Dr. Humphry Osmond is considered a pioneer of the psychiatric community.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Osmond studied the structural similarity between mescalin and adrenaline molecules, and theorized that schizophrenia might be a form of self-intoxication caused by the body mistakenly producing its own hallucinogenic compounds. The British doctor encouraged medical professionals to take the hallucinogenic drug LSD in order to see the world through the eyes of schizophrenic patients.
Osmond coined the phrase “psychedelic,” from the Greek for mind (“psyche”) and the verb “delein” (to manifest). He also used LSD to treat alcoholics and gave the drug to author Aldous Huxley, whose reactions were later chronicled in the 1954 book, “The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell.”
Osmond attended Guy’s Hospital Medical School, and served as a surgeon-lieutenant in the British Navy during World War II. His ideas about using hallucinogenic drugs in the treatment of psychiatric illness found no footing in Britain, so he immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada, and began conducting his research at Weyburn Mental Hospital. Osmond later became the director of the Bureau of Research in Neurology and Psychiatry at Princeton University, and a professor at the University of Alabama Medical School. He wrote or co-wrote several books, including “The Chemical Basis of Clinical Psychiatry” with Abram Hoffer, and “Psychedelics” with B. Aaronson.
Osmond died on Feb. 6 from cardiac arrhythmia. He was 86.