Medical science and the military: the Allies' use of amphetamine during World War II

J Interdiscip Hist. 2011;42(2):205-33. doi: 10.1162/jinh_a_00212.


Although amphetamine was thoroughly tested by leading scientists for its effects in boosting or maintaining physical and mental performance in fatigued subjects, the results never provided solid grounds for approving the drug's use, and, in any case, came too late to be decisive. The grounds on which amphetamine was actually adopted by both British and American militaries had less to do with the science of fatigue than with the drug's mood-altering effects, as judged by military men. It increased confidence and aggression, and elevated "morale."

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine* / history
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / economics
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / ethnology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / history
  • History, 20th Century
  • Military Medicine* / economics
  • Military Medicine* / education
  • Military Medicine* / history
  • Military Medicine* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Military Personnel* / education
  • Military Personnel* / history
  • Military Personnel* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Military Personnel* / psychology
  • Military Science* / economics
  • Military Science* / history
  • Military Science* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Social Behavior / history
  • World War II*


  • Amphetamine