Cindy and I returned from Jamaica just over a week ago, arriving in what seems like a different world, a world of greater benevolence and greatly increased possibilities. Both of us have been relieved of enormous burdens that we had been carrying somewhat unconsciously. Both of us feel empowered to trust ourselves and to chart our own paths in the world, unfettered by fantastical stories about what other people might expect from us or demand of us, unlimited by the false hope that someone, perhaps a less-than-optimally-competent parent in the distant past, will finally come to save us.
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds. — Bob Marley, Redemption Song
Wanting to help a family member who has been suffering from severe depression, I had been reading the reports of the many studies into the beneficial effects of psilocybin (and other psychedelic substances) on various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Because psilocybin has not been made illegal in Jamaica, there are many psilocybin-assisted retreats being offered there, making available—to those who are lucky enough to be able to afford to travel there—the benefits of this approach to psychological integration.
Even more so after experiencing it myself, I’m coming to believe that this is by far the most effective tool we have for addressing not only mental health issues but also the lower-grade suffering that pervades, and ultimately hobbles, the human endeavor as a whole.
Psychedelic mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, the most potent of which are of the genus Psilocybe, contain both psilocybin and psilocyn. In the human body, the prodrug psilocybin is metabolized into psilocyn, which is a serotonin receptor agonist (activator) that produces psychedelic effects. The word psychedelic is greek and means mind-manifesting. The psychedelic experience brings into awareness potentially nonadaptive mental processes that were hitherto unconscious, and that were therefore difficult, or often impossible, to untangle and consciously repattern. Psychedelics seem to naturally broaden our menu of behavioral options, leading to much more adaptive human functioning.