LSD before Leary: Sidney Cohen's Critique of 1950s Psychedelic Drug Research

  title={LSD before Leary: Sidney Cohen's Critique of 1950s Psychedelic Drug Research},
  author={Steven J. Novak},
  pages={87 - 110}
  • S. Novak
  • Published 1 March 1997
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Isis
In 1962 Sidney Cohen presented the medical community with its first warning about the dangers of the drug LSD. LSD had arrived in the United States in 1949 and was originally perceived as a psychotomimetic capable of producing a model psychosis. But in the mid 1950s intellectuals in Southern California redefined LSD as a psychedelic capable of producing mystical enlightenment. Though LSD was an investigational drug, authorized only for experimental use, by the late 1950s psychiatrists and… 
Why was early therapeutic research on psychedelic drugs abandoned?
  • W. Hall
  • Medicine, Psychology
    Psychological Medicine
  • 2021
The demise of psychedelic drug research was not solely due to the ‘War on Drugs’, but was hastened by tighter regulation of pharmaceutical research, the failure of controlled clinical trials to live up to the claims of psychedelic advocates, and the pharmaceutical industry's lack of interest in funding clinical trials.
Efficacy and Enlightenment: LSD Psychotherapy and the Drug Amendments of 1962
  • M. Oram
  • Psychology
    Journal of the history of medicine and allied sciences
  • 2014
A new perspective is provided on the death of LSD psychotherapy and the implications of the Drug Amendments of 1962 are explored, which explore how the new emphasis on controlled clinical trials frustrated the progress of LSD Psychotherapy research by focusing researchers’ attention on trial design to the detriment of their therapeutic method.
Regulation of human research with LSD in the United States (1949-1987)
  • K. Bonson
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • 2017
How the 1962 Amendments introduced numerous safety and efficacy requirements that must be in satisfied during clinical drug research are detailed—and how human studies conducted with LSD in the 1960s struggled with their fulfillment.
Prohibited or regulated? LSD psychotherapy and the United States Food and Drug Administration
  • M. Oram
  • Psychology, Medicine
    History of psychiatry
  • 2016
Close examining the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of LSD research in the 1960s will reveal that not only was LSD research never prohibited, but that the administration supported research to a greater degree than has been recognized.
A psychological exploration of long-term LSD users
All research involving the psychoactive compound lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) was terminated globally following its prohibition more than 50 years ago, though illicit use remained fairly stable.
Second thoughts on psychedelic drugs.
Self-Experiments with Psychoactive Substances: A Historical Perspective.
The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the rich tradition of self-experiments (SEs) with psychoactive substances carried out by scientists and therapists for more than a century. Scientifically
Psychedelic philanthropy: The nonprofit sector and Timothy Leary's 1960s psychedelic movement.
  • C. Elcock
  • Psychology
    Journal of the history of the behavioral sciences
  • 2021
It is argued that classic philanthropic attitudes and wealthy patrons played a major supporting role for Leary's psychedelic movement in the first part of the decade and that the changes inLeary's research objectives and his transition from academic to LSD guru were accompanied by changes in the patterns of support that occurred throughout the 1960s.
Book Section: Essays and Review: The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America
There is great interest in the history of substance use from various angles—clinical, legal, sociohistorical, regulatory, psychotherapeutic, anthropologic, and spiritual. In addition to tracking
Hallucinogenic drugs and plants in psychotherapy and shamanism.
  • R. Metzner
  • Psychology
    Journal of psychoactive drugs
  • 1998
The worldview of the shamanic and hybrid shamanic ceremonies differs radically from the accepted Western worldview: the belief and assumption that there are multiple realities that can be explored in expanded states of consciousness; and the belief that "spirits," the beings one encounters in dreams and visions, are just as real as the physical organism.


Complications associated with lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25).
Its ability to induce a "model psychosis" makes it an excellent laboratory device for the study of psychotic-like phenomena and it has also been employed as an adjunct to psychotherapy because recall of repressed memories is enhanced and ego defensiveness to conflict laden material is reduced.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD-25) as a Facilitating Agent in Psychotherapy
Our use of drug-facilitated psychotherapy has been to aid repressed material to become conscious and to increase insight. Any method or tool which facilitates these processes has the possibility of
Prolonged adverse reactions to lysergic acid diethylamide.
It is the impression that these hallucinogenic drugs are unique tools in the study of altered states of awareness, perception, and ideation, and the question of their therapeutic value remains unsettled since no definitive study has been reported.
The drug explosion
  • W. Modell
  • Medicine, Political Science
    Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics
  • 1961
If the pharmaceutical chemists took the time to look back at the net result of their prolificacy, would they be shocked to discover that the point of no return may have been passed? Do they suspect
Clinical profiles of paid normal subjects volunteering for hallucinogen drug studies.
The greater the social stimulus to volunteer, the less was the degree of psychopathology present, and follow-up interviews frequently revealed psychopathology not ascertained in initial screening interviews.
Relation of psychiatry to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • N. Kline
  • Psychology
    A.M.A. archives of neurology and psychiatry
  • 1957
These words are written as an individual, and not as the representative of any department or association, because the psychiatrist has had relatively little contact with the pharmaceutical industry until the past year or two and the advent of a new series of compounds with a $150,000,000-to $200,000adays-a-year market has opened a floodgate.
Selling drugs by "educating" physicians.
  • C. May
  • Medicine
    Journal of medical education
  • 1961