Mad Thoughts on Mushrooms: Discourse and Power in the Study of Psychedelic Consciousness. Anthropology of Consciousness, 18(2), 74-97.

This paper addresses the question of what happens to consciousness under the influence of psychedelic drugs—specifically of psilocybin, or “magic” mushrooms— and performs a Foucauldian discourse analysis upon the answers that have been variously proposed. Predominant societally legitimated answers (the pathological, psychological, and prohibition discourses) are those that, in Foucault’s sense, are imposed from the outside as “scientific classifications,” that is, they are based upon observations of the effects of mushrooms on others. By contrast, a series of resistive discourses (the recreational, psychedelic, entheogenic, and animistic discourses) have been constructed in opposition, as a means of making sense of the subjective experience of taking mushrooms. When critiqued, only the animistic discourse— the belief that mushrooms occasion encounters with discarnate spirit entities, or animaphany—transgresses a fundamental societal boundary. In the West, to believe in the existence of spirits is to risk being labeled “mad,” and as such the phenomenon of mushroom-induced animaphany goes largely ignored. It nevertheless remains a phenomenon in need of further scholarly research.

Protestors Target the DEA in Support of Psilocybin for Terminally Ill Patients

Peaceful civil disobedience, a longstanding American tradition, will take place at the doorstep of the Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, next month where activists say they will block entrances to the building to draw attention to the right of terminally ill cancer patients to use psilocybin.

Psychedelics Not Linked To Mental Health Problems Or Suicidal Behavior: A Population Study

A recent large population study of 130,000 adults in the United States failed to find evidence for a link between psychedelic use (lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin or mescaline) and mental health problems. Using a new data set consisting of 135,095 randomly selected United States adults, including 19,299 psychedelic users, we examine the associations between psychedelic use and mental health. After adjusting for sociodemographics, other drug use and childhood depression, we found no significant associations between lifetime use of psychedelics and increased likelihood of past year serious psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts, suicidal plans and suicide attempt, depression and anxiety. We failed to find evidence that psychedelic use is an independent risk factor for mental health problems. Psychedelics are not known to harm the brain or other body organs or to cause addiction or compulsive use; serious adverse events involving psychedelics are extremely rare. Overall, it is difficult to see how prohibition of psychedelics can be justified as a public health measure.

Over 30 Million Psychedelic Users in the United States

We estimated lifetime prevalence of psychedelic use (lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), mescaline, and peyote) by age category using data from a 2010 US population survey of 57,873 individuals aged 12 years and older. There were approximately 32 million lifetime psychedelic users in the US in 2010; including 17% of people aged 21 to 64 years (22% of males and 12% of females). Rate of lifetime psychedelic use was greatest among people aged 30 to 34 (total 20%, including 26% of males and 15% of females).

The Adverse Effects of Hallucinogens From Intramural Perspective

Very recently, after a long-lasting, worldwide moratorium on research of hallucinogenic agents, a good number of advanced countries have been revising their position, and start to approve testing the physiological and therapeutic effects of hallucinogens in human subjects. The purpose of this article is to review safety information available in the literature on hallucinogen use, and sort out those data from the reported complications of their abuse. Because of prohibitory regulations of the last 35 years, there are difficulties in achieving this kind of evaluation. Our approach has to be broad, and at times retrospective, in contrast to the well-controlled, focused, prospective design of the premarketing trials of legal drugs. The article summarizes the analyses in anticipation of supportive regulatory changes for the use of hallucinogens in well controlled studies and strictly supervised clinical trials.

Psilocybin Mushroom (Psilocybe Semilanceata) Intoxication With Myocardial Infarction

Case Report: Intentional intoxication with natural hallucinogenic substances such as hallucinogenic mushrooms continues to be a major problem in the US and Europe, particularly in the harbor complex of northwest Poland (Pomerania). A case is described of Psilocybe intoxication in an 18-year-old man resulting in Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, arrhythmia, and myocardial infarction. The indole concentrations of hallucinogenic mushrooms may predict the risk for adverse central nervous system and cardiac toxicity.

Entheogens in Christian art: Wasson, Allegro, and the Psychedelic Gospels

In light of new historical evidence regarding ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson’s correspondence with art historian Erwin Panofsky, this article provides an in-depth analysis of the presence of entheogenic mushroom images in Christian art within the context of the controversy between Wasson and philologist John Marco Allegro over the identification of a Garden of Eden fresco in the 12th century Chapel of Plaincourault in France. It reveals a compelling financial motive for Wasson’s refusal to acknowledge that this fresco represents Amanita muscaria, as well as for Wasson’s reluctance to pursue his hypothesis regarding the entheogenic origins of religion into Christian art and artifacts. While Wasson’s view – that the presence of psychoactive mushrooms in the Near and Middle East ended around 1000 BCE – prevailed and stymied research on entheogens in Christianity for decades, a new generation of 21st century researchers has documented growing evidence of A. muscaria and psilocybin-containing mushrooms in Christian art, consistent with ethnobotanist Giorgio Samorini’s typology of mushroom trees. This article presents original photographs, taken during fieldwork at churches and cathedrals throughout Europe and the Middle East, that confirm the presence of entheogenic mushrooms in Christian art: in frescoes, illuminated manuscripts, mosaics, sculptures, and stained glass windows. Based on this iconic evidence, the article proposes a psychedelic gospels theory and addresses critiques of this theory by art historians, ardent advocates, medieval historians, and conservative Catholics. It calls for the establishment of an Interdisciplinary Committee on the Psychedelic Gospels to independently evaluate the growing body of evidence of entheogenic mushrooms in Christian art in order to resolve a controversial question regarding the possible role of entheogens in the history and origins of Christianity.

Commentary on: Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance by Griffiths et al.

The decade of the 1960s began the current era of heavy drug use in America, beginning perhaps with Timothy Leary’s Pied Piper invitation to, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” (with psychedelic drugs). While fortunately most youths who experimented did not suffer lasting damage, those of us on the mental health front lines at the time saw a number of casualties (Kleber 1967). Eventually, the hippies and the LSD-fueled “Summer of Love” in San Francisco were replaced by motorcycle gangs, amphetamines, and gratuitous violence. Psychedelic drugs receded into a permanent background of US drug use, never going away altogether, but not reaching the same penetration.