The surprisingly delightful musings of a humble Virginian whose satiric paeons to a plausible utopia implicitly shame the cynical zeitgeist of our times, causing it to cry, as 'twere, 'Damn, what was I thinking?' or words to that effect.

June 2018

Interview with (Depressed) Greatness

with host Ellen Winfrey

ELLEN WINFREY: Brian, you have often been cited as an (and I quote) "unsung hero" and, indeed, a "savior of mankind."

BRIAN: Oh, my.

ELLEN WINFREY: Please explain.

BRIAN: I wish I could.

ELLEN WINFREY: Come on, now.

BRIAN: Listen, I'm just a humble guy. I put my trousers on one leg at a time like everybody else.


BRIAN: That's right. I first stick my left leg into the nearest trouser leg, and then I remove it from the same in the rare event that I happen to have chosen the wrong receptacle for the limb in question.

ELLEN WINFREY: What? Wouldn't it be easier to find the correct trouser leg first and then insert the limb, as you call it?

BRIAN: You'd think so, but it takes time to make that call, so I prefer to rely on serendipity, which, in a keen and perceptive life like my own, is almost always going to work to the benefit of the moral agent.

ELLEN WINFREY: (pauses, shakes head, as if to rid it of the jumbled conceptions advanced by her interlocutor) OK, let's put your trouser legs aside for the moment.

BRIAN: Done.

ELLEN WINFREY: Where do you stand on LSD?

BRIAN: Oh-ho-ho!

ELLEN WINFREY: I hear you're something of a maverick in that quarter.

BRIAN: Right, well, first a little background news for your benighted audience.

ELLEN WINFREY: Ex-squeeze me.

BRIAN: Or rather the rare souls amongst that audience who are not yet privy to the cutting-edge on matters psychopharmaceutical.

ELLEN WINFREY: That's more like it.

BRIAN: You must know then, dummies --


BRIAN: I'm speaking only to the benighted few, Ellen.


BRIAN: You must know then that, LSD and other psychedelic therapies are back, after being persecuted and prosecuted for 40+ years by scientists and government bureaucrats who wouldn't know a cure for depression if it came up and bit them on the --

ELLEN WINFREY: Language, Brian! Language!

BRIAN: Oh, phooey!

ELLEN WINFREY: OK, we get it. LSD is now back in fashion as a mental health therapy.

BRIAN: Word.

ELLEN WINFREY: But how do you, Brian Q., figure into this new state of affairs? I mean, who died and made YOU relevant?

BRIAN: Good question. I mean, I'm hardly a Tom Shroder (author of Acid Test) or a James Fadiman (author of The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide) or a Rick Strassman (author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule) --

ELLEN WINFREY: Nor are you a Stanislav Grof (author of the Transpersonal Vision), nor a Michael Pollan (author of How to Change Your Mind) --

BRIAN: Well--

ELLEN WINFREY: And you're certainly not an Aldous Huxley (author of the Doors of Perception) nor a Terence McKenna (author of Food of the Gods).

BRIAN: OK, now you're just rubbing it in.

ELLEN WINFREY: So then what do you have to say on this matter that hasn't been said before?

BRIAN: Funny you should ask.

ELLEN WINFREY: Oh, hilarious.

BRIAN: None of these writers have yet dared to properly contrast the huge potential of psychedelic therapy with the hideous inadequacy of the present mental health status quo.


BRIAN: Everybody assumes that the current system works well, or implies as much by their silence on that subject.


BRIAN: Don't "word" ME, Ellen. Let me tell you about this current system of yours.


BRIAN: Under this current WONDERFUL system of yours, depression patients like myself are addicted to an SSRI for life -- in my case Effexor.

ELLEN WINFREY: Ding ding ding. Confession time! Zoom in, all cameras. Zoom in.

BRIAN: Don't get me wrong: This system works fine -- for Big Pharma, that is, who has me on the installment plan for life, paying for their houses, their kids' education, their vacations to Disneyland.


BRIAN: Don't get me wrong, part two: This system works fine -- for the mental health system. I mean, think about it, I don't visit their downtown clinics on a regular basis because I love to go to the big city. I visit there because I have to appease the health gods that be in order to keep getting my monthly fix.

ELLEN WINFREY: Nay, you are severe.

BRIAN: Meanwhile, of course, folks like myself are completely demoralized since we're no longer free agents. We are forced to rely on the mental health system.

ELLEN WINFREY: But the drugs work, right?

BRIAN: As if. Oh, Effexor was a godsend -- for the first two weeks of use, after which its efficacy decreased markedly and just kept decreasing.


BRIAN: One day you wake up and realize how much time you've lost thanks to a lack of motivation, you realize that your depression has been eating away at your life.

ELLEN WINFREY: So change meds.

BRIAN: Only to find out that Effexor, despite Big Pharma's denials, is incredibly addictive.


BRIAN: Is it any wonder then that I "look back in anger" now, Ellen?


BRIAN: Here I am suffering all these years, only to find out that the guided use of a persecuted drug like LSD has actually cured alcoholism in a remarkable percentage of patients as far back as the 1950s -- ask Bill Wilson, founder of AA.


BRIAN: But do such results mean anything to modern medicine? No. These medications have helped mankind for thousands of years, but none of it means Jack Squat for the numbers-obsessed status quo (that status quo that is raking in the bucks under the current system).

ELLEN WINFREY: Be nice, Brian.

BRIAN: No, the government and the healthcare system have decided that my only pharmacological alternatives must be limited to addictive, expensive and demoralizing SSRIs.


BRIAN: But wait, there's more -- more bulls---, that is!


BRIAN: The millions of depressed Americans like myself cannot even avail themselves of LSD and other psychedelic therapies now, even if they're willing to take the legal risk.


BRIAN: Because psychedelics cannot safely be taken with SSRIs for fear of a reaction known as Serotonin Toxicity Syndrome.


BRIAN: In other words, not only is the status quo addictive, expensive and demoralizing -- it also makes it impossible for its clients to take advantage of the uber-promising alternatives that have begun popping up over the last 20 years in the field of psychedelic therapy.

ELLEN WINFREY: I see. So your point is that no one has yet sufficiently broached this issue.

BRIAN: Word.

ELLEN WINFREY: You're saying then that the advocates for psychedelic therapies should not just point out the potential benefits of such use...


ELLEN WINFREY: ...but they should also contrast that great promise with the obvious enormous problems with the status quo, especially when it comes to the treatment of depression.

BRIAN: Word up.

ELLEN WINFREY: Advocates of psychedelic therapy should point out, therefore, that the alternative to their solution is a continued reliance on addictive, expensive and demoralizing SSRIs...

BRIAN: Right.

ELLEN WINFREY: ...which render it impossible for their patients to even try the new therapies thanks to SSRI toxicity.

BRIAN: You've got it in one, Ellen.

ELLEN WINFREY: Well, it's no wonder that folks call you an "unsung hero." This is heavy stuff, dude.

BRIAN: Well, there's good news and bad news, Ellen.

ELLEN: Explain.

BRIAN: The good news is, I'll be worshiped as a prescient demigod by 2040 or so.

ELLEN: And the bad news?

BRIAN: I will probably (nay, hopefully) have shuffled off my mortal coil by then.

ELLEN: Oh, don't sell yourself short, Brian. Your mortal coil looks to be in excellent condition from where I'm sitting.

BRIAN: Please, Ellen, this is a family show!

ELLEN: Oh, you know what I mean, Brian! Humph!

Copyright 2017, Brian Quass (follow on Twitter)