Who are they, why bother studying psychedelic drugs, and why is this area of science of interest to the historian or sociologist of science?
To answer the first question, the scientists themselves must respond: here are the reasons given for conducting psychedelic research by Dr. Rick Strassman, one of the leading researchers of the early 1990s. “Firstly, they [hallucinogenic drugs] elicit a multifaceted clinical syndrome, affecting many of the functions that characterise the human mind, including affect, cognition, interoception, and perception. Characterising hallucinogens’ properties will enhance understanding of important mind-brain relationships…Second, naturally occurring psychotic syndromes share features with those elicited by these drugs. Understanding effects and mechanisms of action of hallucinogens may provide novel insights and treatments in endogenous psychoses. Third, increasing use and abuse of hallucinogens over last several years, particularly LSD, by young adults may produce a similar spate of adverse psychiatric sequelae seen with the first wave of their illicit use in the 1960s. Treatment of these adverse effects consume scarce public resources and safe, selective and efficacious treatments of acute and chronic negative effects of these drugs are needed. Finally, the enhancement of the psychotherapeutic process, sometimes in treatment refractory patients, reported by earlier studies has relevance to current emphasis on time-limited psychotherapeutic interventions.” Read more from original article