Published July 2020: American Trip Set, Setting, and the Psychedelic Experience in the Twentieth Century

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How historical, social, and cultural forces shaped the psychedelic experience in midcentury America, from CIA LSD experiments the Harvard Psilocybin Project. He proposes the concept of collective set and setting, arguing that the historical and sociocultural context of midcentury America offered a particular set and setting—creating the conditions for what he calls the American trip. In American Trip, Ido Hartogsohn examines how the psychedelic experience in midcentury America was shaped by historical, social, and cultural forces—by set (the mindset of the user) and setting (the environments in which the experience takes place). Hartogsohn chronicles these developments in the context of the era’s cultural trends, including the cold war, the counterculture, the anti-psychiatric movement, and the rise of cybernetics. He explores uses of psychedelics that range from CIA and military experimentation to psychedelic-inspired styles in music, fashion, design, architecture, and film.

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How historical, social, and cultural forces shaped the psychedelic experience in midcentury America, from CIA LSD experiments the Harvard Psilocybin Project.

Are psychedelics invaluable therapeutic medicines, or dangerously unpredictable drugs that precipitate psychosis? Tools for spiritual communion or cognitive enhancers that spark innovation? Activators for one’s private muse or part of a political movement? In the 1950s and 1960s, researchers studied psychedelics in all these incarnations, often arriving at contradictory results. In American Trip, Ido Hartogsohn examines how the psychedelic experience in midcentury America was shaped by...

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