Do blind people hallucinate on LSD?

I’ve just found a remarkable 1963 study [pdf] from the Archives of Opthalmology in which 24 blind participants took LSD to see if they could experience visual hallucinations.

It turns out, they can, although this seems largely to be the case in blind people who had several years of sight to begin with, but who later lost their vision.

Those blind from a very early age (younger than two years-old) did not report visual hallucinations, probably because they never had enough visual experience to shape a fully-functioning visual system when their brain was still developing.

It is evident that a normal retina is not needed for the occurrence of LSD-induced visual experiences. These visual experiences do not seem to differ from the hallucinations reported by normal subjects after LSD.

Such phenomena occurred only in blind subjects who reported prior visual activity. The drug increased the frequency of visual events such as spots, lights, dots, and flickers. However, the complex visual experiences reported by 3 subjects after LSD did not occur after placebo or in ordinary experience.

It is interesting to note that duration of blindness was not related to the occurrence of visual hallucinations; nor was intelligence, acuity of visual memory, or use of visual imagery in speech.

I mentioned in an earlier post on auditory hallucinations in deaf people that I’d heard rumours of studies on LSD in blind people but never found any reports. This study is not the only one it seems. The paper reviews several other studies in the same area.

Three other reports deal with the effects of hallucinogenic drugs on blind subjects. Alema reported that 50 micrograms of orally administered LSD induced elaborate visual hallucinations in a subject with bilateral enucleations of the eyeball. However, the effects of 50 micrograms of LSD are stated to have persisted for the incredibly long period of 5 days (they usually last 6 hours). This subject was noted to have spontaneous visual activity.

Zador administered mescaline orally in doses of 0.05 to 0.4gm to 10 blind subjects. Elaborate visual hallucinations usually followed. Most of the subjects had prior spontaneous visual activity, but it is difficult to evaluate this activity because they also had central nervous system diseases. The presence or absence of light perception was not specified for this group, and no control studies were carried out.

Forrer and Goldnerr gave LSD, 1 microgram per kilogram to 2 blind volunteers, both of whom had suffered destruction of the optic nerves. Neither reported visual hallucinations, no mention was made of prior spontaneous hallucinations, and no mention was made of prior spontaneous visual activity.

pdf of full text of study.
Link to PubMed entry for study.

21 Comments

  1. Posted November 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    can deaf people comunicate telepathicly while high on LSD?
    personal qeustion why when youre high on LSD the world seems ugly? why do we continue to destroy it?

    • Dee
      Posted February 23, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

      well, the man-made city may look ugly on LSD, but anything in Nature is Gloriously eyond words to describe it’s beauty.. if regular people had experienced this awe like most natives, they would Never destroy Earth AGAIN , guaranteed

    • Talia
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Don’t you understand, that destruction IS nature. All of our actions, lives, and the greater universe are intricately connected. A city is just an expression of the universe itself. Its all just patterns repeating themselves over and over at an infinite number of levels. If you observe cities, they grow in fractal like patterns, just like galaxies and the universe.

    • Traey
      Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      Jus’ wanna say about the world appearing ugly thing. From my exp. “trippables” magnify some things. You can see better and hear better, it also seems to have a simular effect on thoughts. If you think negitavely you may see things such as blood or fire. On the other hand if thinking positive you may feel connected to everything and see the true beauty that surronds us all the time. It seems to make you very introverted. In some ways alchol can be in a simular way,( magnification of feelings) though I feel alchol is not a good thing in the hands of most, but LSD and such seem to have a lot to offer the human speices. If you look in a mirror while tripping you me see the good, the bad, or both in yourself, depending on your mood. Sice as I stated it makes ppl introverted, it appears to bring about strong reflection of one’s exp. Hope this helped and remember to stay positive, bc it affects you and everyone and everything around you. Stay strong and positive for yourself, and so that others may lean on you for support:D Love and Peace

  2. terran
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    angel walks:
    deaf people cannot communicate telepathically on LSD, and as a matter of fact, they are just like us, except they lie and tell people they can’t hear so we have to give them special treatment. i know because I once had a brother who lies (to this day) about it. he admitted it after i kept beating him and finally got him to be honest.

    • frank
      Posted October 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Are you saying deaf people are lying to get better threathment? Dumbest fucking thing i have ever heard

      • Brian
        Posted December 12, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        Oh yeah? Really? Where’d you obtain your degree?

    • Brandon
      Posted June 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Maybe he just admitted to something false so you’d stop beating him.

  3. Posted December 27, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Bizarre first two comments, lol’d! Great article too.

  4. aCuriousAsshole
    Posted March 10, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Now all that’s left to do is see how DMT effects the blind and/or deaf.

  5. youdontneedtoknow
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    I’m blind, and i came here to see if blind people visually hallucinate. It was a good article, but it didn’t give me the information i needed. Now all that’s left is to actually try LSD.

    • caedon
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      if you are blind how are you reading it? wouldnt you be hearing it via text-to-speech?

      • Brad
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:26 am | Permalink

        He never said he was ‘reading’ it.

      • checktheusername
        Posted March 31, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        You don’t need to know.

  6. rodeo
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    @terran, what on earth am I reading man, honestly wut??

  7. Alan
    Posted June 7, 2012 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    not an endorser of drugs but I’ve definitely asked myself if blind people dream or hallucinate visuals. isn’t a dream really a hallucination of sorts? you’re talking physical, audio and visual images without any sensory input required, even if re-assembled or configured from previous input.

    I’ve long had hypnagogic hallucinations, some of which have been completely illuminated objects in a pitch black room.

    Are dreams/hallucinations registering on the optic nerve or totally “in your mind”? Same as audio hallucinations–there is no sound waves tickling your ears. How do you hear stuff that isn’t there?

    • Posted August 25, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      ” Yes, blind people do dream. What they see in their dreams depends on how much they could ever see. If someone has been totally blind since birth, they only have auditory dreams.”

      http://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=765

      Isn’t that funny. In the same way people born blind on hallucinogens only have audio hallucinations, they also can only dream in audio. Interesting, isn’t it?

      • Alan
        Posted August 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the info. I saw a story about an artist born without eyes who paints accurate landscapes. If it has not been debunked then I would posit that perhaps he senses color warmth and coolness by their radiation or chroma noise. Other than that you’d have to get into the metaphysical stuff like seeing with his third eye, etc.

      • Posted August 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Well, your welcome, Alan.

  8. supria
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    yes, they do hallucinate..!! Even the blind people has the right to feel God and visualise colourful patterns, illuminating within….!!! ;)

  9. randel
    Posted May 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    blatantly dmt should be used i cant imagine blind people not seeing geometric wonder then meeting some sort of something


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