drug-induced hallucinations

Shoreditch Town Hall, 16 June 2014

SHORT FILM SCREENING: Rare Footage of 1950’s Housewife in LSD Experiment, 8:46 mins

Drug-Induced Hallucinations (Prof. David Nutt)


People can experience hallucinations when they’re high on drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, LSD or ecstasy. Hallucinations can also happen during withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. Drug-induced hallucinations are usually visual but may affect other senses, resulting to an alternation of the person’s perception of the world around. This talk will focus on the emergence of drug-induced hallucinations. How the consumption of psychoactive substances affects and distorts our perception? How does the impact of such substances indicate key aspects of the hallucinogenic mechanisms? What are the social and cultural causes and impact of drug-induced hallucinations? Are there links between drug consumption and the development of mentally ill health?

Professor David J Nutt is currently the Edmond J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences. He received his undergraduate training in medicine at Cambridge and Guy’s Hospital, and continued training in neurology to MRCP. After completing his psychiatric training in Oxford, he continued there as a lecturer and then later as a Wellcome Senior Fellow in psychiatry. He then spent two years as Chief of the Section of Clinical Science in the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in NIH, Bethesda, USA. On returning to England in 1988 he set up the Psychopharmacology Unit in Bristol University before moving to Imperial College London in December 2008 where he leads a similar group with a particular focus on brain imaging especially PET. He is currently Chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) and Past-President of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP), Vice-President of the European Brain Council and President of the British Neuroscience Association. In addition he is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Psychiatrists and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He is also the UK Director of the European Certificate and Masters in Affective Disorders Courses and a member of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. He has published over 400 original research papers, a similar number of reviews and books chapters, eight government reports on drugs and 27 books. Previously he has been member and Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD – 1998-2009), President of the British Association of Psychopharmacology (BAP), member of the HEFCE/NHS Senior Lecturer Selection Panel and member of the MRC Neuroscience Board. In 2010 The Times Eureka science magazine included him in the 100 most important figures in British Science, and the only psychiatrist and in 2013 received the John Maddox prize for Standing up for Science.