The Doors of Perception

By Aldous Huxley,

Book cover of The Doors of Perception

Book description

Discover this profound account of Huxley's famous experimentation with mescalin that has influenced writers and artists for decades.

'Concise, evocative, wise and, above all, humane, The Doors of Perception is a masterpiece' Sunday Times

In 1953, in the presence of an investigator, Aldous Huxley took four-tenths of a gram of…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Doors of Perception as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I was stunned by this book when I read it nearly fifty years ago, when psychedelics were rarely talked about. Huxley describes in glorious detail the effects of taking 0.4 grams of mescaline one day in 1953. A vase of flowers revealed naked existence; the legs of a chair became miraculous in their tubularity, seconds became centuries, and as for self – was he looking at a chair or was he a chair? I have since explored many psychedelics, as well other ways of inviting extraordinary experiences, and this book remains an inspiration. 

From Susan's list on weird experiences.

I have to start with a classic, one of the most influential trip reports ever written, one that helped kickstart the psychedelic 60s. Huxley had a profound interest in mystical experience, and a longing to know first-hand what the great mystics had beheld and felt. In his mescaline experiences, Huxley believed he’d come close. Borrowing heavily from Indian philosophy to explain his raptures, he set the stage for the explosion of interest in Eastern spirituality that marked the 60s. No wonder the Beatles included him on the cover of Sergeant Pepper. I love his measured tone and his theory that…

From Andy's list on the riddle of psychedelics.

The first popular book on the impact of psychedelic drugs to open the human mind. Huxley was a famous novelist from the top scientific family in the UK. In his most famous earlier fiction book, Brave New World, Huxley focused on the use of the drug Soma to control the behaviour of an underclass of humans. This book shows the opposite - how a psychedelic drug [in this case mescaline] transformed his understanding of himself and the mind.  Beautifully written and hugely influential. Moreover, his theory, derived from his mescaline experience, of how the brain focuses the mind has…

From David's list on the brain and mind.

It is almost cliché to recommend Doors of Perception in a list of books about psychedelics, but the book is a true gem. The work of a brilliantly curious writer, it takes us inside a world of mind alteration and sets in motion a conversation that nourished an early generation of psychedelic enthusiasm. The book is a reflection of Huxley’s mescaline experience, which he took under the direction of British-trained, but Canadian-based psychiatrist Humphry Osmond. In his Los Angeles home, Huxley met Osmond for the first time, and a month after his auspicious first trip, Osmond coined the word ‘psychedelic’…

From Erika's list on the history of psychedelics.

The classic account of the author’s encounter with mescaline, a psychoactive substance derived from the peyote cactus and traditionally used by Native Americans for religious purposes. Huxley’s experiences include profound changes in the visual world, colors that induce sound, the telescoping of time and space, the loss of the notion of self, and feelings of oneness, peacefulness, and bliss more commonly associated with religious visions or an exultant state. Mescaline, together with psilocybin, found in magic mushrooms, and LSD, are closely related psychedelics whose therapeutic potential is being explored for a variety of psychiatric conditions.

From Christof's list on consciousness from a neuroscientist.

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