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The Naive Psychology of the Drug War

how drug war ideology has blinded us to godsend therapies for depression

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

November 20, 2022

sychologists like Irving Kirsch and Rick B. decry the use of "drugs" as a second-rate fix for mental issues. "Listen to Brahms," advised Irving, and all your troubles will go away. Rick for his part advises exercise and meditation. Any other approaches are cheap, apparently because they are supposed not to involve the necessary effort that our Puritan ancestors have always assumed should lie behind success.

But these psychologists are pharmacologically naive. They seem to be unaware of the epiphanies that psychoactive drugs can facilitate. Their idea of a treatment for depression is something that makes one tolerate life and "get by," albeit with dark moments that one is supposed to stoically survive and ideally to recount to one's fellow sufferers in a 12-step group. These psychologists apparently know nothing of the wide-eyed miracle of life that one sees when a psychedelic drug "hits the spot" and reveals the great potential that lies around one. In my teens, I happened to take one such medicine, and my eyes became so wide open to the many possibilities of life that I actually began to cry, mourning for all the time I had already wasted in my mere 18 years of life on account of being blear-eyed and morose.

The psychologists answer for this kind of depression is to sit folks like myself down and ask them, "Why do you think you feel this way?"

Words, words, words. Such an approach over 20 years could no doubt reveal a lot. But who has that kind of time, especially when one has bills to pay and so has to perform effectively in the world now, not decades later in the course of the grueling and expensive process of talk therapy.

Why then did my therapist from 40 years ago deem that it was wrong for me to chew the coca leaf for inspiration, in order to pry my eyes open for the long run a la that psychedelic vision? Coca (as distinguished from the cocaine alkaloid) is no more harmful than coffee and has been used for millennia by the Peruvian Indians for motivation and energy, much in the way that westerners have used coffee since the 16th century.

The main reason, of course, is that the Drug War had banned coca and countless other naturally occurring psychoactive medicines.

But that is not the only reason. For after this wholesale outlawing of mother nature's bounty, psychologists made a virtue of necessity and began asserting that the mere desire for such medicines on the part of patients indicated that they had an "addictive personality."

What I was really addicted to was the need for self-actualization, and I wanted no part of a therapy that employed unambitious slogans such as "one day at a time" and "this too shall pass."

This was hardly an unprecedented attitude on my part. When the friends of the opium-loving physician Avicenna told him to slow down, he responded: "I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length." For real people, self-actualization comes first, safety second. For psychologists, it is the other way around.

There's yet another way that psychologists are naive in the age of the Drug War.

Mere common sense tells us that one's mood can be improved by looking forward to pleasures. This means that ANY drug can be used to help the depressed when scheduled in such a way as to be non-addictive. Folks who demand self-transcendence in life could be given weekly "trips" on psychedelics, and/or coca, and/or opium, etc., and any of the hundreds of psychoactive medicines that we have outlawed under the unscientific and false theory that they have no potential uses. The trips could combine with shamanic-inspired talk therapy with a view toward clearing the user's heads and giving them direction in life.

Such super-obvious therapy has, to my knowledge, never even been considered by anybody ever! Why not? First, because the Drug Warrior has convinced us of the lie that potentially addictive drugs must be used addictively. Second, because materialist reductionism tells us that "real" cures must be quantifiable and show up clearly on a chart. Merely to make a patient "feel better" is not scientific and so doesn't count. That's why Dr. Robert Glatter could write an article in Forbes in 2021 asking "Can Laughing Gas Help People with Treatment-resistant Depression?" Can laughing help the depressed? That's like asking can food help the starving. Of course it could help. The only reason why we doubt it is because materialism ignores anything that it cannot show on a graph. Add to this the fact that the doctor, like the psychologist, values safety over the self-actualization of the patient, and so sets an absurd standard, as who should say, "If laughing gas could be misused by a few hundred," then it must not be used by MILLIONS." Needless to say, if this standard were applied to any psychoactive drug, including modern anti-depressants, they would never be approved.

Dr. B. tells us that drugs are a clear "second best" to exercise and meditation, etc. Had I never used that psychedelic mentioned above, I might have thought so too. For that's the problem with the depressed: they can never know exactly how depressed they are, for they never had a different happier feeling wherewith to compare their usual condition. But the psychedelic showed me that there were so many more possibilities in life that I had been blinded to, possibilities that I would never have dreamed of without using the psychedelic. That experience drastically raised my ambitions in life and made me completely unsatisfied with the 12-step group slogans like "This too shall pass." That's why I have no patience with those who try to tell me that drugs are "second best," because without those "drugs," I would not know what true happiness and self-insight is and could be. I would then have set my sights very low in life and "made do" with the addictive and mind-numbing nostrums of Big Pharma, or else with weekly talk therapy wherein the goal was not self-actualization, but rather the slow laborious uncovering of the supposed "real" reason why I was depressed.

That's why I call for "drugs" THEN therapy. But not the kind of drugs that Big Pharma cranks out, on which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life and which tranquilize rather than inspire. The fact that they tranquilize, by the way, is clear when we consider the question that we ask bothersome people nowadays: "Have you taken your meds?" In other words, these antidepressants are designed to make the user "peaceable" and satisfied with the status quo, not to achieve self-actualization in life, which, after all, could result in unpredictable behavior that might bother the neighbors.

February 2, 2023
I have written above about how materialist pretensions keep us from acknowledging obvious uses for so-called "drugs." But there is another obstacle in our path to recognizing the obvious: namely, Freudian theory, which tells us that "real" cures come from treating hidden problems -- from which it would follow that merely making a person happy is not treating the "real" problem. After 64 years, I want to tell such theorists to go off in a corner and continue counting the incestuous Oedipi on the head of a pin while I chew the coca leaf and, like De Quincey, revel in the opera of a weekend with the help of opium. Stop wasting the time of the living, Freudian: admit the obvious: that safely used drugs make folks feel good, and that those feelings can create a virtuous circle in their lives, helping them succeed and reinforcing that success, if we will only allow them to.

Author's Follow-up: May 2, 2023

It's odd how many psychologists and psychiatrists talk as if "drugs" and things like exercise and meditation are mutually exclusive. To the contrary, it's been my experience that the use of drugs which focus and inspire the mind can inspire things like exercise and meditation, creating a virtuous circle. But the DEA cannot have drugs "working out" in one's life, so they show up to ensure that supply is interrupted or poisoned -- thereby creating the negative outcomes based on which the psychologist and psychiatrist assume that drugs are rotten and lousy. Actually, we had a virtuous circle going there, I and my "drugs," until the DEA showed up to enforce Christian Science sharia.

Author's Follow-up: July 19, 2023

And who, growing up in a rainforest surrounded by botanical medicine, will believe that drugs are bad? The idea is a cultural prejudice, not a scientific truth.

Next essay: There Must Be Some Misunderstanding
Previous essay: Kevin Sabet and What-About-Ism

More Essays Here


Did the Vedic People have a substance disorder because they wanted to drink enough soma to see religious realities?
No more than Jimi Hendrix had a substance disorder because he wanted to play his guitar with "total abandon." Drug warriors made sure he could not do that safely and then blamed his downfall on "drugs."
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.
In a sane world, we'd package laughing gas for safe use and give it to the suicidal -- saying, "Use before attempting to kill yourself." But drug warriors would rather have suicide than drug use.
He'd probably then say: "In fact, we'd better outlaw this substance for now until we understand its biochemical mechanisms of action. We should follow the science, after all."

essays about

Psychedelics and Depression
Drug Use as Self-Medication
Suicide and the Drug War
The Handicapped NEED Crutches
Obama's Unscientific BRAIN Initiative
Assisted Suicide and the War on Drugs
Lord Save us from 'Real' Cures
Disease Mongering in the age of the drug war
Why America is Hung Up on Drugs
How the Drug War turned me into an eternal patient
The Therapeutic Value of Anticipation
It's the Psychedelics, Stupid!
Illegal Drugs and the Imp of the Perverse

essays about

There Must Be Some Misunderstanding
Replacing Psychiatry with Pharmacologically Savvy Shamanism
Time to Replace Psychiatrists with Shamans
Alexander Shulgin: American Hero
The Depressing Truth About SSRIs
Ignorance is the problem, not drugs
Let's Hear It For Psychoactive Therapy
The Origins of Modern Psychiatry

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You have been reading an article entitled, The Naive Psychology of the Drug War: how drug war ideology has blinded us to godsend therapies for depression, published on November 20, 2022 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, 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, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)