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Sunday, 26.03.2017

Thomas A. Ban: Psychopharmacology
Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1969

Leon S. Morra’s Extracts - 1

Epigraph, Foreword and Preface


            Almost half a century passed since Ban’s Psychopharmacology was published by Williams and Wilkins in 1969. Information on the text in the form of a review by the author was presented on our website on July 11, 2013, in Books.

            Ban’s text provides the necessary information for an evaluation of the state of art of psychopharmacology in the late 1960s. Our intention is to render the content of this text accessible in a series of extracts for an exchange that would reflect developments in the field since its publication.  

            The 485-page text opens with an epigraph from Arthur Koestler’s book, "The Ghost In the Machine," published in 1967 by  The MacMillan Company. The epigraph reads, in part: “…it is fundamentally wrong and naive, to expect that drugs can present the mind with gratis gifts – put into it something which is not already there. Neither mystic insights, nor philosophic wisdom, nor creative power can be provided by pill or injection. The psychopharmacologist cannot add to the facilities of the brain – but he can, at best eliminate obstructions and blockages which impede their proper use…..”  

            The epigraph is followed by Heinz E. Lehmann’s Foreword that begins with the statement: ”Whenever a new scientific discipline reaches a certain stage of development it becomes essential to make its accumulated information, its still unsolved problems and its practical applications available in a single place. This can best be achieved in a book, written by an expert who is an active worker in the field, and who, in addition of knowing the subject matter and having personally struggled with its problems, is also capable of using his own enthusiasm as a pedagogic tool. Dr. Ban is such an expert who has written such a book.”  

             Lehmann ends with optimism: “The future course of psychopharmacology appears bright and exciting, and the promising outlook for the new science is reflected in this book which is both a landmark on the road traveled and a signpost pointing toward new directions.”

            Ban’s Preface, which follows, is focused on defining the subject matter of the field with which his text deals: ”Psychopharmacology is a new scientific discipline that encompasses all the aspects and interactions between psychoactive drugs and biological systems. It evolved in the course of systematic studies with psychoactive substances with increasing specificity. In addition to their therapeutic impact, psychopharmacological substances have become instrumental in elucidating many biochemical, physiological, behavioral and psychological mechanisms   involved in psychopathology.”


Leon S. Morra

February 2, 2017