There exists within our world a unique category of medicines, unparalleled in their ability to heal the human mind. Utilized by our ancestors for thousands of years, these consciousness-altering plant derivatives effectively suspend the psychological defense mechanisms and egoic mind, allowing a 4 to 12 hour internal revelation into the origins of our own addictions, neuroses, fears, personality disorders, and patterned behavior. Invaluable as this mind-revealing encounter may be, there is no doctor able to prescribe this therapeutic method, as it has been deemed by our legal system to be devoid of any medical value. There exists within our world a revered class of sacraments, unequaled in its effectiveness to initiate a direct experience of transcendental knowledge. Applied in ritualized ceremony for hundreds of generations, these special plants hold the potential to generate the biochemical requisite necessary to attain the highly sought Mystical Experience. Yet, there exists no priest, rabbi or minister permitted to facilitate this method of direct knowing to the congregation, as it has been judged by authorities to posses a high potential for abuse. Psychedelic Perceptions is a multi-perspective examination of how -- and more importantly why -- the substances which produce vital access to non-ordinary states of consciousness have been unjustly portrayed, legally forbidden, and misunderstood in our society.
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James Joseph (M.S.) is a teacher, author and lecture whose meticulous investigation into the social, political and economic factors surrounding the psychedelic substances has contributed to the current resurgence of research into these fascinating medicines. His pointed facts and direct presentation of the multi-faceted factors contributing to the current legal restrictions undoubtedly raise inherent questions in the reader s mind that there is much more to the story of the psychedelics than is portrayed in the media and our education systems.Review:
James Joseph s book Psychedelic Perceptions offers a historical, psychological, and political perspective on psychedelics. In his first chapter, he sets the stage for the book by pointing out the important role plant inspired visions played providing direct experience of abstract spiritual concepts . This experience is especially relevant and needed today given the religiously fueled violence of the world. The author posits that what is desperately needed as a correction is a paradigm shift. He quotes Terence McKenna to explain why: ...we are barreling toward the brink of ruin and the only thing I have seen that turned anybody on the dime was psychedelics . James s experience with psychedelics occurred following one of his student s presentation of a meaningful psilocybin experience posted on the internet. Researching this didactically, James decided to experience it and found himself in a space that was beyond conventional thought or verbal explanation after drinking peyote tea. He realized that his psyche had, in part, been beneficially reconstructed This prompted him to consider why something so healing was so misunderstood. He then proceeds to take the reader on a psychedelic voyage. He debunks the pervading myths about the safety of psychedelics by reviewing some of the faulty early psychedelic research. He gives an example of instances where LSD was used to self medicate a mental condition then wrongly attributed as the cause of the condition. In fact, psychedelic use by a non psychotic person in a controlled setting is relatively safe and can have a beneficial affect on the users. Despite the fact that psychedelics are not addicting, they are usually lumped with dangerous street drugs that are addictive. One of the most powerful affects of psychedelics can be the transcending of individual consciousness. Sometimes this can lead to a peak experience, the highest level of human consciousness , -a mystical experience that can potentially be life changing. Joseph then traces the therapeutic and historic use of psychedelics. Both endeavors stem from a desire to understand itself and the Divine through altering states of consciousness . No history of psychedelics is complete without a chapter on the misuse of mind altering drugs by the government and military. Psychedelics were used for mind control, but then discarded because the result was just the opposite: it caused users to question authority. In the meantime, psychedelics became available on the street, and as part of the new left were demonized as a way to discredit the movement. By manufacturing fear, the authorities were able to gain public control. In fact the government is often complicit in the global drug trade. James summarizes by describing the current War on Drugs as a fašade for the War with Drugs. The Iran-Contra scandal is an example of government double speak on this. James then proceeds to make a case against the FDA as an example of one governmental agency (there are others mentioned) that is not always guided by the best interests of the people. This is glaringly obvious in the case of aspartame, which during its chemical breakdown in the body results in a variety of known toxins, including formaldehyde. Despite this, it is used as a substitute for sugar with FDA approval. G. D. Searle, is the producer of aspartame, and the CEO at the time of the controversy surrounding its effects was none other than Donald Rumsfeld. The author describes the sordid details surrounding the machinations that prevented the truth from coming out. He sites a 1994 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found FDA-approved drugs ranked somewhere between fourth and sixth as the leading cause of death in the nation that year. --Bruce Sewick, MA, LCPC
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