Whilst the ingesting of cannabis and everything related loses its stigma in our modern societies, it is looking all the more likely that psilocybin from psychedelic mushrooms is to follow suit. Psilocybin assisted therapy has been proven to show unquestionable results for those suffering from PTSD and treatment-resistant depression, and is helping those traumatised by conflict regain control of their lives.
In the US, military veterans are clamouring for psychedelic therapy to help treat the shell-shocked and those traumatised from the hellish consequences of their ‘boots on the ground’ experience of war. The use of cannabis in our society has greatly changed in a short amount of time. Boxed and available on supermarket shelves, CBD is accepted as beneficial for pain relief and relaxation with very few questions asked. It seems inevitable that magic mushrooms, MDMA, and ketamine, with their cosmic ability to help someone face their traumas, will undoubtedly become pushed to the mainstream before long.
Mental health is no longer taboo, depression and anxiety have openly become accepted as a societal malaise that can strike upon any one of us. The search for a way out of this fog or anxiety, backed by increasing clinical studies, has been widely reported upon in the last few years. These studies have proven that those experiencing PTSD and are treated with psychedelics fare far better than those who are not.
One question is whether it is necessary to have a full-blown ‘out of your mind’ trip to confront your demons, or whether it is possible to simply extract compounds from the psychedelic material itself in order to achieve the same results. The US military believes in the latter and is investing millions of dollars in its pursuit of it. The question has to be why? From their side, they talk of the disorientation and the uncomfortable elements of a psychoactive journey that these substances may induce when ingested. Like jumping out of a helicopter to set fire to a village isn’t disorienting or uncomfortable for anyone involved?
$26.9 million of the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have been placed to treat not only the depression suffered by those who have been to war but the drink and drug abuse that veterans turn towards to self-medicate afterwards.
The fear of hallucinating is a societal indoctrination. Ironically, the imagery of a trip is aped by adverts, computer games, and music videos to sell absolutely anything that corporations are shilling. The concept of actually taking a trip though is stigmatised by the fear of ‘never coming back’ and backed by stories of acid-casualties drooling in mental wards. Is the reality somewhat different for most people who choose to take the journey? Without wildly advocating that everyone should just go out there and dose themselves, surely it is in the shadows and the discomfort that it is possible we get to face the very issues that hamper our mental health. The subconscious is a powerful place where we store what we need to protect ourselves but LSD and Magic Mushrooms undoubtedly unlock the door to what we have buried within us. Issues that can lay within us for a very long time. Having the strength to come to terms with our weakness is half of the battle.
Modern medicine deals out antidepressants, leaving the patient numb with a steady even mood. To be cocooned from any emotion at all may be extremely useful in the short term for those who are suffering from terrible mental anguish, but in the long term, users have described feeling an incredible emptiness from being numbed from it all. Instead of suppressing emotion, we should be cleaning the wounds.
One powerful voice in the US is that of Chad Kuske, a former Navy SEAL.
Kuske underwent psilocybin therapy after years of suffering from PTSD and he now swears by it. Having served in the military for 20 years with tours in South America, Africa, and across the Middle East, he returned in 2017 to his home state of Portland to find that he, not uncommonly for many ex-servants of the military, felt ravaged by the stresses of his experience. The most glaring factors for those in this position are severe depression. wild mood swings and explosions of anger. Symptoms that make it very difficult for these soldiers to return to their families.
He has continued to attend what are in the US, illegal therapy sessions once every three months, and feels that he is able to slowly untangle himself whilst guided by a therapist, sitting amongst others recounting their own difficult experiences. Mushrooms will make you open up to your emotions, something that is incredibly hard to do once you have buried the stresses so far deep down into yourself, as soldiers must do on a day-to-day basis in order to carry out their functions.
The nascent psychedelic movement that is sprouting up all across the US shows the early shoots of this kind of therapy and it is borne from necessity. It is difficult for society to begrudge these retired soldiers the opportunity to claim back their lives. Let us hope that in a time where we need spiritual connection more than ever, that those attending these sessions can not only bring peace to their lives but the opportunity for the laws to change for the rest of us, as they have for cannabis. What is illegal now may return freely to our cultures, where it has been present for thousands and thousands of years and way beyond.