LSD: Interview With a 1960s Acid Guide
Falling into the Unconscious Mind
BK (Dr. Billy Kidd): What is an acid guide? People have heard the term but do they have any idea what it involves?”
AG (Acid Guide): That is just a media expression. You have to have been there and done that to know what it is.
AG: The deal was getting a few people together. It's usually a group of friends. Then giving them LSD. Now you guide them around while they are seeing through the lens of their unconscious mind. You try to keep them focused on the fun side of their unconscious mind. Not the psychotic dark side.
BK: The psychotic side of the unconscious mind?
AG: The psychotic side of the unconscious imagination is more real than reality. Compelling. Driving. Forceful. I did not understand terms like “psychotic” until later. I studied psychology. You better believe it.The alternative reality that the mind can create is without limits. It is kind of like falling asleep and having a dream, but you are awake. You see what you are dreaming. This occurs with LSD and eventually with the daily use of cocaine and methamphetamines.
BK: Seeing what you are dreaming?
Projecting Your Unconscious Thoughts onto the World
AG: Yes. You project your dream onto reality. Now it is suddenly real. Your total reality is a projection of your unconscious mind overlaid on what is actually there. Are you following me?
BK: Yes, I understand projection. It is like wearing glasses that change the way the world looks so that it conforms to what you think.
AG: The thing is, there is the dark side, the psychotic, and the fun side of your unconscious mind. When you start out, you generally experience the fun side.That is why street drugs are so addictive.
BK: You mean kind of like Freud’s id and his death wish on one side, and the good things on the other?
AG: All that stuff. You are living in it. In one or the other. And that is your reality. You are seeing things you never knew were in your mind. But you do not know that. When you’re high, you really believe it is what the world really is.
You cannot be talked out of it, only guided to safer things to project your mental illusion onto. An analogy would be the idea that if you have a dark or crazy thought, you tell yourself, "OK, it's only a thought, not something I'm gonna do." Then it goes away. On acid,19 out of 20 people cannot do that. So what they think is real, and that reality is in a large way flowing from their unconscious minds.
BK: What you are really saying is that LSD, meth, and coke break down the barrier between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind.
AG: Shatters it.
BK: When you drop acid, and you are there in an alternative reality, you are seeing from the unconscious part of the mind, until the drug finally wears off. Right?
AG: Exactly. It was a real mind twister when I realized that. But on acid, you don’t know it is your unconscious head trip that becomes an overlay for what you see. Reality conforms to your dreams, your imagination. But if you take too much acid for too long you lose your base in the real world. So now, you make up a story in your mind that justifies what you see, the unconscious projection thing. It is the same with extensive use of cocaine and methamphetamines. Some people with schizophrenia do it too.
BK: So you lose the here and now if you go too far, take too many trips. Is that it?
AG: Yes. Everyone has a limit of how much street drugs they can take before losing touch with reality completely.
BK: And start living in their dreams.
AG: Or nightmares. That’s when you end up in the psyche ward. That is why you have to reject the whole LSD thing as not being real, just seeing it as being no more than a fun trip. Or possibly a bummer. This is why it is the acid guide's most important job is to get people back into the real world before you let them go.
BK: What about guided trips on coke and meth?
AG: That is pretty hard to do.
The Limits of Acid Tripping
BK: Tell me about the limits of acid tripping.
AG: Some people are natural born “heavy duty” drug users. They can go anywhere, do anything, blasted, seemingly forever. Like Jerry Garcia.
BK: Who OD’d on drugs.
AG: That’s right. Everyone has a limit on how much craziness they can take before they crack.
BK: And try heroin and coke like Garcia did. Is that it?
AG: Yes. Lots of acid users want to test every drug that is out there. That is what I did. The problem here is that the average person flips out at about twenty LSD trips. But, say, someone spikes your drink, and you are not a drug user. You have no explanation for the dream world that you see, no belief. You cannot say, “Oh, I’m stoned. That’s why it looks so well timed.” That’s when you’re a goner.
BK: What do you mean, so well timed?
You lose Your Sense of Reality and Sense of Time
AG: I got that idea of the world looking so well timed from Dylan. He sang, “The bricks they lay on Grand Street. It all seems so well timed.” Reality looks like it’s timed to fit together perfectly.
So if you take too much acid, you start believing reality is timed to what you are thinking. That is because this illusion is a projection of your unconscious thoughts onto the environment. Then your conscious mind interprets it as real. You do not have a clue that this is what is going on in your mind. The real killer is that you eventually believe everything you see is arranged to mean something to you personally. Even car license plates.
BK: Yes, I have seen that in a cocaine addict who turned to cheaper trips on methamphetamines. These days they are smoking cheap crack. So where does it go from here?
AG: Your unconscious projections keep creating the same thing over and over. The same view of reality. Day after day. Something that just keeps repeating itself. And it happens because of your belief system that your dream world is real. This projection of your unconscious thoughts, this overlay onto the world, is very real to you.
BK: Without taking more LSD?
AG: Exactly. That is what the song was about. A bum acid trip that keeps repeating itself, even if you quit taking acid. Most of Dylan’s fans never got it, that this was a song about what happened in Dylan’s head when he got stoned and nearly flipped. Everything kept repeating itself, and everything seemed so well timed.
BK: OK. I think you’re saying that LSD creates an alternative reality. Then you keep running the tape of it in your head over and over. And you interpret reality from that. This happens even when you are not high on LSD.
AG: Also from constant use of cocaine and methamphetamines.
Bob Dylan: Stuck Inside of Mobile
"Now the bricks lay on Grand Street
Where the neon madmen climb
They all fall there so perfectly
It all seems so well timed
An’ here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice."
The Acid Guide's Most Important Job
BK: OK, I get it. So let's get back to being an acid guide. You have this group of people, then what?
AG: You got them high. Now it is your job to bring them back down to seeing reality again. Before you let them go, they have to see the world the way it was when they started. Sometimes that is the hard part. Some people do not want to come back. Unconscious stuff is powerful. You know the story about the lead guitarist of the band Pink Floyd. He went up and never came back down. Flush that career. After years of therapy, he was still on the same bum trip.
BK: Sounds like a nightmare.
AG: While being awake.
The Mental Telepathy Thing
BK: Does any of this explain the mental telepathy thing some paranoid schizophrenics believe in?
AG: Sometimes everything looks so well timed that you think that what people are saying is in response to what you are thinking. So you start looking for clues about what they are trying to tell you in response to your belief that you are broadcasting your thoughts to everyone and that people are acting upon them. It looks like they are trying to tell you something. That is the only explanation you have for what you see.
BK: People look like they are trying to tell you something. Are you serious?
AG: You interpret the supposed messages from innuendoes taken from what people say and how they move.
BK: So you are projecting your thoughts into the world, and you see it as people reading your mind.
AG: Now you are getting it.
BK: That is kind of what heavy users of coke and meth have told me. But it is more like they see people watching them, even looking through walls or around doorways.
AG: It is the same paranoid phenomenon. You watch the body language; you watch the speech; you watch what cars that park in front of your home. It all means something to you. There's a hidden message that you keep looking for. In the worst case scenario, you start reading the license plates on those cars to look for a clue as to what people are trying to tell you. You believe that is what you are supposed to do or think.
BK: That’s insane. It is like having an obsessive-compulsive disorder that you must look for the hidden message
AG: Yes. You’ve lost your home base. Your natural view of reality. So you take this stuff as real and have no other place to go. There is nothing else to believe in. That is even when you are not high on acid. Methamphetamines and crack cocaine can do it too. Unfortunately, very few of us guides got that idea until it was too late. Timothy Leary never got it at all.
BK: I believe that one. The wards were once full of his followers.
AG: So when I learned the word “projection” that explained it. People project their craziness onto the environment and then interpret what they see as being real. So the world looks like it was timed to follow the crazy stuff you are thinking, or the beauty in your unconscious mind. And once you have made a belief that justifies what you’re seeing, the craziness of your mind covering the universe, you don’t need any more drugs to trigger it.
People Who Become Psychotic Resist Help
BK: Tell me about the triggers.
AG: The whole world becomes a trigger. Just open your eyes in the morning and the world takes on your strange belief system. That is because the world you see is a projection of your unconscious mind. But you are not aware that is what is happening. You will fight people who want to help you because your belief holds you together. It is all you have. This can happen even when you are taking antipsychotic drugs.
BK: Resistance to treatment and help was one of Freud’s ideas.
AG: Who took coke for a while. He even gave it to his patients.
BK: Freud wrote to his fiancé that he had discovered the drug that would make Freud enough money so they could get married.
AG: Freud had a low threshold between his conscious and unconscious mind. That is why he could see unconscious defense mechanism so clearly. It was probably from the cocaine. But who really knows? You never know about geniuses.
BK: Freud had a thin line between his conscious and his unconscious mind. So he could crossover. Right?
AG: That is probably why Freud had so many new ideas. He saw up close that people who have mental problems often resist help. After all, addicts really believe a telephone pole or a bridge talks to them. They do not want you to take that away because it is all they have. The lucky ones, like me, rejected those beliefs. We rejected the idea that the ‘60s were fun rather than what they were. Just crazy. If you let a hint of that belief in the thrill of acid come back, you might trigger the whole thing to come back. I mean, like even five years later.
BK: You are talking about having a flashback. Right?
AG: Yes, it is similar to PTSD. You go on a trip rather than saying to yourself, “Oh, it’s just the past reaching out and trying to suck me back in. I’ll come back down like I always did. Just have a brewski, dude, and be patient.”
BK: Did you ever have a flashback?
AG: Why do you think I know so much about this stuff?
A False Guru
BK: But you did not know how to analyze LSD trips until you studied psychology. Right?
AG: Not exactly. It was intuitive at first. I acted on it without having the words for it. That’s why I thought that Krishnamurti was a false guru. His “the observer is the observed” thing. That is just projecting your mind onto the world and then reading it as real.
AG: The real problem with Krishnamurti is something else. He said you only get one chance to make the transformation he made, his finding a sense of enlightenment. No. You can get up every morning at sunrise and believe it is a new day if you want to find a higher love. It is easy. Just meditate on it for a few minutes when you wake up in the morning. Then just be thankful for what you have. After that, with a calm mind, you can see the world turning in the present moment with all you sensibilities engaged. And see how amazing it all is.
BK: Can you tell me more about it?
AG: I had questions as time went on, and I started looking for a real guru who could help me manage all this. I never found one who knew anything about anything, even the great ones like I mentioned, Krishnamurti.
BK: You looked for a guru?
AG: Yes. San Francisco drew flower children, drug addicts, musicians, and false gurus like a magnet. So I quit messing with my trance thing because there was no one there to help me.
The Trance Experience
BK: What trance thing?
AG: Alright. I meditated, still do. There was a time in the’60s when I could close my eyes and count from one to five backwards. I would start by telling myself, “Five minutes.” Then counting backwards watching the numbers in my mind when I got to number one I would go into an unconscious trance. Later, I would find myself counting from one to five forwards as I came out of the trance. Eyes still shut. That was always about five minutes later.
BK: For real?
AG: I guess I’m really unloading. I’ve never told anyone about that before.
BK: You almost make Alan Watts look like a light weight. Are you sure you are OK with this stuff. Talking about it now?
AG: These days I ruminate on the past all the time, on my whole life, actually. It must be what old folks do to settle things. This is kind of a relief to get it out. To hear myself speak it, rather than dwell on it all alone.
BK: Rumination is a normal part of the life cycle. When people reach their sixties or seventies they might think about all they have done and wish they could have done.
AG: Yes, that’s me.
BK: Was it hard holding all this stuff down?
AG: Not once I rejected the ’60s as a mass experiment with the unconscious mind.