LSD on the Canadian Prairies
In the early 1950s, the leading centre of the world for LSD research was Weyburn, Saskatchewan, where two psychiatrists sought to revolutionize the treatment of mental illness and, in the process, gave rise to a new form of therapy: psychedelic psychiatry.
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 psycho-pharmacology. 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. 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 societal concerns about countercultural trends led to the criminalization of LSD and other so-called psychedelic drugs. In this well-written and fascinating book, she confronts the ethical dilemmas of the time and challenges the prevailing wisdom behind drug regulation and addiction therapy.
“Digs deeply into an area of drug history that has for the most part been ignored.”
– Literary Review of Canada
“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.”
– Matthew Martin-Iverson, Health and History
“A controversial and much recommended read to consider for those intrigued with psychological medicine.”
– The Midwest Book Review
“The writing is accessible, and because it touches equally on medical and cultural history, Psychedelic Psychiatry will be of interest to a fairly wide range of readers.”
– Joanne Epp, ActiveHistory.ca (Link)
About the Author
Erika Dyck is an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the author of Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD on the Canadian Prairies. Visit Erika’s website.