Bigsley the Oaf

Children and Psychedelic Drugs

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on August 30, 2011

The Problem

I find it fairly interesting that, among the people I have met who have used psychedelic drugs, there are very few (if any?) who believe that children should take them. Their reasoning is generally something hand-wavey about not being mature enough to handle the experience. Such poor reasoning usually goes unchallenged because no one around disagrees.

But why not give psychedelics to children? We subject our children to various phenomena which are known to be harmful and without redeeming characteristics.

Many parents will show their children TV/children’s movies. The costs of these activities are manifold. Both forms of media are essentially audio/visual drugs (since they cause existential hallucination – namely, children’s belief that the beings in the media exist) with horrible consequences. Watching TV drops blood pressure. It involves sitting for long stretches of time, which drops metabolism and has all sorts of nasty effects. It invites a whole cadre of creepy, manipulative marketing types directly into your child’s brain. It helps instill ridiculous social norms, be they sexual/religious/moral/political.

Parents give their children candy/soda/fast food. We have an epedemic of childhood obesity to show for it.

Parents over-indulge their children’s materialistic desires. Giving your child too much stuff is setting him/her up for a life of shallow materialism.

Parents are mean/abusive to their children in trying to change them.

Parents send their children to public school. If a child is at all “abnormal” then in this environment they can expect to be abused, tortured, drugged, bullied, imprisoned, etc. If a child is “normal” or show signs of normalcy then in this environment they will be roughly shoved towards society’s perverted notion of normalcy.

Given that parents are comfortable subjecting their children to all sorts of treatments which are known to be harmful, then what possible justification can they give for not subjecting their children to psychedelic drugs, whose effects are for the most part known to be beneficial?

To find the answer, we have to step back and think about how parents actually make decisions about their children. Parents do not sit down and carefully consider the upsides/downsides of their parenting techniques. The problem is just too complicated. Instead, parents are compelled to their decisions by their networks of friends/family/acquaintances.

We live in a peculiar time:

  • Most people are extremely risk-averse. Increasingly so. Our increasing propensity to live in cities, the increasing power of the news and entertainment media, among other effects are driving your average citizen to fear everything.
  • We are increasingly well-connected to our social networks. Facebook, big brother, etc. There is a moral authority, and it is going to tell you what you can/can’t do.
  • People increasingly do not have clear value hierarchies. We don’t know what our highest value is, anymore. It used to be God, or the state, or love. What do people care about now? Can you generalize about it effectively?

The combination of these phenomena is an overwhelming social pressure to conform in your child-rearing practices. Since everyone you know is going to be risk-averse, they’ll overwhelmingly criticize any risky behavior you take w/r/t your children. Since you’re well connected to them, you’re going to hear a LOT of criticism. And since there is no clear primary value that you’re striving for, what are you taking the risk for, anyway? Fun? Is fun a good reason to give your child drugs!?!

Which brings us back to the original topic. Suppose that I have a child and decide to give it peyote at the ripe old age of 7. Who among my friends/family would actually support this decision? Surely I know enough people that someone would report me to child protective services. Not only am I involving my child in something illegal (gasp!) but I’m doing something that idiots think is dangerous!

Now suppose that I give my child lots of junk food, let them watch TV all day, and berate them about their grades/”performance,” send them to public school where they are abused by their classmates (since they are fat from the TV and junk food), etc. Since my friend are relatively enlightened they’ll probably push back against this behavior as well, though I doubt anyone will report me to the government.

As a more general statement, I believe that parents increasingly lack the autonomy to take risks with their children. The main reason  that I am unwilling to have children at the moment is a fear that I will not be able to raise my children in the way that I want. Namely, I will not be able to take the risks I want with my children. What if I want to let my 5 year old walk around my neighborhood? I think he’ll be fine. Do you? Do you have the right to intervene? What if I want to let my 12 year old have sex? What if I want to give LSD to my 7 year old? What if I want to take my 10 year old somewhere dangerous like a tall mountain? What if I want to go to Naples with my 15 year old daughter?

How can my child possibly grow up to be a strong, independent, worldly human being if they are not subjected to risk? How can any child achieve true adulthood without facing multiple situations which pose a non-marginal probability of death?

When we save our children from drugs, danger, sex – what are we really saving?

The Solution

We must make a strong commitment to radical parenting. Although I don’t want to go into all the details involved, here, the types of activities/principles involved should be fairly apparent from the name.

We must be pro-risk. We must be willing to put our children in high-danger, high-benefit situations. We must be willing to let our children interact with phenomena which we don’t understand. We must learn to ease our children into handling and interacting with dangerous and risky situations by themselves.

We must be resolutely anti-norm. Common-sense conceptions of education, sex, drugs, etc. are not working for society. Our children are dumber, fatter, uglier, and more boring than any previous generation’s crop of kids. We must take strong, idiosyncratic stances on the moral and scientific education of our children. E.g. raise your children Buddhist, but actually raise them Buddhist. E.g. don’t buy into the History/Arithmetic/Chemistry/Physics/Art ontology of learning – teach them Philosophy, Chess, Dance, Song, etc. I’m not saying that we need to take any particular stance, but take a stance.

We must be moral. Parenthood is the time to start living in the way you know is right. Leave your akrasia at the door.

We must ignore others. The voices of others will bring us down in our dark moments. Trust your close friends and say “thank you, but fuck off” to everybody else.

We must accept difference in our children. If your child is ugly, or not intelligent in a certain way which you expect them to be, or somehow strange, etc. etc. then you must accept them as they are and do as much as you can with them.

This last point is difficult, and maybe the crux of the whole thing. There is obviously a tension between the extent to which you let your child “be their own person” and the extent to which you modify them to be strong in some way which is necessary for them to be strong.

The whole point is that there are no easy answers. But we must take a pro-radicalist stance if we want our children to become something other than a fat, idiotic, self-assured, millenial.

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