Why Now? Medicine, Media, and Mysticism in Past and Present American Thought on Psychedelic Drugs
Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, No. 41, February 2022
10 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2022
Date Written: February 7, 2022
The public perception of psychedelic substances has become considerably more favorable in recent years. This shift can be seen in decriminalization measures passed in several U.S. cities as well as Oregon’s commitment to establish a state-licensed psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy program. These dramatic developments beg the question: Why now? Three particular aspects of psychedelic drugs have shaped the public response to them in the modern era: the established medical potential of psychedelics, the shift in media treatment of these substances, and their “entheogenic,” or spirituality-inducing, properties. This paper examines these three factors historically. Additionally, this paper relates ayahuasca specifically to each of the three areas. Ayahuasca is a useful case study due to its intense psychoactive effects, its onetime popularization, and its longer history of ritualistic, shamanic use.
Funding Information: None to declare.
Declaration of Interests: None to declare.
Keywords: Psychedelic, Mental Health, Media, Entheogen, Ayahuasca, Spirituality, Religion, Decriminalization, History
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation