1960s documentary: Self-experimenting with magic mushrooms

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.

In the first part of the programme (embedded below), Newland, Puharich and others travel to Mexico to collect mushroom samples. They then return to Puharich's lab in Palo Alto, where Newland's ESP abilities are tested before and after ingestion of several mushroom stems.

The programme is of historical interest, as it was made some years before the widespread use of LSD led researchers to stop conducting psychedelic research. It therefore includes a brief mention of the potential therapeutic effects of psilocybin for psychiatric patients.

Parts 2 and 3 of the episode are also available on YouTube.

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The programme is of historical interest, as it was made some years before the widespread use of LSD led researchers to stop conducting psychedelic research.

Oh, is that the reason they stopped? Such self restraint! ;-)

Thanks for blogging this blast from the naive past.

I wonder...
Constance Newland was the pen name of UCLA parapsychology researcher Thelma Moss. She wrote a (to me) fascinating account of her LSD therapy entitled "Myself and I" (I highly recommend this book)... if they knew each other.

I see the link to the "rise and fall of prefontal lobotomy" there in the column.

Mushrooms are the safest most profound method of a safe constructive
god giving lobotomy. the human method is simply archaic.

This sacred mushroom ideal has not disappeared, it's just waiting on the fringes of the social circles to help heal the planet gaia. I'm surprised more don't talk about this TV programme. A google search brings nothing basically. Not that it's SO important, but it is rather profound, especially in contrast to the dribble you get on TV screen these days of now. Great blog! thanks for the article.

I first saw this episode when I was 11 years old. No one I spoke to after that seemed to remember it! It was so good to finally see it once again! Didn't start experimenting with Psychedelics until 6 years later, myself. A tradidtion I continue to this day! Thank you so much for giving me a chance to see something I thought I'd never see again!

By Charles J. Seiderman (not verified) on 10 Apr 2010 #permalink