Historical Perspectives On Contemporary Issues
Lucas Richert — Break On Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture
Closed-captioning available on Youtube.
In this episode of Perspectives, we speak with Lucas Richert, author of Break On Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture.
In his book, Lucas Richert discusses the impact of the countercultural movement on the theory and practice of psychiatry in the late 1960s and 1970s. Dr. Richert argues that broader societal developments—e.g., the civil rights movement, second-wave feminism, and the Vietnam War—pushed a large number of psychiatrists and mental health workers to radically reform the discipline. Psychiatrists and psychologists such as R.D. Laing, Claude Steiner, Phyllis Chesler, and Mike Michaelson all labored to improve mental health by identifying and critiquing the power dynamics involved in both the practice of therapy and society at-large. Richert ends with a fascinating and timely discussion of the use of psychedelic drugs in psychiatry in the 1960s and 1970s, and the ways in which mind-altering pharmaceuticals are making their way back into the heart of the field in the 21st century after decades of prohibition.
To cite this podcast, please use footnote:
Lucas Richert, interview, Perspectives, Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, September 9, 2021, https://www.chstm.org/video/127.
Lucas Richert is Associate Professor and George Urdang Chair in the History of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Insights from the Collections
The Consortium's collections provide many opportunities to learn more about psychiatry, psychopharmacology, and health activism.
Our cross-institutional search tool allows researchers to investigate materials across multiple institutions from a single interface. With more than 4.4 million catalog records of rare books and manuscripts, the Consortium's search hub offers scholars and the public the ability to identify and locate relevant materials.
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Some archival materials related to this topic include:
Walter J. Lear Health Activism Collection, Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania
Stephen Abrams Papers, Wellcome Collection
Warren S. McCullough Papers, American Philosophical Society
See also recent work by our fellows:
Marcos Cueto, A History of Global AIDS and Health Activism in Brazil