“In a society that so prizes pleasure over pain, we are conditioned to regard difficult experiences as “bad” and avoid them at all costs. This encourages an energy-sucking struggle to shut out challenging material, such as traumatic memories and painful emotions. As we confront the shadow, we redirect this energy, opening the doorway to cognitive potential – a process Jung likened to alchemical transmutation, from “base metal” to “gold.” When we integrate shadow content instead of fleeing, we take crucial steps toward manifesting the Self, our true nature, in the here and now.
Though we often flee the shadow, we see the necessity of its confrontation reflected in countless stories. Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter must face and integrate their internal connections to Vader and Voldemort in order to manifest their heroic nature. Frodo Baggins must endure the sadistic call of Sauron to destroy the Ring of Power. Dante must descend through nine rings of Inferno, for only in descending the underworld can he ascend into Paradiso.”
I look forward to the day when psychedelic medicines like psilocybin, having proven their safety and efficacy in F.D.A.-approved trials, will take their legal place in society, not only in mental health care but in the lives of people dealing with garden-variety unhappiness or interested in spiritual exploration and personal growth.
My worry is that ballot initiatives may not be the smartest way to get there. We still have a lot to learn about the immense power and potential risk of these molecules, not to mention the consequences of unrestricted use. It would be a shame if the public is pushed to make premature decisions about psychedelics before the researchers have completed their work. There is, too, the risk of inciting the sort of political backlash that, in the late 1960s, set back research into psychedelics for decades. Think of what we might know now, and the suffering that might have been alleviated, had that research been allowed to continue.