The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test A History of LSD

LSD was first created in 1938, by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann. It was first discovered to have psychedelic (mind-altering) properties in 1943, when Hofmann inhaled some of the fumes of the chemical and became intoxicated. Hofmann then intentionally took a larger dose of the drug to further the experiment. This day is known as "Bicycle Day," because Hofmann asked an assistant to take him home on his bicycle (cars were unavailable because of war-time restrictions). While riding the bicycle, Hofmann began to experience the psychedelic nature of the drug and soon began hallucinating. He became increasingly paranoid before finally entering into a state in which he experienced heightened sensory awareness.

In the late 1940s, the scientific community began to explore LSD's potential to cure a variety of diseases from alcoholism to post-traumatic stress syndrome and even homosexuality. Doctors including Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert began experimenting with the drug and bringing it to a larger segment of the population. LSD soon moved beyond the medical community and began to be used for recreational purposes by cultural icons such as Ken Kesey and the Beatles. These groups took the drug in large doses and experienced states of religious transcendence. The drug began to inspire genres of art and music, such as Andy Warhol's artistic experiments and bands including the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and, most famously, the Beatles' records "Revolver" and "Magical Mystery Tour." However, LSD also encouraged erratic behavior among some individuals, and so in the late 1960s the FDA banned the drug. LSD, however, continues to be used illegally in some communities, and many still cite its positive effects, such as helping alcoholics stop drinking. There is no doubt that the drug had a tremendous impact on American culture in the 1960s, influencing everything from medicine to art.