How Psychiatry and the Drug War turned me into an eternal patient
and what we should do about that
omorrow morning, I have to meet yet again with a "doctor" who is half my age and explain to him or her for the thousandth time why I deserve to receive yet another expensive refill on an SNRI antidepressant that the NIH has found to be as hard to kick as heroin. As a 62-year-old, I find such appointments to be the most disempowering and humiliating form of healthcare imaginable. It has made me a ward of the healthcare state and an eternal patient. Even if the Effexor that I've been taking now for 25 years had cured my depression (which it did not), I would be depressed by the fact that I had to visit Healthcare Harbor every three months of my life as a sort of Ancient Mariner, to tell my life story over and over again to a series of complete strangers. How am I supposed to feel "normal" and "well" when the psychiatric profession keeps reminding me that I am a "patient" by forcing me to jump through all the time-consuming and expensive hoops that come with that label?
Despite my dissatisfaction with the psychiatric pill mill, however, it is the Drug War which I really blame for my eternal patient status, since Drug Warriors long ago outlawed all the far-less-addictive medicines that were facilitating fantastic psychological breakthroughs in the early '60s, including psychedelic meds which, when administered by a pharmacologically savvy empath, could have helped me re-imagine my life and lift my mind out of the mental ruts that it was carving for itself. But I guess I was destined to go without psychoactive godsends, having been born in the late '50s, at the very time when racist politicians were just beginning to demonize and outlaw the non-addictive medicines that were already racking up victories in treating the "mentally ill," including many hardcore alcoholics. Indeed Bill Wilson of AA was successfully treating alcoholics with psychedelic therapy when I was born, a treatment that would soon be shut down, however, by politicians who associated psychedelics with their political enemies of the time (you know, those dreadful hippies).
My goal now in life is to show the world how the psychiatric pill mill is the natural result of a Drug War in a capitalist society. For, from a strictly capitalist perspective, there is no money in curing "mental illness." The money lies in establishing a therapy that will go on for ever, till death do we patients part. And what better way to accomplish that goal than to outlaw Mother Nature's far less addictive meds and then hook patients on synthetic drugs that simply cannot be stopped (and which, according to Robert Whitaker, actually cause and reinforce the very chemical imbalances that they claim to "fix")?
The answer to this unjust set-up may not come in my lifetime, unfortunately, but I believe that I know what the answer would look like, at least in broad strokes: The answer is for America to end the Drug War and for the psychiatric profession to morph into a kind of "pharmacologically savvy shamanism," an holistic approach to mental health that combines the best of western, eastern and mesoAmerican therapies, using ANY PLANT IN THE WORLD that is found to help a person think and act productively in their life. Such a therapy would get rid of the idea of "mental patient" altogether, since anyone could visit such a shaman: from the severely depressed to a relatively happy soul who simply wants to get beyond the mental blocks that stand in the way of his or her self-actualization in life.
The answer, to repeat, is to exchange psychiatry for PSS: "pharmacologically savvy shamanism," a new non-addictive paradigm in which deeply caring medical professionals could guide their "clients" to self-knowledge through the historically informed use of natural entheogenic substances, plant medicines that conduce to self-insight and compassionate love of one fellows. Imagine that: America could stop demonizing plant medicine and actually learn how to use it safely and wisely for the benefit of humankind, just like all societies were prepared to do until corrupt stateside politicians began demonizing substances in order to remove the minorities who used them from the voting rolls. Then Ancient Mariners like myself could finally renounce Big Pharma and the demoralizing label of "patient," sailing into their home port at long last as just another human being seeking to achieve self-fulfillment in life.
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