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Observations placeholder

Osmond, Dr Humphry - A negative adrenochrome experience



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Humphrey Osmond [ from Introduction of The Witnesses – Thomas Hennell]

I had 5 mgm of adrenochrome this time because we thought it was probably deteriorating.  I saw only a few visual patterns with my eyes closed.  I had the feeling that there was something wonderful waiting to be seen but somehow I couldn’t see it.  However, in the outside world everything seemed sharper and the Van Gogh was three dimensional.

I began to feel that I was losing touch with everything.  My sister telephoned and although I am usually glad to hear her voice, I couldn’t feel any warmth or happiness.  I watched a group of patients dancing, and although I enjoy watching dancing with the envious interest of one who is clumsy on his feet, I didn’t have a flicker of feeling.

As we drove back to Abe’s house a pedestrian walked across the road in front of us.  I thought we might run him down, and watched with detached curiosity.  I had no concern for the victim.  We did not knock him down.

I began to wonder whether I was a person any more and to think that I might be a plant or a stone.  As my feeling for these inanimate objects increased, my feeling for and my interest in humans diminished.  I felt indifferent towards humans and had to curb myself from making unpleasant personal remarks about them.  I had no inclination to say more or less than I observed.  If I was asked if I liked a picture, I said what I felt and disregarded the owner’s feelings.  I did not wish to talk and found it more comfortable to gaze at the floor or a lamp.  Time seemed to be of no importance.

I slept well that night and awoke feeling lively, but although I had to attend a meeting that morning, I did not hurry myself.  Eventually I had to be more or less dragged out of the house by Abe.  I had to get my car from a garage where it was being repaired.  There was some trouble about finding it in the garage; when at last I was seated in the driver’s seat, I realised that I couldn’t drive it through traffic, although quite able to do so usually.  I did not, however, feel anxious or distressed by this but persuaded the garage proprietor to drive me to my destination.  I would, I believe have normally found this a humiliating situation.  I did not feel humiliated.

I attended the scientific meeting, and during it I wrote this note ‘Dear Abe, this damn stuff is still working.  The odd thing is that stress brings it on after about 15 minutes.  I have this ‘glass wall, other side of the barrier’ feeling.  It is fluctuant, almost intangible, but I know it is there.  It wasn’t there three quarters of an hour ago; the stress was the minor one of getting the car.  I have a feeling that I don’t know anyone here; absurd but unpleasant.  Also some slight ideas of reference arising from my sensation of oddness.  I have just begun to wonder if my hands are writing this; crazy of course’.

I fluctuated for the rest of the day.  While being driven home by my psychologist colleague, Mr B Stefaniuk, I discovered that I could not relate distance and time.  I would see a vehicle far away on the long, straight prairie roads, but would be uncertain whether we might not be about to collide with it.  We had coffee at a wayside halt and here I became disturbed by the covert glances of a sinister looking man.  I could not be sure whether he was really doing this or not.  I went out to look at two wrecked cars which had been brought in to a nearby garage.  I became deeply preoccupied with them and the fate of their occupants.  I could only tear myself away from them with an effort.  I seemed in some way to be involved in them.

Later in the day when I reached home the telephone rang.  I took no notice of it and allowed it to ring itself out.  Normally, no matter how tired I am, I respond to it.  By the morning of 19/10/52 I felt that I was my usual self again

The source of the experience

Osmond, Dr Humphry

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Taking drugs


Brain damage