The Diagnosis: Our Toxic Society

Our toxic society can get in the way of our healing. Join Sonia Hsieh, LCSW as we explore how to unlearn toxic patterns and start healing.
Overhead landscape photo of a pipe adding pink waste to a glacial landscape, by Ivan Bandura
Author: Sonia Hsieh
By Sonia Hsieh
July 6, 2021

With all the issues in society today, it could be fair to label it toxic. So, how can we heal amidst all of the challenges? Join Sonia Hsieh, LCSW as we explore the diagnosis for our toxic society, and how to heal it.

The greatest lie the ego ever told was that there is something wrong with you.

Johann Hari, in his book, ‘Lost Connections [1]’ cited a study done on children. The research study showed children a commercial for a ‘cool’ new toy. Then the child was asked a question. Would they rather be friends with the ‘nice’ friend, or the ‘mean’ friend with the cool new toy as advertised in the commercial. The child chose the nice friend. However, upon being shown the commercial for the cool new toy a second time, the child then chose the mean friend.

This is our toxic society today. We choose the cool thing instead of what is actually good for us. We eat nicely packaged foods instead of whole foods. Fancy lattes have preference over purified water. We go for the promotion at work instead of more time with our families. We date the ‘cool’ person instead of the ‘kind’ person, and the decisions go on and on. 

Humans today have gotten things seriously mixed up, and it shows. 70% of Americans are on prescription medication, and according to experts like Deepak Chopra, about 90% of pills prescribed are ineffective [2].

What is causing our toxic society?

What is happening?

I’ll tell you a story of how I came to understand this phenomenon while on a trip on lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD as it is more commonly known as.

I was in Costa Rica and got invited to a party. The party was a really cool one. Hosts planned a fire show, multiple DJs, aerialists, and catered food. Costumes and all-night dancing were highly encouraged. The thing was, my energy that week was low. My ego on the other hand insisted that by the weekend, I should be ‘good.’ But my higher self knew better. I knew my body did not feel up for the party, but I pushed through anyway.

On the evening of the party, I dragged myself there looking forward to good entertainment. When I first arrived, it was awesome – a sleek modern mansion in the middle of the jungle with all my friends dressed up and ready to have fun. I was happy.

After our feast and just as we were all coming up, guess what happened? The police arrived.

I could not stop laughing. The police were baffled. There we were, a crew of ex-pats dressed in colorful costumes with zero alcohol or drugs to be found. As I lined up to give my driver’s license number to the authorities, I laughed to myself. I knew better. I knew not to come to the party. My body told me not to go and I did not listen.

And so, that night, I drove myself all the way home and decided to spend the rest of my trip alone. I sat with myself in the way I knew I was supposed to before my ego got in the way.

Unlearning Toxic Patterns

Light-skinned person in a black jumpsuit wearing a brown paper bag over their head with a frowning face drawn on it, against the background of a barren field and pink mountains. A toxic society can make us ignore our emotions.
Image Credit: Arash Payam

The insights that followed were also meant for me to understand. The LSD showed me, for every move and decision made against Nature, there is a cost. For every force in one direction, there is an equal pressure and force in the opposite direction. That is the balance of life. Illness, frustration and obstructions along the path are just one way the energy of love gently places us back into alignment.

What I have learned through my various dives into the psyche is that the ego is incredibly seductive. The mind will make any and every justification to not choose what is good for it. Like my friend jokes when he’s feeling down, ‘It’s like my ego wants to kill me, it won’t even let me drink water!’

Our society’s collective amnesia of what love actually is, feels like, and looks like, is why I think psychedelics are making a ferocious comeback. It is Nature giving us a much-needed wake up call.

These medicines are here to tell us: You are not defective, your ego is.

You are not fat, lazy, crazy or stupid. Our society is toxic. Businesses and the media understand human psychology and use fear and manipulation to turn the greatest profits. Add to this the human being’s incredible ability to think we, alone, are the problem – to think, ‘I must be the only one who feels this way’ – and it becomes quite obvious why so many people feel sick, lost and alone.

The Ego’s Great Deception

So, herein lies the ego’s great deception: the greatest lie the ego ever told was that there is something wrong with you.

You are not addicted, you do not have poor self-control, you are not obsessive, anxious, depressed, or broken beyond repair. The truth is none of us were born knowing exactly how to live well. We are the only species on earth that came with no manual. Birds know to fly south for the winter. Cicadas know to wake up every 17 years. Bears know when it is time to hibernate. But humans?

We have no clue. In fact, it seems we are programmed to do what is bad for us! So, what if instead of spending so much time thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with us, we instead looked outward. We observe the dysfunction of our society that promotes toxic behavior instead of health, we recognize the power of fear and greed in driving our actions, and then, we choose differently.

Making a Different Choice

What if your journey on earth became about finding the exact right psycho-spiritual program that is best for you? We upgrade the software programs on all of our devices, and yet, what about an upgrade for our souls? What about feeding ourselves the right thoughts, the right foods, finding the best career to showcase our gifts, cultivating our unique talents, finding mutually satisfying relationships, and learning how to respect ourselves and one another?

It is time to put down the cool, yet toxic toy of our society and learn how to choose the healthiest relationship of all – the one we have with ourselves.

Stop watching the news, stop scrolling through toxic social media and playing video games. Start following your heart, start listening and observing nature, and yes, if you have the opportunity, maybe follow some plants, too.


  1. Hari, J. (2019). Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope (Reprint ed.). Bloomsbury Publishing.
  2. Deepak ChopraTM. (2018, November 15). The Placebo Effect Goes Through the Wringer.
The content provided is for educational and informational purposes only and should be a substitute for medical or other professional advice. Articles are based on personal opinions, research, and experiences of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Psychedelic Support.

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Author: Sonia Hsieh
Sonia Hsieh
I am an LCSW in Chapel Hill, NC and am currently gathering my research findings from a year spent in Costa Rica into a methodology that works to bring the thinking mind back into the present moment. I have extensive training in both psychoanalytic and mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions and previously worked in private group practice for the past 5 years. I am currently offering complementary care for both therapists and patients looking for consciousness-expanding support and materials, questions concerning psycho-spiritual development, breathwork, and lifestyle modifications. To find out more about how I practice integration therapy and provide mental health services, visit my profile page in the Psychedelic Support Network or at my website . Email me today for an appointment.

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