LSD and the Counterculture of the 1960's

Topics: Lysergic acid diethylamide, Timothy Leary, Psychoactive drug Pages: 3 (937 words) Published: December 9, 2013
LSD and Counterculture of the 1960s
LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide, is commonly regarded as one of the most powerful substances known to mankind. Its name is almost synonymous with the counterculture and the “hippy” movement of the 1960s. Though it is now listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, there was a time when LSD widely used and accepted without the harsh social stigma that it carries today (Jenkins).

LSD, which is known to the younger population as acid, Lucy, and various other colloquial terms, came into being by complete accident. Albert Hofmann, a chemist, first created the drug in 1938, but it was not until 1943 that Hofmann unintentionally ingested a small dose of the drug leading to one of the greatest discoveries in the history of psychoactive chemicals (“History of LSD”). From there, LSD exploded with popularity, and by the 1950s psychiatrists were legally administering the drug to patients in order to explore LSD’s potential to heal or treat psychological issues. During trials, doctors discovered that LSD did indeed have some potential benefits for mental health patients. Many individuals suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and alcoholism—among other illnesses—showed gradual improvements in their conditions when given LSD in a clinical setting (Frood).

To satisfy the demand for clinical trials of LSD, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals began to manufacture the drug en masse. The ample supply of LSD led to widespread distribution by physicians to trial participants and, unintentionally, the general public (“History of LSD”). A black market developed, controlled by select groups of unofficial chemists who were able to synthesize the drug. Various musicians, artists, and figures of esteem took up LSD use, describing it to the population as a world-changing and mind-altering experience. Psychedelic drugs became a growing trend, even receiving the endorsement of Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary, who encouraged the youth to...
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