Arien Mack, Editor
Over the last several decades there has been a growing wave of concern over the use and abuse of mind-altering substances that has left in its wake increasingly large expenditures for what is familiarly called the “War on Drugs,” despite the simultaneously ever-expanding body of evidence attesting to that war’s failure. Because we believe that the issues underlying the use, abuse, and control of mind-altering substances cry out for a more rational and invigorated discussion, we made the decision to hold the eighth Social Research conference on Altered States of Consciousness. The proceedings of that conference appear in this issue.
Introduction to Part 1: States of Consciousness
The article presents an introduction to the theme of the altered states of consciousness conference. "Alter" is a Latin word which means "other" or "not self" and altered states include states of individual under alcohol intoxication, hypnotic trance, opium-induced dream or religious ecstasy. Common qualities of altered states include the state of otherness of an individual, they are deliberately induced, and they give pleasure. Individual in an altered state is notable for delusion, infatuation, or disassociation which are brought on by drugs, alcohol, music, sexual longing or by hypnotism. People deliberately induce mind altering substances into themselves or unto others for the pleasure they derive.
The Rhetoric of Consciousness
The article presents a study on the rhetoric of consciousness. It investigates how the epistemological problems raised by accounts of inner states are immensely complicated by the impulses to use language to represent these problems. It also examines the ways in which the ordinary language and the extraordinary language of literature represent various states of consciousness to other minds, and persuade them of the authenticity of such representations. The study has shown that epistemological problems raised by accounts of inner states are complicated by the impulses to use language to represent them.
Altered States of Consciousness
The article presents a study on the altered states of consciousness, and on how the human brain functions. It discusses the role played by every part of the human brain in doing its function. The relationship between the structural variation of human brain and the functions and mental activities than human is capable of performing is examined. It also discusses the factors that determine the size of a brain assembly, and attempts to relate the human feeling with that of the activity of the brain.
The Etiquette of Consciousness
The article presents a study on the social, cultural and discursive conventions and the etiquette of consciousness. Etiquette is defined as the practices and forms that are prescribed by social and ceremonial convention or authority. The study focuses on the range of discriminations and evaluations of states of consciousness within and across cultures. It examines the possibility that these discriminations affect the experience of consciousness and its alternations, or the articulation of consciousness.
Introduction to Part II: Alterations of Consciousness: Drug Ways
Each of the papers presented in this section places drug use in an historical and interdisciplinary context, opening the debate over the implications of national and global drug policy. These papers, and the Altered State of Consciousness conference to which they contributed, are important for three reasons. First, interdisciplinary conversations on drug and drug policy are too rare. Second, the language of “altered states of conscious” have disappeared from public discourse. Finally, these papers provide more than just a practical and historical perspective on drug use.
Altered States: Opium and Tobacco Compared
The article presents a study on the altered states as a way of drug control. It aims to examine how the effects of drugs on human body can vary and operate within a broader context. Altered states is treated to be the cultural and policy milieu within which drugs are regulated. It focuses on the identification of the political and social processes that make policymakers move toward or away from particular public health policies. The legal and cultural isolations of opium and tobacco are discussed and compared.
Psychedelics as Catalysts of Insight-Oriented Psychotherapy
The article presents a study on psychedelic amphetamine MDMA as a catalyst of insight-oriented psychotherapy. Psychedelic drugs which invite self-disclosure and self-exploration are believed to enhance psychotherapeutic processes, by fortifying the therapeutic alliance and facilitating abreaction, catharsis, understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. Psychedelics are synthetic and natural drugs which include the varieties of mescaline, psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), alkaloids, and others.
Bruce M. Cohen
Mind and Medicine: Drug Treatments for Psychiatric Illnesses
The article presents a study on drug treatments for psychiatric illnesses. Psychiatric illness is a disorder in the brain which causes alterations in thinking, mood, and behavior. The two types of treating people with cognition and emotion disorders are the psychosocial therapies and psychopharmacologic therapies. Psychosocial therapies include counseling, asylum, and exploration of thought, while psychopharmacologic therapies use plant products or other drugs. The symptoms of psychiatric illnesses are also discussed.
Magnetic Mockeries (Keynote Address)
The article presents a criticism to magnetic mesmerism. Franz Anton Mesmer's thesis in animal magnetism claimed that it affected manifestations of healing, cleansing and restoration from illnesses. The author suggests that mesmerism made success because practitioners abstained from the use of drugs and surgery, and the other was the fact that patients are instructed in the art of mesmerism to heal others.
Introduction to Part IV: Alterations of Consciousness: Other Ways
The article discusses various papers discussed in the conference on altered states of consciousness. The conference featured papers of Al Alvarez, Frits Staal, and Irving Kirsch regarding altered states of consciousness induced by drugs or alcohol or by the power of rituals of complex rites and chants and recitations. They all agree that altered state can be achieved without using drugs at all.
How a Psychoactive Substance Becomes a Ritual: The Case of Soma
Disregarding Gordon Wasson's warning that Soma is too important to be left to the Vedists and should be studied by botanists, pharmacologists, physiologists, experts on psychoactive substances and other scientists, the majority of Vedic scholars have agreed among themselves that the original plant was probably Ephedra, a ubiquitous stimulant, especially common in the arid wastes of central Asia. It is a most unlikely candidate in view of the Vedic evidence itself. Vedic poets sing the praises and extoll the virtues of a rare and extraordinary plant that grows high in the mountains. It has all the markings of a powerful psychoactive substance of which the botanical identity is yet to be established.
Drugs and Inspiration
The article discusses two periods in English literature when inspiration and drugs seemed to go together. The use and proliferation of opium at the close of eighteenth century and the use of mind-enhancing drugs in the fifties and sixties are discussed. In the eighteenth century, opium was generally regarded as a cheap medicine which resulted to addictions of its users. It also resulted to altered states of consciousness of which famous poets and intellectuals drew artistic inspiration.
The Altered States of Hypnosis
The article discusses the altered states of consciousness through hypnosis. An experimental hypnosis on subjects are discussed together with the corresponding results. The paper concludes that people have the ability to alter states of consciousness even without inducing drugs or artificial means. It also suggests that people just have to believe in their ability in altering their states of consciousness to be able to alter their states of consciousness or to be in a trance.
John T. Curtin
Introduction to Part V: Legal and Economic Aspects
The article presents an introduction to two papers discussed in the conference on altered states of consciousness. The articles discussed the legal and economic aspects of mind-enhancing drugs. Richard Bonnie presented his insights on drug-related problems and the legal question of personal responsibility. Jeffrey A. Miron is an economist who has devoted his attention to the economics of illegal drugs and the war on drugs.
Richard J. Bonnie
Addiction and Responsibility
Taking at its starting point the characterization of addiction as a "brain disease" by the nation's leadership in public health and biomedical science, this paper explores the implications of recent developments in neuroscience for the concept of responsibility. The terrain is divided into three parts: responsibility for becoming addicted; responsibility for behavior symptomatic of addiction; and responsibility for amelioration of addiction. In general, the paper defends the thesis that recent scientific developments have sharpened but not erased traditional understandings in the first two areas, while recent legal developments have exposed new and intriguing theories of responsibility for managing or ameliorating addiction that may also have implications for other chronic diseases.
Jeffrey A. Miron
The Economics of Drug Prohibition and Drug Legalization
The article discusses the economics of drug legalization and prohibition. The legal status of drugs and its effect to the market for drugs are discussed. The author also presents a positive analysis of drug advantages and disadvantages legalization or prohibition such as its effect on the supply and demand, and crimes associated with it.
Jerome H. Jaffe
Introduction to Part VI: Alternatives to the War on Drugs: Rational Routes to Harm Reduction - A Discussion
The article presents an introduction to papers discussing drug policy in the conference on altered states of consciousness. Drug policy advocates suggests that prohibiting drug use is more expensive, economically and in terms of human suffering, than alternative approaches such as legalization of it to those already dependent on them. Others suggest that enforcement of drug laws causes racial and ethnic disparities.
Richard J. Bonnie
Reforming United States Drug Control Policy: Three Suggestions
The article presents suggestions in reforming the drug control policy of the United States. The author reflects the need for a better research database of consumption and prices of illegal drugs for making and evaluating drug policy. He suggests putting the policies toward drug users on a sound moral foundation and to increase government investment in treatment of drug dependents.
Prohibition and Legalization: Beyond the False Dichotomy
The article focuses on prohibition and legalization of drugs. Drug policies can both be good and harmful to the public but legalization on grounds of cost-benefit will also result to cheaper drugs which will significantly increase drug users. Rationalizing drug policies can be made with reducing sentences for drug offenses and limiting its demand.
John T. Curtin
A Judge's View
The article presents a judge's opinion on US government's drug policy. He reflects that government drug policy has not been updated. The drug policy relies on enforcing prevention and does not consider scientific, sociological and medical studies about the substance. He opines that legislation have focused on enforcing harsher punishment for drug abusers rather than enacting laws on their rehabilitation.
End the Drug War
The article discusses about stopping the drug prohibition in US. The author reflects that the cost of enforcing government's policy of drug prevention is more far more expensive than the benefits gained from it. Billions of government funds are used in enforcing drug prohibition but little is spent on treatment. The author suggests that the drug policy only resulted to racial animosity and increase in crime and corruption.
The Harmfulness Tax
The article discusses legalizing and taxing prohibited drugs in US. The author reflects that the government's policy on drugs treat drugs as a criminal problem. He suggests on legalizing and subjecting the drugs to tax. He proposes that the taxes that would be collected to be used to educate the public about drugs and pay medical costs of drug abusers.
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Toward Practical Drug Control Policies
The article presents a discussion of the basic principles and the proposed changes in the drug control policies. It is believed that drug problems cannot be eliminated because drug abuse, drug trafficking, and drug control create harms. The damages caused by drugs can be reduced by using two approaches, the first by shrinking the extent of drug abuse, and the second by reducing the harm created per unit of drug consumption. The proposed changes to the drug control policy include preventing sellers of alcoholic beverages to sell to those individuals who are convicted of serious alcohol-related offenses.
The "War on Drugs": A View from the Trenches
The article presents a discussion relative to the legalization of drugs. It mentions that the usual disputes regarding legalization of drugs are the fact that current drug laws have failed to eradicate the drug problem, that the war on drugs has been lost and it is time to acknowledge the defeat, that arresting and incarcerating people who should not be in jail does nothing to alleviate the drug problem while inflicting catastrophe on those incarcerated and their families, and that valuable resources have been wasted on law enforcement initiatives that do not even start to solve the drug problem.
The War on Drugs Is a War on Racial Justice
The article discusses racism in United States drug policy. The author reflects that the government's drug policy enforcement are racially biased. African-American and Latino are being subjected to unjustified incarceration for drug offenses more than White Americans. The inherent racism in enforcement of drug policy have negatively affected communities to which advocates and Black elected officials have begun to question the laws.