Margaret O(ldroyd) Hyde Louis Lasagna - Essay

Louis Lasagna

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Mind Drugs"] is an attempt to provide some facts for those interested in drug abuse. It is reasonably short, but not superficial. The style is "popular" (in the nonpejorative sense), but should not offend the sensibilities of the intelligent reader, young or old. Its facts are, so far as I can tell, generally correct.

The contributors are a mixed lot: four psychiatrists, two psychologists, and a young doctor who has been medical director of the hippie clinic in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco. Mrs. Hyde (who doubles as editor and author of three of the chapters) is not only a professional writer but a teacher and a director of the Northeast Mental Health Clinic of Philadelphia.

The description of the various "mind drugs" is good—and, in some respects, exemplary….

The book is primarily about young people—why they use drugs, what drugs do for and to them (good and bad), and some of the ways a person might be helped to kick his drug habit. It points out the semantic traps in defining "addiction," how complex the medico-legal ramifications are, how psychedelic "trips" can be pleasant or (unpredictably) catastrophic. It reminds us that it is not necessary for someone to suffer a psychotic break after the use of hallucinogens. It shows us how hard it is for LSD users to love even one other person, let alone "the world" or "humanity."

My major complaint about this useful volume is that it never gives in-depth reasons why youngsters take drugs; nor does it stress the alternative, non-drug challenges and satisfactions that might be provided by society….

It is perhaps unfair to ask for definitive solutions from a book of this type, although some suggestions are offered. We must still ask ourselves why our children resort to drugs—and how we can change the world so they will no longer feel this need.

Louis Lasagna, "The Grass Isn't Greener," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1968 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 3, 1968, p. 3.