O n 5th May, , the novelist Aldous Huxley dissolved four-tenths of a gram of mescaline in a glass of water, drank it, then sat back and waited for the drug to take effect. Osmond was one of a small group of psychiatrists who pioneered the use of LSD as a treatment for alcoholism and various mental disorders in the early s. While at St. Osmond and Smythies started their own investigation into the properties of hallucinogens and observed that mescaline produced effects similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia, and that its chemical structure was very similar to that of the hormone and neurotransmitter adrenaline. This led them to postulate that schizophrenia was caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, but these ideas were not favourably received by their colleagues. In Osmond took a post as deputy director of psychiatry at the Weyburn Mental Hospital in Saskatchewan, Canada and moved there with his family.
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Humphry Osmond was at the cutting edge of psychiatric research in the s. He believed that hallucinogenic drugs might be useful in treating mental illness and he studied the effects of LSD on people with alcohol dependency. Was Osmond ahead of his time?
His work was cut short by the s drugs backlash, and only now is his work with hallucinogens being looked at with new interest.
During the second world war he served in the navy as a ship's psychiatrist. They thought schizophrenia might be caused by metabolic aberrations producing symptoms similar to those from drugs such as LSD and mescaline. LSD had been synthesized by Hofmann in ; he discovered its hallucinogenic properties in One day when he worked with the chemical he felt restless and dizzy and went home.
Over the next few hours he experienced fantastic, vivid images with intense colours. He thought he had probably absorbed a small amount of the chemical. Osmond, the scientist, thought the hallucinogens might help treat mental illness. LSD, used as a psychotomimetic, allows us to study these problems of communication from the inside and learn how to devise better methods of helping the sick.
The psychiatric establishment was not interested in drugs. In Osmond moved to Canada, to a bleak institution called the Weyburn Mental Hospital in Saskatchewan, where he had good research funding from the Canadian government and the Rockefeller Foundation and worked with a biochemist colleague, Dr Abram Hoffer. The hospital had many alcoholic patients who had not responded to all previous treatments. Osmond thought that hallucinogenic drugs produced symptoms similar to delirium tremens.
Producing a terrifying artificial delirium might frighten an alcoholic into change. Between and , Osmond and Hoffer treated about alcoholics under carefully controlled conditions.
They were astonished by what they found. In fact, they had a rather interesting experience. Osmond sought a name for the effect that LSD has on the mind, consulting the novelist Aldous Huxley who was interested in these drugs.
Osmond and Huxley had become friends and Osmond gave him mescaline in But the climate was changing in the cultural and political turmoil of the Swinging Sixties. The use of marijuana and other recreational drugs among young people was thought to be a cause of social unrest, environmental protests, women's lib, civil rights marches, and protests against the Vietnam war. His colleague Dr Mikuriya, later in charge of marijuana research at the National Institute of Mental Health, was puzzled that Osmond and his colleagues had psychedelic drugs available in their offices when local police had undercover agents searching for drug users.
Osmond later moved to the University of Alabama, where he was professor of psychology until his retirement in He leaves a wife, three children, and five grandchildren. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List BMJ v. Janice Hopkins Tanne. Copyright and License information Disclaimer.
Humphry Fortescue Osmond
Humphry Osmond was at the cutting edge of psychiatric research in the s. He believed that hallucinogenic drugs might be useful in treating mental illness and he studied the effects of LSD on people with alcohol dependency. Was Osmond ahead of his time? His work was cut short by the s drugs backlash, and only now is his work with hallucinogens being looked at with new interest. During the second world war he served in the navy as a ship's psychiatrist. They thought schizophrenia might be caused by metabolic aberrations producing symptoms similar to those from drugs such as LSD and mescaline.
A brief history of psychedelic psychiatry
He is known for inventing the word psychedelic and for his research into interesting and useful applications for psychedelic drugs. Osmond also explored aspects of the psychology of social environments, in particular how they influenced welfare or recovery in mental institutions. Osmond was born in Surrey , England and educated at Haileybury. After the war, Osmond joined the psychiatric unit at St George's Hospital , London where he rose to become senior registrar. His time at the hospital was to prove pivotal in three respects, firstly it was where he met his wife Amy "Jane" Roffey who was working there as a nurse, secondly he met Dr John Smythies who was to become one of his major collaborators, and thirdly he first encountered the drugs that would become associated with his name and his with theirs : LSD and mescaline.
Psychedelics and Psychotherapy in Canada: Humphry Osmond and Aldous Huxley
Humphry Osmond, the psychiatrist who coined the word ''psychedelic'' for the drugs to which he introduced the writer and essayist Aldous Huxley, died on Feb. He was The cause was cardiac arrhythmia, said his daughter Euphemia Blackburn of Appleton, where Dr. Osmond moved to four years ago. Osmond entered the history of the counterculture by supplying hallucinogenic drugs to Huxley, who ascribed mystical significance to them in his playfully thoughtful, widely read book ''The Doors of Perception,'' from which the rock group the Doors took its name. But in his own view and in that of some other scientists, Dr.
The decade of the s is well known among historians of psychiatry for the unprecedented shift toward psychopharmacological solutions to mental health problems. More psychiatric medications were introduced than ever before or since Healy, While psychiatric researchers later credited these drugs, in part, for controlling psychotic, depressive, and anxious symptoms-and subsequently for emptying decaying psychiatric institutions throughout the Western world-psychiatrists also produced a number of other theories that relied on a more delicate and nuanced blending of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology. Canadian-based researchers were at the forefront of experiments combining mescaline, LSD, and psychoactive substances later described as "psychedelics. A close look at the correspondence between the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond and his friend, the writer Aldous Huxley, who shared interests in psychoactive substances and their effects on perception, and the stimulation of empathy, gives us an opportunity to explore how they developed their psychedelic approach to therapy in the s.