Sept. 3, 2021 – “I’m attracted to topics that cross boundaries and genres,” he says, and stories about drugs—who takes them, and how they experience them—offered avenues into diverse disciplines, “from neuroscience to anthropology, psychiatry to art, pharmacology to social history.” Jay has since explored these linkages in several books, including High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture (2010) and Emperors of Dreams: Drugs in the Nineteenth Century (2012), and in exhibitions he has curated of art and visual culture.

Jay has been drawn especially to histories of drugs and mental illness, which “bring idiosyncratic private experience into dialogue with the norms and consensus reality of their time and place.” In the last decade, there’s been a surge of interest in his previously esoteric beat, as clinical trials around the world have demonstrated the potential of various psychedelic drugs to treat addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.


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