At 88, Dr. Abram Hoffer is still dispensing wise nutritional advice and damning critiques of our health care system. On beginnings, orthomolecular medicine, psychedelic research, a revolutionary treatment for schizophrenia, and the state of present-day psychiatric care.
No Canadian psychiatrist has been simultaneously more dogged by controversy and more beloved by his patients than Victoria’s Dr. Abram Hoffer.
In an era when most psychiatrists believe in medicating for life, Hoffer has been a one-man “underground railroad” helping unchain patients from tranquillizing drugs.
Yet that’s not the reason he’s controversial.
Upon going to work as Director of Psychiatric Research for the Province of Saskatchewan in 1950, Hoffer and colleague Dr. Humphry Osmond became trailblazers.
They were one of the earliest institutional teams using psychedelics for therapy. They provided Aldous Huxley with the mescaline that led to his famous treatise, “The Doors of Perception”, which in part inspired Timothy Leary’s Harvard research and the psychedelic 60s. Hoffer also visited Prague, helping spark the 20th century’s other major psychedelic researcher, Dr. Stanislav Grof.
Teaming with Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling, they then became internationally renowned for research into “megavitamin” treatments, and founded “orthomolecular medicine“.
But most controversially, Hoffer and Osmond were the first to develop a biochemical theory and proclaimed cure for schizophrenia.