Though the author is showing symptoms of the Drug War Virus
The lies of the drug war have biased almost every author who writes on the subject. I have yet to read one single pundit on this topic (with the notable exception of the much maligned Thomas Szasz) who, in my view, has not been duped into believing at least one major drug warrior lie, no matter how reasonable the rest of their argumentation may seem when it comes to castigating the many sins of the so-called drug war. One drug war lie that the leftists always seem to "swallow whole" is the idea that there is this bad thing out there called "drugs" which must be stopped, since these substances are only used by psychologically flawed people as crutches. This is certainly the tone that Julie Holland strikes in the opening to her new book entitled "Good Chemistry: the science of connection from soul to psychedelics," though she obviously does not class psychedelics as drugs in this strictly negative sense.
Holland points out, correctly enough, that human beings are obliged to be gregarious by their very nature. But she then proceeds to imply that people who use these, quote unquote, "drugs" are simply trying to get the "high" that comes from social interaction without actually interacting, thereby avoiding real life and the full emotions that it can bring.
Now, don't get me wrong: there are many people who commit the mistake highlighted by Holland, especially when we class excessive cell phone use as a kind of "drug abuse," as the author does.
Holland's mistake is to suggest that this is the only possible use of these substances that we call "drugs." The author would certainly agree that cell phones can be used responsibly, but she implies that there is a class of drugs whose use is prima facie evidence of pathology. This is plain wrong. Gabor Mate makes the same mistake. In this way, both of these authors turn one particular problem into "the" problem par excellence, thereby confirming the drug warrior's superstitious creation of a bugaboo known as "drugs" that is all-powerful in creating suffering and mischief - meanwhile jettisoning the previous scientific understanding that good and bad must be attributed to people, not to substances.
Sigmund Freud relied heavily on cocaine to help him achieve self-actualization, both by publishing prolifically and interacting regularly with the folks around him. To imply therefore that cocaine use and responsible living are somehow mutually exclusive is just a drug warrior lie, one to which leftists frequently succumb in their unthinking desire to pathologize all human behavior and thus render it amenable to their professional medical ministrations.
Benjamin Franklin was a regular user of opium, but no one ever suspected that socialite par excellence of attempting to avoid social encounters. Franklin's use of opium seems particularly odd to drug war Americans, who diligently censor that use from Franklin's bio, because they have forgotten that there was a time when Americans still judged people by how they actually behaved, rather than by the substances that they may or may not have had in their bloodstream.
It is really just a kind of Christian Science slander to say that certain of Mother Nature's substances can be evil without regard for the way that they are used, or else to imply that such substances can only be used in one way, and that is irresponsibly. This lying drug warrior mentality reached its apotheosis in the 1980s with the highly mendacious ad claiming that "drugs" fry your brain, an anti-nature piece of propaganda that is actually the opposite of the truth in the case of most so-called "drugs." Cocaine sharpened Freud's brain, it did not fry it. Opium increased Benjamin Franklin's creativity, it did not dull it. Richard Feynman kept alert with what the drug warrior might today deride as "speed," but today he is considered the very type of genius, not some druggie who "wasted his talents," as the drug warrior likes to say in moralizing about those Americans who dare to use substances of which politicians do not approve.
Both the left and the right have fallen for the drug war lie that certain plant medicines can only be regarded as "crutches." This idea can be maintained only by purposefully ignoring the facts. I'm not just talking about the fact that great people in history "used drugs," but that whole religions were founded based on the worship of psychoactive plants and the insights that they provided. The Vedic religion was founded in order to worship the highly psychoactive natural medicine known as soma. The Eleusinian mysteries involved the use of psychoactive medicine and inspired such Western luminaries as Plato and Aristotle. The MesoAmericans claimed great insights from the ritual use of plant medicines prior to the devastating arrival of the Conquistadors (who, unlike today's disingenuous drug warrior, made no secret of their contempt for what they considered quite literally to be devil plants and fungi). The idea, therefore, that most psychoactive substances are "crutches" is merely a provincial bias of American authors, authors who have been duped into thinking that America's peculiar and socially determined attitudes toward drugs tells us something about the drugs themselves, when all they tell us about is American society in the time that it is under observation.
That's the problem with the drug war, in general: it leads us to ignore pathological social arrangements when diagnosing problems and to focus instead on the one-size-fits-all cause known as "drugs". Thus social arrangements never get fixed - cities lie forever in disrepair and children fail to get properly educated -- much to the glee of conservatives and to the consternation of liberals.
The fact is that there is no such thing as "drugs," as defined by the drug warrior, just as there were never any "devil plants" in MesoAmerica, despite the Conquistadors religious belief to the contrary. There are no plant medicines that are bad in and of themselves, without regard for the way that they are used: by whom, and when, under what circumstances, for what reasons, etc.
When authors imply otherwise, they pave the way for despots and officious do-gooders to punish Americans, not based on how they actually behave, but on what plant medicines they choose to use, thereby violating the natural law upon which America was founded and simultaneously establishing Christian Science as the state religion, insomuch as the theology of that sect insists that its votaries use prayer rather than "drugs" to combat whatever ails them.
Unfortunately, Julie Holland ignores this despotism in the opening of her new book by falsely claiming that a whole raft of psychoactive drugs were criminalized in the early 1970s because they were being misused by young people. That's just plain wrong. Richard Nixon criminalized those drugs in order to destroy his enemies, period, full stop. That's why the drug war did not simply educate or remonstrate with substance abusers, as it would surely have done if it was interested in public health: it removed those "abusers" from the voting rolls by charging them with a felony. The antics of the anti-war Flower Children were just an excuse for this vicious and anti-scientific crackdown on so many therapeutic godsends of Mother Nature. Had Nixon cared about the country's health, he would have launched a war on tobacco and alcohol, two drugs which kill thousands every year-- unlike the so-called epidemic of drug abuse in the late 1960s and early 70s, which injured very few but committed the much greater sin of unnerving the political establishment.
The evidence is clear: the term "drugs" is a political term, designed to cast infamy on plant medicines of which politicians disapprove, often for sinister strategic reasons, as in the case of Richard Nixon. So we're bound to go wrong when we write books in which we imply that these evil "drug" substances really exist, just waiting to snare the unwary American -- especially when we claim that these thoroughly evil bugaboos exist as an evil category in contradistinction to a group of emphatically blessed substances known as "medicines," meaning drugs from big pharma that we're obliged to take daily for a lifetime if we're good Americans and obedient patients: substances which are somehow immune from the moral censure of the drug warrior. It's this make-believe distinction between evil drugs and blessed medicines that dupes today's drug warrior (and indeed the vast majority of the American population) into totally ignoring the great American addiction crisis of our time: the fact that 1 in 8 American men and 1 in 4 American women are addicted to Big Pharma antidepressants.
To do her credit, this is one drug war injustice of which Julie Holland is clearly aware, as revealed by her discussion on this topic with Dr. Richard Louis Miller in the book "Psychedelic Medicine." That's why I purchased "Good Chemistry" in the first place, because the former book had revealed Julie Holland to be one of the rare psychiatrists who had both acknowledged and denounced the addictive status quo of her profession. I'm still hoping that the author's new book will provide useful insights on how the psychiatric pill-mill can be shut down and replaced with psychedelic therapy, even though her opening pages, in my opinion, doffed one too many hats in the direction of drug warrior sensibilities and presumptions. Still, as Julie herself acknowledges, psychedelic therapy seems to be on the way in America now, even sooner than later, which is not only fantastic, but amazing considering the extent to which the drug warrior virus has spread across America, causing muddled thinking everywhere it goes.
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