Possessed: Drug Policy, Witchcraft and Belief
(2005) 19 Cultural Studies 36-63
43 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2005
When our friends and family behave irrationally, indulging in fears and behaviours that even they agree are dysfunctional, eventually we stop reasoning with them and send them to an analyst instead. It is their irrational impulses that need to be understood if they are to change. After 50 years of prohibition, we know that banning heroin has not worked. Yet, still we persist. The question is why. It is time to psychoanalyse our drug policies, searching for the irrational fears and anxieties that lie at its heart. We find a surprisingly helpful parallel in another series of laws from long ago: the Witchcraft Laws of the sixteenth century. Entwining the two stories together, this essay argues that our drug laws are not intended to get rid of drugs, any more than the Inquisition wanted to ban the devil. The crime of possession is the sin of being possessed.
Keywords: drug policy, withcraft, ideology, belief, faith
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