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J Med Biogr. 2016 Feb;24(1):115-24. doi: 10.1177/0967772013479520. Epub 2014 Mar 21.

Humphry Fortescue Osmond (1917-2004), a radical and conventional psychiatrist: The transcendent years.

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Graduate School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Australia


This article describes the life and work of the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond who pursued a radical path as a psychiatrist while he remained within the establishment. To the public mind however, he is best known as the man who introduced Aldous Huxley to mescaline and coined the iconic word psychedelic. From an early stage of his career, Henry Osmond embraced new ideas to break the nexus in psychiatry at a time when neither biological nor psychoanalytic treatments were shown to have much benefit. To do this, he joined the radical social experiment in health in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan where he initiated a range of innovations that attracted international attention, as well as controversy over his espousal of the use of hallucinogens better to understand the experiences of psychotic patients.


Canadian psychiatry; Osmond; alcoholism; psychedelic; schizophrenia

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