Purdue University College of Liberal Art

Wendy Kline

Please join me in congratulating Wendy Kline, Dema G. Seelye Chair in the History of Medicine, for being awarded the Fulbright-University of Birmingham Distinguished Chair for fall 2019.

The position allows a U.S. professor from any discipline to be based at the English university while conducting research in its collections and developing connections in the United Kingdom. The Distinguished Chair is expected to contribute to the intellectual life of the university through seminars, public lectures, and curriculum development.

Wendy’s project, “‘LSD Block’ and the Therapeutic Alliance: The Rise and Fall of Psychedelic Medicine in the U.K.,” will be the first in-depth historical study of LSD treatment in the U.K. It builds upon research Wendy conducted at the University of Glasgow archives while on a British Academy Fellowship in 2018.

The project centers on the story of Powick psychiatric hospital near Birmingham, where LSD treatment first appeared in England. There, British psychiatrist Ronald Sandison learned much about the therapeutic value of LSD through treatments that enabled patients to face repressed trauma, process it, and release it. However, concerns over the growing recreational use of LSD in the 1960s caused psychedelic therapy to fall out of favor. As Wendy explains, “What had started out as a radical new form of treatment with revolutionary potential became recast by the early 21st century as an ethical violation and a source of national embarrassment.”

Given the recent attention to the potential of psychedelic drugs like MDMA and psilocybin to effectively treat mental health conditions such as PTSD, it is important to understand how psychedelics affected the field of psychiatry 50 years ago. The U.K. played an important, largely overlooked, role in this history.

Congratulations, Professor Kline!

David's Signature

David A. Reingold
Justin S. Morrill Dean
College of Liberal Arts