Women & Psychedelics: Uncovering Invisible Voices [Book in Spanish] [English version forthcoming in 2023]
Editors: Erika Dyck, Patrick Farrell, Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Clancy Cavnar, Ibrahim Gabriell and Glauber Loures de Assis
This collection of short essays examines the place of women in the history of psychedelics. While some of the subjects are clearly pioneers in their own right, the authors in this collection go beyond merely adding women to the past to explore some of the significant ways that women have contributed to psychedelic knowledge. Blending historical and anthropological approaches and a series of interviews, this collection taps into women’s networks around the world and throughout the 20th century to reveal some of the sophisticated and creative ways that women have influenced our understanding of psychedelics, and how they continue to protect these stories as we face a psychedelic future. Our collection intentionally moves beyond an American set of stories, teasing out networks in Latin America. This collection brings together authors from the Chacruna Institute and Chacruna Latinamérica to engage readers in conversations that move across time and place throughout the Americas. Our collection is the first of its kind in balancing non-English contributions exploring contexts outside the United States. Translated texts reveal different cultural contexts in which women have contributed to this enduring history.
Read more about the collection in the Press Release, here.
By Hugh D.A. Goldring, Illustrated by nicole marie burton, Afterword by Dr. Erika Dyck
Illustrated in kaleidoscopic full colour, Wonder Drug is the graphic history of a controversial and little-known medical research project carried out in the Canadian prairies—one that championed LSD as a way to model schizophrenia and cure ailments from alcoholism to depression.
Spanning the decades from the 1950s to present day, this captivating story follows Anglo-Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Humphry Osmond down the rabbit hole of psychedelic research, conducted both in the lab and in his living room. Lurching from dazzling imagery to fanged delusions, and studded with a cast of radical personalities such as Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, and Kay Parley, Wonder Drug is a trip like no other.
Watch the launch of Wonder Drug hosted by BTL Books here!
And read more about Wonder Drug on Radio-Canada, "Expériences psychédéliques en Saskatchewan"!
Read what CBC says about the "graphic novel... bringing Saskatchewan's history of LSD research alive."
And listen to CBC Listen: Saskatchewan Weekend with Shauna Powers, "Wonder Drug: LSD in the Land of Living Skies."
Read more in Saskatoon's The StarPhoenix, "I hope it . . . stimulates conversations amongst readers or consumers of graphic novels that wouldn't otherwise necessarily reach for a history book..." - Dyck
The Acid Room
Jesse Donaldson and Erika Dyck
From the street, New Westminster's Hollywood Hospital didn't look like much. Just a rambling white mansion, mostly obscured behind the holly trees from which it took its name. But, between 1957 and 1968, it served as a mecca for alcoholics, anxiety patients, and unhappy couples, its unorthodox methods boasting a success rate of 50-80%, and attracting scores of celebrity patients, including Andy Williams, Cary Grant, and Ethel Kennedy. Those same methods would eventually bring about the facility's downfall, as well as the condemnation of physicians, the government, and the police. Because, for the better part of a decade, Hollywood Hospital was the site of more than 6000 supervised LSD trips. Under the care of psychiatrist J. Ross MacLean and researcher/ex-spy Al "Captain Trips" Hubbard, it was the only medical facility in BC (and one of a handful across the country) venturing into the brave new world of psychedelic psychiatry - from a specialized inner sanctum known as the Acid Room. Despite MacLean and Hubbard's success, Hollywood Hospital and its contemporaries had their work cut short by changing attitudes and prohibitionist scaremongering, and it languished for more than 50 years. Today, with Canada once again returning to the spotlight as a pioneer in psychedelic medicine, The Acid Room is a thoughtful exploration of those early acid tests - the facility where it began, the patients who drank the Kool-Aid, and the colourful characters who first opened their doors of perception.
Read Clay Holden's review of The Acid Room, "Ordinary People, Backwards Clocks, and Psychedelics" (posted May 24, 2022) on White Wall Review
Read more about this work in the Vancouver Sun, "As psychedelics return so does the story of New Westminster's Hollywood Hospital"
And listen to CBC Listen: On The Coast with Gloria Macarenko: "Vancouver’s history of psychedelics in psychotherapy"
Challenging Choices (2020)
Erika Dyck & Maureen K. Lux
In Challenging Choices Erika Dyck and Maureen Lux argue that reproductive politics in 1970s Canada were shaped by competing ideologies on global population control, poverty, personal autonomy, race, and gender. For some Canadians the 1970s did not bring about an era of reproductive liberty but instead reinforced traditional power dynamics and paternalistic structures of authority. Dyck and Lux present case studies of four groups of Canadians who were routinely excluded from progressive, reformist discourse: Indigenous women and their communities, those with intellectual and physical disabilities, teenage girls, and men. In different ways, each faced new levels of government regulation, scrutiny, or state intervention as they negotiated their reproductive health, rights, and responsibilities in the so-called era of sexual liberation.
Listen to the authors speak about the book with New Books Network: https://newbooksnetwork.com/challenging-choices
Psychedelic Prophets (2018)
Cynthia & Paul Bisbee, Erika Dyck, Patrick Farrell, James Sexton, and Jim Spisak
This critical edition provides the complete correspondence between author Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) and British-trained psychiatrist Humphry Osmond (1917-2004), chronicling an exchange between two brilliant thinkers who explored such subjects as psychedelics, the visionary experience, the nature of mind, human potentialities, schizophrenia, death and dying, Indigenous rituals and consciousness, socialism, capitalism, totalitarianism, power and authority, and human evolution. The letters bear witness to the development of mind-altering drugs aimed at discovering the mechanisms of mental illness and eventually its treatment.
Managing Madness (2017)Erika Dyck & Alex Deighton
The Saskatchewan Mental Hospital at Weyburn has played a significant role in the history of psychiatric services, mental health research, and community care in Canada. Its history provides a window to the changing nature of mental health services over the twentieth century.
Listen to Greg Marchildon talk with Erika Dyck about the book in the podcast epidose "The History of Psychiatric Care and Mental Hospitals in Canada." Part of the Witness to Yesterday series. Published by The Champlain Society. April 18, 2018.
A Culture's Catalyst (2016)
A Culture’s Catalyst revives a historical debate. Revisiting it now encourages us to reconsider how peyote has been understood and how its appearance in the 1950s tested Native-newcomer relations and the Canadian government’s attitudes toward Indigenous religious and cultural practices.
Listen to Greg Marchildon talk with Erika Dyck about the book in the podcast epidose "Native American Church and the religious use of peyote in Canada." Part of the Witness to Yesterday series. Published by The Champlain Society. March 22, 2018.
The Uses of Humans in Experiment (2016)
Ethics in human experimentation has a long history and The Uses of Humans in Experiment draws on examples from the early modern period to illustrate how humans have been both subjects and instruments over the past four centuries.
Locating Health: Explorations of Healing and Place
(2011) Dyck, E. and Chris Fletcher (eds), Locating Health: Explorations of Healing and Place (London: Pickering and Chatto Pubs Ltd)
For more information on this text click here
Dismantling the Asylum and Charting New Pathways into the Community: Mental Health Care in 20th century Canada
(2011) Dyck, E. “Dismantling the Asylum and Charting New Pathways into the Community: Mental Health Care in 20th century Canada,” (introduction) Histoire Sociale/Social History (7,000 words) 88(2): 181-196
Peer Reviewed Articles and Book Chapters
- Dyck, E. and Karissa Patton. “Activists in the ‘Bible Belt’: Conservatism, Religion, and Reproductive Rights in 1970s Southern Alberta,” in Compelled to Act: Histories of Women’s Activism in Western Canada (eds. Sarah Carter and Nanci Langford) (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2020)
- Dyck, E. “Working from home; or coping with the guilt of unmet obligations,” Journal of Scholarly Publishing (2020) – invited commentary, reviewed by editors and expedited for covid issue. 4pp. doi: 10.3138/jsp.51.4.05
- Dyck, Erika and Emmanuel Delille. “Alternative Therapies: Psychedelic, Primal Scream, Nude Therapy, Sociodrama.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Psychology (eds) Wade Pickren [Online publication Feb 2020] DOI:10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.013.629
- Erika Dyck and Christian Elcock, “Reframing Bummer Trips: Scientific and Cultural Explanations to Adverse Reactions to Psychedelic Drug Use,” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs (Fall 2020):271-296.
- Richert L, Dyck E “Psychedelic crossings: American mental health and LSD in the 1970s” Medical Humanities 2020;46:184-191.
- Dyck, E and Iain Smith, “Addictions and the Limits of Mental Illness,” An Introduction to Mental Health and Illness (Oxford University Press, 2020), chapter 10
- Dyck, E. “Going Public: Mobilizing, materializing, and performing social science history” Journal for the History of Behavioural Sciences (accepted, August 2020)
- Dyck E. and Mat Savelli, “Psychoactivity for Sale” Pharmacy in History, (2019) 61 (3&4), 137-40
- Dyck, Erika. (2019) “Psychedelic Research in Canada,” Canadian Encyclopedia: (online, peer reviewed) https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/author/erika-dyck
- Dyck, E. “Introduction to Roundtable on Wallace K. Ferguson Prize,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association (May 2019)
- Dyck, E. “Psychedelic Dying,” invited submission to Journal of Psychoactive Drugs Received 22 Nov 2018, Accepted 28 Jan 2019, Published online: 01 Mar 2019) https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2019.1581308
- Dyck, E. “Disability in the 1970s: The NewGenics of Institutional Care,” in Preventing Mental Illness (eds) Matthew Smith, Vicky Long, Despo Kritsotaki, and Oonagh Walsh (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018), pp. 237-256.
- Dyck, E. Invited author of Introduction in Psychedelic Prophets: The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond (eds) Cynthia & Paul Bisbee, Erika Dyck, Patrick Farrell, James Sexton, and Jim Spisak, (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press 2018).
- Dyck, E. “Who is Keeping Tabs? LSD Lessons from the Past,” in Plant Medicinces, Healing and Psychedelic Science (ed) Bia Labate, (Springer, 2018)
- Dyck, E. and Patrick Farrell. "Psychedelics and Psychotherapy in Canada: Humphry Osmond and Aldous Huxley," History of Psychology (2018) 21:2
- Dyck, Erika. “Bitter Pills: the Impact of Medicare on Mental Health,” Health Economics, Policy and Law (2018): 1-17.
- (2017) Dyck, Erika. “Psychedelic Renaissance: Historical Reflections on the Future” Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Bulletin – special issue on Psychedelic Science, 27(1): 24-27.
- (2016) Dyck, E and Maureen Lux, “Population Control in the ‘Global North’? Canada’s Response to Indigenous Reproductive Rights and Neo-Eugenics,” Canadian Historical Review 97(4): 481-512 * Canadian Historical Association Prize for best article in 2016
- Dyck, E. and Ginny Russell, “Challenging Psychiatric Classification: Healthy Autistic Diversity and the Neurodiversity Movement,” in Healthy Minds in the Twentieth Century, (ed) Stephen Taylor (Palgrave Macmillian, 2017), 167-187
- (2017) Dyck, E. “Eugenics in Canada: Choice, Coercion and Context,” in Eugenics in the British Commonwealth edited by Hamish Spencer, Diane Paul, John Stenhouse (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017), pp. 41-61.
- (2017) Dyck, E. “Abortion and Birth Control in English-Canada: Feminists, Catholics and Family Values in the 1970s,” in Abortion: History, Politics, and Reproductive Justice After Morgentaler Shannon Stettner, Kristin Burnett, Travis Hay and Tracy Penny Light (eds) (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017), pp.74-94.
- (2016) Megan Davies and Erika Dyck with, Leslie Baker, Lanny Beckman, Geertje Boschma, Chris Dooley, Kathleen Kendall, Eugene LeBlanc, Robert Menzies, Marina Morrow, Diane Purvey, Nérée St-Amand, Marie-Claude Thifault, Jayne Whyte, Victor Willis. “After the Asylum in Canada: Surviving Deinstitutionalisation and Revising History,” in Post-War Psychiatry in the Western World. Deinstitutionalisation and After, ed. Despo Kritsotaki, Victoria Long, Matthew Smith (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), pp. 75-96
- (2016) Dyck, E. and Lucas Richert, “No Longer Novel: The Transition from Emerging to Mainstream Drug,” in Novel and Synthetic Drugs: Emerging Issues, Legal Policy, and Public Health (eds) John Stogner, Bryan Miller and David Khey (CRC Press).
- (2016) Dyck, E. “Eugenics, Experiments and Economics: Medical Ethics and Informed Consent in Alberta’s Sexual Sterilization Program,” in The Uses of Humans in Experiments Erika Dyck and Larry Stewart (eds) (Amsterdam: Clio Medica Series/Brill, 2016), pp. 260-280
- (2016) Dyck, E. “Peyote, Psychedelics and Post-colonial Encounters on the Canadian Prairies,” in Labate, B. C. & Cavnar, C. (eds). (2016). Peyote: History, Tradition, Politics, and Conservation. (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO/Praeger Publishers. 2015), pp. 151-170
- (2015) Dyck, E. “LSD: a new treatment emerging from the past,” Canadian Medical Association Journal 187(14): 1079-1080.
- (2014) Dyck, E. "Sterilization and Birth Control in the Shadow of Eugenics: Married, Middle-Class Women in Alberta, 1930-1960s," Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, 31(1): 165-187.
- (2012) Dyck, E. “Assessing the Rise and Fall of the Asylum,” Synergy: Psychiatric Writing Worth Reading 18(5): 6-10.
- (2012) Dyck, E. and Tolly Bradford, “Peyote on the Prairies: Religion, Scientists and Native-Newcomer Relations in 1950s Western Canada,” Journal of Canadian Studies, 46(1): 1-25
- (2012) Dyck, E. “The Psychedelic Sixties in North America: Drugs and Identity,” chapter in edited volume Debating Dissent: The Sixties in Canada (eds) Lara Campbell, Dominique Clement and Gregory Kealey (Toronto: University of Toronto Press): 46-63
- (2012) Dyck, E., Mousseau, D. and Baker, G. “Leading the Pack: Historical Reflections on Saskatchewan Innovations in Neuroscience,” Saskatchewan History 64(1):32-37
- (2011) Dyck, E. “Dismantling the Asylum and Charting New Pathways into the Community: Mental Health Care in 20th century Canada,” (introduction) Histoire Sociale/Social History (7,000 words) 88(2): 181-196
- (2011) Dyck, E. “Madness, Mennonites and Modernity: An Historical Look at the Mennonite Youth Farm in Rosthern, Saskatchewan,” Journal of Mennonite Studies (1): 91-104
- (2011) Dyck, E. “Just Say Know: Criminalising LSD and the Politics of Psychedelic Expertise,” chapter in (ed) Edgar-Andre Montigny “The Real Dope:” Historical and Legal Perspectives on the Regulation of Drugs in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press): 169-196
- (2011) Dyck, E. and Chris Fletcher, “Healthscapes: Health and Place Among and Between Disciplines,” in Locating Health: Explorations of Healing and Place (eds) Dyck, E. and Chris Fletcher, (London: Pickering and Chatto Pubs Ltd.)
- (2010) Dyck, E. “Spaced Out in Saskatchewan: Modernism, Anti-Psychiatry and Deinstitutionalization, 1950-1968,” Bulletin for the History of Medicine 84(4): 640-666
- (2009) Dyck, E. "Building an 'Ideal Society': Mixing Politics and Health in Canadian Prairie Society," The Annual Review of Canadian Studies [Japanese Association for Canadian Studies] 7: 59-71
- (2009) Dyck, E. “Prairies, Psychedelics and Place: The Dynamics of Region in Psychiatric Research,” Health and Place 15(3): 888-94
- (2009) Dyck, E. “Kiyoshi Izumi and Canadian Hospital Designs” in Annual Bulletin of the Institute for Economic and Cultural Studies 71-87
- (2008) Dyck, E. and John Mills, “Trust Amply Recompensed”: Psychological Research At Weyburn Saskatchewan, 1957-1961, Journal for the History of Behavioural Studies44(3): 199-218
- (2007) Dyck, E. “Land of the Living Sky with Diamonds: A Place for Radical Psychiatry?”Journal of Canadian Studies 41(3): 42-66
- (2007) Dyck, E. “The Original Psychedelic Drug: Historical Reflections on LSD,” The Biochemist 29: 2-5
- (2007) Dyck, E. and Geoffrey Sperber, “Dentistry in the ‘Wild West’: Exhibiting a Profession in Western Canada,” Dental Historian 45(1): 87-98
- (2006) Dyck, E. “‘Hitting Highs at Rock Bottom: LSD Treatment for Alcoholism, 1950-1970,” Social History of Medicine 19(2): 313-29
- (2006) Dyck, E. “‘Psychedelic Pioneers’: Mental Health Research in Saskatchewan, 1945-1967,” in J. Moran and D. Wright (eds) Mental Health and Canadian Society: Historical Perspectives (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press): 221-44
- (2005) Dyck, E “Flashback: Psychiatric Experimentation with LSD in Historical Perspective” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry (2005) 50(7): 381-8
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Websites and Online Resources
Listen to this year’s MacLennan Lecture, at The University of King's College in Halifax, N.S.: "A Psychedelic Resurgence: Lessons from the Past," delivered by Dr. Erika Dyck, Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine, USask. (Nov 17, 2022)
2021/2022 CRC Speaker Series - Gender, Health, and Social Justice. Register here!
Presentation recordings available:
Birth Control in India: Women's Stories, Health, and Technology, 1930s-60s (Urvi Desai, Nov. 19, 2021)
Vasectomy in 20th-Century Britain: Uncovering Men's Reproductive Choices (Georgia Grainger, Jan 21, 2022)
Legacies of Eugenics in Canada
Online Symposium hosted on June 15th, 2021.
Interactive symposium that explored the history of reproductive control, social justice, Indigenous sterilizations, and the legacy of eugenics in Canada.
Panel and presentation recordings available:
Panel 1: Landscapes of Eugenics and Disability in Canada
Panel 2: Eugenics, Experiments and Canadian Indigenous History
Panel 3: Eugenics, Reproductive Justice, and Legacies of Birth Control
Exhibiting Eugenics Legacies
Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines
Associate Director of Chacruna in Canada
Editor of the "Women in the History of Psychedlic Plant Medicines" Series
COVID-19 Community Archive
In partnership with Jim Clifford (History, University of Saskatchewan), Craig Harkema (Digital Research Centre, University of Saskatchewan), and Tim Hutchinson (University of Saskatchewan Archives)
Launched April 2020.
Madness Canada/ folie Canada
Co-principal investigator (CIHR)
PIs: Megan Davies and Erika Dyck
The Eugenics Archives
PI: Rob Wilson
Team lead on archival content; author and reviewer of content throughout the site, especially in Around-The-World exhibit, the players module, the database, and encyclopedia.
Interviews and Media Coverage
Out of the Blank #1271 -Erika Dyck (interview, podcast), Nov 20, 2022.
"Who coined the term "psychedelic"? 5 questions for historian Erika Dyck" The Microdose with jane c. hu (interview, online), October 24, 2022.
"It's All One Big *US*" Mind, Body, Health & Politics with Host Dr. Richard Louis Miller (interview, podcast), July 26, 2022
"USASK projecy creating COVID-19 archive to share, learn from critical experience" USASK News. June 16, 2022
Saskatchewan's Psychedelic Research History, CTV News Regina with Matt Hamel (interview, television). June 22, 2022
CityNews Bookshelf: Erika Dyck, with John Ackerman (interview, radio and YouTube). March 20, 2022
Canadian Psychedelic Association "Psychedelic History in Canada." (presentation, YouTube). July 15, 2021.
Rear Vision with Annabelle Quince and Keri Phillips (presenter) (interview, Radio) "Psychedelics—the curious journey from medical lab to party drug and back again." ABC Radio National. June 6, 2021
Laura Woodward. “Sask. historians want your COVID-19 pandemic experiences for archive project” CTV News. March 25, 2021
The Sunday Magazine with Piya Chattopadhyay (interview, Radio). “‘Psychedelic renaissance’ and Canada’s psychedelic roots.” CBC. November 22, 2020.
Psychedelics today (interview, YouTube). Nov 10, 2020
Erika Dyck. “Is Canada ready to accept psychedelics in palliative care?” Globe & Mail Op-Ed, October 12, 2020
Heidi Atter. “Community archives capturing life, coping strategies during pandemic in Sask.” CTV News. May 19, 2020.