Myron Stolaroff, a Stanford graduate and technical planning director with Ampex, a leading company for tape recorders, first learned of LSD in a lecture by Gerald Heard, a historian and philosopher in 1956. Stolaroff was a devout Jew and dedicated researcher and could not believe that a man as gifted as Heard could speak so favorably of a drug, mentioning Aldous Huxley’s positive experiences as an example. Although Stolaroff remained skeptical, his curiosity was piqued because he too was looking for deeper meaning in life. Upon Heard’s advice, he wrote to Al Hubbard and mentioned his spiritual quest, asking for more information about the promising substance.
Hubbard is reputed to have been the “Johnny Appleseed of LSD” and the first person to emphasize LSD’s potential as a visionary or transcendental drug. According to Todd Brendan Fahey, Hubbard introduced more than 6,000 people to LSD, including scientists, politicians, intelligence officials, diplomats, and church figures. Hubbard called Stolaroff shortly thereafter and a few weeks later, gave him exactly 66 micro-grams of LSD in Hubbard’s apartment in Vancouver. He experienced his first trip as life-altering religious moments that granted him deeper insight into his mind.(Stolaroff 1994).
Impressed and highly motivated, he returned to California and now knew where his future calling lay: “In one day I learned more about reality and who we are as human beings than I had ever imagined before. I considered it the most important discovery I would ever make and that there was nothing more important for me to do than to realize the entire potential LSD offered”.
Myron Stolaroff was born in Roswell, New Mexico on 20th August 1920. He received a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1941 and worked in the industry for Ampex Corporation from 1946 to 1960.
Myron Stolaroff quit his job and founded the International Foundation for Advanced Study (IFAS) in March 1961 where, with Al Hubbard, he dedicated himself to investigating the creativity-enhancing properties of LSD. During the next five years, until LSD was made illegal in California, nearly 350 people participated in their experiments.
The results of an initial study with 153 subjects excited them. A remarkable 83%of subjects found the psychedelic experience to positively influence their personal development. Improved capacity to love and be loved was noted by 78% and 69% experienced more profound communication with others. The same percentage felt better able to understand themselves and others, while 71% experienced greater self-confidence, and 83% developed a broader view of the world. (Markoff 2005, 60) Stolaroff remained as director and president of IFAS until 1970; during that time he and his colleagues conducted a total of six studies with LSD.
His letter to Albert Hofmann of February 26, 1963, reports: “Al Hubbard has told me of his very interesting visit with you and your firm last Fall in Switzerland. The other night, having dinner with Gordon Wasson in New York, I also had the opportunity to hear of some of your adventures in Mexico.” He then introduced his IFAS foundation and requested help in filling out a new FDA form authorizing his LSD orders with the American branch of Sandoz.
After his first LSD experience in 1956, Myron Stolaroff declared LSD to be humankind’s most important discovery. He gave up his job as an electrical engineer to systematically study the effects of LSD, founding the International Foundation for Advanced Study in 1961. He was particularly interested in whether LSD could reinforce meditation. He describes the general framework in his article “Are Psychedelics Useful in the Practice of Buddhism?” In his opinion, to successfully integrate psychedelic experiences, it is necessary to possess an ethical foundation, to be well informed about the effects expected, and to understand the significance of set and setting. Stolaroff makes the case for a high dose during an initial experience to reach transpersonal levels and enable an expanded perspective. In addition, here commends the use of breathing techniques to maintain mental stability during the drug experience. If these conditions are met, spiritual practice can benefit from psychedelics. He believes that a further drug experience is only useful after the contents of the previous one has been fully processed through meditation.
The capacity of psychedelics to facilitate creativity is one of the most promising areas of investigation. In the 1960s, Willis Harman, Robert McKim, Robert Mogar, James Fadiman, and Myron Stolaroff conducted a pilot study of the effects of psychedelics on the creative process. They administered LSD-25 and mescaline to a group of highly talented individuals and studied the effects of these substances on inspiration and problem-solving. (Harmanet al. 1966).
In their book Higher Creativity: Liberating the Unconscious for Break through Insights, Willis Harman and Howard Rheingold gave scores of examples of scientific and artistic breakthroughs that were facilitated by non-ordinary states of consciousness. (Harman and Rheingold 1984). A program offering supervised psychedelic sessions to prominent researchers facing an impasse in their work on important projects and to prominent artists could significantly advance scientific progress and foster unique contributions to our cultural life.
Listening to this presentation, it is interesting how Stoleroff and others worked from Christian imagery. It did not matter so much about the metal the key was made from. It was/is about how you unlock the door.
Myron Stolaroff died on 6th January 2013
Myron is the author of (Books)
Author of (Articles)
- The Future of Human Consciousness (2006) [pdf] [pdf booklet]
- Review of Zig Zag Zen (2005) [pdf] [pdf booklet]
- From Molecules to Mystery, in Higher Wisdom (2005)
- Are Psychedelics Useful in the Practice of Buddhism? (1999) [pdf] [pdf booklet]
- Using Psychedelics Wisely (1993) [pdf] [pdf booklet]
- Preliminary Results with New Psychoactive Agents 2C-T-2 and 2C-T-7 (1993)
- Psychedelic Agents in Creative Problem-Solving: A Pilot Study (1966)
- Clarifying the Confusion Regarding LSD-25 (1965)
- Caveat! The Psychedelic Experience (1963)
- The psychedelic experience — A new concept in psychotherapy (1962)
- Index of MJ Stolaroff Articles
Stolaroff Collection Archive #
- Myron Stolaroff and Albert Hofmann: Perspectives on Psychedelics, Erowid Extracts (2009)
- Corporation Fires Richard Alpert For Giving Undergraduates Drugs — Harvard Crimson (1963)
- A Trip Into Psychedelic History, Erowid Extracts (2009)
- Report of LSD Session of M.J. Stolaroff (1956)
- Letter from Myron Stolaroff to Timothy Leary (1963)
- “A Conversation with George Greer and Myron Stolaroff” by Neal Goldsmith. (Nov 1998)
- Myron Stolaroff, Humphry Osmond, and Al Hubbard in Conversation (1964)
- Myron Stolaroff audio at the Psychedelic Salon
- A Conversation on LSD (circa 1980)
- Recollections of Myron Stolaroff and the International Foundation for Advanced Study (2010)
- Memories of Myron: The Passing of a Psychedelic Pioneer, by Jon Hanna
This article contains extracts from “Mystic Chemist: The Life of Albert Hofmann and His Discovery of LSD” (2013) by Dieter Hagenbach (Author), Lucius Werthm (Author), Stanislav Grof (Foreword)