The Guardian: William Burroughs’s drugs cure inspires Alzheimer’s researcher

Author’s search in South America for the shamans’ plant hallucinogenic yagé and use of apomorphine to control his addiction leads neurologist to call for clinical trials

The Observer, Sunday 26 October 2014


A shaman starting a yagé ceremony in Colombia. Photograph: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease are the perennial neuro-degenerative afflictions which remind an ageing population that the human brain is still the final frontier of modern medicine.

Now, more than ever, the conundrum of the brain is a profound and fascinating mystery that is inspiring a new generation of graduate neuroscientists and attracting glossy funding for state-of-the-art research. But some of the advances in developing, for example, a cure for Parkinson’s are not hi-tech and have come via unlikely, even exotic, routes. Consider, for instance, the strange tale of Williams Burroughs, “the dead man’s vine” and the British medical establishment.

In 1953 the celebrated author of The Naked Lunch, a countercultural guru and lifelong junkie whose centenary is celebrated this year, travelled to South America on a quest for “the liana of the dead”, the plant source of ayahuasca, also known as yagé, a natural drug whose hallucinogenic properties, used by shamans, had long been known to European explorers. “All agree,” wrote one, “in the account of their sensations under its effects – alterations of cold and heat, fear and boldness, everything joyous and magnificent.”

Burroughs’s quest for “the final fix” was occasionally nerve-racking. After one infusion of yagé, he told his friend, the poet Allen Ginsberg: “I was completely delirious for four hours. The old bastard who prepared this potion specialises in poisoning gringos.”

The trip accelerated Burroughs’s acute drug dependence. In 1956, conscious that he might otherwise die, he went to London to be treated with apomorphine, a non-narcotic derivative of morphine, by Dr John Dent, a medical maverick and coincidentally the secretary of the British Society for the Study of Addiction.

Dent, who had begun his career in 1918 treating drunks around King’s Cross in London, had pioneered the use of apomorphine as a cure for alcoholism, reporting his findings in the British Journal of Inebriety in 1931. Acting on an inspired hunch, Dent applied his treatment to the drug-addicted Burroughs, who reported extraordinary results. “Apomorphine,” he wrote later, “acts on the back brain to normalise the bloodstream in such a way that the enzyme system of addiction is destroyed.”

Burroughs, a languid American beanpole with thin lips and pale blue eyes, attributed his international literary success to Dent’s lifesaving treatment. “At the time I took the apomorphine cure,” he said, “I had no claims to call myself a writer and my creativity was limited to filling a hypodermic. The entire body of work on which my present reputation is based was produced after the apomorphine treatment, and would never have been produced if I had not taken the cure and stayed off junk.”

Soon after Burroughs completed his treatment, Dent’s hunch about apomorphine’s remarkable effect on the addict’s brain was scientifically confirmed. But, perhaps because Dent was an outsider, with many in the medical hierarchy opposed to his radical-empiricist methods, his discovery was never fully adopted as a routine cure for addiction.

There was, however, a new generation of young, anti-establishment, counter-cultural neurologists coming up through the profession. One of these, a young medical student named Andrew Lees, just happened to be a Burroughs aficionado and had become fascinated by the role of apomorphine in curbing the brain’s propensity to addiction.

Today Lees is an internationally renowned professor of neurology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, the author of Alzheimer’s, the Silent Plague (Penguin), and one of Britain’s leading experts in the treatment of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In the 1970s, inspired by Dent and Burroughs, Lees and some colleagues began to experiment with ayahuasca, also exploring the use of apomorphine in neurology, especially in the treatment of Parkinson’s.

“Apomorphine,” Lees told the Observer last week, “is free from narcotic effects and works on the brain by opening the dopamine receptor lock. Burroughs spoke about how it led to enhanced perspective and increased libido.”

At first Lees pioneered his work through self-experimentation. “It was with some trepidation,” he reports, “that I injected myself with 1mg of apomorphine” as the prelude to a fuller clinical investigation.

Later, trials Lees conducted at the Middlesex hospital showed that continuous infusions of apomorphine dramatically alleviated unwanted “switch-offs” (the process whereby patients on long-term L-Dopa treatment suddenly lose the beneficial effects of their medication). As a result, apomorphine became licensed for routine treatment of late-stage Parkinson’s.

Today, however, Lees believes there is an urgent need for more clinical trials: “Drugs like apomorphine should be reinvestigated as an alternative to buprenorphine and methadone in heroin addiction.”

A persistent side-effect of L-Dopa (a naturally occurring amino acid derived from beans) in the treatment of Parkinson’s is its tendency, in a minority of cases, to sponsor addiction with highly disturbing symptoms (binge-eating, obsessive sexual fantasies, reckless gambling, hallucinations and even cross-dressing).

To counter such side-effects, Lees has returned to Burroughs’s accounts of his apomorphine use and says he has found Burroughs’s writing “highly instructive”. Burroughs, for instance, denounces the “vested interests” of the pharmaceutical industry for spending “billions [of dollars] on tranquillisers of dubious value, but not 10 cents for a drug [apomorphine] that has unlimited potential, not only in treating addiction, but in handling the whole problem of anxiety”.

But there is a problem. Where Lees in the 1970s could freely self-experiment at his own risk, new rules and procedures now inhibit this avenue of research. “There’s an urgent need for fresh trials,” says Lees, “in the use of apomorphine for dealing with addiction, but we are up against punitive and draconian legislation. The heroic era of neuropharmacological research has now vanished.”

Lees goes on: “The notion of the investigator as the most ethical first volunteer in clinical trials is now increasingly denigrated by some lawyers and editors of medical journals. Some neuroscientists are being driven underground here.”

Partly from these inhibitions, meanwhile, the use of apomorphine has fallen out of favour. Under-recognised and under-used, the drug that saved Burroughs has become just a curiosity of avant-garde literary life when it could, potentially, become a weapon in the long battle to ameliorate the torments of Britain’s Parkinson’s sufferers.

As Lees says: “Apomorphine has never been fully tested in the way Burroughs advocated.”

On apomorphine cure, Dr John Dent’s life and work:  Apomorphine Versus Addiction Warwick Sweenay’s site (2014)

Dublin Review of Books: Andrew Lees: Hanging Out With The Molecules

Hanging Out With The Molecules

Andrew Lees

The early 1950s voyages of William S Burroughs to Peru led to his discovery of the hallucinogenic vine yagé and issued in a book of notes and letters to his friend Allen Ginsberg in which he presented himself not only as a mystic and spiritual quester but also as a whistleblower on the activities of the Cold War superpowers.

Warwick Sweenay’site: Apomorphine Versus Addiction


Apomorphine Versus Addiction


 The purpose of this site  -AvA is educational, devoted to information surrounding the topic of drug dependency that, directly or indirectly, affects us all. All opinions are offered in the non-confrontational spirit of greater understanding, but the facts are commended to science and, in particular, the Humanities.

Anybody is free to comment on any of the issues raised and contribute with info, articles, etc.

It may be of interest to those who strive to reduce the strain on society of addiction that in the 1950s American doctors envied their British counterparts for having escaped, relatively, from the ills that stem from endemic drug use: drug cartels, crime, recidivism,  and a range of socio-economic problems, including poverty, illness and premature death. Sadly, no such distinction can be made today.

The burden of this on society is catastrophic, and, on our health services, crippling. Our legislators have systematically and progressively failed to combat the rise of addiction and continue in denial. Therefore, if you have ever been interested in the political and ethical dimensions surrounding British drugs policy either from a medical, scientific or legislative position, then this site may be of interest to you.

There is no apology for the detail because its concerns are profound and contrast radically with the scant understanding previously directed towards this subject. However, if you are busy, you can start at the  AFTERWORD and refer back to the hyperlinked points.


“It is what we think we know that keeps us from learning”
— Claude Bernard, French Physiologist

William Burroughs sur France culture: WILL L’OBSCUR :Burroughs aurait cent ans.

Mauvais genres

Syndiquer le contenu par François Angelier

24.05.2014 – 22:00


Avec ceux de Keaton ,d’Artaud et de Beckett, le visage de William Seward Burroughs est un des plus anxieusement beau du siècle dernier.Face rayonnante et harassée ,anonyme et scandaleuse. Sainte face d’un monde sans dieu.L’auteur du « Festin nu » et théoricien de la subversion généralisée, compatnon de route de la Beat Generation, chroniqueur dantesque de la drogue et de l’homosexualité, aurait cent ans aujourd’hui. L’occasion pour Mauvais Genres de s’immerger ,le temps d’une émission, dans cet univers infernal et kaléidoscopique. Une immersion que nous accomplirons en compagnie de Marc Dachy.

Historien de Dada et spécialiste internationalement  connnu des avant-gardes, il a dirigé le récent numéro du Magazine litteraire consacré au grand Will.


Avec la participation de Celine du Chéné, Helène Frappat,Jean Baptiste Thoret et François l’Yvonnet..

Chronique de Christophe Bier.


William Burroughs © Radio France

Invité(s) :
Marc Dachy

Thème(s) : Arts & Spectacles| Littérature Contemporaine| Littérature Etrangère


Encyclopédie pratique des Mauvais Genres par Céline du Chené Encyclopédie pratique des Mauvais Genres avec Jean Paul Marcheschi



Ecouter l’émission:

Jef Aérosol 2013, Ginsberg & Burroughs

Jef Aérosol 2013, Ginsberg & Burroughs, stencil on canvas, 97 x 130 cm. Expo « Les deux font la paire », Galerie David Pluskwa (Marseille, France) – avec Jef Aérosol, Sofia Croma, Jose Enrique Dylan, Allen Ginsberg et William S. Burroughs, à Marseille.


Isabelle Aubert-Baudron: Synchronicities

WSB-IZW.S. Burroughs & I. Aubert-Baudron

Synchronicities: significant coincidences of a physical phenomenon with a psychic phenomenon, but you cannot explain the link of causality between both. Carl Gustav Jung and William Burroughs conducted researches about it, James Redfield wrote a novel, “The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure” .

Such synchronicities escape our understanding because we tend to see reality with opposed criteria of “objective”/ ”subjective”, as if what we live inwardly would be “subjective”, i e “imaginary”, in opposition of the “objective facts” we can state, which would be only real. We also tend to believe that we are separate from our surrounding, and that there is no link between what is going on inside us and outside us.

Here the rationalists come and  say: “This coincidence is due to random”. But what does “random” means exactly? Once you have said that, where does this leads to ? How random is random? This “explanation” does not explain anything at all, and is blocking further interrogations and research on nature of reality.

Now sometimes, such synchronicities happen, which confront us to a level of reality which does not fit with this rationalist vision : there is a synchronicity between what we live inwardly and the happening of actual events without interference of our will, on which we have no control, but which have a signification just for us. So what’s going on here? We do not know, let’s see. Let’s put the rationalist  vision of reality aside for a moment and let’s apply a scientific step, starting by the observation of the facts, including the events of our inner life, what they represent for us, etc., without inferring anything from them at this step and progress starting from there.

We can base our observation on several synchronicities and see where they lead to: they often deal with issues to take in account.

Putting aside the rationalist vision of reality (XVII th century), we nevertheless have a new frame of reference through modern physics (XX th century).  We are aware of the notion of dimensions, of multi-dimensional reality, and of levels of reality.

Another domain where such synchronicities appear is in dreams: for instance I began to dream that I was losing my wallet, once, twice, thrice, and was wondering the meaning of it. One Saturday evening in a supermarket, the shop was about to close, I was the last client and in a hurry. I forgot the wallet on the cash register. On Monday morning I went to the shop and got it back. End of the dreams about losing the wallet. So what is going on here? Were those dreams meaningful to me? Yes. Since I pay more attention to my wallet, and I take in account elements of recurrent dreams.

I have got to the conclusion that we can propose the hypothesis of a multi-dimensional reality, with different levels of reality, linked between each other, which may work according different laws . For instance the laws of physics are not valid in dreams. If we try to explain a non–physical level of reality with physical laws, as we tend to do with synchronicities, then it does not fit, and we are confronted to an “impossible situation”. It may be very disturbing! Some people infer from this that they are becoming crazy. But this option also is a dead end and forbids to go further.

Now the interesting aspect here is that we can make our own research. Here general semantics has been very helpful to me when facing such phenomenons: the structural differential allows to consider them through a scientific step, and avoid the traps of some of the past contradictions and dead ends.

My research on synchronicities started with the ones which happened to me related to my meetings with William Burroughs and Brion Gysin: See at the article “The Time of the Naguals” , p. 15 to 31. This was too much ! Incomprehensible when I lived them. I had the impression to live a scenario of “Twighlight Zone” ! General semantics was very helpful here, because the observation of what was happening demonstrated that it was not something “imaginary”, nor “delirious”, but the implications required to draw a new conception of reality: synchronicities confront us to the “unknown” , and this may seem rather scary at first. I had to put up a new map, starting upon what was going on exactly, the links between inner events and the ones happening in physical world, etc., and considering it through a scientific step, through a quantic vision of the world. Then, what was not comprehensible to me before on the old basis became comprehensible in terms of physics. On this basis I could put up new hypothesis, and integrate those synchronicities as part of reality of human life, as something “normal”, compared to when it first appeared to me when I lived them: something incredible and not “normal” at all. It’s a part of the human program we do not use in our civilization, because we do not know about it and have no map to apprehend it correctly; but it’s just like a program on our computer we do not use, but which we can virtually use if the occasion occurs.

Our maps of reality do not represent the actual territory. Though it seems that the exploration of our territory can only be realized by us: only I can know the link between inner events and a physical event, its meaning can only appear to me. This leads to the exploration of our inner space. Again general semantics is a real help, because it allows not progress safely, step by step, without getting lost in mental dead ends. Investigate on the situation as if we were a police inspector investigating on an affair and gathering the elements to understand it, and taking it like a game as well.

« William S. Burroughs A man within » sur Arte

Diffusion le mercredi 29 janvier à 22h20 (88 min)

Interzone Academy 2011: Recherche médicale

Mise à jour de la page de recherche médicale:

"The Patient" Dot Zero

« The Patient » by Agent Zero

Cette page contient des documents publiés à partir de la fin des années quatre-vingt dix dans le site Interzone Academy, hébergé sur Geocitie et supprimé en octobre 2009, ainsi que tous les sites hébergés gratuitement par cet hébergeur.

Voir également la page

Interzone Economy également remise à jour et hébergée aujourd’hui dans le site



Roger Holden: Alternative, Affordable Treatment for Feline Leukemia
The « Burroughs’ White Cat » Challenges the Board
(Avril 2001)

Apomorphine et dossier désintoxication:

Intoxication aux opiacés: Quelques suggestions du docteur

Dr Dolophine: Rapport de Tasmanie – Août 1998 Une réaction à l’article

0110: La méthadone en question

Cure d’apomorphine du Dr John Dent

Apomorphine: présentation : Isabelle Aubert-Baudron

Protocole de la cure d’apomorphine du Dr Dent, Ian Sommerville, traduction Isabelle Aubert-Baudron

Une lettre de Burroughs sur l’apomorphine, envoyée avec le protocole de la cure

Un article sur l’apomorphine paru dans le magazine « Doctor », joint à la lettre de Burroughs

Une lettre envoyée au Dr Martensen-Larsen, qui applique la cure au Danemark et qui est cité dans l’article de « Doctor »

Réponse du Dr Martensen-Larsen

Documents du docteur Carl Carlsson

A double-blind cross-over study: apomorphine/placebo in chronic alcoholics by C. Carlsson, P. R. Johansson, B. Gullbergt Nordhemspolikliniken, Gothenburg, Sweden

A Comparison of the Effects of Propranolol and Diazepam in Alcoholics by Carl Carlsson M.D. and Bengt-Goran Fasth Ph.D.

The Psychological Effects of Propranolol in the Abstinence Phase of Chronic Alcoholics by CARL CARLSSON and TAGE JOHANSSON

Propranolol in the treatment of alcoholism: a review by C. CALSSON

Propranolol treatment in chronic alcoholic outpatients by C. CARLSSON


Henri Laborit: Sur la minaprine Agr 1240 (Cantor): Pour le meilleur des mondes – L’inhibition de l’action

Henri Laborit: Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture 1963: THE NEED FOR GENERALIZATION IN BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH : ROLE OF THE MATHEMATICAL THEORY OF ENSEMBLES Henri Laborit, . MD Centre d’Etudes Experimentales et Cliniques de Physio-Biologie, de Pharmacologie et d’Eutonologie de la Marine Nationale, Paris, France (Institute of General Semantics)

Roger Gentis: « N’Être » :

 » La Tangente »

 » L’orgasme, Dieu et le fric »

 » Des loups et des hommes »

 » Des loups, des corbeaux et des hommes  »


« Le Carrefour des Impasses »

Des implications en sciences humaines du travail de recherche de Michel Onfray sur Freud PDF

Rapport d’Interzone: août-septembre 2011

Bonjour à tous,
Un court rapport ce mois-ci en raison des vacances, mais un rapport consacré aux vacances: beaucoup de musique et d’oeuvres artistiques: les productions de ce mois sont rafraichissantes. 


Mais avant toute chose, il y avait une coquille dans le rapport français de juillet que j’ai envoyé par mail le mois dernier: le 2 août 2011 n’était pas le quatrième, mais le quatorzième  anniversaire de la mort de Burroughs, bien sûr ! Merci à ceux qui m’ont signalé cette erreur.


Rob Funderburk: THE 2ND HAND

Dans le rapport de juillet, j’ai transmis les adresses des sites de Rob Funderburk, accompagnés d’une image  de la revue qu’il a réalisée, « The 2nd hand ». Vous pouvez la lire en ligne à .    


Vasha Dai: Sentimental (P. Verlaine)

« Un mixage rudimentaire du morceau de notre prochain album

Nous sommes un nouveau projet explorant la périphérie de la musique (im)populaire. Vous pouvez télécharger notre premier album à:
ou aller l’écouter à ou ici sur SoundCloud. » Vasha

Paul O’Donovan sur MySpace

Le site a été mis à jour: écoutez la playlist à Elle contient les morceaux de son CD « The Happylands and Elsewhere ».

Nouvelle playlist dans Interzone news  

J’ai créé une nouvelles playlist sur Deezer pour le blog : l’adresse de la liste est . Pas de morceaux vraiment nouveaux, mais que j’écoute en ce moment. Bien qu’ils n’aient pas de rapport avec Interzone, je les inclus dans ce rapport, juste pour le plaisir de partager la chanson française avec les Zoners non francophones.
– Soldat Louis : Les vacances à La Rochelle: une chanson de vacances enfantines, souvenir souvenir…
– Mano Solo: Des années entières:
– Thomas Fersen: Parfois au clair de lune
– Alain Bashung: Résidents De La République:


Autres listes :


Paul O’Donovan:

Paul a envoyé trois nouvelles illustrations:
NOTEZ: le nouvel email de Paul O’Donovan:

Galerie ECRITURE on facebook

Les oeuvres de Claire Moreau, Yo Marchand, Pierre Lafoucrière, Jean Adler, Jean Estaque, Roland Cognet, Guerrero, Bruno Danjoux…..
Galerie écritures
Galerie écritures
1 rue pierre petit
03100 Montlucon
08 99 23 00 57


Mino DC: inauguration du nouvel atelier déchetterie du grand moiré 10 et 11 septembre 2011

après 40 ans de collectionnite, le tri nettoyage et le restockage, aboutissent à des installations, ready made mémoriels.
projections, zique et perfos en soirée. prévenez et amenez votre panier! 05 49 69 74 84

Anthony Rousseau

– Convergence 1.0:

« CONVERGENCE 1.0 » est une installation multimédia et interactive qui se présente sous la forme d’une matrice composée d’une bibliothèque de média (images, sons, textes et vidéos) liés aux notions de territoire(s) et de corps que le spectateur peut manipuler en temps réel via une interface sans contact.
*L’installation « Combined média » a été produite par la Préfecture de la Région Nord – Pas – De – Calais, Ville de Lille Culture, dans le cadre du programme « Lille, Ville d’Arts et du Futur, cinéma et audiovisuel », Espace Pignon – Comité d’animation des bois-blancs.

Plus d’infos à

– Danse Macabre:


«Danse macabre» est une installation multimédia dont le thème est la danse macabre ou danse de la Mort.
Ce choix a été guidé par différents facteurs : la volonté de réactualiser une forme ancienne de représentation symbolique de la Mort dans notre société et le souhait d’interroger les rapports entretenus entre le spectateur et ce thème.
Cette installation se présente sous la forme d’une table avec un plateau tournant sur lequel est posé un dodécagone composé de miroirs. Le spectateur tourne ce plateau pour activer diverses séquences audiovisuelles. Ce « mobilier » inspiré des jeux forains, met en place un système de monstration ludique qui associe les techniques liées au praxinoscope, considéré comme l’un des ancêtres du cinéma, et des technologies plus récentes liées à l’électronique et au numérique. Plus d’infos à

Exposition “Interactions”/Journées du patrimoine à la maison Folie Hospice d’Havré du 17 au 25 septembre 2011.

100, rue de Tournai – 59200 Tourcoing.

Ouvert tous les jours de 13h30 à 18h – fermé le mardi et les jours fériés. Ouverture de l’exposition pour les journées du patrimoine les 17 et 18 septembre 2011. Rencontre avec le public pendant ces 2 jours de 15h00 à 17h00.


Optical Sound: September Matter

Pierre Beloüin ~ Optical Sound
105 rue des Volubilis 83190 Ollioules
16 Rue Eugène Lacroix 67200 Strasbourg
25 rue des Cascades 75020 Paris

Nouvelles pages en ligne

Dans les sites d’Interzone:

Interzone galleries: Paul O’Donovan: 
– « Camelia Pavlova » 
Interzone news:
« La sémantique générale pour tous« : the front page has been updated.

Dans les sites des autres Zoners: 

Rob Funderburk’s: « The 2nd hand » .   
Vasha Dai: Sentimental (P. Verlaine):
Paul O’Donovan: « The Happylands and Elsewhere »  
Anthony Rousseau:
Ce rapport est en ligne à et en version anglaise à Entre deux rapports, les nouvelles sont mises à jour dans le blog Interzone news:
En vous souhaitant une bonne rentrée !
Izzy i.aubert[at]