Absinthe and Mental Illness

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Old Topics Archived Thru Sep 2000:Absinthe and Mental Illness
By Artemis on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 12:44 pm: Edit

"How can find my Will to Power when I can't even find my Will to Shower?"

Here, here. Very well said. Been there, done that. Good true stuff. Okay, now they think I stink. Literally. I'm off to try Blackjack's lime juice and absinthe recipe. If it sucks, I will hold my tongue.

By blackjack on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 11:00 am: Edit

Speaking as a diagnosedrefractory atypical depressive, there are some folks who just CAN'T get better by a pure act of will. I have often described depression as a deisease of the will; in the worst of it, you are simply UNABLE to make an act of will. "How can find my Will to Power when I can't even find my Will to Shower?"

As I've mentioned before, the safest policy is not to take any drug other than one's medication, but the fact is that, barring any specific adverse interaction (ie, barbituates with alcohol, MAOI's with speed, etc.), it is possible for a person being treated for mental or neurological illness to use subsances in moderation. It takes that much extra care, though.

"Heres to alcohol, the caus of, and solution to, all of life's problems!"

--Homer Simpson

By Don Walsh on Sunday, August 20, 2000 - 12:56 am: Edit

Dear morrigan

Thanks for the gluteal schmoozing.

Anyway, I have no comment on 'holistic' anything, but good on you, if you can keep your brain activity in order by sheer will for 10 years. Sounds awfully New Age' (newage, rhymes with sewage) to me though. Or else Elron of the Hubbard clan of elves.

By Chrysippvs on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 06:54 pm: Edit

A bit off the subject but I have a question..

Why do the voices in people's heads always tell them to do awful things...why not instead of a dog telling you to kill people why can't he tell you to give money to the needy...

just a thought


By Anatomist1 on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 01:18 pm: Edit

Oh, come on Betina. Fucked up people doing various things for the wrong reasons is the spice of life. If Van Gogh, Rimbaud, Picasso, et. al. were a bunch of healthy, moderate, sensible fellows who believed in the AMA party line, none of us would be here. Personally, I prefer to medicate by my own schedule and judgement, rather than pay someone who has been indoctrinated into a philosophy that patholigizes vast expanses of human experience in the name of 'well-being' and conformity. I think the medical paradigm for mental health is dull and decidedly UNHEALTHY for the future of humanity. As a species, we need a proliferation, nay, an EXPLOSION of different types of minds and moods to have the greatest chance at long term survival. I say let madness flourish, in all its pre-psychiatric glory. Let it paint, and sculpt, and write, and invent. Let it force us to confront the uncomfortable and think the unthinkable. Bluhh hahh haaa haaa!


By Morrigan Le Fey on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 10:31 am: Edit

*skips back in*

Since I fully expect a retailatory response from Don, let me just say that I (along with the 4 out of 5 dentists) agree wholeheartedly with 8 out of 10 posts that he has contributed to this forum since day one, and that I find him an insightful and often-humourous addition to the forum (despite his strange penchant for wrestling..)

*giggles & skips back out, mumbling something about ass-kissing*

By Betina on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 10:25 am: Edit


Yes it is extremely rare..I have only known three
people with multiple personality disorder in my
life...two I diagnosed..I caution anybody with
emotional or mental issues to take a clear look at
motives for drinking...mostly it is used as
"self-medication." Wrong answer...terribly

By Morrigan Le Fey on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 10:15 am: Edit

I agree with both Don & Betina's basic statements, however, for Don to say "If one has epilepsy one is on these meds, and one doesn't seize either petit-mal or grand-mal, unless and until the meds are interrupted" is not entirely accurate. There is an entire school of thought focused around control of epileptic symptoms through holistic means - i.e. no medication. I was on a dilantin-derivitive med for about 8 months upon my initial diagnosis. It robbed me of my memory, personality, and left me in a horrid stupor while on it...one of the worst experiences of my life. I requested to be taken off, and have since controlled it successfully for 10 years through a sort of "mind over matter" technique. True, mine was extremely mild and I would not suggest this for everyone.

I agree that medicated epileptics and others taking ANY psychotropic medication for neurological disorders should NOT drink absinthe (or any other liquor or controlled substance), but for myself, I feel no more danger in careful, mindful and respectful drinking of absinthe than any other enthusiast would.

- M

By Don Walsh on Saturday, August 19, 2000 - 04:16 am: Edit

Good advice, Betina.

Fortunately multiple personality disorders are scarce as the teeth of two headed hens, but the rest are relatively common.

By betina on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 10:28 pm: Edit

Being a psychotherapist of 24 years I would
strongly recommend from clinical experience and
research that nobody with multiple personalities,
chronic depression, paranoia, schizophrenia,
disorder, or any other serious mental illness
should be drinking ANY alcohol. I have seen NO
exceptions. And nobody should be mixing alcohol
consumption with any psychotropic medication. The
effects are disastrous and run the gamut from
depression, splitting of the personalities,
re-living of trauma, attempted suicide, and
homicide. Some people will mock this statement but
the same mockers probably contain self-deception
as a trait, as well

By Don Walsh on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 09:40 pm: Edit

The neuropathology and neurochemistry of epilepsy is rather well understood. Most certainly, the medication for epilepsy is well standardized: phenobarbital and dilantin, or variations on the theme. If one has epilepsy one is on these meds, and one doesn't seize either petit-mal or grand-mal, unless and until the meds are interrupted, or the patient develops a tolerance to them (in which case dosage is upped, and eventually, other meds are substituted). Even animals with epilepsy are medicated exactly the same way, and it works just fine. I have had a friend with epilepsy, brought on by a plane crash in WWII but onset delayed by 20 years. And my dog is epileptic, probably from bad breeding. Same meds! three decades apart.

Anyone taking a barbiturate, needless to say, is well advised NOT to mingle it with alcohol in ANY form, absinthe or not, because of the well known mutual potentiation of ethanol and barbiturates.

The sorts of seizures associated with some terpenes -- specifically camphor, not thujone!! -- are clonic seizures. These require massive doses (grams!) to be seen. Once upon a time when psychiatrists still had a free hand to be barbaric, camphor was administered to caue seizures in mental patients, as an alternative to electroshock. Needless to say every practitioner who used either should have reminded himself or herself of the first line of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.

Thujone, as far as I know has not actually been demonstrated to have the same clonic effect as camphor, From a structure-activity point of view, it is a reasonable speculation that it might do, but, as we have seen with the THC model for thujone, such relationships and hypotheses do NOT always bear out, and need to be viewed skeptically, like any other speculation. Until proven, or disproven.

In summary, epileptics oughtn't to be drinking ANY alcohol, and, there isn't really much reason to assume that absinthe would be any worse for them to drink than any other alcohol of same quantity and proof.

I have no info or advice regarding bipolar disorders or schizophrenia viz. absinthe, sorry..

By Chrysippvs on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 08:40 pm: Edit

Madam le Fey,

Your post seems to correlate with my friends experience. I have some questions that I would rather discuss with you in private through E-mail if you can mail me when you have the chance...I would not want to ask you even seeminlgy intrusive questions on the forum. Let me know if you are intersted.

Thanks again.


By Morrigan Le Fey on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 07:48 pm: Edit

Justin -

I was very intrigued when I saw your post, and had been wondering when (if?) someone would venture down the "absinthe & epilepsy path". I was diagnosed with frontal-lobe epilepsy in my early 20's. It has since been treated holistically and I haven't had an incident in nearly 10 years, but I distinctly remember the odd feelings of "future deja-vu" that accompanied pre-seizure activity (seems like a paradox, I know, but when you're experiencing it, that's an accurate description). You're description of it as "where reality becomes more of a memory or more "dreamlike" is also very accurate.

When I first discovered absinthe, I researched it thoroughly before endulging, and approached it carefully with a mixed sense of fear and wonder. I have since always approached the absinthe experience with the utmost care, respect, and restraint (i.e. never over 3 glasses). While I have never felt that absinthe CAUSES seizure activity, the peripheral distortions and surreal feelings I sometimes get definitely MIMIC my past seizure experience. I would strongly recommend that your epileptic friend use similar care & restraint.

- Morrigan

By Anatomist1 on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 11:57 am: Edit

If there is any suspicion of brain lesions, it sounds like a visit to the neurologist is in order. They can be detected, imaged, and even removed. I've read they can be caused by anything from cancer to viral infections to cocaine use. If I had something that serious, I beleive I'd stay away from recreational drugs altogether... unless I was inclined to be deliberately self-destructive, which I guess I am. I don't think you're going to find anyone with any sense who'll advise your friend to ingest anything besides fresh, healthy food and clean water.

In the case of Van Gogh, if he had syphillis and possible congenital imbalances in brain chemistry, I don't think absinthe would amount to much one way or the other. Likewise, I think he was already pretty much done for by the time he started in on the turpentine.


By Billynorm on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 11:47 am: Edit

Fascinating stuff! A few weeks ago, I gave a friend of a friend a drink of Justin's La Bleue. He'd had a history of problems with psychoactive substances & he's sworn off them. He had 2-3 sips of La Bleue & handed it back to me because he was seeing things on the periphery. This is only anecdotal evidence at best, I realize, but I wanted to share it just the same. I've smoked marijuana at the same time as I've drunk absinthe with no appreciable effects, good or bad.

As far as Joyce & Faulkner are concerned, I prefer Faulkner, but I admire anyone who can employ stream-of-consciousness. As an imaginary friend once told me, "Wading through the streams of most consciousnesses would scarcely get your feet wet!"

(Justin: After trying the Herring, I must say that I've found my least favorite Spanish absinthe! It's not bad, but I prefer the others much more!)

By Chrysippvs on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 10:50 am: Edit

"I don't see any connection between psychedelics and absinthe. LSD is in the big leagues of mind-altering compounds. Absinthe is a pleasent drink
with an exciting history. It ain't a psychedelic."

I totally agree with you Marc...I don't think absinthe could affect prior drug use. I just put that in there to add to the list of possible variables.

I am moreso concerned with the affects of absinthe on mental illness, or more specifically on physical leisons on the brain.

I am not a big fan of Joyce myself and Faulkner is pretty good (have to stick up for him he is a native here as well). Right now I am translating from Athanasius from Greek to English...and let me tell you it sucks

By Marc on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 10:37 am: Edit

As someone who has taken many acid trips (at least
200), I have never experienced flashbacks. Thanks to LSD, I have developed a permanent and positive change of perspective on the universe. My last trip was in 1971. Since then I have had a half dozen or so experiences with peyote, mushrooms and
DMT. I drink absinthe rarely and I drink small quantities, 2 glasses. Absinthe doesn't trigger any kind of dormant psychedelia in my brain.
I don't see any connection between psychedelics and absinthe. LSD is in the big leagues of mind-altering compounds. Absinthe is a pleasent drink
with an exciting history. It ain't a psychedelic.

By the way, I am currently reading Joyce's "Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man". No problem. As far as Faulkner is concerned, I prefer the southern gothic of Harry Crews.

By Chrysippvs on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 10:19 am: Edit


Not epilepsy in the regular sence of the word rather frontal lobe epilepsy. When one seizes you your boby does not spasm(in most cases) rather you somewhat lost control of what you are doing (they thing that Turet Syndrome may be a form of frontal lobe epilepsy.) you may also blackout; appearing catatonic, experience waking REM, among lots of other things (there is a bit list in the DSM IV)

From what I understand this form of epilepsy may be caused by infantile brain leisons. If then Absinthe possibly aggrevates such leisons then the affects could be induced and much more prevelant.

I cannot say as to what some LSD flashbacks or other such things may play in as I have no experience with them so I can't judged.

As far as mental illness in this case it is quite real and prevelant. I am thus concerned that bi-polar disorder and the mild schizophrenia may be aggrevated by absinthe. I think that this is what may have happened to Van Gogh, that and all that turpentine and syphillis.

Any thoughts?

By Anatomist1 on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 09:34 am: Edit

The only absinthe danger that sounds even halfway documented is the danger of causing epileptic-style siezures in large acute doses, or accumulating from substantial chronic doses (Baggot FAQ). So I would be wary of taking it if I had any prior history of epilepsy. At the very least, I'd want to be supervised by someone who wasn't drunk (the most serious dangers from seizure are asphyxiating on your own tongue and physical injury resulting from vigorous, uncontrolled body movements).

As far as hallucinogens go, I once researched the hell out of them, and took LSD about fifty times. If you're thinking about "flashbacks" and such, I think they're largely a myth. I have never experienced anything like one. Besides, it doesn't make sense: after a few days, there simply isn't enough LSD left in your system to do anything. People make extravagant claims about flashbacks, but they also claim to have seen thousands of scurrying smurfs and giant dragons under the influence of LSD: absolute bullshit.

As far a CURRENT or very recent drug mixing goes, I think (and know) such synergies are liable to produce all kinds of unpredictable effects. The variables are too, well... variable for there to be any useful scientific information on such things. If you and your friend are the sort that like to take these kind of risks, you're on your own. Explorers, I would say. It's unlikely that you'll find comfort in anything anyone here says. Comfort is not the province of explorers. Personally, when I want hard info, I look in books and medical periodicals, not the forum.

Mental illness? Doctors will turn anything into a diagnosis if you pay them. Unless you're absolutely miserable, homicidal, or suicidal, I say stay away from psychiatrists. Virtually every ordinary human emotional and mental state has been pathologized, diagnosed, and medicated as of late. I think it drains life of its meaning and subtlety. Stick with Joyce.


By arturo ui on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 04:54 am: Edit

"effect" as a noun, means "result"; as a verb, means "to bring about," "to accomplish" (not to be confused with "affect", which means "to influence").

maybe justin should lay off the "joice" for awhile.

try a little strunk and white before he tackles youlisseys.


By Chrysippvs on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 01:56 am: Edit


Hope this better suits your needs, and I bet it totally kills you to read Joice or Faulkner...

"I am wondering if absinthe may trigger frontal lobe seizures, or aggravate present mental illness; in combination with former and/or present drug use, more specifically psychedelic drug use."

and if that does not help I can be ever more medically specific:

"Quaero si absinthium possum laborae -maus epilepsia- aut irritant mentis perturbi, conpraeteritus-aut-praesens mentis-mutare

- J

By Marc on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 01:32 am: Edit

" I am wondering if absinthe may trigger frontal lobe seizures or aggravate present mental illness and former/present use more specifically psychedelic drugs."

For someone so goddamned smart, you have a problem with constructing a coherent sentence. Would you please rephrase that question so that it makes sense? I may be able to help you answer it, if I understood it.

By Chrysippvs on Friday, August 18, 2000 - 12:38 am: Edit

With all this talk about absinthe and its affect on medicines, I am beginning to wonder about how absinthe may affect mental illness, prevalent drug use, or brain lesions (such as those Van Gogh is purported to have had). I am wondering due to a friend of mine's experience with absinthe this evening.

I had several friends over one being diagnosed as Bipolar one with mild instances of schizophrenia. He reports to have seen strong moderate visual distortion and euphoria while drinking over 6 glasses of absinthe from monimettes and from larger Cordon Glasses -approx. 4-5 doses in a 1.5 hour period, this after having a glass (Deva in monimettes) or so every day for about 3 days prior. (the absinthe being a variety of absinthes including Ted's prototype new absinthe - totally clean with no additives-, Segarra, and Deva.) Well, this individual also has mild frontal lobe epilepsy which is a bi-product of the bipolar disorder. He describes the affects of this absinthe like a mild seize where reality becomes more of a memory or more "dreamlike".

The mild visual hallucinations are limited to blurring, severe spatial distortions, tracers, and some time loss (possibly the affects of the frontal lobe seize.) He was in a mild stupor for around 10 min, acting as if he were half asleep.

Myself, my girlfriend, and two other friends had the same amount of the same absinthe and just felt the regular affect of 4-5 glasses of the new prototype absinthe. In other words my mentally ill friend's affects were quite different from ours. In the past he also did LSD and Cannabis (both of which I have no experience).

I am wondering if absinthe may trigger frontal lobe seizures or aggravate present mental illness and former/present drug use more specifically psychedelic drugs. I am wondering if anyone else out there had a similar experience with absinthe. I know that absintheur stated the some people are experiencing some problems with cannabis use and Absinthe over periods of time, I wonder if there is a correlation.

Do not think at all I am bringing up the whole "absinthe is like LSD" garbage, rather I am honestly inquiring on the affects of absinthe on mental illness and former drug use. Perhaps Baggots study will yield something to help this area of inquiry.

Take Care,

Justin S.

BTW for those interested I have total revamped my site. It can be viewed at:


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