Psychedelic Therapy and the Democratization of Psychoactive Experience ∞ Sergey Baranov

Entheogens, Recommended, Videos / Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

art by Luminokaya

By Sergey Baranov

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

This title came to me during the last Huachuma (San Pedro) ceremony while I was lying on the ground, observing a tango between eucalyptus trees and the wind.

The moment of clarity seemed to stretch in time and afforded me a deeper look into a problem of mental health in the west: Mainstream psychiatry does not have a solution to severe depression. Neither words, that only can lead so far, nor pharmacology, that’s good for suppressing symptoms — while masking root causes, provide long lasting and greatly needed relief to millions of suffering people.

Mainstream psychiatry shifted; where it once denied the efficacy of psychedelic therapy (for decades), it today accepts it as an effective treatment tool. This is rooted in different reasons, one being a sincere desire to improve psychotherapeutic techniques, and another the understanding that in order to stay viable, psychiatrists must expand their toolbox. In either case, the cultivation of psychedelics therapy is a good cultural development, and one that needs proper guidance to avoid undesirable side effects down the road.

An integration of psychedelics into mainstream psychiatry could help many people deal with depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction and self-destructive behaviors. This can lead to a betterment of society as fewer people find themselves suffering and struggling with the side effects of mainstream pharmacology. The overwhelming amount of data gathered from these successes with psychedelics show a significant improvement in mental health and this can be used in a court of law to overcome unjust legislation preventing their use in treatment.

An absurd concept became law in the United States in 1971 when President Nixon signed the Substance Control Act. The War on Drugs (that deserves its own discussion) has claimed the birthright of the people to use plants for therapy and learning — a birthright that’s as essential as breathing. Nature provides us with food and medicine that some people assume they have the right to forbid others. This tyrannical approach to governance should be thoroughly reviewed and corrected. A moral government is by the people and for the people, and not against the people, as things currently stand. The power to act in favor of the populace has been corrupted and lorded over the people. This political dynamic is the root cause of much evil we see in the world today. A change in legislation can provide a tremendous relief for society. Apart of helping people get on with their lives, many people would be spared the indignity of incarceration (for simply using ‘’illegal’’ plants).

The only entity that will suffer losses from such positive societal change is Big Pharma, the modern-day Goliath.

Consider another contributor to societal illness: How many more billions of dollars do people need to be happy? Is it ethical to get rich off the suffering of others? If we follow the money, this is where it leads. Lobbing against Nature translates positively on their balance sheet. Psychiatry has been greatly influenced by Big Pharma and mostly just follows the script. Only a massive amount of evidence in favor of the therapeutic qualities of psychedelics will force psychiatrists to admit their therapeutic value, and help them stay relevant. Remaining utterly biased will simply discredit the whole field. In the long run, more will be lost than just the commission doctors receive from pharmaceutical companies for dispensing their prescriptions.

One problem that can arise from the integration of psychedelic therapy into the mainstream it is a synthesis of nature. Big Pharma is greedy but not stupid. The companies understand the political principal that in order to control an opposition, you must lead the opposition. This translates into leading the research on psychedelics and thus controlling the outcome. Nature cannot be legally patented, but synthesizing nature allows us to overcome this obstacle. Making slight molecular changes, the companies can patent substances and thus maintain control over the medical field. They could go as far as allowing changes in legislation that provide mental patients with an option to use psychedelics for treatment, but only those patented, approved and administered by the accredited psychiatrists in the field. Natural psychedelics would remain illegal. Competition must be kept at bay, so to speak. Thus, a synthetic medicine can be offered as an alternative to a ‘’traditional’’ medications, which might not provide a desired effect. A psychedelic Frankenstein can be presented as false hope and later could be used to discredit the research into psychedelics. Personally speaking, I’m skeptical of such “advances” in science and prefer to consult Nature in its original form.

The monopoly and the political corruption are the problem, not plants. Psychoactive plants are the solution to many personal and (consequently) societal problems and this is precisely why they’re deemed illegal. People in power don’t seek for solutions unless the solution increases their power and sometimes the balance in their bank accounts. This is just a reality, whether or not you’re willing to accept it as such.

Can you imagine an Ayahuasca session in a therapist’s office? A bad trip is guaranteed! At best, a good, open minded therapist, with plant-based shamanic experience, could provide support after the event but certainly shouldn’t administer the medicine. This is the job of a curandero or shaman connected with the spirit of the plant — something denied by mainstream psychiatry. For them, talking to a plant translates into schizophrenia. The problem of Western medicine is that its reductionist approach can only detect chemicals, and overlooks the cultural and spiritual background. Psychiatrists are trying to assume the role of the shaman in the western society by administrating medicines. They do it well in some respects but when it comes to psychedelics, psychiatry is in its infancy in comparison to thousands of years of shamanic tradition. A shaman is the natural psychiatrist of the people — one who knows how to listen to the plants. Unless the whole Western paradigm shifts, psychedelics therapy will not reach its full potential.

Big Pharma is not the only lobbyist against Nature. So far, psychotherapy is the only reference used to promote psychedelic therapy into the mainstream. Therapy is certainly important and greatly needed. However, therapy is only one aspect of psychedelic experience. In fact, this is where it starts. A psychedelic approach can lead to spiritual enlightenment, a fact that’s not well received by the organized religion. In the same way a psychiatrist prescribes legal drugs to a patient, a priest prescribes ideology to a believer. In both cases, it provides employment and a source of income. Psychedelics tend to shutter consensus reality and deconstruct the individual’s or a whole society’s cultural assumptions. This mental flight above the Matrix may yield an insight that would positively affect behavior of a psychonaut. A person might stop destroying his or her physical health in consuming junk food, alcohol, legal and illegal drugs, political propaganda and religious ideologies. Reclaiming one’s mind leads to true freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of choice — an individuality that’s always seen as problematic by the status quo. These is the true reason why psychedelics are illegal.

A logical question may arise: What can be done? What, as citizens, can we do in order to change certain things in our society? The only answer is to not be afraid to speak your mind and keep sharing personal healing stories: these add to the growing body of evidence that psychedelic therapy is beneficial, especially when natural compounds are administered by people with shamanic training about the sacred plants.

In conclusion, psychoactive plants must be permitted for human consumption to fulfil their purpose and help us heal ourselves and our world. An open-minded psychologist or psychiatrist who has embraced shamanic experience can serve modern communities by implementing elements of native cultures and then providing quality therapy to patients. But false assumptions about the superiority of western medical practices must end, much as one’s ego drops when one embarks on a plant-based shamanic experience. Scientific and academic arrogance collapses under the weight of a direct spiritual experience. Being stripped of mental constructs and concepts about reality, one has an opportunity to perceive oneself and the surrounding world with greater clarity.

This clarity can lead to a profound healing.

Please watch our new film Huachuma: The Earthly Key to Heaven.


Sharing is Caring

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.