Mixed Feelings About Psychedelics Going Mainstream
I’m heavily conflicted about the growing acceptance of psychedelics. It truly perplexes me as someone who is an LSD-enthusiast, who once said to believe it could help evolve the collective consciousness.
So what’s the big fuss? I should be over the moon about people wanting to heal–wanting to explore their inner selves & the divine with psychedelics. I should be absolutely elated to know that psychedelics are taking route to decriminalization. But for some reason, I have my qualms. This rise in popularity and acceptance has led me to three questions: 1) Do I really want to see psychedelics become commercialized in the same way that marijuana has? 2) Does it bother me to think that people are already talking about its economic potential and how we can exploit it for what it’s worth financially? 3) Do I fear that the “industry” of psychedelics will be dominated and represented primarily by white faces? The answers: not sure, perhaps & yes.
I recently watched the first episode of Gwenyth Paltrow’s Netflix Series, The Goop Lab, where her team of journalists go to Jamaica and take a guided trip on magic mushrooms. To say the least, it was extremely cringeworthy. Can you imagine going on a trip with your millennial coworkers? People you are associated with primarily through your job. You know, the thing you do to make money, the place where you’re seen as a professional. Then again, Goop’s company culture could be like nothing I’ve ever seen/experienced before. I digress…
Before diving into the trip, the P.h. D-level shamans asked everyone what they were seeking with this psychedelic experience.
One person said they wanted to “understand themselves in the context of the universe,” and learn how to let go of control. Another said she felt trapped and she wanted to spread her wings & feel free. A couple expressed that they wanted to heal from past trauma.
Don’t get me wrong– this is a completely valid intention for a psychedelic trip. I just find it problematic to expect such a grand healing experience for your first time using psychedelics, let alone on camera or for a Netflix special. Which brings me to my next point.
As the episode progressed, I couldn’t help but feel that the entire experience was contrived, or at the very least–dramatized for television. To this point, the episode’s title is “The Healing Trip.” But outside of the emotionally releasing trip, The Goopers’ affirmative intentions to heal, and the case studies of psilocybin treatment, nothing appeared to be convincingly healing about it. There were a couple trippy cliches (A Gooper looking at the sky and claiming how crazy it was) devoid of anything truly meaningful or substantial. I think a follow up on The Goopers’ magic mushroom experience in Jamaica would have been helpful.
Psychedelics has entered the world of wellness and current psychedelic propaganda is honing in on the message of healing. To be clear, there is nothing wrong or negative about this. The word ‘propaganda’ may have negative connotation due to its history, but that’s not where I’m coming from. I simply want to bring awareness to the fact that psychedelics’ play in the media is primarily about treating mental illnesses and it’s meant to influence us to think a certain way. When I watched The Goop Lab’s episode, it felt like content designed to make the viewer think taking psychedelics is the end-all-be-all answer to healing. Psychedelic or not, that’s an inaccurate way to portray any drug.
We have come a long way from psychedelic propaganda during the Nixon era and the War on Drugs. LSD, marijuana and psilocybin became heavily demonized in the media. Counterculture icon, Timothy Leary, while admirable for his objectives, irresponsibly “turned on” a generation to psychedelics. This resulted in a society-wide moral panic and criminalization of psychedelics, putting them in the same category as heroin and cocaine. By the end of the 1960s, all clinical trials and research for psychedelic medicine eventually lost its funding.
With that being said, the one thing I have zero mixed feelings about: psychedelics is recovering from the backlash and residue of the 1960s, and I’m beyond grateful our society is shaking off the stigma.
Here are current media sources and psychedelic propaganda that I actually support:
I appreciate the media listed above because the perspectives shared feel authentic and are delightfully creative. I’m all for platforms that push for psychedelic culture/medicine, not because it’s trending right now, but because they whole-heartedly believe in its personal/societal impact.
Have Your Own Experience
Writing this article was quite difficult for me, as I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt a way about any of this. Do I support the growing decriminalization of psychedelics? Of course. Do I support the amazing ways it has helped those with mental illnesses? Fuck yeah. Is there anything wrong with the desire to heal, and using psychedelics as a tool? Not at all. I started to feel like an aggravating devil’s advocate and I began to question why I’m even writing this.
But through this, I’ve found truths about my own experience with psychedelics. I found truths about what my story is–why I use it, what experiences I seek, and what messages I want to push about psychedelics. It truly made me think of my own propaganda and what purpose I hope to serve through the Better in Doses platform.
My resolution is this: have your own experience. All I ask is that you are completely mindful of your set, setting & substance. Whether you want your psychedelic experience to be therapeutic, recreational, creative, productive–or if you want to practice/medicate with microdosing or indulge in a heroic dose. Whatever it is that you seek, please take what YOU need from it and be aware of the propaganda that is fed to you as psychedelics continue to rise in social acceptance and make headlines in the media.