"Too Hot to Handle": LSD, Medical Activism, and the Spring Grove Studies
In the early 1950s, medical researchers across the United States began investigating the use of the hallucinogenic drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) as a facilitating agent in psychotherapy. Despite great promise, crisis struck this young field when, in the early 1960s, the federal government began tightening regulations on LSD—this being a result of public and political anxieties about increasing recreational use of the drug, as well as changing clinical trial standards. Scholars maintain that psychedelic researchers unilaterally responded to the crisis by abandoning the field, fearing that their continued association with the drug would wreak havoc on their careers and personal lives. However, a close examination of the proceedings at the Spring Grove State Hospital, located in Catonsville, Maryland, tells a different story. Drawing on archival material from Purdue’s Psychoactive Substances Research Collection, this thesis explores the Spring Grove research team’s effort to midwife a more favorable view of this defamed drug. In doing so, this analysis provides a new perspective on psychedelic researchers’ response to the LSD crisis.
Kline, Purdue University.
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