The "Godfather of Ecstasy," whose name is Alexander Shulgin (though his friends call him Sasha ... and his critics, much worse). Image © Brian Vastag

Ecstacy: The MDMA Story

Bruce Eisner

With large numbers of young people taking illegal drugs, it wasn't long before Parliament had passed a number of increasingly harsh laws against MDMA and against raves themselves. To avoid police harassment, raves moved from traditional nightclub venues to less predictable locations such as empty warehouses and open fields along the "Orbital," the highway encircling London.

Publisher: Ronin
Paperback: 196 pages


Opium Poppy Garden: The Way of a Chinese Grower

William Griffith

A Zen and the Art of Archery for those interested in the history and cultivation of the opium plant, Opium Poppy Garden tells the tale of Ch'ien, a young Chinese man who travels from Costa Rica to Columbia in order to grow an opium garden in the manner taught him by his Taoist grandfather. The story is a parable, describing one man's journey in his search for The Way, at the same time giving very practical information about the methods of growing and cultivating the active ingredients of the poppy. The preface makes a good argument for the relaxation of the prohibitions against naturally occurring psychoactive substances, citing their advantages over the refined drugs such as heroin and cocaine whose abuse currently runs rampant. Who wouldn't pick chewing a lovely, green, organically grown coca leaf or smoking personally produced opium over snorting a vile crystalline powder created in who knows what bathtub? And guess what, folks, you can grow it at home! This is a useful book for those looking to add some color and spice to their home garden. AS

Publisher: Ronin
Paperback: 77 pages

Opium: The Poisoned Poppy

Michel Robson

Beware of Barbarians carrying flowers. “This was the East of the ancient navigators, so old, so mysterious, resplendent and somber, living and unchanged, full of danger and promise… I have known its fascination since; I have seen the mysterious shores, the still water, the lands of brown nations.” Deluxe irony—a coffee-table history of the “flower of dreams and nightmares” and the 1830s Opium Wars. “Opium. The foundation of one of the world's most amazing commercial enterprises—the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong.” But the early trade in opium between the British (who manufactured it in India) and the Chinese (who refused to trade tea for the poisoned poppy) was a commercial enterprise “not without savage battles on land and Chinese rivers… Not without heartbreak and sickness and addiction… that secured for the British taipans an everlasting place, for better or worse, in imperial history.” A colorful, zesty tale told by a writer and producer for the BBC. GR

Publisher: Weatherhill
Hardback: 88 pages

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Julian Jaynes

Jaynes posits that it has only been in the last 3,000 years that the human mind has shifted away from operating by “hearing voices,” which are in fact commands from the right brain transmitted through the corpus callosum to the left brain. Thus the “gods” actually “spoke” to people on a regular basis, especially in times of stress or important decisions. Jaynes sees such great works of ancient literature as The Iliad and the Bible as metaphorically describing the disorienting transition which a culture undergoes as the voices of the gods become still and its members begin to operate as autonomous individuals. In Jaynes' view, people today who “hear voices” in their heads, such as those termed schizophrenics, are throwbacks to the way all humans functioned in what he calls the “Bicameral Age.” SS

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Paperback: 491 pages

The Osiris Complex: Case Studies in Multiple-Personality Disorder

Colin A. Ross, M.D.

The author's agenda, and his passion, speak loud and clear: MPD does exist, can usually be treated, and is often misdiagnosed (as schizophrenia, borderline-personality disorder, etc.), with tragic results. He insists that his profession needs to look beyond its current biomedical bias and start seeing the very strong relationship between trauma, especially sexual abuse, and mental illness.
While Ross concentrates on the societal and clinical implications of this disorder, the reader cannot help but ponder the compelling and disturbing questions raised about the nature of personality itself. In many cases, the division of an MPD patient's conflicting impulses into separate personalities seems like a literalization of the neurotic tendencies shared by most people: for instance, in the case of a young female, one personality gains 80 pounds so that another, a prostitute, will go into hiding and keep out of trouble.
There is a persistent drumbeat throughout the book criticizing mainstream psychology and psychiatry for banishing the paranormal (demons, ESP, spirit possession) from their domain. (Indeed, the author's seeming eagerness to discover that such characters as “the Evil One” are the exterior beings his patients claim they are would severely damage his credibility if Ross weren’t so scientific, reasonable, and sensitive in his approach to these subjects.) The paranormal entities he meets in his office always turn out, however, to be expressions of the patients' dissociated personalities. MH

Publisher: University of Toronto
Paperback: 296 pages

Our Right to Drugs: The Case for a Free Market

Thomas Szasz

“Rather than dwelling on the familiar impracticality and unfairness of drug laws, Szasz demonstrates the deleterious effects of prescription laws, which place people under lifelong medical supervision. By stressing the consequences of the central aim of U.S. drug prohibitions—protecting the public from harming themselves by self-medication—he emphasizes that a free society cannot endure if the state treats adults as truant children and if its citizens reject the values of self-discipline and personal responsibility.”

Publisher: Syracuse University
Paperback: 229 pages

The Outsider

Colin Wilson

“The seminal work on alienation, creativity and the modern mindset. Ranging through the lives and writings of Bernard Shaw, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, William Blake, Hermann Hesse, van Gogh, T.E. Lawrence, Nijinsky, Sartre, T.S. Eliot, Kafka and many others, Wilson defined numerous modern dilemmas in the character of 'The Outsider,' who in his alienation and introversion, 'stands for Truth.’”

Publisher: Tarcher
Paperback: 320 pages

Perfumery: The Psychology and Biology of Fragrance

Edited by Steve Van Toller and George H. Dodd

Essays in the art of odorama. “The essence of perfumery: from the art of making perfumes… to a scientific understanding of the mechanisms of smell.” Explores the intimate and little-understood link between the molecular event of “pleasant smell sensations” and emotional events they trigger, such as “the evocation of memories from early childhood and the experience of sexual arousal.” Part One: Man—the scented ape. Part Two: Perfume as a personal tactic of impression management. Part Three: Electrical activity in the brain during odor perception. Part Four: The role of fragrances in inducing mood and relaxation states. Part Five: Matching scents with personality traits to better target scent consumers. GR

Publisher: Chapman and Hall
Paperback: 268 pages

Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic Drugs, Their Plant Sources and History

Jonathan Ott

“The most comprehensive book on the subject of shamanic inebriants, their active agents and artificial cousins… two years of writing following 20 years of research into the ethnopharmacology of entheogenic drugs.”

Publisher: Natural
Paperback: 640 pages

Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons and Herbcraft

Dale Pendell

A mesmerizing guide to psychoactive plants, from their pharmacological roots to the literary offshoots. AK

Publisher: Mercury House
Paperback: 287 pages

The Physics and Psychophysics of Music: An Introduction

Juan G. Roederer

“A classic in its field, analyzes objective, physical properties of sound and their relationship with psychological sensations of music. Furthermore, it describes how these sound patterns are generated in musical instruments, how they propagate through the environment, and how they are detected by the ear and interpreted by the brain.”

Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Paperback: 221 pages