Pharmacopsychiatry 2021; 54(04): 151-166
DOI: 10.1055/a-1310-3990

The History of Psychedelics in Psychiatry

1   Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA
Hannes Walter
2   Institut für Philosophie, Literatur-, Wissenschafts- und Technikgeschichte, Fachgebiet Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
› Author Affiliations
Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


Initial interest in the value of psychedelic drugs (“psychotomimetics”) in psychiatry began in the early 20th century, with explorations of the possibility that mescaline or peyote could produce psychosis-like effects. Over time, interest was focused on whether the effects of psychedelics could inform as to the underlying basis for psychiatric disorders. As research continued, and especially after the discovery of LSD in 1943, increasing interest in a role for psychedelics as adjuncts to psychotherapy began to evolve and became the major focus of work with psychedelics up to the present day.

Publication History

Received: 02 August 2020

Accepted: 09 November 2020

Article published online:
07 December 2020

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