THE DRUG WAR PHILOSOPHER: essays against the bloody Drug War DRUG WAR BLOG updated
Essay date: August 11, 2020

MDMA for Psychotherapy

by Ballard Quass

open letter to researcher Michael Mithoefer, MD





How MDMA fights depression through anticipation, and how reductionists ignore the factd

Dear Michael,

I enjoyed reading your article in the MAPS Bulletin entitled "MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy: How different is it from other psychotherapy?"

In regard to the mindless criminalization of drugs like MDMA, I thought you might be interested in my essay entitled "How the Drug War Killed Leah Betts - and ended the peaceful rave scene."


Best Wishes,
Ballard Quass
AbolishTheDEA.com


PS I'm one of psychiatry's millions of "eternal patients" in these days of the addictive pill paradigm, and so I have 40+ years of experience on the receiving end of psychiatric nostrums for fighting depression and anxiety. Given this vast experience, I hope you'll consider it worthwhile to read a criticism that I have of the scientific method when it comes to seeking out and justifying cures for depression.

The reductionist approach is always looking for "mechanisms of action," but it is my belief that this focus blinds researchers to common sense in many cases. Take MDMA, for instance. Given my secondhand knowledge of the effects of MDMA (as described both by "ravers" and by your study participants), I have sufficient information to know that MDMA would be an effective psychotherapeutic adjunct when used, say, between once a week and once a month in a psychiatrist's office. My conclusion, however, is based on a knowledge of human nature to which reductionist science gives little attention: the fact that a human being looks forward to positive experiences, and that this very anticipation can improve the quality of one's mental life.

If I were to propose such therapy, the reductionist might instinctively object: "But we want to know the mechanism of action before we proceed: namely, how does MDMA decrease depression in this case: what are the chemical mechanisms involved?" This statement, however, merely indicates that the scientist "just doesn't get it." The scientist wants to go in search of a phantom. The MDMA does not have to decrease depression directly in order to decrease depression. Its use simply constitutes an extremely positive experience, and anticipation of use does the rest of the work in decreasing the user's overall depression.

This is why drugs like cocaine and opium can be successfully vilified by Drug Warriors: they can (perhaps correctly) say that there is no direct chemical link between use and self-fulfillment or happiness in life. What they fail to realize, however, is that there need not be a direct link between drug and effect if the drug use provides anticipation. The mere knowledge that there is "a port in the storm" of internal mental life (whether it be provided through cocaine, opium, MDMA, marijuana, or prayer) can provide one with happiness indirectly. Again, this is a psychological truism that reductionists seem always to ignore, constantly asking: "Yes, but how exactly does drug x, y or z decrease depression? What are the chemicals involved?"

The answer is, of course, that the drugs do not, strictly speaking, decrease depression at all: rather, they provide the user with anticipation of upcoming mental relief through use of said substances - and that mere anticipation does all the heavy lifting: anticipation does all the positive psychological work that the reductionist wants to ascribe scientifically to the drug itself.

And so the approval of MDMA as a drug to treat depression becomes unnecessarily problematic, as reductionist science scrambles to show chemical pathways whereby the MDMA can bring about the increased happiness with which it's associated, completely ignoring the powerful role that anticipation of regular MDMA therapy can play in boosting mood and one's own patience with the downsides of daily experience. (At least I fear that this could happen. I have no specific knowledge of the actual state of affairs viz. such research.)

I'm not saying that MDMA cannot have a direct and positive effect on the brain. I'm saying that this is not the only way that we can justify the use of such a substance in a psychotherapeutic setting. We need not downplay and ignore the simple fact that occasional scheduled MDMA use can improve a user's life through mere anticipation of the psychological relief and insights that the drug can supply in a positive setting.

Speaking personally, I would definitely look forward to such a psychiatric appointment and be happier simply in knowing that this appointment loomed on the horizon. What a contrast to the depression I currently feel knowing that a pro forma office visit is coming up: a visit that I'm forced to make every 3 to 6 months of my life in order to obtain re-authorization for my purchase of yet another expensive set of prescription drugs. (That's the problem with the DEA: they fetishize drugs, making them so "awesome" that even a user of 40 years cannot be trusted to use his medicine wisely without constant bureaucratic oversight, approval and reapproval.)

PPS I hope you don't mind, but this email will also appear on my website, where I hope my thoughts on this topic will inspire thinkers to unravel the tangled web of superstition and pseudoscience that currently constitutes America's anti-scientific attitude toward this fetishized scapegoat for social problems that we call "drugs." I trust that it "goes without saying" that these are simply general philosophical observations, not criticisms directed toward you personally. So thank you for your patience and attention, and I wish you best of luck in your important work with MDMA as a psychotherapeutic tool.


The Links Police

Do you know why I stopped you? That's right, because the Drug War has given me carte blanche to be a noxious busybody. That, and I wanted to give you a few more links showing how drugs can help us stop mass shootings, as soon as we drop the drug-war ideology of substance demonization, that is.

How the Drug War killed Leah Betts
Saying Yes to Drugs
How the Drug War Blinds us to Godsend Medicine
Open letter to Professor Troy Glover at Waterloo University







Let us know what you think. Send your comments to me, Brian Quass, at quass@quass.com. Thanks! Please be sure to mention the title of the essay to which you are responding.




Newest Essay: Elderly Victims of Drug War Ideology




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Welcome to The Drug War Philosopher: Philosophical essays against America's bloody war on plant medicine, aka the drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-science, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some. Calling for fear not fact, education not demonization.

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Top 10
1: How Ecstasy could end mass shootings
2: The Drug War as a Litmus Test for Philosophical Wisdom
3: Addicted to Addiction
4: Why the Holocaust Museum must denounce the Drug War
5: Open Letter to Francis Fukuyama
6: Ten Reasons why the Drug War is Nonsense
7: Forbes Magazine's Laughable Article about Nitrous Oxide
8: Time to ACT UP about the racist drug war
9: How the Monticello Foundation betrayed Jefferson's Legacy in 1987
10: John Locke on Drugs
Click here for more essays against America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-nature, imperialistic, a violation of the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America, and the establishment of drug-hating Christian Science as a state religion.





2021 Deaths Caused by the Drug War*

  1. Chicago:797
  2. New York City: 485
  3. Los Angeles: 397
  4. Memphis: 346
  5. New Orleans: 218




*"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 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!!!

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.





When They Ask You For a Piss

A Drug War Poem





When they ask you for some pee
Tell them no 'cause you are free
Free to use what nature grows
Both shrooms and plants

Should they ask you for a piss
Tell them no and let them kiss
Kiss your ass because they're full
Of grade-A shit

Being born on plant earth
Shrooms and plants are yours by birth
Show them what your freedom's worth
Refuse to pee




Boom-Chickadee

The Drug War Poem




Boom-chickadee-boom-chickadee
Chick-chick churri
Your drug war is crazy, as crazy can be
It banishes godsends that grow at our feet
Till bad vibes and loneliness slowly accrete
Till bad vibes and loneliness slowly accrete

Boom-chickadee-boom-chickadee
Chick-chick churrod
The coca plant, as per the Incas, is God
It sharpens your prose till your fame is widespread
As Jules Verne would tell you if he were not dead
As Jules Verne would tell you if he were not dead

Boom-chickadee-boom-chickadee
Chick-chick-ka-ripe
I'd like to smoke opium straight from a pipe
To travel to lands seen by Lovecraft and Poe
Though racist drug warriors always say no
Though racist drug warriors always say no

Boom-chickadee-boom-chickadee
Chick-chick-ker-breech
The mushrooms around us have something to teach
They grow in my garden, I'm fain to partake
Though Chimney-Pot Bennet says Put on the Brake
Though Chimney-Pot Bennet says Put on the Brake

Boom-chickadee-boom-chickadee
Chick-chick-hurray
My anger subsides with some MDMA
If only Vlad Putin would follow my lead
There'd be much less bloodshed and cynical greed
There'd be much less bloodshed and cynical greed

Boom-chickadee-boom-chickadee
Chick-chick-ker-ray
I'll use what I want so get out of my way
I'd rather do opium coca and such
Than Big Pharma pills that addict me too much
Than Big Pharma pills that addict me too much

Boom-chickadee-boom-chickadee
Chick-chick-ka-runk
Forgive me for saying your drug war is junk
It's dumbness incarnate to demonize plants
I turn a deaf ear to your 'just say no' chants
I turn a deaf ear to your 'just say no' chants






Check out the latest Drug War News!
Today's story:
It's the Prohbition, Stupid!

Lights, Camera, Drug War

Quotes From TV and movies



Panther

1995
"Against hard drugs in the community."

"Hard" drugs? As defined by whom? The DEA? That agency which ranks psychoactive substances by the degree to which they threaten the WASP establishment?
More TV and movie Quotes at Lights, Camera, Drug War.

DRUG WAR BLOG

by The Drug War Philosopher



6-23-22
Turnip blood as a drug on the market!



If you think it's hard to get blood from a turnip, try finding a positive reference to demonized "drugs" in American TV shows and movies. Search the Script.com database for the word "drugs" and you'll get over 4,000 hits, with nary a one testifying to the life-affirming power of godsend plant medicine. Drugs like coca and psychedelics have inspired entire religions, but you'll see the word "drugs" used only in connection with lowlifes and scumbags, extortionists and murderers. In short, American script writers have been bribed by the DARE organization and the local State Police with far too many "just say no" teddy bears to think rationally on this topic.

That's why I hope that "decriminalization" states like Oregon will gradually teach these brainwashed screenwriters that the sky, at least, will not come crashing down the moment that Mother Nature's bounty is legal again, just as it was before Chinese-hating racists outlawed the poppy plant in 1914, thereby elevating common law above the natural law upon which America had been founded. My concern is that without full legalization, however, the otherwise responsible "users" in those states will be forced to choose their psychoactive medicines from the limited and often tainted formulary provided by criminal gangs, gangs whose incentive lies in money-making, not in assuring safe product. Because you know that if problems arise for this reason, the drug warriors will instantly blame them on decriminalization rather than on the way that the drug warrior limits choice and empowers economically minded cartels.



MORE Anti-Drug War Blog

Thoughts? Contact Brian Quass at quass@quass.com.

DRUG WAR BIBLIOGRAPHY

Andrew, Christopher. 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.
Aurelius, Marcus. Meditations. 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!)
Carroll, Lewis. 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.
Ellsberg, Daniel. 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.
Fadiman, James. 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.
Fleming, Thomas. 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!!!
Fukuyama, Francis. 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."
Gottleib, Anthony. 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.
Holland, Julie. 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.
Huxley, Aldous. 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.
Leary, Timothy. 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.
Lovecraft, HP. 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)
Mate, Gabriel. 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.
McKenna, Terence. 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.
Noe, Alvin. 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.
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").
Pollan, Michael. 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."
Richards, William. 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.
Rosenfeld, Harvey. 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."
Russell, Kirk. 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.
Schlosser, Erich. 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.
Sewell, Kenneth. 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.
Shirer, William. 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."
Slater, Lauren. 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.
Straussman, Rick. 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!!!
Szasz, Thomas. 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.
Szasz, Thomas. 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.
Whitaker, Robert. 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


Welcome to THE DRUG WAR PHILOSOPHER: essays against America's bloody war on plant medicine, aka the drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-science, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some. Calling for fact not fear, education not demonization.

What You Can Do: 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."


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