s a veteran addict of mind-fogging anti-depressants, I sometimes ask myself why so many of my fellow addicts seem to be happy (or at least satisfied) with the psychiatric status quo. Why would they be satisfied with a psychiatric pill mill that shunts them off onto a handful of highly addictive synthetic medicines when Mother Nature has already grown for them a large store of psychoactive medicines that can work psychotherapeutic wonders when administered thoughtfully?
Of course, there's the obvious answer to this question, namely that said addicts are not permitted to access Mother Nature's medicines thanks to the Drug War and so the question is moot -- but that still doesn't explain why these depression sufferers don't view this situation as an intolerable obstacle to their mental health and do not protest the Drug War accordingly. For the vast majority of such sufferers never connect the dots between the Drug War and their own personal lack of treatment options. Instead, they make a virtue of necessity and turn the Big Pharma pill-choosing game into a lifelong quest to find the addictive golden grail that works best for them, a quest to be discussed at social get-togethers, where fellow depressives mingle and share their own idiosyncratic list of the Big Pharma pills (and pill combinations) that seem to be "working" for them.
I have recently concluded that this blase acceptance by patients of the anti-patient status quo has at least the following three causes:
1) Just as we can't know what we can't know, we can't feel what we can't feel. I unwittingly ingested a psychedelic at age 19. The result was so mind opening that I began crying: I began crying because I saw that the world was so full of possibilities that I had hitherto overlooked. Now, the point is this: Had you asked me if I was depressed before the "trip," I might well have said no -- but after that trip, my depression was so obvious to me that it made me cry for the lost hours and years that I had spent failing to take advantage of the opportunities right in front of me. In other words, one can be depressed as hell but not realize the fact until they clearly SEE what that depression has been hiding from them: namely hope and possibility.
2) Psychological health surveys ask the wrong questions. They rely on self-reporting about mood. But if a person has never experienced true happiness and understanding (see point one above), they cannot report their mood objectively. They are prone to report their mood as satisfactory merely because they do not have any idea what it's like to experience true psychological happiness. They're like a car buyer thinking that a beat-up car is in great shape, merely because he or she has never seen a car in perfect condition. A far better question to ask in a psychological examination would be: "How many of your important goals have you accomplished in the last year?" That's how I first realized through rational introspection that my own depression was bad: not by thinking "oh, I feel sad," but by reckoning up the myriad "brilliant ideas" that I had come up with over time but failed to follow through on despite having had plenty of time to do so. My depression, it turned out, was bad indeed, because it had stopped me from taking the actions that I needed to take in order to realize my most important goals in life. To paraphrase the book of Matthew: "You will know them by their LACK of works," at least when it comes to the depressed.
3) Psychiatric nostrums are designed to help us survive, not to thrive. Anyone who reads the horror story of psychiatry's early years in America will realize that the psychiatric goal, for well over a century, has been to render patients "docile," not to render them happy or fulfilled. This is why treatments like insulin shock therapy and frontal lobe lobotomy were both hailed as miracle cures in their time. The raves were not coming from patients: they were coming from the psychiatric establishment itself, whose staff were finding their jobs easier once their psychiatric patients were rendered peaceable. As author Richard Whitaker points out, there is an eerie continuity in this philosophy when it comes to the modern psychiatric go-to drugs of benzodiazepines and anti-depressants. Benzodiazepines were never meant to help one solve a problem or find insight: they were meant to induce satisfaction with (or at least tolerance for) the status quo. The same can be said for modern anti-depressants. This brings to mind "The Stepford Wives" by Ira Levin. Westerners think of that story as a satire about women's place in society, but today it reads more like non-fiction. One in 4 American women are addicted to mind-fogging Big Pharma antidepressants, medications that conduce to exactly the sort of emotional flat-lining and bland acceptance of life that Levin skewers in his book.
Author's Follow-up: March 22, 2023
Of course, the whole point of antidepressants is to tranquilize. The best that modern antidepressants can boast is that they keep folks from killing themselves -- but then a blow on the head with a hammer would do the same thing, by so muddling the brain as to make suicide unlikely. Meanwhile the meds we have outlawed can actually give folks a reason to live. The world knows this. A recent London Times Poll showed 83% of online respondents favored drug decrminalization, but as George Tyler notes in Billionaire Democracy, no laws get past or repealed in America today without the help of the richest 3% and the many Congressional representatives that are on their payrolls.
Buy the Drug War Comic Book by Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans
PSYCHIATRY AND THE DRUG WAR
Imagine the Vedic people shortly after they have discovered soma. Everyone's ecstatic -- except for one oddball. "I'm not sure about these experiences," says he. "I think we need to start dissecting the brains of our departed adherents to see what's REALLY going on in there."
The search for SSRIs has always been based on a flawed materialist premise that human consciousness is nothing but a mix of brain chemicals and so depression can be treated medically like any other physical condition.
"I can take this drug that inspires me and makes me compassionate and teaches me to love nature in its byzantine complexity, or I can take Prozac which makes me unable to cry at my parents' funeral. Hmm. Which shall it be?" Only a mad person in a mad world would choose SSRIs.
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
Sana Collective Group committed to making psychedelic therapy available to all regardless of income.
You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.
A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.
The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. (For proof of that latter charge, check out how the US and UK have criminalized the substances that William James himself told us to study in order to understand reality.) It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions (like the Vedic), Nazifies the English language (referring to folks who emulate drug-loving Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin as "scumbags") and militarizes police forces nationwide (resulting in gestapo SWAT teams breaking into houses of peaceable Americans and shouting "GO GO GO!").
(Speaking of Nazification, L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates thought that drug users should be shot. What a softie! The real hardliners are the William Bennetts of the world who want drug users to be beheaded instead. That will teach them to use time-honored plant medicine of which politicians disapprove! Mary Baker Eddy must be ecstatic in her drug-free heaven, as she looks down and sees this modern inquisition on behalf of the drug-hating principles that she herself maintained. I bet she never dared hope that her religion would become the viciously enforced religion of America, let alone of the entire freakin' world!)
In short, the drug war causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)
If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.
PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.
PPS Drugs like opium and psychedelics should come with the following warning: "Outlawing of this product may result in inner-city gunfire, civil wars overseas, and rigged elections in which drug warriors win office by throwing minorities in jail."
Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company
Bache, Christopher "LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven" 2019 Park Street Press