Dr Robin Carhart-Harris is the first scientist in over 40 years to test LSD on humans. He talks to The Independent‘s Laurence Phelan about fighting the establishment, battling preconceptions and breaking down egos:
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On a hot evening in June, in a crowded room above a London pub, Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, a research associate in the Centre for Neuropsychopharma-cology at Imperial College, is giving a public talk about his work. He is having to make himself heard over the boozy commotion downstairs, where people are watching Chile put Spain out of the World Cup. But there is a slightly giddy atmosphere in the function room, too, because the doctor’s area of research is as exciting as it is taboo: he is investigating the brain effects and potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic drugs.
Carhart-Harris is the first person in the UK to have legally administered doses of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) to human volunteers since the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971, and his presentation climaxes with a slide showing something no one else has seen before: an as-yet unpublished cross-sectional image of the brain of a volunteer who was in an fMRI scanner while tripping on acid.