LSD discovered on this day 64 years ago

albert_hofmann.jpgOn this day in 1943, Albert Hofmann, a chemist working for the Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz, discovered the psychedelic properties of LSD. Hofmann had actually first synthesized the drug 5 years earlier, as part of a research program in which the therapeutic effects of derivatives of ergot alkaloids – chemicals produced by a fungus – were being investigated.

In his autobiography, LSD: My Problem Child, Hofmann explains how he accidentally ingested the drug while synthesizing it in the laboratory:

It seemed to have resulted from some external toxic influence; I surmised a connection with the substance I had been working with at the time, lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate. But this led to another question: how had I managed to absorb this material? Because of the known toxicity of ergot substances, I always maintained meticulously neat work habits. Possibly a bit of the LSD solution had contacted my fingertips during crystallization, and a trace of the substance was absorbed through the skin. If LSD-25 had indeed been the cause of this bizarre experience, then it must be a substance of extraordinary potency. There seemed to be only one way of getting to the bottom of this. I decided on a self-experiment.

In this passage, he describes the effects of the drug:

Last Friday, April 16,1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dream-like state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.

At a later date, Hofmann again synthesized LSD-25 for self-experimentation. This time, however, the effects of the drug overwhelmed him:

Exercising extreme caution, I began the planned series of experiments with the smallest quantity that could be expected to produce some effect, considering the activity of the ergot alkaloids known at the time: namely, 0.25 mg…it was already clear to me that LSD had been the cause of the remarkable experience of the previous Friday, for the altered perceptions were of the same type as before, only much more intense. I had to struggle to speak intelligibly. I asked my laboratory assistant, who was informed of the self-experiment, to escort me home. On the way…my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had traveled very rapidly. Finally, we arrived at home safe and sound, and I was just barely capable of asking my companion to summon our family doctor and request milk from the neighbors.

In spite of my delirious, bewildered condition, I had brief periods of clear and effective thinking – and chose milk as a nonspecific antidote for poisoning.

The dizziness and sensation of fainting became so strong at times that I could no longer hold myself erect, and had to lie down on a sofa. My surroundings had now transformed themselves in more terrifying ways. Everything in the room spun around, and the familiar objects and pieces of furniture assumed grotesque, threatening forms. They were in continuous motion, animated, as if driven by an inner restlessness. The lady next door, whom I scarcely recognized, brought me milk – in the course of the evening I drank more than two liters. She was no longer Mrs. R., but rather a malevolent, insidious witch with a colored mask.

Even worse than these demonic transformations of the outer world, were the alterations that I perceived in myself, in my inner being. Every exertion of my will, every attempt to put an end to the disintegration of the outer world and the dissolution of my ego, seemed to be wasted effort. A demon had invaded me, had taken possession of my body, mind, and soul. I jumped up and screamed, trying to free myself from him, but then sank down again and lay helpless on the sofa. The substance, with which I had wanted to experiment, had vanquished me. It was the demon that scornfully triumphed over my will. I was seized by the dreadful fear of going insane. I was taken to another world, another place, another time. My body seemed to be without sensation, lifeless, strange. Was I dying? Was this the transition? At times I believed myself to be outside my body, and then perceived clearly, as an outside observer, the complete tragedy of my situation. I had not even taken leave of my family (my wife, with our three children had traveled that day to visit her parents, in Lucerne). Would they ever understand that I had not experimented thoughtlessly, irresponsibly, but rather with the utmost caution, and that such a result was in no way foreseeable? My fear and despair intensified, not only because a young family should lose its father, but also because I dreaded leaving my chemical research work, which meant so much to me, unfinished in the midst of fruitful, promising development. Another reflection took shape, an idea full of bitter irony: if I was now forced to leave this world prematurely, it was because of this lysergic acid diethylamide that I myself had brought forth into the world.

(via Wired)



25 thoughts on “LSD discovered on this day 64 years ago

  1. Such is its hallucinogenic potential that colors are heard and music becomes palpable. Only 20-25 micrograms is sufficient for subjective disturbances. However, physical dependence does not occur, hence no withdrawal symptoms/abstinence. Flashbacks (returning of the same kicks when in a similar situation in which the person ingested) occur sometimes. Even spiders weave malformed webs under its influence.

  2. LSD is not a drug to take lightly, but it is an extremely interesting and in many of my trips it has been very useful in overcoming personal problems. Respect your drugs and your state of mind or you will pay the price…

  3. I’ve been taking LSD regularly for the last 25 years, and I’ve never had a bad one, never been in a psych ward, and always had a farly demanding full time job. It affects everyone differently.

  4. Acid is OK if used properly. Assuming that the person does not ingest significant ammounts of it, they will be fine, if not possibly enlightened about themselves. Use around once a month to give your body time to detox.

  5. If you keep Set & Setting, and take a reasonable dose; then you are 100% good. Just dont let your mind get the better of you. Know it is physically impossible to overdose, and the trip is based on your emotions so don’t do it while you can’t controll your emotions completely.

  6. The reaction to LSD depends on one’s strength of mind and state of mind at the time. I know, or know of, people who have been hospitalized after a single dose, and others who have taken the drug hundreds of times without any apparent ill effect.

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  8. MC is right, or course: I’ve known of people who’ve done “thumbprint” doses of LSD crystal who are pretty normally functioning human beings today.

    And Hippie, LSD leaves your system in less than 24 hours. The only reason to space it out is to give your psyche time to recover—LSD is remarkably non-toxic, so toxicity hasn’t a thing to do with it.

    What annoys me is that this substance (along with psilocybin) has so much potential as a creative nootropic when taken at “museum level” doses, and probably would have been gradually brought into accepted use that way if not for the utter disaster that was the Timothy Leary cabal. If it hadn’t been caught up in a counterculture movement by people who didn’t understand what they were dealing with, I’d probably be able to buy it off the internet today. Ugh.

  9. I don’t see what’s surprising about that. I’ve known someone who pretty much had a psychotic break on a single pill of E fergodsakes, and I know at least two people who get experiences resembling schizophrenia from smoking *pot*. Everybody’s brain is a little different, and some are more different than others.

  10. I recently experienced LSD a few days ago for the first time. There is a reason this drug is considered the most powerful hallucinogen known to man. I saw the two polar extremes of the drug, the literally mind-expanding side with myself (I’d love to share if you’re interested), and the bad side with my friend (picture a video being played for 5 seconds, rewound, and played again…that was my friend, for 8 hours).

    The single most important thing you must have going into a trip is the ability to control your mind, because everything is magnified. This drug is meant for intelligent people who can “let go” and play with ideas while not accepting them.

    I second the no-hangover thought as well. Coming down, I felt absolutely amazing, and this has continued for the better part of the following week.

    Above all else though, know what you’re getting yourself into, it’s not for the faint of mind.

  11. I used to do a lot of acid and some shrooms but no longer bother as the days of youth are long gone but I still vividly recall many experiences while on LSD in particular and all I know is it is a drug that definitely puts you in a whole other realm of consciousness and of a mystical level unlike much anything else. It can open up your mind and answer some questions you may have of yourself and this life but still leave many unanswered ones as well. Its definitely not for everyone and mimics schizophrenia…..especially at higher dose levels. Setting is crucial for use in higher doses esp. and safety.

    But seriously…if one has a lot of emotional baggage already or trauma in their personal lives which they are not coping well with…LSD is NOT a good idea in my opinion. The best trips are reserved for those who are already in a stable and happy point in life and totally content with a dramatic and intense deviation from the norm. Strange and unexpected things tend to happen once you enter the spirit world and they are not always a hallucination.

    Happy trails.

  12. Pingback: 64 Aniversario del LSD « Spottiswoode Blues

  13. I’ve seen the best and some of the worst of what can happen with LSD. My tripping days are now long past, but I’d be a different human being without them. It is a shame that research into the therapeutic potential of this drug got cut short so early on. Even opiates, highly addictive as they are, continue to be used medically, and in those cases people seem to know the difference. It does require, however, some amount of mental/psychic/(dare I say)spiritual stability to use acid safely… there’s no avoiding some unpredictability of results, and making major life decisions while on this drug is generally NOT recommended. Essentially the self-imposed barriers to self-awareness become removed or severely compromised, and a lot depends on how prepared one is for such an event. For those who are unprepared, any means whatever of removing such barriers would be traumatic.

  14. What I feel about LSD:

    I feel I can do whatever I want, because I know what it’ll cause before it happens. The logic in my brain just boosted in to me and told me the consequences on everything. I’m know that if I don’t go to school, I’ll still be thriving to get what I’ve wanted. For example, me. I’m about to finish my freshman year, and I’m just prepared mentally and physically to move out and into my dad’s crib, goto photography summer school for quarts hill high this summer,and just take it my sophomore year. I also wanted to be in agricultue to study up on animals, they’re stuck on this earth too :P, why not? During this summer while I’m taking photography, I’ve been wanting to travel with a paintball team I’m close friends with to tournaments around the US getting paid for the summer and to just a little real vacation in the summer. But during the weekdays, I’ll work with my dad and my buddy tom at Roxy’s Cafe. I’ll be making even MORE money ahah. Once I told my parents all about this they were delighted and so was I. I doubt they’ll care.

    Right now I’m feeling that I can turn to some friends for ANYTHING, some friends think I’m crazy when I tell them I feel a different vibe off every single person. Some kids just don’t know the meaning of life and what to worry about, if you’re gonna be the one pushing yourself to what you wanna be, then push yourself the right way and tell yourself to just ACCEPT it. I’m doing it. If it sounds like a good plan, with no troubles and high consequences, it sounds like a plan to me. There’s so many people being extremely hard on themselves lately. I’ve just been thinking about how I’m gonna be successful already. I know I can pass the tests they throw at me. If I’m ditching it only means I’m actually studying it and being a healthy even balanced person. Some friends understand all of it, those are the ones I want to succeed with. The ones who know that if you got offered the chance to learn something newer to fulfill every desire in life, they’ll take it in a heartbeat. There’s nothing wrong with thinking that now is it? It’s the feeling of expressing your self in what you do, can make you’re entire life so much easier to move on and exceed the delights of life.

    I like to sometimes believe religion is something that we all have to think about for a long long time. Being pi-polar with religion is probably one of the biggest things to feel around it. One day, you’ll forget about the stress, the bills, the past due work, and figure out that if I’m gonna do something I wouldn’t want to do and live off that little bit of rewardingness then the thought of having to go back to it is gonna be horrible. I might as well go back to what I love doing, getting rewarded, and to go live my life again. Right now, I feel nothing can stop me, that nothing can ever bring me down or out smart the fact that I can problem solve in seconds. It all just comes to me quickly, being aware of everything in life to just sanely do what’s possible and be relieved and rewarded. You know what not to feel and what to feel everyday. If I could live life successfully and trusted, I’d be completely living even balanced like this, with nothing wrong.

    -Eduardo Vazquez, May 16, 2007.

    – P.S.: I’m on LSD, and I know why this drug is illegal, it’s illegal for a very selfish meaning, this selfish meaning is the government having people under cover to find out who is going rich on LSD, once they know they’re making it big. They Bust ’em, they find out where all their money is and confiscate it, they allow themselves to get richer than the easily manipulated beings in this country who are told this causes death, that you see what’s unreal, that is a complete lie, you see life in every way shape or form, agreeing with yourself that you’re up for anything that can possibly make your life just perfect. Whether it’s school, work, friends, love, parties, meetings. If you’re not going to give it a one time in your life shot and think like I did, then you too can fall in the deep sense of ever longing stress in life and not looking forward to really do what you’ve been wanting to let out. The ones who found this out before us, are the ones who thought they would take advantage of us before anyone else does, those ones are the government. There’s an extremely large amount of people inside the actual the government that disagree to that, the ones who have not much knowledge about the highest power, but believe that them being the highest of power they have no choice but to believe what they say is good.

    One last thing, the most notorious chemists and thinkers that ever came among us were noted to be and highly considered to be half insane and half pure genius.

    I’m on LSD as we speak, and if you’ve tried and experienced how to control every aspect of it before or are currently frying. You should be able to understand everything or close to everything I just said. I wrote that in note pad like an hour ago out of no where.

    I’m only 14, and I feel I know so much, and understand the concept of life and that everyone goes through that one phase that wakes us up.

    I notice a lot of feelings being bi-polar, but I accept it all and learn to live with it. hahah, and not to mention the party side of me is like, in perfect confidence mode.

    Either way you think about it, the FACT is that LSD was made to open up the other 92% of your brain power.

    What do you guys think of that?

  15. LSD is a great tool for expanding your horizons but i do personally know someone who has been in a mental institution for over 30 years from a bad trip. If you are not mentally strong enough it can take over and you lose control. He was hitchhiking, got picked up and some sick asshole decided to do the unthinkable(i wont elaborate but you can imagine.) They found him in the shower scrubbing till he bleed. It is a wonderful trip but it can also be detramental.

  16. Hello, I got interested LSD about a week or so ago and wanted to try it. I finally got ahold of a tab and ingested it a couple of days ago. Mind you, I suffer from anxiety and depression. I took all major precautions. I cleaned my apartment, had 2 trip sitters, and made sure I had no work or important things to do the next day. I had my keys taken away and sat down and played kirby superstar. The effects hit me and I felt wonderful. I have never felt so happy in my life. No joke, it also seemed to help my acne quite a bit. The effects were not overwhelming, and was very enlightening. I felt total bliss and at peace within me. I haven’t felt that in quite a long time! I can see where people may have bad trips if they are by themselves or have taken way to much. I would have to say it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. The next day I felt wonderful! No stress, no depression, and no anxiety. I really think this drug has alot of potential. The only thing I didn’t like about it, was the feeling that my finger tips and toes were cold but my body was hot. I may try it again in the future. My job is very demanding though and I have little time off however. This drug reminded me of Eating 200 morning glory seeds without the nausea. I believe that doctors and pharmaceutical company’s really need to do more research into this stuff, because I still feel great and its been a couple of days. I haven’t slepted better or felt better in my life! If anyone is wanting to try it, please take proper precautions, and have a trip sitter. This stuff is not to be taken lightly. I did much research into this substance before I put it in my body. It is defiantly not for the stupid! I would also like to add that a person should take it for a reason, such as help with the “inner self” rather than out of just getting “intoxicated”.

  17. Well, ya know ( or not )…as a “non-specific amplifier” or entheogen, this is the Mother of them all. I have never been more fascinated, or terrified, in most of my 52 years. It gets REAL strange out there, folks. I’ve done Acid maybe 300 times, doses as high as 900 mics. I’m tellin ya, the 900 thing is a tidal wave in overload. The speed limit ain’t posted. Beware. I agree that ‘cid is for “smart people”. Somehow, I’ve maintained an IQ in the high 120’s. Given what I’ve strained to process…. WAY OUT THERE…it would be good to be A LOT smarter than I am, to mess with stuff. One needs to surrender to the BIG IS, way out there. And this means the recognition, and ACCEPTANCE that we are, and are being the place OF GOD, here and now. In the absolute. See the light, and your mind will never work the same again. The realizations that what we think we understand to BE, as that of but a mere glimmer within the blossoming of possibilities, is inspiring and shattering. Layers on layers on layers. Not this, not this. Divinity can ring your head like a bell. The implications bring a burden of responsibility. Namaste, in Truth and Love. Seattle

  18. FYI:
    LSD is considered the benchmark psychedelic because it fully elucidates the archetypal matrix (the best name I can come up with). Other drugs such as mushrooms, speed and even pot can partially elucidate it but acid does it more or less fully. Also, once fully elucidated, the matrix is easier to “access” during all modes of brain operation.

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