Nathan S. Kline’s Zombi in Haiti: Created by Bokor’s Sorcery or Drugs?

Zonbi by Haitian artist Wilson Bigaud, 1939

“Nathan Kline was a man of immense vision, an internationally acclaimed scientist with the imagination and flair of a wizard. One of the seminal figures of the twentieth century medicine, his pioneering research shattered Freudian orthodoxy by showing that many psychiatric ailments could be treated pharmacologically, a revelation that transformed the practice of psychotherapy and brought relief to countless millions of patients. A great and complex personality, he was one of the most charismatic individuals I ever knew.”                     – Wade Davis

Nathan Kline

Who’s afraid of the Zombi? Not US biopsychiatrist Nathan S. Kline! His work in mental health and pharmacological treatment had a significant impact on psychiatry and the use of drugs for mental illnesses. He was always looking to improve the field of psychiatry and searching to learn about potential new drugs. His influence was not solely contained to research in the US. He also headed initiatives in Haiti called the Zombie Project that worked to investigate the drug tetrodotoxin in the zombie powder mixture used by vodou sorcerers called bokors in the process of zombification. This blog website explores his initiative in the field of psychiatry in the US and the Zombi Project in Haiti as well as provides a background on psychiatry research in the 1950’s.

Final Project Global Health 323

Elizabeth Ginalis

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