Microscope for the mind

For a number of years there was hope in the psychiatric community that the mind-altering substances we now know as psychedelic drugs would prove to be as indispensable to psychiatry as the microscope to a cell biologist or the telescope to an astrologist. So why are we so shocked to hear about LSD mentioned in a clinical setting now?

Let’s explore its history as a medicine.

It will take true dedication for scientists to convince the public, and more importantly the media, that hallucegenic drugs deserve a place in medicine.

Research is unlikely to be funded by pharmaceutical companies, as most of these drugs were synthesised long enough ago to be out of patent. Additionally, compared with recent big-sellers such as Prozac, these compounds are very unlikely to ever be given more than a few times to an individual, certainly not every day. In fact, one of LSD’s properties is its rapid tolerance and as such there is a refractory period following its use in which additional dosing has no effect. This is one reason that it does not have addictive properties.

Indeed, many advocates of its introduction into psychiatry find it strange that these non-addictive compounds are prohibited whilst opiates and cocaine are placed in less restrictive Schedules and are, in fact, considered essential to medical practitioners.