on replacing psychiatry with pharmacologically savvy shamanism
listen to author read this essay
Despite the so-called miracle drugs of psychiatry, America remains both the most depressed AND the most drug-using nation on Earth. Why? Because psychiatrists, motivated by physics envy (i.e. the desire to be part of a "hard science"), have adopted a scientistic approach to treating depression, whereby they insist that one must treat the supposed reductionist cause of the depression "illness" in order to help patients (never mind that the belief in the existence of a one-size fits all cure for the fundamental human condition of depression is about as philosophically sound as a search for the Holy Grail). Indeed, the miracle drugs "discovered" under the influence of this scientistic search have been shown to cause the very chemical imbalances that they were intended to correct, thereby resulting in recidivism rates worse than heroin for those who attempt to quit many SSRIs and SNRIs. Yet psychiatry clings to this scientistic party line (this myth of having found "miracle drugs" for depression) in the very face of the addictive dystopia that it has created (a kind of real-world Stepford Wives in which 1 in 4 American women are pacified by Big Pharma's emotion-tamping drugs).
It is this blind faith in their supposedly scientific approach to depression that has left psychiatrists impotent to treat depression effectively, causing them to scornfully reject far less addictive treatments that would have been psychologically obvious to them as godsends were they not in the thrall of their scientism combined with Drug Warrior hysteria and lies. I am referring here to the politically incorrect fact that Mother Nature's psychoactive plants could be used strategically by pharmacologically savvy empaths to bring about peace of mind and productivity (if not positive self-fulfillment in life) in patients with heretofore intractable depression.
LET'S HEAR IT FOR TREATING THE SYMPTOMS!
Hearing these arguments, the psychiatrist instinctively cries out with the old canard, "Yes, but you're only treating the symptoms!" But that objection is just another way of claiming that there is a one-size-fits-all, reductionist cure for depression in the first place, and we see by the sadness and Big Pharma addiction all around us that this is just not so. Moreover, it is philosophically improbable (in the highest degree) that this SHOULD be so, that there WOULD be a meaningful one-size-fits-all cure for such a diverse phenomenon as human sadness. And even if someone claimed to find such a "cure," we would have to ask the question: how are they defining the word "cure"? Is a depressed patient "cured" when they stop complaining about their dull life and make their peace with mediocrity? Or are they "cured" when they start to achieve self-fulfillment in life and see the world around them with new focus and appreciation? If Big Pharma "wonder drugs" really cure the depressed, then it is surely only in the former sense that they do so, helping the user settle for second best in life, not by widening their world and showing them previously unthought-of ways to "live large," psychologically if not financially speaking.
Once we put aside psychiatry's selfish desire to be "scientific" (along with our drug-war-inspired Christian Science bias against Mother Nature's plant medicines) we can start imagining creative depression treatments such as the one that I've detailed below. I pick this particular treatment almost at random, reminding the reader as I do so that the ways to facilitate shamanic-style healing with psychoactive plants are limited only by the human imagination - and, alas, the anti-patient Drug War, which seeks to villainize Mother Nature's pharmacopoeia instead of employing it in the interests of human happiness, creativity and self-fulfillment.
Why use mother-nature's plant medicines in this way? Because unlike Big Pharma's numbing nostrums, psychoactive plants can inspire, teach, and console a human being - especially when administered by a pharmacologically savvy empath, the sort of cross-culturally conscious and cosmopolitan plant specialist who I hope one day will take the place of the pill-peddling psychiatrist.
OPIUM THERAPY FOR DEPRESSION
Therapy: Weekly guided opium use administered in such a way as to promote creativity, thinking outside the box, and overall depression relief.
Method of Operation: This treatment obtains results (i.e., cheers the patient up "overall") by giving him or her something to look forward to, in the form of an opium-using afternoon, for individuals and/or groups of people with similar interests (which they might discuss when "under the influence"). For it is psychologically obvious (once we put scientism aside) that anticipation of a relaxing experience conduces to overall relaxation. The real hell of depression (and I write from 45 years of experience) is the feeling that the "down" times will drag on forever, and this feeling could be convincingly combatted with a weekly (and therefore non-addictive) use of opium. No matter how bad the week, the "patient" of this treatment has but to look at their calendar to dispel that fearful conviction of the depressed that their morose lethargy will endure forever.
Procedure: Subject would lie or sit in comfortable position, have access to the music of their choice, and a pen and paper to write down impressions.
Ideal Patient: Depressed patient (or indeed any would-be creative type) seeking to take a break from their default thought patterns and shake up the mental cobwebs in the hopes of thereby gaining inspiration and motivation for life in the "real world."
ROADBLOCK EN ROUTE TO THERAPEUTIC EDEN
One problem with realizing this dream of opium therapy (and cocaine therapy, and psychedelic therapy) is the absurd way in which we punish demonized drugs for failure. A demonized drug need play a role in merely one single patient death and it might be withheld from an entire generation of the depressed - meanwhile alcohol and tobacco kill hundreds of thousands a year and no one bats an eyelash. This raises the question: why are the rights of the responsible beer guzzler so much more important than those of the responsible opium, cocaine or psychedelic user? Why is beer allowed to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths a year and remain on the market unscathed by bad publicity while a potentially godsend medicine like cocaine or opium must be withdrawn from everybody (in the entire world!) once it kills a mere handful of users? This absurd requirement, that villainized psychoactive substances be 100% safe and, as it were, idiotproof, only makes sense to us in the light of the Drug Warrior's Christian Science prejudice against the psychoactive healing and improvement of psychological conditions.