"WIsh I would be normal": LSD and Homosexuality at Hollywood Hospital, 1955-1973
Ens, Andrea 1994-
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This thesis examines the subjective experiences of twelve same-sex attracted men who received psychiatric LSD-25 therapy on the basis of their sexual orientation between 1955 and 1973 at Hollywood Hospital, a private institution in New Westminster, British Columbia. Using patient- and practitioner-authored materials from Hollywood Hospital, I first examine Hollywood Hospital’s methodological practices and theoretical perspectives on same sex attraction, arguing that this hospital’s treatment program was fundamentally shaped by its nature as a private medical facility and its controversial use of LSD-25 in treatment. Next, this thesis investigates the first-person descriptions of why these men desired greater insight and/or heterosexual conversion through psychedelic therapy. Their self-reported concerns were influenced by both medical and social discourses on same-sex attraction in the context of the Cold War, a time when ideas about global security, the family, sexuality, psychiatry, and psychopharmacology were in flux. Both Hollywood Hospital’s practitioners and patients were influenced by this discursive blending of ideas. Ultimately, this thesis compares these patient experiences to wider mid-twentieth-century medical, legal, and cultural discourses on the nature of homosexuality as a crime or a disease. Records from the Forensic Clinic at Toronto (retrieved from the CAMH archives), Canadian parliamentary debates on the decriminalization of homosexuality, and contemporary parental advice literature support the sociological theory that various authorities competed to define homosexuality as deviance in mid-twentieth-century Canada. A close examination of Hollywood Hospital’s patients helps to illustrate how the social, legal and medical discourses on same-sex attraction shaped their therapeutic experiences.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeNeufeldt, Matthew; Androsoff, Ashleigh; Wright, Laura; Englebert, Robert
Copyright DateApril 2019
history of medicine