In 1957, when the British psychiatrist Humprhey Osmond was looking to coin a word for the mind-bending effects of LSD, he wrote a letter to his friend Aldous Huxley. The “Brave New World” author — who had also written a book called “The Doors of Perception” detailing his experiences with the hallucinogenic drug mescaline — suggested to Osmond the word “phanerothyme” — taken from the Greek for “to show” and “spirit.” Osmond didn’t think this was at all pleasant-sounding, so he made a counter proposal, built from the Greek words for “soul” and “manifest” — psychedelic.

Many summers of love later and the experiences had with the drug, along with the word that describes them, have become firmly woven into our culture. A psychedelic experience, whether it’s induced by a mind-altering drug or not, is, at the very least, a disorienting one. And in moving a person away from preconceived notions and forcing them to confront reality anew, it manifests the buried inner workings of one’s mind, or “soul” — exactly as Osmond felt it did. 



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