Why you can’t understand one without understanding the other
There is one priority that is greater for Americans than even fighting violence: and that is fighting "drugs."
In order to truly evaluate the propriety of modern antidepressants, one has to acknowledge the legal and philosophical environment in which they were created. You'll find that no one ever does this. And why not? Because the environment I'm speaking of here is nothing less than the war on drugs itself (and the ideology of substance demonization for which it stands), and almost all American non-fiction authors (even most who write about "drugs") "reckon without the Drug War." This is a problem, to put it mildly, because the drug-war ideology of substance demonization has real-world consequences in a host of widely diverse fields ranging from the study of consciousness to theories about ending school shootings and shapes our views about what solutions to modern problems are even conceivable in the fields of psychology, philosophy and religion.
What do I mean when I say that authors reckon without the Drug War?
Take a book on school shootings, for instance. The author may give you endless theories about ending the violence with a bibliography large enough to delight a pedant, but he or she is never - but never - going to point out that America has outlawed a wide variety of empathogens (natural and synthetic) whose therapeutic use could keep hotheads from shooting up a school in the first place. This is because there is one priority that is greater for Americans than even fighting violence: and that is fighting "drugs." To such authors, all prohibited psychoactive substances simply do not exist. Of course, mere scientific propriety would dictate that they add a disclaimer to their books announcing that they have written in the style of one who harbors such a prejudice against godsend medicines. But the authors never include such a disclaimer. And why not? Because they know that their readers are just as brainwashed as they are themselves and so will naturally assume that the author is writing from the usual drug-hating viewpoint, according to which illegal substances simply do not exist and therefore need not be mentioned in books these days, let alone evaluated for how their informed use might cast the author's politically correct thesis in doubt.
If you don't believe that such self-censorship exists, take a look at any issue of Psychology Today. Almost every pathology covered therein would be cast in a far different light if we simply considered the role that mind- and mood-affecting drugs could potentially play in alleviating them. But the magazine collaborates with the Drug War by pretending that such substances do not even exist.
Now that I've identified the problem -- namely, that most authors today reckon without the Drug War - let's buck the trend and see how antidepressants shape up, both practically and philosophically speaking, GIVEN the fact that they were created in the age of that unprecedented wholesale war on naturally occurring and synthetic godsends.
The first thing to notice is that the field of psychiatry, rather than protesting the war on mind medicine, sought to collaborate with it by promoting a patently false notion in their patients: namely, the presumptuous idea that outlawed godsend medicines could not have helped the mental sufferer anyway since the patient would simply be treating the "symptoms" of a problem with their use. Psychiatry's meds are said to treat "the real problem."
This mendacious boast is responsible for the psychiatric pill mill and it is the warped idea that continues to justify it today in the minds of science-worshipping Americans. This bogus notion also gives demagogues a veneer of scientific status when they promote prohibition of psychoactive substances.
The idea that psychiatry is treating the real problem by targeting brain chemicals is a materialist superstition...
The idea that psychiatry is treating the real problem by targeting brain chemicals is a materialist superstition, proselytized by those who think of human beings as a robotic widget, amenable to one-size-fits-all cures for everything that ails them. They think depression and all other mental shortcomings should be treated with pills that work like aspirin: substances that do all the work themselves thanks to chemical cause and effect while the human sits back and waits for them to work their magic.
This is a materialist fantasy! And not just because depression rates have skyrocketed since the introduction of these scientific silver bullets. There's also plenty of evidence that such drugs cause the chemical imbalances that they claim to fix. That might explain why "getting off" such meds (like the SNRI called Effexor) can be harder than attempting to quit heroin (source: Julie Holland).
Moreover, there is nothing objectively wrong with getting symptomatic relief for problems with mood and mentation. When one says otherwise, they are merely expressing their belief in the drug-hating theology of Mary Baker-Eddy.
And what would it mean to have one's depression "cured" by these drugs anyway? To put this another way: "What did the pill maker consider to be the optimum psychological state for me as a depressive?" Given the reign of Drug War ideology, you can bet your last Prozac tablet that the drug maker did not seek to give me an ecstatic state and a feeling of peace with the world.
It is hubristic folly on par with Dr. Frankenstein to seek to "cure" the human condition of depression, as opposed to treating its symptoms.
It is hubristic folly on par with Dr. Frankenstein to seek to "cure" the human condition of depression, as opposed to treating its symptoms. Treating its symptoms is actually the most probable way of curing the "patient," if by "curing" we mean achieving the psychological state that the USER (rather than the psychiatrist) would consider to be a cure.
To repeat: there is nothing wrong with seeking symptomatic relief from mental disquietude. In fact, symptomatic use of drugs can lead to cures for depression - at least to the extent that there can (or should) be a "cure" for such a normal condition as human sadness.
Take some nervous and self-conscious actors who are harassed by self-doubt and therefore depressed. Their livelihoods depend on them performing well and, above all, spontaneously. If a drug helps them to perform that way on a stage, that drug use can construct a virtuous circle for them. As obvious as this is, however, psychologically speaking, I had better spell it out since the Drug War ideology of substance demonization has deprived modern scientists of common sense. How else do we account for the fact that a materialist like Dr. Robert Glatter confessed in Forbes magazine in 2021 that he's not sure that laughing gas could help the depressed! That kind of bizarre perplexity about the obvious would be funny if it did not have tragic consequences, like denying a godsend therapy to depressed folk like myself.
The Drug War ideology of substance demonization has deprived modern scientists of common sense.
But such politically correct ignorance on this topic delights the prohibitionists who are currently doing everything they can to outlaw nitrous oxide, the drug whose use inspired the philosophy of William James, in the age before psychology became a maidservant of the war on drugs. You see, it works like this: The drug helps them perform better by "forgetting themselves" to the extent necessary in their given psychological case. Their performances get better reviews. They make more money. Their self-esteem is boosted. A host of additional positive knock-on effects improve their lives.
Nor need the drug use continue forever. A virtuous circle of drug-aided success in an endeavor will eventually create a habit in the person performing the tasks in question. In the case of the actors, they become increasingly self-assured - to the point where eventually they may even no longer feel like they even need to use the drug to perform. Why not? Because the daily experience of drug-aided success has turned spontaneous action into a habit for them, overriding the self-consciousness that had previously hounded them. The psychiatrist, meanwhile, libels such drug use as a "copout" and seeks to enroll the actor in a futile, expensive and often lifetime quest to find out why he or she lacked confidence in the first place. That's a waste not only of time but of a human being's entire life - of their vocational life, and as a result, of their personal life as well.
This reminds one of what Quanah Parker said regarding the ritual use of peyote:
"The White Man goes into church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his tipi and talks with Jesus." -- Quanah Parker, Native American Church
In the same spirit, we may say that:
"The drug hater goes into a psychiatrist's office and talks about self-transcendence. The drug user stays at home and experiences self-transcendence." -- Ballard Quass, AbolishTheDEA.com
Here, of course, is where the prohibitionists haul out what they consider to be their trump card: namely, the claim that the actor will thereby become an addict!
The Drug War thrives by confronting Americans with the specter of all-mighty and all-powerful ADDICTION!
BOO! BOO! Be afraid! Be very afraid!
Where to begin in destroying this perennial canard?
Firstly, believe it or not, there is something worse than addiction, folks, that is the inability to succeed in life according to one's own definition of success. Secondly, it is absurd to describe dependence on heroin as the ultimate evil while at the same time telling 1 in 4 American women that they have a medical duty to take multiple Big Pharma meds every single day of their lives. Thirdly, addiction does not have to be hell. The only reason it's hell today is because we have outlawed all drugs that could make it otherwise, simply because our drug-hating ideology makes us despise the idea of fighting drugs with other drugs. Fourthly, there are sleep cures for getting off of opiates that can already remove much gnashing of teeth, and these therapies could be perfected if we spent billions on doing so rather than billions on caging users. Fifthly, a psychological dependence on any one drug would be far less likely in a world in which all substances were (once again) legal and where we actively learned about drugs and developed best-use practices for just such situations.
The very idea of fixing brain chemicals in order to "cure" human sadness would never even occur to a society in which nature was considered a goddess rather than a drug kingpin.
Finally, I would maintain that the very idea of fixing brain chemicals in order to "cure" human sadness would never even occur to a society in which nature was considered a goddess rather than a drug kingpin. The scientist who pursued such a course in such a society would be considered an ungrateful Frankenstein rather than a candidate for a Nobel Prize. "Let's see," the villager would say to this tribal oddball, "we have drugs that inspire and teach and remove sadness in a strangely uplifting way that seems almost to unify us with mother nature..." And then a second villager continues, saying: "But you want to go inside our brains and change the arrangement of microscopic chemicals so that we excise sadness itself from the human condition, and without generating any ethereal feelings into the bargain!"
Then the chief would turn to the tribe and say: "What do you say, gang, should we give this presumptuous materialist the boot?"
And their answer would be a resounding YES!
November 4, 2023
Brian (God love him) is not an enemy of "talk therapy." If folks have the time and money, he invites them to knock themselves out. His point is that people have to live their lives NOW -- and not in some vague hope that eventually conscious understanding of their situation will bring release therefrom -- which, incidentally, is a problematic assumption, in any case, but one that psychotherapy simply takes for granted, i.e., that problems will somehow disappear to the extent that they are rationally understood. Indeed, the anti-hero of Poe's psychologically perceptive tract, "The Imp of the Perverse," was lost precisely because he "too well understood" his psychological situation.
The fact, however, is that talk therapy can have no greater opportunity to shine than in a world in which all drugs are legal (again) and can be matched with the occasion to inspire insight in those who typically censor their every word in public (consciously or not).
Also, bear in mind that Brian wants the entire psychiatric field to drop its physics envy, which has compelled it to field pseudo-scientific drugs that have created the greatest dystopia of mass drug dependence in human history, and to become pharmaceutically savvy shamanism instead. After such a change, the very idea of "mental patient" would disappear, since the same shaman whom a depressed person might consult to seek happiness would also tend to those who self-identify as "normal" but who wish to thrive in life rather than to just get by -- who want, perhaps, to see nature with sublime clarity or hear music more deeply than is either possible or conceivable with the sober mind.
Nor is Brian calling for these newly re-legalized drugs to be exclusively in the hands of such "shamans." His point is just that those who lack an empathic support network to achieve truly "wise and informed" use should be persuaded by healthy social norms (which one trusts would gradually "obtain" in such a pharmacologically liberated society) to seek out such helpers at least at the beginning of their attempts to use certain substances wisely in their life.
Right now society pretends that doctors deserve the role of prescribing psychoactive drugs, but that is a non-sequitur. It confuses the field of human aspiration with the world of physical medicine. Yes, wise use requires some basic scientific information to avoid overdoses, etc., but the main expertise called for in those facilitating the wise use of psychoactive drugs is empathy, and that is not a field over which medicine can claim any monopoly.
Buy the Drug War Comic Book by Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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