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    1. I have been noticing a disturbing trend in psychedelic groups lately, in which powerful mind-altering substance are being used for emotional and sexual manipulation -- especially among young and...

      I have been noticing a disturbing trend in psychedelic groups lately, in which powerful mind-altering substance are being used for emotional and sexual manipulation -- especially among young and vulnerable demographics. In order to combat the collective trauma resulting from these practices, I am attempting to spread harm reduction information far and wide as it pertains to the subject.

      This is one of my more recent articles. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, in case anyone would like to build off of it. If anyone has constructive criticism or experience, any feedback would be immensely appreciated. Thank you :)

      Psychedelics facilitate increased intimacy

      There is a tenuous association between psychedelics and cliquey, tribal, or cult-like group behavior. This should be taken seriously, especially in large group whose members bond through regular psychedelic sessions. Psychedelics have a number of potential effects that can make individuals more suggestible, and may occasion rapidly-escalating intimacy:

      • facilitate deep feelings of connection to others
      • induce dissociation, depersonalization and ego loss
      • increase suggestibility, making it easier to impress new beliefs or ideas upon the user
      • re-expose the user to potentially traumatic memories
      • evoke emotional re-association and object transference, including trust and sexual interest that may not otherwise be present
      • invoke religious or metaphysical experiences, that instill a sense of meaning and personal significance
      • create a sense of paranoia or suspicion, in part as a result of being involved in a potentially illicit activities
      • evoke symptoms of mental illness in vulnerable users, making one reliant on external social and economic support

      Not all of these effects guarantee problems, but rather indicate how psychedelics can open users up to remarkably strong bonding. The ability of hallucinogens to connect individuals into family-like organizations is notable, as psychedelic have been foundational to many rituals, communities, and cults through history. In part due to these effects, many psychedelic groups exhibit some degree of organizational eccentricity, marked intimacy, or social drama.

      Identifying safe group dynamics

      If you need help identifying whether or not an organization exercises exploitative practices, consult the following guidelines on cult behavior and gaslighting. Troublesome psychedelic groups are usually large in size and have organized leadership structure, exhibiting the following qualities (as adapted from the Cult Education Institute’s webpage):

      • possessing an egotistical leader of social or creative influence, who may have a record of abusing power or individuals
      • a rigidly directed ideology, and excluding or punishing members who do not conform to it
      • provoking members who are under the influence of psychedelics, or attempting to selfishly influence the psychedelic integration process of another member
      • maintaining a culture of misinformation or fear or threats, in which members are easily excluded or blacklisted
      • illicit dealings and in-group abuse that is concealed by a culture of secrecy, including: promoting or selling increasingly risky drugs, sexual or romantic grooming, or the use of psychedelics as “tools of seduction”

      Perhaps the best takeaway from the association between psychedelics and cult activity is this: psychedelics have the ability to destabilize and rearrange one’s sense of self, which makes them more susceptible to peer pressure and the influence of others. For users who already are mentally liable or require a secure mindset and setting, it is essential to make sure that they feel in control of their drug use, and have the personal autonomy to ensure their trips are safe and serve personal growth.

      The Cult Education Institute’s signs of a safe group/leader are also adapted below:

      • can be asked questions without judgement
      • discloses ample information such as structural organization/finances
      • may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate, or forbid others from associating with them
      • will not have a record of overwhelmingly negative articles and statements about them
      • encourages family communication, community interaction, and existing friendships
      • encourages critical thinking, individual autonomy, self-esteem, and personal growth
      • leaders admit failings and mistakes, accepts criticism, and follow through on implementing constructive changes
      • operates democratically and encourages accountability and oversight
      • leader is not be the only source of knowledge excluding everyone else; group values dialogues and the free exchange of ideas
      • members and leaders recognize clear emotional, physical, and emotional boundaries when dealing with others

      Gaslighting & manipulation tactics

      Many of the tactics that both individuals and groups use to manipulate people are examples of gaslighting, or attempts at convincing members that they are somehow mentally compromised in order to control them. This is often done by withholding information from them, invalidating the victim’s experiences, verbal abuse (including jokes), social isolation, trivializing the victim’s worth, and otherwise undermining their thought process. When combined with the suggestion-enhancing properties of psychedelic drugs, these kinds of behavior can be traumatizing to individual victims, while remaining relatively undetected or overlooked by onlookers.

      In order to help identify gaslighting by a group, consider if you relate to its effects, as described by Robin Stern in her book The Gaslight Effect:

      • constantly second-guessing yourself, feeling confused, or as if something is wrong
      • asking yourself “Am I too sensitive?” throughout the day
      • frequently apologizing to people who hold power over you, feeling as if you can’t do anything right, or running over things you may have done wrong
      • frequently wondering if you are “good enough”
      • frequently withholding information from your friends or family so you don’t have to explain the group or make excuses for it
      • you lie to group members, to avoid being put down or gaslighted
      • paranoia about bringing up innocent conversation topics
      • speaking to group leaders through another member, so you don’t have be worry about the leaders becoming upset with you
      • making excuses for group members’ behavior to your friends and family
      • friends or family try to protect you from the group
      • becoming furious with people you used to get along with

      If you suspect you have been involved in a psychedelic cult or gaslighted, you may be experiencing regular instability, dissociation, or feelings of uncertainty. Although it can be difficult at first, finding a new group that demonstrates a high degree of member safety and accountability may help rebuild one’s sense of safety and trust. If you shared psychedelic experiences with group members while being taken advantage of, it may be beneficial to seek out a professional psychedelic integration therapist to help emotionally contextualize these memories. Victims may also benefit from adjunct trauma therapies, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Radically-Open DBT, somatic bodywork and movement therapies, therapeutic massage, and other complementary therapy practices.

      Sources

      Douglas, James. (2017). Inside the bizarre 1960s cult, The Family: LSD, yoga and UFOs. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/13/the-family-great-white-brotherhood-australia-melbourne-cult-anne-hamilton-byrne

      Evans, P. (1996). The verbally abusive relationship: how to recognize it and how to respond. Expanded 2nd ed. Holbrook, Mass.: Adams Media Corporation.

      Mayorga, O. and Smith, P. (2019, May 19). Forgiving psychedelic abusers should never be at the expense of their victims. Psymposia. Retrieved from https://www.psymposia.com/magazine/forgiving-psychedelic-abusers/.

      Neiswender, Mary. (1971). Manson Girl’s Acid Trips Detailed. CieldoDrive.com. Retrieved from http://www.cielodrive.com/archive/manson-girls-acid-trips-detailed/.

      Ross, Rick. (2014). Warning signs. Cult Education Institute. Retrieved from https://www.culteducation.com/warningsigns.html.

      Stern, R. (2007). The gaslight effect: how to spot and survive the hidden manipulations other people use to control your life. New York: Morgan Road Books.

      Windolf, Jim. (2007). Sex, drugs, and soybeans. Vanity Fair. Retrieved from https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/05/thefarm200705.

      8 votes
    2. after a month sabbatical, we're back. this is pretty straightforward, i think: vent your experiences or things you need to get off your chest/share whatever you've found helps you mentally/etc....

      after a month sabbatical, we're back. this is pretty straightforward, i think: vent your experiences or things you need to get off your chest/share whatever you've found helps you mentally/etc.


      resources that might also be of some benefit to people:


      and here is the june thread if you'd like to reference/update us on something you mentioned there.

      15 votes
    3. My social anxiety

      So recently I have been wondering if there's actually a way to lessen my social anxiety, because I am starting to feel really stupid quite often because of it. This is gonna be a rant, hopefully a...

      So recently I have been wondering if there's actually a way to lessen my social anxiety, because I am starting to feel really stupid quite often because of it. This is gonna be a rant, hopefully a bit coherent, probably not the most high quality content, because I am terrible at writing. Premature thank you to anyone who reads this mess I am about to produce.

      To start of, I will try to describe how I feel, because I am not sure if I really have social anxiety. I am like extremely anxious to do anything where you have to talk to people you don't know. An easy example which I deal with most work days is going out to lunch. I am way too anxious to go to lunch somewhere so instead I just skip lunch quite often to not have to deal with it. When I am at school most of the times I go to a menza (is that a thing in english? it's like just a school lunch cafeteria), which isn't a problem at all when I go with my friends and isn't too much of a problem when I go alone, because I got used to it pretty good. Still even here I sometimes skip lunch, particularly after a stressful day. When I am just at work I quite often just go the whole day without lunch and wait until I get home to eat something. Sometimes I go to some fast food, that I know pretty well, but I don't want to go there too often, because I don't want to be that weirdo who eats every day in the same fast food. I don't want to go to a restaurant because who eats at a restaurant alone. I know that people do and it's normal, but I really don't want to.

      There are other things where I have similar problems, giving presentations (probably everyone hates that), having to ask someone where something is when I am lost in a new place and so on. One of the things I really hate is when I have to go to deal with some bureocracy - renewing any of my documents, talking to HR at work and things like that. Most of the time when I know I will have to do something like this, I spend the whole day before that stressing about it. I love to live my day to day life in as much monotony as I can, so I can be ready for everything.

      Or today, I am going to have some team building with my colleagues, we are gonna go play laser game (apparently called laser tag in english - according to Wikipedia) and to say the least I really don't want to. This should be a fun thing everyone enjoys and instead I am here, thinking about how could I make a excuse to not have to do it. Why am I so stupid and don't just let myself enjoy it like a normal person?

      Also every time when I think about doing something about this, I just tell myself that I don't have it that bad and that other people have it way worse than me. That I don't really have that many problems and I shouldn't be whining about something as minor as this. That I should just bottle it up and leave it as it is, because it could be worse, right?

      This has been going on basically my whole life, most of the time when I talk about it with friends I make fun of it, making my friends think it's probably not as bad as it is. I just say stuff like "oh no, I have to talk to people tommorow, please help" or "can you guys go to lunch with me even though you guys are at the opposite end of the city, because I am scared?" obviously as a joke, but I really kind of feel like this (and wish my friends go have lunch with me). I really feel I should start doing something about it, but I am not really sure what. The answer is probably to just do stuff like this more, get out of my comfort zone and just do the stuff. How can I make myself though, if I really don't want to?

      There should be some conclusion or question here, I guess... does anyone have any recommandations for me?

      Edit: also couldn't decide on the title, maybe "dealing with social anxiety" or something like that is better?

      14 votes
    4. I was reading up on information theory today, and I managed to keep track of everything for a while. But then the information got slippery, and I could feel the muscles in my head tighten. I kept...

      I was reading up on information theory today, and I managed to keep track of everything for a while. But then the information got slippery, and I could feel the muscles in my head tighten. I kept reading, and I lost track of everything. My forehead was so tense I felt it would collapse on itself. By the end of the page, I was exhausted and I closed the book and took a breath. This happens to me every time things get hard. It's like I am lifting weights but I can only do a few reps before I completely crash. If I keep crashing, eventually I'll get a headache that will put me out of commission for the day.

      I'm sharing this because I am curious how others feel when they reach their mental limit, either short term or long term. Does anyone else have a similar physical reaction or any physical reaction?

      17 votes
    5. I practiced and studied Zen meditation in many periods of my life, and it helped me immensely. I find it's philosophy reasonable and compelling: the basic idea of simply doing what's in front of...

      I practiced and studied Zen meditation in many periods of my life, and it helped me immensely.

      I find it's philosophy reasonable and compelling: the basic idea of simply doing what's in front of you. If you have to do the dishes, do the dishes and nothing else. Be full in the act of doing the dishes.

      Zen writing and meditation reduce my anxiety by helping me look at life in a more positive and expontaneous way. Paradoxically, worrying less about results usually gets much better results.

      With that said, I ask:

      • Do you practice any form of meditation? Which one?
      • What was your initial purpose for practicing meditation?
      • Are you still doing it? Why?
      • Do you study the philosophical, scientifical or religious aspects behind your practice?
      25 votes
    6. a couple of people have commented on this thread being helpful for them since tildes is a pretty welcoming community and this thread seems like something that would be nice to make regular...

      a couple of people have commented on this thread being helpful for them since tildes is a pretty welcoming community and this thread seems like something that would be nice to make regular anyways, so let's do that. this is pretty straightforward, i think: vent your experiences or things you need to get off your chest/share whatever you've found helps you mentally/etc.

      resources that might also be of some benefit to you, since i have a list i informally maintain (s/o to cfabbro also for supplementing this list):

      20 votes
    7. also going to toss this one up before i go to sleep this morning. this is pretty straightforward, i think: vent your experiences or things you need to get off your chest/share whatever you've...

      also going to toss this one up before i go to sleep this morning. this is pretty straightforward, i think: vent your experiences or things you need to get off your chest/share whatever you've found helps you mentally/etc.


      resources that might also be of some benefit to people:


      and here is the may thread if you'd like to reference/update us on something you mentioned there.

      16 votes
    8. Working and studying from home, it's hard not to acquire bad habits. Most of the time I follow the Pomodoro Technique, so I have constant small breaks instead of large ones. But sometimes I just...

      Working and studying from home, it's hard not to acquire bad habits. Most of the time I follow the Pomodoro Technique, so I have constant small breaks instead of large ones. But sometimes I just stay on the computer looking at different things such as Reddit and Tildes, and it doesn't feel very restful. At the same time, if I change the context too much, it's easy to lose track of time (yes, even with apps), and I have trouble refocusing on my work, study etc.

      This may seem like a trivial problem for some, but not for me!

      Summing up: what can I do on my breaks (4 x 5 minutes followed by 1 x 25 minutes) that is both restful and pleasurable, but not excessively engaging?

      15 votes