Extropian Psychotherapy & Supersanity.

Paul Hughes (paul@i2.to)
Thu, 20 May 1999 13:58:45 -0700

Rather than try to reply to all of the insightful posts regarding 'psychotherapy, science fiction, and sanity', I'll try to summarize my ideas in one post.

In large part, I think most of us agree on certain aspects of what a 'sane' person would be, as particularly outlined in Max More's Extropian Principles - Pancritical Rationalism, Practical Optimism, the use of Korzybski's E-Prime, as well as the assistance of advancing technological augmentations. The pathway towards rational behavior is well laid out. I think the path gets sticky however when dealing with the other aspects of the psyche - especially the emotional ones. All of us on this list have at one time or another found ourselves caught in flamed discussions. As much we try, I can't think of anyone on the list who hasn't had an overly emotional reaction at least once. As much as we pride ourselves on extropian values, and rational thought, there is still lots of room for improvement. If you feel you do not fit in this category and our the pinnacle of sanity, then you will be in much demand as a psychotherapist for the rest of us. :-)

I am aware of at least two 'technologies' and methods not mentioned yet, that offer great promise in increasing sanity and long-term happiness. The first is the drug Ecstasy, which we now unfortunately realize has very bad long-term side effects with prolonged use. This drug was made illegal in 1986. I had the fortune to try it a couple of times before then. If anyone else out there has tried it, I'm certain you will concur with me that its effects can be positively profound. In less than 6 hours, I was able to work through several emotional trauma's and neurotic hang-ups, re-assess my world outlook, experience a state of genuine unprecedented happiness, and relax and undo muscular tension which had plagued me for years. Although the experience itself comes to an end, the positive effects can last forever. After my first experience, I was convinced this drug would heal all of the worlds problems and bring an end to war. To a certain degree I still believe this. The problem with ecstasy however, is that it is only effective as a psychotherapeutic agent 2 or 3 times, after which it acts as simple amphetamine. The reason seems to be a long-term depletion of seratonin and eventually if continued, serious damage to dendritic/axonic pathways.

Despite the technical problems with ecstasy, its effects hint at a neurological re-engineered pathway to increased happiness and emotional sanity. If only research into the drug were legal, and billions of dollars of research could be focused on isolating its positive effects and eliminating its negative ones, could we have a genuine extropian mind tool of unprecedented power.

Another tool which is perfectly legal, is the use of a flotation tank. Although its effects are not nearly as powerful as ecstasy, it can substantially help you relax your body and focus your mind. I've found it quite useful in clearing out daily residue and mental noise.

The use of Ecstasy + Flotation Tank = even more powerful change. The second time I tried ecstasy I took it moments before embarking on a 90 minute float session. To quickly summarize, the events of the float itself were uneventful, but my re-emergence from the tank was totally profound. It was as if I took an entirely new body imprint. My body felt alien, new, better, stronger, healthier. When I left the float center, the world seemed entirely new. I realized then and there the utter subjectivity of my existence and the power our minds have in shaping that existence. As trite as it sounds, I realized that if everyone could permanently achieve these states I'm experiencing, the world could end war, poverty and all other means of suffering. That things like limited resources, economic upheavals and the like, exist in large part because of the limits of our own thinking, feeling and acting. Instead of squandering our resources, they could be focused towards increased efficiency, intelligence increase, life extension, space migration, scientific and technological advance.

For a fantastic and complete treatment of these issues, I suggest reading David Pearce's 'Hedonistic Imperative' at http://www.hedweb.com/welcome.htm

Paul Hughes