| "Addicts are the scapegoat of our age."|
--Reverend Terence E. Tanner, London, 1979
Christian Science Monitor
The Times (London)
Manchester Guardian (UK)
San Francisco Chronicle
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
Paying The Piper
Andrew Weil, The Natural Mind, A
New Way of Looking at Drugs and the Higher Consciousness.Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1972.Revised Edition, 1986.
Like most of the initial volumes on this list, my original dog-eared copy of this book is dated in the early 70s. It was during that era that I wandered, full of innocence and by accident, into the drug field. While I was fairly well educated and had taken many classes in various schools, I had never taken a single course on drugs. Moreover, as I often tell my audiences, I went through my teens and grew to maturity well before the advent of the drug and sex revolutions, damn it. Thus, there was no background of personal experiences with drugs to affect my thinking about drugs and drug policy. (I will not comment now about the extent of my sexual innocence at the time.)
Someone suggested I read this book. I did and the rest is history.
Andy Weil is a graduate of Harvard Medical School who remarkably enough can write an understandable sentence in ordinary English. More than that, he has the courage to tell the truth as he sees it about controversial subjects, like drugs and consciousness. A few key quotes:
"I believe that we can literally think our way out of the drug problem by changing the concepts from which it arises - the outmoded ways of thinking about consciousness in its ordinary and non-ordinary forms."
"People take drugs because they work. Or, at least, they seem to."
"Regular use of heroin, even over many years, does not preclude good physical health. Regular, heavy use of alcohol seems to correlate much more tightly with serious medical consequences."
Dr. Weil explains further that the natural mind - that is, the mind without the help of outside chemicals - provides all of the power anyone truly needs in order to achieve higher states of consciousness, the type often associated with the impact of drugs. This is a breathtakingly optimistic position. You sitting there with no powerful drugs in your system have the power to feel high, to feel wonderful, to sense infinity and immortality! At the same time he writes that he understands why people take drugs because for many it is an easier way, a crutch, that helps them reach those highs. Even though he views drugs as an inferior way of achieving altered states of consciousness, he does not condemn it - and thereby earns the opprobrium of many of his medical colleagues.
I disagree with many segments of this book even though it is a wonderful work and influenced me and so many others tremendously.A major lack is that I do not believe it comes to grips with many of the key issues in addiction and in the lives and agonies of addicts, the major foci of all of my recent efforts and of this web site. At the same time it contains so many seminal ideas - for example, the revelation to me at the time that the illegal drugs as a group are less harmful medically than the legal drugs as a group - that it is a must read.
I would welcome comments on the book and my review and I will post viewer's comments on the site when at all possible. The same applies to all books and reviews on this site. I would also gladly consider guest review essays of appropriate books for posting on this site.
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