Should Psychedelic Drugs Be Given to Children?

At the Al Fin Institute for the Dangerous Child, we are famous for our use of induced precocity in the shaping of strong, independent, competent, broadly skilled, self-directing and self-supporting young people. We are liberal practitioners of the “rite of passage” approach, in the movement of a child through myriad sensitive periods of development.

Children are exposed early to music, foreign language, complex pre-math forms, graduated physical conditioning incorporated as play, artistic modes of expression and learning, and are trained to develop basic survival skills and proto-combatives from very early ages, also incorporated as play.

It should not surprise long time readers that we are beginning to incorporate both advanced neurofeedback and simple, non-invasive CNS electromagnetic stimulation techniques in particular training tracks for age 10 and above.

It has been suggested in some public forums that the use of psychedelic drugs in children and adolescents should be considered as a rite of passage of sorts. Many children certainly have access to marijuana and psychedelics of questionable origin from classmates in government schools, to use in informal settings. It is difficult to keep children from bad influences or to prevent them from unwise experimentation when their alternatives are limited.

But what about using pharmaceutical grade psychedelics in children for the sake of cognitive and emotional development, in a controlled setting? In adults, the moderate use of psychedelics (and marijuana) does not seem to be a significant cause of serious problems in mental or physical health. But the use of such drugs in children and adolescents is a different story, with problematic links between adolescent marijuana (and psychedelic) use and psychosis still remaining unexplained.

While we do not advise the use psychedelics in persons under the age of 21, we do incorporate an optional range of training in non-drug mystical states of consciousness such as those discussed by Charles Tart in Altered States of Consciousness. Examples include the deep use of music, a study of dreams and hypnogogy, meditation, hypnosis, JD Garcia’s autopoiesis, radical breath and posture training, and various dance techniques derived from sufi tradition.

Students who request a deeper intellectual understanding of mystical states are given access to a number of texts including this one by WT Stace and works by other philosophers such as Walter Kaufmann.

I do not wish to leave the impression that we at The Institute consider psychedelic drugs to be without value for helping us to understand how the brain works, or for practical use in rites of passage for adults who are also dangerous children. But such use should be done carefully and in accordance with accepted practise.

The very act of entering a dangerous childhood during the adult years calls for periodic passage rites as various skills are mastered. The nature of these rites will depend upon the need of the individual at those points in time.

This is not a game, although for the sake of young children we pose much of the training as a game. We should view life as being the real show, rather than a dress rehearsal. That way we will be less likely to hesitate or stand on the sidelines when action is required.

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