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In 1980 Albert Hoffman, the chemist responsible for the creation of LSD, wrote 'Would LSD become a blessing to humanity or a curse? This I often asked myself when I thought about my problem child.' That double-edged nature of the hallucinogenic experience permeates this special issue.
In his introduction Professor David Nutt takes the scientific community to task over their failure to protest against the denial of research on hallucinogens. 'The human brain can and does truly close itself up to many things, and psychedelics can open it again.' Aldous Huxley coined the term 'phanerothyme' for LSD and similar drugs, from the Greek terms for 'manifest' and 'spirit', and this property has led some to advocate their use in therapy. We hear a modern (p.676) and historical (p.714) take on this.
The topic may not be to everyone's taste, but I hope you will engage. In the much misunderstood words of Timothy Leary, 'Turn on, tune in, drop out'. As Hoffman himself warned: 'It's very, very dangerous to lose contact with living nature.'
Dr Jon Sutton
Managing Editor @psychmag
A brave new world for psychology?
David Nutt introduces a special issue considering the use of hallucinogens in popular culture, research and therapy
How do hallucinogens work on the brain?
Robin Carhart-Harris, Mendel Kaelen and David Nutt consider a big question on several levels
Cultures of chemically induced hallucinations
Vaughan Bell considers what we can learn from how other societies approach hallucinogenic drugs
When the trip doesn't end
Henry David Abraham describes his investigations into hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, along with firsthand accounts
The power of evidence-based psychological therapies; dementia and driving; standards of proficiency consultation; assisted dying debate; and more
Our President welcomes new students; introducing 'altmetrics'; Presidents' Award; meet the Psychologist and Digest team; and more
Unequal Britain; whistleblowing and psychological safety; beliefs about memory; EMDR; non-verbal tests; dyslexia; and more
Couples develop interconnected memory systems; Zimbardo reassessed; self-talk; and more, from our free Research Digest (see www.researchdigest.org.uk/blog)
Viewpoints: Experiences of hallucinogen treatment
We hear from a researcher, participant and clinician on the use of psilocybin to alleviate cancer anxiety
Sue Blackmore gives a personal account of how hallucinogens have influenced her career; and we pass on some advice for first-year undergraduates as they begin their journey in psychology
One on one
with Valerie Curran, Professor of Psychopharmacology at University College London
- Eye on fiction: Heavenly and hellish - writers on hallucinogens
- Dirk Hanson takes a trip from Lewis Carroll to the modern day, via Huxley, Burroughs and others
- Also... hallucinating in the deep waters of consciousness; inside Tanya Byron's Skeleton Cupboard; The Valley of Astonishment; Boyhood; Utopia; and more
A brief history of psychedelic psychiatry: Moheb Costandi considers attempts to use hallucinogenic drugs to treat alcoholism and mental disorder
Six years ago
Go to www.thepsychologist.org.uk for our archive, including psychology's foundations of sand
Big picture centre-page pull-out
Dominic Shepherd provides a hallucinogenic window on the soul, with commentary from Keith Laws