Mindbending experiments: how drugs shaped modern science
From Freud’s experiments with cocaine to doctors sampling chloroform at dinner parties, Mike Jay reveals how scientists and thinkers experimented with drugs in the 19th century
In the 19th century, cannabis, cocaine and heroin were widely available over the counter at the local chemist. Respected scientists and doctors tested out laughing gas and chloroform on their friends at dinner parties, while philosophers and artists dabbled in drug use to try and unlock different states of consciousness and even access the spirit world. Mike Jay, author of Psychonauts: Drugs and the Making of the Modern Mind, tells Ellie Cawthorne about these formative experiments in drug taking.
Mike Jay is the author of Psychonauts: Drugs and the Making of the Modern Mind (Yale, 2022)
Ellie Cawthorne is HistoryExtra’s podcast editor. She also contributes to BBC History Magazine, runs the podcast newsletter and hosts several live and virtual BBC History Magazine events.
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