Though he never met William S. Burroughs, the British neurologist A.J. Lees credits the author as an important teacher in his recent book, Mentored by a Madman: The William S. Burroughs Experiment.
The expert in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases first encountered Burroughs on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. During the 1970s, after reading Naked Lunch, Lees began experimenting with apomorphine, the substance Burroughs advocated to cure junk addiction, as a treatment for symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
In 2013, again following Burroughs’ example, Lees traveled to the Amazon rainforest to take yagé, or ayahuasca. He told the Guardian that taking the drug “broke down certain rigid structures that were blocking innovations in Parkinson’s disease research.”
Lees has also used apomorphine and Brion Gysin and Burroughs’ Dreamachine to investigate visual hallucinations in Parkinson’s patients.
Below, in an interview at the Beat Hotel, Lees talks with Andrew Hussey about Mentored by a Madman. He’s also spoken about the book on Erik Davis’ Expanding Mind podcast and in a video for ACNR Journal.