The Acid Room: The Psychedelic Trials and Tribulations of Hollywood Hospital
Jesse Donaldson & Erika Dyck
Publisher: Anvil Press
From the street, New Westminster’s Hollywood Hospital didn’t look like much – just a rambling white mansion, mostly obscured behind the holly trees from which it took its name.
But, between 1957 and 1968, it was the site of more than 6000 supervised acid trips, as part of the burgeoning (and controversial) field of psychedelic psychiatry. Under the care of Medical Director J Ross MacLean, and ex-spy/researcher Al “Captain Trips” Hubbard, it became a mecca for alcoholics, anxiety patients, and unhappy couples (as well as celebrities like Andy Williams), its unorthodox methods boasting a success rate of nearly 80%. But the same media attention that brought the hospital to prominence also assured its downfall, as prohibition forces drove their work underground for more than fifty years.
Written by 49.2 regular Jesse Donaldson and academic historian Erika Dyck, The Acid Room takes readers into the hospital’s inner sanctum, charting its meteoric rise and fall as it opened up brave new worlds in medicine, and put Canada at the forefront of a movement that is only now being fully explored.
Jesse Donaldson is an author and journalist whose work has appeared in VICE, The Tyee, The Calgary Herald, the WestEnder, the Vancouver Courier, and many other places. His first book, This Day In Vancouver, was a finalist for the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award (BC Book Prizes). He is also the author of the first two volumes in the 49.2 Series, Land of Destiny: A History of Vancouver Real Estate, and Fool’s Gold: The Life and Legacy of Vancouver’s Town Fool. He lives in Vancouver.
Erika Dyck is a Professor and a Canada Research Chair in the History of Health & Social Justice at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the author of Psychedelic Psychiatry (2008); Facing Eugenics (2013); co-author of Managing Madness (2017), and co-editor of Psychedelic Prophets (2018).