The media appears to be taking tentative steps to recondition a herd that has been brainwashed to fear alternative states of consciousness and to despise those who explore them. Some months ago, an article about a psychiatrist’s efforts to optimise a playlist for a magic mushroom trip was doing the rounds, and other pieces since then have seemed to normalise them. Could psilocybin become a mainstream therapy within a decade?
For half a century, the conventional psychiatric wisdom was that psychedelic drugs do nothing but cause psychosis. They have no therapeutic benefit, and nor do they have any spiritual benefit. This is why psilocybin, like cannabis and LSD, was made a Schedule I drug in America, meaning that it was officially considered to have no medicinal value.
Despite this, a number of studies have hinted at the medicinal benefit that would explain why psilocybin has been used medicinally and sacramentally for thousands of years. An April 2016 paper in Pharmacological Reviews accounts for a modern understanding of psychedelics, abandoning the perspective that they are tools of the devil. This paper lists in detail the extant research on psychedelic drugs in therapy.
The effect that is foremost in attracting the interest of researchers at the moment is the ability of psilocybin to reconcile a dying person with the inevitability and inescapability of their own death. The end-of-life experience is often characterised by extreme anxiety, particularly in Western culture, with its near-total absence of any genuine spirituality and with the corresponding belief that the death of the physical body is the end of consciousness. This anxiety is associated with intense suffering, hence the call for research in this area.
Many of the psychonauts reading this will know that psilocybin is excellent for assuaging end-of-life anxiety, which, let’s not forget, can strike a person at any age. One does not have to be dying to suffer from death anxiety – one only needs a moment to contemplate the fact that one’s body is inevitably going to expire, as does everyone’s.
An intense psychedelic experience often has the effect of separating the consciousness of the user from the sensory input of the physical body entirely, and sometimes, when this occurs, the user realises that their consciousness could have dreamed up the illusion of being born into a physical body and that this is in fact a much more logical and likely explanation for everything than the idea that our brain somehow magically generates consciousness.
This line of thinking is characteristic of the psychedelic experience, and commonly leads to the conclusion that the true essence of a person is in fact consciousness, not the body, and that this consciousness is the prime material of reality and survives physical death. Once this conclusion has been reached, a person is liberated from death anxiety, and consequently from the suffering associated with it.
This doesn’t mean that bringing in psychedelic therapy will be straightforward.
The main difficulty is that the spiritual enlightenment associated with psilocybin drug use leads naturally to the realisation that the integrity of one’s physical body is not the most important thing in life, as it is temporary by its very nature, and this leads to one losing one’s fear of death.
This is great for the psychedelic user, as it liberates them from a terrible source of suffering, but it’s terrible for the politicians and the control system, who rely on that fear of death and physical pain to manipulate the cattle into doing their bidding.
After all, a fully psychedelicised population is not going to obey an order to invade an innocent country, destroy the local government and install a central bank, and nor will they willingly obey orders to put peaceful people in cages for actions that harm no-one else. They will be much more resistant to bullshit and to lies from authority figures, which, to those authority figures, represents a loss of control and this is to be avoided at all costs.
This is, indeed, why psychedelics have been opposed by both religious and secular authorities almost as soon as they were discovered.
It’s possible that some limited inroads into our collective ignorance around psychedelics might be made with a liberalisation of the laws around psilocybin, but for it to become a mainstream therapy a lot of ignorant, brainwashed idiots have to lose influence in the discussion. This will take a long time.