16 April 2019

16th April 1943 - LSD hallucinogenic properties discovered

On 16th April 1943 – Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, discovered the hallucinogenic properties of the drug LSD. He first synthesized the drug in 1938 as one of a number of ergot alkaloids, derived from a fungus that grows on rye, and ingested the drug five years later by accident.

He went on to write a a book on LSD: My Problem Child.

In the book he says of that day: ... 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.

Hofman did further controlled experiments upon himself. Then research was carried out by others into the psychiatric and psychic effects of the drug. But about ten years later Hofman was surprised that LSD increasingly became popular as a recreational drug and ended up being banned as people worried about the side effects.

Thanks to David Webb's book On this Day in Psychology for the date.

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