LSD was a lucky strike of Dr. Albert Hoffmann who was incidentally looking for a circulatory and respiratory stimulant. However, no real benefits of the compound were identified and its study was discontinued. This was in 1938. In the 1940’s, interest in the drug was revived because of its structural relationship to a chemical that is present in the brain. LSD was used as a research tool in studies of mental illness.
Sandoz Laboratories, the drug’s sole producer, began marketing LSD in 1947 under the trade name “Delysid” and it was introduced into the United States a year later. It was the time when Cold War swept across the globe. The CIA found it as an unconventional weapon to discredit their perceived enemies. After a blunder and its ensuing scandal made the CIA discontinue from further researches in this drug.
Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, in the 1950s became interested in psychedelic or mind-expanding drugs like mescaline and LSD, which he apparently took a dozen times over ten years. Sybille Bedford says he was looking for a drug that would allow an escape from the self and that if taken with caution would be physically and socially harmless.
He put his beliefs in such a drug and in sanity into several books. Two, based on his experiences taking mescaline under supervision, were nonfiction: Doors of Perception (1954) and Heaven and Hell (1956). Some readers have read those books as encouragements to experiment freely with drugs, but Huxley warned of the dangers of such experiments in an appendix he wrote to The Devils of Loudun (1952), a psychological study of an episode in French history.
In his book The Island he approved of the perfected version of LSD that the people of Island use in a religious way. (Ack: somaweb.org) The late Timothy Leary gave LSD its fame after being kicked out from Harvard University for using students and other volunteers to study the effects of LSD on the brain. He later became an advocate of the drug, promoting its “mind expanding qualities.” An icon of 1960s counterculture, Leary is most famous as a proponent of the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of LSD. He coined and popularized the catch phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”
He was one Voice of the Hippie movement,- and there were many other voices and influences that fed the growing cynicism of the young. Drug culture of the sixties was amid the growing violence and unrest following escalation of US involvement in Vietnam and LSD that the very government had at first thought as an useful tool to repress the opposition, was just doing that: LSD had become a subversive tool to overthrow the society and their culture.
Dr. Albert Hoffmann was a scientist whose yeoman work in finding an useful drug created history and shall be noted for wrong reasons.