Sunday History Channel: Seventy-five Years of Psychedelic Psychiatry


Mo Costandi provides a brief history in The Guardian of research activities using psychedelic substances such as LSD for psychiatric and psychotherapeutic purposes. Costandi begins with the early work with alcoholics done by British and Canadian researchers in the 1950s in Saskatchewan, popularized in the book The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley after the psychiatrists provided Huxley with some mescaline from Mexican peyote.

“Osmond and Hoffer were encouraged, and continued to administer the drug to alcoholics. By the end of the 1960s, they had treated approximately 2,000 patients,” writes Costandi. “They claimed that the Saskatchewan trials consistently produced the same results – their studies seemed to show that a single, large dose of LSD could be an effective treatment for alcoholism, and reported that between 40 and 45% of their patients given the drug had not experienced a relapse after a year.”

After discussing the politics of the 1960s that led to the illegalization of most psychedelics, Costandi briefly summarizes some of the renewed research interest and legal studies taking place today. “Huxley believed that hallucinogenic drugs produce their characteristic effects by opening a ‘reducing valve’ in the brain that normally limits our perception, and some of the new research seems to confirm this.”

A brief history of psychedelic psychiatry (The Guardian, September 2, 2014)

MIA Editor’s Note: An overview of orthomolecular psychiatrist Dr. Abram Hoffer’s life and work, along with his final public interview before his death, is available on Rob Wipond’s website.