How to Change Your Mind on Netflix

Often what we don’t understand we fear. That fear usually leads to mistruths being created. Such is the case with psychedelics. Even though they, once they have been studied, have been shown to have some benefits the idea that they are only harmful or addictive remains. Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Rolling Stone: Stories From the Edge) has decided to look into things. This limited series features four episodes that each deal with a different psychedelic – LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, and Mescaline.

As each of the episodes (or chapters as they are called) unfolds we learn more about the four psychedelics and how they relate to addiction, consciousness, dying, and psychological issues such as depression. How LSD should not just be thought of as something used by people in the counterculture.

The two directors, Alison Ellwood and Lucy Walker, have based the series on a book written by respected journalist Michael Plan and follow them as they speak to different experts (users, scientists, etc) about the drugs. All of them have tread ever-evolving paths.

LSD was discovered in 1943, became part of the counterculture movement in the 1960s and is now turned to in regards to microdosing. It is now used to manage pain and some mental health issues. Yet still, it was put in the crosshairs of the American government in its war against drugs.

We move on to psilocybin or magic mushrooms. They have been a part of the indigenous people in Mexico and their sacred rituals for centuries. Now the scientific world has undertaken studies to gauge its intense effects. It has been shown to have positive effects on patients suffering from cancer and those with OCD.

MDMA or Ecstasy has largely been associated with partiers and those in the electronic music world. Studies now show that it can have transformative effects on those suffering from PTSD as it quiets the part of the brain responsible for fear or responding to threats. Despite this, there have been falsehoods spread claiming that it kills off brain cells. MDMA is probably the closest of these drugs

Finally, Mescaline, which is derived from cactus, has been a sacred drug used by Native Americans for centuries. But because it has been deemed a harmful and addictive drug, the indigenous populations have had to fight for their right to use it in different sacred ceremonies.

There is plenty of potential within the natural world when it comes to physical and mental health. We have not tapped it to its full potential. A series like this tries to show the different sides of the issue and indicates there are other ways of thinking about or viewing psychedelics. How these four drugs which we have looked upon largely negatively do have potentially positive uses to heal and change how illnesses or the human mind are treated.

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