I’ve had diagnosed severe PTSD, and the cure was psychiatric treatment which was entirely and permanently successful. I’ve also had addiction problems, for which the cure was abstinence, and was also entirely and permanently successful.
However these cures are not glamorous or exciting, and take a little effort and hard work. Drugs are easy and superficially glamorous and exciting.
The lesson which needs to be learned is that you can’t get much happiness from outside yourself. If you want contentment, you need to find it from within. Sorry that’s a bit boring – but it just happens to be true.
Excellent post. Well done for overcoming such problems.
Thank you for this clear reason not to take drugs. A relative of mine had severe mental problems after cannabis and bad trips. Ultimately he had far too much ECT, and a brilliant brain has been ruined.
A wise article. 15-20 years ago the future looked very bright for psychedelic research, and it is clear that some substances will almost certainly be useful for depression (even though there are relapses), but I can’t help but feel the author does point out a series of important negative trends: the commercialisation, the cult like behaviour, and the utter credulity and naïveté of those selling the message as a cure all. These substances never functioned in a vacuum. They were always part of living religious traditions and were generally used sparingly in order to help with specific problems such as finding lost items and healing illnesses. They were also deployed in a setting which involved a huge amount of ritual which inculcated a deep sense of protection. Our use today has stripped most of this away and is presided over by people who have inadequate maps of the spaces the substances can propel you into. What could go wrong? Everything.
There are always dark sides to every innovation. That doesn’t mean the good has to be tossed out with the bad. There are many positive outcomes being demonstrated from controlled, professionally administered psychedelics, and there will also be quacks, who are seeking a quick buck illegally. There is a black market for just about every item you can think of, but it doesn’t mean they should all be demonized.
Oh I’m not demonising them – I think they can have profound uses in the right context. It’s just the general context they are being used in now is for the most part inappropriate. These substances are a door that has been mistaken for a cure-all. The hard work only starts once you walk through.
“There are dangers in viewing our search for God as a technical problem — one that can be solved through human ingenuity.” Therein lies the crux of the problem, which the author has elucidated brilliantly. As a psychiatrist with more than 20 years of experience, I am increasingly convinced that what we have is a spiritual–or even religious–crisis rather than a “mental health crisis.” And while ketamine and psychedelics may play some role in treating severe psychiatric illness, the malaise that besets our culture will go on until we are prepared to do the hard work of real spiritual growth and, dare I say, connection to God.
–Dr. Julie Curwin
(I am posting under my husband’s profile)
I would argue that the spiritual crisis we’re experiencing is, at least in part, due to the “easy” option which the vast majority of people accepted in being part of one religious group or another, with their god at the centre. Once that conceptual framework became increasingly questioned and belief in a non-existent god started to fail, the crisis began. The answer, in my opinion, simply cannot be a return to a belief in a non-existent god.
We humans certainly need to work through some issues with our own humanity, but let’s be brave about it rather than outsourcing the answers.
The biggest issue is that we have been brainwashed into believing that we are the measure of all things. Realising and then knowing in your heart that you are not is ‘sickening’. Quite how anybody can believe that we are greater and can know more than the power behind our universe is beyond me. I’ll stick to believing in God. Non-existent indeed! That argument is completely old hat.
Religions typically provided a framework for finding the numinous, but modern religions have (mostly) retreated from this aim. In the UK most churches are locked outside the times of service, so good luck trying to find an official place for contemplation.
But some people still seek a transcendent experience and a whole industry has sprung up to provide those experiences… and some experiences ‘deliver’ what religion generally can’t. Other experiences are dangerous or a rip-off.
If you look for something hard enough you will find it – whether it exists or not.
All good clean fun as long as there’s at last one sober person around. Therapeutic uses are fraught with issues as some get tipped into permanent mental crisis – i have seen 5 “windowpanes” (μg content unknown) send a guy to hospital for a year & 5g dried Golden Teacher is called a “hero trip” for good reason. So much for the psychonauts – somebody once said such drugs are “the spiritualists form of gambilng”. My concern is people daft enough to fall for quack therapies might think their trips are reality and act on them: Consider the common visions: DMT- aliens, space travel in the post Dan Dare-Roswell generations. LSD – people + objects made of plastic. Astral travel & weird human and animal faces seem common to most drugs if you take enough. As i say fun for many BUT don’t drive, operate machinery, a royal title or a political career whilst out of your gourd.
Brilliant! And very scary. We need to go back to the Old Faiths, there’s no other way out of this transhuman mess.
Perhaps we should look at what Buddhism and Daosim can teach us where there is rigorous training of the mind and body through meditation and exercise.
This Shaolin Master Changed My Life – YouTube
Shi Heng Yi – Full Interview with the Mulligan Brothers – Bing video
i think it’d be very hard to handle psychedelics in a religion like Judaism or Christianity. They are not esoteric, ‘initiatic’ groupings, they are exoteric, mainstream religions.
People are born into these faiths and they don’t sign on for that kind of ‘experience’. You don’t have an intimate, one-to-one relationship with a teacher.
While they do have ceremonial, these are far away from the type of rituals that would be suited to managing people who are ingesting consciousness-altering substances.
Even within the ‘mainstream’ of esoteric groups, ie, Masonic, ‘occult fringe’ or ‘New Age’ groups, drug use is not that common. Many ban it outright.
It’s a commonplace within these groups that drugs cause problems. The fallout from unwise experimenting, has even led to the collapse of some groups.
Really like the part about the decline (or almost complete loss) of “ecstatic literacy”. So sadly typical in this age of profound ignorance
It’s too early still to tell whether the current medical interest in psychedelics will find anything of lasting value, but I don’t like this author’s valorization of ignorant shamanism over scientific analysis. It’s too much like the religious argument against HPV vaccine, that fear of terminal cancer is required to keep young girls chaste.