Prairies, psychedelics and place: the dynamics of region in psychiatric research

Health Place. 2009 Sep;15(3):888-94. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2009.02.005. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


In 1957, the word 'psychedelic' entered the English lexicon from a rather unexpected location: an asylum superintendent working on the Canadian prairies in one of the provincial mental hospitals in Saskatchewan. During the 1950s Saskatchewan-based researchers engaged in political and psychiatric reforms that brought international attention to their work in a relatively isolated geographic location. This article considers the influence of location on the development of a medical theory that challenged prevailing ideas about the causation and treatment of mental illness and addiction. Drawing on perspectives from historians, political scientists, sociologists and geographers, this case study explores the historical meanings of region and place and combines older historiographical traditions, which define region in political terms, with concepts borrowed from other disciplines, which offer a more nuanced view of cultural geography, to examine the development of psychedelic research in the post-World War II period.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / therapy
  • Hallucinogens*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Psychiatry / history*
  • Research*
  • Saskatchewan


  • Hallucinogens
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide