Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Research

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LSD treatment in Scandinavia: the early enthusiasm and the resurgent interest

Author(s): Jens Knud Larsen*

Background: Psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin were widely used in psychiatry in the 1950s and in Scandinavia in the 1960s. However, in the mid-1960s, a wave of abuse resulted in international prohibition. New research has suggested that psychedelic treatment should be revisited.

Aims: The purpose of the present study was to explain the early interest for LSD treatment in Scandinavia in the light of the recent research with psychedelic drugs.

Methods: LSD case materials, with the medical records of 151 LSDtreated patients in the Danish State Archives, were carefully reviewed. In particular, the positive outcomes of LSD treatment in the LSD case material were closely studied. Results of new clinical research with psychedelics were counterbalanced with the reading of the LSD case material.

Results: LSD in Scandinavia was mainly used as a tool in psychoanalytical therapy to speed up the therapy. Chemical action on unconsciousness, insight, genes, stress coping and conditioned learning was emphasized as well. However, a most original, correct conception of LSD as an alternative to psychoanalysis was also claimed. Today the mechanisms of action of psychedelics are linked to understanding of the serotonin system, especially the 5-HT2 receptor family. This knowledge makes it easier to understand both the early and the renewed interest. Conclusions: Before psychedelics are introduced in psychiatry again, much clinical research must be performed on their efficacy and safety, including the suggested ability to induce long-term changes in the adult personality


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