Freud’s “Cocaine Episode” on Benjamin’s Hashish

  • Dušan I. Bjelić


This chapter discusses and compares Freud’s use of cocaine as well as his writings on cocaine and Benjamin’s use of and writing on hashish. In his writings on cocaine, Freud confused the effect of cocaine with the effects of Indians chewing coca leaves. On the basis of the beneficial properties known to the Indians, he promoted cocaine as a universal medicine for depression, migraine, neurasthenia, and so on, only to learn after using cocaine to treat a patient with a morphine addiction that cocaine is a highly addictive drug itself. Inspired by Baudelaire’s writings on hashish, Benjamin used hashish as a stimulant for developing a physiognomic gaze and for enhancing his dialectical analysis of Modernity, or “profound illuminations,” as an antidote for the intoxicating effects of phantasmagoria, which is an illusionary reality produced by modern industry and progress as a means of neurochemical colonialism.


Industrial Capitalism Commodity Economy Coca Leave Human Solidarity Personal Warmth 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dušan I. Bjelić
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CriminologyUniversity of Southern MainePortlandUSA

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