Skip to comments.Albert Hoffman has died (Father of LSD)
Posted on 04/29/2008 4:08:07 PM PDT by Borges
Albert Hofmann, who died on Tuesday aged 102, synthesised lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938 and became the first person in the world to experience a full-blown acid trip.
The day, April 19 1943, became known among aficionados as Bicycle Day as it was while cycling home from his laboratory that he experienced the most intense symptoms.
Hofmann was working as a research chemist in the laboratory of the Sandoz Company (now Novartis) in Basel, Switzerland, where he was involved in studying the medicinal properties of plants. This eventually led to the study of the alkaloid compounds of ergot, a fungus which forms on rye.
In the Middle Ages, ergot was implicated in period outbreaks of mass poisonings, producing symptoms in two characteristic forms, one gangrenous (ergotismus gangraenosus) and the other convulsive (ergotismus convulsivus).
Popular names such as mal des ardents, ignis sacer, heiliges Feuer, or St Anthonys fire refer to the gangrenous form of the disease.
Hofmanns studies led to many new discoveries such as Hydergine, a medicament for improvement of circulation and cerebral function and Dihydergot, a circulation and blood pressure stabilising medicine.
His interest in synthesising LSD was stimulated at first by the hope that it might also be useful as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant.
But when his molecule, known as LSD-25, was tested on animals, no interesting effects were observed, though the research notes recorded that the beasts became restless during narcosis. The substance was dismissed as of no interest and dropped from Sandozs research programme.
But five years later, acting on some intuition, Hofmann decided to resynthesise LSD. In his autobiography, LSD, My Problem Child (1979), he recalled that in the final stage of the synthesis, he was interrupted by some unusual sensations.
In a note to the laboratorys director, he reported 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 perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours. After some two hours this condition faded away.
Hofmann concluded that he must have accidentally breathed in or ingested some laboratory material and assumed LSD was the cause. To test the theory he waited until the next working day, Monday April 19 1943, and tried again, swallowing 0.25 of a milligram.
Forty minutes later, his laboratory journal recorded dizziness, feeling of anxiety, visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis, desire to laugh.
Unable to write any more, he asked his assistant to take him home by bicycle. On the way home, 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 travelled very rapidly.
Back home, when a friendly neighbour brought round some milk, he perceived her as a malevolent, insidious witch wearing a lurid mask. After six hours of highs and lows, the effects subsided.
Sandoz, keen to make a profit from Hofmans discovery, gave the new substance the trade name Delysid and began sending samples out to psychiatric researchers.
By 1965 more than 2,000 papers had been published offering hope for a range of conditions from drug and alcohol addiction to mental illnesses of various sorts.
But the fact that it was cheap and easy to make left it open to abuse and from the late 1950s onwards, promoted by Dr Timothy Leary and others, LSD became the recreational drug of choice for alienated western youth.
An outbreak of moral panic, combined with a number of accidents involving people jumping to their deaths off high buildings thinking they could fly, led governments around the world to ban LSD.
Research also showed that the drug taken in high doses and in inappropriate settings, often caused panic reactions. For certain individuals, a bad trip seemed to be the trigger for full-blown psychosis.
Hofmann was disappointed when his discovery was removed from commercial distribution. He remained convinced that the drug had the potential to counter the psychological problems induced by materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life.
Albert Hofmann was born at Baden, Switzerland, on January 11 1906, the elder of two children. Having graduated from Zürich University with a degree in chemistry in 1929 he took a doctorate on the gastro-intestinal juice of the vineyard snail.
After leaving university, he went to work for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals where he researched the medicinal properties of the Mediterranean squill (Scilla maritima), before moving on to the study of Claviceps purpurea (ergot).
As a result of the use of LSD as a recreational drug Sandoz found itself bombarded with demands for information from regulatory bodies along with demands for statements after accidents, poisonings, criminal acts and so forth from the press. For scientists unaccustomed to the glare of publicity, it became a headache.
I would rather you hadnt discovered LSD, Hofmanns managing director told him. In the end the decision was taken to stop all further production.
Hofmann laid some of the blame at the door of Dr Timothy Leary. In his autobiography, he described meeting Leary in 1971 in the railway station snack bar in Lausanne.
Hofmann began by voicing his regret that Learys experiments had effectively killed off academic research into LSD and took Leary to task for encouraging its recreational use among young people. Leary was unabashed.
He maintained that I was unjustified in reproaching him for the seduction of immature persons to drug consumption, Hofmann recalled, on the ground that American teenagers with regard to information and life experience, were comparable to adult Europeans and able to make up their own minds.
Hofmann continued to work at Sandoz until 1971 when he retired as Director of Research for the Department of Natural Products.
In addition to his discovery of LSD, he was also the first to synthesize psilocybin (the active constituent of magic mushrooms) in 1958.
He also discovered the hallucinogenic principles of Ololiuqui (Morning Glory), lysergic acid amide and lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide.
In retirement, Hofmann served as a member of the Nobel Prize Committee. He was a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences, and a Member of the International Society of Plant Research and of the American Society of Pharmacognosy.
In 1988 the Albert Hofmann Foundation was established to assemble and maintain an international library and archive devoted to the study of human consciousness and related fields.
He disapproved of the appropriation of LSD by the youth movements of the 1960s, but regretted that its potential uses had not been explored. He had been due to speak at the World Psychedelic Forum in March, but ill health prevented him from attending.
Albert Hofmann was married and had three children.
That Bicycle is quite famous. The trips are pretty interesting...so I have heard.
"Tard" refers to the ping list members and not to the subject of the thread!
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LSD & Unix both from Berkeley...which one was used to make the other?
“Hofmann was disappointed when his discovery was removed from commercial distribution. He remained convinced that the drug had the potential to counter the psychological problems induced by materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life.
Faith in God “counters” those things, Albert.
I guess we now know how long Keith Richard should be expected to live.
Remember what the dormouse said.
Good stuff, I suppose. No speed mixed in. Wish I’d never heard of it!
It actually strengthens your faith in God...
Or so I’ve heard.
“He remained convinced that the drug had the potential to counter the psychological problems induced by materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life.”
... in other words, it turns you into a brain dead liberal.
Or so Ive heard.
I've heard the same.
I figured out that I was God....
Got a bit old after a while and I retired in 69
I thought another American who spent the 1930’s to the mid 1940’s in the South American jungles actually found the compunds for LSD and gave them to this guy??
There was a story about it on National Geographic the other night.
Hoffman wrote to the guy in the jungle and talked about his “trip” and the guy in the jungle said that’s nothing you need to try this new stuff or something like that.
The guy in the jungle went from native village to native village without wepons of any type and never had a problem.
Or so a friend told me...
Whoops wrong guy.
Richard Evans Schultes, the most important scientific explorer in South America in this century, whose exploits rival those of Darwin and the great naturalist explorers of the Victorian age. In 1941, after having identified ololiuqui, the long-lost Aztec hallucinogen, and having collected the first specimens of teonanacatl, the sacred mushroom of Mexico, Schultes took a leave of absence from Harvard and disappeared into the Northwest Amazon of Colombia. Twelve years later, he returned from South America, having gone places no outsider had ever been, mapping uncharted rivers and living among two dozen Indian tribes. He collected some twenty thousand botanical specimens, including three hundred species new to science, and documented the invaluable knowledge of native shamans. The world’s leading authority on plant hallucinogens, Schultes was for his students a living link to a distant time when the tropical rain forests stood immense, inviolable, a mantle of green stretching across entire continents.
I knew it would kill him
102 years! What a long strange trip it’s been, to borrow a phrase.
102 years! What a long strange trip it’s been, to borrow a phrase.
Let's allow teenagers to rule the world.
I think Keith's biological clock stopped some years ago. He looks the same as he did in 1975.
“Remember what the dormouse said.”
Feed your head!
Have you read his book? He described the ride.
A lesson for you kids out there. Drugs kill!
Think about Albert on his first trip... he would have had no way of knowing whether he’d be coming back to ‘reality’ or whether he’d entered cartoonville forever.
I’m so happy for him that he lived so well for so long.
Good friends and co worker with Gordon Wassen.
He is loved and will be missed by many.
For where ever was there greater disparity between
seeing and hearing......Aristides the Rhetor
Drink the kykeon, become Epoptes!
Walk the sacred path to Eleusis.
We have but there are no words you can understand until
you have traveled there too.
Thanks, Albert. I appreciated it.
I remember a friend (cough..) telling me about all the crazy subliminal messages he would gleam from tv shows and commercials that really freaked him out the few times he tried it. TV is mind control man...
When my dad was in med school he had some of those vials. Would be worth a fortune now. Oh, well. Easy come, easy go-o-o-o-oh...
Feed your head!!! Feed your head!!!
I think you mean Shultes, from Harvard U. He wrote the Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants, a hard-to-find classic field guide.
William S. Burroughs, another longtime junkie, once said that heroin was like inoculating yourself with death. Done right (i.e., not overdoing it), it seemed to have the effect of preserving you.
You bet! Thanks for the link. I have two hardcopies, one signed by Shultes.
I doubt Ozzy Osbourne will make it that far.
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