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Page 4: Freakscience - Drug Writing and the rise of LSD Therapy 1954 – 1964

If you think, there is no relation between Literature and Science- you forget about History.
Today we decided to publish proper research –that was submitted by Robert John Dickins, to the University of Exeter as a thesis for the degree of Master of Philosophy in English, September, 2012.
The Birth of Psychedelic Literature: Drug Writing and the rise of LSD Therapy 1954 – 1964:
This thesis examines hallucinogen drug literature published between 1954-1964 in Britain and North America. By arguing that these texts are medically and culturally contingent to psychiatric research that was being undertaken with various hallucinogens during the period, including Lysergic acid diethylamide and mescaline, via the development of three psychiatric models—the psycholytic, psychotomimetic and psychedelic—it seeks to establish the relationship between psychiatric practice and the form and content of the texts.
Furthermore, it examines an inter-textual dialogue concerning the medical, spiritual and philosophical value of these drugs, which has a direct effect on the development of the a forementioned psychiatric research models. In doing so, this thesis also traces the historical popularization of these drugs as they left the clinical setting and entered in to wider society, as propagated by the literature. Broadly speaking, through these analyses, it establishes the primary texts as representing a minor literary movement—Psychedelic literature—through the emergence of a psycho spiritual narrative.
Between 1954 - 1964 a number of books were published that described psychoactive drug experiences with hallucinogens under the auspices of, or directly influenced by, psychiatry: The Doors of Perception (1954), Heaven and Hell (1956) and Island (1962) by Aldous Huxley; A Drug Taker’s Notes (1957) by Richard Heron Ward; Exploring Inner Space (1961) by Jane Dunlap; Myself and I (1962) by Constance A. Newland; The Joyous Cosmology (1962) by Alan Watts; The Discovery of Love (1963) by Malden Grange Bishop; and The Psychedelic Experience (1964) by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert. Collectively, these texts will be referred to as psychedelic literature and their psychiatrically-mediated dialogue, this thesis argues, reveals them to be a minor medico-cultural and literary movement.

By contextualising the primary texts according to the development of three psychiatric research/therapy models—the psycholytic, psychotomimetic and psychedelic—this thesis will demonstrate a dynamic, interpenetrative relationship between the books and the theoretical and methodological approaches of these psychiatric and psychoanalytic practices, while also elucidating a dialogue that occurred between the books themselves. Firstly, this will ground the texts within a socio-historical context that is used to identify the texts as a body of work—psychedelic literature—and secondly, the thesis will examine how the literature helped transform the practises themselves; thus demonstrating a cultural-contingency between the practice of hallucinogen research and drug literature from the same period. Broadly speaking then, this thesis is a medico-cultural and literary history of hallucinogen research, occurring in both Britain and North America, which aims at grounding the primary texts within the same cultural paradigm, arguing for the existence of a minor literary movement; psychedelic literature.

The primary texts will now be briefly introduced in regard to the proliferation of hallucinogen research during the 1950s and early 1960s; this in order to socially and historically contextualise them. It is then necessary, in 1.4, to position the argument of this thesis within the wider critical tradition of drug literature. This will be achieved by recounting the history of drug writing as a critical discipline, along with the various methodological approaches that have been employed, and will also elucidate the context in which the primary texts of this thesis have hitherto been understood......
To read more, Download attachments: DickinsR.pdf
Read 1298 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 June 2014 19:02


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