Bieberman also want volunteers for a nation-wide Psychedclic Telephone Directory, because during "sessions", when the urge to call someone arises, "There should be someone more appropriate to phone than your mother, your ex-girl, your psychiatrist, or the President."
(This article was written before Timothy Leary's recent warnings about the medical dangers of LSD. Despite the changes this may have made in Miss Bieberman's life, we prefer to leave this article as it is --a portrait of an earlier, perhaps more innocent, and certainly more idealistic age in the evolution of psychedelic drugs, --The Editors)
The first time Lisa Bieberman heard about psilocybin, a psychedelic drug, she was a Radcliffe Freshman in Hum 5, where Professor Rogers Albritton one day mentioned the drug in connection with a "mystical experience." She now runs a one-woman-show for users of LSD and similar drugs called the Psychedelic Information Center, and issues the PIC Bulletin every other month.
Sitting yoga-style on the floor of her two room apartment which also serves as the Center, Miss Bieberman stapled pages of the latest Bulletin together, and talked about the beginnings of her interest in drugs.
"I'd always wanted to have a mystical experience," she said, "so after Albrittion's lecture I tried to find out where to find out where I could get some psilocybin." She lost interest when she failed to find any, but two years later she read in the CRIMSON about the psychedelic work of Professor Richard Alpert and Instructor Timothy Leary, who were then at Harvard.
"I began to hang around Leary's office after classes," she says, "licking envelopes, tying letters, and running errands. And I faithfully read all the papers they put out." The next year she became circulation manage for the Psychedelic Review which Leary helped publish. She graduated from Radcliffe in Mathematics and Philosophy in 1963, the same year Alpert was fired from Harvard for administering LSD to a student and Leary fired for neglecting his teaching duties.
Miss Bieberman then worked as a secretary. "That wasn't much fun," she says. Last inter she set up the PIC, and this year she enrolled as a graduate student in Psychology at Brandeis.
Now, as a parttime psychedelic journalist, she gathers information about "The Movement," including news on drugs, the law, and the people. Her bi-monthly Bulletin usually consists of three-multilithed pages, and has a circulation of about 300.
In one Bulletin, Miss Bieberman makes a correction in the peyote ex- traction process she had described in the previous issue. "If you did it the other way," she concludes, "you threw away the mescaline--we hope nobody did." Under the heading "The Movement," she announces lectures to be given by Alpert on the West Coast. His organization, which he describes as a "West Coast Nervous System," plans to open a Psychedelic Discotheque.
Miss Bieberman repeatedly points out to her readers that the new federal law, the Drug Abuse Control Amendments of 1965, does not prohibit the possession of any drug for one's personal use. The law, she says, merely restricts the manufacture and distribution of certain drugs. She offers her readers a Xeroxed copy of the DACA for a dollar, and urges them to buy the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act from Washington.
"Local Neo-American Church Boo Hoos" are listed in another Bulletin. The Church, which Miss Bieberman describes as "a fellowship for the use of psychedelics," was founded by Arthur Kleps, a psychologist. "He appointed himself Chief Boo Hoo of the Church," she explaines, "He means to sound absurd because he doesn't believe in taking organizations too seriously. Chief Boo Hoo is not like Chairman of the Board."
Miss Bieberman relies on her readers for much of her information. At the end of one Bulletin she asks for reports on how to grow psilocybe mushrooms, and clippings related to psychedelic activities. She also wants volunteers for a nationwide Psychedelic Telephone Directory, because during "sessions" when the urge to call someone arises, "there should be someone more appropriate to phone than your mother, your ex-girl, your psychiatrist, or the President." Miss Bieberman also has things to sell, such as synthesis procedures at 25c each for LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, and DMT and "Let's Legalize Pot" buttons for 15c each.
But Miss Bieberman cannot sell LSD or any other drug. In her Christmas issue of the Bulletin she advertised "two free 300mcg doses of LSD-25" to be given by Santa Claus. The season's greeting on the advertised coupon reads: "May visions of sugar cubes dance through your head." She reports that about 30 people responded to her offer, but she was dissappointed in the outcome of this experiment. "I wanted to make the drug available to people who had never taken it, but those who came had used it too many times before." She made the offer, she says, to "prove a point," that one should be open about the use of psychedelic drugs. The problem, she claims, is that "people are too paranoid."
"Paranoid" seems to be Miss Bieberman's favorite word, and is certainly her "pet peeve." She writes in one Bulletin: "I try to keep from editorializing in the Bulletin, but I guess is's clear that one thing I'm for is candidness. Let yourself be known!" She is scornful of people who write to her without giving their return addresses, and those who come to see he secretly and are afraid to tell people that they take drugs for fear of losing their jobs. "Most people," she claimed, "Would not be against you just because you take LSD." Bringing psychedelic out into the open is presently Miss Bieberman's main aim as director of the Center. "How are we going to make LSD respectable if everyone is so paranoid about it?" she asks.
Since she wants to bring psychedelics out into the open, Miss Bieberman encourages people to come to the PIC and ask questions. She tries to give them advice on how to "run sessions" and how to hold onto their experiences "up there" when they "come back down." She refers them to a book by Leary, Metzner, and Alpert called The Psychedelic Experience. "They come from all over," she said, "and they tell me about their experiences, and they're worried--did they do it right? Did they get far enough? And I tell them it's all the same."
"And I tell them not to be so paranoid," she adds with a laugh. Her nervous giggle is a very self-confident one.
Most of the people who go to see Miss Bieberman at PIC, however, just want to take drugs for kicks. "They consider themselves irresponsible, self-defeating, naughty," she says. "They take drugs too often, and without planning and forethought. So the insights they gain when they're 'up there' are quickly dissipated. They don't stay together after their sessions to discuss their experiences. These people may have unpleasant experiences when they take psychedelics in the wrong environment, going into it with the wrong attitude. It all depends on the attitude you go into it with."
One of her first doses of morning glory seeds made her extremely miserable for about half the time, she says, because she had thought the effects were supposed to last for only eight hours, whereas they lasted 16 hours. She is skeptical of doctors who report that LSD may aggravate schizophrenic tendencies or have other harmful psychological effects.
"LSD in itself does not do anything to a person. The effect depends on the individual's preparation and motivation," she says. She complains that people like Dana L. Farnsworth, Director of University Health Services, are not very helpful. "He only mentions the cases that turnout badly," she says, "and does not mention cases in which psychedelics can be used constructively."
Miss Bieberman firmly believes that psychedelics can be put to "constructive" use, and that is the kind of use she is so intent upon bringing out into the open. "It's hard to explain to people who have not taken the drugs just what these good effects are," she says, "but they can give you a new perspective on the way you are living, and an increased sensitivity. You look at life in a completely different way when you're up and the important thing is to be able to apply this new perspective to your life when you come back down." She "goes up" only a few times a year, in order to have time to think over her last experience and relate it to her life "down here." "Each time I take a dose," she said, "I plan it carefully, because I have new problems to deal with, and I forget after a number of months just what it was like." She feels that if one takes a drug more frequently and under less planned conditions, the experience can be meaningless.
To combat this meaninglessness, Miss Bieberman plans to do research in the field of psychedelic drugs. "I want to find out how to help people reach what I call "The Psychedelic Experience" and not the unpleasant one--how to make them remember it, hang onto it, and make it applicable to their daily life."
She says there is a possibility that psychedelics could be used in psychotherapy, but adds: "There's something not quite appropriate in idea. The psychedelic experience not like a sick man going to get cured--it is so subjective--you do it yourself. All another person can do is create the setting, and help out a little." This is the role Miss Bieberman would like to play for "people who want to get turned on in a good environment," she plans to set up in the future a center for this purpose. But she realizes that most of the people she has delt with only want to "turn on" and hardly care about the "good environment" and whether or not it exists. She is idealistically dedicated to a cause whose adherents she feels are irresponsible and whose goals she is not sure are possible, but she tries fiercely to believe in them.
A recent visitor to PIC told Miss Bierberman that he had not taken LSD in a month, and she replied to him take she had not taken it in four months. "But that's because you like it down here," he replied.
Does she like it "down here"? Miss Bieberman's stapling was interrupted