My friend Alfred felt moved recently to update me on his attempt to treat chronic depression by micro-dosing with psychedelics. And macro-dosing.
Happily, living in Amsterdam, his medicine is freely available. What an enlightened nation, the Dutch.
On occasion over the past year or so, Alfred was tempted to follow the high dose regime which has formed the subject of considerable medical research at university hospitals in the US and Europe. The research is out there for all to see and can be found most easily by googling the names of Roland Griffiths (John Hopkins University) and Robin Carhart-Harris (Imperial College).
The lucky guys and gals in such trials were sent to the moon with heroic doses of psilocybin. Whereupon the majority enjoyed spiritual experiences previously confined to rarified Zen masters and the holiest of Tibetan monks. And the odd Christian nutcase who holed him or herself up in a wall to contemplate god, or enjoy a dark night of the soul.
Such lucky recipients were said to have been freed of accidie for a period of many months, although no permanent cure was effected it seems.
Alfred’s experience with larger dollops of psychedelics was fun but less efficacious. He did indeed walk through William Blake’s hallowed doors of perception, in what proved to be a fascinating exploration of consciousness and the human psyche. But rather than banishing the noon day demon for months, Alfred was lucky if it remained in abeyance for days.
Alfred may have seen alien spaceships and lost any sense of self, but the black dog was menacingly scraping at his door again shortly afterwards.
You can’t just keep taking whacking doses of funny stuff and get away with it. The effect wears off, you will begin to feel physically tired….and in any event, that was not what Alfred had signed up for. He never was a junkie.
And so in between occasional larger (but not humongous) doses, Alfred returned to the Silicon valley concept of micro-dosing.
For the uninitiated, that entails a dose which is wholly or almost sub-perceptual. Alfred does not recommend wholly sub-perceptual doses. In his case he has found most benefit from just being able to notice the subtle mental effects. As with larger doses, the Lego bricks of his mind are shuffled and jumbled. And resettle in a more satisfactory configuration.
Even on a micro-dose, Alfred reports the incredible feeling of the lights being turned back on, the fog lifting to reveal blue sky and life giving sunshine.
For the likes of Alfred, whose physiological makeup mars an otherwise reasonably serviceable mind, the judicious and measured use of such remedies is not just life enhancing but life saving.
Sadly, the world is full of the unwoke, most of whom are presumably free of such debilitating conditions. The self important blusterers, for reasons best known to themselves, outlawed such life giving substances and it is the devil’s own job to reverse such inanity.
Happily, the battle is joined. It is said that the use of psychedelics in medicine may be as significant as the introduction of penicillin. Given his experience, Alfred is not a bit surprised.