Humphry Osmond, M.D., the man who invented the word "psychedelic," has passed away. He died at home, peacefully, on Friday February 6th, 2004 at the age of 86.
Source: Email from Will Penna
Picture from the Eroid Character Valult:
Along with his colleague, John Smythies, Osmond shocked the medical community in 1952 by drawing attention to the structural similarity between the mescaline and adrenaline molecules. They theorized that schizophrenia might result when the brain releases an endogamous hallucinogen, possibly derived from adrenaline.
Osmond observed that using mescaline seemed to allow a healthy person to see the world through the eyes of a schizophrenic person. He suggested that the drug be used as a tool to help doctors and nurses understand their patients better. Working with Abram Hoffer and their team in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, from 1952 until 1961, Humphry Osmond became one of the world’s leading experts on the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs.
His research attracted widespread attention within scientific circles. When Aldous Huxley– the eminent British novelist who wrote Brave New World–learned of Osmond’s work with mescaline and LSD, he wrote to Osmond to offer himself up as a test subject.
Osmond was apprehensive about the experiment. "I did not really want to be known as the man who had driven Aldous mad," he said later. His worries proved to be unfounded, and their experience gave Huxley the inspiration for his famous essay, The Doors of Perception. Their friendship lasted until Huxley’s death in 1963.
In correspondence with Huxley in 1956, Osmond coined the word "psychedelic." The two men were looking for a word to describe this new class of drugs, and they were doing so in rhyme. Huxley wrote:
"To make this trivial world sublime,
Take half a Gramme of phanerothyme."
To which Osmond responded:
"To fathom hell or soar angelic
Just take a pinch of psychedelic."
In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Osmond also taught psychiatry for several years at Princeton University. Later, he and his wife moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he worked at the Bryce Hospital until his retirement in 1990.
He contributed articles to many journals and authored several books; among them: How to Cope With Illness(1979); How to Live With Schizophrenia(1974;Models of madness, models of medicine(1974);Understanding Understanding(1973);Psychedelics: The Uses and Implications of Hallucinogenic Drugs(editor, 1971); andThe Hallucinogens(1967).
Dr. Osmond is survived by his wife Jane, his children Helen, Fee and Julian and his sister Dorothy