The funny part about LSD is that Albert Hofmann, the scientist who discovered it, claims that LSD discovered him. Although post the discovery of LSD, with the mass usage of LSD in the psychedelic sixties he started to believe it was actually a problem, what he called his “problem child.”
But years later his problem child turned into a wonder drug and in his own words. “I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD. It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.”
What a stark contrast to what he earlier thought about Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD / LSD-25). So what made him change his mind about it? Lets go down the rabbit hole into how LSD has shaped and influenced vast segments of human existence.
But before we go there lets see what Sandoz, the pharmaceutical company, that Hofmann was working for when he synthesized LSD, has to say. This is a short film made in 1965 “LSD: The Wonder Drug of the Future”
Its been 70 years since LSD has been discovered, lets take a look at the effect its had in various fields such as technology, music, spirituality, writing and LSD today, should you do it?
LSD & Technology
Imagine a world without the iPhone and the iPad, what about a world without Apple as a whole. Yes Steve Jobs dropped LSD and even said that its possibly one of the most important things he did in his life.
This is what Steve Jobs had to say about it, “Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”
But he’s not the only one, Bill Gates , founder of Microsoft and creator of Windows, had his share of experiences although he wasn’t so open about it as compared to Steve.
Kevin Herbert, an early employee of Cisco systems, claims that LSD was his tool to crack the most technically challenging problems he faced and was also stepped in to prevent Cisco from drug-testing technologists.
LSD & Science
The other is Kary Mullis, who discovered how to amplify certain DNA sequences so that we can view them. In a Q&A interview published in the September, 1994, issue of California Monthly, Mullis said, “Back in the 1960s and early ’70s I took plenty of LSD. A lot of people were doing that in Berkeley back then. And I found it to be a mind-opening experience. It was certainly much more important than any courses I ever took.” Both Francis and Kary are nobel prize winners.
Neuroscientist Dr John C. Lilly made significant contributions to psychology, brain research, computer theory, medicine, ethics, and interspecies communication. He was a pioneer in the field of electronic brain stimulation and also the first person to map pain and pleasure pathways in the brain.
John also created the world’s first sensory deprivation chamber, that are used by NASA etc, and also used the chamber to experiment with LSD.
Another noted personality that strikes my mind is Carl Sagan, astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator, although we aren’t certain of his LSD usage but he was an advocate for Marijuana. He was skeptical about how LSD was being used by the masses.
Sagan felt that since LSD was a new and unknown chemical and it was not tested by centuries of cultural use, it could be hazardous because of its minute dosage requirements its and delayed come on effect. A user would not be able to realize he has consumed too much until it is too late.
LSD & Writing
A common misconception that people have is they pop a pill and voila LSD will turn them into a creative genius.
Tom Robbins is a best selling author that put this concept across very well, “My life doesn’t revolve nor has it ever revolved, around psychedelics. They enhanced my life — psychedelics can enhance the life of any intelligent, courageous person, and they might even represent our last great hope for planetary survival — but they didn’t replace my life or become its central focus. Second, it shouldn’t be implied that the acid elves sell talent by the pound — or the microgram. The psychedelic drug doesn’t exist that can make a creative genius out of a hack or turn a neurotic weenie into a happy fully-conscious human being. You have to bring something to the table, and be willing to risk your belief systems. Some people want to go to heaven without dying.”
One of the most noted writing personalities who had his life intertwined with LSD was Hunter S Thompson, who created his own form of Journalism, Gonzo Journalism.
Gonzo journalism involves an approach to accuracy through the reporting of personal experiences and emotions, as compared to traditional journalism, which favors a detached style and relies on facts or quotations that can be verified by third parties.
Gonzo journalism disregards the strictly edited product favored by newspaper media and strives for a more personal approach; the personality of a piece is equally as important as the event the piece is on. Use of sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and profanity is common.
If you watched ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,’ Hunter is the character that Johnny Depp played. Here’s some of Hunter’s stuff,
“Three journalists have died in Baghdad… American troops are killing journalists in a profoundly foreign country, under cover of a war being fought for savage, greed-crazed reasons that most of them couldn’t explain or even understand.”
“Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he talked like a donkey with no brains at all…It was pitiful…I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone call him ‘Mr. President,’ and then I felt ashamed.” – on Bush’s 2004 debate performance
“In four short years he has turned our country from a prosperous nation at peace into a desperately indebted nation at war. But so what? He is the President of the United States, and you’re not. Love it or leave it.” – on George W. Bush. I wonder what he would say about president Obama?
There are so many authors who have been influenced by this substance, let me just run through some . Timothy Leary, the author of High Priest; Flashbacks; Confessions of a Hope Fiend and Neuropolitique to name a few.
Aldous Huxley, with his Brave New world and The Doors of perception which are brilliant, to say the least. Roald Dahl,Madelene D’Lengle, E.E. Milne, E.B. White and William Goldman and Ken Kesey to name a few. “The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which mean never losing your enthusiasm,” said Huxley.
LSD & Music
Some of the most prominent musicians and bands used LSD, The Beatles, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Hendrix, Pink Floyd , Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs, Carlos Santana, Moby Grape, Blue Cheer, Sly and the Family Stone, It’s A Beautiful Day, Creedence Clarwater Revival and more.
Here’s an excerpt of Carlos Santana’s interview with the Guardian, regarding the Woodstock event that made the band Santana famous. Let’s talk about you being off your box on LSD when you played Woodstock. Is it true you thought your guitar was a snake?
Well yes, that’s not something I would recommend when you’re playing in front of 450,000 people. I do not recommend it in that scenario, but I think under supervision it can be very revealing. Everybody sooner or later has to drop the luggage and the baggage of illusions.
The band was had to perform early unexpectedly and they were high. This is the performance below.
Soul Sacrifice – Santana – Woodstock 1969
“We must always remember to thank the CIA and the Army for LSD, by the way. Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn’t it? They brought out LSD to control people, and what they did was give us freedom. Sometimes it works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform.” ~ John Lennon
LSD & Spirituality
One of the many outcomes of LSD is having a spiritual experience, this perhaps has led to a birth in a spiritual revolution or new age spirituality. Here’s Deeepak Chopra, a new-age spiritual guru, talking about his first LSD experience.
Here’s a very interesting video on how spiritual experiences cultivate in different ways that is explained by Sadhguru when a speaker asks him about variations in her spiritual experiences. Sadhguru explains first what Spirituality is and the different paths to experiencing it.
Ram Dass, a contemporary spiritual teacher and the author of ‘Be Here Now’ talks about how he gave Neem Karoli Baba, also known as Maharaji, acid twice and it had no effect on him.
LSD Today & You
LSD is an illegal substance and as far as my knowledge goes, illegal in every country. Although this does not mean that it’s not available and you may find access to it. The problem here is because of its illegal manufacturing there is no guarantee about the quality of acid you may get your hands on and there is a good chance that you may not even be doing LSD.
A user’s experience on LSD is controlled by his environment and thus you are not guaranteed to have a good time. There are findings that support a model of LSD psychosis as a drug-induced schizophreniform reaction in persons vulnerable to both substance abuse and psychosis.
LSD has also helped in the formation of the visionary art genre where artist put down their experiences on canvas.
LSD has also been used to treat psychiatric patients in Switzerland until the 1930s, the videos of the testing of LSD on British military troops also makes a very interesting study. and I think the way forward is for thorough research to be put forth to challenge the system about the use and benefits of this potent psychoactive. Thankfully there already are people on the job!
Transforming Medicine: Psychedelic Science 2013 Mini-Documentary
“Don’t take LSD unless you are very well prepared, unless you are specifically prepared to go out of your mind. Don’t take it unless you have someone that’s very experienced with you to guide you through it. And don’t take it unless you are ready to have your perspective on yourself and your life radically changed, because you’re gonna be a different person, and you should be ready to face this possibility.” ~ Timothy Leary.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
Albert Hofmann’s book LSD my Problem Child
10 Scientific and Technological Visionaries Who Experimented with Drugs
Bill Gates a Lsd User
Top 10 Greatest LSD Quotes
LSD And 60’s Music: What We Owe To It
20 Most Notable LSD Users of All Time
Hunter S. Thompson Quotes
In Loving Memory of John Cunningham Lilly, M.D.
Francis Crick discovering the double helix DNA structure
Hoffman bicycle day
Steve Jobs Image
Psychedelic Hunter Image