y 96-year-old mother who suffers from progressive dementia was in quite "a state" last night at the assisted living complex. It was difficult to figure out what the problem was, or if there even was a problem, objectively speaking, especially since I was speaking with her via my computer screen and so was not actually in the room with her. She would point, first to her TV screen and then at the nearby hallway, complaining (as far as I could tell) of a group of conspiring children (the young caretakers on site?) who were foiling her in her attempt to do something: perhaps to leave the building in search of her parents, or perhaps merely to watch TV undisturbed, I could not tell precisely. The only thing that I knew for certain was that she was quite "worked up" and that there was very little that I could do or say to help her.
I say there was very little that I could do. But upon looking back on this incident this morning, I realize a still greater problem: that there is very little that modern medicine can do, either. When we call a doctor in on such cases, we expect a pep talk for the patient and perhaps the prescription of a one-size-fits-all cure for extreme anxiety, which today means nothing more than a tranquilizer. We do not really want to make the patient feel good - that would be giving her "drugs." We want them to be quiet and peaceable. This has been the leitmotif of psychiatry through the 20th century and beyond: a search for treatments and drugs that pacify the patient rather than inspire them. That is why Antonio Moniz won a Nobel Prize for creating the protocol of electroshock therapy: not because it inspired patients or made them feel good, but because it quieted them down so that they caused less trouble for their overseers. Lithium, Thorazine, enemas and ice baths: all were used with the same goal in view: to render the patients placid, either by using these treatments or by merely threatening their use. Nor have the goals of psychiatry changed much over the years. Whatever one says about SSRIs today, no one has accused them of making users leap for joy and see the world in a new and brighter way.
But that's what my mother really needed last night.
The funny thing is, however, I cannot imagine a doctor administering this kind of medicine. Today's doctor qua doctor is a materialist who wants to "really" fix something and it's beneath their dignity merely to make their patients laugh. "Any drug dealer could do that, after all," they would sniff.
But that's the whole point: any drug dealer COULD do that, and doctors won't. So much the worse for doctors.
The fact is that my mother did not need a doctor last night in any case. By assigning doctors to such cases we are medicalizing and pathologizing an entirely natural manifestation of spiritual angst. That's not a field in which doctors have any special insight. My mother did not need a doctor looking down at her from the icy realm of professional objectivity. She needed an empathic individual, albeit one who is trained in psycho-pharmacology from a scientific and a sociocultural point of view. She needed a friend who is ready and authorized to use ANY SUBSTANCE IN THE WORLD that can help her deal with her extreme angst and confusion by elating and inspiring her! (Any substance in the world - imagine that!) And drugs for this purpose abound, starting with MDMA and the hundreds of related substances synthesized by Alexander Shulgin.
The empath I envision would listen to my mothers concerns while hugging her and drinking tea with her, which in this case would contain the medicines that the empath deemed useful under the circumstances for calming and clearing the sufferer's mind of worry. Nor would these medicines be administered "on the sly" but rather with the patient's full knowledge that they are receiving a medicine to help them process their current situation -- not just their immediate physical situation, such as one's residency in a care home, but also their overall situation in the grand scheme of things, as a unique human being on planet earth with connections to the world around them. The goal? Make them happy with simply sitting and talking about their situation and concerns with this newly minted shamanic "professional" by their side, perhaps while leafing through a scrapbook of old photographs from the sufferer's past.
Just imagine the enormous amount of psychological suffering that is going on right now in care homes and assisted living facilities around the world, all because we have been taught from grade school that we should hate drugs rather than use them for the benefit of humankind. If we really care about preventing suffering, then this attitude must change. We must consider psychoactive medicines as our friends, not our enemies. When that day comes, I hope that the above suggestions will provide at least a hint of a protocol that can be used to leverage the power of psychoactive medicine for the elderly.
5% of proceeds from the sale of the above product will go toward getting Brian a decent haircut for once. Honestly. 9% will go toward shoes. 50% will go toward miscellaneous. 9% of the remainder will go toward relaxation, which could encompass anything from a spin around town to an outdoor barbecue at Brian's brother's house in Stanardsville (both gas and the ice-cream cake that Brian usually supplies).
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. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.
It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it 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.
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