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  • Showing only topics with the tag "mental health". Back to normal view
    1. What are your mental health upkeep habits/lifestyle?

      I've seen a few posts about sharing issues, but I don't think anything about habits. I'm former "quantitative-self" hobbyist (if you want to call it that), keener and have a side interest in...

      I've seen a few posts about sharing issues, but I don't think anything about habits. I'm former "quantitative-self" hobbyist (if you want to call it that), keener and have a side interest in psychiatry. So in my personal life I'm very active and serious about my own short and long-term mental health. I'm wondering if anyone shares my habits or has others I have not considered. I wont link any literature because there is a lot out there to support most of these habits and I can't make this exhaustive (but I'm happy to help find specific resources).

      Morning quiet time. I wake up early and spend about an hour drinking tea, looking outside and reading. The major benefit here is it gives me a buffer before the start of the day. I used to get up and rush out of the door - I would be stressed from the start and wouldn't have an idea of how to go about my day effectively.

      Reading fiction. I used to read a lot more non-fiction (pop sci and "self-help") but I found with fiction (and also biographies) not only is it generally easier content to process, but the narratives can be therapeutic. There is something about getting exposed to other peoples thought processes (real or not) and overcoming of challenges that can be comforting or inspiring when facing your own.

      Aerobic exercise. And also anything exhaustive - as in you gave it all of your energy. The general health benefits are obviously well established at this point. But, a subjective (AFAIK) experience of mine is the feeling of self-actualization - a sense of victory and fulfillment you can get almost anytime anywhere, and fairly frequently.

      Regular social contact. Specifically AFK/face-to-face. This seems banal but it's really not. I make a serious active effort here - I think about who I haven't seen in a while, who I might feel like would complement or share my vibes right now or near future and make plans ASAP. This among the most important of my habits, or at least has the most therapeutic effect. Something about social interactions, even if they're just about talking shit, can be therapeutic and energizing. And this is coming from someone who is generally an introvert and would usually prefer to stay home.

      Restrict social media. I probably don't need to explain this one. But I'll also add that, after following the advice of someone on Tildes (sorry I can't find the post!) limiting my news source to only the Current Events of Wikipedia has done wonders for me! I've stayed informed and have avoided the anxiety-inducing clusterfucks of newstainment. I group this with social media because they're so close nowadays (gossip?).

      Meditation. Big one right here. I've been practicing for ~7 years now, and it's very noticeable when I skip a 20 min session a few days in a row - I become more agitated, short tempered and anxious (is depressed, but mainly just too focused on myself either way). Specifically "mindfulness" (loose term) or Vipassanā style (I use and highly recommend Waking Up). Style here is important because they all exercise different neural pathways. The product of this practice 1) being much more aware of what has emotionally triggered me and 2) being more able to let go/resolve of negative states of mind. E.g. instead of grinding my teeth with a negative thought train the past 3 hours I notice it's all petty within a moment or two and am able to move on and focus on my task at hand and later sleep soundly.

      Psychedelics. Namely the tried-and-true classics. This one is finally getting the attention it deserves in the public domain. As opposed to the others which I do on a near-daily basis (aim for daily), psychedelic experiences I limit to only a handful of times per year because 1) it's work, it requires planning and a day or two off; 2) the positive/resolving effects last for months/years/lifetime; and 3) it requires integration with you baseline reality life to really be effective.
      This one hands down has provided me the most benefit out of all and has inspired me to actively pursue everything above, especially meditation and social life. Specifically, it's the perspective you can get from a psychedelic experience that can be like years of therapy because it's all internally-motivated - you can get an objective perspective on you own life that no one else can offer and one you normally would not accept, especially if it's self-critical.
      For best results I do this with close friends, at home and/or in nature - taking long walks by the river or woods. Sometimes quiet time at some point as well, to allow self-reflection, taking a moment for an honest review and check in.

      Safety disclaimer Psychedelics, and also exhaustive workouts and meditation, can have serious adverse effects if done in excess or without proper planning. Always practice harm reduction: do your research (e.g. Erowid for substance info) test your drugs, carry Naloxone and *always* have a friend, at leas to check in with. Start small - you can always take more but not less.
      32 votes
    2. Reflections on recognizing and resisting abusive practices in psychedelic organizations

      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