I believe for most people the sense of self, of the inner “I” corresponds with a natural desire to transcend and explore beyond. Sleeping and dreaming relieve the pressure or weight of the little “I” within. Yet for many people this is not enough, and questions remain, such as “who am I”, and where do I go after death. Religions provide answers for some people, however many others choose to explore inner dimensions via techniques like meditation and yoga, or to use psychoactive drugs and herbs.
Aldous Huxley wrote, “The Doors of Perception” and “Heaven and Hell” (1954) after his experiences with mescaline, a psychedelic substance naturally found in peyote cactus. He was introduced to this substance by the man who coined the word “psychedelic”, a Canadian psychiatrist, Humphrey Osmond. DR Osmond, experienced this in the Native American Church, after consuming their sacrament peyote
Aldous Huxley, Heinrick Kluver (Mescal and the mechanisms of Hallucination, 1928) and Gordon Wasson with his article in Life magazine (1957) created a wave of public interest in psychedelics that has lasted for more than sixty-five years and has profoundly touched the lives of millions of people worldwide.
Exploration by millions of people, in the second half of the twentieth century, of inner space via psychedelics filled another need: escape and the relief of pain, and for many people this became dominant, leading to continuous use of various drugs and frequently addiction. This is the potential pitfall of drug use, to repeat excessively, get caught in a cull de sac, and fall to addictions of one or more drugs.
What were (and still are?) the causes of pain and suffering that can sabotage inner space exploration and instead lead to drug addiction? I think it is very important to recognize these issues.
Nuclear war. I remember the air raid sirens (Cuban Missile Crisis), ducking under my desk in elementary school, and year after year practicing this in the event of nuclear explosions in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am sure this kind of experience left scars on many young people who thought the world was about to end suddenly.
Television: A whole generation spent hours every day looking into the “boob tube”. This was a cathode ray tube containing an electron gun pointed at the screen, and shot an electron beam at the screen to generate light and thus a picture. Some of the black and white TV’s and particularly the early color sets also generated low level x-rays, and on the back of the TV sets warned of this hazard. The impact of cathode rays and x-rays on health should be considered potentially serious, and some studies were done in the sixties and seventies revealing the biological implications.
Exposure to DDT: This and many other chemicals like BPA are toxic and carcinogenic, and can accumulate in the body over the years of exposure. During the 1950’s, for many women, infant formula replaced breast milk, and one reason was human breast milk had too many chemical toxins, such as DDT (Silent Spring), and thus was un safe for infant consumption.
Radioactive Fallout, worldwide, during the 1940’s and 1950’s resulted from the atmospheric detonation of approximately five hundred nuclear bombs. Strontium 90 and cesium 137 are absorbed by life forms and can substitute for calcium and potassium. These two radioactive elements are now found everywhere on the surface of the earth, and within many life forms: it will stay like this for a very long time (“Given that 10 half-lives are needed for Sr-90 to completely decay, nearly 300 years will be required for the isotope to dissipate completely”) (300 years, strontium 90; and from nuclear accidents and power plant leakage).
EMF Electromagnetic Field levels of intensity are now billions of times higher than prior to 1900. We are immersed in a sea of numerous invisible frequencies generated by cell phones, Wi-Fi, power lines in the walls of homes, also and above or below our streets. What does this add up to? Stress. The body reacts to these fields with stress symptoms that are continuous and do not go away. People become accustomed to this stress and the stress hormones it produces. There is an abundance of research on this issue, and many people can perceive the “wiry buzz” of city environments. This constitutes a man-made luminous place, a power spot in every house and city with electricity, but is unlike anything Mother Nature creates, and is instead stressful and suspected of being carcinogenic. “When we’re stressed, our bodies unleash a cascade of over 500 biochemical events that left unchecked can drain our energy, and make us unable to think clearly”. Source Naturals pg41 Better Nutrition April 2015
Fetal Addictions: Many boomers had mothers who smoked one or two packs of cigarettes per day, and probably consumed one to five alcoholic beverages per night: this was considered normal and socially acceptable, as the movies of that era portray. The babies born to these mothers were completely addicted to both alcohol and tobacco, and might have received genetic damage as well, manifesting at birth or later in life. Also, sugar was consumed in vast quantities as candies, pie, cake, ice cream, and into breakfast cereals from the sugar bowl on the dining table. How profoundly this has affected the boomer generation can be seen, we presume, in the degree of addictions to drugs and alcohol. The patterns of intoxication during fetal life were learned and repeated as a way to feel at home, as was life in the womb, with the ups and downs, intoxication and exhilaration. When we add the other stresses seen above, such as EMF, DDT, BHA, radio-active substances, fear of nuclear war and staring into the boob tube for hours every day, then we get an idea of why, perhaps, so many boomers were inclined to substance abuse and alcohol addiction.
(c) Paul C Adams 2015 updated: 6-8-15 6-10-15