The term “psychotropic drugs” first appeared in 1957, in Ralph Gerard’s paper, “Dugs for the soul; the rise of psychopharmacology”, published in Science, and in the title of the First International Symposium on Psychotropic Drugs, held in Milan in May 1957 (Garattini and Ghetti 1957). In his paper, Gerard defined psychotropic drugs as substances which possess “psychic tropism” and are capable of modifying mental activity (Ban 1969).  The term was adopted into French by Jean Delay (1959), who first referred to psychiatric dugs, as  “drogues psychotropes”, in his discussion of the fourth symposium (“Comparison of Drug Induced and Endogenous Psychoses”) at the First Congress of The Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum (CINP), held in 1958  in Rome (Italy).

Ban TA. Psychopharmacology. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1969, p. 365.

Delay J. Discussion (Fourth Symposium). In: Bradley PB, Deniker P, Radouco-Thomas C. Neuropsychopharmacology. Proceedings of the First Congress of Neuro-Pharmacology. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 1959, pp. 167-72.

Garattini S, Ghetti V, editors.  Psychotropic Drugs. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 1957.

Gerard R. Drugs for the soul; the rise of psychopharmacology. Science 1957; 125: 201-3.


Thomas A. Ban

February 20, 2014