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Maryland Psychiatric Research Center


Historical Information

In the context of psychedelic research, the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center opened in 1968 as an expansion of the work being done at the Spring Grove State Hospital. It was designed as a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary facility for research on the causes and treatment of mental illness. Situated on the grounds of the Spring Grove State Hospital, its multi-million dollar, forty-thousand square foot building included an extensive laboratory, psychophysiology facility with EEG and a mini-computer, a data processing facility, a sensory deprivation tank, and treatment suites outfitted with kitchens, bathrooms, artwork, and comfortable seating. Albert Kurland was appointed as superintendent, and Charles Savage as the associate director. The Clinical Sciences Division housed the psychedelic research program, and included Walter Pahnke as chief of psychiatric research (later, director of clinical sciences research), Sanford Unger as chief of psychological research, and later Stanislav Grof as chief of psychiatric research. This administrative and situational expansion, which occurred shortly after the work of the Spring Grove psychedelic research team was showcased in a widely acclaimed CBS Reports feature entitled “LSD: The Spring Grove Experiment,” demonstrated that the work of this team was at the forefront of psychiatric research and highly regarded by governmental regulators and medical authorities.

In 1975, personnel issues in the Basic Sciences division of the Research Center called Kurland’s leadership into question, as well as his management of funds. Controversies outside of the Center, such irresponsible practices with LSD at both the CIA and the Edgewood Arsenal, resulted in further scrutiny. The Center was transferred from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to the University of Maryland, which faced increasing political pressure to discontinue the research completely. In 1976, the Research Center was restructured, the staff was virtually replaced, work with psychedelics was eliminated, and, by 1978, the research direction shifted completely to schizophrenia research.


Oram, M. (2018). The Trials of Psychedelic Therapy, LSD Psychotherapy in America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.


Maryland Department of Health website: Spring Grove History

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Maryland Psychiatric Research Center LSD Professional Training Program Study files

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 170
Abstract This collection contains clinical evaluations and personal narratives documenting LSD sessions administered during The Maryland Psychiatric Research Center's professional training program.
Dates: 1970 - 1974

William Richards papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 67
Scope and Contents The William Richards papers is a collection of articles and article reprints written by William Richards and other colleagues including Stanislav Grof and Walter Pahnke. The articles discuss the use of LSD, DPT, psilocybin, and other psychedelics for treating terminal cancer patients and alcoholism, as well as for the study of religious and spiritual experiences. A collection of writings and clippings related to Timothy Leary and his research at Harvard University are also included. There is...
Dates: 1962 - 2014