Pubdate: Tue, 20 Feb 2007
Source: Prince Albert Daily Herald (CN SN)
Copyright: 2007 Prince Albert Daily Herald
Author: Paul Spasoff


The psychedelic era did not begin in New York. Nor did it get its
start in London or Paris.

Instead, it began in Saskatchewan - Weyburn, to be exact.

Psychedelic was a term coined by Dr. Humphry F. Osmond from the use of
lysergic acid diethylamide - better known as LSD - in medical research
in the southern Saskatchewan community. Eventually the word would
become synonymous with an entire culture in the 1960s.

Following the Second World War, LSD was among the drugs that
interested Osmond and his colleagues in their research into mental

Their studies led them to consider that the mind-altering effects of
LSD were similar to those encountered by schizophrenics.

As such, they believed a drug-induced psychosis could provide
psychiatrists with a greater insight into the mental illness.

With little support for his efforts in England, Osmond headed overseas
in 1951 to continue his work in Canada. After accepting an appointment
at the mental hospital in Weyburn, Osmond teamed up with Dr. Abram
Hoffer, who was conducting similar research.

By the time Osmond arrived in Weyburn, the facility had already
developed a reputation for its mental health care.

The hospital, which was reportedly the largest building in the
province when it opened in 1921, was considered to be on the cutting
edge in its approach to treatment.

Electric shock therapy and lobotomies were among the treatments

Similar to the studies in England, Osmond, Hoffer and the other
members of the research team conducted many personal trials with LSD.
Friends, family and members of the surrounding community were also
brought in to participate.

Comparing the reports from these participants with accounts from
people suffering from schizophrenia, Osmond and Hoffer concluded the
experiences were very similar.

 From schizophrenia, the doctors soon expanded their work to alcohol

Research at the time indicated that hallucinations suffered by some
alcoholics helped them quit drinking. Osmond and Hoffer reasoned that
LSD could help simulate these hallucinations.

 From 1953 to 1960, thousands of alcoholics underwent treatment under
controlled conditions. The results showed that nearly half of the
people treated still abstained from alcohol more than a year later.

Their approach was also endorsed by one of the founders of Alcoholics
Anonymous, who had received treatment.

The Central Intelligence Agency and MI-6 - Britain's secret service -
also showed an interest in the work, but for different reasons. They
were interested in using LSD as a truth drug on enemy agents.

Around the same time, Osmond brought in the term psychedelic. Not
satisfied with the implications of words such as hallucination and
psychosis, he came up with psychedelic to describe the full range of
effects of mind-altering drugs.

Although their work was endorsed in some circles, it came under attack
in others. Similar trials conducted by other groups did not reproduce
the results, while the conservative medical community also failed to
embrace their findings.

Social unrest ultimately brought an end to the research.

The use of recreational drugs was blamed for many of society's ills in
the 1960s, resulting in laws that restricted access to the drugs -
even for research purposes.

Leaving Weyburn behind, Osmond moved on to the New Jersey Psychiatric
Institute before becoming a professor at the University of Alabama.

He died in 2004 at the age of 86.
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