The Beckley Foundation
Reframing Psychedelics – Drawing on old metaphors to create new understanding
Psychedelics in the popular imagination are still deeply influenced by the negative stereotypes that have come out of decades of prohibition. If positive news about psychedelics often enters the mainstream through science journalism, what means do we have beyond the research itself to help shift the public perception of psychedelics – moving from being seen as a dangerous threat, to plants, fungi and compounds to be valued and revered? Scientific research is essential, but graphs and statistical significances aren’t what change people’s minds. It’s the stories we tell about why these findings matter.
Public opinion influences how far policy-makers are willing to go, so reframing psychedelics in the public sphere does matter, and it is the stories of how psychedelics fit into wider society that can help people see value in decriminalising their use. When considering this message, how it is delivered is just as important – so it is worth examining where the aesthetics of psychedelic imagery need to be adjusted for the message to be accepted. Drawing on metaphors used by psychedelic psychotherapists and indigenous practitioners, can we find models of community, connectedness to others and our relationship to the environment that are compatible with Western worldviews?
Sasha Frost is the Content Manager for the Beckley Foundation, where he explores effective ways to tell stories about psychedelic science and drug policy reform. With a background in literature and psychology, he is keen to make use of emerging forms of communication to inform the dialogue around drug prohibition and the place of psychedelics in modern society. Most recently Sasha has been creating videos and animations to promote the work of the psychedelic community. He has spoken about psychedelics in film, TV and the media at Beyond Psychedelics and Breaking Convention.