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LSD Experiment: Research on Acid Trip Effects & Art Drawing - CIA Documentary (Pt. 2 of 2)
LSD was brought to the attention of the United States in 1949 by Sandoz Laboratories because they believed LSD might have clinical applications.
Throughout the 1950s, mainstream media reported on research into LSD, undergraduate psychology students taking LSD as part of their education, described the effects of the drug, and its growing use in psychiatry. Time Magazine published 6 positive reports on LSD between 1954 and 1959.
LSD was originally perceived as a psychotomimetic capable of producing model psychosis. By the mid 1950s, LSD research was being conducted in major American medical centers, where researchers used LSD as a means of temporarily replicating the effects of mental illness. One of the leading authorities on LSD during the 1950s in the United States was the psychoanalyst Sidney Cohen. Cohen first took the drug on October 12, 1955 and expected to have an unpleasant trip, but was surprised when he experienced "no confused, disoriented delirium." He reported that the "problems and strivings, the worries and frustrations of everyday life vanished; in their place was a majestic, sunlit, heavenly inner quietude." Cohen immediately began his own experiments with LSD with the help of Aldous Huxley whom he had met in 1955. In 1957, with the help of Betty Eisner, Cohen began experimenting on whether or not LSD might have a helpful effect in facilitating psychotherapy, curing alcoholism, and enhancing creativity. Between 1957 and 1958, they treated twenty-two patients who suffered from minor personality disorders. LSD was also given to artists in order to track their mental deterioration, but Huxley believed LSD might enhance their creativity. Between 1958 and 1962, Oscar Janiger tested LSD on more than a hundred painters, writers, and composers. By the late 1950s, LSD was being used by unlicensed therapists who were drawn to it as a lucrative means to break down patients' psychological barriers; it was not uncommon for them to charge $500 a session.
In one study in the late 1950s, Dr Humphry Osmond gave LSD to alcoholics in Alcoholics Anonymous who had failed to quit drinking. After one year, around 50% of the study group had not had a drink — a success rate that has never been duplicated by any other means.
In the United Kingdom the use of LSD was pioneered by Dr Ronald A. Sandison in 1952, at Powick Hospital, Worcestershire. A special LSD unit was set up in 1958. After Dr Sandison left the hospital in 1964, medical superintendent Dr Justin Johanson took over and used the drug until he retired in 1972. In all, 683 patients were treated with LSD in 13,785 separate sessions at Powick, but Dr Spencer was the last member of the medical staff to use it.
From the late 1940s through the mid-1970s, extensive research and testing was conducted on LSD. During a 15-year period beginning in 1950, research on LSD and other hallucinogens generated over 1000 scientific papers, several dozen books, and 6 international conferences, and LSD was prescribed as treatment to over 40,000 patients. Film star Cary Grant was one of many men during the '50s and '60s who were given LSD in concert with psychotherapy. Many psychiatrists began taking the drug recreationally and sharing it with friends. Dr. Leary's experiments spread LSD usage to a much wider segment of the general populace.
Sandoz halted LSD production in August 1965 after growing governmental protests at its proliferation among the general populace. The National Institute of Mental Health in the United States distributed LSD on a limited basis for scientific research. Scientific study of LSD largely ceased circa 1980 as research funding declined, and governments became wary of permitting such research, fearing that the results of the research might encourage illicit LSD use. By the end of the century there were few authorized researchers left, and their efforts were mostly directed towards establishing approved protocols for further work with LSD in easing the suffering of the dying (See thanatotherapy) and with drug addicts and alcoholics.