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This book, which covers Visions and hallucinations, explains what causes them and summarises how many hallucinations have been caused by each event or activity. It also provides specific help with questions people have asked us, such as ‘Is my medication giving me hallucinations?’.

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Observations placeholder

John Irving Cider House rules



Type of Spiritual Experience


One of the most comprehensive descriptions of the effects of ether is actually to be found in a book of fiction – John Irving’s ‘Cider House Rules’.  If you read the book you are provided with some very comprehensive descriptions of the method of application and its effects. 

The book has the added advantage that it is a superb book.   It is very clear from John Irving’s writings however, that the description is anything but fiction and he had clearly researched his subject very thoroughly.

 John’s grandfather  graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1910 and became chief of staff of the Boston Lying-In Hospital and was William Lambert Richardson Professor of Obstetrics at Harvard for a number of years. As John says ‘I remember him as a good storyteller’.  In the background notes he provides of his sources, he has the following to say…..

John Irving – The Cider House Rules
Nitrous oxide requires a very high (at least 80 percent) concentration to do the job and is always accompanied by a degree of what is called hypoxia - insufficient oxygen. It requires careful monitoring and cumbersome apparatus, and the patient runs the risk of bizarre fantasies or giggling fits. Induction is very fast.  Ether is a perfect drug addiction for a conservative.

For this reason I have classified the source as a scientist as the descriptions have all the hallmarks of John's grandfather's own experiments.  Here is an example from the book – Dr Larch is a central figure in the story….in the extract Dr Larch has an out of body experience

A description of the experience

John Irving – The Cider House Rules

The cluttered dispensary afforded him some privacy for his ether frolics. How Larch liked the heft of that quarter-pound can. Ether is a matter of experience and technique. Imbibing ether is pungent but light, even though ether is twice as heavy as air; inducing ether anaesthesia - bringing one's patients through the panic of that suffocating odour-is different.
With his more delicate patients, Larch often preceded his ether administration with five or six drops of oil of orange. For himself, he required no aromatic preparation, no fruity disguise. He was always conscious of the bump the ether can made when he set it on the floor by the bed; he was not always conscious of the moment when his fingers lost their grip on the mask; the cone - by the force of his own exhalations - fell from his face. He was usually conscious of the limp hand that had released the cone; oddly, that hand was the first part of him to wake up, often reaching for the mask that was no longer there. He could usually hear voices outside the dispensary - if they were calling him. He was confident that he would always have time to recover.
'Doctor Larch?' Nurse Angela or Nurse Edna, or Homer Wells, would ask, which was all Larch needed to be brought back from his ether voyage.  ‘Right here’ Larch would answer ‘just resting.’..............

Wilbur Larch, who was seventy-something and the grand master of Maine in the field of waiting and seeing, gazed once again upon the starry ceiling of the dispensary. One of ether's pleasures was its occasional transportation of the inhaler to a position that afforded him a bird's eye view of himself; Wilbur Larch was thus permitted to smile from afar upon a vision of himself ......

The source of the experience

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