Psychiatry, Capitalism, and the Recuperation of Psychedelics


What is recuperation?

From Occupy Wall Street to Standing Rock, the past decade has shown more than ever that the capitalist-colonialist system depends not only on the subjugation of its people through violent suppression of uprisings, but also through insidious repression of alternative ways of being in the world that challenge its hegemony. In 1958, Guy Debord published the Situationist Manifesto, calling “official culture” a “rigged game.” He defined “recuperation” as the process by which conservative forces sterilize subversive ideas before integrating them back into culture in a non-subversive form. In the world of ideas, those which are fit for capitalism will survive and those that are not will continue to be diluted and warped until they fit snugly within that system. Psychiatry, as an institution maintained by capitalism, is subject to these same forces, but we have the potential to reframe the conversation and transform psychiatry towards working with alternative understandings of “mental health.”

The modern belief in the importance of the independent, rational self is the most important cultural value upholding capitalism and, by extension, the medical model of psychiatry.1 Joanna Moncrieff,2 Bruce Cohen,3 and many others have illustrated the tight entanglement of psychiatric, biomedical, and capitalist ideologies. Moncrieff in particular describes how psychiatry “polices behaviour that is troublesome, unpredictable and sometimes dangerous but not obviously criminal.”4 Critically, the medical model’s inherent de-emphasis on the social and spiritual context of our lives allows dominant voices to shift the conversation away from the inhumanity of capitalism towards claims that patients’ lack of rational thinking patterns or diseased brains are the reason for their distress.

Recuperation is so successful because it co-opts some valid critiques of our society, while removing what is threatening. Many have already written about how the mental health industry recuperated the socially-oriented, compassionate, self-disintegrating tradition of Buddhist meditation into the modern, consumer-oriented, individualist exercise of wrangling your stressed-out brain into “mindfulness.” Most people genuinely benefit from mindfulness because it addresses part of a genuine problem in our inattentive culture, but the threat of a collective struggle against the root causes of this suffering are no longer part of the discourse. The fate of mindfulness is not an unfortunate, isolated incident. It is part of a long history of the recuperation of Magical ideas — ideas that are naturally “troublesome,” “unpredictable,” and “irrational” — which dates back to the origins of capitalism.

Magical cultures, capitalism, and biopsychiatry

Silvia Federici in her book Caliban and the Witch (2004) argues that the witch hunts in Europe and emerging colonies in the New World were essential to the construction of early capitalism. “Witches,” typically rural, peasant women practicing spells, foreseeing the future, and pre-scientific medicine, were murdered in the tens of thousands in part because witchcraft “gave confidence to the poor in their ability to manipulate the natural and social environment and possibly subvert the constituted order.” Federici explains that “magic is premised on the belief that the world is animated, unpredictable, and there is a force in all things” — forces outside our typical perception. Magic creates something tangible out of “thin air.” Magic does not concern itself with how things work; it thrives in ambiguity and deference to unseen forces. Cultures where magic thrives are incompatible with capitalist values of the primacy of individual responsibility and rationalization of all aspects of life that the constant pursuit of efficiency demands. In order for the peasantry to accept the domination of the new social order, the world had to be disenchanted.

Once the process of disenchanting culture was finished, “magic” was no longer a threat and was reintegrated. Now, we view witchcraft as a silly quirk of a less scientific, less enlightened time. However, far from being an artifact of the past, witch hunts continue around the world in places still in the process of state building. In the West, the story of witchcraft has since been retold in many forms to sell everything from colonialism to teen fiction. The witches of history are portrayed as “wretched fools afflicted by hallucinations.” Their purging, though regrettably brutal, was nonetheless justified according to Thomas Hobbes: “…as for witches I think not that their witchcraft is any real power, but yet that they are justly punished for the false belief that they have that they can do such mischief… their trade being nearer to a new religion than to a craft or science.” Dealing with the “epidemic” of witchcraft was a form of “social therapy,” a sentiment not unlike Trump’s recent calls to mobilize state power to increase involuntary treatment of those diagnosed with mental illness: “At the same time, we need to keep very dangerous people off our streets. And we want to take care of the mental illness, but we have a lot of very dangerous people on our streets.”

The witch hunt climaxed during the uprisings against land privatization of the early 16th and 17th centuries, when proto-capitalists felt most threatened by independent peasant power. Just the same, the American War on Drugs was declared by Nixon at the peak of the psychedelic renaissance. Mushrooms, cannabis, peyote, and ayahuasca had been consumed by indigenous cultures on the fringes of the “Western” world for millennia, viewed as evidence of their witchcraft and “devil worship,” but mostly ignored. It wasn’t until a rapidly growing 60s counterculture emerged, embracing many of the same premises which witchcraft and magic flourish under, that the mainstream of society would see how capitalism deals with such ideas.

Timothy Leary — “the most dangerous man in America” — told a crowd of 30,000 hippies at the Human Be-In in San Francisco to “Turn on, tune in, and drop out” with psychedelics. “Turning on,” Leary explains in his autobiography Flashbacks, meant to “become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers engaging them.” Psychedelics were interpreted as experiencing the world from perspectives outside the mundane, blasé, and mechanical. Not uncoincidentally, the 60s were a powerful era in the anti-psychiatry movement, when the lines between popular conceptions of “madness” and “sanity” were blurring. As with witchcraft, the state would suppress through violence and propaganda this culture of non-rationality and guidance from untamable and unseen forces. The 1960s view of psychedelics is much closer to the traditional understanding of these substances by indigenous communities compared to the emerging scientific discourse today.

Ayahuasca provides a convenient example of psychedelic use given its long, well-studied history within indigenous cultures, as well as recent interest by the field of mental health. Luis Luna writes that it is impossible to understand indigenous ayahuasca use without understanding indigenous spirituality, and vice-versa.5 Their worldview includes “an underlying spiritual aspect to everything that exists, an intimate relationship and even dependency between the seen and the unseen, between the world of nature and human creation on one side, and normally invisible and intelligent forces…Sacred plants, such as ayahuasca, facilitate the perception of such complexity.” The Shuar group of the Ecuadorian Amazon believe that “the main function of ayahuasca is to enter into contact with the unseen side of reality…the true forces behind daily life are in the supernatural realm.”6 One common narrative is transformation of the consciousness into an animal, such as the jaguar, harpy eagle, or anaconda, or that we may communicate with ancestors through ingesting ayahuasca.

The idea that we may experience the world from the point of view of a non-human animal has no place in our culture of individualism. The idea that we may gain healing through speaking with our ancestors has no place in a biopsychiatric model. If we wish to appreciate the full power of psychedelics, we must go further than dismissing these worldviews as a curious anthropological quirk of a remote tribal past to accepting that fundamentally different understandings of the human experience are possible, and in fact, are probably far more “normal” in a historical sense than our modern worldview.

How will psychedelics be recuperated?

A recent opinion paper in JAMA Psychiatry called psychedelics “disruptive psychopharmacology” while detailing a plan to bring these substances into the fold of the mainstream of medicine.7 They emphasized meeting these “disruptive” medicines with traditional biological methods, even proposing to test whether the therapeutic effect of psilocybin could still be achieved with the patient unconscious under general anesthesia. This says enough about the emerging story we will tell about what these substances are and how they function.

To the credit of the mental health world, some attention has been placed on incorporating features of indigenous practices into models of how ayahuasca might be used in a clinical setting:8 guidance through the experience (the shaman roughly approximated by a psychotherapist) and some discussion on the importance of a non-passive engagement with the experience. However, for a psychiatrist trained to conceptualize within the medical model, psychedelics will at worst be a novel pharmacotherapy altering broken neural pathways, and at best remain an intervention targeting a multidimensional “mental illness” rather than a communion with the magical yet essential dimension of the human experience.

To be clear, I am making no claim on how this narrative of psychedelics relates to their “effectiveness” in relieving any particular cause of diagnosed mental illness. To do so already presumes a medical model of dealing with distress. Nor am I am saying that psychedelics have no role in psychiatry. I am saying that “set and setting” includes the way these substances are framed in our imagination. How we imagine these substances as “plant medicines,” “drugs,” or as “a doorway to the divine” is just as important as their neurochemical effects. Their magic and their power to transform our insight and the sources of our suffering will be limited if we allow psychedelics to be recuperated into capitalist and biomedical frameworks.

Show 8 footnotes

  1. U’Ren, R. (1997). Psychiatry and capitalism. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 1-11.
  2. Moncrieff, J. (2008). Neoliberalism and Biopsychiatry: A Marriage of Convenience. Liberatory Psychiatry: Philosophy, Politics, and Mental Health, 235-255.
  3. Cohen, B. M. (2016). Psychiatric hegemony: A Marxist theory of mental illness. Springer.
  4. Moncrieff, J. (2018). Capitalism and psychiatry: applying Marxist critical theory to the mental health industry.
  5. Luna, L. E. (2011). Indigenous and Mestizo Use of Ayahuasca: An Overview. The Ethnopharmacology of Ayahuasca, 2, 01-21.
  6. Harner, M.J. 1972, The Jívaro: People of the Sacred Waterfalls, University of California Press, Berkeley.
  7. Heifets, B. D., & Malenka, R. C. (2019). Disruptive Psychopharmacology. JAMA Psychiatry.
  8. Sloshower, J. (2018). Integrating Psychedelic Medicines and Psychiatry: Theory and Methods of a Model Clinic. In Plant Medicines, Healing and Psychedelic Science (pp. 113-132). Springer, Cham.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Thanks for the article Shariq.
    Hopefully your radical side does not get beaten out of you.

    There is only one reason psychiatry tries ‘street’ drugs, because their drugs don’t work.
    It’s desperation.
    Perhaps we give capitalism more credit than it deserves. Did getting rid of witches benefit society as a whole? That is something no one can answer.
    Would getting rid of MI benefit society?
    Psychiatry I might say is just one up on the MI, and only through state given power.
    Meaning, what happens to those souls that become psychiatrists after there is no one to cure?
    I do believe psychiatry is worried and rightfully so.
    Within Academia, no one will admit it to each other.
    I think in general, every intelligent being knows that they are never safe and truly free.
    A shrink is a prisoner of his beliefs. And we all have a lousy hundred years or less to
    believe what we want to, invest in what we see fit or are able.

    Hopefully, you my friend become strong in your beliefs and never let a shrink rattle you.

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  2. You can keep the capitalistic away by realizing that hallucinogenic mushrooms grow nationwide. Psilocybe cubensis grows in pastures throughout the South, although it isn’t native to the Americas (and tribal Mexicans first discovered its properties). Lawns in the Pacific Northwest have their Liberty Caps and paneoli grow in pastures in northern states. There are green plants, too, but I can’t mention them on a public site for reasons of conservation.

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  3. I do not relish the idea of shrinks using “shrooms” on consumers. Though I doubt they will till Pfizer or Lilly puts them in pill form. This is needed to preserve the image of the shrinks as the real-honest-to-gosh-doctors they crave to be seen as.

    Getting people to use hallucinagens through trickery or force would be a great way to manufacture more “schizophrenics.” AKA cash cows to milk. Or rather bleed till they expire.

    “Yeah but if you weren’t ‘schizophrenic’ to begin with that LSD would never have had that effect on you.” Thus spake Dr. Quackenbush. This gives him the legal authority to force you to injest “therapeutic” or massive quantities of more LSD’s and probably “anti-depressant$,” neuroleptic$, “mood $tabilizer$,” and maybe $edative$ and other crap at hi$ di$cretion.

    I do not share the author’s enthusiasm for yet another mind altering drug. Especially since “mental health” will likely foist it on the public as “life saving medicine,” “like penicillin,” “just like insulin for diabetes.” And other nonsense we already have been spoon fed by commercials/NAMI/psychiatrists. They all sound alike because they’re reading the same script.

    Please don’t take my criticisms personally Shariq. I’m sure you are honest and sincere in your desire to help distressed people.

    It’s others I take issue with. I don’t like liars. Or bullies.

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    • Neither do I. The Hoffer-Osmond Diagnostic test can tell you if hallucinogens are safe for you, but you can be sure our present-day shrinks won’t use such devices, Hoffer and Osmond having been psychiatry’s enemy Dark Lords for many years.

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    • But don’t you agree it would be great for business? Assuming someone has no conscience of course.

      Trigger “schizophrenia” in trusting patients and then use said disorder to prescribe more of the drug that caused the episode indefinitely.

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      • If they practiced with honesty that any chemical use is simply experimentation, I would not have so much issue with it.
        If AD’s were called exactly what they are, random chemicals thrown at the body/brain with an absolute guarantee that they WILL cause harm in some way.

        It is SO obvious that not one single person has idea of mind, body, brain and how very unique each person develops.
        Some drugs produce the very same effects that psych tries to fix. I find it interesting that psychedelics require preferably an “integrator”, and the best environment for “integrated experience”.
        Geez, it’s kind exactly what makes “schizophrenia” more tolerable for those who experience visions.
        So perhaps, sitting with that person with visions, whether through psychedelics or natural, is after all, the eventual lessening of distress.
        One would think that psychiatry is then being and saying completely opposite things. One method is labelling visions schizophrenic, if occurring natural, one is seen as natural if occurring through psychedelics.
        Psychiatry is the least likely to learn, since they operate from a very stagnant viewpoint, backwards. The inability to be open, to say we don’t know, but then they would have to let go of preconceived notions, notions which became set in stone.

        There also operate non psychiatrists that start hailing ‘therapies’ to everyone and his dog, because they saw it “work”.
        But after seeing how psychiatry operates, one has to hope that non psychiatrist therapists would also consider that the people they see “get better”, might have been short term also.
        Or whatever “better” means.
        I think often, once people question their happiness, they might keep looking for better, when looking for better is often the problem.

        We live in a world where we are dissecting every word, and questioning it’s opposite and not sure where we fit. No worries, there is someone out there that can help you to know when you are better.

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    • Interesting point – here in Australia, we call that “backburning” – using fire to fight fire.

      I’m being devil’s advocate – I mostly agree with you.

      People in emotional and mental distress have no business meddling with their brain in this way.

      Meditation and other practices can produce gentler results, in the direction of stabilisation, not destabilisation. (note: possible microdosing might be beneficial in these circumstances, but **might** does not a solution make)

      That said – sometimes the emotional and mental distress is because the current paradigm or viewpoint isn’t working, and that is exactly what the psychedelics shake up.

      But I’d make the meditation a prerequsite – the ability to sit through extreme states and observe them with curiosity without being overwhelmed by them.

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  4. “mantra of “just get the drugs into the patient” to the extent that we now in the UK even have policies for lying to patients and hiding medicine in their food or drink.”

    I knew that doctors were allowed to lie to their patients about psych drugs in the UK but “hiding medicine in their food and drink” Anyone know any more about this ?

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    • Yes.

      It can be done by a Community Nurse who has no prescribing rights, and no ‘patient’ even here in Western Australia. Sounds insane, and had they retrieved the documents I have I wouldn’t believe me lol. But there it is, drug them without their knowledge, point guns at them to cause an acute stress reaction and then subject to 7 hours of interrogation. Not a problem. Simply conceal the evidence and slander the complainant as a paranoid delusional, and of course threaten their families.

      The need to get medical care to citizens has meant the Chief Psychiatrist has gone to the extraordinary lengths of discarding the laws protecting the public, and via his negligence and dereliction of duty allowed carte blanche to do whatever it takes to root out mental illness. Even if it means torturing people into confessions that they are ill.

      To make an omlette you need to crack a few eggs i’m told.

      We have even done away with confidentiality between doctor/patient, lawyer/client or priest parishoner, but don’t let the public know. They’re walking into the trap left right and centre.

      High Court of Australia. “No spousal privilege in common law in Australia”. Thus the dominoes fall and coercion can be used to have doctors, lawyers of priests provide information to police despite claiming they will keep it to themselves. National security i’m told. Or a means to conceal the truth.

      Would you spy on your brother? Would you eat your dead brothers flesh? Neh, yeah would abhor it.

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      • Funnily enough Australia made a complaint to the United Nations about “mental patients” in Ghana being spiked by doctors. Human rights abuses they claimed. And yet here they are engaging in the same practice with citizens (soon to be made “patients” post hoc to conceal the crimes and ensure no action by police).

        A little bit of hypocrisy never hurt anyone though. I notice that Amnesty Interational is pushing the Australian Prime Minister to have a go at Joko Widodo while he is here regarding the human rights abuses in Indonesia. Pot meet kettle. Bit rich Australia with a well established torture program in place complaining about the behaviour of others. Amnesty does seem to have become a tool of Western ‘democracies’ to use against other governments as a means to pressure them into preferred actions. The only human rights watch they seem to care about is the Rolex.

        Bit tough to do that (point fingers about human rights abuses, we sat back and watched them be brutalised and said nothing for quite some time. See Noam Chomsky on the lack of interest in East Timor up until they found oil) with East Timor so we needed to resort to bugging their government offices to be able to cheat them out of their oil.

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  5. You repeatedly used an interesting use of the word “recuperated,” what is your definition for that word? I guess we may start with this, “I am making no claim on how this narrative of psychedelics relates to their ‘effectiveness’ in relieving any particular cause of diagnosed mental illness.”

    I think those of us here have already pointed out the primary causes of the two “most serious” DSM disorders. Whitaker pointed out that the ADHD drugs and antidepressants create the “bipolar” symptoms, in “Anatomy of an Epidemic.” And I’ve repeatedly pointed out that the neuroleptics/antipsychotics can create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome and anticholinergic toxidrome.

    I don’t agree that psychiatry and capitalism are somehow uniquely intimately linked. Psychiatry, historically, has done evil deeds for many governmental belief systems. Psychiatrists murdered millions in Bolshevik led communist Russia, as well as murdering millions more in Nazi led socialist Germany.

    Our societies’ problems all ultimately go back to a fraud based banking system, but I won’t get into that here. Yet the reality is psychiatry will mass murder for any type of powerful governmental system. Right now psychiatry is murdering 8 million innocent citizens a year in Western civilization, based upon their scientific fraud based, “invalid,” DSM “mental illness” system.

    And if you consider they’ve been doing this for about 50 years, which they have been, we’re looking at the systemic, psychiatric drug induced, murders of 400,000,000 innocent Western civilization citizens. Which are mass psychiatric murders that dwarf the crimes of the Nazi psychiatric holocaust of the Jews, and even the Bolshevik psychiatric holocaust of Russians.

    But back to your blog, which points out that the psychedelics allow for “an intimate relationship and even dependency between the seen and the unseen, between the world of nature and human creation on one side, and normally invisible and intelligent forces.”

    Oddly, weaning one off of the psych drugs also allows for such enlightenment into the “collective unconscious,” or the “normally invisible and intelligent forces,” that our psychiatric “professionals” deny exist. Like a valid relationship with God, or as you call it, “a doorway to the divine.”

    I do agree, our “mental health” workers, whose DSM “bible” only allows them to believe in the material world, physical symptoms, should consider the existence of the spiritual realm. And definitely, especially in the US, where neurotoxic poisoning people for belief in God or the Holy Spirit is illegal. The “mental health” workers really should stop poisoning people for belief in the Holy Spirit.

    And I will say, since psychiatry has to force and coerce people to take their drugs. Psychiatry wouldn’t likely even exist, if we actually had a free market economy, and the psychiatrists were not allowed to force treat people.

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  6. “Magic creates something tangible out of “thin air.” Magic does not concern itself with how things work; it thrives in ambiguity and deference to unseen forces. Cultures where magic thrives are incompatible with capitalist values of the primacy of individual responsibility and rationalization of all aspects of life that the constant pursuit of efficiency demands.”

    Magic creates something out of thin air? You mean like the DSM creates mental illnesses out of nothing?

    Magic does not concern itself with how things work, thrives in ambiguity and deference to unseen forces? I assume you get where i’m going with this one Shariq? Sounds way too much like psychiatry for my liking.

    Great news though that this magical system is incompatible with capitalism. Can we expect purges of these people who are practicing ‘witchcraft’ any time soon? Because i’ve got a life I’d like to get on with living minus these leeches who seem to have attached themselves to me with magic spells, and incantations of laws that seem to have zero relation to reason or logic.

    “The idea that we may experience the world from the point of view of a non-human animal has no place in our culture of individualism.”

    So you’ve never been involuntarily commited and forced to take these brain damaging drugs then?

    Untie the knots Brother.

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  7. The psychedelics of indigenous societies have a social function, just like the psychotropics of capitalist society: to prevent society from evolving. Primitive societies are absolutely incredible in their concervatism: they can remain similar to themselves for tens of thousands of years.

    The ritual consumption of narcotics to stupefy the people and thus prevent any human progress is thus an instrument of choice to keep society in its current state. No new invention, no discovery is then possible.

    It is only in exceptional circumstances (war, famine, migration …) that the tribe is forced to moderate its consumption of narcotics, and possibly to evolve, but it takes an extremely long time.

    Thus, the opposition of indigenous “spiritual” society to “materialist” capitalist society is irrelevant, because in both cases the consumption of narcotics has a surprisingly similar social function: to prevent society from evolving. And more precisely in capitalist society: preventing the revolution.

    This video explains it absolutely very well, taking for example the monopoly of the production and distribution of alcohol in Tsarist Russia.

    What is true for the monople of alcohol is just as true for the “medical” monopoly of massively consumed psychiatric drugs in contemporary capitalist society.

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    • An important first mistake, psychedelics are not narcotics. “”narcotic (n.)
      late 14c., narcotik, “substance which directly induces sleep or allays sensibility and blunts the senses,” from Old French narcotique (early 14c.), noun use of adjective, and directly from Medieval Latin narcoticum, from Greek narkōtikon, neuter of narkōtikos “making stiff or numb,” from narkōtos, verbal adjective of narkoun “to benumb, make unconscious,” from narkē “numbness, deadness, stupor, cramp” (also “the electric ray”).” Psychedelics most certainly do not make people want to go so sleep, or do they blunt the senses. Quite the mindblowing direct opposition. Narcotic drugs are the opiates, the drugs that are right now killing thousands of people in America etc.
      Now your belief that the use of psychedelics in tribal societies caused them not to evolve…? Hmmm quote comical. On one had I can see what you mean regarding tribal identity, etc, but will get to that in a moment. It is actually argued that not only can psychedelics help evolve tribes, they were the key which helped evolve the human race. IE there is a mystery why ‘all of a sudden’ humans started doing art in caves, and the human brain capacity dramatically evolved…etc, and theories exist it was the psychedelic inspiration. And people like Terrence McKenna have even speculated the eating of shrooms helped apes evolved into humans known as the ‘Stoned Ape Theory’. it is a definite that in mythologies worldwide the presence of psychedelics is central, but yet hidden in text and symbolism.
      In modern western culture there is lots of evidence that world-changing ideas were inspired with psychedelics.
      What I think you are confusing about is set and setting and how that can have an affect of what you may tern not-evolving. But are you for one not looking at that from the perspective of a modern person who accepts a myth of PROGRESS?? That the criteria for ‘rational life’ MUST be a drive to UFOs of some shit. that we can never stand ‘still’ must evolve evolve. And true to form there is this transhumanist dream now which thinks our destiny is to merge with the machine and become ‘immortal’….? No thanks!

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    • The role of a Shaman in a traditional society is, indeed, meant to conserve the tribe and culture as is, without evolution. Evolution is not a welcome beast in a small interdependant tribe. Individualism is not a welcome development.

      This is interesting to me, as a post-tribal Shaman, my role is to help facilitate growth and evolution and release from the social constraints which have a person blocked and tied. To me – this is what psychedelics do, too.

      And yet – we got the psychedelics from traditional cutlure, which uses them quite differently. They are used for communion, for reinforcing traditional belief systems, for talking to God. And it is the Shaman’s role in traditional culture to interpret these experiences and visions to ensure that they are integrated into the tribe as a whole.

      I agree with Oldhead, these are not narcotic, and while it might feel like communion when the whole tribe (or village) gets drunk together – it is not the same communion as when you all step out of your brains together. Narcotics offer a false communion. Plant medicine is another animal entirely.

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  8. Very excited to read your article Shariq. For years I have warned about the medicalization of psychedelics by a warmongering and VERY oppressive system. Like that term, “recuperation” states, it is their way to try and tame the potential of psychedelics to help us see through their game. The “rigged game”. Because it would be extremely naive for people to assume that magically this move is for the sole benefit of human kind. There are a lot or PROFITS to be made, and the god of this civilisation is PROPHET. JUST that. make no mis-take. Is all about money.
    I think you are wrong to think this is just a capitalist thing. No, the powers behind the curtain support all sides. Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Socialism.
    Now what is extremely interesting to find out ad know about, considering you mention ‘magic’ in your article, is that the powers that be are practising ‘magick’ themselves!! They are deeply into the occult, and they take it very seriously. They use codes involving numbers (gematria, and numerology), symbolism, wordplay, occult astrology, etc etc. The 9/11 attacks, which have been and continue to be, their pretext for their ‘war on terror’ and the increasing oppression of the peoples in America and the world, was in large part also an occult ‘sacrificial’ ritual on a global stage (The Most Dangerous Book in the World, by S.K.Bain). So what would this mean then? That behind the scenes there is a Cabal (ie their main bible is the Kabbalah) which is literally doing magick ‘hidden in plain sight’?? Well, there are levels to their codex of magick. They communicate via its language to other initiates (think of the secret Freemason handshake), and also, having dissociated the public from a deeper magical experience of nature, they then have carte blanche to coopt the dissociated ‘unconscious’ and manipulate it towards their agenda. This has been admitted in regular propaganda via such spin masters as Edward Bernays, but this more occult stuff is as said more hidden. the very term ‘occult’ literally means ‘hidden’.
    This begs further questions of course such as: how would peasant/pagan/country-dweller magic differ from these ruling class ‘magick’ (spelt with a K, because these people’s prophet is Aleister Crowley who spelt it that way. I will leave this complex subject there for now, but what is being talked about is crucial for this whole debate. personally I have found the latter part of this post VERY taboo even with those in the psychedelic movement. That could be because its very beginnings, with the influence of Timothy Leary, there has been an infiltration of the occult via Aleister Crowley. There exists a video where Leary literally believes he is Crowley reborn continuing his great work!

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    • Hey Juliano –

      This is not really the place for this – but I use the term “magick” to describe: The Art and Science of Changing Consciousness At Will.

      I use the “k,” not because Crowley did – but because it is not stage magic or sleight of hand.

      In my learning, there are two main types of magick: Power Over/Service to Self, and Power With/ Service to Others.

      Those who would manipulate for Power are definitely in the Service to Self category. The problem with Service to Self as a path to Enlightenment (and it is a valid path, called the Left Hand Path – ref, that “Kabbalah” which you relegated specifically to the Power Over people, but which can be used for all manner of Transformation) is that Service to Self must be 99% pure in order to be effective. Therefore, Hitler failed to achieve his goal of Superman. He was not pure enough. (and if he was not “pure” or Selfish enough, then who is?) I strongly suspect that the Bohemian Grove practitioners, too, are sheep, led to believe they are more powerful, more pure than they truly are.

      The advantage of what you call “folk magick” or what I call “Service to Others,” is that you need only be 51% pure in order to achieve transformation and Self actualisation. Simply put – you help more people than you help yourself.

      This is the power of the grassroots, the power of the masses. The Big Magick that you classify under “occult” is indeed big, powerful, scary stuff.

      But we can each seize our Consciousness back from the Matrix, one Human at a time. Serve others. Offer help in manifesting Change of Consciousness At Will. This is not Mindfulness in the service of “don’t look behind the curtain,” instead it is Mindfulness in the service of discovering and uncovering what lies behind that curtain.

      There is much which is “occult.” Not all of it is evil. Some of it is even mainstream, such as the mysticism of Christian and Buddhist monks, or Sufis and Hindu saddhus, chanting, praying, dancing and meditating to purify and aid others. (and yes, a good majority of these are really just chanting to strengthen the status quo – but not all!)

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  9. Hi Shariq, thanks for this interesting article. I love that you’re giving voice here to the concern of psychedelics being subsumed within not just psychiatry, but the scientism worldview beneath which it operates. We need to push back against the reductionist ideologies that will suck out the poetry and ambiguity of tripping. And, stand firm against these plants being used to enhance “productivity” in work that’s destroying the plant homes. I’m excited that LSD and psilocybin and other magics are returning to the mainstream, but I’m sickened that they may be captured by the dominant neurobiological healing modalities, and thus reinforce the very deterministic/reductionistic foundations that these plants and fungi are meant to shake.

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  10. I’m at a crossroads of what to think. Society needs to be pushed to change.. but if pushed past a certain threshold a calamity follows. You mention the witch hunts of the middle and recent ages. We don’t want a repeat of that history. Humanity can get nasty, homicidal; and think they are justified in doing evil’s work; in the name of the deluge. Democracy presents a forest that is malleable. In the name of freedom we present our arguments. The air gives us life and we are greeted by the sun. The fire already burned below and all ideas are left equal here. Democracy was formed from steel (and some iron too). Capitalism wasn’t.

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    • This is a discussion I’ve had with some of the American Ayahuasca centres, who want someone to be off their SSRI’s for 3 weeks…

      I’m like – uh – that’s very questionable. If I were the Shaman I’d want them to be drug free for at least a year, preferably 2. Based on what I know about these drugs from Surviving Antidepressants.

      But when I mention it to them – they’re like, “Oh, the Medicine will take care of that. . .” and I’m like – um. Neuroemotions? Extreme physical and nervous system reactions? Akathisia – Tardive Dys-anything.

      So a little cavalier with the post drug syndrome. I was unable to convince them of the danger.

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  11. Thanks for this great article on a difficult topic! A few thoughts of mine about that:

    I think there is a danger, not just of psychedelics being framed and used in a narrow way that just reinforces a dominant and too-narrow culture, but also in them being used in a way that is too open, or open to the wrong kind of dynamic.

    That perspective fits with that of many traditional understandings of Spirit generally – that when we open up to Spirit, things can go in a good way or a bad way, which is why it is good to have helpers nearby, a positive connection with community, that helps sort out which way to go.

    There are people right now using psychedelics in ways that totally fit with capitalism – as documented in articles like . There are people using them in some very dark ways – as Charlie Manson used to – some of that is documented in this article And there are people who are using them skillfully to promote healing, and to look outside of cultural forms which are clearly too narrow.

    Anyway, I think we need to be aware that the outcome from increased use of psychedelics is very much dependent on how we go about using them and integrating that use.

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    • I haven’t read that article yet, but will look for it, but if you wanna checkout real evil checkout this video I watched yesterday! CIA POISONER in CHIEF | MKUltra MIND CONTROL | Operation PAPERCLIP 2020
      #Just found it and read first bit. I will have lots to say in response, because I have had, for years, a deep interest in looking into the history of mythology, and psychedelics, and very well know they can be used for good or bad…like anything can. So we really need to look into this so the ‘they can be used for bad’ does not suppress their use for good. We just have to becomes aware is all, and go deep…

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