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Acid HypeAmerican News Media and the Psychedelic Experience$
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Stephen Siff

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039195

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039195.001.0001

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Creating a Psychedelic Past, 1954–1960

Creating a Psychedelic Past, 1954–1960

(p.68) Chapter 3 Creating a Psychedelic Past, 1954–1960
Acid Hype

Stephen Siff

University of Illinois Press

This chapter analyzes how the new salience of hallucinogenic drugs inspired a media interest in Indian drug rituals. Indian practices that were previously described as backward and superstitious were seemingly rehabilitated in 1950s news coverage to align with contemporary theories about the drugs. Of particular interest was the “discovery” of hallucinogenic mushrooms by an amateur scientist writing for Life magazine in 1957 and the frenzy that that discovery sparked in the media, in part due to the author's coordinated publicity campaign. Aside from creating a market for magic mushrooms, the coverage also disseminated a seemingly authentic backstory for contemporary psychedelic drug use.

Keywords:   hallucinogenic drugs, Indian drug rituals, 1950s, news coverage, drug theories, magic mushrooms, contemporary drug use, psychedelic drug use

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