Altered States

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Altered States is the only novel (ISBN 0060107278) and last film written by Paddy Chayefsky. Both novel and film are based on Dr. John C. Lilly's sensory deprivation research conducted in isolation tanks and sometimes under the influence of drugs like LSD. Although Chayefsky never contacted Lilly directly, Lilly liked the film version, and noted the following in an Omni magazine interview published in January 1983:

The scene in which the scientist becomes cosmic energy and his wife grabs him and brings him back to human form is straight out of my Dyadic Cyclone (1976, ISBN 067122218X).
As for the scientist's regression into an ape-like being, the late Dr. Craig Enright, who started me on K (ketamine) while taking a trip with me here by the isolation tank, suddenly "became" a chimp, jumping up and down and hollering for twenty-five minutes. Watching him, I was frightened. I asked him later, "Where the hell were you?" He said, "I became a pre-hominid, and I was in a tree. A leopard was trying to get me. So I was trying to scare him away."
The manuscript of The Scientist (1978 ISBN 0397012748, updated in 1988 and reissued in 1996, ISBN 0914171720) was in the hands of Bantam, the publishers. The head of Bantam called and said, "Paddy Chayefsky would like to read your manuscript. Will you give him your permission? I said, "Only if he calls me and asks permission." He didn't call. But he probably read the manuscript.

The film was directed by Ken Russell, after Arthur Penn resigned in a dispute with Chayefsky. It starred Blair Brown and William Hurt in his screen debut. It was also the film debut of Drew Barrymore.


Altered States is also a novel by Anita Brookner.

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