I spent the day re-reading a classic Alan Watts book, The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness (Vintage Books, 1965). Basically, the book is a retrospective summary account of his experiences with psychedelic drugs (e.g., LSD, mescaline, psilocybin). It could be described as his version of Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception. Indeed, Watts justifies writing his book by referring to Huxley: “since Huxley and others had already let the secret out […]” (20).
LSD is currently only 73 years old. Psychedelic chemicals are still a newcomer on the world’s stage (or at least the “Western” world’s stage, as many of those chemicals come from plants or fungi that were already known and used by ancient and indigenous societies). Huxley and Watts were among the first to respond to the new discovery/invention of psychedelic chemicals, and they did so by bringing honest and thoughtful attention to the matter from two…
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The nocebo effect shows us that, even when no real drug or cause for harm is present, negative beliefs and expectations can lead to negative physiological, behavioural, emotional, and/or cognitive consequences. It demonstrates the very real effects of conditioning and negative suggestions.
The general consensus amongst clinical psychologists is that psychedelic drugs can cause damage when the user undergoes an extremely emotionally negative or traumatic experience as a result of them.
The purpose of this article is to suggest that the dominant discourses around psychedelics in the both drugs education and the mass-media condition individuals to have negative experiences whilst using them where they otherwise might not.
Both the mass media and the prevailing approaches to drugs education emphasise the risks of using the substances…
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