How does LSD induce short-term psychosis but long-term optimism?






when most people think of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­the image that comes to mind is hallucinating hippies at Woodstock, but the drug’s original use was psychotherapeutic. As early as the 1960s, researchers showed that LSD reduces depression, anxiety and pain in patients with advanced cancer, and recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in the drug’s beneficial effects. In 2014, Swiss psychiatrist Peter Gasser published the results of a study showing that  LSD could alleviate the symptoms of severe anxiety disorder. And a 2016 study from Imperial College London showed that LSD could increase levels of optimism and openness for extended periods of time.

The LSD story goes back to Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist who first synthesised the compound in 1938. Hofmann accidentally discovered its hallucinogenic effects after ingesting 250 μg (a very large dose!) before his evening commute home. Being the good scientist that he was, he recorded a detailed account of his experience in his notebook. His initial, paranoia-filled reaction was followed the next day by a blissful experience, in which ‘everything glistened, and sparkled in a fresh light’.

It was this final, uplifting insight that the researchers at Imperial set out to re-explore in rigorous fashion, starting with 20 participants recruited by word-of-mouth.  These subjects were all over the age of 21, had no history of psychiatric illness, and reported at least one previous experience with a hallucinogen like magic mushrooms or LSD – the last requirement implemented to minimise adverse responses to the drug. Each subject visited the testing centre twice: once to receive LSD (75 μg lower than the dose taken by recreational users) and once to receive a placebo, though the order in which these individuals received the LSD was random.

Much like Hofmann himself, test subjects reported feeling the effect of the LSD as quickly as ten minutes after the infusion, with the experience lasting for nearly eight hours in all. Several hours into the dosing, they were asked to answer a series of questions regarding their psychological wellbeing. Participants remained in the research centre for the remainder of the day with a psychiatrist present until they were functioning normally. In order to determine longer-term effects, they filled out the same questionnaires two weeks later.

Shortly after taking the drug, participants who received LSD reported an increase in psychosis-like symptoms, including visual hallucinations, spiritual experiences and paranoia. It was an outcome the researchers had expected. But interestingly, those given LSD were more likely to feel positive, and even ‘blissful’ emotions, as opposed to the negative and ‘anxious’ feelings sometimes associated with psychedelic drugs. What was even more striking was that two weeks after taking LSD, these individuals reported increased optimism and openness, making them more creative and curious, as compared with those who received the placebo.

How can a drug that creates a temporary psychosis lead to such pronounced long-term optimism? This is a mostly unanswered question, but researchers think it has something to do with the serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR). This receptor is expressed all over the brain, particularly in regions associated with cognitive functions and social interactions. Stimulation of this receptor has been directly linked to cognitive flexibility, enhanced imagination and creative thinking. Disorders associated with variants of the 5-HT2AR include schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – in other words, a panoply of psychiatric illness. It turns out that LSD functions by binding to and stimulating 5-HT2AR in the cerebral cortex, which is thought to regulate an enzyme called phospholipase C, and eventually leads to psychoactive effects. In fact,blockage of this receptor has been linked to a remediation of the hallucinatory effects of LSD in rats.

The precise biology behind LSD’s transformational potential remains a mystery. But researchers at Imperial suggest that once LSD binds to the receptor, it’s possible that the initial ‘blast’ of stimulation results in more intense, acute psychotic-like symptoms, whereas the longer-term effects produce a ‘loosening’ of network dynamics, and a general increase in optimism and wellbeing.

No one is suggesting that you illegally consume LSD to increase long-term optimism, but the study raises important questions. Could LSD one day be used to treat maladies such as major depressive disorder? Would the short-term psychological discomfort of giving an individual therapeutic LSD be worth the potential long-term benefits? Would the positive effects of LSD persist longer than two weeks? What is the physiological cascade that begins with LSD binding to 5-HT2AR activation and ends with psychological effects such as increased optimism? Is there a way to synthesise a compound that would take advantage of the beneficial aspects of LSD, while minimising the negative effects? There’s only one way to find out – more scientific experiments!

Harrow schoolboy killed by one punch after shouting ‘one day you’ll work for me’ at Malia club promoter






AHarrow schoolboy shouted “one day you’ll work for me” at a club promoter who then killed him with a single punch during a drunken holiday fight, a coroner heard.

Archie Lloyd was on the penultimate day of an Interrail holiday celebrating the end of his A-Level exams with four friends when he got into an argument outside a nightclub in the Greek resort of Malia.

Earlier, Mr Lloyd and best friend Andy Hutchinson had obstructed two women and club promoter Sebastian Trabucatti from riding their mopeds past them, the hearing

Mr Hutchinson told Winchester Coroner’s Court his friend yelled “one day you’ll work for me” seconds before he was floored. One of the two girls on mopeds shouted “you deserved that”, the hearing was told.

Harrow pupil Archie Lloyd was celebrating the end of his A-Levl exams with four friends when he was struck by a club promoter following an angry exchange in the early hours of August 6 last yearCREDIT: PA

Mr Lloyd was tended to “for three minutes” by medics before being given the all-clear, leaving Mr Hutchinson and others to take him back to their villa in the Sissi region.

Security guards told Greek police the 18-year-old’s friends refused to let him go to hospital after he fell against the curb outside the Cloud Nine venue.

Mr Hutchinson said he was so concerned for his friend that he sought a second medical opinion when they got home, but the telephone number they were given did not reply.

The friends put gifted sportsman Mr Lloyd in the recovery position and fell asleep at around 7am. However, they woke at midday and discovered blood on Mr Lloyd’s pillow, who was unresponsive.

A pathologist estimated the teenager died at around 9am. They were due to fly home to London the following day.

During the inquest, Mr Hutchinson described how the “10-second” altercation began when the quad bike riders sounded their horns loudly while he and Mr Lloyd walked towards the taxi rank to go home.

But after they told them to “f*** off” the promoter got off his bike and pushed him three times, forcing him to the ground.

He said Mr Lloyd might have felt bad for failing to intervene so shouted “one day you’ll work for me” at the alleged attacker.

Mr Hutchinson said: “Archie started to walk off. The man walked towards him. In a split second I saw one of the women raise her hands and point to Archie, she said: ‘You deserved that.’

“Archie was on the pavement with his prone body partly laid on the road.

“The man and the two women rode off.”

Wiping tears from his eyes while giving evidence, Mr Hutchinson said his friend did not speak again after hitting the floor. He denied that they had stopped him getting medical attention.

The court heard Mr Trabucatti was invited to attend the inquest but declined.

He told police at the time: “I’m sorry about what happened to the young man but do not consider myself responsible for his death.”

The court heard Mr Trabucatti has been charged with manslaughter in Greece but has yet to enter a plea. A trial would likely be held next year.

The court heard Mr Lloyd suffered a swelling to the brain and a haemorrhage due to a fractured skull.

Pathologist Adnan Al-Badri told the hearing there was a chance the keen sportsman would have survived if he received hospital attention in the wake of the fall.

Mr Lloyd’s mother wept as the coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

Mr Lloyd, who visited Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Budapest and Prague during his three-week tour of Europe, was a brother to older siblings Hector and Hugo, and to younger twin sisters, Kitty and Flora.

In a statement, the family said: “We have been left totally devastated by the loss of a wonderful brother and son but we know he will live on in all those who were ever fortunate enough to have met him.

“Archie was ready to take on the world, realising his dreams to study at university and travel when he tragically died.

“He had his whole life ahead of him when, on a harmless night out, everything went tragically wrong and so many lives have been shattered as a result.

Parents charged in death of infant found rotting in swing





Authorities have charged an Iowa couple with murder in the death of their 4-month-old son, whose maggot-infested body was found in a baby swing in the family’s home.

Twenty-year-old Cheyanne Harris and 28-year-old Zachary Koehn (kayn) were arrested Wednesday on charges of child endangerment and first-degree murder in the death of their son, Sterling Koehn. Court records don’t list attorneys for either of them. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2.

PHOTO: Zachary Koehn is pictured in this undated booking photo. Authorities have charged Koehn and Cheyanne Harris with murder in the death of their 4-month-old son, whose maggot-infested body was found in a baby swing in the familys home. Chickasaw County Sheriffs Office via AP
Zachary Koehn is pictured in this undated booking photo. Authorities have charged Koehn and Cheyanne Harris with murder in the death of their 4-month-old son, whose maggot-infested body was found in a baby swing in the family’s home.

Authorities say in court records that deputies and medics called to the couple’s Alta Vista apartment on Aug. 30 found Sterling dead in the swing. A medical examiner found maggots in his clothing and skin that indicated he hadn’t had a diaper change, bath or been removed from the seat in over a week.

Police say KSU student threatened to kill classmates







A Kennesaw State University student is not allowed back on campus after police said he attacked students and threatened to kill everyone in his class.

Police told Channel 2’s Matt Johnson this whole incident took place inside the science and math building on campus.

According to the arrest warrant, 19-year-old Samuel Friedman, attacked one student and sexually harassed a female student in a math class Tuesday afternoon.

During that class, he also allegedly said “I am going to marinate on the thought of killing you all.”

“I don’t know how i would handle it as a student,” student Alexis Wall-Raven said.

The arrest warrant Johnson obtained said parents “have expressed concerns that they fear for the safety of their children.”

It also says “KSU professors have cancelled scheduled classes” in case Friedman came back.

Johnson spoke with a student who was in the class Tuesday and the student said Friedman just walked out after making threats.

“For it to be at your school is very scary,” student Fernanda Bonilla said. “Ever since like, recent events I’ve been more aware but now that this is happening on this campus, it’s just like, it’s scary.”

Kennesaw State police arrested Friedman at his Roswell home Thursday and Friedman bonded out of jail Friday afternoon.

A judge ordered that he stay away from campus as part of his bond agreement.

“Any second that can happen, just to be aware of your surroundings at all time is the best thing to do,” student Ta’Bijah Taylor said.

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