Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Bean, Jonathan

Second Advisor

Yilmaz, Hale


The history of psychedelic substances is a turbulent and beautiful trip that has impacted the cultures, minds, and spirits of human beings throughout our existence. This history touches a plethora of phenomena spanning from religion, culture, politics, art, law, science, and medicine. This demonstrates the power that psychedelics have possessed in shaping the lives of millions that either have or have not come into contact with their chemical makeup. With this great power, comes an even greater responsibility for humans to use these substances where they are best suited: medicinally. However, as history demonstrates, psychedelics have gone from being potential agents of mental health medicines, religious sacraments, or creative influences to demonized substances, agents of insanity, and deadly drugs. How did this switch happen? When did it happen? In this paper, I will take the reader through the history of psychedelic drugs to answer the questions of how, when, where, and why psychedelics have been possessed by a negative stigma. This stigmatization is based on fear, half-truths, discrimination, and bad science. From ancient indigenous use, to nineteenth and twentieth century events, and into the present-day psychedelic renaissance, the negative stigma and the medicinal and spiritual value of psychedelics will be demonstrated.




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