”
  • Psychiatrists in Vancouver also started a phase III clinical trial of MDMA (Ecstacy), consisting of three monthly, eight-hour sessions under the influence of MDMA, interspersed by nine 90-minute sessions without it. Phase III is typically the last phase of review a drug undergoes before it is approved for public use. Vancouver is one of 16 locations in North America and Israel where teams are working on the same experiment under the guidance of the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).[50]
  • In August 2017, the FDA described the use of MDMA on PTSD patients as “Breakthrough Therapy” and endorsed two phase three studies, provided MAPS could secure the approximately $25 million necessary to conduct them.[51]
  • Eleven U.S. labs are also running clinical trials to test the theory that MDMA can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.[52]
  • Other notable educational institutions are studying the possibilities of psychedelics, including New York University (NYU), Yale University (YU), University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison).[53]
  • Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, one of the universities that had earlier received CIA funding[54], was the first to obtain regulatory approval in the U.S. to re-initiate research with psychedelics in psychedelic-naïve healthy volunteers in 2000. Scientists at Johns Hopkins have administered psilocybin to over 350 healthy volunteers or patients over the past 19 years in some 700 sessions. The university’s new Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, the largest research center of its kind in the world, is being funded initially by a $17 million donation from a group of private donors to advance the emerging field of psychedelics for therapies and “wellness,” according to Forbes.  Ronald L. Griffiths, a psychopharmacologist and professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: “Psychedelics were demonized. Their use was associated with the anti-war and anti-establishment movements of the 1960s and viewed as culturally disruptive. The sensationalistic media coverage established a narrative that overestimated risks that was soaked up by the culture. It takes a long time to dispel such a narrative.”[55]

However, studies have shown the damage of LSD, including causing psychosis[56] and then there’s the most obvious point: psychedelics are “mind-altering”—just more of psychiatry’s chemical arsenal of invasive physical interventions. Unable to find the cause for any mental “disorder,” the drugs are yet another quick fix “solution” for a plethora of emotional and life problems.

The current research uses psilocybin in patients to determine its effectiveness as a new therapy for opioid addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression and, even more astounding, Alzheimer’s disease. [57]

That makes the global psychedelic drug market is a potential gold mine when agencies such as the FDA approve research. The psychedelics industry went from an investment value over 20 years of $60 million to $220 million today.  What’s called the “psychedelic therapeutics” market (mental health drugs, therapy spending, neurodegeneration drugs and cognitive enhancement) is calculated to be more than $373 billion.[58]

Yet, as The Independent reported in 2018 pointed out: “During the therapy sessions, patients are encouraged to follow the stream of the psychedelic experience which can be extremely vivid and may require them to confront past traumas or experiences.” “We don’t call it a ‘bad trip’,” Dr. Carhart-Harris said. “We call it a ‘challenging psychological experience’ and we’re honest with people that it can be hellish. It can be nightmarish, but we’re prepared for this and this treatment model requires you literally face your demons.”[59]

Deliberately create nightmares and hell, knowing that LSD can cause “unrelenting rage,” trigger “violent behavior,” “frenzied attacks,” induce “aggressive and assaultive,” “precipitate mental disorders,” and make patients “suggestible” to “modify” (mind-control) their behavior.

Whether given in a clinical setting or abused, the drugs have harmful outcomes and have no use in the mental health field.



[2] “FDA Gives Stamp of Approval for Clinical Psilocybin Trials,” Psychedelic Times, 13 Nov. 2018,

[3] “Shroom-Therapy Startup Edges Toward FDA Approval: The feds have designated Compass Pathways’ experimental psilocybin treatment for depression a ‘breakthrough therapy,’” Bloomberg Businessweek, 6 Jan. 2020,

[4] Ibid.






[10] Tom O’ Neill, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, (Little, Brown & Co. New York, June 2019), pp. 300-301


[12] “Extent of University Work for C.I.A. Is Hard to Pin Down,” The New York Times, 9 Oct. 1977,




[16] Op. cit. Tom O’ Neill, pp. 284, 290

[17] Ibid., pp. 285-286

[18] Ibid.,  pp. 285-286

[19] Ibid.,  p. 288

[20] Ibid., p. 300

[21] Ibid., pp. 300-301

[22] Ibid., p. 302

[23] Ibid.,  pp. 312-313

[24] Ibid.,  p. 313

[25] Ibid.,  p. 306

[26] Ibid.,  p. 330.

[27] Ibid., p. 314

[28] Ibid., p. 319


[30] Op. cit. Tom O’ Neill,  p. 346

[31] Ibid., p. 360


[33] Op. cit. Tom O’ Neill, p. 364

[34] Ibid., p. 313

[35] Op. cit.,

[36] Op. cit. Tom O’ Neill, p. 311

[37] Ibid., p. 317

[38] Ibid., p. 284

[39] Ibid., p. 311

[40] Op. cit.,

[41] “The CIA’s Secret Quest For Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A ‘Poisoner In Chief’,” NPR, 9 Sept. 2019,


[43] R. Albert, et al., “LSD,” New American Library, 1966, pp. 40-41,


[45]  “Can Psychedelics Be Therapy? Allow Research to Find Out,” The New York Times, 17 July 2017,



[48] Op. cit., Bloomberg Businessweek




[54] Op. cit., Bloomberg Businessweek

[53] “Magic Mushrooms As Medicine? Johns Hopkins Scientists Launch Center For Psychedelic Research. Say Psychedelics Could Treat Alzheimer’s, Depression And Addiction,” Forbes, 12 Sept, 2019,

[54] “Extent of University Work for C.I.A. Is Hard to Pin Down,” The New York Times, 9 Oct. 1977,

[55] Op. cit., Forbes


[57] Op. cit., Forbes

[58] “2020 Psychedelic Industry Insights Report,” 8 Jan. 2020,

[59] Op. cit., Forbes