AIHP is “Psyched” for Historical Director Lucas Richert’s New Book

Break on Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture

We are “psyched” to report the publication of AIHP Historical Director Lucas Richert’s new book, Break on Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture. Richert explores the radical disputes within psychiatry and about the conventional treatment of mental health that emerged during the 1960s and 1970s. The book also suggests ways in which this important history can offer insight for contemporary debates.

Richert presents engaging stories about the decade’s radical mental health practices by drawing on archival collections, government documents, medical journals, and interviews, all while interweaving references to pop culture and the counter culture. He scrutinizes anti-Vietnam War activism and the new diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder; the radical psychiatrists who fought the system, and each other; the entry of New Age-style therapies, including Esalen’s Human Potential Movement, into the laissez-faire therapeutic marketplace of the 1970s; the development of the DSM-III; and the use of LSD, cannabis, and MDMA.

Many of these issues have resonance today. With diagnoses of anxiety and depression on the rise, practitioners and patients continue to search for therapeutic breakthroughs. Current debates over medical marijuana and microdoses of psychedelics, for example, parallel similar 1970 debates.

Break on Through is already generating buzz on Twitter—where Nature News & Comment named it “one of the best science books to read this week.” Get your copy of the book here.

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AIHP COVID-19 ProjectThe American Institute of the History of Pharmacy is documenting and preserving pharmacy stories and experiences during the COVID-19 global pandemic for the benefit of future historians and scholars. We seek to record the effects of this public health emergency on all types of pharmacy experiences. We invite you to share your pharmacy stories, photos, videos, artifacts, and other documentation of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.


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