Shamans, Therapists, MDMA, and Crimes against Humanity.

MDMA is in the news lately, having successfully passed the first of many FDA-registered Phase III trials. MAPS, the life passion of Rick Doblin, has been working on this for 35 years, fighting the US Federal Government over the right to access top quality psychiatric care and is finally winning big. But our society is the biggest winner.

MDMA deactivates the amygdala, and from there trauma can be dealt with. Normally the amygdala puts up a wall of fear that prevents frontal-lobe control of the trauma emotion so the cycle of experience repeats indefinitely without resolution.

Some people are critical of the Phase III trial requiring talk therapy with the medicine, but it really is necessary to gain approval. Practiced Stoics and meditators may be able to achieve solo resolution, but most people aren’t those in 2021. And it’s always possible for any psychedelic to uncap a “bad trip” emotional storm that lies beneath a calm sea.

For these reasons, a good therapist will guide the exploration and resolution of trauma. This has been the role of the shaman since before history was recorded. It’s literally an essential part of being a human social creature. Humans have called that role by different names: mystics, shamans, priests, elders, pastors—but the need hasn’t changed even if the titles have.

One day, if we achieve the Übermensch we can reevaluate, but for now there’s hope of moving beyond the societal trauma epidemic to a degree not seen since the Mystery Religions.

The deep tragedy in all this is that therapists were actively saving lives with MDMA in the 70’s and 80’s—describing it as a wonder drug for PTSD—and then the holy-roller politicians stepped in and illegally banned it—because it validated therapists as being effective without the priest/church apparatus being required (not that incense in churches haven’t been psychedelics over the years).

The number of cases of avoidable suicides, depression, rage stemming from depression—that leading to suicide, murder, battery, and mass killings that could have been prevented—are unspeakable. Those will all fall rapidly after approval and integration into society.

Were there justice, those politicians, if they are alive, would be held to account for a massive crime against humanity.

The thing that’s really going to bake their noodle is when many of these same people experiencing treatment believe—for the first time—that they have experienced something they can best describe as “God”.

The Folly of the “Well-rounded Collective.”

Dartmouth Medical School is in the news for both its cheating and the scandal that emerged from overbearing countermeasures. When I was at Dartmouth we operated on the Dartmouth Honor Code. Want to do your calculus exam out on the Green? No problem, just be back in time. You had a “blue book” exam packet so everybody left you alone.

About ten years later they stopped favoring “the well-rounded individual” and started looking for “An Incan trapeze artist/cellist with an interest in entomology ” in Admissions. Administrators would extol the virtue of ‘specialists’. They started to try to engineer the well-roundedness of the collective rather than the individual. I mentored some of these kids. They stood no chance of passing Calculus without cheating.

The software is a countermeasure to the symptom but doesn’t address the cause. Getting back the culture of Honor once it is gone is a Herculean task. Something that took centuries to build can be destroyed in half a decade by practitioners of a corrupt ideology.

But the alternative to not trying is to be locked in a perpetual arms race that will forever erode the culture from within—until there is nothing left.

All the mind’s a stage.

All the mind’s a stage, and all the personalities merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
They bravely fight the demons of their inner dialogue;
Occasionally offering us glimpses of the vast World within;
Truly knowable only to one.