Might LSD be good for you?
They have done much to shape the world we live in … Yet they are very hard to pin down. ‘Set and setting’ (i.e. circumstance and expectation) profoundly influence what happens when you take them, and their effects are highly subjective. They are an ouroboros of an observer’s paradox, worming their way between the territories of cognitive science, psychoanalytic theory and the anthropology of shamanism.
Pollan quotes Chekhov’s line: ‘If many remedies are prescribed for an illness, you may be certain that the illness has no cure.’ Then he cleverly inverts it: if one remedy is prescribed for many illnesses, ‘it could mean those illnesses are more alike than we’re accustomed to think’. That is, many illnesses that psychedelics seem to help may share qualities to do with getting trapped in self-reflective mental loops: too strong and well-defended a sense of self; too bossy a head prefect. We fall into cognitive ruts; some of them harmful. Psychedelics can shake us out of them.