Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Psychedelic mushrooms and the death experience

A remarkable article in the NY Times in the Sunday Magazine about research on psychedelic mushrooms.   A very long and well researched article on this subject.  You typically don't see much about this because of peoples misperceptions about the drug.   Even trying to have a reasonable discussion about these drugs can be difficult.  Many people have a very negative impression, and this is the direct result of a determined propaganda campaign.  This negative propaganda is a result of Leary and others in the 60's promoting the use of psychedelics as miraculous substances that everyone should take.  This was grossly irresponsible.  These drugs are powerful and should not be used casually.  Set, setting, dose, and preparation are critical to creating the desired experience.  The Magic Bus crew was even worse.  Had they steered people in the right direction, with careful introductions, explanations and support they could have learned more and not stirred up such a backlash.

Cultures where psychoactive drugs are used as a part of ritual to steer people through the stages of life and to help with crises do not have problems of casual use and abuse.  This comes from not having a structure for use and a place in society for these materials.

The biggest barrier to wider acceptance of these drugs is organized religion.  Religions do not want their flocks to be told that they don't need an intermediary or interpreter for god.  They can and should experience it for themselves.  This is part of the ongoing battle between secular and religious factions in our nation.

We need to start by getting approval for more research.  Though the big drug companies are not interested as there is not enough profit for them, funding could still be obtained if it were legal.  There a plenty of highly successful people (Steve Jobs, e.g.)who have used these drugs.  It wouldn't take much money to do a lot of research.

Be sure to read the comments to the article.  There is a lot of interest in this subject from people who would like to have had some way to help their loved ones.  And a lot of the commenters have tried the drugs, showing just how common these materials are.  Large numbers of people have taken them and many feel they have achieved important insights.

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