Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 2016
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Column: Bruce's History Lessons
Copyright: 2016 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Bruce G. Kauffmann


"If you remember the '60s," the joke goes, "you weren't there." It 
was a reference to the countless mind-altering "psychedelic" drugs 
ingested by members of the so-called "Woodstock Generation."

Chief among those drugs was lysergic acid diethylamide - LSD or 
"acid, as it was nicknamed  invented by Albert Hoffman, who was born 
this week (Jan. 11) in 1906. A Swiss chemist doing pharmaceutical 
research at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, in 1938, he 
synthesized LSD in the hopes that it might help with respiratory 
diseases, but he shelved the project until, in 1943, he decided to 
re-examine the possible medicinal uses for the drug.

In doing so, he accidentally ingested a small quantity of LSD, and 
later reported he fell into "a not unpleasant intoxicated-like 
condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination ... I 
perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, 
extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors."

A few days later, he repeated the experiment, ingesting a slightly 
larger dose, and as he rode his bicycle home from work that day, he 
began having visions, followed by flashes of paranoia that alternated 
with euphoric flashes intense lights and colors.

Sometime later, he published his findings on the effects of LSD, and 
soon tens of thousands of "hippies" and other participants in the 
counterculture movement that spread throughout America during the 
1960s were also taking LSD drug trips  "tripping" as it was called 
into a colorful, kaleidoscopic, psychedelic alternative reality.

Some "trips" were pleasant, others horrific. LSD was unpredictable 
determining the proper dosage was a crapshoot  and its potential 
dangers to the human brain were undeniable. The number of young 
people in the 1960s whose brains were "fried" because of LSD, and 
whose lives were never the same afterward, is impossible to 
determine, but it was a fair number, and the possession and use of 
LSD was outlawed in 1965.

Hoffman excoriated the use of LSD as a recreational drug  it has "a 
terrifying, demonic aspect" he said  but he was convinced it would be 
useful in the field of mental therapy, including psychoanalysis, and 
a number of scientific studies have borne this out.

Interestingly, the second most popular psychedelic drug of the 1960s 
was the mushroom-compound drug psilocybin (called the "magic 
mushroom"), which Hoffman also helped create, making him the true 
father of the '60s drug culture, and he was often asked to lecture on 
his handiwork, including in March of 2008 at the World Psychedelic 
Forum. Alas, failing health forced him to cancel that appearance, and 
he died a month later - of a heart attack, not anything related to 
his brain - at the ripe old age of 102.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom