In my latest read, "How to Change Your Mind", Michael Pollan dives deep into the archives of the 1950's and 60's to retell the fascinating history of LSD. Actually, the "invention" of LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, was a complete mistake. Back in 1938 a Swiss scientist was experimenting with a kind of fungi, ergot, when he accidentally ingested some. Needless to say, he had an incredible mind-altering trip, and the rest is history.
In the early days the primary use case for the drug was to help psychiatrists and psychologists understand mental illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia, as that's the kind of states medical professionals believed LSD induced.
Over the next two decades, medical professionals attempted applying the drug in a wide range of use cases from curing depression, alcoholism and anxiety (even the CIA believed they could control minds with it). LSD was freely available to medical professionals who administered it to their patients in the name of research.
Those who did take it immediately reported having their minds blown open to a vast new world of "consciousness" where the mind would swell with vivid visions and spiritual messages from another world. Never before had anyone in the study of western medicine reported such an intense rush of cosmic waves through the body, where one's soul would be shaken at its core after just one session.
I've never done it myself, but damn... it must have been a wild time back then.
Scientists struggled to identify with this new class of drug for it no longer fit the biochemical parameters of the traditional off-the-shelf pharmaceutical. Psychiatrists were torn both professionally and spiritually, for this new psychedelic phenomenon was impossible to quantify. It's effects leaned heavily towards transcendence, mysticism and spirituality - where the bounds of possibility were entirely biased toward ones own personal experience.
The LSD experience was so powerful and so transcendent that those who took it were immediately converted into a shamanistic-like state of mind. Many researchers of the day who administered as well as participated in these LSD sessions believed the drug needed to be "out there", for the world to experience.
It wasn't long (and only a matter of time) until LSD would leap over the walls of the confined laboratory setting and into the hands of the public. By that time it was the late 1950's and a simmering psychedelic craze was beginning to take off, melting the minds of a new generation one trip at a time.
As a new underground subculture of drug users (and abusers) infected the nation, the government was left with no choice but to shut down all research and criminalize the drug.
Now, in 2019 we are seeing a resurgence of interest in LSD and it's slowly becoming accepted into mainstream medicine. Of course, it's still not legal, but it certainly is a fascinating topic of worth re-discovering. Many great inventors, scientists, computer engineers and philosophers owe their success to drugs like LSD, which helped to expand their creativity and critical thinking.
I've also heard that a lot of Silicon Valley startups do micro-dosing days to help with productivity and intense problem solving... Sounds like an interesting use case ... I wonder what that'd be like 🤔... I'm excited about this new wave of research and interest in LSD. I'm sure it will help us expand our thinking in the new age of tech and AI.
What do you think? I'd definitely love to hear your thoughts if you have tried it!