Osmond, Humphry (Fortescue) 1917-2004

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OSMOND, Humphry (Fortescue) 1917-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born July 1, 1917, in Surrey, England; died of cardiac arrhythmia, February 6, 2004, in Appleton, WI. Psychiatrist and author. Osmond was renowned for his use of LSD to treat schizophrenics and alcoholics, and he is credited with having coined the term "psychedelic." After receiving his medical education at the University of London, he was a surgeon-lieutenant in the Royal Navy during World War II. He left the military in 1947 to join the staff at St. Georges Hospital in London, where he and John R. Smythies first hypothesized that LSD could help schizophrenic patients. Their theory was not accepted by the medical establishment in England, however, so they moved to Canada, where Osmond was clinical director of the department of psychiatry at Saskatchewan Hospital from 1951 to 1953 and director of research until 1961. He continued his research into hallucinogens there, using it to treat schizophrenics and alcoholics with positive results. Famously, one of the participants in his experiments was author Aldous Huxley, who wrote about his experiences with LSD in his book The Doors of Perception. Osmond's encouraging test results fanned the flames of research on LSD, which eventually got out into the public as the drug became popular in the youth counterculture of the Sixties. Because of this, as well as reports by some researchers that implied there were health risks associated with LSD, studies into its use became increasingly difficult as the drugs faced stringent government regulations. Osmond was compelled to put his research into hallucinogens aside, though he continued to study schizophrenia. He became director of the Bureau of Research in Neurology and Psychiatry at Princeton University from 1961 to 1971, then moved on to a teaching career at the University of Alabama's School of Medicine, from which he retired in 1992. In more recent years, research into the positive effects of hallucinogens on mental illness and addiction has once more gained scientific attention, and some credit Osmond's work with leading to the use of serotonin to treat depression. During his career, Osmond wrote and edited numerous books about his research, often in collaboration with other researchers, including the works How to Live with Schizophrenia (1966; revised edition, 1983), New Hope for Alcoholics (1968), Models of Madness, Models of Medicine (1974), and Predicting the Past: Memos on the Enticing Universe of Possibility (1981).



Daily Post (Liverpool, England), February 17, 2004, p. 11.

Daily Telegraph (London, England), February 16, 2004.

Guardian (London, England), February 26, 2004, p. 29.

Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), March 9, 2004, p. 18.

International Herald Tribune, February 24, 2004, p. 3.

Irish Times (Dublin, Ireland), February 28, 2004, p. 14.

New York Times, February 22, 2004, p. A25.

Times (London, England), February 21, 2004, p. 46.