Welcome to
Chemical Collective

Are you 18 or older?

Please confirm that your are 18 years of age or older.

You are not allowed to access the page.

info-icon €100 for domestic (NL, CZ, DE) €125 for the rest of the EU

Free shipping over €50 & free tracked shipping over €100

Friendly customer service available 9-5pm Monday to Friday

Free shipping over €50 & free tracked shipping over €100

Friendly customer service available 9-5pm Monday to Friday


Your cart is empty

The Backlash Against Psychedelic Hype

psychedelic hype
in this article
  • Introduction
  • The Common Themes of Psychedelic Hype
  • The Dangers of the Trough of Disillusionment
  • Psychedelic Hipsterism and the Psychedelic Ego
  • The Discussion of Risks is Interesting

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Chemical Collective or any associated parties.


The hype surrounding psychedelics can be characterised as an overly positive picture of the benefits of psychedelics and an overlooking, or at least underrepresentation, of the harms and risks of these compounds.

The growing psychedelic industry can be seen as following the trend of the Gartner hype cycle, a graph developed and used by the American technology firm Gartner to represent how a technology evolves over time. While not a technology per se, psychedelics seem to have followed the pattern of this hype cycle: the ‘psychedelic renaissance’ – the proliferation of studies into the effects and benefits of these compounds in the last 20 years or so – led to inflated expectations, a peak of such expectations, and has now been on the path of disillusionment. 

Experts in the field have argued that the psychedelic hype bubble will burst, which will lead to a trough of disillusionment, but by moving beyond overly negative and positive extremes, we can gain a more realistic view of psychedelics that embraces the actual evidence. This will set the psychedelic industry on the slope of enlightenment, leading to a plateau of productivity.

Those in the field of psychedelic research who have warned against the rose-tinted, overly positive picture of psychedelics include Rosalind Watts – former Clinical Lead for Imperial College London’s psilocybin trial – and Rick Strassman, who has been credited with kickstarting the psychedelic renaissance with his studies on DMT that took place between 1990 and 1995, which broke the 20-year gap in psychedelic research. 

But there are many other voices warning against psychedelic hype. These include the writers at Psymposia – who have brought attention to issues like the abuse that can occur in psychedelic therapy – and other writers who highlight psychedelic harms, such as Jules Evans (who is behind the Challenging Psychedelic Experiences Project and Ecstatic Integration site) and Ed Prideaux (who has written extensively on the post-trip condition known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, or HPPD). 

The backlash against psychedelic hype is multifaceted, however. It is necessary, but there is always a risk it may veer into the overly negative, perhaps even feeding into the 1960s-style stigma and scaremongering that has been so difficult to combat. Moreover, the intentions behind the backlash are often based on an evidence-based, harm-reduction mindset, but it may – in addition to such a mindset, or without it – also be based on other attitudes. I would like to describe some of the most common themes behind psychedelic hype, the backlash against it, and some reflections I had on the complex picture of anti-psychedelic hype.

The Common Themes of Psychedelic Hype

psychedelic hype

There are justified reasons to combat psychedelic hype, based on the biased, zealous, and inaccurate beliefs that those in the psychedelic community may hold, including the notions that:

  • Psychedelics can cure forms of distress like depression by ‘rebooting’ or ‘resetting’ the brain (terms often used by media outlets to increase interest and excitement about psychedelic research, then repeated by psychedelic users and the general public, which Watts has argued are misleading). Inaccurate metaphors like ‘reboot’ can create unrealistic expectations in those seeking relief from distress through psychedelics, which may lead to disappointment following treatment.
  • Psychedelics will allow us to achieve a world of ‘net-zero trauma’, as argued by Rick Doblin, the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which has funded many clinical trials on psychedelic therapy. It is highly questionable, of course, that psychedelics mean that no one will suffer from trauma again (by the year 2070, according to Doblin).
  • Psychedelic use will bring about a utopia of universal love, no war, ecological balance, and progressive and liberal values (which the journalist Shayla Love has pointed out is mistaken, for a number of evidence-based reasons). Connected to this is the belief that psychedelics are a panacea for our psychological and social ills (which I have examined here and here).
  • Psychedelics are non-addictive (a view challenged by Prideaux).
  • Psychedelics make you a better person (an attitude that is challenged by the potential of these compounds to also lead to or strengthen fascist and Nazi ideologies, messiah complexes, conspiracy thinking, and cult behaviour). Much of the dark side of psychedelics is influenced by ‘set and setting’ – the mindset and cultural/political context in which their use occurs – which are non-drug factors, so it may seem unfair to call the above risks of psychedelics per se. Nonetheless, if the benefits of psychedelics can be influenced by set and setting as well, then it is justified to speak of the above as risks of psychedelics.

These responses to psychedelic hype are justified and create a culture of balance and evidence-mindedness surrounding the psychedelic experience. It’s crucial that those who have used psychedelics, whether they have felt to be overall helped or harmed by them, maintain a measured perspective on psychedelics while being honest about their experiences. Telling stories of personal benefit and harm need not lead to a biased view of psychedelics.

In terms of anti-psychedelic hype, there are other motivations, besides balance and harm reduction, that may underlie it. Some of these motivations can be counterproductive to creating a realistic perspective on these compounds.

The Dangers of the Trough of Disillusionment

With the hype cycle in mind, there’s a worry that blowback against psychedelic hype, occurring in the trough of disillusionment, will lead to views about psychedelics becoming unrealistically negative. And perhaps many people already hold such views, and I try to make sure I don’t fall into this trap myself. 

This trough of disillusionment may include a tendency to ignore or downplay the evidence-based benefits of psychedelics and to focus on or exaggerate harms. This is dangerous as it may end up repeating or feeding into many negative perceptions about psychedelics, including the idea that they can make anyone prone to suicidality. (A Compass Pathways clinical trial on psilocybin for depression found that some patients with treatment-resistant depression experienced suicidal ideation and displayed suicidal behaviour after their psilocybin sessions, which are a more at-risk group for such adverse events, given their condition.) 

If the discussion of the risks of psychedelics isn’t balanced, it may end up bolstering other fear-based narratives surrounding them, such as those related to permanent psychosis, flashbacks, violence, and cults. Of course, psychedelics have the potential to trigger or worsen some of these outcomes in a subset of users (with many risk factors known and others unknown). But this doesn’t mean we should generalise, exaggerate, or become obsessed with such risks, otherwise we may give fuel to those who call for repressive policies that block research on psychedelics (which will be counterproductive to enhancing the benefits of psychedelics and minimising their harms – the more we know, the better).

Psychedelic Hipsterism and the Psychedelic Ego

psychedelic hype

It is possible that there can be a subset of people who focus on the risks and harms of psychedelics because raving about the benefits is no longer considered to be ‘cool’. In other words, talk of the benefits has become too mainstream. This may be a cynical interpretation, but this kind of hipsterish attitude may apply in some cases (the tendency to want to be a contrarian – in an outspoken minority on the side of right – can apply to any issue, including psychedelic use). 

It is important to be alert to the motivation behind pointing out risks during discussions about the benefits of psychedelics.

Does this come from a place of measuredness and harm reduction or wanting to appear more knowledgeable, interesting, and controversial? There can be something appealing about disillusionment: projecting this attitude can make one feel less naive and immature than others who have not yet seen the light. The psychedelic ego – the ego’s tendency to exploit anything related to psychedelics for its own purposes – means that a legitimate subject like risks and harm reduction may serve (at least partly) to prop up one’s ego.

The Discussion of Risks is Interesting

psychedelic hype

Speaking personally, I have been fascinated by the capacity of psychedelics to improve mental health and self-growth for the past 10 years. I have also, more recently, become interested in the potential risks and harms of psychedelic use. This is partly because I think there needs to be more balance when we discuss psychedelics, as this will have crucial implications for use in all kinds of contexts: recreational, personal use, group experiences, retreats, and clinical settings. 

However, another reason for being more intrigued by the risks is that this area is simply more novel and uncharted. Undoubtedly, there is much more to unearth about how and to what extent psychedelics benefit people’s well-being, but there is also much to be discovered about the various psychological, ethical, and social risks of psychedelics. The mainstreaming and increasing availability of psychedelics leaves us with many questions regarding safety:

  • What should the age restrictions be for buying psychedelics?
  • Should harm reduction information be given or included as a label on the product or as a leaflet? If so, what should this information consist of?
  • Should all psychedelics be sold equally? Should potent compounds like 5-MeO-DMT be as accessible as psilocybin mushrooms?
  • What are the dangers of the for-profit model of psychedelic therapy and how do we address them?
  • Do psychedelic therapists need to have their own experiences with psychedelics to better look after their clients’ well-being?
  • How can we minimise the risk of therapists crossing physical and sexual boundaries during psychedelic sessions?
  • How can therapists and guides ensure they avoid negatively impacting a client when they are in a suggestibility-enhanced state while on a psychedelic?
  • How can therapists and guides make sure they respect someone’s autonomy when they are in an altered state?
  • How do we tackle the link between psychedelic use and cult-like behaviour?
  • What funding is needed in terms of after-care for those who have suffered harm following psychedelic use?
  • How do we best care for people struggling with extended difficulties after their psychedelic experiences?
  • How do we mitigate the risk of psychedelics generating false and maladaptive insights and beliefs?

It is always difficult to ascertain what it means to be ‘balanced’ when approaching any subject.

Balance can be viewed as becoming dedicated to discussing risks in a culture that narrowly focuses on – and hypes up – benefits. It could also be seen as taking an evidence-based and cautious approach to psychedelics, recognising their potential to both heal and harm while acknowledging how much we don’t know. While drawing attention to the risks of psychedelics is, in many cases, adding a much-needed perspective to an often one-sided discussion, we should also ensure that risks themselves are discussed in a measured way. Otherwise, we may end up obfuscating the nature of these compounds and their effects.

Sam Woolfe | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective | www.samwoolfe.com

Sam is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to David via email at blog@chemical-collective.com

share your toughts

Join the Conversation.

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lily Pict
7 months ago

Hello, my name is Lily, I’m a 48 year old mom of a 17 year old boy, I’ve been trained as a nurse & MAT plus I had the privilege to inherit all the family “abilities”, or traits or talents (whatever words suits you best) concerning Shamanic/Druid related work and the duties and responsibilities that come with this kind of work. My cousin taught me for over 12 years, and I assisted him when he worked as Shaman.
I liked this article very much, as it points out very well the opinions , rumours and over exaggerated articles (positive as well as negative) I observed around me for a good while now.
As someone who has a lot of experience with psychedelics I must say that a lot of what I’ve heard from people is fear based on misinformation and campfire-style horror stories.
I always try to explain to people that psychedelics are not like a medication, psychedelics ARE medication, and as such first of all information has to be gathered, preferrably from sources where people had their own experiences and know what they are talking about.
There are chances that psychedelics and the research into the subject could support new beginnings in psychotherapy and medications. If we would just turn our backs on it we would miss out on opportunities to learn and experience considering many subjects.
My personal belief is that there’s a reason why human beings are able to “trip”, this has been part of the history of mankind from the very beginning.
If it wasn’t supposed to be we wouldn’t be able to experience what we do under those circumstances.
But: The other part of my personal opinion is that apart from gathering information from trustworthy sources, it would also be necessary to talk to a doctor first, to check on personal health difficulties like high or low blood pressure, any heart conditions, etc…if a doctor can be found that could handle this subject neutral enough without banging his personal opinion plus his “life experiene” around the patient’s brain because he has set his mind on “saving” the patient from a horrific experience, and (all in his opinion) permanent damage….oh, and not to forget losing another paying customer for the pharmaceutical industry.
The other side of the opinion spectrum is equally annoying and also dangerous:
Treating psychedelics like miracle cough drops with an attitude like: just take one, get through the next 12 hours and you’ve got yourself a brand new brain , restored to factory settings.
If you’ve got a psychological condition like a personality disorder or if you suffer from panic attacks and depression and you’ve set all of the last hope you can scratch together in your self on psychedelics for relief of the illness or just as much as the symptoms: you should know that: Yes, it can mean improvement under certain conditions, for certain patients.
But: it also bears risks under certain conditions for some patients.
My advice will always be: go to a doctor you can trust , a psychologist or psychiatrist, but best (In my opinion) is a psychotherapist because he knows his way around therapies in a practical way, not only
from books. Take all the facts you’ve learned, put them on a piece of paper and devide them in 2 categories: pro and contra. In the end you can count how many points speak for a psychedelic trip, how many against it? It will help you figure out if you really want to do this. I would take my time with this thinking process.
I’m not sure how to wake everyone up to the true benefits and hazards of psychedelics, there are as many different experiences as there are people who were tripping.
And every humans being is different, reacts different to substances/medications.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, if fast or slow, but over time people developed the attitude that for every problem there’s a quick fix, a pill, a powder, a cream, etc.
If you’ve got the flu you should stay in bed, normally. These days you take 3 pills & 2 powders and you won’t have to miss a day at work. How convenient! Your body might not rebel this time, but one day he will have revenge for all the times we ignored our bodies need to rest, get the proper nutrition, fresh air, sunshine, sleep and care.
I’m not a role model when it comes to those things either, but I try to improve my life bit by bit. There’s no short cut -1 pill-miracle-cure for mental problems, working on your problems will always be neccessary. It’s just that for some people psychedelics make it easier to become able for therapy, to find a personal access point from where they can work towards a more balanced mind and life.
I’m not sure how we’re gonna get there, but putting out the right, balanced information and not shying away from discussions are a first step into the right direction.

Related articles

Our Products

Related Products

1V-LSD 150mcg Blotters From 22.00
1cP-LSD 100mcg Blotters From 18.00
1D-LSD 150mcg Blotters (1T-LSD) From 29.00
1V-LSD 10mcg Micro Pellets From 15.00
1P-LSD 100mcg Blotters From 18.00
2-FDCK HCL From 10.00
1D-LSD 10mcg Micro Pellets (1T-LSD) From 20.00
1V-LSD 225mcg Art Design Blotters From 35.00
Pink Star Pellets/Blue Bliss Pellets From 17.00
DCK HCL From 15.00
1cP-LSD 150mcg Art Design Blotters From 25.00
1V-LSD 225mcg Pellets From 35.00
1D-LSD 225mcg Pellets (1T-LSD) From 42.00
DMXE HCL From 20.00

Reward program

  • Earn
  • Affiliates