STORIES

Fight Racism with Psychedelics

By David Jenison on January 18, 2019

Tiki torches got you feeling down? LSD and shrooms might help. 

A recent Master's thesis titled "Exploratory assessment of influences of psychedelic use on experiences of racism" (for the University of Massachusetts Lowell) examined the role psychedelic drugs could play in addressing the psychological effects of racism. Author Mariah Bourne wrote that such drugs "elicit meaningful experiences and can have profound effects on the thought processes and perceptions of people who use them," and they could play a therapeutic role in healing the scars caused by modern racism. 

To start, the thesis explored the negative impact that racism can have on mental health. 

"People of differing races may be viewed and treated unjustly by others due to prejudices, cultural stigmas and societal and institutional boundaries that often lead to unequal access to socioeconomic advantages," wrote Bourne, who cited depression as a common response to racism. "Current research has revealed that individuals who experience racism can also experience greater lifetime distress and negative consequences such as self-hate and hate toward the world and others."  

One might argue that race issues accelerated in the wrong direction since, I don't know, sometime around November 8, 2016. For those who suffered racist interactions, Bourne wanted to know if psychedelics might help ease the emotional burden. 

She continued, "Since psychedelic experiences have been shown to promote meaningful positive outcomes and feelings of connectedness in users, examination of these experiences for people who have also experienced the negativity of racism may reveal interesting results that could have beneficial mental health applications." 

Bourne proceeded to study eight individuals who experienced racism and whether psychedelic drug use impacted their levels of distress and wellbeing. What were the findings? 

"All participants reported that their psychedelic use had benefited them in several aspects such as improvements in their self-perception, sense of well-being, view of others and the world," the study concluded. 

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