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American Trip: UK Book Launch [ONLINE]
November 25 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
by The Psychedelic Society (UK)
How historical, social, and cultural forces shaped the psychedelic experience in midcentury America, from CIA LSD experiments to the Harvard Psilocybin Project
American Trip presents a timely and invaluable guide to the crucial lessons that twentieth-century psychedelic history provides for the current psychedelic renaissance, and to using set and setting as a strategic tool for ensuring the healthy integration of psychedelics into society.
— Rick Doblin, Executive Director of MAPS
Join us for the UK launch of Ido Hartogsohn’s new book American Trip: Set, Setting, and the Psychedelic Experience in the Twentieth Century.
Ido will present a summary of the book, followed by a conversation with the Psychedelic Society’s founder Stephen Reid and Q&A.
Are psychedelics invaluable therapeutic medicines, or dangerously unpredictable drugs that precipitate psychosis? Tools for spiritual communion or cognitive enhancers that spark innovation? Activators for one’s private muse or part of a political movement? In the 1950s and 1960s, researchers studied psychedelics in all these incarnations, often arriving at contradictory results. In American Trip, Ido Hartogsohn examines how the psychedelic experience in midcentury America was shaped by historical, social, and cultural forces—by set (the mindset of the user) and setting (the environments in which the experience takes place). He explores uses of psychedelics that range from CIA and military experimentation to psychedelic-inspired styles in music, fashion, design, architecture, and film. Along the way, he introduces us to a memorable cast of characters including Betty Eisner, a psychologist who drew on her own experience to argue for the therapeutic potential of LSD, and Timothy Leary, who founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project and went on to become psychedelics’ most famous advocate.
Hartogsohn chronicles these developments in the context of the era’s cultural trends, including the cold war, the counterculture, the anti-psychiatric movement, and the rise of cybernetics. Drawing on insights from the study of science, technology, and society, he develops the idea of LSD as a suggestible technology, the properties of which are shaped by suggestion. He proposes the concept of collective set and setting, arguing that the historical and sociocultural context of midcentury America offered a particular set and setting—creating the conditions for what he calls the American trip.
Full information: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/american-trip
Ido Hartogsohn, PhD is an assistant professor at the program for Science, Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University. Hartogsohn’s research engages the historical, sociological and cultural dimensions of the psychedelic experience with an emphasis on the role of context, or set and setting, in shaping psychedelic experiences for individuals and cultures at large. His book American Trip: How Set and Setting Shaped the American Psychedelic Experience explores the role of society and culture in shaping the results of mid-twentieth century American psychedelic research and the reception of psychedelics into American and global culture.