Re: Ayahuasca

Bosley_J (BosleyJ@ORE.PSB.BLS.GOV)
Fri, 8 Dec 1995 10:59:00 EST

Well you're kind to say so and I'm glad you liked my simile. Yesterday our
LAN here was very flaky and so the message I posted didn't really get to
what I think is the interesting stuff because my net connection kept
breaking. That is the message that went out had erased quite a bit more text
that I had added.

I rambled on about the pharmacology because I think that this basic
information is important to have--also because it's something I know a bit
about :-) But indeed the anthropological literature on ayahuasca and many
other psychotropic drugs is vast and is much more interesting than the
behavioral pharmacology of these compounds. Indeed I think that the
psychological literature is a farce; much of it hung up on the
"psychotomimetic" aspects of these drugs, despite the fact that their
psychological effects go far beyond the superficial resemblances to a few of
the symptoms of mental disorders. Much of the rest is limited by
psychology's enduring and fatal committment to the wrong unit of analysis,
i.e. a single brain in a single body. There is little or nothing useful to
be said about individual behavior, IMHO, and so psychology is inevitably
going to remain a scientific wasteland. Sociology and anthropology, being at
least aware of concepts like Self-Other, can possibly say some useful things
about the kinds of experiences that ayahuasca and a number of other compound
produce; based on my own research experience, they can give one quite a bit
of food for thought about the nature of the "Self-Other" relationship,
beginning in my case with a fairly strong impression that calling that
relationship a dichotomy is another fatal scientfic error.

What I really wanted to post were a couple of URLs that I found most
informative. One is

Another is

In both cases, check out the links (many in common) as well. An especially
significant short piece is one at in which the author talks
about ayahuasca use by an Amazonian religion called Santo Daime. This use
has been endorsed by the Brazilian government's "drug agency"--I hesitate to
say that it corresponds in any meaningful way with any of our agencies,
particularly not the benighted DEA and probably neither NIH nor FDA are
worthy of being compared to it. Contrast the official recognition Brazil
gives to the positive role that these drugs can play, to the fearful,
viciously punitive attitudes of US "official" agencies, if you will-we seem
never to learn.

From: donpalm
To: Bosley_J
Subject: Re: Ayahuasca
Date: Friday, December 8, 1995 8:47AM

John -
You are a veritable font of information! Thank you very much. I quite
appreciate the time you took to write this very helpful response. And you
write well too. Again, thank you.


>Indeed, to call the tea "meditative" is, to me, like calling a nuclear
>"fairly strong." :-)