Bibliography: LSD and Psychiatry

On Monday night, The National — the flagship news program of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation — aired a documentary about the history of LSD use in psychiatric practice.  AHP has requested that the piece be posted online.  (An update will be posted if the file is made available.)  In the meantime, however, here is a new “augmented” bibliography.

LSD bibliography.

  • Baumeister, R. F. & Placidi, K. S.  (1983).  A social history and analysis of the LSD controversy.  Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 23(4), 25-58.

LSD is treated as a powerful drug whose mind-revealing effects embodied the potential for both psychological harm and personal insight. Predominant motives for LSD use appear to have shifted from desire for self-exploration to a desire for entertainment. Early LSD use, stimulated by curiosity and adventure seeking, focused on the personal, existential, and spiritual insights attributed (sometimes erroneously) to the drug. Opposition to LSD developed as LSD became a focus or symbol for generational conflict, parental worries, political dissent, irrational behavior and violence, personal cognitive dissonance, and threat to traditional values and institutions. LSD use declined because changes in the social conditions confronting youth created a desire for a type of drug experience LSD was ill-suited to provide, and because changes in users’ attitudes and preparations changed the nature of the LSD experience. The relation of drug preference to social conditions, the attributional biases concerning drugs, and the similarities between LSD proponents’ and opponents’ behavior are discussed.

  • Buckman, J.  (1977).  Brainwashing, LSD, and CIA: Historical and ethical perspective.  International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 23(1), 8-19.

Reviews the history of various attempts at thought control and chemical warfare. Brainwashing, thought control, industrial and national espionage, and covert activities are becoming more sophisticated. These issues have been revived and accentuated by the Vietnam War, the Middle East crisis, Watergate, the Central Intelligence Agency investigations, and the Patty Hearst trial. Historical perspectives and the ethical implications of these activities are explored. It is suggested that there is a growing level of individual and international mistrust that is complicating the issues of individual freedom, civil rights, and human experimentation.

  • Mangini, M.  (1998).  Treatment of alcoholism using psychedelic drugs: A review of the program of research.  Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 30(4), 381-418.

Explores the history of one branch of psychedelic research, the therapeutic use of LSD in the treatment of alcoholism, and of the events that led to the relabeling of the hallucinogens as drugs of abuse. The observation that the frightening experience of delirium tremens sometimes led alcoholics to moderate their alcohol intake suggested to early psychedelic researchers that the “psychotomimetic” experience thought to be produced by LSD could be used to treat alcoholism. A number of hypothesis-generating studies employing a variety of research designs to examine this premise were completed, but relatively few controlled trials attempted hypothesis testing. After a 30-yr hiatus, this research is gradually being resumed, and there is renewed interest in the findings of previous studies.

  • Neill, J. R.  (1987).  “More than medical significance”: LSD and American psychiatry 1953 to 1966.  Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 19(1), 39-45.

Describes the responses of members of the US psychiatry profession, as expressed in the mainstream professional literature from 1953 to 1966, to the use of LSD as an investigational drug in psychotherapy. The history of LSD in US psychiatry is documented, and points bearing on its relations to clients, the rest of medicine, and the government are discussed. LSD was first given to normal volunteers and to patients at one mental hospital. The goal was to produce a model psychosis against which certain antipsychotic drugs (e.g., chlorpromazine) could be tested. It is concluded that psychiatry’s psychedelic experience points to the limitations imposed by tending to bring laboratory methods into the clinic. It also blurred the boundaries of the profession between doctor and patient. The susceptibility of LSD researchers to political pressures during this period is noted.

  • Siegel, R. K.  (1985).  LSD hallucinations: From ergot to electric Kool-Aid.  Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 17(4), 247-256.

Presents the natural history of LSD-type hallucinations. It is indicated that not all human encounters with LSD-like hallucinations were accidental or unpleasant. Religious, magical, and medical uses were employed by numerous cultural groups. The experimental analysis of drug-induced hallucinations is also discussed.

  • Stafford, P.  (1985).  Re-creational uses of LSD.  Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 17(4), 219-228.

Describes the ways in which LSD has been used since its discovery in 1943. LSD was 1st used in experiments with schizophrenics and went on to become involved in psychotherapeutic treatment. In the 1960’s it was used recreationally by college students for purposes of “mind expansion.” How LSD became outlawed and possible future uses are described.

See also:

  • Sessa, B.  (2005).  Can psychedelics have a role in psychiatry once again?.  British Journal of Psychiatry, 186(6), 457-458.

Psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4,5-trimethoxy-?-phenethylamine (mescaline), psilocybin, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and their relations occur in abundance throughout the natural world, and have been used by humankind for thousands of years. In some cultures they are important tools for spiritual experiences, whereas in others they are labeled as dangerous drugs of misuse. What is less well known about these substances is the role they played in psychiatry for a brief historical interval. This article offers a short overview of this period and questions whether interest in these compounds might be emerging again.

About Jeremy Burman

Jeremy Trevelyan Burman is a senior doctoral student in York University’s Department of Psychology, specializing in the history of developmental psychology and its theory (especially that pertaining to Jean Piaget). Prior to returning to academia, he was a producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

One thought on “Bibliography: LSD and Psychiatry

  1. I should mention, too, that Aldous Huxley’s book — The Doors of Perception (1954) — is probably the most famous among the examinations of psychedelics. This first-person account is of a mescaline “trip,” but mediated by an interviewer. The result is not only interesting, but also freely available online:

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