Today we look back at everyone’s favorite psychoactive substance, LSD. Sure, you know it from its famous advocates, Aldous Huxley, Dr. Timothy Leary, and countless counterculture figures from the 1960’s. But there’s so much more:
It was the drug of choice on university campuses, the drug that spawned psychedelic culture as well as countless jail sentences and fines, but LSD actually has respectable roots–roots that a McMaster University researcher is uncovering.
“Far from being fringe medical research, trials of LSD were once a legitimate branch of psychiatric research,” explains Erika Dyck, a doctoral researcher in the Department of History at McMaster. “LSD produced a “model psychosis,” meaning people who took the drug exhibited symptoms of illnesses such as schizophrenia. Doctors used this as a new method for studying mental illness.”
In a recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Dyck traces the history of LSD–and its eventual withdrawal from medical research. LSD, or d-lysergic acid diethylamide, first appeared in scientific literature in 1943. For nearly a decade, it gave psychiatrists insight into the experiences of schizophrenic patients and showed potential as a cure for alcoholism.
It was used to try to “cure” homosexuality, too. Cary Grant was prescribed LSD, and writes eloquently about the experience.
But nothing beats the objective reporting of the first LSD high, from Dr. Albert Hoffman’s accidental intoxication with LSD-25:
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 dreamlike 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.
His first deliberate encounter with the substance, three days later, is still celebrated as “Bicycle Day” among LSD enthusiasts. The day after, of course, was 4/20.
Erika Dyck’s article…
More from Wikipedia on the History of LSD…
That’s all for this week. Have a safe weekend (ie, don’t try this at home) and we’ll see you Monday!