History of Medicine work-in-progress (June 6): “Making LSD a Psychotomimetic”

UCLA History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Research Forum is a series which provides opportunities for faculty, students, staff, and visiting researchers to present recent work or unfinished work-in-progress in an informal, presentation-and-discussion format. Programs are held at lunchtime (sandwiches provided to those who make reservations), one or more Fridays per quarter during the academic year, in the Rare Book Room on the 4th floor of the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

The next program, on Friday, June 6, at 12:30 p.m., will be a presentation by Rob Schraff (PhD candidate in History, UCLA Department of History) on “Making LSD a Psychotomimetic”:

Abstract:  From the mid 1950s to the early 1960s, LSD was seen as a potential breakthrough in the treatment of alcoholism and other behavioral and emotional disorders; Sidney Cohen and Keith Ditman at UCLA were among the researchers working on these problems.  The CIA took a very active interest in LSD at this time and sponsored a number of research programs.  By the mid-60s, the hallucinogen had been labeled a “psychotomimetic,” a term which reflected common-sense understandings of experiences taking the drug, as well as the theoretical perception of LSD as a model for the understanding of schizophrenia and the development of antipsychotic drugs for its treatment.  Again, UCLA was a major site for the latter project, with Louis Jolyon West and Daniel X. Freedman involved both before and after they came to Los Angeles.  In this work-in-progress, I will explore the history of LSD’s labeling as a psychotomimetic, from the metaphorical to the neurophysiological, in the mid to late 20th century.

Box lunches (or buffet of various salads) are provided to attendees who reserve a seat by noon on the previous Monday (in this case, June 2nd); coffee and water will be available; attendees should bring their own other beverages.  Reservations received after that time will not have lunch orders (please be advised that we require reservations because we must submit a list of confirmed attendees when placing our food order).

Seating is limited and is not guaranteed without a reservation. Reservations may be made by contacting History and Special Collections for the Sciences (voice: 310.825.6940; email: speccoll-medsci@library.ucla.edu).  We can accommodate up to 40 attendees.

We are looking forward to seeing some familiar as well as new faces at this and upcoming programs, and welcome feedback and recommendations.

The UCLA History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Research Forum (this is the 20th meeting) is made possible by the Program in Social Studies in Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, by the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Program in the UCLA Department of History, and by History & Special Collections for the Sciences, UCLA Library Special Collections.

submitted by:

Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

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