Orsolya (Orsi) Feher

Orsolya (Orsi) Feher

Orsolya (Orsi) Fehér earned her MSc in Communication Science at the University of Vienna this winter, where she founded the local SSDP chapter and has been elected to serve on the board of the NGO Committee on Drugs at the United Nations. Orsi works as a Research Associate at her University where her projects are mainly concerned with intra-EU mobility. She is also a member of the Psychedelic Society of Vienna and is co-ordinating the Psychedelic Welfare (PsyCare) project in Austria. linkedin.com/in/orsifeher/

Psychedelics and the Media in the Visegrad Countries

The submitted project aims to shed light on the prevailing narratives regarding psychedelics in the Visegrad Countries’ public opinion and the media’s role in cultivating it. The project focuses on the four states of the Visegrad Alliance, whose members gained independence from the Soviet Union and later joined the European Union simultaneously. Thus, ominous substances were introduced to their drug markets and wider societies around the same period, yet their current drug policies and international stances on drug related issues differ vastly. The study argues that although the so called psychedelic renaissance is rather visible and mediatized in wealthy occidental countries, due to a harsh stigma surrounding psychedelics in the former Eastern Bloc, the state of psychedelic science is lagging behind its potential. The discrepancy between the scientific promises of medical implications and the negative media coverage has not yet sparked an academic interest in examining the psychedelic stigma in the field of communication science. Present project aims to fill this research gap by applying mixed methods of qualitative and quantitative, primary and secondary data collection. The effects of mass media and the impact of the respective cultural and legal environments of each country are compared and analyzed by multiple linear regressions, mediation and moderation analyses. As frequent viewers of television demonstrate a lower level of informedness and a more negative attitude towards psychedelics, the findings of this paper are parallel to what is a frequent topic among psychedelic researchers and one that poses important institutional, financial and reputational challenges on the progress of science: the aggregate of messages through television can affect public opinion to lean towards a more hostile, averse attitude towards psychedelics, and that those who are exposed to more of such messages are more likely to form negative attitudes. The collected data also allows various empirical models to demonstrate that this effect might be enhanced or mitigated by the prevailing cultural predicament and legislative system of a given nation. So the underlying lesson is that breaking the stigma, spreading the values of awareness, higher consciousness and unity is in the hands of the people who construct culture and in the hands of advocates who fight for just legislations. The vision of this study is to foster a public discourse that is more balanced and in which real and relevant risks are addressed.