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Hardenberg, H.E. (1955). The Doors of Perception: By Aldous Huxley. (London: Chatto and Windus, 1954. Pp. 63. 6 s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:357.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:357

The Doors of Perception: By Aldous Huxley. (London: Chatto and Windus, 1954. Pp. 63. 6 s.)

Review by:
H. E.W. Hardenberg

In this short book Mr. Aldous Huxley describes his own experiences after taking four-tenths of a gramme of mescalin. These, exhilarating and rewarding for him, are extremely interesting and vividly recounted, as one would expect from such a brilliant writer. For this alone the book is worth reading. There is, furthermore, a fascinating dissertation upon the folds of drapery; as well as an excellent account of the artist's relation to this subject. It is a pity that Mr. Huxley did not stop here and leave this as a statement of his own experiment. Mr. Huxley, however, is interested in mescalin itself, its history, its relation to schizophrenia, and especially its possible benefits to humanity. His subject is therefore wide and general, and not all the problems he touches upon can be referred to in this review.

He feels that previous investigators of mescalin have stopped at a point 'well this side of idolatry'. Whether he himself has, is open to question. It is not enough to generalize from one's own experience, and this is what he has done. Others, normal subjects, have taken comparable amounts of mescalin, and had quite different results from those of Mr. Huxley. Some have had extremely disturbing and unpleasant ones. Dr. Guttmann gave a comprehensive account of the drug's effects in 1936 (Journal of Mental Science, 82). This was based on personal observations on sixty subjects, mostly normal. Since then, there have been further accounts of the drug's effects on normal subjects, confirming the variable response.

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