Freaky Friday: Grand Rounds with Dr. Dave Smith, Founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic

Poster for Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic Benefit, 1967, Mari Tepper

Thanks to the wonders of technology, Points readers interested in the secret history of addiction medicine and the psychedelic ’60s can check out a Grand Rounds talk that Dr. Dave Smith, founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, gave at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine in December of 2010.  (Click on the link above, then scroll down to the date and click “watch presentation.  It takes a while to load.)  Accompanied by a series of powerpoint slides (including images of some of the many rock stars whose financial contributions supported the Clinic early on), the fifty-five minute talk is wide-ranging, but the through line is the ideological connection between the founding of the Free Clinic and the creation of the AMA-recognized specialty of Addiction Medicine.  Addressing medical students who are pursuing Addiction Medicine in one of the new residency programs that have sprung up around the country, “Dr. Dave” draws on his own experience to urge them to be mindful of the connections among the biochemical, sociocultural, and political dimensions of addiction, treatment, and recovery.

Dr. Dave, ca. 1967

Smith is a fascinating person, and one whose work as a public health innovator and a central figure in the counterculture deserves to be better known. 

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The Points Interview: Erika Dyck

For our third installment of the Points Interview, we move from alcohol to LSD, and a conversation with Erika Dyck, author of Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD From Clinic to Campus. Erika is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. Readers interested in more compelling work in the history of medicine and health may wish to check out a new edited volume by Erika Dyck and Christopher Fletcher, Locating Health: Historical and Anthropological Investigations of Place and Health.

Describe your book in terms your mother (or the average mother-in-the-street) could understand.

The Sixties are often remembered for the day-Glow images, groovy terms, tie-dyedCover of Psychedelic Psychiatry fashions, trippy music and, for some people, perhaps even as a period of social and moral degeneration. LSD has been blamed (or credited) for helping to create this imagery, but the drug has a longer history. It was first developed in 1938 and was legally used in thousands of research studies throughout the 1950s before it became known as a more popular recreational drug. My book looks at one of these sets of studies; a set of experiments that took place off the beaten path but that had a significant influence on the way that LSD was studied, understood, and later abused. In the small town of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, with support from Tommy Douglas’ provincial government, the same government that introduced Medicare to Canadians, researchers coined the term ‘psychedelic’ and left their mark on a generation. This book is about those prairie-based psychedelic pioneers.

What do you think a bunch of drug and alcohol historians might find particularly interesting about your book?

Drug and alcohol historians may already be familiar with the mythology surrounding LSD and the psychedelic ethos, but they may be less familiar with the way in which LSD was used as a treatment for alcoholism.

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