Josh Raymond at the TLS:
Psychedelic drugs have an appropriately colourful history. The word’s origin is Greek (“mind-manifesting”, literally) and it was coined by the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in an exchange of letters with Aldous Huxley; LSD, the quintessential psychedelic, first came to Britain in 1952, in the luggage of a psychoanalyst called Ronnie Sandison. Sandison had met the drug’s discoverer, Albert Hoffman, on a visit to Switzerland, and Hoffman believed LSD to be miraculous – “You see the world as it really is”. Sandison administered it to thirty-six patients with “very difficult psychiatric problems . . . all in danger of becoming permanent mental invalids”. The Journal of Mental Science write up in 1954 claimed more than half recovered completely.
Humphry Osmond used it to treat alcoholism. By the late 1960s he and his colleagues had treated over 2,000 people, more than 40 per cent of whom did not drink again within a year. The randomized-controlled portions of this work were reviewed and found valid in 2012. LSD was also tested by the military at Porton Down, first as a “truth serum” for interrogations, for which it proved useless, and then as a mass battlefield incapacitant, where results were inconclusive. A thoroughly researched history of LSD in Britain can be found in Albion Dreaming(2012) by Andy Roberts.