- Key People:
- Albert Hofmann Timothy Leary
- Related Topics:
- drug use hallucinogen psychedelic rock lysergic acid
lsd meaning? LSD, abbreviation of lysergic acid diethylamide, also called lysergide, potent synthetic hallucinogenic drug that can be derived from the ergot alkaloids (as ergotamine and ergonovine, principal constituents of ergot, the grain deformity and toxic infectant of flour caused by the fungus Claviceps purpurea). LSD is usually prepared by chemical synthesis in a laboratory. Its basic chemical structure is similar to that of the ergot alkaloids, and it is structurally related to several other drugs (e.g., bufotenine, psilocybin, harmine, and ibogaine), which can all block the action of serotonin (the indole amine transmitter of nerve impulses) in brain tissue. lsd meaning
LSD produces marked deviations from normal behaviour, probably the consequence of its ability to inhibit the action of serotonin, though the mechanism of the drug remains uncertain. LSD was used experimentally in medicine as a psychotomimetic agent to induce mental states that were believed to resemble those of actual psychotic diseases (primarily the schizophrenias). After administration, LSD can be absorbed readily from any mucosal surface—even the ear—and acts within 30 to 60 minutes. Its effects usually last for 8 to 10 hours, and occasionally some effects persist for several days. Two serious side effects are the prolongation and transient reappearance of the psychotic reaction.
Since LSD is not an approved drug, its therapeutic applications are regarded as experimental. In the 1960s LSD was proposed for use in the treatment of neuroses, especially for patients who were recalcitrant to more conventional psychotherapeutic procedures. LSD also was tried as a treatment for alcoholism and to reduce the suffering of terminally ill cancer patients. It was studied as an adjunct in the treatment of narcotic addiction, of children with autism, and of the so-called psychopathic personality. None of those uses were successful by the early 1990s, and most researchers concluded that there was no clinical value in the use of LSD. In the early 21st century, however, research into the treatment of alcoholism with LSD was revived, some researchers concluding that it might provide benefits. There was also interest in the use of LSD to relieve anxiety in patients suffering from terminal illness.
The use of LSD outside a clinical setting can be dangerous. Mood shifts, time and space distortions, and impulsive behaviour are especially hazardous complications to an individual who takes the drug. The individual may become increasingly suspicious of the intentions and motives of those around him and may act aggressively against them.
Legitimate use of LSD declined markedly in the mid-1960s. In the United States, manufacture, possession, sale, transfer, and use of LSD came under the restrictions of the Drug Abuse Control Amendment of 1965. The following year the only authorized manufacturer of LSD in the United States withdrew the drug from the market and transferred its supplies to the federal government. Research projects continued under the supervision of the National Institute of Mental Health, a governmental agency.
During the 1960s LSD (“acid”) became popular within the hippie subculture that emerged in the United States and western Europe. One critical pioneer in that movement was Augustus Owsley Stanley III, a California-based underground chemist who manufactured several million doses of the drug. Stanley’s efforts supplied the drug to several figures who would become advocates for LSD, including novelist Ken Kesey. Stanley also was a personal supplier of LSD to the Grateful Dead (for whom he also provided early financial support and served as sound engineer). Another major advocate of LSD was American psychologist Timothy Leary.
During the mid-1960s, use of LSD spread widely in the emerging counterculture, and the shapes and colours characteristic of LSD-induced trips appear frequently in the visual art of the period. The drug also powerfully shaped the popular music of the 1960s and encouraged the mystical experimentation of those years. LSD retained a youth following into the mid-1970s, when publicity about the drug’s psychiatric ill effects slowed usage. Nevertheless, a revival of LSD use occurred in the United States and elsewhere in the 1990s.
- January 11, 1906 Baden Switzerland
- April 29, 2008 (aged 102) Switzerland
- Subjects Of Study:
- psychedelic drug
Albert Hofmann, (born Jan. 11, 1906, Baden, Switz.—died April 29, 2008, Burg, Switz.), Swiss chemist who discovered the psychedelic drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), which he first synthesized in 1938 by isolating compounds found in ergot (Claviceps purpurea), a fungus affecting rye.
Despite his family’s lack of means, Hofmann spent an idyllic childhood exploring the hills surrounding Baden, though as a teenager he was forced to seek work when his father became ill. He attended the University of Zürich, graduating in 1929 with a doctorate in medicinal chemistry. Upon graduation he was hired by Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, where he was assigned to a program developing methods for synthesizing compounds found in medicinal plants. It was there, while testing the analeptic (stimulant) properties of ergot derivatives, that Hofmann stumbled upon LSD-25 (the 25th such derivative tested) in 1938.
Hofmann’s initial discovery was set aside for five years until April 1943, when he returned to his earlier therapeutic research on the compound. After accidentally absorbing a small amount of the synthesized drug, he experienced dreamlike hallucinations. Following his initial experience, Hoffman purposely ingested the drug numerous times, concluding that it could be of significant use in psychiatric treatment. He spent years investigating LSD’s hallucinogenic properties in the belief that the drug would one day be useful in the therapeutic treatment of schizophrenics and other psychiatric patients. While disapproving of the casual recreational use that came to define the drug in the 1960s, Hofmann maintained that the drug, when taken under controlled circumstances and with full knowledge of the possible effects, could prove useful in both psychiatric and spiritual contexts, an argument that he conveyed in his 1979 book LSD, mein Sorgenkind (LSD: My Problem Child, 1980).
Hofmann also isolated methergine, a drug used to treat postpartum hemorrhaging, from ergot. However, most of his later research focused on the psychotropic qualities of various plants and fungi. In 1958 he synthesized psilocybin and psilocin, the hallucinogenic compounds in the mushroom Psilocybe mexicana, having been sent samples by an amateur mycologist intrigued by his work with LSD. In 1960 he discovered a compound similar to LSD in a species of morning glory (Rivea corymbosa), and in 1962 he traveled to Mexico to research the plant Salvia divinorum, though he was ultimately unable to discern its actively hallucinogenic components. While in Mexico, he was able to convince a curandera (female shaman) to preside over a ritual that employed the compounds he had isolated from the Psilocybe mushrooms, which grew naturally in the area. Hofmann also investigated the pharmacological properties of a number of other plants as well, including peyote, from which mescaline is derived.
Hofmann, who had become director of natural products at Sandoz Laboratories in 1956, retired in 1971. In 1988 the Albert Hofmann Foundation, an organization advocating the responsible use of hallucinogens, was established in his honour. He contributed to several books, including The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries (1978), which speculates that the Eleusinian Mysteries, a series of ancient Greek religious rites, were catalyzed by consumption of hallucinogenic mushrooms; The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens (1973); and Plants of the Gods: Origins of Hallucinogenic Use (1979). Hofmann independently wrote Insight/Outlook (1989), concerning the perception of reality, and the posthumously published Hofmann’s Elixir: LSD and the New Eleusis (2008).
- Related Topics:
PCP, abbreviation of phencyclidine, byname angel dust, hallucinogenic drug with anesthetic properties, having the chemical name 1-(1-phenylcyclohexyl)piperidine. PCP was first developed in 1956 by Parke Davis Laboratories of Detroit for use as an anesthetic in veterinary medicine, though it is no longer used in this capacity. Used for a brief time as a general anesthetic in humans, its side effects range from distorted self-perception to severe disorientation and unpredictable psychotic behaviour, which quickly discouraged its legal use.
As with other hallucinogens, PCP does not cause physical dependence. In low doses it produces effects similar to those of LSD, though violent and psychotic behaviour seem to be more characteristic of PCP. Although most users do not have psychotic episodes, the effects of the drug are extremely unpredictable. A PCP user is often impervious to pain and generally exhibits emotional instability, excited intoxication, a lack of coordination, high blood pressure, and increased deep-tendon muscle reflexes. At high doses, PCP is highly toxic and can cause convulsions and coma. PCP’s effects vary by user and are influenced by mood, dosage, and setting. Effects are evident one to two hours after ingestion and generally last four to six hours. Among chronic users, visual, memory, and speech disorders have been noted. In an illegal setting, the drug is typically mixed in powdered form with a leafy substance such as parsley, mint, tobacco, or marijuana and is smoked. It may also be dissolved in a liquid and sprayed onto the leaves. In addition, it can be injected or inhaled.
Because PCP is relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture, it became a major illegal drug in North America, though its popularity never really spread further. In the United States an illicit trade in PCP sprang up during the mid-1960s, and violence related to the use of PCP—including suicide, homicide, and self-mutilation—grew to alarming proportions in the 1970s and ’80s. It was estimated that at least seven million Americans used PCP on at least one occasion between 1975 and 1983. By the mid-1980s, PCP use had declined, largely as a result of the increased popularity of crack cocaine.
- Related Topics:
- hallucinogen acid house
Ecstasy, MDMA (3,4, Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), a euphoria-inducing stimulant and hallucinogen. The use of Ecstasy, commonly known as “E,” has been widespread despite the drug’s having been banned worldwide in 1985 by its addition to the international Convention on Psychotropic Substances. It is a derivative of the amphetamine family and a relative of the stimulant methamphetamine. Ecstasy, which is taken in pill or powder form, also has a chemical relationship to the psychedelic drug mescaline.
Developed in 1913 as an appetite suppressant and patented by Merck & Co. the following year, the drug was not originally approved for release. In the 1950s and ’60s, advocates of the drug, including the author and chemist Alexander T. Shulgin, claimed that it could benefit people in psychotherapy by helping to engender trust between therapist and patient, and by the late 1970s Ecstasy was being widely administered for this purpose. It was adopted enthusiastically in the 1970s and ’80s by adherents of the New Age movement, who explored the similarities between the mental and emotional states induced by Ecstasy and the mystical states of awareness described by some traditional religions. Members of this group expected MDMA to be the basis of a sweeping “neuroconsciousness revolution.”
Ecstasy increases the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and blocks its reabsorption in the brain; it also increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Stimulation of the central nervous system gives users feelings of increased energy. Other effects include heightened self-awareness, reduced social inhibitions, and feelings of happiness and well-being. Ecstasy generally does not produce severe sensory distortions such as those associated with LSD and other hallucinogens. Harmful effects can include increased blood pressure, dehydration, severe muscle tension, confusion, depression, and paranoia.
By the 1980s, parties and dances that featured Ecstasy use (known as “raves”) had become popular among young people. Despite its ban in the United States and the rest of the world, the drug retained a huge following, and it came to play an important role in youth subcultures, similar to that of LSD during the 1960s. By the end of the 20th century, Ecstasy was reportedly used regularly by 500,000 people in Great Britain, and a 1998 study found that 3,400,000 Americans had tried the drug.
As with other illegal drugs, sellers sometimes misrepresent the product. A significant portion of what is sold as Ecstasy is MDMA adulterated with or replaced by other substances, such as ketamine, caffeine, mCPP (meta-chlorophenylpiperazine), or PMMA (paramethoxymethamphetamine). A powdered form of Ecstasy, “Molly” (so called because it was a pure “molecular” state of MDMA), emerged in the early 21st century. However, similarly with Ecstasy in its pill form, Molly is often adulterated with methylone.
- Related Topics:
- hallucinogen Piptadenia peregrina
cohoba, also called Yopo, hallucinogenic snuff made from the seeds of a tropical American tree (Piptadenia peregrina) and used by Indians of the Caribbean and South America at the time of early Spanish explorations. DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine) and bufotenine (qq.v.) are thought to have been the active principles. Cohoba was inhaled deeply by means of special bilateral tubes.
- Related Topics:
bufotenine, weak hallucinogenic agent active by intravenous injection, isolated from several natural sources or prepared by chemical synthesis. Bufotenine is a constituent of toad poison, the poisonous, milky secretion of glands found in the skin on the back of the animal. It was first isolated in 1934.
Structurally, bufotenine is an indole hallucinogen that is capable of blocking the action of serotonin, which is the indole amine transmitter of nerve impulses and can be found in normal brain tissue (and in toad poison). Bufotenine also functions as a powerful constrictor of blood vessels, causing a rise in blood pressure.
Other sources of bufotenine are the fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) and the tropical American tree Piptadenia peregrina, the seeds of which were used at the time of the early Spanish explorations by the Indians of Trinidad and of the Orinoco Plain to make the hallucinogenic snuff called cohoba, or yopo.
In modern medicine, bufotenine has been used only experimentally, to simulate psychotic disease states for the purpose of psychiatric study.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia BritannicaThis article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn.
- October 22, 1920 Springfield Massachusetts
- May 31, 1996 (aged 75) Beverly Hills California
- Subjects Of Study:
- LSD hallucinogen psilocybin psychedelic drug
Timothy Leary, in full Timothy Francis Leary, (born October 22, 1920, Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.—died May 31, 1996, Beverly Hills, California), American psychologist and author who was a leading advocate for the use of LSD and other psychoactive drugs.
Leary, the son of a U.S. Army officer, was raised in a Catholic household and attended the College of the Holy Cross, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and the University of Alabama (B.A., 1943). In 1950 he received a doctorate in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was an assistant professor until 1955. During the 1950s Leary developed an egalitarian model for interaction between the psychotherapist and the patient, promoted new techniques of group therapy, and published a system for classifying interpersonal behaviour. He acquired a reputation as a promising young scholar and was appointed to the position of lecturer at Harvard University in 1959. lsd meaning
At Harvard Leary began experimenting with psilocybin, a synthesized form of the hallucinogenic agent found in certain mushrooms. He concluded that psychedelic drugs could be effective in transforming personality and expanding human consciousness. Along with psychologist Richard Alpert (later Ram Dass), he formed the Harvard Psilocybin Project and began administering psilocybin to graduate students; he also shared the drug with several prominent artists, writers, and musicians. Leary explored the cultural and philosophical implications of psychedelic drugs. In contrast to those within the psychedelic research community who argued that the drugs should be used only by a small elite, Leary came to believe that the experience should be introduced to the general public, particularly to young people. lsd meaning
Leary’s experiments were highly controversial, and he was dismissed from Harvard in 1963 along with Alpert. Their dismissal was partially due to then-student Andrew Weil’s efforts to discredit them by revealing that Alpert had administered drugs to undergraduates in violation of an agreement not to do so. During the mid-1960s Leary lived in a mansion in Millbrook, New York, where he formed the centre of a small hedonistic community. He began to intensively explore LSD, a powerful psychedelic drug first derived from ergot of rye in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann. His research, which initially had emphasized careful control over the “set and setting” of the psychedelic experience, became increasingly undisciplined and unstructured. He traveled widely and gave many public lectures, especially on college campuses, and, because of his high public profile, he became a focus of the emerging public debate over LSD. His phrase “turn on, tune in, drop out” became a popular counterculture slogan. lsd meaning Cultural conservatives saw Leary as a corrosive influence on society—U.S. Pres. Richard Nixon called him “the most dangerous man in America”—while many researchers felt that Leary delegitimized the serious study of psychedelic drugs. lsd meaning
After arrests in 1965 and 1968 for possession of marijuana and a prolonged legal battle, Leary was incarcerated in 1970. The revolutionary group known as the Weather Underground aided him in a spectacular escape, and he fled first to Algeria and eventually to Afghanistan, where he was captured in 1973 and returned to a California prison. He was freed in 1976 and settled in southern California. During the 1980s and ’90s Leary continued to appear publicly in lectures and debates, often with a onetime adversary, Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy, who had once arrested him. However, Leary never regained the stature that he had enjoyed during the 1960s. He also designed computer software and was an early advocate of the potential of new technologies such as virtual reality and the Internet. His Web site later chronicled his death from prostate cancer. lsd meaning
Leary published prolifically throughout his career. Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality: A Functional Theory and Methodology for Personality Evaluation (1957) was a seminal textbook dealing with the measurements of personality and the use of those measurements in psychotherapeutic diagnosis. Likely his most-influential work, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead (1964; with Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert), employed the rituals collected in the Tibetan funerary text known as the Bardo Thödol in guiding the trajectory of a hallucinogenic session. The original rituals, intended to guide the spirits of the recently deceased, served to urge the drug user through the phase of ego obliteration and toward transcendence. lsd meaning
Leary articulated his belief that life on Earth had been seeded by alien species and exhorted humanity to colonize space in Exo-Psychology: A Manual on the Use of the Human Nervous System According to the Instructions of the Manufacturers (1977; reissued 1987 as Info-Psychology: A Manual for the Use of the Human Nervous System According to the Instructions of the Manufacturers, and a Navigational Guide for Piloting the Evolution of the Human Individual). Changing My Mind, Among Others: Lifetime Writings (1982) was a collection of essays on science and humanism. Design for Dying (1997) was a series of ruminations on death and the extension of life, written while Leary succumbed to cancer. lsd meaning
Leary also wrote a number of memoirs. High Priest (1968) was a collection of psychedelic experiences had by Leary and his associates. Confessions of a Hope Fiend (1973) detailed his imprisonment and subsequent escape. Flashbacks: A Personal and Cultural History of an Era (1983) was a more-comprehensive autobiography.
The New York Public Library acquired Leary’s archives in 2011.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen.
- Key People:
- Timothy Leary
- Related Topics:
- LSD ketamine Ecstasy diviner’s sage PCP
hallucinogen, substance that produces psychological effects that tend to be associated with phenomena such as dreams or religious exaltation or with mental disorders such as schizophrenia. Hallucinogens produce changes in perception, thought, and feeling, ranging from distortions of what is sensed (illusions) to sensing objects where none exist (hallucinations). Hallucinogens heighten sensory signals, but this is often accompanied by loss of control over what is experienced. lsd meaning
The psychopharmacological drugs that have aroused widespread interest and controversy are those that produce marked aberrations in behaviour or perception. Among the most prevalent of these are D-lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD-25, which originally was derived from ergot (Claviceps purpurea), a fungus on rye and wheat; mescaline, the active principle of the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii), which grows in the southwestern United States and Mexico; and psilocybin and psilocin, which come from certain mushrooms (notably two Mexican species, Psilocybe mexicana and P. cubensis).lsd meaning
Other hallucinogens include bufotenine, originally isolated from the skin of toads; harmine, from the seed coats of a plant of the Middle East and Mediterranean region; and the synthetic compounds methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), and phencyclidine (PCP). Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, or marijuana, obtained from the leaves and tops of plants in the genus Cannabis, is also sometimes classified as a hallucinogen. lsd meaning
Historical use and early scientific interest
Historically, native societies of the Western Hemisphere utilized plants containing psychedelic substances. The hallucinogenic mushrooms of Mexico were considered sacred and were called “god’s flesh” by the Aztecs, and during the 19th century the Mescalero Apaches of the southwestern United States practiced a peyote rite that was adopted by many of the Plains tribes. Peyotism eventually became fused with Christianity, and the Native American Church was formed in 1918 to protect peyotism as a form of worship. lsd meaning
Scientific interest in hallucinogens developed slowly. Mescaline was finally isolated as the active principle of peyote in 1896. It was not until 1943, when Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann accidentally ingested a synthetic preparation of LSD and experienced its psychedelic effects, that the search for a natural substance responsible for schizophrenia became widespread. Gordon Wasson, a New York banker and mycologist, called attention to the powers of the Mexican mushrooms in 1953, and the active principle was quickly found to be psilocybin. lsd meaning
Only the D-isomer of LSD was found to be psychedelically active. It was thought that LSD, as well as psilocybin, psilocin, bufotenine, and harmine, acted antagonistically toward serotonin, an important brain amine. However, evidence for this was contradictory. Some chemicals that blocked serotonin receptors in the brain were found to have no psychedelic activity. Mescaline was discovered to be structurally related to the adrenal hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine—catecholamines that are very active in the peripheral nervous system and are suspected of playing a role as neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. lsd meaning
Psychotherapy and illicit use
During the 1950s and ’60s there was a great deal of scientific research with hallucinogens in psychotherapy. LSD was used in the treatment of alcoholism, to reduce the suffering of terminally ill cancer patients, and in the treatment of children with autism. Controversy arose over the social aspects of the drugs. Subsequent scientific research indicated that the side effects of these drugs were more serious than previous research had indicated and that human experimentation was somewhat premature. As a result, many of the hallucinogens were limited to scientific use, with pharmaceutical manufacture strictly regulated. lsd meaning
Illicit experimentation continued over the following decades, partly inspired by the mystical writings of Aldous Huxley, and a vigorous subculture sprang up surrounding hallucinogens in the 1960s. Originating on the West Coast of the United States, it spread throughout North America, Western Europe, and Australia. At the end of the century there was a revived interest in LSD in the United States, and the drug Ecstasy became popular among young people. In addition, some individuals began experimenting with countless new substances, particularly from the phenethylamine and tryptamine families, which was difficult to regulate or suppress because the necessary information to make the drugs was widely available through the internet. lsd meaning