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The Pseudoscience of Mental Health Treatment

an open letter to Dr. Jonathan Stea

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

August 13, 2023

Note: Jonathan is one of those stars in the scientific firmament who has risen too high to be contacted by mere mortals like myself. Although I tracked him down online at the University of Calgary's Psychology Department, he appears to be the only faculty member there whose email address is unavailable. I can only speculate that he is not interested in receiving feedback on his materialist proclamations in Scientific American and Science News, or on Twitter for that matter, where I was first jangled by his condescendingly strident belief that reductive science is qualified to deal with the emotional and spiritual subject that it calls "mental health." Fortunately, I was able to find the email address of Department Head Michael Antle, to whom I have delivered these musings instead. Let's hope that he is willing to forward the same to my elusive would-be recipient.

Dear Dr. Stea:

As a 64-year-old lifelong depressive, I would suggest that science is not free in the age of the Drug War and that it is therefore pseudoscience.  The proof can be seen by looking at academic articles about drugs that elate and inspire.  Almost all of the articles are about abuse and misuse.  This is because organizations like NIDA are all about abuse and do not generally fund articles about positive use.  This again is in line with the ideology of the ONDCP which is to ignore positive talk about "drugs" for fear of encouraging use. This is politics, not science. Moreover, scientists know that their jobs are at stake if they adduce positive evidence about the use of the drugs that we have been taught to hate since childhood.

Scientists do not seem to realize the anti-science nature of the Drug War, which tells us falsely that drugs can be panned entirely based on their worst imaginable usage -- which, of course, is a standard whereby no drug in the world could ever pass muster.

I would further suggest that modern science IS pseudoscience when it comes to mental health.  It is focused exclusively on reductive "evidence" for things like happiness, meanwhile ignoring obvious things like laughter, first-person user testimony, and the history of psychoactive substances through the ages, some of which have inspired entire religions, as coca inspired the Peruvian Indians, soma inspired the Vedic-Hindu religion and the psychedelic kykeon inspired a who's-who of western elites for 2,000 consecutive years -- until the ritual was tellingly outlawed by Emperor Theodosius in 392ce as a threat to Christianity. Dr. Robert Glatter epitomizes this purblind reductionism in his 2021 article in Forbes magazine asking "Can laughing gas help those with treatment-resistant depression?"  The answer is an obvious yes for the depressed like myself, but Glatter has to ask because mere laughter and user reports are not considered "scientific." 

That is why, in order to save a few kids whom we refuse to educate about safe use, drugs like laughing gas can be made illegal for everybody in the world -- notwithstanding the fact that William James himself said we should study the effects of such substances to learn about the ultimate nature of reality.  That's how depressed folk like myself are thrown under the bus by science.  That's why I have had to go my entire lifetime now without godsend medicines that grow at my feet, because scientists are collaborating with the Drug War to normalize prohibition by ignoring all the many obvious benefits of illegal drugs. This is why I've been asking science magazines like SciAm and Science News to start adding disclaimers to their articles about subjects like consciousness and depression, to make it clear that the authors and researchers are taking Christian Science substance prohibition as a natural baseline from which to draw deductions and inferences about the topics in question. My many suggestions on this topic have never even been acknowledged, let alone acted upon.

Consider the state of affairs for the folks on the receiving end of science's current treatments:  If I am depressed, the doctor can prescribe me Big Pharma meds that will fog my brain and turn me into an eternal patient via chemical dependency -- but they cannot prescribe me the drugs that grow at my feet and which obviously inspire and elate.  They tell me laughing gas won't REALLY make me happy, that chewing the coca leaf won't REALLY make me happy, but that is all scientism and politics. God save me from drugs that "REALLY" make me happy, because they have turned me into a patient for life. 

If, as a result of prohibition, I get really depressed, what is the scientific go-to treatment? Shock therapy! Talk about scientism and politics! 

Currently we would rather damage the brain of the depressed with shock therapy than to let them use time-honored substances that obviously cheer one up and elate.  My uncle was subjected to that treatment 40 years ago and if the treatment "worked," it was only in the sense that it made him more docile and easier to be around -- because he simply muttered rather than musing gloomily.

This is why I am somewhat taken aback by your fierce attacks on mental health pseudoscience on Twitter.  Based on my 60+ years of experience, mental health treatment is and will continue to be pseudoscience until scientists stop collaborating with the Drug War while tacitly agreeing with them that drugs that elate and inspire do not "really" elate and inspire.  Until they do so, they are not advancing the cause of science, but rather the cause of Christian Science, which tells us that drugs are immoral.

Not only is this Christian Science ideology, but it is fanatically so.  Many states and countries now allow euthanasia. This means that the depressed can kill themselves with drugs, but they are not allowed to use drugs in order to make them want to live.

I also am unclear as to what you meant by your August 12th Tweet about "weaponizing kindness" (which is the vague but button-pushing post that inspired me to write to you in the first place). It did not seem to be in response to any other Tweet, so it's hard to agree or disagree with it. However, I would say that we SHOULD be weaponizing kindness when it comes to drugs like MDMA. These drugs can inspire compassion in users and should therefore be "weaponized" -- that is, used therapeutically to stop haters from shooting up grade schools. Instead, drugs like ecstasy are pilloried for killing a handful of people, all of whom died because the prohibitionists failed to teach safe use. In short, if we fail to weaponize kindness with drugs like Ecstasy, then we are tacitly weaponizing real weapons in the hands of mass murderers.

Sincerely Yours,

Next essay: Movie Warnings from Uncommon Sense
Previous essay: How Bernardo Kastrup reckons without the drug war

More Essays Here


Antidepressants in the time of the drug war are like cars in a time when combustion engines are outlawed. Such "cars" may bounce you from point A to point B somehow, but we wouldn't be taking them seriously except for the prohibition on combustion engines. Re-legalize NATURE!
America's "health" system was always screaming at me about the threat of addiction from drugs. Then what did it do? It put me on the most dependence-causing meds of all time: SSRIs and SNRIs.
Here's one problem that supporters of the psychiatric pill mill never address: the fact that Big Pharma antidepressants demoralize users by turning them into patients for life.
Rather than protesting prohibition as a crackdown on academic freedom, today's scientists are collaborating with the drug war by promoting shock therapy and SSRIs, thereby profiting from the monopoly that the drug war gives them in selling mind and mood medicine.
There are endless drugs that could help with depression. Any drug that inspires and elates is an antidepressant, partly by the effect itself and partly by the mood-elevation caused by anticipation of use (facts which are far too obvious for drug warriors to understand).
But materialist puritans do not want to create any drug that elates. So they go on a fool's errand to find reductionist cures for "depression itself," as if the vast array of human sadness could (or should) be treated with a one-size-fits-all readjustment of brain chemicals.
In his book "Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seers," Ross Heaven explains how "salvinorin A" is the strongest hallucinogen in the world and could treat Alzheimer's, AIDS, and various addictions. But America would prefer to demonize and outlaw the drug.
Getting off antidepressants can make things worse for only one reason: because we have outlawed all the drugs that could help with the transition. Right now, getting off any drug basically means become a drug-free Christian Scientist. No wonder withdrawal is hard.
To put it another way: in a sane world, we would learn to strategically fight drugs with drugs.
That's my real problem with SSRIs: If daily drug use and dependency are okay, then there's no logical or truly scientific reason why I can't smoke a nightly opium pipe.
I never said that getting off SSRIs should be done without supervision. If you're on Twitter for medical advice, you're in the wrong place.
I would want to be supervised myself -- but by someone who is free to use any other drugs in the world to help me get off drugs that have failed to work adequately but which have caused great dependence.
Psychiatrists keep flipping the script. When it became clear that SSRIs caused dependence, instead of apologizing, they told us we need to keep taking our meds. Now they even claim that criticizing SSRIs is wrong. This is anti-intellectual madness.
For those who have misunderstood me: I have no complaints about prescribing SSRIs for those already on them, if that's what the user (like myself) wants. The psychiatrists I strongly disagree with are those who claim that SSRIs are valuable in and of themselves.

If drug war logic made sense, we would outlaw endless things in addition to drugs. Because the drug war says that it's all worth it if we can save just one life -- which is generally the life of a white suburban young person, btw.
NEW TERM FOR LOGIC CLASSES: "The Oprah Winfrey Fallacy," which is the idea that a statistically insignificant number of cases constitutes a crisis, provided ONLY that the villain of the piece is something that racist politicians have demonized as a "drug."

If psychoactive drugs had never been criminalized, science would never have had any reason or excuse for creating SSRIs that muck about unpredictably with brain chemistry. Chewing the coca leaf daily would be one of many readily available "miracle treatments" for depression.
That's why we damage the brains of the depressed with shock therapy rather than let them use coca or opium. That's why many regions allow folks to kill themselves but not to take drugs that would make them want to live. The Drug War is a perversion of social priorities.
Weaponizing science is a bigger problem. Even as we speak, Laura Sanders of Sciam is promoting Shock Therapy 2.0 for the depressed, this in a world wherein reductive scientists aren't even sure that laughing gas will help the depressed.
It's because of such reductive pseudoscience that America will allow us to shock the brains of the depressed but won't allow us to let them use the plant medicines that grow at their feet.
David Chalmers says almost everything in the world can be reductively explained. Maybe so. But science's mistake is to think that everything can therefore be reductively UNDERSTOOD. That kind of thinking blinds researchers to the positive effects of laughing gas and MDMA, etc.
"Can I use poppies, coca, laughing gas, MDMA?" "NO," says Jonathan Stea, "We must be SCIENTIFIC! We must fry your brain and give you a lobotomy and make you a patient for life with the psychiatric pill mill! That's true SCIENCE!"
In "The Book of the Damned," Charles Fort writes about the data that science has damned, by which he means "excluded." The fact that drugs can inspire and elate is one such fact, although when Fort wrote his anti-materialist broadside, drug prohibition was in its infancy.
In other words, materialist scientists are drug war collaborators. They are more than happy to have their fight against idealism rigged by drug law, which outlaws precisely those substances whose use serves to cast their materialism into question.
Drug warriors have harnessed the perfect storm. Prohibition caters to the interests of law enforcement, psychotherapy, Big Pharma, demagogues, puritans, and materialist scientists, who believe that consciousness is no big "whoop" and that spiritual states are just flukes.
There are endless drugs that could help with depression. Any drug that inspires and elates is an antidepressant, partly by the effect itself and partly by the mood-elevation caused by anticipation of use (facts which are far too obvious for drug warriors to understand).
But materialist puritans do not want to create any drug that elates. So they go on a fool's errand to find reductionist cures for "depression itself," as if the vast array of human sadness could (or should) be treated with a one-size-fits-all readjustment of brain chemicals.
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'd like to become a guinea pig for researchers to test the ability of psychoactive drugs to make aging as psychologically healthy as possible. If such drugs cannot completely ward off decrepitude, they can surely make it more palatable. The catch? Researchers have to be free.
The drug war ideology of substance demonization actually outlaws such investigations. Why don't at least the saner half of the prohibitionists understand that this makes no sense in a purportedly free and scientific country?
Caveat: the experimentation must be done holistically, and not with the presupposition that brain waves and molecular analysis is more important than my perceptions -- for my perceptions are what really matter viz. psychological health.
I don't want purblind researchers telling me when I am happy or optimistic. Materialist researchers need not apply, especially those so immersed in minutia that they cannot even figure out if laughing gas could help the depressed!
To understand why the western world is blind to the benefits of "drugs," read "The Concept of Nature" by Whitehead. He unveils the scientific schizophrenia of the west, according to which the "real" world is invisible to us while our perceptions are mere "secondary" qualities.
This is why we would rather have a depressed person commit suicide than to use "drugs" -- because drugs, after all, are not dealing with the "real" problem. The patient may SAY that drugs make them feel good, but we need microscopes to find out if they REALLY feel good.
This is why the foes of suicide are doing absolutely nothing to get laughing gas into the hands of those who could benefit from it. Laughing is subjective after all. In the western tradition, we need a "REAL" cure to depression.
Both physical and psychological addiction can be successfully fought when we relegalize the pharmacopoeia and start to fight drugs with drugs. But prohibitionists do not want to end addiction, they want to scare us with it.
Materialist scientists cannot triumph over addiction because their reductive focus blinds them to the obvious: namely, that drugs which cheer us up ACTUALLY DO cheer us up. Hence they keep looking for REAL cures while folks kill themselves for want of laughing gas and MDMA.
It's "convenient" for scientists that their "REAL" cures happen to be the ones that racist politicians will allow. Scientists thus normalize prohibition by pretending that outlawed substances have no therapeutic value. It's materialism collaborating with the drug war.
In the Atomic Age Declassified, they tell us that we needed hundreds of thermonuclear tests so that scientists could understand the effects. That's science gone mad. Just like today's scientists who need more tests before they can say that laughing gas will help the depressed. Science today is all about ignoring the obvious. And THAT's why scientists are drug war collaborators, because they're not about to sign off on the use of substances until they've studied them "up the wazoo." Using grants from an agency whose very name indicates their anti-drug bias: namely, the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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You have been reading an article entitled, The Pseudoscience of Mental Health Treatment: an open letter to Dr. Jonathan Stea, published on August 13, 2023 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)