Names are extremely important, specifically from a psycho-linguistic (and embodied cognition) perspective. Before the term “psychedelic” was coined the term “psychotomimetic” (psychosis mimicking” was used in the pertinent literature. The renaming was intentional (PR a la Bernays).

Aldous Huxley wrote in a letter to Humphry Osmond:

“To make this mundane world sublime,
Take half a gram of phanerothyme”

Osmond responded to Huxley with:

“To fathom Hell or soar angelic,
Just take a pinch of psychedelic”

This was the very first time the neologism psychedelic was applied. Psychedelic is a composize lexeme composed of the ancient Greek term psyche (soul, spirit, breath) and dēlos (to manifest, to reveal) and it thus translates into “soul manifesting” or “spirit revealing” (or any combination/permutation thereof). The British psychiatrist Humphrey  Osmond presented ‘A Review Of The Clinical Effects Of Psychotomimetic Agents‘ (1957) to the ‘New York Acadamey of Sciences’. He argued for the therapeutic utility of these substances, especially in the context of psychopathology. That is, first these compounds were thought to mimic psychosis while later on the situation changed and they were thought to be of therapeutic value.

Cf.: Vollenweider, F. X., Vollenweider-Scherpenhuyzen, M. F. I., Bäbler, A., Vogel, H., & Hell, D.. (1998). Psilocybin induces schizophrenia-like psychosis in humans via a serotonin-2 agonist action. NeuroReport.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1097/00001756-199812010-00024
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