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History of Experiences with Carbon Dioxide
by M. J. Stolaroff
From Stolaroff Collection
Citation:   M. J. Stolaroff. "History of Experiences with Carbon Dioxide: An Experience with Carbogen (ID 80817)". Erowid.org. Aug 27, 2009. erowid.org/exp/80817

DOSE:   inhaled Carbogen (gas)


The following historical document was discovered as part of Myron Stolaroff's archived collection of papers related to his work with psychedelics. It summarizes Myron's first carbogen sessions, provided by Al Hubbard.

In the mid-1950s Hubbard began introducing people to LSD, ultimately dosing thousands of people over the course of a decade. In the early years, he experimented with using carbogen as a test of people's fitness for an LSD session.

In 1956, Hubbard administered several carbogen sessions to Myron, as well as his first LSD session. Myron's experiences with these drugs had a profound effect on him, leading him to found the International Federation for Advanced Study, where he conducted groundbreaking research with carbogen, LSD, and mescaline.

These are some of the earliest personal carbogen experience reports recorded by anyone involved in the psychedelic scene of the 1950s or 1960s. They are relevant to Erowid's own research, as Myron Stolaroff's work with carbogen prompted further research with carbogen by B. James, who co-authored articles on the topic with Erowid in 2007: 'Carbogen: An Introduction' and 'Carbogen Redux'.

See the PDF of the original type-written 1958 report at: http://www.erowid.org/experiences/images/reports/exp-80817-stolaroff-sc7.pdf (316 KB)

M. J. Stolaroff
December 8, 1958


This is an attempt to document the subjective experiences of a number of CO2 sessions taken over a considerable period of time. I feel that these sessions have been of very great benefit to me, for a number of reasons, which I hope will become apparent as the experiences unfold.

February 2, 1956. I first met Al Hubbard on this date, as a result of previous correspondence. During the course of our talking together, he acquainted me with CO2, describing it as another one of the agents which shuts down the cortical mind, thus allowing access to the deep unconscious. In this case, it acts vary quickly, giving one a high boost, and can be controlled by the number of breaths inhaled. He asked me if I wished to try it, out I agreed. I first took 2 breaths. I experienced a feeling of great warmth, and I saw a perfectly clear, blank field, as I had been able to achieve previously only after at least a half hour of intense concentration. It was a wonderful feeling. Whereas in prayer there was always great effort necessary to keep out distractions, here the field was simply automatically wiped clean.

Next we were going to try 6 breaths. However, shortly after I started breathing, I felt an intense pressure developing around my head, which I had also previously experienced in meditation. On the 5th breath it get so intense that I pushed the mask away. A visual image developed of a view of the sea, in color. It was beautiful, and accompanied by the feeling of warmth which for me has become characteristic of inhaling CO2. The beauty is not only visualized, but is somehow felt.

I was told that I was resisting, and that I should relax. After relaxing thoroughly, reclining on m bed, I was administered 8 breaths. I saw children playing ball in a school yard, a printed page came before my face which I could not quite a read, and the view of the sea re-appeared. Once more it was all in color, and felt beautiful and good. These experiences left me quite exhilarated.

April 13, 1956. This was the day before I was to have LSD for the first time. I had several sessions with Al in the morning. I don't remember them in detail. I remember seeing children playing in the school yard, a Madonna and her infant, and an exciting experience of being in a small plane and buzzing an orchard. In the afternoon I had several more sessions with Bill Gallienne, who was to be co-director the next day. Since I was quite tense before each inhalation, he suggested that I verbalize 'I'm afraid,' and try to let the fear come up. As I exhaled, I stated 'I'm afraid!' and as I inhaled, he suggested it to me. However, as soon as the gas took hold, I felt lifted, and any feeling of fear disappeared. I don't remember what I experienced, except that near the end, the field of imagery suddenly broke up into a whirl of swirling, riotous, jagged colors, expressing utter confusion. I felt it represented the scrambled up mess which lay in the unconscious. I was to experience this same breakdown of colors many times in the future when I took much over 15 breaths. However, it's interesting to note that as I progressed, the tendency for this riot of color breakup to form gradually diminished, until it disappeared altogether, even with many more breaths. The next series of inhalations with Bill drew a completely blank field. However, I noticed a significant change. I was now breathing the gas deeply and willfully, as if I had suddenly decided within to no longer resist it.

I had only one more experience with CO2 this trip to Canada, the day after my session. I took 6 breaths, and once more saw the children on the playing field. Al suggested that maybe I needed to play more. As I later thought about it, I thought this suggestion quite valid, as I take life much too seriously.

I also found that with the passage of time, I would get insights into the meaning of some of the CO2 experiences, often in specific situations. I saw that the printed material on the page I frequently saw (more often than I have reported so far) represented my rigidity - my desire to have things definitely tied down and in place.

June, 1956 Al Hubbard, on his way to Los Angeles, stopped by, and I had another CO2 session. The first experience was very humbling. I realized that I thought I had made great spiritual progress as a result of my Canada trip and thought I was way up high. Instead, I saw that I was way down low. This was accompanied by intense feelings. This faded into the view of the opening of a cave, and I was standing outside the entrance, beside a feminine figure. This was interpreted to he the cave of my unconscious, which I was reluctant to explore. Next I was asked what it would be like if I always did what everyone said, what everyone else wanted me to do. This was suggested to me as I went under. Just before I went under, I realized that this was all wrong. Then came a whirl of imagery at tremendous speed, spinning round and round like a racing Merry-go-round. My answer was, 'Boy, that was confusing.' Al smiled and asked 'Well?' I began to see that I had gotten the answer, and to realize how the unconscious answers on an unfamiliar, non-verbal level. With my rigidity of analytical thought, I could see that it was going to be hard for me to learn the language and symbolism of the unconscious.

July, 1956. On his way back north, Al made me a present of the CO2 equipment (horrors among the medical profession!) During another party's LSD session, I tried an experiment with CO2. After looking at the sun in a special way, I was given the gas. Again the experience was most humbling. I saw that I was playing God, and experienced the feeling of deep humiliation in seeing how wrong it was. Then I saw a most beautiful throne, exquisite, with minute ornate details. I moved closer and closer, realizing this was the throne of God, and a voice from behind the throne, drawing closer with each pronouncement, repeated three times 'Jesus Christ.' This was a most profound experience. One puzzling aspect to me was why the voice said Jesus Christ, as I never at any time ever stated or thought any more than the simple name, Jesus.

Exp Year: 1958ExpID: 80817
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 36 
Published: Aug 27, 2009Views: 15,085
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