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Feed your head…

12 Jul

Aren’t back-handed compliments wonderful?
The other day Elaine said to me, “You haven’t got any middle age spread at all, you should be ashamed of yourself”

Well, having established that by “middle age spread” she didn’t mean fish paste or something, I decided to consider it complimentary none the less, until my brain caught up with the middle age part of the sentence and started banging on the wall to complain about the offensive language.

Really, none of us want to see ourselves as old, getting old, or even halfway-to-being-dead, which is essentially what “middle age” means after all.
But I don’t think this is necessarily a vanity issue, I think it’s more likely to be due to our constant internal monologue with ourselves.
And the reason for this is because the vast majority of these silent, trans-synaptic conversations we have in the privacy of our own heads aren’t held with the (in my case) 47 year old version of ourselves, but with version 1.0, that 15-20 year old who we were when our hopes and fears, our obsessions and prejudices moulded our personality into who we are today.

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Just think about it, every time you have a rant to yourself about the idiotic behaviour of other drivers, every tantrum that fumes inside your cranium, every ridiculous little story you make up to amuse yourself when you’re bored at work, all these exchanges take place in the unmistakable tones of righteous teenage rage, or the sort of childish terms you wouldn’t dream of using in the company of your mates.

I reckon the most likely explanation for this is that our brains are coming to the end of the sequence of developmental changes that are usually complete by the time we reach our early twenties, (until recently it was thought that this process had finished by our mid-teens) and that period of personality development is like the default setting for our inner selves.
That’s my theory anyway.

This leads me to wonder if this is also the reason that most people who indulge in the recreational use of certain naturally occurring (yet largely illegal) substances, generally tend to do so earlier in life rather than later.
After all, the more progressive scientific thinking is that psychoactive experiences can give access to hitherto unexplored areas of conciseness, and at what better time to plumb those depths of the psyche than when we are still developing that inner voice, and when we still listen to what it tells us.
Because, cliché or not, you dorealise some truly amazing things whilst under the influence of certain hallucinogens, and although they may seem trivial in the cold, squinty light of morning, they stay with you in one form or another, stored away in the apocalyptically untidy teenage bedroom of your subconscious.

It has been long accepted that we have areas of our grey matter that remain a mystery to us, (although the much-quoted statistic about only using a third of our brain is nonsense) but it will be abundantly clear to anyone who has ever partaken of “Magic” mushrooms that there is certainly a portion of it reserved for doing things that it just can’t do the rest of the time.

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And now there is plenty of evidence to suggest that these mystical fungi (or rather their psychoactive ingredient, psilocybin) may also hold the key to treating many medical and psychological conditions.

There have of course been studies carried out before on the use of hallucinogenic drugs to treat mental disorders, most notably the infamous Oakridge psychiatric facility’s program of “experimental” treatments on drug addicts, in which men were given huge doses of LSD and then stripped naked and locked up together for prolonged periods. (Oakridge is currently being sued for inhuman treatment of patients under their care)

Things have moved on somewhat however, and a recent series of tests at Johns Hopkins University involved 18 healthy volunteers with an average age of 46 being given varying doses of psilocybin whilst in comfortable, controlled surroundings.
They were accompanied by trained staff who acted as “monitors” and were asked to lie in a comfy position, listen to classical music on headphones, and let their minds drift naturally.

In the study (published in Journal of psychopharmacology) they found that, over a year after the tests, 94% of participants still considered it to be in their top five “meaningful experiences”, while 39% claimed it was still their all time number one.
What’s more, families and friends reported a marked increase in empathy, cheerfulness, and ability to relax in daily life, amongst all the volunteers.
Doctors are hoping to utilize these properties of the drug to help alleviate anxiety in patients suffering from terminal illnesses, and to treat conditions ranging from depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to drug addiction and psychosis.

Not the first time a dying patient has had the benefit of “going out on a high” so to speak, Aldous Huxley famously penned a last request, (he was unable to speak in his final days) that his wife administer a gigantic shot of LSD on his deathbed.
She wrote about it in her book This Timeless Moment and you can download a free pdf copy of it here.

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Huxley – “Oh great, another article on me getting wasted”

Unfortunately, hopes for the introduction of such therapies in the UK have taken a turn for the worse recently as a court ruling has declared that the use of banned (natural, freely available) recreational drugs are not permitted in clinical trials or the resulting medication that may be developed from them.

A campaign to have this decision re-evaluated is being lead by perennial thorn in the sides of successive government anti-drug lobbies, Professor David Nutt.

Meanwhile, should you still hunger for more knowledge (or can you only thirst for knowledge?) here’s another view on the medical properties of shrooms, from someone who’s obviously a a Fun Guy to be with!

Oh come on, you didn’t think I’d be able to resist that one do you?

Happy hunting…

***BLAH BLAH BLAH…. NOT BIG, NOT CLEVER… BLAH BLAH BLAH….. DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME….. BLAH BLAH…. JUST SAY NO… BLAH BLAH***

[There, that should cover it]

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9 responses to “Feed your head…

  1. Yun Yi

    July 12, 2013 at 21:09

    Interesting post. I always like mushrooms. I admire those scientists who did all experiments for just one specific effect of one specific item (that’s how we could get the right idea), but in personal level, I prefer listen to my body, in terms of what to eat or what not to. It is impossible to get what our bodies really need by just following science reports, as they change all the time. However, again, I believe scientific effort should be appreciated, not by our stomachs, but by abstract admiration.

     
  2. adsnads1976

    July 12, 2013 at 22:01

    Great Post! I had some wonderful experiences on magic mushrooms when I was much younger – none of them negative. Bill Hicks tried to persuade his mum to try them before he died, so convinced was he of their ability to alter perception permanently. I’m not sure if she did or didn’t….

     
    • dalecooper57

      July 12, 2013 at 22:03

      Thank you, glad you knew what I was on about then.

       
  3. Ron

    July 13, 2013 at 01:06

    VERY interesting and informative post, Dale!

    Loved the video.

    Never tried mushrooms myself, but know many other people who have and enjoyed the experience.

    Here in the States, they’re trying to legalize marijuana. Some States have already done so, others not. It is legal for medicinal purposes for things like counteracting the side effects of chemotherapy and also for Glaucoma. I think the main reason why they don’t want to legalize it for recreational purposes it because they can’t figure out a way to TAX it, not because they’re worried that’s it harmful, but because they can’t find a way to make MONEY off it – HA!

    Enjoyed this post! Have a super weekend.

     
    • dalecooper57

      July 13, 2013 at 13:08

      Thanks Ron. I enjoyed writing it too.
      If the government could find a way of taxing drugs, the economic problems we’re having now probably wouldn’t exist.
      I can imagine Wall Street now – “Buy weed! Buy weed!”
      Hahahaha.
      Enjoy the weekend.

       
  4. iancochrane

    July 13, 2013 at 18:42

    Enjoyed the post Dale; some interesting stuff there. Wasn’t Huxley a dude?

    I generally favour the Buddhist philosophy of moderation in all things. Mmm…still practicing that one.
    Cheers, ic

     
    • dalecooper57

      July 13, 2013 at 21:12

      I think moderation is for after experimentation. We’re all different, we need to establish our personal boundaries. Then we know how much is too much.

       
  5. jerseylil

    July 17, 2013 at 08:21

    Great discussion topic, Dale! Like your post title, “Feed Your Head,” from “White Rabbit,” very fitting. I had heard about the psilocybin study at Johns Hopkins, interesting results. I’ve never had magic mushrooms, but I had peyote once many years ago (in my 20s). Truly awesome, almost spiritual experience. I saw musical notes in vivid colors floating around the guitar someone was playing. It was the only time I ever had anything like that and the memory stayed with me.

    I believe psilocybin and similar hallucinogens could be very useful in treating illness. Huxley knew how to go out happy (LOL on your quote under his picture!). The U.S. has recently opened up to medical marijuana and it’s now legal in a couple of states, and I think there may be more psilocybin studies. Good luck across the ocean! Liked that video, quite informative (and loved that dog popping up in there too!).

     
    • dalecooper57

      July 17, 2013 at 08:39

      Thanks Lil. Yes, synaesthesia is one of the more interesting effects of psilocybin (hearing colours, seeing sounds etc..) and music is always a good thing to accompany any psychedelic experience.

       

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