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week 9

Stasis

Hallucinogenic drugs have strong psychological effects that often involve a feeling of expanding consciousness and oneness with the universe. For this reason they have been used since ancient times to facilitate religious experiences; however, because these same drugs are also abused recreationally, there is a dominant culture that magnifies their harmfulness and overlooks their benefits. Is this controversial gap a result of misunderstanding or are both sides valid? I am interested in investigating scientifically how these chemicals operate on the brain to produce their abstract effects. I also plan to research more about the CIA’s Project MKULTRA which involved hidden human experimentation with LSD, and seems to have contributed to, if not led to, its illegalization. I am also curious as to what led to the illegalization of other (plant-based) hallucinogens. What exactly was society trying to avoid by resisting the incorporation of these substances? The gap between judgements is a problem because it seems to result in the stigmatization of religions that employ the use of hallucinogens. Furthermore, the stigma against hallucinogens hinders opportunities for research to be done to see if these substances could be used as medicinal treatments for psychological disorders such as PTSD, or to help deal with the existential anxiety of having a terminal illness. The alternative to this stigma would be a general open-mindedness toward the use of hallucinogens, to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, in current American culture, this widespread acceptance seems unachievable considering the extreme controversy of the war on drugs.

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