by Mary Harrington
Monday, 9
January 2023
Spotted
16:25

Ketamine in a box is no cure for ailments of the soul

A new treatment called 'Mindbloom' targets anxious women
by Mary Harrington
Credit: Mindbloom.

In my youth, ketamine was generally associated with passing out in a pool of someone else’s vomit at a squalid illegal rave in some decrepit warehouse. No longer. Now it’s a “psychedelic therapy”, courtesy of Mindbloom, a start-up that promises ‘transformative results’ for anxiety and depression. For $89 a week, customers receive a neat, stylish matte-grey ‘Bloombox’ with a meditation mask, blood pressure monitor, a journal and access to clinician support, plus six doses of ketamine and access to Mindbloom’s support staff and online support groups.

TikTok has no shortage of videos posted by customers documenting their ‘journey’ with Mindbloom. Many rave about the treatment’s benefits, with one describing how thanks to its transformative effects she can now clean her house, go shopping, make a sandwich and brush her hair: tasks which felt Herculean before.


Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email

Already registered? Sign in


Major depression can be crippling for those who experience it. It’s affected people close to me, and I would never make light of the suffering experienced by anyone in its grip. But what’s striking about these videos is how many of them are women — and thus how neatly this ‘psychedelic therapy’ slots into a well-trodden history of licit mind-altering substances marketed at women’s psychic distress.

Back in 1963, Betty Friedan claimed that housewives were taking prescription painkillers “like cough drops” to deal with “the problem that has no name”. In her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, Friedan argued that women had been tricked into viewing their ‘mild and undiagnosable symptoms’ of ‘malaise, nervousness and fatigue’ as a medical issue. In Friedan’s view, the malaise was really due to the alienated, empty, oppressed suburban existence women enjoyed in their allotted social role, which confined them to a cramped existence as the drudge and helpmeet to a man and children.

If Friedan were right, you’d expect mass entry into the workforce and the rise of ‘child-free’ lifestyles to have improved American women’s mental health. But this doesn’t seem to be happening: instead, antidepressant use has climbed steadily over the decades, remaining consistently higher in women. And a recent study suggested that, despite this, the overall incidences of major depression rose steadily between 2015 and 2020.

A glance through the history of medicine suggests that this isn’t new to the twentieth century either: though the name it’s given varies, past ages suggest women are consistently more prone to ailments of the soul.

I’ve argued elsewhere that a characteristic feature of the post-industrial (cyborg) age is the way it extends the logic of resource extraction from the natural world to human bodies and emotional landscapes. To my eye, this began in earnest in the 1960s, so it’s no surprise that the (highly profitable) medicalisation of emotion began in earnest around then. But the internet has radically extended the scope for this extractive approach to the human soul.

We see this, for example, in the social media commodification of mental distress, which in some (especially young female) circles appears increasingly to function as an identity. This in turn propagates contagions: experts are increasingly calling for more research into online self-diagnosis of mental health issues fuelled by such communities. Another related change is those ways in which the digital age has extended and enhanced the business opportunity presented by such mental distress, as witnessed in the satisfyingly stylish ‘Bloombox’ and its ancillary personal services.

Putting these two phenomena together should make it clear that while one profits from selling you ‘cures’, as long as needing a cure functions as a social identity that cure will at best only work temporarily. For an actual cure would come at the expense of other social goods.

We should be deeply troubled by the proliferation of such self-licking ice cream cones. And we should be especially troubled by the vision they imply of vulnerable, suffering individuals: less humans in need of compassion, rather a market from which value may be extracted.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
57 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim R
Jim R
27 days ago

Are women really “more prone to the ailments of the soul”? Do we actually have a reliable objective way of measuring that? Or are women just more likely to publicly display their suffering and seek out help? Gender roles are not what they used to be, for some at least, but historically men complaining about their ‘malaise’ are more likely to be mocked and ridiculed than comforted and offered help. Maybe men suffer as much, but they do it more quietly, knowing they are less likely to get sympathy? Maybe the much higher rates of alcholism and suicide in men show how they face their malaise differently.

Russell L
Russell L
26 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

There is reliable scientific evidence that women are more prone to anxiety disorders and depression than men. Boys and girls up to puberty show the same levels of anxiety and depression. At puberty girls’ levels of anxiety rise. This manifests itself cross-culturally – i.e. it is not a ‘WEIRD’ thing. It seems from what I have read to be genetic and to manifest itself at puberty.
I have seen the argument advanced by Peterson that the reason this is the case is that women are more threat-sensitive than men, partly due to their need to care for vulnerable infants.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
26 days ago
Reply to  Russell L

I would suggest an exaggerated focus on personal appearance is a major factor as well..

Janet G
Janet G
26 days ago
Reply to  Russell L

Perhaps women are threat sensitive because the threats are real.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
22 days ago
Reply to  Janet G

Maybe, but so are threats to men, at least in Western countries, who now live in a very hostile world.

Last edited 22 days ago by Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
22 days ago
Reply to  Russell L

But men are surely just as threat-sensitive, biologically, as women. After all, they’re the ones who are supposed to fight off predators, both human and animal. Maybe men and women probably are sensitive to different kinds of threat.

Last edited 22 days ago by Paul Nathanson
Lucy Browne
Lucy Browne
20 days ago
Reply to  Russell L

Depression is anger turned inward, I think. Men are more likely (and it’s culturally more acceptable) to express their anger in aggression, whilst it’s less culturally acceptable for women to express anger as aggression, and therefore more likely that they turn that inward on themselves. I also think that it’s more culturally acceptable for women to discuss their pain and vulnerability, so they’re more likely to seek help (and be given antidepressants) than men. Totally agree about the higher rates of alcoholism and suicide in men being indicative of this.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
26 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

I suspect you’re correct, in part at least. However, I think it is relevant to point out that men’s lifestyles haven’t altered as much as women’s and that may be an additional factor.
So many women have foregone, voluntarily or under social or economic pressure, a very natural and so deeply fulfilling role that it might be taking its toll, deeply hidden in the subconscious and so not easily recognised? I speak of the role of mother and homemaker
(of course it is taboo to raise such issues these days but let us leave that aside)..
Something that was an intrinsic part of (almost) every woman’s life for tens of thousands of years can hardly be taken away without some negative consequences.
Look at what happens when the role of ‘breadwinner’ is taken from a man! Of course there are exceptions but my observations suggest this may well be a major factor.
When children grow up and the role of ‘mother’ is redundant similar mental problems seem to arise.

Silvia
Silvia
21 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

That you think it can be widely described as “deeply fulfilling” without questioning why so many women, given the chance, will say “no, thanks” – thaťs how we got here.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
27 days ago

Could just be a sign of how utterly dysfunctional life is under post-modern Liberalism.

I guess chicken and egg… did feminism arise from woman’s modern life style (1950s) being dysfunctional in relation to what a Woman’s natural needs are? Or did the rising of Feminism promote ever more dysfunction in woman’s lives in relation to her natural needs?

Causation/correlation, and I would guess the latter has a slight edge over the first in evidence. Evidence being the more Feminism we got; all the fallowing waves, the more dis-satisfaction of life till we are at this state of perma-angst.

Men sure have not thrived under the trends of Liberal post-modern thinking, but if we had developed a huge ‘Meninism industry/philosophy I doubt it would have saved us from any ill trends or effects.

No – it is the underlying philosophy of post-liberalism. Classic Liberalism taught duty, honour, service, intellectualism, work, excellence, Rights coupled with Responsibility, and Family above all….

Post-modernism is a school of thought based on atheist existentialism coupled with Marx and Freud. It is based on Neo-Marxism which is – like Classic Marx, a system of Oppressor-Oppressed, only Classic Marx was all ‘Means of Production’, and so on money, and thus fluid as one moved up or down and so became oppressor instead of oppressed if you made money. Neo-Marxism is identity; creed race, ethnicity, sex, so that what one is by birth; immutable (Identity Politics) and is also oppressor/oppressed – but nothing can be done, ever, to remedy that….you just are either oppressor/oppressed for ever.

Postmodernism is Nihilism – it has no good and evil, just correct and incorrect – no Honour, no hope, nothing but situational ethics, relative morality, no ultimate good, just squalid existence till death.

This is why everyone is so miserable. Our culture is miserable because it comes from that horrid Goethe Institute in the Wiemar Republic, the Frankfurt School of thought, which teaches us to despise all which is good and desire and emulate all which is degenerate.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
27 days ago

Phillip – I think you hit the nail squarely on the head (also is consistent with Lionel’s article about nihilism and the identity-crises crisis). People feel no meaning, and/or that “meaning” is impossible to achieve so why bother.

We’ve all been through the last 50 years of the change in psychiatry from talk to more and more and more chemical interventions to make the symptoms disappear (ie the sadness, listlessness, anxiety, etc). But people don’t seem to be getting better.

At the same time, in the therapeutic society, the emphasis has disappeared on the ancient virtues (courage, moderation, justice, prudence) and the medieval additions (faith, hope and charity) – so that the average young person (and their older selves) have no idea what is “wrong.”

What’s wrong is that we’ve been taught that everything is relative, there can be no objective truth or Truths, that all cultures are equally good (except for Western Society, which is inherently evil).

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
26 days ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

Summed up in the term ‘anomie’, my learned word of the day courtesy of another Unherd article about peasants in China.
“Anomie – in societies or individuals, a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values. Such a society produces mental states characterized by a sense of futility, lack of purpose, and emotional emptiness and despair. Striving is considered useless, because there is no accepted definition of what is desirable.”

monicasilva999
monicasilva999
27 days ago

As a woman, I’ll choose feminism any day of the week. I know just too well how horrible my female forebears’ lives were to even contemplate going back to that. And they, of course, will never tire of telling me how good I have it nowadays – in which they’re sadly right. I wish they could have had the same opportunities to go out in the world and do their own thing as I did.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
26 days ago
Reply to  monicasilva999

Perhaps that is the case for American or British women. The happiest people in the world today are those who exist in very traditional, family-oriented places, such as Central America or the Pacific Islands. Check out “The Blue Zones of Happiness.” The women in those societies don’t seem to live a horrible existence.

Janet G
Janet G
26 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I lived for a while in a Pacific Island community that ran mainly on a non-money economy. People grew food, fished. Yes happy people, playful, laughing – but when a group of young men raped a group of girls, the girls said, “What can we do when the boys want it?” The old men condemned the girls who became pregnant from the rape, they said nothing about the behaviour of the rapists.It was a matrilineal society, but still the men had a better deal of it. It is only now, years later, that Pacific Island women are speaking up about the prevalence of violence against them in their own homes.

monicasilva999
monicasilva999
21 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Coming from one such exotic and poor “happy” place, I can tell you it’s utter BS. Domestic violence is rife and still not considered a criminal offense in many places. That women can still find beauty in life despite such violence and hardship is their own merit, not an endorsement of such social arrangements. I don’t believe any of us would want their version of happiness if confronted with the specifics (as I was by watching it first hand).

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
26 days ago
Reply to  monicasilva999

And good for you.. may I ask if there were any ‘downsides’ in your case, eg feelings of missing out? I have to say that while your female forebears’ lives were very difficult I’m not sure that was due to their role as homemaker and mother.. my own mother was forced through economic circumstances to work outside the home in a very rewarding senior nursing role but always missed being a stay at home mum and worried about us a lot. My father dying aged 45 was the cause of it all..
I feel the terrible lives women had in the past was (a) unrelated to their role as homemaker-mother; in fact I would say (b) those hardships were greatly alleviated by the joys of homemaking and motherhood. Perhaps painting such a bleak picture is a kind of denial of a deep-seated loss? I’m only asking.. I imagine it’s very different in different situations??

leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
26 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Since around 3k women are killed every year by their male partners in the US alone (a 9/11’s worth), and almost all males (a handful) killed by women each year are their documented batterers, I don’t think the issue of domestic bliss has to do with work identity. It has to do with bodily and reproductive freedom–the freedom from marital sexual pressure and/or rape, forced pregnancy, lack of guardianship of your own children, and lack of law enforcement if your husband beats you up (I saw it a lot when I counseled battered women and saw it with my own parents).
Male sexual and physical violence against women continues, and when men counter with “well, far more men are killed by homicides each year than women,” I’d say yes, and that’s by MEN. The problem here is women trying to carve out lives safer from male violence.
I think what most people are missing is that LARGE SOCIAL SAFETY NETS, where everyone knows your husband and holds to him a certain standard, are better for everyone, and some traditional family networks have those. A lot of women, esp non-educated ones, are happy with the complex, exhausting work required to manage a rural household–and humans are usually a lot happier with a network of friends and relatives to help them and validate them. That can go the other way, like communities where women are tortured or killed for being “witches” simply for seeming different, but overall a large network is different from the isolated middle class nuclear families that started emerging during the industrial and nuclear ages.
Suburban stay at homes can be very isolated, with lives focused on their kids–not always a good thing–and even w/o kids it’s hard to make new friends and we’ve lost churches and other community institutions where people feel like they’re part of a greater whole. Support groups are a lot more helpful IMO than most therapists because they give you perspective on yourself and your problems–when you’re navel-gazing you by definition will find something to narratize about, and the medical establishment will find a way to monetize that.

Mônica
Mônica
21 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I would say that their very sad experiences were directly caused by being dependent on men. I can sum it up with one of my grandfather’s classics: if my grandmother was going out (visiting a neighbour or a relative, for example), he would spit on the floor and say: be back before it’s dry. If she wasn’t, she would be “corrected”. No wonder then that my grandmother (illiterate, as her father wouldn’t “trust” women who go to school) would be the first to tell me that I should go to school and be able to choose what I wanted to do with my life. Done and done.

Last edited 21 days ago by monicasilva999
Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
22 days ago
Reply to  monicasilva999

Not all women of the past had horrible lives, Monica, and not all men had delightful ones. Most people of both sexes, in fact, had tough lives. They were worse than ours in some ways, sure, but better (certainly for children) in other ways. History is very messy. This isn’t a sociological or historical treatise, however, so I’ll confine myself (here) to anecdotal evidence from my own “lived experience.”
 
I come from an upper-middle-class Jewish family. My mother did not expect to work for pay (although she eventually did so out of necessity). But the community did expect her to volunteer her services to those in need. In addition to various projects for schools and synagogues, she chose to work with children, first retarded children and then children who had learning disabilities. In addition, she typed Braille for blind children. And yet her time was her own to plan and do with as she pleased. Sometimes, she hosted or attended garden parties. At other times, she studied botany and French. Even so, no one could say that she lacked the time for me, my sister and my father.

As for my father, he was very engagé in family life. He tried (in vain), for example, to help me with my arithmetic homework after supper every night. He made toys for us, took us to museums and on family trips. Moreover, he made time (despite a painful illness) to help found both my Jewish day-school and our synagogue. But I’d say that his life was marred by deep frustration that was linked directly to his assigned role as a man (which is why he might have resented me, eventually, for insisting on more freedom than had been available to him). Unlike most men, except for the rich, he didn’t have to do heavy labor in factories or dreary clerical work in an office so that other men could become rich. He built houses, which made him independent from bosses and punching time-clocks, but he was too idealistic to make much money on them. These houses were always too expensive for potential customers. Moreover, he hated business. He would much rather have become a mathematician or researcher than do anything practical, but his choices had been severely limited first by the war and then by the needs of his family.

My parents had a very good marriage. Being gay, though, that wasn’t something that I expected to have for myself. In any case, I grew up envying my mother, not my father. She seemed happier with her assigned lot than he was with his; the system worked better for her than it did for him. No wonder, then, that she wasn’t impressed by Betty Friedan. As for me, I took a keen interest in Friedan. It seemed to me that if women could challenge femininity, men could challenge masculinity. I considered myself a feminist until, in the 1980s, I began reading books and articles on feminist ideology. Those were a long way from the egalitarian ones of the 1960s and 1970s.

Last edited 22 days ago by Paul Nathanson
Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
22 days ago
Reply to  monicasilva999

Feminism as a product of medical advancements, the common availability of white goods and the welfare state – a product of the world changing having liberated people from workloads? A consequence material advancement – I like it, so forthright

Last edited 22 days ago by andrew.iddon
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
26 days ago

I agree with much of your argument about wider modern society, but many ordinary people who suffer depression are not political obsessives and barely know what ‘woke’ is. Much of the current malaise is very recent and (over) subscribing of anti depressants has been going on for decades. It can’t be a full explanation.

As it happens, I do think that the specific case of the huge expansion of suburbia on the 1950s with (then) quite strict gender roles with regards to paid work, and frankly pretty boring and isolated lives for many women didn’t help. But of course that is only one relatively small element in one country. Yoram Hazony argues that the strong emphasis on the ‘nuclear family’ sometimes idealised by political conservatives, and which preceded the current low committment and ‘non-judgemental’ position, was itself far from the human norm. He writes that people especially those bringing up children, had a far richer recourse to the help and wisdom of wider family and indeed other non related members of the group. This was not ‘communal living’ which has pretty much never worked; there were clear roles, a hierarchy and constraint on which behaviour was acceptable. These are fundamental and essential to human society.

More to the point, in my opinion, is that we live in a fundamentally individualistic society, certainly on an ‘ideological’ level, despite welfare benefits, the NHS etc. The ‘rights’ of individuals are consistently prioritised over wider society, and there is even a move to define the family as intrinsically oppressive. This is in deep conflict with the fact that humans are very much social beings, rooted in our evolutionary past. But not all roles in the society are the same as all others, as any appreciation of how small band societies today actually function, would demonstrate.

We can be driven a bit mad by too much choice and the individualistic idea that we all create our own lives pretty much entirely from our own bootstraps. Even the meritocratic idea that you (alone) should be rewarded and acclaimed for your achievements, especially the (over) emphasis on academic achievement – is unavoidably pretty tough on the losers.

Many children are generally hugely over indulged but at the same time lack the necessary support and boundary setting. We must now apparently ‘respect’ the philosophically incoherent idea that we can be ‘born in the wrong body’ and that we can ‘know’ our identities from toddler age. It seems crazy that despite overwhelming evidence that very young babies need close contact with their mothers, that we ‘encourage’ such mothers to go back to work while their children are looked after by other paid staff.

Having said all this, most of us go along and indeed benefit from the liberal freedoms, and would probably demur from just putting back the clock. I’m a gay man, and I certainly do. I note that many of the strong critics on this forum who rail about ‘wokeness’ etc – and I largely agree with them – do in fact very robustly defend and acclaim their own freedoms and achievements!

I have no easy answers, but it is complicated, perhaps even tragic, in the original Greek sense.

Last edited 26 days ago by Andrew Fisher
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
26 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I agree with much of what you say but would take issue with stay at home mothers’ lives being boring. Don’t forget trips to the park, shops, hairdressers etc is what ‘working’ women do for leisure whereas stay at home mums got to do that every day! Add in coffee mornings and it’s a very nice lifestyle! Of course the husband will not be made aware of that but rather regaled with tales of woe in order to make him feel how good his life is in his dreadful commute, boring job, awful boss, heavy workload etc. Don’t be fooled; stay at home mums had a great time! …but being women they were never satisfied! ..actually strike that last sentence lest I be cancelled!

Leah Ryan
Leah Ryan
26 days ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

So according to you, stay at home Mothers sat in hairdressers and drank coffee all day? I doubt any man would keep a woman like that unless of course you’re talking about the elites of the world. Sadly, the vast majority of people have too many mundane tasks to deal with on a daily basis that they would not have time for such leisurely activities. Working women have it far better than their forebears but yes, it comes at a cost. Nevertheless, it’s far better than the alternative. If a woman can marry a man who can easily provide for the family so she doesn’t have to work and she wants to be a stay-at-home mother well then it’s a win-win for those people on that particular scenario. However, women, like men, are individuals and not farm animals so have different needs, wants and desires outside of family life.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
26 days ago

Sounds about right to me.. I would be careful, however, about throwing the baby out with the bathwater not least because that is precisely what those individuals did in their time! The trick I believe is to see the basic and apparently obvious facts and assess those carefully. The devil lies in the extrapolation, in my humble opinion..

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
25 days ago

While I am an atheist (3rd generation in fact), I still believe in all of these: duty, honour, service, intellectualism, work, excellence, Rights coupled with Responsibility, and Family above all….

AC Harper
AC Harper
27 days ago

“When the Warden started booming, she had inconspicuously swallowed half a gramme of soma, with the result that she could now sit, serenely not listening, thinking of nothing at all, but with her large blue eyes fixed on the Warden’s face in an expression of rapt attention.”
Soma in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; published in 1932.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
27 days ago

Dear God

Sometimes I wish I were religious, maybe that way I could begin to understand how we could horse tranquilliser to distressed people (targeting women).

I know business has to turn a few quid but…

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
26 days ago

Good polemical stuff. However drugs can have more than one effect and be given in different doses. Viagra was developed for a different purpose than the main one it has today. Didn’t we also often see entirely the opposite reaction on this forum when it came to covid treatments? Some people were vociferously arguing FOR the use of ivermectin, while its opponents were calling it a ‘horse dewormer’!

On the wider point, I agree that the wider and wider use of drugs to treat often ill defined psychological conditions is probably problematic and of course ‘Big Pharma’ has a financial interest in marketing and selling them.

But the distress is real – I know quite a few people who suffer from depression, far more than we ‘should’ expect. It could well be the case that the nature modern society and its expectations and choices, bombardment of advertising of one kind or another (including of ‘alternative’ treatments, endless doom mongering in political activism and the media, is a major generator of psychological distress. Depression seems to be very rare among small band societies, of the type where modern humans spent 99% of our history on Earth.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
26 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Quite so.
In a related thought, for 200 years tomatoes were thought of as being toxic to humans before it was realized that the acid in the tomato interacted with the lead in the pewter dinner plates of the aristocrats, causing the deaths. But tomatoes were blamed for generations. Perhaps we will discover 150 years from now that the cause of some of today’s maladies were rooted in the massive upheaval in the ancient, traditional and innate roles of men and women that began during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
26 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. I feel women’s widespread abandonment of the traditional homemaker-mother has and will continue to have grave consequences not just for amy children involved but for the women themselves. 100,000 years of a ‘normal’ role cannot be ditched without consequences. I believe, deep down, most women are not fulfilled in their ‘just as good as men’ roles..

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
26 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Agreed. The modern craving for privacy and anonymity has major side effects. Social media exacerbates rather than alleviates the problem..

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
26 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

As with the poor depression has always been with us. In the Dark Ages a disalignment of the four Humours was was a way of describing feeling low

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
27 days ago

“Has it ever occurred to you that most of your problems are the result of listening to yourself instead of talking ( sense ) to yourself?”

~ Martin Lloyd-Jones from his book, Spiritual Depression, Causes and Cure

Last edited 27 days ago by Gerald gwarcuri
Ben Scanlon
Ben Scanlon
26 days ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

The reverse could equally be true.

Think the answer is to figure out how you conceptualise / categorise the whole little voice-big voice thing.

J Bryant
J Bryant
27 days ago

The aspect of this article I didn’t understand was how Mindbloom could legally sell ketamine. A little internet research reveals that the first step in becoming a Mindbloom client is to obtain an assessment and prescription from a licensed physician. Then you contact Mindbloom and they pair you up with one of their “advisors” who guides you (remotely, so far as I can tell) through the process of administering the ketamine when your kit arrives from Mindbloom.
Still, the potential legal liability issues seem enormous if someone overdoses or suffers permanent harm. I also wonder how many physicians will be willing to write ketamine prescriptions.
This feels like a difficult and risky way to make a buck but, I suppose, the entrepreneurial spirit is boundless.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
27 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Ketamine has a huge therapeutic window. It’s pretty safe in significant overdose, which is presumably why people are happy to prescribe it so liberally.

There’s some evidence that it’s beneficial in intractable clinical depression, but it’s not a first-line treatment. Neither will it cure S61t Life Syndrome.

It helped me
It helped me
27 days ago

Mindbloom may be sketchy, but ketamine can be life-saving. I too knew it as a party drug (and didn’t use it) in the 90s. But I literally thank God that my psychiatrist recommended and prescribed it. I believe in contagions and I am a long time fan of Friedan. But when you really are crippled by depression, ketamine can make life livable. I hope your article— which admittedly seems to criticize mental health treatment more generally— doesn’t dissuade people from trying ketamine if they need it.

B Emery
B Emery
27 days ago
Reply to  It helped me

Are you a billboard for Mindbloom?
Sounds like next American big pharma scam to me. Like the opiate painkillers.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
26 days ago
Reply to  It helped me

These drugs are only sketchy when they are administered without the corresponding therapy given by a licensed therapist, who is present during the “trips”. There are phase II clinical trials being done to validate the amazing breakthroughs, including curing depression when it is the result of trauma. I would cite the sources, but then I would be accused of being a billboard.

B Emery
B Emery
26 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

You would cite sources would you. Go on then. Having a user name ‘it helped me’ and then spammimg that people should be encouraged to take ketamine, a horse tranquilliser, looks a bit suspicious to me.
Let’s all take loads of drugs to fix our problems…… Huxley brave new world and soma spring mind. Ketamine is a tranquilliser. It is not like psilocybin that has been administered under therapy and shown to STOP addiction. Sometimes after just a single dose. Not six sent out in the post. Ketamine doses like this, six it says, sent out for six weeks sounds like a way to encourage the formation of an addiction. Once again, I point you towards the opiate problems you Americans have. Prescription painkillers started all that. I await the sources your going to provide showing all the benefits of ketamine. I’m willing to change my mind if presented with sensible evidence.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago

I’m mildly troubled by the phrase “we should be deeply troubled”. Why? I hope it’s possible to be aware of or concerned about a phenomenon without also feeling ethically obligated to worry about something we haven’t already catastrophized or at least overfed with negativity bias. I might feel differently if mental distress typically led to concerted action instead of making us less able to face what is because of its distance from what ought to be.

Alan B
Alan B
26 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

To censure a person for merely expressing a moral judgment (with which you evidently disagree) is the height of irony!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago
Reply to  Alan B

How does my opinionated response amount to censure? “To disagree with the wording of a moral judgment is the absolute pinnacle of hyperbole!!”
I feel like you’re trying to censure or chastise me a bit–which is allowed, but perhaps a tad ironic too.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
26 days ago

and I thought that Ketamine cane from the vet for horses…

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
26 days ago

It’s time for people to return to the empty churches provided they are not woke. Let the atheists figure things out on their own.

B Emery
B Emery
26 days ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Does God not let in the woke?
Are you going to have a woke detector on the door??
Are you changing the bible to Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself – unless they are woke???
How do you define woke?
Or do you mean unless the church is woke? In which case are you suggesting it has already sold out its idealogy to ‘woke’ in some circumstances. Doesn’t say much for Christianity either I’m afraid if your churches so easily bend to latest political dogma does it? How are you going to figure it out better? Hasn’t Christianity had long enough to solve our problems already?

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
26 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

I am sure Jerry refers to the churches rather than its new worshippers. There are lost souls with misdirected ideals, who may find deeper meaning in the old religions.

B Emery
B Emery
26 days ago
Reply to  Martin Terrell

Woke churches. I see.
Well directing those souls toward a church that is confused about what it is sounds like a way to make people more lost to me. It’s all well and good saying people should go back to church, but it sounds to me like even Christians are confused about what a church should be these days. I mean seriously. Church is the answer as long as its not Woke church. I can’t even deal.
I’m not a god botherer, but if you’re going to peddle church as the answer it’s probably not a good idea to demonstrate its lack of principle in the same sentence – If some churches really have adopted ‘woke’ idealogy as the original poster implies and they have changed in a way that the original poster feels is bad, away from how a Christian Church should be, that screams confused. Some churches are good, woke ones aren’t. You direct the lost souls to none woke churches, what’s to stop them also adopting ‘woke’ when they please?

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
22 days ago
Reply to  B Emery

What you say about many or even most contemporary churches is true, B, but lamentably true in my opinion because of the dishonesty involved. I say this as someone whose field of study is comparative religion.
The trouble is not that many churches have become woke (although some have) but that so many have become highly secular and therefore open to any fashionable trend: liberalism, Marxism, feminism and so on. The assumption is that secular ideas, superficially baptized, might look convincingly “relevant” (a word that became ubiquitous in the 1960s) and thus attract new members. This strategy seldom works in the long run, but that’s another topic.
Even in the nineteenth century, some churches began to focus attention on the ethical teachings of Jesus, sidelining theology and the sacraments (which had no scientific foundations and were therefore not respectable in educated circles). In effect, their liturgies and sermons became venues not for the sacred but for moral instruction and edification. More recently, some churches have adopted pop psychology as a replacement for religion. In effect, their liturgies and sermons have replaced worship with personal “growth” or group therapy. Still others have adopted political ideologies. In effect; their liturgies and sermons encourage activism of one kind or another. And this process of secular enculturation has by no means been confined to Christian communities. Many Jewish communities (like some Eastern Orthodox ones), for example, have replaced religion with ethnicity or nationalism.
Although many of these patterns are at least consistent with religious traditions, they add up on their own to something other than religion (despite some window dressing with traditional symbols and rituals).
But woke ideology is profoundly alien to these religious traditions, more alien even than Marxism, so it presents a problem of unique severity and urgency.

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
25 days ago

Mail order ketamine that you take at home by yourself? What could possibly go wrong?

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
25 days ago

Our entire civilisation is sick in the soul, because it no longer believes that there is such a thing.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
22 days ago

Ketamine in a box sounds like a great business venture, you’d have made a fortune out of me at the music festivals back in my younger years

Gaz Jardin
Gaz Jardin
27 days ago

“In my youth, ketamine was generally associated with passing out in a pool of someone else’s vomit at a squalid illegal rave in some decrepit warehouse.” You look about the same age as me, Mary. And this sentence reads strongly like something written by a person who has never taken ketamine in their life (or gone to a rave in a warehouse for that matter ). This is as it turns out (despite your headline), somewhat beside the point of your argument, but either way, you clearly have absolutely no concept of what transformative experiences one may or may not experience under the influence of ketamine.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
27 days ago
Reply to  Gaz Jardin

Mary, at one period, used to tell us stories of her past – and if anyone knows waking up on the floor of a decrepit warehouse after a OTT night at the rave it is her…..

I have always had a worry about many drugs drugs – take MDMA, ecstasy, thought low risk, and I think is used at raves with ketamine, although I have not had them – But….

Many years ago I had heard some study (may not have involved real science, but I believed it because I have had very thorough experiences in the world of addictive stuff..) that said just one experience of MDMA can alter your whole lifetime of how pleasure is felt. It can basically cause some permanent re-wiring or synapse blocking, or something… and from then on you can never again really fully feel the same pleasures the brain could before – unless you took more drugs. You had that one night of ecstasy… and lost a bit of your natural potential for it from then on.

It would seem there is some re-wire from ketamine if it does have this effect. Speaking from great experience in the weird stoner world, I would caution against taking mind altering drugs for recreation because they get up to stuff in your brain – which is why one feels the effect, but even more caution against taking them for other reasons – like so many are promoting Ayahuasca which is not good. Drugs Will Not give enlightenment. (I would NOT recommend Ayahuasca – way too weird the way the trip is all directed, really getting off a deep end – my god, next people will be trying datura and the really weird stuff) I do not like marijuana used medically, like I would suspect if alcohol were prescribed –

I really am not very happy about mind altering drugs being used medically – I just think our mind is best not messed with that way – but I go on and on here – so will stop or I will begin talking of soul and ultimate, and the Great Wheel and of Christ…. because when you mess with the core of who you are you are kind of messing with all that….. But if it worked for you….. just careful about thinking it is good in general.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
26 days ago
Reply to  Gaz Jardin

You are engaging in speculation about Mary Harrington’s past, but in any case if she in your view overstates the damaging effects, you trump her in the opposite direction by your wide eyed talk of ‘transformative experiences’.

People like recreational drugs because they have effects they like on their bodies. End of story. Unfortunately many drug users like the effects so much they eventually can’t function without them, whether this is a physical addiction or not. This effect is very much NOT to the greater good of society. I have taken drugs and I don’t judge, but there is zilch evidence that any of them produce long term beneficial engagement of those drug users in wider society. We are social beings.

The subject is widespread depression in society. It seems pretty unlikely that this (hyper individualistic!) answer to our woes is to self medicate on a load of (probably impure) drugs sold by criminals instead of those sold by Big Pharma!

Last edited 26 days ago by Andrew Fisher
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago
Reply to  Gaz Jardin

Thanks for returning from psychic voyages long enough to share your insights concerning your superiority to the author, along with your contempt for her “clear” lies.