May 28, 2020
Replacing Psychiatry with Pharmacologically Savvy Shamanismby Ballard Quass
The post that got me banned for life from the Reddit Psychiatry group
This essay got me banned for life in the Reddit Psychiatry group. Here was my response to the cowardly anonymous moderators:
You guys are great: you addict me to your damn medicines and then ban me for life for complaining about it. Well, enjoy your "feel good" discussions about your profession, since you don't want to hear about the ways you're ruining lives and causing the biggest addiction crisis in world history -- completely off the radar of your pill-mill goldmine, bought and paid for by Big Pharma. Ah, you've got to love freedom of speech in the digital age.*
The decriminalization of drugs (or what I prefer to call the re-legalization of plants) must coincide with the de-medicalization of mood disorders. The current psychiatric system behaves under the patently absurd and scientistic illusion that every human being in the world is precisely the same when it comes to so-called illnesses like depression and anxiety, that there exists a sort of philosopher's stone in the realm of psychiatry, namely a psychiatric drug (or handful of drugs) that can cure every depressed person in the world, from a morose nonagenarian who is afraid of death to a home-coming queen who is upset about not "getting into Harvard."
And so our highly paid psychiatrists of today don three-piece suits and sit down pompously in front of elaborately hand-carved desks, only to perform a job that could be easily performed by any nurse intern. Their job today is simply to write prescription refills, after making a pro-forma check, using an insulting and outdated 10-question personality test, to "ensure" that the would-be recipient of the prescription is not contemplating suicide -- which is important to check, no doubt, since the refill procedure is so disempowering to the patient that they might well consider suicide as a way of protesting the infantilization to which they are being subjected every three to six months of their lives.
This robotic paradigm for treating "patients" has resulted in a catastrophe so great that Big Pharma and their pill-peddling psychiatrists refuse to even acknowledge it: the fact that 1 in 8 American males and 1 in 4 American females are now addicted to modern antidepressants, many of which are harder to quit than heroin. This drugged-up dystopia might be at least partially excused if these medicines were found to truly end depression, but this is not the case. In fact, America is now the most depressed nation in the world in spite of this full-court press by Big Pharma to place the entire nation on their limited pharmacopoeia of highly addictive "meds."
All this in an age that claims to value "empowerment" above every other social goal. Yet what could be more disempowering than turning a depressed person into a patient for life, one who thus becomes a ward of the healthcare state and has to share his or her intimate feelings with a psychiatrist every three to six months of their life, all while paying dearly for doing so, both in time and money?
The alternative is clear: end the Drug War and replace psychiatrists with pharmacologically savvy shamans, physicians who thus profit from the best medical practices in both the west and the east. Of course, this idea will seem radical to so-called "free" Americans, who have gotten used over the last 100 years to having politicians and bureaucrats decide which plant medicines can be used by whom, and when.
The Drug Warrior lie is that he or she is merely interested in protecting Drug Warrior Junior from evil drugs. But the effect of their legislation is to turn the average American into an addict while blocking the therapeutic use of thousands of natural godsend medicines. We all look back in shock at the way the Church impeded scientific activity in Galileo's day; but we have yet to be shocked by the way that the Drug War impedes scientific activity in ours.
Why then do we not even THINK about replacing psychiatry with pharmacologically informed shamanism? It's obvious: The pill-peddling paradigm ensures that psychiatrists have high-paying jobs for a lifetime. Why? Because their patients MUST visit them every three to six months in order to get their socially approved "fixes" of Big Pharma medicine.
The frustrating thing from a philosopher's point of view is that America is closing its ears to these obvious truths, and shouting in effect: "I'm not LISTENING!!!" whenever someone raises these concerns (which, to be fair, however, happens rarely enough). American opinion on these subjects has been bought and paid for (like any other commodity) by Big Pharma through the psychiatric talking heads that they have financially suborned to spread cozy-sounding antidepressant mythology on Oprah et al.
And so we continue to treat psychiatric patients AS patients, second-rate and infantilized citizens who are forced to demonstrate their worthiness, every three to six months of their life, to receive yet another expensive prescription from an already expensive doctor.
This won't change for the better until materialists renounce their scientistic project to find a one-size-fits-all cure for depression, a project that would seem absurd on its face to any society not so infatuated with science that they have developed a Spock-like ineptness at recognizing the human side of such an enormously variegated topic. Of course, this change will also require that Drug Warrior Americans stop behaving like the Church of Galileo's time and begin allowing full scientific access to and therapeutic use of the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet, the flora to which we were all once granted access by dint of merely being human, until 1914 that is, when racist Drug Warriors first violated natural law by claiming that the government had the right to tell us which plants we could access and which we must ignore and shun on pain of arrest -- and even death, should we dare to share the plant medicines that our politicians have decided to withhold from us.
The change I'm talking about is the transformation of modern pill-pushing psychiatry into pharmacologically savvy shamanism. This is the way forward in behavioral therapy, at least for a free country that is determined to take the best from both eastern and western medical traditions. Such a transformation would be in the true interest of patients, and would even free them from being called patients in the first place, which is a disempowering designation after all. The therapy in view here would identify its votaries merely as human beings: human beings, who, like all of us, are looking to find their place in the world and gain a better understanding of the strange miraculous thing called life, and how not simply to cope with it but to thrive in it as well.
*My complaint may seem a trifle harsh, but you must remember, I wasn't slapped on any old-fashioned wrist: I was banished for life. Besides, I think that folks have to start being a little more upset about the status quo if they really want to get results in the real world. That certainly seems to be the lesson from the George Floyd murder. We should be blocking roads and occupying buildings over the way that government has usurped our natural-law right to Mother Nature's plants. Instead, most decriminalization advocates are cautiously mounting statistical challenges with the anemic goal of paring back the Drug War here and there in order to "make it more just." Which is nonsense. If the government outlawed the freedom of the press, we wouldn't be seeking ways to make that law more just: we would be demanding that the law be repealed instantly: end of discussion. Neither should we roll over and play dead when the government takes away our right to access Mother Nature's plants, in clear violation of the natural law upon which America was founded.
In Post-Drug War America, the psychiatric pill mill will be replaced by empathic shamanism, where pharmacologically savvy teacher-therapists will use any plants in the world that they see fit in order to help their client achieve self-actualization in life.