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22 June 2005

The Cannabis Psychosis Myth Exploded

Just posted the note below to the UK Cannabis Information Alliance Mailing List. For those not on that list, the missive is reproduced here for the edification and enlightenment of all:
>On Tue, 2005-06-21 at 08:03 +0100, Derek wrote:

>> Incidence of psychosis in South London
>> has roughly doubled over the past 40 years...
The noted increase in psychosis in South London is not a statistic demonstrating the perils of cannabis use, rather a statistic that clearly evinces the perils of living in South London, or indeed any part of any other major town or city you care to name.

The links between the heightened pressures of urban living and increased instances of psychosis are increasingly well documented. It is also sensible to not lose sight of the fact that, according to BBC1's One Life programme, aired last night, 1 in 4 people is likely to suffer some form of mental disorder as a matter of course, irrespective of cannabis use, and this happens to be the exact same figure cited for cannabis users.

Another point worth noting is quite how we define 'psychosis'.

The dictionary definition of 'psychosis' is:

"A severe mental disorder, with or without organic damage, characterised by derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality and causing deterioration of normal social functioning."

So before we begin labelling people as psychotic, and linking that psychosis circumstantially, and almost inextricably, to any use of nature's plants that humans the world over have been using, without any harm to themselves or anyone else, for thousands upon thousands of years, we must first ask:

"What definitions of 'reality', 'derangement of personality', 'contact with reality', and 'normal social functioning' are we using to determine cases of 'psychosis'?"

And, further, once definitions of these terms are established:

"Are these definitions of 'reality', 'derangement of personality', 'contact with reality', and 'normal social functioning' those that best serve the interests of the many, rather than the few that seek to control them to their own ends?"

If the answer to the latter of these two questions is, 'No', then we must necessarily return to the first question and redefine our terms accordingly.

Anything that defies my sense of reason....


R. Dooley said...

Extremely well said. It's about time some for rational thought about mental illness and altered states of consciousness. Unfortunately statisticians like to look for anomalies to pin down as causality.

What you say about society's definition of 'sane' is very true as well. A component that does not seek to assimilate is 'malfunctioning' - those who do not think within our society's collective consciousness are mentally 'malfunctioning'.

Such is the cost of being anti-social, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Definitely well said, especially given the recent government article on the link between psychosis and cannabis use. I scoured the article trying to even identify statistics and it was pure folly. Just a mash-up of assumptions and twisted information. I mean, correlation does NOT entail causation!!! This is the number one thing to know when performing statistical a analysis that is a correlational design, to do otherwise is to unethically misrepresent your statistics. So its not that the statisticians are misrepresenting things, its that the individuals reading the articles are morphing the facts and misrepresenting the statistics to say whatever they want. So thank you.