4 Jan 2012 - 31 April 2012
Location: Link Gallery, First Floor, Murray Building
Curated by: Catherine Boden and David Bindle
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The Abram Hoffer Orthomolecular Collection was donated by Abram Hoffer (1917-2009) shortly before his death. It includes books in his personal library of over 1500 books; he co-authored or authored 65, one of Saskatchewan's most famous and controversial figures. Dr. Abram Hoffer, a well-known and somewhat controversial psychiatrist, was born and raised in Saskatchewan. He earned a Bachelor of Science (1938) and Master of Science in Agricultural Biochemistry (1940) from the University of Saskatchewan. In 1944 he received a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Minnesota, followed by an MD from the University of Toronto in 1949.
In 1950, Dr. Hoffer served as Director of Psychiatric Research for the Department of Public Health in Regina and eventually, in Saskatoon from 1954 until his resignation in 1967. Drs. Humphrey Osmond and Hoffer led psychiatric research using LSD to investigate schizophrenia and alcoholism. This controversial research was halted when recreational abuse of LSD culminated in the banning of the substance in 1967. Dr. Hoffer had an abiding interest in a biological basis for schizophrenia and the potential of mega-doses of vitamins (e.g. niacin) in the treatment of mental health issues. Discouraged by the scientific community’s resistance to these theories and the difficulty he experienced getting publishing in mainstream scientific journals, Hoffer founded the Journal of Schizophrenia (subsequently named Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine). In the late 1960s, he resigned his research position to open a private practice in Saskatoon, which he relocated to Victoria, BC in 1976. Dr. Hoffer retired as a practicing psychiatrist on December 31, 2005 but continued to provide non-medical nutritional advice to clients through his new consultation business, the Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre Inc. Dr. Hoffer was a prolific writer with over 120 journal articles and conference papers, and numerous books. Abram Hoffer passed away on May 27th, 2009 in Victoria, BC.
Over the course of his long career Dr. Hoffer collected a large library of materials relating to his interest in mental health, nutrition, and orthomolecular medicine, which he offered to the University Library at the University of Saskatchewan prior to his death. The donation of his personal collection, now referred to as the Abram Hoffer Orthomolecular Collection, consists of 1,520 books, of which he authored or co-authored 65 (including translated works and various editions). In addition to the well-known material on the hallucinogens, Dr. Hoffer collected books on a variety of topics including, but not limited to, schizophrenia, nutrition, orthomolecular therapy, psychiatry, cancer, alcoholism, mental illness/disorders, medicine, vitamin therapy, depression, diet therapy, and health.
On 3 February the University of Saskatchewan University Library held an event celebrating the life and donation of Abram Hoffer. The Event showcases the collection exhibit in the Link Gallery on the first floor of the Murray Library and included some exceptional words from Dr. John Hoffer, Abram's son. Dr. Hoffer is a Professor of Medicine at McGill University. He is an attending physician in the Divisions of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, and co-attending physician on the Nutritional Support Service at the Jewish General Hospital. Also included in the program was a private viewing of Psychedelic Pioneers (a documentary about Hoffer’s cutting edge research into LSD’s potential for therapeutic use in psychiatry in the early 1960’s) introduced by Associate Professor of History Dr. Erika Dyck (author of Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus).