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Rehabilitating LSD history in postwar America: Dilworth Wayne Woolley and the serotonin hypothesis of mental illness

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Abstract

Revisiting the history of postwar LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) research illuminates how the work of a chemist at the Rockefeller Institute contributed to the development of a biochemical paradigm for mental functioning. Dilworth Wayne Woolley proposed one of the first theories of the biochemistry of mental illness based on empirical evidence. His research with LSD and serotonin had wide-ranging repercussions for pharmacology and fit neatly into the emerging medicalization of mental illness. Reevaluating Woolley’s ideas and the fruits of psychopharmacology leads to possible new approaches toward mental health and illness when considered alongside lessons learned from past research with psychedelic substances, and exemplifies a broader paradigm shift in cultural studies toward a biopsychosocial model that acknowledges the intersections between biology and culture.

Hewitt, K. (2016). Rehabilitating LSD history in postwar America: Dilworth Wayne Woolley and the serotonin hypothesis of mental illness. History of Science, 0073275316674724.
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