Experiential Typewriter

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"For us these neurological numbers take on the meaning of mantras" (Psychedelic Review, 70).

The "mantra" reprinted to the left corresponds to “astonishing statistics about the nervous system and potentialities of consciousness” (70). The ingestion of psychedelic foods or drugs supposedly allows us to tap into some neural activities that are repressed during regular cognitive activity. Inability to symbolically convey subjective experiences during inebriation leads to a potential loss of qualitiative research data concerning psychedelic substances. Leary states that “We can think or speak at the rate of three words a second. That means that one – thousand-million-minus-three registrations cannot be communicated” (71). Albert Hofmann synthesized the chemical LSD-25 in 1940s Switzerland “within a systematic research program”; he ends the notes of his first self-experiment:

Supplement of 4/21  : Home by bicycle. From 18:00 to ca. 20:00 most severe crisis. (See special report)

and notes that “I was able to write the last words only with great effort” (27).

In the 1965 paper describing the experiential typewriter Leary describes a device capable of recording experience during a roller coaster ride:

“Lets imagine twenty buttons which the subject will push to record his reactions. One button is for “thrill” and another is for “lights” and another is for “sick” and another is for “dizzy.” Then we train the subject for hours in the code system until he gets to that point of automatic proficiency of the touch typist who can rattle off copy without think of what she is doing…Then we strap the subject’s hands to the dials of the roller-coaster ride. He can now give us perhaps twenty to a hundred codes a second which we pick up on a polygraph (i.e., a multipen recorder attached to the sending keys) (Psychedelic Review 71).”


The experiential typewriter’s design is credited to Dr. Ogden Lindsley of the Hsvsrd Medical School and William Getzinger, electronic engineer with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. An internally modified Esterline Angus operational recorder

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Esterline Angus Chart Recorder


Eight levels of consciousness were identified for the purpose of recording the inexpressible during “accelerated-brain experience”: stuporous, emotional, symbolic, somatic, senosory, cellular, molecular and out-of-body. “Each level needed a vocabulary,” which may have been taught to a subject during sessions necessary to form a (sober) control set of data (156).

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Keyboard Diagram

Theoretical Concepts

Comments by others

Although Psychedelics Encyclopedia (1992) suggests that a prototype for such a machine was attempted but never reached a functioning state,” the original 1966 article features data gathered from tests run: “The first session was run as a control period, without drugs. The set was to meditate in silence. The second recording was made three hours after the ingestion of 250 gamma of LSD. Both sessions were run in a very small room; the subject lay on a mattress on the floot, hands resting easily on the two keyboards of the E.T. The console and recorder were ;in an adjacent room. The room was lit by one candle; actually the subject kept his eyes closed throughout both sessions” (83). Setting and subject positioning of these experiments are similar to the type within a {SOURCESOURSEXXXXXXXX) constructed behing the kitchen wall of

In an article from 2006, Marko comments that "While insightful as to the timing of the various phases of the experience(e.g. onset, encounter, comedown), the results of these experiments only provide a real-time subjective assessment of the experience. This experimental methodology only provides a more objective understanding to the course of events during DMT inebriation."


Leary, Timothy. "The Experiential Typewriter." Psychedelic Review 7. 1965.

  • Rodriguez, Marko A. "A Methodology for Studying Various Interpretations of the

N,N-dimethyltryptamine-Induced Alternate Reality." 2006