The Acid Room: The Psychedelic Trials And Tribulations of Hollywood Hospital By Jesse Donaldson & Erika Dyck

I think one of the first names in pop culture significance that occurs to us when we hear about LSD or psychedelics is Timothy Leary. Aldous Huxley is next on the list, oddly followed by William Shatner and his trippy version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Cue more of the soundtrack by The Doors, The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane. Toss in some political majority conservative finger-wagging for votes and good measure. That is to say, any recognition for LSD as a respected and successful treatment for a host of mental health issues was seldom mentioned in any mainstream coverage in the 60s or 70s. Although LSD was hastily labelled with a bad rep for decades, a recent resurgence with the health benefits of mushrooms and various cannabis products has led to renewed discussions of LSD application in alternative psychotherapeutic remedies.

The Acid Room by Jesse Donaldson and Erika Dyck presents a concise but rich history of LSD as a sought-out treatment for various psychological and addiction issues and the infamous characters who treated patients along the way.”

The Acid Room by Jesse Donaldson and Erika Dyck presents a concise but rich history of LSD as a sought-out treatment for various psychological and addiction issues and the infamous characters who treated patients along the way. Long before Leary became the “Turn on, tune in, drop out” counterculture guru who helped devolve decades of LSD research into the throes of moral outrage, a clinical director in Saskatchewan named Humphry Osmond explored LSD and mescaline as a treatment for alcoholism. His work attracted the attention of Aldous Huxley, who in turn introduced him to “Captain” Al Hubbard, the man who would eventually introduce LSD to Leary. Earlier in the timeline, we learn about Hubbard’s curious if not notorious entrepreneurial hustle, his relocation from the United States to Vancouver, BC, and his eventual connection to drug decriminalization advocate Dr. John Ross MacLean of the Hollywood Hospital in New Westminster.

Uniquely interspersed with the chronological timeline of events, it is the archival research into various Hollywood Hospital patient experiences with LSD therapy that provide insight and resurrect hope, in spite of the eventual demise of the Hollywood Hospital. If you’re curious about the efficacy of psychedelic treatments on disease, terminal illness, and various psychological issues, this book won’t provide those statistics. However, we are given pause to rethink “acid room” type treatments and the Canadian pioneers of the 40s and 50s who once led the way to heal those suffering from addiction, abuse, and psychological disorders of that era.

Jesse Donaldson is an author and journalist whose work has appeared in VICE, The Tyee, The Calgary Herald, the WestEnder, the Vancouver Courier, and many other places. His first book, This Day In Vancouver, was a finalist for the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award (BC Book Prizes). He is also the author of the first two volumes in the 49.2 Series, Land of Destiny: A History of Vancouver Real Estate, and Fool’s Gold: The Life and Legacy of Vancouver’s Town Fool. He currently lives in Mount Pleasant with Abbey, the world’s best dog.

Erika Dyck is a Professor and a Canada Research Chair in the History of Health & Social Justice at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the author of Psychedelic Psychiatry (2008); Facing Eugenics (2013); co-author of Managing Madness (2017), and co-editor of Psychedelic Prophets (2018).

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Anvil Press (March 12 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 128 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1772141860
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1772141863

Mala Rai

Mala Rai is a poet, drummer, psychology student, and technical writing hired gun on the West Coast. Her most recent poems have appeared in Eclectica Magazine, High Shelf Press, and Anti-Heroin Chic. You can follow her on Instagram @malaraipoetry

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