August 16, 2020
How Cocaine could have helped meby Ballard Quass
Ever since I was young, I have not understood the drug war mentality. Why, for instance, could I not use cocaine in my late teens and early 20s when the symptoms that it produced were exactly what I was looking for at the time: namely, a release from morbid self-consciousness, thanks to which I could have capitalized on my innate talents for DJing - instead of self-destructing vocally before the microphone through self-doubt. Freud himself praised cocaine to the skies, claiming that it relieved his depression without depriving him of energy needed for work. Indeed, he expected cocaine to "win its place in therapeutics side by side morphine and superior to it." Nor did the drug hopelessly addict him. To the contrary, he used cocaine while it was useful to his work and quit it without fanfare (or the release of a self-pitying autobiography) when the drug no longer served his purposes in life.
Yet whenever I talked like this to psychiatrists, I was met with blank stares, and eventually warned that I sounded like an "addictive personality." An "addictive personality"! How ironic, considering that these same psychiatrists then went on to addict me for an entire lifetime to Big Pharma pills, which I must take every day of my life, to this very day, and which I couldn't quit if I wanted to, not because I lack willpower but because my own shrink has told me not to bother, since the Effexor I'm on has a recidivism rate equal to that of heroin.
An "addictive personality," indeed. Well, if you're just going to addict me anyway, why can't I be addicted to my poison of choice? Why can't I use cocaine instead of SSRIs and SNRIs?
The psychiatrist's absurd answer to that question illustrates all that is wrong with psychiatry today.
The psychiatrist will claim that cocaine "only targets the symptoms," you see, while Big Pharma has created pills that go right to the chemical imbalances that create depression in the first place.
This is wrong on a number of levels.
- First of all, the idea that Big Pharma pills correct a chemical imbalance is a lie: in fact, there is reason to believe that SSRIs and SNRIs actually create the imbalances that they purport to cure (see "Anatomy of an Epidemic" by Robert Whitaker).
- Second, how can these pills be fixing a chemical imbalance when I'm as depressed as ever after 40 years of taking them? And it's not just me: America is the most depressed country in the world, statistically speaking, and yet we are the most drug-using nation on earth, to the point that 1 in 4 women are now taking these "silver bullets" every day of their life. But then I suppose that pharmaceutical executives are happier than ever, seeing their bottom line grow enormously thanks to the psychiatric pill mill that they are furnishing with these brain-fogging "godsends" (meds that were never even intended for long-term use).
- Third, what's wrong with "only treating the symptoms"? If by doing so you allow a person to achieve self-actualization in life, then problem solved. That's what happened for Freud: his enormous output under cocaine allowed him to achieve his fondest goals, leading to self-actualization. The experience of self-actualization then improved his own self-image and he grew psychologically stronger, in a sort of positive psychological feedback loop. No, cocaine did not directly create this happiness (through some as-yet unknown chemical path, for instance) but so what? It created the actual conditions whereby Freud could succeed in spite of his depression and self-doubts.
Notice that if the drug-warrior psychiatrist had had his or her way, Freud would never have been allowed to succeed in life. Cocaine, after all, would have been a big no-no. Instead, like myself, Freud would have been scheduled for weekly sessions where talk therapy would try to get "to the bottom" of his depression, the supposed "real" psychological cause - or where drugs would have been prescribed that would have supposedly targeted the "real" chemical cause. Result: we would have never heard of Freud today, but you can be sure that he would have been dutifully "taking his meds" until the last day of his life.
In fact, if the drug-warrior psychiatrist had gotten ahold of Robin Williams in time, the same thing would have happened to him: the world would have missed out on a comic legend, because Williams' coke use would have been considered a disease that needed to be cured so that Robin's "real" problems could be addressed, by talk and/or Big Pharma chemicals.
Unfortunately, the drug-warrior psychiatrists did get ahold of me, however. That's why you've never heard of me as a DJ. The psychiatrists gave my self-doubt and depression free rein. My life was put on hold as I was told to wait for the "real" cures to "kick in."
Well, it's been over four decades now, and I'm still waiting.
But on the upside, psychiatry's meds have made life just bearable. Perhaps that's the only benefit of modern SSRIs: they help one survive without achieving self-actualization in life. In fact, I am not a conspiracy theorist, but one could argue that the whole point of modern antidepressants is to turn the user into a good consumer, one who will be tranquilized just to the point that he or she can stand the absurdity of modern life - without turning the user into a potentially disruptive force by actually helping them achieve self-actualization.
How can psychiatry hold a viewpoint that is so at odds with common sense? How can they so blatantly ignore the "patient's" need for self-actualization in life? Why do they insist that patients survive on theories rather than on the real politik of drugs that actually do something to positively effect behavior? In short, why was cocaine a godsend for Sigmund Freud but a devilish drug as far as I'm concerned?
Because psychiatrists have been cowed by the drug war into denying the obvious: that many illegal psychoactive substances do have therapeutic uses: not because they "cause" happiness in and of themselves (as the philosophically-challenged drug-warrior would require them to do) but because they facilitate behavior that creates success. As noted above, this success then improves self-image, creating a positive feedback loop viz the patient's personality. Result: the patient can succeed in life, oftentimes without the long-term use of the substance that created this "virtuous circle" in the first place.
Until psychiatry realizes these simple truths and ceases its pretentious search for "real causes" (that search that has resulted in the addiction of 1 in 4 American women to the supposedly real "targeted cures" mentioned above) they will continue sacrificing the vocational lives of ambitious Americans like myself on the altar of drug war superstition.
POSTCRIPT: Yes, I was an addictive personality: I was addicted to self-actualization and I demanded it. I wasn't willing to accept the second-best life that psychiatry was proposing for me with its feeble theoretical half-measures.