Cholinergic Mechanisms in Mental Illness: Anticholinergic Hallucinogens

  • Max Fink


For more than half a century, hallucinogenic substances have intrigued experimentalists seeking to understand the peculiar perceptual disturbances and thought disorders of the insane. Early studies of mescaline, opium alkaloids, and morphine have been followed more recently by interest in the amphetamines, LSD, and psilocybin. A special enthusiam for LSD was generated in many observers who ascribed significance to its ability in uniquely small quantities to stimulate perceptual distortions without confusion or disorientation, simulating naturally occurring psychoses. The mode of action of LSD and mescaline was related to the effects on centrally active catechol amines and their breakdown products. Interest in the biogenic amines was further enhanced by the development of reliable laboratory measures and by demonstrations that orally administered monoamine-oxidase inhibitors may have favorable effects in the treatment of some mental disorders, particularly depressive states.


Depressive State Cholinesterase Activity Anticholinergic Agent Cholinergic Mechanism Perceptual Distortion 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Fink
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry at the Missouri Institute of PsychiatryUniversity of Missouri School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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