Essay date: November 7, 2020

Electroshock Therapy and the Drug War

Why ECT is the last resort of drug warrior scoundrels

How the drug war makes ECT necessary.

hate to blow my own horn, but let's face it: I am the only anti-Drug War pundit who has ever pointed out that Drug Warriors are responsible for the use of the brain-damaging treatment known as electroshock therapy in America. Why? Because Drug Warriors have criminalized the many powerful psychoactive medicines that could help the severely depressed (like MDMA, psilocybin, and even laughing gas) thereby leaving the saddest of the sad with no options for relief other than ECT, a "therapy" that can only win Pyrrhic victories over depression by partially destroying the mind in its attempts to save it. Yes, ECT may be great at making a patient more tractable from a caregiver point of view, but it has no power whatsoever to help the "patient" achieve self-actualization in their life, a shortcoming which has been starkly demonstrated in the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Nor is the movie's depiction of Randle McMurphy's fate a fictional exaggeration, as I have learned through my own personal experience thanks to the mental health challenges of my extended family.

Why then do professionals in the medical community still stubbornly support this brain-damaging treatment to this very day? For the same reason that 12-step groups still basically just tell their members to "grin and bear it," rather than advisedly using any of the godsend psychoactive medicines of Mother Nature to help them change without going through hell first: because American doctors and psychiatrists have fallen so far under the spell of the Christian Science Drug War that they accept the tyrannous status quo as a natural baseline, as if nature's psychoactive medicines did not exist from the point of view of American science. That's why they can still champion a procedure that purposefully damages the brain: because they console themselves with the mistaken belief that ECT is being used only as a last resort, that it is still an important treatment in cases where everything else has failed. But hold on a minute. Everything else has NOT failed. They can only cherish this illusion because they have accepted the DEA's time-honored claim that nature's psychoactive medicines have no therapeutic value whatsoever.

But, of course, that conscience sop is a lie. There is massive anecdotal evidence dating back thousands of years regarding the life-changing power of nature's psychoactive medicines. Indeed, the entire Vedic religion was founded in praise of the psychedelic concoction called soma. The clinician can only throw the switch on his or her depressed patient with a clear conscience by ignoring all such evidence (from the Eleusinian Mysteries to the MesoAmerican mushroom cults) in dutiful obedience to the know-nothing party line of the Drug Warrior.

This is why I say that the Drug War is responsible for the use of brain-damaging ECT in the modern world, because it has not only criminalized hundreds of natural alternatives to such therapy, but it has demonized them to the point that most modern psychiatrists feel free to ignore them altogether. (They want nothing to do with dirty evil drugs, after all!) And so modern doctors remain as clueless about the importance of psychoactive medicine for the depressed as 19th-century doctors were about the importance of washing their hands before performing surgery.

This is why, in a sane world, anti-drug-war protestors would show up outside a clinic or hospital in advance of a scheduled session of electroshock therapy, in the same way that protestors who are opposed to capital punishment currently show up outside prisons in advance of an execution. Such protests would finally alert the world to a so-far unrecognized cost of America's Drug War: namely, the way that it keeps godsend medicines out of the hands of the psychologically needy, all in the name of protecting us from medical godsends.

EPILOGUE: Drugs do not fry the brain, but the Drug War certainly does, and not just thanks to the ECT treatments that it renders necessary. It fries the brain because it encourages our otherwise intelligent drug researchers to ask stupid questions like, "Can laughing gas help the depressed?" What? The answer is no, not if you are going to criminalize it and demonize it and withhold it from billions based on the potential irresponsible actions of a few. But because the Drug War is political, the FDA doesn't worry about the millions of Americans sitting alone in a room looking for a reason to get out of bed. The FDA worries about a few hooligans who may misuse the drug in some spectacular way and thereby get on the evening news, prompting willfully ignorant demagogues to blast the FDA for legalizing a "dangerous drug" -- just before that cigarette-smoking opportunist rushes off to a bar to partake of alcohol, which kills 95,000 Americans a year.

Author's Follow-up: July 31, 2022

Why are Americans (researchers included) so uninterested in the psychoactive power of drugs that have inspired entire religions? Because it is against government drug policy to even envision positive uses for the drugs that we have decided to demonize. The charter of the Office of National Drug Control Policy actually forbids that propaganda agency from considering positive uses of "drugs." And so American writers and researchers have drunk so heavily at the trough of these state lies (and the mendacious "frying pan" ad) that they feel free to ignore the power of criminalized psychoactive medicines when it comes to helping the severely depressed. So, no, ECT is not a last resort -- it is the inhuman treatment that American Drug Policy makes necessary through its anti-scientific crack down on the formerly free domain of American "science."

Author's Follow-up: August 22, 2022

These narratives are not of use to the 1% who own the 9 or so media conglomerates that tell us what is "common sense." That's why they are never covered. Neither will you see coverage of the fact that young kids in hospice are refused effective painkillers like morphine because Drug War ideology tells us that such substances are so evil that it's better to let the kids suffer. Then there are the elderly who are "taken off life support" -- RATHER than lulled to a peaceful death with an immoderate dose of morphine. I sometimes want to pester the average American for not realizing this, but then the media conglomerates never "run" with such stories. If you wonder why, then just ask cui bono when it comes to the status quo. The answer: pharmaceutical companies, the healthcare industry, psychiatry, the corrections industry, the liquor industry...

And the Bill Clintons of the world are guilty as well: those who think that the whole world has to suffer so that one's brother or sister can be protected from themselves. If you want to protect your family without causing civil wars over seas, without creating a psychiatric pill mill, without turning inner cities into shooting galleries, without causing kids to suffer, without causing the dying to suffer exquisite torture, without frying the brains of the depressed... then the answer is to EDUCATE your brother and sister, not to insulate them from a world which, like it or not, has always been full of psychoactive substances. Then end the substance prohibition, which can easily be shown to cause all of the problems that it purports to solve -- and then some (including the outrages enumerated above, plus the stifling of science and the violation of the natural law upon which America was founded). One has to scream because the 1% turn off the microphones for those who speak up on this topic, just as psychiatrist DJ Nutt was relieved of his position in England because he dared to suggest that the meds that we criminalize might not represent the devil incarnate after all.

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans


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.

ECT is like euthanasia. Neither make sense in the age of prohibition.
Next essay: America's Anti-scientific Standards for Psychotherapeutic Medicine
Previous essay: Using Opium to Fight Depression

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(seemingly useful organizations)

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 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.

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

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)

Selected Bibliography

  • Bandow, Doug "From Fighting The Drug War To Protecting The Right To Use Drugs"2018
  • Barrett, Damon "Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People"2011 IDEBATE Press
  • Bernays, Edward "Propaganda"1928 Public Domain
  • Bilton, Anton "DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule"2021 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Boullosa , Carmen "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'"2016 OR Books
  • Brereton, William "The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade"2017 Anna Ruggieri
  • Burns, Eric "1920: The year that made the decade roar"2015 Pegasus Books
  • Carpenter, Ted Galen "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America"2012 Cato Institute
  • Chesterton, GK "Saint Thomas Acquinas"2014 BookBaby
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Gianluca, Toro "Drugs of the Dreaming: Oneirogens"2007 Simon and Schuster
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Grof, Stanislav "The transpersonal vision: the healing potential of nonordinary states of consciousness"1998 Sounds True
  • Head, Simon "Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans"2012 Basic Books
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Illich, Ivan "Medical nemesis : the expropriation of health"1975 Calder & Boyars
  • Irwin-Rogers, Keir "Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People"2019
  • James, William "The Varieties of Religious Experience"1902 Philosophical Library
  • Lindstrom, Martin "Brandwashed: tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy"2011 Crown Business
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Miller, Richard Lawrence "Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State"1966 Bloomsbury Academic
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Nagel, Thomas "Mind and Cosmos: why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false"2012 Oxford University press
  • Newcombe, Russell "Intoxiphobia: discrimination toward people who use drugs"2014
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rosenblum, Bruce "Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness"2006 Oxford University Press
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
  • Shulgin, Alexander "PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"1991 Transform Press
  • Shulgin, Alexander "The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact"2021 Transform Press
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief"0
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology"2022
  • St John, Graham "Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT"2021
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
  • Wedel, Janine "Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class"2014 Pegasus Books
  • Weil, Andrew "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs"2004 Open Road Integrated Media
  • Whitaker, Robert "Mad in America"2002 Perseus Publishing
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at