Talk about “Far Away Places”, one of the latest episodes of AMC’s premier show “Mad Men” actually featured two of the show’s main characters hanging out with Angela’s Mom from “My So-Called Life” and embarking on an LSD vacation (to help the marriage, of course)!
We’ve seen them drink, dope, and dose before on the show, always bringing the true moods of the times has become paramount to the show . The year is 1966, and while many of us would associate acid trips and LSD with Woodstock and the hippie movement, the development of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and the exploration of its properties were anything but psychedelic at this point.
LSD, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, was first synthesized in 1938 by Dr. Albert Hoffman in Switzerland. It wouldn’t be until five years later, Hoffman would unwittingly take the drug himself experiencing the first-ever “trip” . . . EVER!!!
Bicycling home, Hoffman would recall breaking down and believing he had been poisoned by the LSD – also, that his neighbor was in fact a witch! So you can imagine his distress…
The CIA would infamously use LSD as a form of mind control in a series of experiments involved in the controversial Project MKULTRA. This covert project was uncovered by a reporter in 1977 using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) unveiling that covert units performed series of tests on American and Canadian citizens throughout the 1950s into the 1970s (maybe beyond…spooky, right?!) that included administering LSD for series of days (up to three months) and experiments in electro-shock therapy.
In fact, LSD was also being actively administered to individuals on pharmaceutical levels throughout the 1950s by various doctors around the world. The treatment of many clinical problems such as addiction, anxiety, depression, and a plethera of other psychological “disorders” were being treated with the on set side effects of the drug – the “trip”.
Once administered by a physician, whom himself has taken trips himself up to 40 times (for safety), an individual was let alone to their own vices, often times experiencing life altering epiphanies and self discoveries along the way.
Cary Grant was one such individual who swore by the miracle drug. This wasn’t something kept hidden from the public as many celebrities do presently with various addictions, but was part of a scheduled exercise between himself as a patient of psychiatry. Problems aren’t problems like they are for a man like Cary Grant who praised the techniques and results used to achieve such epic self realization.
As Grant explained in 1959 of the New York Herald Tribune:
“I have been born again. I have just been through a psychiatric experience that has completely changed me … I had to face things about myself, which I never admitted, which I didn’t know were there. Now I know that I hurt every woman I loved. I was an utter fake, a self-opinionated boor, a know-all who knew very little. Once you realize that you have all things inside you, love and hate alike, and you learn to accept them, then you can use your love to exhaust your hate … You can relax … Then you can do more than you ever dreamed you could do … That moment when your conscious meets your subconscious is a helluva wrench. You feel the whole top of your head lifting off.”
It would seem Grant had little aversion at all to talking about it, and quickly appearing in interviews and stories for The London Daily Mirror, The LA Times, and other national publications including a hilarious bit in Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping headlining “How LSD Changed Cary Grant’s Private Life” to America’s housewives and bolting LSD and psychological transformation into public consciousness.
Grant wouldn’t be the only movie star to take the “trip”- other famous “patients” included James Coburn, Clare Booth Luce, Charles Brackett, and even the million dollar mermaid herself- Esther Williams who said that:
“This LSD trip … explained so much about my life’s script … [It was] such a breakthrough for me.””
Bet you never would have thought!
Hundreds of books were also written about the subject- all in hopes that LSD had the key. The magic cure to the impossible! The answer to all the meaning of one’s life necessary. Unfortunately, no sooner did the trend for LSD therapy catch on as it was quickly halted by the outlawing of LSD October 6, 1966 after nearly 40,000 patients treated by the psychedelic and literally thousands of scientific studies on the now illicit substance.
Good thing Roger and Jane caught on seemingly months before it’s demise from clinical and psychiatric care. Though still illegal, there are handfuls of individuals who would argue for LSD and its benefits. After all, every man must at some point come face to face with himself, and if life is a journey, having the ability to harness in on elements of your being is powerful. So if LSD can truly facilitate an out of body experience, and the journeyman is of sound mind, no doubt the results could be fantastic.
Recently Dyan Cannon has described her life with Cary Grant, and his obsession with LSD. Her account also includes many eyebrow-raising details of the matinee idol, we otherwise would never have guessed.Just as we always say at The Eye of Faith- “Everything is not always as it seems”, and so is the case with the seemingly cavalier Grant.
Not surprisingly, the doctors prescribing their methods to Cary Grant were eventually apprehended for their own misuse of the psychedelic drug they had been prescribing. However, this did not stop the fascination with the psyche, and the undeniable portal LSD was giving people into their mind.
It’s powerful stuff potent enough to make someone legitimately go crazy. But, you gotta love how Roger handles his experience. You could almost imagine Roger having a Cary Grant penis rocket ship blast-offing from Earth kind of trip, but the Sterling actually pulls it off from beginning to end, and seems genuinely refreshed from his voyage of discovery.
John Slattery adds great panache and humor to the role, as he always does, and as surprising as it seems, is one of the most probable characters to be put in this situation. Poor Jane, always misunderstood and painfully misguided, if only LSD was really the answer to everything. At least they give her a great sense of style.
Totally feeling the Cleopatra inspiration on Jane’s hair, a very popular movie that was released in 1963, but received a shit load of publicity and press due to Liz’s mood swings and passionate affair with co-star Richard Burton. There probably wasn’t a shred of paper that didn’t have a story on the now infamous production. Good to see it rubbing off, as it seems most things in magazines do- LSD included.
And if you haven’t seen the episode yet, you got to! Definitely award-worthy on all accounts! Just what everyone loves from the talented team at “Mad Men”. AMC has the clip of Roger and Jane taking acid, so click here if you dare.
Really had a lot of fun writing about this one! Never thought the day would come I could watch Roger Sterling take acid with Angela’s mom. I’d say, things are pretty sweet!
Would love to hear your take! It’s really cool how context shapes perception. The kid definitely seems happy, so what’s the deal?!
Would you take LSD with Angela Chase’s mom? Was Cary Grant totally off his rocker? What do you think? Let us know!
Amazing capture of the era in stories. Life was eye-opening in those days for sure. And took you to dimensions you cannot imagine. Had to have positive music around, with positive people.
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