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Treating the REAL problem

the timeworn trope with which psychiatrists defend their lack of common sense

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

November 27, 2023

Author's Follow-up: November 30, 2023

I'm something of a loose cannon on the subject of drugs. I'm so used to hearing knee-jerk arguments that I sometimes pounce on arguments that are non-offensive. I now see in tranquil retrospect that the ostensibly misguided commentator cited below may have been pointing to the real social causes of substance misuse, in which case he or she deserves an instant apology. One of the key aims of the Drug War, in fact, is to keep our eyes off the prize of social equality, especially in the forms of scrupulously equal early educational opportunities for all kids. Hey, listen, God isn't through with me yet. He's still got me out back behind the wood shed, trying to beat some sense into me.

In anticipating objections, I'd better add that I am well aware that there are propensities, say, to drink liquor excessively, and there are no doubt correlate propensities in the "drug world" as well. But we must consider context. If the only self-transcendence that we allow the American is liquor, then the propensity in question will necessarily lead to alcoholism. But the pathology, in that case, is being fed like a wildfire by prohibition, which denies all safer opportunities to the liquor-obsessed (whether that obsession stems from genetics, biochemistry, environment, or some combination of all three). So any time we refer substance misuse to pathology, we are, in effect, ignoring the outsize role that social policies and laws surely played in turning that localized brush fire into an interstate inferno. We can never know how truly pathological these conditions are until we end the social policies that trigger them in specific individuals, especially the disastrous social policy of prohibition.

A drug-law reformer recently agreed with my general viewpoint about re-legalizing mother nature, but added that we still had to help people deal with their REAL problems.

This excited me into a flurry of tweeting, for I think the idea of treating "real" causes is simply the way that modern
psychiatry defends its lack of common sense, its purblind focus on the miniscule and the invisible.

Of course there are drug users with real problems -- but then there are milk drinkers with real problems. I have spent 40 years being told that I needed to focus on real problems, by the same people who considered it too dangerous to trust me with mother nature's godsends.

What presumption! Where has it been shown that talk therapy can reliably work the kinds of wonders that are affected almost overnight by drugs like MDMA and psilocybin? To the contrary, psychotherapy is notoriously time-consuming and works on its own time scale, without regard for the desperate needs of the treated individual to perform well TODAY, NOW, in order to make a living and thrive.

Unfortunately, I don't have time today to address all the misunderstandings that this viewpoint is bound to provoke in a readership that has been taught to fear drugs since grade school. I'll just let the tweets below speak for themselves and invite the reader to search this site for the word "crutch" to find further analysis of this red herring called "real causes."

But that's how the Drug Warrior justifies keeping depressives like myself from using laughing gas and coca: it's not treating the "REAL" problem. 40 years I've been told this. I call foul. Symptomatic drugs are far more than crutches. Please see...

This is a result of materialist searches for "REAL" causes, ones found under a microscope or from an MRI scanner. This is based on what Whitehead calls the bifurcationist paradigm, which makes us scorn the obvious (the testimony of our perceptions) in favor of the invisible.

We all have "inner pain" -- but folks like Gabriel Mate want to say that it's the REASON for our drug use. To say this is to pathologize the desire to control our own minds, to pathologize the belief that mother nature is a goddess, not a drug kingpin.

Even if we agree that inner pain is "causing" drug use, so what? It does not follow that we should try to cure suffering with pills made by folks looking under microscopes. That approach has resulted in the chemical dependency of 1 in 4 American women.

Hurrah for symptomatic cures. Hurrah for laughing gas that would help me-- and in two ways. The use would obviously make me laugh, and the ANTICIPATION of use would cheer me up during my "sober" hours. This is simple psychology that is ignored by materialists and Drug Warriors.
12:39 PM ยท Nov 27, 2023

Author's Follow-up: November 9, 2023

There is a British organization dedicated to ending shock therapy. Unfortunately, they don't seem to recognize the role of prohibition in making shock therapy "necessary" in the first place -- and so they are ignoring the strongest argument that they could use to bring an end to this torture, which is the living embodiment of scientism gone amok. In fact, enemies of the Drug War should be protesting outside any clinic or hospital that shocks the brains of the depressed. For all too many Americans believe that the Drug War does nothing worse than keeping hippies from behaving irresponsibly. No, it keeps us from treating Alzheimer's, from bring peace of mind to geriatrics -- and it forces us to use barbaric "treatments" in dealing with the depressed.

Author's Follow-up: January 21, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

Here's my ultimate problem with SSRIs. If it's okay for me to be chemically dependent upon a substance for life, I should have a choice of meds -- and I would choose a time-honored substance like opium to smoke peaceably at home in place of drinking alcohol. There is no rational reason why we it should be my duty to take Big Pharma meds every day of my life and yet I should be thrown in jail if I use opium every day of my life. It is blunt religious prejudice with origins in puritanical disdain for altered states. Imagine being arrested for using a plant! And not just any plant, but a plant that all great doctors in history have considered the closest thing to a panacea. And yet the DEA tells us it has no plausible uses. It is such blatant mendacious hypocrisy that that one despairs of pushing back -- because our opponents are like Humpty-Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland: when they use a word, it means just what they choose it to mean -- nothing more nor less.

Author's Follow-up: February 18, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

Anyone who says that cocaine has no good uses has been bamboozled by Drug War lies. Cocaine should be a definite option for those moribund folk who want to live large but are stymied in life by a sort of inveterate shyness, whether due to psychological, medical and/or genetic factors. To say that cocaine should be "off-limits" is simply to judge the needs of others based on our own needs. We fail to understand that there are more psychological needs in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

For more on cocaine, please read In Defense of Cocaine. My point here, however, is simply that it is wrong to judge any substance up or down. That is, in fact, the great Drug War lie, that substances can be judged without regard to context of use, or dose, or user status, etc. etc. Unfortunately, this lie has bamboozled even the most drug-savvy individuals, including Terence McKenna, Alexander Shulgin and Andrew Weil, all of whom scoff at the idea that cocaine might have its legitimate uses.

One author who realizes that such drugs could have uses is Carl Hart. Unfortunately, the only use he sees in the drug is "having fun." For Carl is bamboozled by his own dogmatic faith in materialist science, supposing that it has the answers to all mental issues. That's why he tells his readers to "keep taking their meds." I find that offensive, to be honest, the idea that the wonders of the huge psychoactive pharmacy are not for me, and that I should continue taking mind-numbing big pharma pills which have turned me into a ward of the healthcare state and an eternal patient, without even the compensation of any great improvement in my mood!

I have an in-law who has been a model patient according to Carl's standards: she is constantly setting her alarm so that she can "take her meds" -- has been for the last ten years -- and yet the pills are obviously not working since she almost never can bring herself to join my family get-togethers at my condo. She often plans to come but then at the last minute cannot get herself out of bed. And yet she is faithfully taking those meds in which the materialists place so much blind faith.

Meanwhile, the user reports on "drugs" like psychedelics and MDMA -- along with the accounts of ecstatic and informative tribal experiences on "drugs" -- show us that such substances are all about improving mentation. As for SSRIs and SNRIs, there simply would have been no market for such feeble "cures" in a free market -- at least in a society that sought to benefit from drugs rather than to ignore them and/or to demonize them. Who would prefer a mind-numbing drug that makes them a ward of the healthcare state when they could have a drug that lets them see heaven itself, for God's sake?! I mean, come on, Carl!

Carl Hart's viewpoint presupposes a belief in materialism, but it is easy to prove that materialism is wrong via the argumentum ad absurdum. For we live in a world wherein materialist doctors cannot even decide if laughing gas could help the depressed (see Forbes Magazine's Laughable Article about Nitrous Oxide), a world wherein we gladly damage the brains of the depressed with shock therapy rather than letting them use the godsends of mother nature, not to mention the synthetic wonders of MDMA and other phenethylamines (see Alexander Shulgin: American Hero), a world wherein we will let folks use drugs to kill themselves (we call it euthanasia) but we will not let them use drugs to make themselves want to live.

This stark and dogmatic defiance of common sense by materialists like Carl Hart tells us that something is wrong with the materialist propensity to look for "real" causes among molecules and other minutiae -- rather than stepping back and addressing the needs of a whole unique human being with a little common sense and human feeling, while recognizing that happiness is, in fact, happiness, and that we have no need to go searching for a holy grail like the metaphysically postulated "real" happiness of the materialists.

Both materialists and puritans call for "real" cures for the depressed. Materialists believe in a "real" cure that is scientifically correct, while puritans believe in a "real" cure that is morally correct. Neither is content with the depressed person merely being happy.

Then there are the psychotherapists who find the "real" cure in memories of childhood. They scoff at mere happiness as well, demanding a lengthy commitment on the part of the depressed to finding causes in the past -- something that, ironically, many "drugs" can help with.

Here's what these pushers of "real cures" do not understand: the fact that feel-good "drugs" can facilitate successful "performances" in life, which builds self-esteem, which creates a virtuous circle, all without necessarily understanding why one "needed" the drugs in the first place. That might be nice to know, but it is by no means necessary for the depressed to place their life on hold while they try to find that out.

Next essay: The Book of the Damned continued
Previous essay: A Quantum of Hubris

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Imagine someone starting their book about antibiotics by saying that he's not trying to suggest that we actually use them. We should not have to apologize for being honest about drugs. If prohibitionists think that honesty is wrong, that's their problem.
The drug war has created a whole film genre with the same tired plots: drug-dealing scumbags and their dupes being put in their place by the white Anglo-Saxon establishment, which has nothing but contempt for altered states.
The Shipiba have learned to heal human beings physically, psychologically and spiritually with what they call "onanyati," plant allies and guides, such as Bobinsana, which "envelops seekers in a cocoon of love." You know: what the DEA would call "junk."
Philip Jenkins reports that Rophynol had positive uses for treating mental disorders until the media called it the "date rape drug." We thus punished those who were benefitting from the drug, tho' the biggest drug culprit in date rape is alcohol. Oprah spread the fear virally.
Don't the Oregon prohibitionists realize that all the thousands of deaths from opiates is so much blood on their hands? Prohibitionists, j'accuse!
I don't believe in the materialist paradigm upon which SSRIs were created, according to which humans are interchangeable chemical robots amenable to the same treatment for human sadness. Let me use laughing gas and MDMA and coca and let the materialists use SSRIs.
Jim Hogshire described sleep cures that make physical withdrawal from opium close to pain-free. As for "psychological addiction," there are hundreds of elating drugs that could be used to keep the ex-user's mind from morbidly focusing on a drug whose use has become problematic for them.
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
How else will they scare us enough to convince us to give up all our freedoms for the purpose of fighting horrible awful evil DRUGS? DRUGS is the sledgehammer with which they are destroying American democracy.
Drug Warriors never take responsibility for incentivizing poor kids throughout the west to sell drugs. It's not just in NYC and LA, it's in modest-sized towns in France. Find public housing, you find drug dealing. It's the prohibition, damn it!
More Tweets

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You have been reading an article entitled, Treating the REAL problem: the timeworn trope with which psychiatrists defend their lack of common sense, published on November 27, 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)