The years succeeding 1952 (chlorpromazine) set the stage for “a rapid multiplication of drugs and psychic medications”, with different actions. This observation by Jean Delay and his concern that certain degree of confusion could have a negative impact on research and clinic, led him to search for common terminology and classification. It was then, in 1957, during a Symposium of Psychopharmacology for the occasion of the 2nd International Congress of Psychiatry in Zurich and not in the 1st Congress of the Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum, held in 1958, in Rome --as Tom Ban suggests-- that Jean Delay first used and adopted the term psychotropic and proposed a classification of these drugs based on their main effect in “human clinic”. For Jean Delay (1957) the term psychotropic was valid since it was a general term to include all chemical substances, being natural or pharmaceutically made, which have a “psychological tropism”, capable of interfering in mental activity, not considering a priori the kind of modification to be promoted.
Delay J. Intervention à propos de la terminologie et la classification des médicaments psychiatriques. In: Kline NS, editor. Neuropsychopharmacology Frontiers. New York: Little Brown; 1959, pp. 426-9.
Carlos R. Hojaij
March 13, 2014