Dr. Harry Hermon – Cannabis Pioneer and So Much More

WITCHES' CRADLE: Dr. Harry Hermon, masked and flanked by his colleagues Charles Honorton, left, and Dr. Stanley Krippner, prepares to take a spin in the witches' cradle, so called after a trance-inducing device used by witches of yore. These men are part of the research team at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn that explores telepathic dreams and sensory deprivation. (From Horizon magazine, Winter 1974)

(note: Hermon is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable.)

THINGS PEOPLE SAID ABOUT HIM

Let me cite the experience of Dr. Harry Hermon, who first became interested in this herb as a means to help his patients expedite their psychotherapy. A patient he had been treating without much success for some time came in one day, and the information Dr. Hermon had been seeking in vain to elicit for so long suddenly began to flow forth freely. Hermon was astonished. He asked what was different this time. His patient informed him that he had come in stoned. “Stoned?” said Dr. Hermon. “What is this ‘stoned’?” And thus Dr. Hermon came to realize how effectively this weed could unblock a person’s mind, an insight which launched him into an entirely new phase of his therapy and life.”
(Peter G. Stafford, from Psychedelics Encyclopedia)

An official secret of the town was Dr Hermon, a Viennese immigrant who the straight Austin medical establishment referred to as “Crazy Harry”. Hermon had a Federal licence to prescribe and administer LSD, marijuana and mescaline/peyote. The Austrian psychiatrist carried a jet set air about him and was into concepts like hypnotism, nude therapy and psychedelic evolutionary therapy. His eccentric image and non-conformist behavior put him in contact with the Austin music underground, which he supplied with psychedelic drugs for several years. Captain Gann and the narcotics squad were aware of this, but Dr Hermon’s medical licence made him difficult to bust. Hermon’s rapport with the rock musicians was such that he was appointed doctor for Roky Erickson when Roky was staying at Holy Cross Hospital in 1968, recovering from a nervous breakdown. Unsurprisingly, in this case Hermon made sure not to involve the patient with drugs. Gann and his narcs later managed to crack down on Hermon, who was forced to leave Austin in haste.
(Peter Stafford, “Austin’s Lost Psychedelic Visionaries”)

The strange case of Dr. Hermon’s plants began unfolding about midnight Friday when DPS and city officers raided his home office at 700W. 14th and walked away with scores of suspected marijuana plants while Dr. Hermon pointed to frames on his wall containing documents which he said allowed him to grow the forbidden weed for use in a research project. The 43-year-old Polish-born psychiatrist will go into 147th district court Tuesday at 2 p.m. with his lawyer Sam Houston Clinton to try to get his plants back and the search warrant under which is was seized thrown out. Dr. Hermon’s late night arrest came after about a week of surveillance by DPS narcotics agents. He made $1,000 bond shortly after his arrest. Dr. Hermon has special tax stamps issued by the Internal Revenue district office in Austin registering him as a researcher.
(Lynn Taylor, presumably an Austin journalist)

With the beard and the accent, Dr. Hermon was almost a caricature. Later on when R. Crumb’s comix became part of my life, Mr. Natural always brought back Dr. Hermon. When he lived in Buffalo, he worked in nearby Niagara Falls for the public health authorities. In those days of government funding for everything, there was a free group therapy that met in the basement of the County Building down by the river. Strangely, most of the members knew each other from outside the group – we were students at the local community college, and/or lived at the Lochiel Apartments, and/or hung out at the same club. But there were older people too, like the mother of one of my closest friends. This group was run by Harry Hermon and Richard Valinsky, and it saved my life.
One of Dr. Hermon’s frequent sayings was, “What would happen so bad if….?” He encouraged physical contact. If you wanted to, you could spend the whole session hugging somebody. As a therapist he was eclectic, using whatever he felt might be useful from any school.
Once, he asked what I wanted in a man. I enumerated several qualities I considered indispensable. He said, “Hmmm, sounds like you want a super man…. (beat) … To have the super man, you must be the super woman.” He didn’t mean it in the same way they do now, when talking about a “Superman complex,” or whatever. I think he meant, those qualities that you look for in someone else, are the very same ones it would be good to cultivate in yourself. And he was right.
The house he rented in Buffalo had previously been occupied by Hare Krishna members, or some group very like them, and Dr. Hermon reported finding a stash of porn in the attic. (Who knows whether it was theirs?) I wish I remembered more details. Probably somewhere in my files there’s a huge stash of notes about him.
(Pat Hartman)

…a psychiatrist and colleague, Harry Hermon, who opened the door to vistas of consciousness the existence of which I had never before suspected.
(Dr. Richard E. Valinsky, in “Perennial Psychology: the Healing Path of Unity Consciousness” 1997)

In Buffalo I intend to visit Harry Hermon, a psychiatrist and member of the Church who was driven out of Texas a few years ago for experimenting with marijuana.
(Art Kleps, from Boo Hoo, the New American Church Bible circa 1972)

…..Harry Hermon, a Manhattan psychiatrist who believes that the only case against the use of marijuana in psychotherapy is the current marijuana law. Hermon argues that cannabis “puts the patient in a more receptive and empathetic state” and maintains that perception, recall, and the ability to interact are all enhanced by smoking. He advocates its use for both sex therapy and couples therapy, explaining that “a couple who is fighting can smoke a joint together and will stop fighting on the spot. They get into a completely different flow, and are transcended to a different level of awareness.”
(William Novak, in “High Culture: Marijuana in the Lives of Americans”)

Harry Hermon, a psychiatrist practicing at Maimonides, lent us his cradle for our study (Honorton, Drucker, & Hermon, 1973). Thirty percipients participated in the study; they were told that a transmitter in a distant room would view an art print during the last 10 minutes of the session….
(Stanley Krippner, from The Journal of Parapsychology, March, 1993)

Our coaching method was developed from working with Martin Sage…..He was influenced by the work of several leading thinkers of the 20th century, including Dr. Harry Hermon…,
This is a unique learning system that consists of observing, then following, a participant’s curiosity with a skilled combination of attention, acknowledgement, feedback and, in its advanced applications, asking the right questions in a dialogue that takes years to master.
(The Sage Method, Paradox Productions)

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About Pat Hartman

Before publishing the two books "Call Someplace Paradise" and "Ghost Town: A Venice California Life", my main project was "Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics. " I wrote extensively for "Scene," a monthly arts and entertainment magazine with a circulation of 25,000. Also proofread, sold ads, put together the music calendar and, for a couple of years, served as editor. Presided over a couple issues of the local NORML newsletter, as well as being featured speaker at chapter meetings. Wrote a complete screenplay; collaborated on another one; worked on a couple of scripts (additional dialog and general brainstorming) with an indie film producer. Booked the talent for a large music festival. Wrote, designed, illustrated and produced various catalogs and brochures for small businesses. Spoke at a high school as a panelist on Women in the Professions; was a featured speaker at the 1991 Women in Libertarianism Conference; presented public programs on "Success in One Lesson" and "The Bloomsbury Group: What's It To Us?" Created the website VirtualVenice.info and wrote many politically-oriented pieces for Earthblog.net
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