Cheiron: The international society for the history of behavioral & social sciences

Cheiron Nav Logo

Navigate with the buttons below, or search this website with the search tool

2022 Winner Andrew Jones

Cheiron’s Young Scholar Award Committee is pleased to announce that Andrew Jones, a PhD candidate in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, has been chosen to receive the 2022 award for his paper ““Skinnerizing” the Psychedelic Experience: LSD Meets Behavioral Therapy in 1960s Child Psychiatry.”

As Andrew states, “In the 1960s, the psychologist Ole Ivar Lovaas launched a behavioral therapy program in the children’s ward at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. Using the principles of positive and negative reinforcement, Lovaas attempted to build “normal” social behaviors in children who were described as ‘autistic schizophrenic.’ The story of Lovaas is well known among historians of autism and members of the autism community, and his use of aversive stimuli has generated much controversy. Less widely known though is that Lovaas’ collaborator James Q. Simmons III, the psychiatrist who ran the children’s ward, incorporated the hallucinogenic drug LSD into this experimental program.” In his paper, Andrew examines “how Simmons constructed the therapeutic value of LSD within a behaviorist framework. In this case, the ‘technology of behaviorism’ shaped the theoretical and physical setting in which children were given LSD. Many psychiatrists in the 1960s were interested in the subjective experiences that LSD produced. In contrast, Simmons assessed LSD’s impact on learning, viewing it as a stimulus that could help modify behavior. In addition, children experienced the drug inside of a ‘human skinner box,’ while being recorded through a two-way mirror with complicated data generating machines.

Before coming to Toronto, Andrew completed a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Science and Technology Studies at the University of British Columbia. His dissertation examines several American psy-experts who in the 1960s used psychedelic drugs in different ways to treat children living in psychiatric wards.”