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The truth about acid casualties Mental health labels conceal more than they reveal

Syd Barrett (top left) with Pink Floyd (Andrew Whittuck/Redferns)


June 14, 2023   7 mins

Bankruptcy is not the only thing that proceeds gradually, and then suddenly. While Syd Barrett may have appeared fine in an interview in May 1967, his teetering mental state would change drastically by the summer. Locking himself in his bedroom for days, the formerly placid frontman of Pink Floyd became crudely violent, on one occasion smashing a mandolin over a girlfriend’s head. “This angelic boy became this
 moody, impossible to work with, violent man,” said his friend David Gale. Initially, Barrett’s antics were exoticised as the floridities of a ‘mad artist’. While testimonies vary, many blamed, at least in part, his excessive use of LSD.

Barrett is the main case study of the “acid casualty”: the archetypal subject who, after a few too many trips, is said to endure a mental collapse from which they may never return. His story is frequently shared as a parable in online forums such as Reddit, which is a recruitment pool for psychedelic studies. And while attitudes around psychedelics have softened in recent years, this meme still lurks subtly within the public consciousness. One doesn’t have to ask too many baby boomers before someone shares a story, perhaps of a friend from school or university, who got lost ashore on the other side.

The first recorded reference I could find was in 1974, from Changes magazine. A passage spurns the “unique contemporary type: that kind of burnt-out acid casualty who ends every sentence with ‘Man’”. Amid the Nixonian disappointments of the Seventies, the acid casualty was a way to culturally dismiss the psychedelic ruptures of the Sixties. No longer an agent for spiritual awakening or a wonder treatment, LSD was cast as a trigger for madness and a tool for mind control. Many casualties were reported in the press: Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators, Arthur Lee of Love, and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, who suggests his LSD experiments “fucked with his brain”.

What really caused these cases of psychosis is not known for certain, but the explanation usually focuses on their internal worlds. In a new film about his life, Have You Got It Yet?, some of Barrett’s contemporaries cast him as an Icarus figure — one who communed with the Gods prematurely and “reached for the secret too soon”. Other narratives are less grand: perhaps he “boiled his brains with acid”, sustaining real organic damage to his nervous system through excessive chemical stimulation. Or perhaps the breakdown was inevitable. His former bandmate David Gilmour suggests that Barrett had in him a “switch waiting to be turned”, a “weakness of some sort”, maybe a vulnerability embedded in his genes. Such determinism echoes the public understanding of severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia.

However useful such layers of analysis can be, they risk downplaying the external factors that might have engendered the distress. If an individual takes a drug to cope with experiences they find hard to bear, it is not necessarily wise to blame the drug for any subsequent mental break. Touring several nights a week for months straight, Barrett’s deranged behaviours could be partly triggered by the exploitative atmosphere of the music industry.

“He feels that the application of commercial considerations is harmful to the music,” a report in Melody Maker stated in December 1967 — after the chart failure of “Apples and Oranges”, a by-the-numbers psych-pop single that Barrett had written amid intense managerial and label pressure to produce another hit. “He’d like to cut out the record company, wholesalers and retailers.” The same year, Pink Floyd performed on Top of the Pops for the first time, and Barrett expressed some reluctance to go on stage. It was then that Pink Floyd’s bassist Roger Waters first noticed that something might be wrong.

Barrett deteriorated rapidly. Before another scheduled performance on Top of the Pops, he turned up at a friend’s door barefoot and in a panic. In 1971, Barrett — now three years out of Pink Floyd — refused to leave his home for a photoshoot; he was afraid of “aliens”. What appears to be deranged at first makes a kind of sense when one considers that the aliens he feared were in fact his managers and hangers-on.

Robert Chapman’s biography describes how, even after Barrett had achieved some semblance of later-life balance in his hometown of Cambridge, obsessive fans would regularly knock on his door, film him with camcorders, steal his paintbrushes, climb over his fence, pose as couriers to secure autographs, and scan the neighbourhood trying to catch a glimpse. And something strangely under-discussed in the documentary and Barrett’s biographies is how the massive success of his former band — which had ejected him without warning in 1968 — might have made him feel. It can’t be a coincidence that Barrett retreated into isolation at the Chelsea Cloisters Hotel just as Pink Floyd hit the big time in 1973 with Dark Side of the Moon, which is partly about him and his madness.

Many acid casualties were as much victims of a music business that eviscerates its workers as of overwhelming psychedelic trips. Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac rejected the music industry in even more radical terms than Barrett, pledging to give away his earnings to charity, to reflect his new Christian beliefs; a move viewed by his contemporaries as the initial spark of his madness. The 13th Floor Elevators took LSD daily for long stretches of the Sixties; but their breakdowns were surely influenced by the predation of the local Texan police force, which sought to destroy the band’s acid evangelism through arrests and threats of violence.

Someone else deemed an acid casualty is Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, the subject of a recent BBC documentary. On top of the relentless psychoactive effects of fame and public pressure, Jones’s paranoia can be seen a response to prohibitionist drug policies: after a humiliating court appearance for drug possession Jones, as Nick Kent writes, “was too scared to go into a shop to buy cigarettes even, because he thought anyone behind the counter had to be a plain-clothes cop”. Jerry Berkers, bassist of the Krautrock band Wallenstein, may have collapsed under the weight of his LSD visions, but it’s thought his trips reacquainted him with the trauma of time spent serving in Vietnam.

And yet, our interpretation of mental breaks often place little emphasis on the worlds in which they’re situated. In his classic text, The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Philip Rieff describes the ascendancy of the “Psychological Man” — the embodiment of late modernity — who understands himself in internal terms. We are our thoughts; our self stands behind the glass of our eyes, variously disappointed and enchanted with the stream of our inner lives flowing out into the world we perceive. And yet in studying history’s casualties, it seems that what was happening on the outside was flowing into, and warping, their internal worlds.

Even among those who reject the simplistic diagnosis of acid casualty, a more subtle form of othering can occur. “There can be no doubt that Syd was a schizophrenic,” Waters said — despite the fact that Syd was never diagnosed with anything other than an undisclosed personality disorder. Indeed, the schizophrenia diagnosis, applied to many of history’s casualties by both psychiatrists and onlookers, may seem like an objective description. But the reality is far more complex.

Schizophrenia is popularly understood as a biological phenomenon: an organic madness, in which its primary explanation lies within the individual. But poor outcomes for schizophrenia are independently shaped and predicted by parental socioeconomic status, poverty, class, immigration status, living in urban environments, and membership of a racial minority. Evidence tentatively suggests that those labelled schizophrenic in countries such as India and Ghana fare better than those in the United States, since they are less likely to be medicalised or face the stresses of developed modern life. This supports the idea that the music industry’s pressures may have been far more harmful to the acid casualties than either their original or psychedelically altered brain chemistry.

It’s easy to apply the labels of “acid casualty” and “schizophrenia” — and it sounds authoritative — but, in truth, the latter diagnosis is broad, vague, and variably administered. Dr Robin Murray, one of the UK’s most senior psychiatrists, suggested in 2017 that “the term schizophrenia will be confined to history, like ‘dropsy’”. As early as 1973, when many casualties were being diagnosed, the World Health Organization suggested that, for all its faults, the term should be preserved partly “for the benefit of non-professional contemporaries who enjoy talking about schizophrenia without knowing what it is”.

Commentators are therefore right to remark on the hypocrisies of “mental health awareness”: depression and anxiety are being unduly neutralised in the language of medicine, while “serious conditions like psychosis and schizophrenia are being overlooked”. The general public was understandably struck by the news last year that depression is not, as they’d been told, a mere “chemical imbalance”. The Moncrieff paper fast became one of the most accessed in modern history. But the popular reckoning with the parameters of schizophrenia is nowhere to be seen.

It is acknowledged even in the DSM-5, psychiatry’s “Bible”, that the majority of those who develop psychotic disorders have no family history of the disease — weakening the idea that genetic predisposition can fully explain mental breaks. The medical establishment has found hundreds of biomarkers “associated” with schizophrenia, but many of them overlap with other conditions, and may point to a broad “sensitivity” — which may make mental collapse more likely, but not inevitable.

But since the Sixties, the biogenetic model of schizophrenia has been in ascendance; and the basis of diagnosis always influences the rationale of treatment. Just as the understanding of depression as unsettled brain chemistry allowed some irresponsible medical practitioners to sell antidepressants as a silver bullet, our understanding of mental breaks as caused entirely by internal factors can be harmful. Many acid casualties faced great failures from the psychiatric sector following their diagnoses: involuntary electroshock, premature discharges, and shocking over-prescription.

None of this is to say that our treatment of those experiencing mental breaks has become worse since the Sixties. The antipsychotics on offer now seem to be more tolerable than those of their forebears. But stigmas towards psychosis and schizophrenia have, by some measures, deteriorated — possibly because of the othering that associates the stereotyped schizophrenic with some alien influence in their nervous system. Though we might not label anyone an acid casualty these days, our readiness to see mental distress as solely internal may prevent us from reckoning with the unhealthy pressures our society places on individuals. Psychiatry always attempts to remain apolitical. But it might do well to accept that mental breaks can, at least in part, be blamed on a troubled world in which, to quote psychiatric researcher John Read, “bad things happen and can drive you crazy”.


Ed Prideaux is a freelance journalist and MSc Psychology student.

EdPrideaux

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Simon Neale
Simon Neale
11 months ago

But poor outcomes for schizophrenia are independently shaped and predicted by parental socioeconomic status, poverty, class, immigration status, living in urban environments, and membership of a racial minority.

As the recent tragedies in Nottingham will surely remind us. And what to do? We could, of course, continue to wage phoney war on status, poverty, class, and the vicissitudes of urban life. That would mean that immigrants and racial minorities had the same outcomes as everyone else.
Or, we could stop importing trouble.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
11 months ago

But poor outcomes for schizophrenia are independently shaped and predicted by parental socioeconomic status, poverty, class, immigration status, living in urban environments, and membership of a racial minority.

As the recent tragedies in Nottingham will surely remind us. And what to do? We could, of course, continue to wage phoney war on status, poverty, class, and the vicissitudes of urban life. That would mean that immigrants and racial minorities had the same outcomes as everyone else.
Or, we could stop importing trouble.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
11 months ago

I could not fallow what this was about – I kind of got from it that what ever they think they know is likely wrong… But what good is rambling around that? Now I know a lot about the 70s drug scene – and a lot of people fared badly, and some people should NOT take drugs, and LSD especially – but whatever.. the world spins off causalities from a million causes..

What I would look at is the raw Numbers of messed up children today – from what I hear orders of magnitude more than before the 90s and 2000s.

ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, food allergies, all kinds of problems – just messed up children everywhere – and that was Not Normal in Pink Floyd’s days. An epidemic 1000X what covid was.

The good man RFK, now running for President blames the childhood vaccines. Dr Kirsh states that it is FACT that the hundred fold in childhood mental and physical health problems are completely to be blamed on childhood vaccines (in USA children used to get half a dozen, and now get over 50….)

Boys are all hormonally messed up big time – drugs in the water from human excreted hormones that the bio-Pharma have half the women taking – plastics, chemicals – the male frogs turning female, the boys becoming low masculine, fertility dropping like a rock…..unable to sit in class – messing up their lives from some anti-social plague – the Japanese kids not leaving their bedrooms…

I did not get what this article was about – but it seems to be seeing one odd tree, and missing that it is in an entire forest.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Emil Castelli

Thank God for AI!

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
11 months ago
Reply to  Emil Castelli

Most of this appears to be a plague of middle class neuroses infecting my generation and the next (X and millennials), who have transferred their idiocy to their kids. I see plenty of perfectly functioning children, especially ones from the ‘upper’ or ‘respectable’ cohort of the working class. All this middle class rubbish goes unnoticed.

Marissa M
Marissa M
11 months ago

Plague of middle class but consider childhood nowadays vs. the past?? Where is the basic family stability and protection? They are exposed out of the gate to things far beyond what we were and, I think, far more than what they can cope with….AND: No full-time mothers or carers in the house….how is that for mental health?

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
11 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

You are right, Marissa, but that is not sayable nowadays.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
11 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

You are right, Marissa, but that is not sayable nowadays.

Marissa M
Marissa M
11 months ago

Plague of middle class but consider childhood nowadays vs. the past?? Where is the basic family stability and protection? They are exposed out of the gate to things far beyond what we were and, I think, far more than what they can cope with….AND: No full-time mothers or carers in the house….how is that for mental health?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago
Reply to  Emil Castelli

Thank God for AI!

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
11 months ago
Reply to  Emil Castelli

Most of this appears to be a plague of middle class neuroses infecting my generation and the next (X and millennials), who have transferred their idiocy to their kids. I see plenty of perfectly functioning children, especially ones from the ‘upper’ or ‘respectable’ cohort of the working class. All this middle class rubbish goes unnoticed.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
11 months ago

I could not fallow what this was about – I kind of got from it that what ever they think they know is likely wrong… But what good is rambling around that? Now I know a lot about the 70s drug scene – and a lot of people fared badly, and some people should NOT take drugs, and LSD especially – but whatever.. the world spins off causalities from a million causes..

What I would look at is the raw Numbers of messed up children today – from what I hear orders of magnitude more than before the 90s and 2000s.

ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, food allergies, all kinds of problems – just messed up children everywhere – and that was Not Normal in Pink Floyd’s days. An epidemic 1000X what covid was.

The good man RFK, now running for President blames the childhood vaccines. Dr Kirsh states that it is FACT that the hundred fold in childhood mental and physical health problems are completely to be blamed on childhood vaccines (in USA children used to get half a dozen, and now get over 50….)

Boys are all hormonally messed up big time – drugs in the water from human excreted hormones that the bio-Pharma have half the women taking – plastics, chemicals – the male frogs turning female, the boys becoming low masculine, fertility dropping like a rock…..unable to sit in class – messing up their lives from some anti-social plague – the Japanese kids not leaving their bedrooms…

I did not get what this article was about – but it seems to be seeing one odd tree, and missing that it is in an entire forest.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago

Psychiatry always attempts to remain apolitical. 

…and yet there is something of the spirit of that old Marxist psychiatrist R D Laing in this piece. He popularised the idea that schizophrenia was an understandable (even rational) reaction to an absurd world. Of course this was very appealing to the Leftist mindset where nurture is all important and any hint of genetic determinism is alarming.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
11 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I would recommend ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic’ by Robert Whitaker. It’s a powerful polemic arguing that a Faustian pact forged by the American Psychiatric Association and big pharma led to the promotion of a flawed biochemical model of mental illness that has done a tremendous amount of harm. There are indeed countries that treat mental illness ‘environmentally’ rather then chemically and there is much evidence to suggest long term outcomes are better, especially in regards to the prevalence of relapse.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Faustian pact? Powerful Polemic? Big Pharma? My alarm bells are ringing. Thanks but I think I’ll pass.
Over the last few weeks I have been reading Crime and Personality by H J Eysenck, The IQ Argument by H J Eysenck and The Inequality of Man by H J Eysenck. Plenty of data built up over a long period by many researchers provides much evidence that the nature/nurture balance is about 80/20 in favour of nature. Not a popular view with the you-can-be-anything-you-wanna-be activists (currently driving us all nuts with their latest iteration: Transgenderism).
Unfortunately, Eysenck has long been out of fashion (and is long dead). I wonder what he’d make of Human Genome studies and DNA research were he still with us.

Marissa M
Marissa M
11 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Perhaps rightfully out of fashion….”the cancer-prone personality”…causes cancer vs. cigarettes? He was an extremist….

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

Naturally there is a concerted attempt to discredit his work as it has always rattled the nurture fixated Left who, let’s face it, now dominate our institutions. The critiques by Roderic Buchanan and David Marks should be treated with scepticism.
The notion popularised by anti-smoking activists, that cigarettes mean certain death should also be treated with scepticism. By the way, I have never smoked so I’ve no vested interest there.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

Naturally there is a concerted attempt to discredit his work as it has always rattled the nurture fixated Left who, let’s face it, now dominate our institutions. The critiques by Roderic Buchanan and David Marks should be treated with scepticism.
The notion popularised by anti-smoking activists, that cigarettes mean certain death should also be treated with scepticism. By the way, I have never smoked so I’ve no vested interest there.

Marissa M
Marissa M
11 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Perhaps rightfully out of fashion….”the cancer-prone personality”…causes cancer vs. cigarettes? He was an extremist….

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Faustian pact? Powerful Polemic? Big Pharma? My alarm bells are ringing. Thanks but I think I’ll pass.
Over the last few weeks I have been reading Crime and Personality by H J Eysenck, The IQ Argument by H J Eysenck and The Inequality of Man by H J Eysenck. Plenty of data built up over a long period by many researchers provides much evidence that the nature/nurture balance is about 80/20 in favour of nature. Not a popular view with the you-can-be-anything-you-wanna-be activists (currently driving us all nuts with their latest iteration: Transgenderism).
Unfortunately, Eysenck has long been out of fashion (and is long dead). I wonder what he’d make of Human Genome studies and DNA research were he still with us.

Alan B
Alan B
11 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

As the writer observed, evidence for “genetic determinism” is not strong.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan B

And without any further curiosity, move on – argument settled. Worth noting that those who are worried by genetics tend to cast the issue in black and white terms the better to discredit the opposition.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan B

And without any further curiosity, move on – argument settled. Worth noting that those who are worried by genetics tend to cast the issue in black and white terms the better to discredit the opposition.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
11 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I would recommend ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic’ by Robert Whitaker. It’s a powerful polemic arguing that a Faustian pact forged by the American Psychiatric Association and big pharma led to the promotion of a flawed biochemical model of mental illness that has done a tremendous amount of harm. There are indeed countries that treat mental illness ‘environmentally’ rather then chemically and there is much evidence to suggest long term outcomes are better, especially in regards to the prevalence of relapse.

Alan B
Alan B
11 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

As the writer observed, evidence for “genetic determinism” is not strong.

N Satori
N Satori
11 months ago

Psychiatry always attempts to remain apolitical. 

…and yet there is something of the spirit of that old Marxist psychiatrist R D Laing in this piece. He popularised the idea that schizophrenia was an understandable (even rational) reaction to an absurd world. Of course this was very appealing to the Leftist mindset where nurture is all important and any hint of genetic determinism is alarming.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
11 months ago

Great piece. I have witnessed so many lives destroyed by recreational AND prescribed pharmaceutical drug use, both in the short and the long term. There is a chilling resurgence of recreational drug use creeping back. Adherents of “micro-dosing” and “magic mushrooms” are vehemently pushing these activities all over social media (in particular preying on the growing anti-vax community), not to mention all the hype about “Ayahuasca”, enthusiastically endorsed by “Prince” Harry. And Canada is out of control with its decriminalising of all recreational drugs, opening the flood gates for abuse. We have to do more to warn of the dangers of ALL mind-altering drugs. There’s a book by Alex Berenson that made everyone angry (so is probably very good), called “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Violence and Mental Health.” Might be worth a read if you’ve got impressionable young kids.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

My brother started smoking marijuana at a very early age. He was a schizophrenic by the time he as 16 and has spent his entire adult life on benefits living alone in a bedsit.
Another close relative (not a blood relation) developed schizophrenia at the age of 39. I was visiting one evening while she was in a secure unit. She was quite coherent by this stage of her treatment and I was sat with her and a group of about 12 patients. The question came up who had smoked marijuana and 11 hands went up. Anecdotal I know but still.
The other point is the sharp divide between the relatives of individuals afflicted with schizophrenia and the doctors/psychiatrists treating them. As a relative you get to realise that doctors/psychiatrists cannot be trusted and you end up loathing them

Marissa M
Marissa M
11 months ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

Let’s not forget….’booze’.
We many of us sit rather smugly, never having taken recreational drugs, with our evening glass of wine or whiskey on the rocks. The danger of too much alcohol should also be acknowledged.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

My brother started smoking marijuana at a very early age. He was a schizophrenic by the time he as 16 and has spent his entire adult life on benefits living alone in a bedsit.
Another close relative (not a blood relation) developed schizophrenia at the age of 39. I was visiting one evening while she was in a secure unit. She was quite coherent by this stage of her treatment and I was sat with her and a group of about 12 patients. The question came up who had smoked marijuana and 11 hands went up. Anecdotal I know but still.
The other point is the sharp divide between the relatives of individuals afflicted with schizophrenia and the doctors/psychiatrists treating them. As a relative you get to realise that doctors/psychiatrists cannot be trusted and you end up loathing them

Marissa M
Marissa M
11 months ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

Let’s not forget….’booze’.
We many of us sit rather smugly, never having taken recreational drugs, with our evening glass of wine or whiskey on the rocks. The danger of too much alcohol should also be acknowledged.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
11 months ago

Great piece. I have witnessed so many lives destroyed by recreational AND prescribed pharmaceutical drug use, both in the short and the long term. There is a chilling resurgence of recreational drug use creeping back. Adherents of “micro-dosing” and “magic mushrooms” are vehemently pushing these activities all over social media (in particular preying on the growing anti-vax community), not to mention all the hype about “Ayahuasca”, enthusiastically endorsed by “Prince” Harry. And Canada is out of control with its decriminalising of all recreational drugs, opening the flood gates for abuse. We have to do more to warn of the dangers of ALL mind-altering drugs. There’s a book by Alex Berenson that made everyone angry (so is probably very good), called “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Violence and Mental Health.” Might be worth a read if you’ve got impressionable young kids.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago

Enjoyed that. Certainly and with the benefit of hindsight, when I look back at the period in my life when I was prescribed SSRIs (which are no picnic from a side-effect point of view) my work, home and social life was relentlessly dysfunctional and I was deeply and justifiably unhappy. But as my GP said with a shrug “if they give you some quality of life, who’s to say they’re wrong ?” These days it’s about that free wonder drug: diet and exercise.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
11 months ago

Enjoyed that. Certainly and with the benefit of hindsight, when I look back at the period in my life when I was prescribed SSRIs (which are no picnic from a side-effect point of view) my work, home and social life was relentlessly dysfunctional and I was deeply and justifiably unhappy. But as my GP said with a shrug “if they give you some quality of life, who’s to say they’re wrong ?” These days it’s about that free wonder drug: diet and exercise.

Marissa M
Marissa M
11 months ago

As someone who suffered from major depression and anxiety disorder, and has a serious family history of it, I read about Sid Barret’s decline years ago with sadness and compassion. The fear, the overreaching, the hype heaped on his shoulders, the confusion….I should think an average person, although glamorizing the music industry, would have similar states of panic, if not actual breakdown. Not a “weakness” but a need for a more peaceful and structured life. He just wasn’t cut out for the jackals in the business.
My father used to tell me that the best thing for mental health is structure, routine, stability and a sense of purpose. How can anyone find that in the music industry? In Hollywood? Sid may be one of the extremes, but look at the divorce rates, the drugs, the suicides….it’s amazing anyone can flourish in that environment! Or, the question should be: Does anyone flourish in it? They all seem to have these blazing glory careers but limp along later in life with few exceptions.
As far as the acid is concerned? Of course it can only be harmful to a vulnerable state! What is the author going on about? Regardless, I never took it, but the search for a release from stress, whether it be alcohol, marijuana, extreme religion, or even excessive exercise…is a constant and familiar one in our western world.

Last edited 11 months ago by Marissa M
Marissa M
Marissa M
11 months ago

As someone who suffered from major depression and anxiety disorder, and has a serious family history of it, I read about Sid Barret’s decline years ago with sadness and compassion. The fear, the overreaching, the hype heaped on his shoulders, the confusion….I should think an average person, although glamorizing the music industry, would have similar states of panic, if not actual breakdown. Not a “weakness” but a need for a more peaceful and structured life. He just wasn’t cut out for the jackals in the business.
My father used to tell me that the best thing for mental health is structure, routine, stability and a sense of purpose. How can anyone find that in the music industry? In Hollywood? Sid may be one of the extremes, but look at the divorce rates, the drugs, the suicides….it’s amazing anyone can flourish in that environment! Or, the question should be: Does anyone flourish in it? They all seem to have these blazing glory careers but limp along later in life with few exceptions.
As far as the acid is concerned? Of course it can only be harmful to a vulnerable state! What is the author going on about? Regardless, I never took it, but the search for a release from stress, whether it be alcohol, marijuana, extreme religion, or even excessive exercise…is a constant and familiar one in our western world.

Last edited 11 months ago by Marissa M
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago

The best (i.e., worst) part of this article was where the author says, “Someone else deemed an acid casualty is Brian Jones… On top of the relentless psychoactive effects of fame and public pressure, Jones’s paranoia can be seen a response to prohibitionist drug policies.”
It’s like an M.C. Escher-style stoner argument… the problems associated with this behavior are caused by our response to the problems associated with this behavior.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
11 months ago

The best (i.e., worst) part of this article was where the author says, “Someone else deemed an acid casualty is Brian Jones… On top of the relentless psychoactive effects of fame and public pressure, Jones’s paranoia can be seen a response to prohibitionist drug policies.”
It’s like an M.C. Escher-style stoner argument… the problems associated with this behavior are caused by our response to the problems associated with this behavior.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago

Ernst JĂŒnger,*Pour le MĂ©rite 1918, Iron Cross Ist class 1916, a relatively late user of LSD seems to have survived quite well.

Then off course he wasn’t a “pop star”, or whatever they called are in these very feeble times.

(* 1895-1998.)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
11 months ago

Ernst JĂŒnger,*Pour le MĂ©rite 1918, Iron Cross Ist class 1916, a relatively late user of LSD seems to have survived quite well.

Then off course he wasn’t a “pop star”, or whatever they called are in these very feeble times.

(* 1895-1998.)

Phillip F
Phillip F
11 months ago

i’m a psychiatrist these many years but once upon a time I hung out with the Laing communities where I saw madness romanticized as a critique of an irrational society. The best clinicians I met with, mostly psychoanalysts, had a nuanced view of mental disturbance. They recognized that psychosis often diagnosed as schizophrenia more likely represented a brain disease–not that there was much we could do about it other than snow them with major tranquilizers that had bad side effects. Reading LSD and other hallucinogens, in the 1970’s we said everyone had a certain number of “tickets”–based on their genetic vulnerabilities, to take a certain number of trips–before they went psychotic. Of the many drugs and addictions I have tried to help people give up, none is more insidious than marijuana–because it is socially sanctioned, now more than ever. And now that psychiatry has embraced the full drug pusher’s satchel of forbidden substances–it is hard not to suspect a financial motive in these re-discoveries of magic potions–all bets are off.

Phillip F
Phillip F
11 months ago

i’m a psychiatrist these many years but once upon a time I hung out with the Laing communities where I saw madness romanticized as a critique of an irrational society. The best clinicians I met with, mostly psychoanalysts, had a nuanced view of mental disturbance. They recognized that psychosis often diagnosed as schizophrenia more likely represented a brain disease–not that there was much we could do about it other than snow them with major tranquilizers that had bad side effects. Reading LSD and other hallucinogens, in the 1970’s we said everyone had a certain number of “tickets”–based on their genetic vulnerabilities, to take a certain number of trips–before they went psychotic. Of the many drugs and addictions I have tried to help people give up, none is more insidious than marijuana–because it is socially sanctioned, now more than ever. And now that psychiatry has embraced the full drug pusher’s satchel of forbidden substances–it is hard not to suspect a financial motive in these re-discoveries of magic potions–all bets are off.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago

Probably six of one and half dozen of the other. The people mentioned were probably predisposed for a breakdown, be it from their work, environment or general mental health. However chucking in a load of acid on top of all that certainly wouldn’t have done them any favours. Go too hard on anything and it’ll get you eventually

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago

Probably six of one and half dozen of the other. The people mentioned were probably predisposed for a breakdown, be it from their work, environment or general mental health. However chucking in a load of acid on top of all that certainly wouldn’t have done them any favours. Go too hard on anything and it’ll get you eventually

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
11 months ago

Taking chemicals to affect the functioning of the brain. How the Hell anyone imagines this isn’t stupid just staggers me. It’s worse, it’s depraved, pathetic. And I include alcohol in that.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

What does chewing on a piece of mint do to your senses ?
Does it affect the way your brain thinks ?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

They are fun though, which is why most people do them. The vast majority will have no long term effects from taking various drugs as they only take them sporadically such as on nights out. The problems arise (and I’ve seen a few people fall into this trap) when they become a regular occurrence, which is when they start to lose grip on reality

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
11 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

What does chewing on a piece of mint do to your senses ?
Does it affect the way your brain thinks ?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

They are fun though, which is why most people do them. The vast majority will have no long term effects from taking various drugs as they only take them sporadically such as on nights out. The problems arise (and I’ve seen a few people fall into this trap) when they become a regular occurrence, which is when they start to lose grip on reality

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
11 months ago

Taking chemicals to affect the functioning of the brain. How the Hell anyone imagines this isn’t stupid just staggers me. It’s worse, it’s depraved, pathetic. And I include alcohol in that.