“Psychedelics” provides trippy insight into a controversial and fascinating subject.
This recap is of The Mind, Explained Season 1 Episode 5, “Psychedelics”. You can read our recap of the previous episode by clicking these words.
Before a deliriously trippy opening credits sequence, The Mind, Explained Episode 5 immediately establishes a link between anxiety and the use of psychedelic drugs — in this case psilocybin as a means of combatting the crippling fear of cancer, and by extension death. Despite amazing early results stemming from the use of the drug, we are introduced to the obvious, seemingly intractable problem: These things are still drugs, and the stigma surrounding drugs can’t be dispelled so easily.
This is an argument that has been around as long as psychedelics have. Interestingly deployed archive footage charts the discovery of LSD and its power, but also the search for a purpose for a drug so potent. What could it, potentially, be used to treat? As its potential is explored, so too are its potential ramifications, and we see psychedelics become utilized in political agendas and prevailing social trends as educational and government institutions perform severe U-turns on the topic.
Films distributed by those educational and governmental bodies inarguably played up the potential dangers of psychedelics, but as the various experts in The Mind, Explained Episode 5 point out, they remain powerful drugs — the idea that they’re entirely consequence-free is just as ridiculous as the idea they melt the user’s brain.
The more pertinent question is where psychedelics might take the brain. Once again explicit parallels are drawn to previous episodes, with strong connections established between mindfulness meditation and psychedelics; the theme is of the dissolution of the self and of ego, and in merging with something larger — the interconnectedness of all life. It might sound like hippy mumbo-jumbo, but those who have experienced powerful psychedelic trips often consider them to be among the most important events in their life.
It’s those who experience these trips without the guiding influence of a shaman or the modern-day Western scientist equivalent, someone who can guide them through it and help them to understand the potential malleability of psychedelics. Recreational users have contributed to the massive popularity of these drugs but also to the lack of understanding surrounding them; a grim irony, and a lingering obstacle for those who just want to get high — and for those who, I suppose, want to merge with the universe.