Why Psychedelics Are So Important To Veterans

By Hendrike (CC)

Tom Shroder, author of Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal, tells the story of Nick, a veteran haunted by PTSD in an interview with The Daily Beast in which he relates why psychedelics are so important to veterans, and the roadblocks researchers face getting it to them:

LSD, an illicit drug with a serious stigma, was once the darling of the psychotherapy world.

Synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938, the two decades following its birth were populated with study after study showing positive effects. With its ability to reduce defensiveness, help users relive early experiences, and make unconscious material accessible, it proved tremendously successful in therapy.

In a plethora of studies from the 1950s, researchers found the drug, and other psychedelics in its family, to be successful in treating victims of psychosomatic illnesses ranging from depression to addiction. With fear and hesitation stripped away, psychologists could help their patients dive headfirst into a painful memory, feeling, or thought, and work through it. For some, it sped up a process of awakening that may have taken years. For others, it opened a door that may never have been found otherwise.

But with the widespread recreational use of LSD beginning the 1960s, came both fear from both the general public and the government. After 1970 (when LSD was put on the schedule 1 substance list) it wasn’t technically illegal to do research with psychedelics but rather virtually impossible, given the professional and regulatory hurdles

More than 40 years later, the criminalization of Hofmann’s drug still persists. The means and approval to research the psychedelic on humans is few and far between. The freedom of sufferers who may benefit to access it is all but nonexistent.

Nowhere are the negative effects of psychedelics’ fate more pronounced than in the story of America’s veterans. Of the many illnesses for which the psychedelic-assisted therapy showed promise, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was one of the most profound. An estimated 500,000 Iraq-Afghanistan military veterans are suffering from PTSD, an excruciating illness that is believed to fuel the estimated 20 suicides that result from that demographic per day. In FDA sanctioned studies using MDMA-assisted therapy to treat veterans with PTSD, the success rate has been astounding. Why has no one noticed?…

[continues at The Daily Beast]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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40 Comments on "Why Psychedelics Are So Important To Veterans"

  1. ‘An estimated 500,000 Iraq-Afghanistan military veterans are suffering from PTSD, an excruciating illness that is believed to fuel the estimated 20 suicides that result from that demographic per day.’

    Woo hoo! Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon …

    • emperorreagan | Sep 10, 2014 at 9:02 am |

      Not really.

      The people who happily spend the lives of others on empire are unaffected. It’s their intent that drive all wars. Really, suicides are a boon for them because it’s an opportunity to knock future benefits off the books. One less cost for empire.

      As for the intent of soldiers themselves: during WW2, Marshall’s studies showed that in major combat, on average 3 out of 4 weapons weren’t fired. Many others fire without intent to harm the “enemy.” Because people are, in general, reluctant to kill, much of the way military trains soldiers is based on circumventing an individual’s intent & morality and conditioning them to kill. You don’t shoot hundreds of pop-up targets or silhouettes to become a better shot – you do it so your immediate reaction is to shoot. You don’t stab a sandbag with a bayonet or thrust a sword into a hay bail hundreds of times because someone thinks it’s developing your stabbing skill – you do it to increase the probability you’ll do that when it’s a human standing in front of you.

      Also one reason why governments spend so much time trying to invent moralities for warfare and demonizing enemies. You have to subvert the individual to act and win over a populace who would otherwise not support the action if the intent was out laid plainly.

      • Virtually Yours | Sep 10, 2014 at 10:37 am |

        “You have to subvert the individual to act” If they have allowed themselves to become so thoroughly brainwashed, then it could be argued that they are already as good as dead…

        Then again, I willingly pay my taxes which go to fund these war crimes, so does that make me any less responsible for the actions of those on the ground or even those calling the shots?

        • > they have allowed themselves

          The idea that the individual’s will is inviolable is problematic. Recent studies have suggested that childhood trauma is the actual source of PTSD in veterans, as soldiers without signs of abuse prior to deployment very rarely developed it.

        • misinformation | Sep 10, 2014 at 10:19 pm |

          “Then again, I willingly pay my taxes…”

          The threat of violence by the people calling themselves the government, for doing anything else, muddles the notion that you have a choice in the matter.

          • Are you saying he’s a victim?

          • misinformation | Sep 11, 2014 at 12:24 am |

            Of coercion, at least.

          • How would you suggest he respond to and deal with that victimization?

          • misinformation | Sep 11, 2014 at 6:37 pm |

            I don’t know anything about he/she so giving prescriptions makes even less sense than if I did know her/him.

          • Yet you know that he’s in no way responsible for participating economically in the evil being done by his government?

          • misinformation | Sep 11, 2014 at 9:12 pm |

            If there is one, I don’t understand your point. He (using your pronoun) said he pays taxes. Therefor, his money is funding ‘the evil being done by his government’.

            I can’t find where I said ‘he’s in no way responsible for participating economically’ in that.

          • I just wanted to make sure nobody plays the Victim Card.

          • misinformation | Sep 11, 2014 at 10:19 pm |

            I think I may be playing the ‘obtuse card’ because I still don’t really understand where this is coming from but, you seem satisfied so I guess that works.

          • Virtually Yours | Sep 11, 2014 at 10:55 pm |

            Of my own choices. The buck $tops with me…

          • Virtually Yours | Sep 10, 2014 at 11:41 pm |

            Muddled or not, it’s still a choice. If they brought the draft back tomorrow, I would either flee or go to jail. They could never force me to fight for something I do not believe in. Yet I am able to compromise to the point where I will fund others to do all of the things that I claim to find so reprehensible…so what’s the difference? I am a hypocrite with muddled morals, yet a hypocrite nevertheless.

          • misinformation | Sep 11, 2014 at 12:26 am |

            “They could never force me to fight for something I do not believe in.”

            So you believe in funding murder?

          • Virtually Yours | Sep 11, 2014 at 10:53 pm |

            “So you believe in funding murder?” I believe that we are funding murder via our taxes. I don’t want to believe it, but it’s still true and not going to change until we demand it…

            The recent Hobby Lobby ruling opens up some interesting possibilities, and while employee benefits and taxes aren’t the same thing, the idea could still be applied logically and practically. We should be able to check off all of the boxes that we do (or don’t) want our taxes going towards. Let the war hawks give to the military and let those of us who want to fund social programs do so…it will balance out in the end, and everyone will get what they need/want/deserve.



            It looks like this was tried in the past, without much success: “In 1993 Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in an attempt to accommodate individual conscience in instances where a person’s religious beliefs may be adversely affected by the government. In the late 1990s three court cases were filed by Quaker war tax resisters using RFRA and the First Amendment guarantee to the free exercise of religion in an attempt to have penalties against war tax resisters removed and permit them to pay only for non-military programs. These cases were dismissed in lower courts, appealed, then dismissed again in the Second and Third Circuit Courts. In 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear any of the appeals.”

            Starting to sound like a broken record at this point, but it sure would be nice if we could hold a vote of no confidence against all of the current members of the Supreme Court (okay, the Congress and Senate, too) and then replace them all with sortition…

        • Earthstar | Sep 10, 2014 at 11:49 pm |

          Do you know in what ways you are brainwashed?
          What ways are your actions subverted?
          How could you?
          Are you good as dead…?

          • Virtually Yours | Sep 11, 2014 at 12:01 am |

            “Are you good as dead…?” I acknowledge the absurdity and hypocrisy of what I perceive, and yet I continue to participate…so perhaps I am worse.

          • Aren’t we all good as dead? Shouldn’t we all commit suicide?

        • Yes, I would like a line-item veto on my tax forms, please.

      • Re WWII, you’ve not offset the conscript factor.

        The aforementioned Iraq-Afghanistan veterans, were 100% volunteers for the abominable Neocon “War on Terror”, that provoked the largest protests the world had ever seen.

        They’ve no excuse.

        • Earthstar | Sep 10, 2014 at 11:55 pm |

          We could blame their patriotic, duty doing parents for bringing them up so. Or blame lying recruitment officers who signed them up.
          One thing tho, the xenophobic retards who signed up to go shoot Arabs aren’t the soldiers who are coming back with PTSD.

          • emperorreagan | Sep 11, 2014 at 10:55 am |

            Also contributing: children are bombarded with propaganda from the time someone first lets them watch TV. For many kids, that’s going to be during key developmental times, like when they’re first becoming self-conscious.

            If not then, by the time you hit school you’re hit with it. I’ve read kids start developing a sense of group dynamics and belonging around 5 or 6…around the time I can remember being forced to say the pledge of allegiance every morning.

            Then all the way through the teen years until you meet that recruitment officer that starts showing up in high school – it’s on TV and in your classes.

          • Yeah, it just affects the liberal STTNG fans, who who went over to engage the Taliban in talk.

    • Virtually Yours | Sep 10, 2014 at 10:40 am |

      I would agree with you that it is karma, but it is still not something you should take joy in…that will only result in more negative karma for you.

  2. thisbliss | Sep 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm |

    I’m sure a good loving presence helps here too. I’m not sure how these sessions work but if you were under the influence and suddenly came to the gaping realisation that you had been manipulated to inflict destruction upon your brothers and sisters I’d say it could be quite torturous on the psyche

  3. Adam Raymond Ravenhurst | Sep 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm |

    Why help people when you could incarcerate and marginalize them? USA USA USA USA

  4. BuzzCoastin | Sep 10, 2014 at 4:26 pm |

    taking lsd et al BEFORE joining the army
    would be a better cure

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