I was reading a book in which Thomas Szasz quoted you as saying (in 1998, I believe) that physicians should be jailed if they refused to prescribe SSRI antidepressants. With all due respect, I have a very different opinion as a 63-year-old depressed man who has been on Big Pharma's dependence-causing meds for his entire adult life. I don't really want to throw anyone in jail, but if I had to choose, I would incarcerate those physicians who prescribed SSRIs for me without even mentioning the fact that they cause fierce chemical dependence, thereby turning me into an eternal patient. Of course, the dependence-causing nature of these drugs was not apparent to physicians at first, which would have been some excuse for them, were it not for the fact that they never subsequently apologized to me for having prescribed me drugs on false pretenses. Instead, when they learned of this problematic side effect, they made a virtue of necessity and began telling me that I had a duty to myself to "take my meds" every single day for the rest of my life. For it had suddenly developed that my "condition" was a chronic one, requiring daily medicine. (As Szasz would ask at this point: cui bono?)
I do not believe the myth of a chemical imbalance causing such a variegated and subjective condition as depression, but even if I did, the idea of what constitutes a "cure" for such a condition is not a medical matter but a philosophical one. I personally value living a wide awake life and investigating my physical and mental world for truths beyond those offered by prosaic materialism, but the creator of the SSRIs that I've been taking now for decades had a very different definition of "cure." For I have received no measure of self-actualization from these drugs but rather have felt an ever-growing feeling of tranquilization, anhedonia -- and even increased depression in these latter years -- all while taking the very miracle drugs that you wanted to jail physicians for withholding from the world.
If I had to jail someone for withholding drugs from me, I would immediately arrest those who are, even now, denying depressed folks like myself the use of godsend medicines like laughing gas, MDMA and psilocybin. But then the materialist healthcare field puts no stock in drugs like this which merely "work" according to the patient's subjective definition of that term. The patients' role is to sit back and be cured by modern science, which presumably will tell them when they are finally no longer depressed, objectively speaking.
If the medical community wanted to do something about depression, they would end the war on drugs which keeps people like me from reaching down and using the botanical godsends that grow at their very feet. Benjamin Franklin and Marcus Aurelius enjoyed opium. HG Wells and Jules Verne wrote their stories "on" coca wine. Plato got his views of the afterlife from the psychedelic Eleusinian Mysteries. And the entire Vedic Religion was inspired by the psychoactive effect of botanical medicine. And yet America puts these off-limits and turns me into a ward of the healthcare state. Yes, America's got a drug problem, all right, and the problem is this: we are completely anti-scientific about substances and we demonize politically unpopular ones through demagoguery rather than teaching how to use them safely and wisely.
Instead of working to secure me this bounty of mother nature -- which should be mine by birth under natural law -- your profession has leveraged the Drug War for personal profit by gladly accepting the monopoly on mood medicine that was thrust into your laps thanks to substance prohibition. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that SSRIs were not INTENDED to cause chemical dependency when first developed, yet the fact is that SSRIs have led to the biggest drug dystopia in human history, with 1 in 4 American women dependent on Big Pharma meds for life -- and this in a country that says it's determined to keep people from using "drugs." That's a nation of Stepford Wives, completely off the radar of the modern Drug Warrior, no doubt thanks to spokespeople financed by Big Pharma on shows like Oprah who are reminding us to "keep taking our meds!"
The fact is that I could be happy almost overnight, were drugs like MDMA, psilocybin and laughing gas suddenly available for the depressed -- but the moneyed stakeholders in the Drug War game (including health care, Big Pharma and police forces) are not about to kill the golden goose by acting in the interest of the depressed and anxious in the world, much less on behalf of those who merely want to "be all they can be" in life and do not feel any Christian Science duty to abstain from using medicine to achieve this goal. And so the drug approval process is politicized. The FDA doesn't care that millions could benefit immediately from such substances becoming legal. Instead, they're worried about a relative handful of young people whose well-publicized misuse of these substances could be leveraged by demagogue politicians into a huge scandal. That kind of anti-scientific reasoning, so massively skewed by political concerns, is why I have gone my whole life without the freedom to reach down and use the plant medicines that grow at my very feet.
The irony is that the Drug War did this to protect me, or so I'm told -- and yet what's the result? They addicted me to SSRIs for life (caused a chemical dependency, if you prefer) and turned me into a ward of the healthcare state and an eternal patient, with all of the demoralizing baggage that implies -- including the trimonthly trip to see a nurse half my age who has to decide if I'm still trustworthy enough to keep receiving the drugs that psychiatry has basically addicted me to. So it is that the current system conspires to turn Americans into children when it comes to drugs, even legal ones. In a Kafkaesque world like this in which the healthcare system collaborates with the Drug Warriors to addict me to Big Pharma meds, I can perfectly understand why folks buy "drugs" on the black market, and would do so myself if I had the courage. But then the Drug Warriors -- eager to maintain the various monopolies -- would jail me, probably for a longer term than that meted out to most murderers, thereby showing how determined the powers-that-be are to maintain their monopoly on mind medicine.
This is why I regret the day that I ever allowed the psychiatric industry to turn me into an eternal patient, a situation which grows more intolerable every day as I read more books about the wonderful powers of the psychoactive medicines that anti-scientific America has demonized. And why? To save us all from dependency on medications? Not hardly. No, it turns out that the goal of the Drug War is not to get people off drugs, but to get them ON the RIGHT drugs, namely those that benefit the enormous healthcare state and Wall Street.
So if I had to toss anyone in jail, it would be those who deprived me of the plant medicine that grows at my very feet. I believe Thomas Jefferson would have felt the same. For the garden-loving Founding Father was surely rolling in his grave when the DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated his poppy plants, in violation of the natural law upon which Jefferson had founded America.
Author's Follow-up: July 16, 2022
There's a simple reason why I do not believe in the myth that SSRIs fix a chemical imbalance that causes depression (besides the obvious ones adduced by Thomas Szasz and Richard Whitaker). That's because the very term "depression" is subjective. What is depression, according to the drug makers? Is it simply an excessive level of sorrow? Or is it a state of mind that keeps one from realizing self-actualization in life? Personally, I define "depression" in the latter way, as a state of mind that keeps me from being all that I want to be in life and from accomplishing all that I want to accomplish. But if the drug maker considers their job done when they keep me from committing suicide, then our definitions of "depression" differ widely. This is a philosophical difference between us when it comes to what constitutes "the good life."
Drug war propaganda aside, the fact is that substances like opium, coca, psychedelics, and even morphine can be used in a strategic, non-addictive fashion to help one truly thrive as the person that they want to be in life (although materialists will arbitrarily slander such non-reductionist cures as "crutches"). Why then should I be content to become chemically addicted for life to medications whose only boast is that they can reduce my risk of killing myself? Plato said the unexamined life is not worth living -- but the Drug Warrior materialist tells us: "you will live just such an unfulfilled life -- and to make sure that you can endure such a drab existence, we'll give you our anti-suicide pills-- Oh, sorry, I mean our anti-depressants!"
Let us know what you think. Send your comments to me, Brian Quass, at email@example.com. Thanks! Please be sure to mention the title of the essay to which you are responding.
*"Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist." -- Heather Ann Thompson, The Atlantic, 2014.
The above numbers may represent undercounts since some of these totals were compiled in late 2021.
The news media just doesn't get it -- or doesn't want to get it. Most stories about the deaths of blacks in inner cities never mention the drug war, as if the fact that prohibition led to armed gangs had nothing to do with the skyrocketing gun deaths that they're reporting on today. For a case in point, check out the article by Micaela A Watts in CommercialAppeal with the headline: "Following 346 homicides in Memphis in 2021, officials consider what's driving the violence."
Yes, that's a real poser, Micaela. The city fathers must really be scratching their heads!
The author notes three major theories for the violence, all of which have nothing to do with the drug war: "Lack of conflict resolution skills," a lack of "fair wages," and (get this) poor mental health.
Looks like the city officials failed to ask themselves why city residents were armed to the teeth in the first place. Hello? That was due to the drugs warriors' substance prohibition which incentivized the poor and poorly educated young people to get into the fantastically profitable business of selling drugs!!!
Substance prohibition created drug gangs and cartels just as surely as liquor prohibition created the Mafia.
Yes, drug warrior, YOU are responsible for these deaths. You! It's a natural result of your ban on medical godsends, some of which have inspired entire religions and have the potential for treating (if not curing) such diverse conditions as Alzheimer's, autism, and depression.
Drug War Victim of the Day
killed in Prince Georges County, Maryland on August 15, 2022
Southeast Washington DC remains a no-go zone, even for UPS drivers, as this latest shooting incident points out, which is 1 in 6 shootings that have taken place in the last week, two of them fatal. If this were happening in Hollywood, California, it would be a scandal. But movie stars are people, and victims of the drug war, especially when poor and black, are what Noam Chomsky calls 'unpeople.'
Yes, even the director of "Bamboozled" is bamboozled about drugs. He agrees with the drug warrior lie that there are psychoactive substances in nature that have no positive uses whatsoever, in any place, any time, any context. This superstitious way of thinking has forced me to go without godsend medicine my entire life. Thanks, Spike. Why do you want people to become drug-hating Christian Scientists, exactly? These things that you call "drugs" have inspired entire religions. The conservatives are laughing as they rush to the polls to elect fascists, because they have bamboozled Spike Lee himself to sign off on the drug war which brings death and incarceration to inner city blacks. Throw away that "just say no" teddy bear with which you were bribed in childhood, Spike, and open your eyes.
Mangual is the author of 'Cities got deadlier in 2020: What's behind the spike in homicides?' in which he never once mentioned the drug war!
Here's my letter to his website:
Hi, Rafael. Just wanted to suggest that you start holding the drug war responsible for inner-city violence -- since substance prohibition incentivized 'dealing' in poor neighborhoods and the guns soon followed. Because no one mentions this 64,000-pound Gorilla, Trump is able to blame the deaths on Democrats, so that, rather than ending the violence-causing drug war, he can begin executing the blacks that drug warriors were previously happy with merely incarcerating.
The Secret World: A History of Intelligence.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019.
All warfare is based on deception, said Sun Tzu. Yes, but what is all deception based on? A mistrust of one's fellows. And how do you combat that, Chris? With empathogens like MDMA and psilocybin.
London: East India Publishing Company, 2021.
Pious drug warriors have usually thought of Marcus Aurelius as the perfect replacement for bad evil drugs -- but Marcus had his cake and ate it too. He philosophized under the influence of opium (but don't tell the kids!)
Alice in Wonderland: The Original 1865 Edition With Complete Illustrations By Sir John Tenniel.
New York: Amazon, 2021.
Alice's shroom-powered adventures are a standing reproach to glum-faced drug warriors, who closely resemble the Queen of Hearts, shouting: "Off with their heads, for using godsend medicines of which I disapprove!"
De Quincey, Thomas.
Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
New York: Dover, 1995.
During De Quincey's informed opium use, he "partook" only weekly in order to better enjoy the opera, making his weekday life happier as well, however, thanks to anticipation of use, a benefit of which materialist science takes no account.
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner .
New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
A stark reminder that the world is living under a nuclear sword of Damocles. And why? Because it demonizes all the godsend medicines (like MDMA and shrooms) that could bring humanity together in universal harmony.
The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys .
New York: Park Street Press, 2011.
First-hand accounts of psychological breakthroughs achieved with the guided use of entheogens, suggesting that one-time givens like "character" and "human nature" are far more susceptible to improvement than we thought.
A Disease in the Public Mind: Why We Fought the Civil War.
New York: Da Capo Press, 2014.
The late historian Fleming cites the popular mob-led public "diseases" of Witch-Hunting, Liquor Prohibition, and Communism -- yet says nothing about the Drug War, which was the great disease in the public mind of his own time!!!
Liberalism and Its Discontents.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.
Great bipartisan insights, BUT... Francis reckons without the drug war, so, like a good drug warrior, he blames all the ills caused by prohibition on the politically created boogieman called "drugs."
The Dream of Enlightenment: the Rise of Modern Philosophy.
New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2016.
The author seems unaware of the increasingly clear ability of empathogens like MDMA and shrooms to improve the very human nature which grumps like Hobbes portray as being so irrevocably fixed.
Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics.
New York: HarperWave, 2020.
Julie claims that Nixon criminalized psychedelics for health reasons. What? That's not the Nixon I know. He said himself that Leary was enemy #1. He was removing "users" from the voting rolls, not protecting them.
The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell.
New York: Penguin Books, 1970.
Huxley's speculations about perception jibe with modern science, which finds that human beings see what is presumably useful to them, not necessarily what is "really there" in the sensory-rich physical world.
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead .
New York: University Books, 1964.
Americans have been primed by the drug-war zeitgeist to consider everything Leary writes as nonsense. But he was the first one to announce loudly and clearly that what's really nonsensical is to outlaw plant medicine.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.
New York: Del Rey Books, 1970.
Lovecraft's work is full of opiate imagery that drug warriors want to render impossible for artists to feel: "I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley and the shadowy groves..." (Ex-Oblivione)
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.
Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2009.
Gabriel moralizes "addiction." Addiction, however, is a political term. One can use psychoactive Big Pharma meds every day and be a good patient -- use heroin every day, however, and you're just escaping "inner pain." What?
Maupassant, Guy de.
Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques - Guy de Maupassant: Les classiques du fantastique .
Paris: , 2019.
In "La Horla," Maupassant anticipates Huxley by speculating that our perceptual habits blind us to a world of wonders. Many of today's demonized drugs, it appears, can at least partially open our eyes to that world.
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution .
New York: Bantam, 1992.
This was the book that reminded me of what I already vaguely knew: that it is tyrannical insanity for a government to outlaw plants. McKenna's philosophical speculations on why we criminalize inspired me to create abolishthedea.com.
Miller, Richard Louis.
Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle .
New York: Park Street Press, 2017.
Informative interviews with movers-and-shakers in the field, including Rick Doblin, Stanislav Grof, James Fadiman, David Nichols and Robert Whitaker. Packed with eye-opening one-liners about godsend meds.
Out of our Heads.
New York: HiII&Wang,, 2010.
Noe reveals how patients with "locked-in" syndrome have reported being supremely aware of their surroundings during their supposedly brain-dead coma, a fact that puts in question our materialist assumptions about consciousness.
When Plants Dream.
New York: Watkins Publishing, 2019.
I find philosophical problems with most of the books that I read on the subject of psychoactive medicine, but Daniel Pinchbeck is one of the few authors who could teach me a few things on this topic.
Poe, Edgar Allan.
The Essential Poe.
New York: Warbler Classics, 2020.
Because drug warriors never mention the good side of "drugs," we must turn to Poe to learn, for instance, that morphine can bring a surreal appreciation of Mother Nature (see "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains").
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence .
New York: Penguin Books, 2018.
Pollan has yet to realize that the very term "drugs" is just a modern pejorative epithet for "plant medicine of which botanically clueless politicians disapprove. "
Reynolds, David S..
Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville .
New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Exhaustively researched account of the 19th-century zeitgeist, and yet the word "drugs" (as defined, or rather derided, by today's drug warrior) is never even used. Last century's boogieman was liquor, it seems, not "drugs."
Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences Hardcover.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
The psychedelic experience was once characterized as pharmacologically induced madness. Richards shows how the properly guided experience can lead to sanity instead -- and a way of life that is not self-destructive.
Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898 .
Connecticut: Praeger, 2000.
The war took place 16 years before anti-Chinese Drug Warriors criminalized the poppy plant, and yet opium is only mentioned with regard to a group of unimaginative volunteers who smoked some and "couldn't see the point."
Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered.
New York: Arlington House, 1967.
Burke was a conservative in a sense, but he would not recognize America's Republican party of today. He would surely have seen that prohibition causes all the problems we ascribe to "drugs," and then some.
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.
New York: Penguin, 2014.
In 1980, the Air Force nearly blew up Arkansas and irradiated half the country. When Reagan took office the next year, what was his priority? Outlawing plant medicine that could make our species less warlike.
Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. .
New York: Pocket Star, 2006.
On March 7, 1968, a rogue Soviet submarine nearly blew up Pearl Harbor with a thermonuclear bomb. Instead of launching a war on nukes, then-President Nixon launched a war on medicines that could inspire peace, love and understanding.
The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler.
New York: RosettaBooks, 2011.
Paraphrase from book: "No one who has not lived for years in a DRUG WAR SOCIETY can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda."
Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds.
Back Bay Books: Boston, 2019.
Despite griping about the weight she's put on from taking her daily 'meds,' Slater gives Big Pharma a big fat mulligan for consigning 1 in 4 American women like herself to a lifetime of chemical dependency on SSRI antidepressants.
DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences .
New York: Park Street Press, 2001.
Rick doubts DMT's therapeutic usefulness, but common sense psychology suggests that any break from full-on introspection would be a treat, notwithstanding materialists who aren't even sure that laughing gas could help the depressed!!!
Ceremonial Chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers.
New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974.
Filled with inconvenient truths that critics ignore rather than refute, including how politicized science tells us a la God: "Eat of the fruit and you shall die," ignoring the fact that education tells us how to eat of that fruit safely.
Our Right to Drugs: The case for a free market.
New York: Praeger, 1992.
Chock-a-block with all-too-rare common sense: "Doctors, lawyers and politicians started the War on Drugs and continue to wage it, and they are its real beneficiaries -- the drug war's ostensible beneficiaries... are its victims."
Tyler, George R..
Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System.
Michigan: Pegasus Books, 2016.
Doesn't mention drugs, but illustrates how drug reform can be stymied by just 3% of the public: namely, those holding stock in Big Pharma, etc., especially when these elites can bribe politicians to retain the status quo.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America .
New York: Crown, 2010.
Prohibition has facilitated the creation of a psychiatric pill mill upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life. Moreover, these pills cause the chemical imbalances that they purport to fix.
Zuboff , Shoshana.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.
New York: Public Affairs, 2019.
Surveillance capitalists and drug warriors share the same goal: to keep human beings predictable: one by rendering us more robot-like and the other by denying us the mind-improving blessings of psychoactive medicine
There are an absolute LEGION of online articles and newspaper stories that get it wrong about so-called drugs. Even those in favor of drug law reform have been subject to drug war propaganda from childhood (and they probably have a DARE teddy bear to prove it!) so speak truth to nonsense and comment on the articles that get it wrong.
Bloody disgusting fact: The Drug War brought almost 800 deaths to Chicago in 2021 by incentivizing the hugely profitable sale of psychoactive medicine in poor communities. And now Trump and his fellow fascist drug warriors want to use that violence as an excuse to KILL drug dealers via execution! Any community leaders supporting the drug war are complicit in this genocide. For as Heather Ann Thompson wrote in The Atlantic in 2014: "Without the War on Drugs, the level of gun violence that plagues so many poor inner-city neighborhoods today simply would not exist."
How America can end inner-city homicides overnight in three easy steps:
Re-legalize Mother Nature's plant medicines
Treat substance abuse as a health problem
Buy back inner-city guns at double their purchase price (even triple the price would be a huge bargain in the long run)
This will, of course, be a huge sacrifice for everyday Americans, who do love their drug war, bless them.