One step beyond

Neurophilosophy has found a fascinating black and white TV documentary on Mexican hallucinogenic mushrooms from 1961, where the presenter samples some of the psilocybin-containing fungus and reports the effects during the trip.

In the January 4th, 1961 episode of One Step Beyond, director and presenter John Newland ingests psilocybin under laboratory conditions, to investigate whether or not the hallucinogenic mushroom can enhance his abilities of extra-sensory perception.

The programme was apparently inspired by a 1959 book called The Sacred Mushroom, by parapsychologist Andrija Puharich, who is known for taking the spoon-bending fraudster Uri Geller to the United States for investigation.

As Neurophilosophy notes, this was before the dawn of the psychedelic age, and so it was unlikely that this would have been connected to drug culture as we might do today, but was likely to be viewed as a documentary on the strange ways of ‘them overseas’.

It has some interesting parallels to a 1955 BBC documentary on mescaline, where the Labour MP Christopher Mayhew took a fairly stiff dose and narrated the effects (“Tubby is disappearing in time…”).

The magic mushroom documentary also has some wonderfully stilted dialogue in places, and mentions that they could be used to treat mental disorder – an area which is being researched once more.

We’ll have some more on this research shortly, so look out for a forthcoming interview.

Link to Neurophilosopy with documentary video.

2 Comments

  1. Mark(p.s.)
    Posted July 18, 2008 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    “treat mental disorder”
    forced or voluntary?
    and by voluntary I don’t mean locked up AKA hospitalized, until you agree to “take” the treatment.

  2. Posted July 20, 2008 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Shades of Mckenna, very interesting.


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