Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus

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Overview

LSD's short but colorful history in North America carries with it the distinct cachet of counterculture and government experimentation. The truth about this mind-altering chemical cocktail is far more complex—and less controversial—than generally believed.

Psychedelic Psychiatry is the tale of medical researchers working to understand LSD’s therapeutic properties just as escalating anxieties about drug abuse in modern society laid the groundwork for the end of experimentation at the edge of psychopharmacology. Historian Erika Dyck deftly recasts our understanding of LSD to show it as an experimental substance, a medical treatment, and a tool for exploring psychotic perspectives—as well as a recreational drug. She recounts the inside story of the early days of LSD research in small-town, prairie Canada, when Humphry Osmond and Abram Hoffer claimed incredible advances in treating alcoholism, understanding schizophrenia and other psychoses, and achieving empathy with their patients.

In relating the drug’s short, strange trip, Dyck explains how concerns about countercultural trends led to the criminalization of LSD and other so-called psychedelic drugs—concordantly opening the way for an explosion in legal prescription pharmaceuticals—and points to the recent re-emergence of sanctioned psychotropic research among psychiatric practitioners. This challenge to the prevailing wisdom behind drug regulation and addiction therapy provides a historical corrective to our perception of LSD’s medical efficacy.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies - Gary Genosko
Contributes mightily to our understanding of prairie culture and offers a much needed look into an ethically informed drug therapy that contributed to the struggle for universal healthcare advanced by Tommy Douglas and the CCF.
Health and History
Psychedelic Psychiatry is intensely interesting; an important and influential period of transition in psychiatry that has direct and important implications for current psychiatry... I highly recommend it to others.

— Mathew Martin-Iverson

Journal of American History
Psychedelic Psychiatry represents the first archive-based, sober history of LSD's early years as a promising pharmaceutical and its subsequent decline.

— Nicolas Rasmussen

Social History of Medicine
Crisply written, well-researched and cogently argued.

— Alex Mold

American Historical Review
A smoothly written account.

— Edward Shorter

British Journal of Psychiatry
The story is very well written and researched... The book is a good read and has the bonus of imparting historical understanding of psychiatry during its most exciting and innovative era.
Literary Review of Canada
Digs deeply into an area of drug history that has for the most part been ignored.
Isis
As Dyck shows well, LSD gives historians a lot to think about.

— John C. Burnham

Saskatchewan History
Psychedelic Psychiatry is a highly nuanced work of scholarship that sheds new light on LSD research in Saskatchewan.

— Kam Teo

Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies
Contributes mightily to our understanding of prairie culture and offers a much needed look into an ethically informed drug therapy that contributed to the struggle for universal healthcare advanced by Tommy Douglas and the CCF.

— Gary Genosko

American Historical Review - Edward Shorter
A smoothly written account.
Saskatchewan History - Kam Teo
Psychedelic Psychiatry is a highly nuanced work of scholarship that sheds new light on LSD research in Saskatchewan.
Isis - John C. Burnham
As Dyck shows well, LSD gives historians a lot to think about.
Social History of Medicine - Alex Mold
Crisply written, well-researched and cogently argued.
Journal of American History - Nicolas Rasmussen
Psychedelic Psychiatry represents the first archive-based, sober history of LSD's early years as a promising pharmaceutical and its subsequent decline.
Health and History - Mathew Martin-Iverson
Psychedelic Psychiatry is intensely interesting; an important and influential period of transition in psychiatry that has direct and important implications for current psychiatry... I highly recommend it to others.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801889943
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Erika Dyck is an associate professor of history at the University of Saskatchewan.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Psychedelic Pioneers 13

2 Simulating Psychoses 32

3 Highs and Lows 53

4 Keeping Tabs on Science and Spirituality 79

5 Acid Panic 101

6 "The Perfect Contraband" 119

Conclusion 138

Notes 145

Bibliography 171

Index 193

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