A Swiss chemist named Dr. Albert Hoffman first produced lysergic acid Diethylmide or best known as LSD in 1938 (Dye, 1992, p. 2). Hoffman discovered the drug while trying to synthesize a new drug for the treatment of headaches. He obtained the lysergic acid from the parasitic fungus that grows on rye plants known as ergot. From the lysergic acid, he synthesized the compound LSD. He used the compound to test for its pain killing properties on laboratory animals. Being that appeared totally ineffective, the bottle of LSD was placed on a shelf and remained untouched for five years.
On April 16, 1943, Dr. Hoffman decided to do further research with the LSD compound (Dye, 1992 p. 5). While handling the drug, he accidentally ingested an unknown amount. Then he experienced the world's first LSD trip. About eight hours later Hoffman drifted back into normal reality and the Psychedelic Revolution was born. (Encarta 98) Three days later, in an attempt to prove that the previous episode was indeed caused by the ingestion of LSD, Dr. Hoffman ingested what he thought would be a small quantity of LSD, 250 micrograms. In actuality, this is approximately five times the dosage necessary to produce heavy hallucinations in the average adult male (Solomon, 1964, p. 34). The drug produced effects that were much more intense than the first time Hoffman took the LSD. He noted that he felt unrest, dizziness, visual disturbances, a tendency to laugh at inappropriate times, and a difficulty in concentration (Dye, 1992, p.7). Dr. Hoffman's condition improved six hours after taking the drug, although visual disturbances and distortion continued.
LSD was first shipped to the United States in 1949 (Solomon, 1964 , p. 54). American scientists tested LSD on animals to learn of its effects. It produced dramatic behavior changes in all animals investigated.
During the 1950's, experimentation of LSD on humans began (Solomon, 1964, p. 56). Since there were few restrictions on using humans for experimentation at the time, scientists were free to administer the drug widely, hoping to find some useful therapeutic value for the drug. Because of Hoffman's LSD account of depersonalization produced by the drug. Early studies were done using the drug to treat various psychiatric disorders. It was felt that if a person could "step outside" themselves and view situations as others saw them, they could come to grips with their problems and be able to solve them. One of the first areas of LSD experimentation was in treating alcoholism (Dye, 1992, p.36). After extensive research, it was concluded that LSD was not effective on treating alcoholism and the research was discontinued.
LSD was also tested on schizophrenics, drug addicts and criminals (Dye, 1992 p. 38). Research determined that LSD was ineffective in treating any behavioral problems. It was also concluded that LSD might transform a normal individual into a person with a very calm to severe personality problem.
The Central Intelligence Agency and various military agencies also became interested in LSD research in the late 1950's (Dye, 1992, p.410.) Their interest in the drug was in the area of mind control. They saw the possibility of manipulating of manipulating the beliefs of strong willed people. They gave the drug to a group of army scientists and then attempted to change some of their basic beliefs while under the influence of the drug. However, one of the scientists became psychotic and committed suicide by jumping from a hotel window. These agencies continued their research by using drug addicts and prostitutes to test their mind control theories. After extensive experimentation, it became apparent that LSD could alter LSD the mind but not control it. The United States government discontinued this sort of research. Up until today, the Food and Drug Administration have never approved LSD. This strong hallucinageous drug remains only as research and medical treatment.
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