Brilliant Minds: How LSD Changed the World!

lsd

If you read my very first article, Expansion of Consciousness-Psilocybin’s Gateway to the Mind &Well-being, you would know that I have a deep fascination with psychedelic drug research, especially for the benefits of medicinal and therapeutic use. With that being said, I would never advocate that drug use makes a person brilliant; in fact it that would be far from the truth in most cases. However, history and research has shown that some pretty incredible things can happen when a person takes the psychedelic, LSD. Here is a closer look at how LSD helped to change the world and history as we know it.

How it all started

Lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD-25, LSD, Acid, and Lucy; It has many names, but did you know that LSD was a complete accident? Well, this is partly true, anyway. In 1938 Swiss chemist, Albert Hoffman synthesized LSD from ergot, a fungus that grows on diseased rye grain. It was called LSD -25 and got its name because it was the 25th compound that Hoffman created during his studies with lysergic acid.

It was 5 years later that Hoffman discovered exactly what he had created.  In 1943, Hoffman dosed himself with 250 micrograms of LSD-25 and rode his bicycle home from the lab where he worked. This was after he accidentally absorbed the chemical through his skin a few days prior and had some pretty neat experiences and decided to “self-experiment” further. However, he didn’t anticipate any reaction from the dose let alone what happened next.

He had thought he had poisoned himself by the time he arrived home; he was in a state of panic and thought he was losing his mind. He asked his neighbor for a glass of milk hoping it would counteract the effects. He wrote about the experience stating, “Everything in the room spun around, and the familiar objects and pieces of furniture assumed grotesque, threatening forms. The lady next door, whom I scarcely recognized, brought me milk… She was no longer Mrs. R., but rather a malevolent, insidious witch with a colored mask.” Once the doctor arrived and medically cleared him, he was then able to calm himself and realize that his life wasn’t in danger. He, then, was able to enjoy his trip and later wrote, “Exhausted, I then slept, to awake next morning refreshed, with a clear head, though still somewhat tired physically. A sensation of well-being and renewed life flowed through me. Breakfast tasted delicious and gave me extraordinary pleasure. When I later walked out into the garden, in which the sun shone now after a spring rain, everything glistened and sparkled in a fresh light. The world was as if newly created. All my senses vibrated in a condition of highest sensitivity, which persisted for the entire day.”

Hoffman knew from the start that his discovery could have a profound impact in the field of medicine and psychology, but did he realize that it would impact history and pop culture as we know it?!

Now that you have a little background knowledge on the birth of LSD, let’s move on!

Chances are that if you listen to music (and who doesn’t), you have heard the product of LSD inspiration. It’s no secret that many musicians, past and present, have used psychedelics to inspire creativity. However, I’m going to skip over that particular topic for this article.

So what else did LSD inspire then?

Francis Crick and the “Discovery of Life”

Perhaps the greatest impact LSD has had on history and modern life as we know it is with the discovery of the DNA double helix and the genetic code. Francis Crick was a molecular biologist and a Noble Prize winner. Crick is often, now, referred to as the “father of modern genetics,” as well. In 1953, Francis Crick first discovered the double-helix structure of DNA while, you guessed it, under the influence of LSD. Crick later told fellow scientists that he often used small doses of LSD to “boost his powers of thought.” Crick stated that, “It was LSD, not the Eagle’s (a local pub’s) warm beer that helped him to unravel the structure of DNA.” Of course to be fair, we must give some credit to his co-researcher James Watson as well. Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins also worked on this project and played a big role in it. There is much debate over the discovery.

Francis Crick isn’t the only scientific genius to credit their work to LSD; in fact, here is a couple more:

John C. Lilly-Neuroscientist; he was a leader and pioneer in the field of electronic brain stimulation and he was the first person to map pain and pleasure pathways in the brain. He also invented the sensory deprivation chamber.

Kary Mullis-Biochemist; he improved thepolymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique and changed biomedical research forever. He won a Noble Prize for his work in 1993. Mullis even stated that his psychedelic use was “much more important than any courses

[he] ever took.”

Bill Wilson and Alcoholics Anonymous

Yep, you read that right! Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, was a big supporter of LSD use and the benefits that LSD provided to the user. Wilson, himself, credited his recovery and sobriety the use of LSD in his own personal battle with alcoholism.  It was Wilson’s goal to include LSD treatment within the Alcoholics Anonymous program because he believed that AA alone wasn’t the answer to alcohol abuse and addiction. Of course some of his followers and colleagues didn’t share the same feelings and LSD was made illegal a few years later so LSD never made it into the AA 12 step program. Wilson stated that LSD allowed him to have a “spiritual experience” that helped treat his depression and lead to his recovery. You can read more in Wilson’s autobiography, Pass It On.

Dock Ellis and the No-Hitter

If you are a sports fan then perhaps you may have heard about this already; either way, on June 12, 1970, Pittsburg Pirate’s pitcher, Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter completely under the influence of LSD. It’s true! The Pirates beat the Padres 2-0 that day. Ellis later admitted that he had ingested LSD while relaxing at home around noon that day. It was his understanding that the Pirates had the day off, but his girlfriend discovered, while reading the newspaper, that the Pirates were actually scheduled to play a double-header that evening in San Diego. Oops! Ellis made it to the game in time and recalled the experience stating, “I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria.”  He went on to say, “The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes, I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder.” Ellis was no stranger to various drug uses, but he stated that this was the only time that he had pitched with the help of LSD.

Steve Jobs and the Apple Empire

Let’s face it modern technology would not be what it is today without Steve Jobs and Apple. Steve Jobs credits LSD as being, “one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life” and gave credit to LSD for a lot of Apple’s product inventions and success. Jobs thought his LSD (and marijuana) use helped him to “think differently” and to relax him, allowing the creative process to work in full force. Jobs stated,“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”  I would like to think that my iPhone is the result of LSD inspired brilliance, but then again, maybe it really is!

Maybe history wouldn’t be so different if these great people never actually used LSD, but that is something we will never know….

art by Alex Grey

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Amie Moses

Amie Moses

Amie is a full-time student of Psychology and she holds a degree in Natural Science as well. She is a blogger, photographer, and musician. She is completely fascinated by the human mind, (especially personality, perception, and consciousness studies) and the physical as well as the metaphysical universe. She is a seeker of knowledge and of “self” and she loves to help others on their quests as well.





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19 Comments

  1. Nikola Serafimovski July 30, 2014 at 8:24 am - Reply

    I’ve tried few times. It removes all your “mind barriers”, and your thinking is so clear. It’s like your consciousness and subconsciousness working together.
    And yes, I believe as well that mindful use of LSD can help you clarify some things. And came up with some “crazy” good ideas.

  2. Blade Frank August 1, 2014 at 7:39 am - Reply

    Steven Johnson does an excellent bit on Francis Crick in his book,”Where Good Ideas Come From,” where he states Crick and his colleague got their original hunch from their other woman colleague(I am forgetting both of their name, so I distinguished the genders for an easier research into the specifics.)Also, LSD seems more like it expands on ideas, rather than creating new ones, by broadening the scope of your imagination and expanding your ability to measure light. When we are sober, our pupils recede, but when we are on psychedelics our eyes augment in curiosity and coerce us to ask, “What is that?” even if we think we already know what it is.

    • Amie Moses
      Amie Moses August 1, 2014 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Good points! Yes, they were working with a female (Rosalind Franklin) and another male (Maurice Wilkins). There is a lot of controversy around the “team work.” Franklin’s x-ray photos played a big role in it though.

  3. Anthony Marshall (Velly Marsh) August 1, 2014 at 7:41 am - Reply

    This was very well written and informational! Kinda makes me want to experiment with light doses lol, im a music artist as well and could use extra creativity. Thank you for this! I will be reading your articles from now on, for I too am fascinated with the mind, and noticed you’re in psychology!

    P.s you should let me know where I can listen to your music! No matter the genre ill listen

    • Amie Moses
      Amie Moses August 1, 2014 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing. Thank you for the kind words as well; I am honored! Yes, I am studying psychology and should graduate this winter, then it’s off to grad school. My band is Order of Thelema and you can check us out at: https://www.facebook.com/OrderOfThelema

  4. Doug August 1, 2014 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    I know certain product deemed illegal pushed my Multiple Sclerosis back into the chest where it’ll stay. I tried a lot of “alternative” therapies. I am pleased with what I have found.

    • Amie Moses
      Amie Moses August 1, 2014 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. Margaret James August 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Watson stole the structure of DNA from Rosalind Franklin. Perhaps he showed a drawing to Crick while they were on acid. I would not dispute that LSD is mind expanding but I have never read that Rosalind used anything but rigorous scientific discipline, another great mind expanding technique. And there are theories that say escaping the paradigm of science
    With unexplained leaps of imagination is another. I think Crick and Watson were dishonest to accept the Nobel and they are dishonest to credit LSD.

    • Amie Moses
      Amie Moses August 1, 2014 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      I won’t get into the debate on who stole what from whom, but you are right, there is a lot of controversy surrounding it so of which isn’t fair. Yes, Rosalind Franklin had a major role in it and without her x-ray photographs none of it may have been possible. Maurice Wilkins was the fourth team member working with them. Wilkins as well Watson and Crick shared the Noble Prize. As far as I know Crick is the only one who took LSD out of the group. You are right there are many ways to that expand the mind. My first degree is in science so I certainly won’t argue with scientific discipline.

  6. Lux Moon August 1, 2014 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    I actually tried LSD for the first time Sunday night. Wow. It was more then I expected. Lately I have been having a creative block (for a few years) and on Sunday night I ended up creating an amazing painting. The world was opening up around me. It was a wonderful experience though I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone.

    • Amie Moses
      Amie Moses August 1, 2014 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing. LSD certainly isn’t for everyone.

    • Bharath Reddy August 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm - Reply

      Why wouldn’t you recommend ?

  7. Kevin August 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Hoffman ingested 250 micrograms not 25 milligrams 25 milligrams would be a massive overdose.

    • Amie Moses
      Amie Moses August 1, 2014 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      You are right! Thanks for pointing it out, I didn’t catch my typo. I will edit it.

  8. Brian August 2, 2014 at 12:55 am - Reply

    I know that LSD changed my life for the better. I was in my initial years of undergrad work in College (Psychology) when I used to take monstrous amounts. It was extremely clarifying to my studies and understanding of my major subject. However, 24 years later and my memory is shot. Not saying it is because of LSD, but from the components of it and where it has the most activity, I cannot help but think that was the case. Too bad, I would think everyone needs to try it at least once!

  9. Keith Lee Young August 2, 2014 at 4:49 am - Reply

    The funny thing is, I have a very good memory of little facet of every trip I ever took and L S D was only one type that I had taken. Their were many kinds in my day. L S D was the first drug I had ever taken and that led to smoking pot ect… I was 11 at the time and I am 57 now. I have many stories and they are all good ones never bad ones. To this day No regrets except some people weren’t able to manage on it, and gave it a bad name. I on the other hand would take 2 hits, walk 5 mls at midnight to the police station and hang out there until they would make me leave because I would ask to many questions and try to tell them how to think about things that they were doing and they never new.

  10. Keith Lee Young August 2, 2014 at 4:54 am - Reply

    Your Turn

  11. fanny touquet August 3, 2014 at 11:25 am - Reply

    HI, Isn’t there no evidence that LSD was used in case of War trauma’s, to be more capable to handle it.
    I believen WW2

  12. Roo December 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    LSD may have changed the world but Peyote gave it balance.
    LSD (at about 200-300mics) and Psilocybin were kind of a let down for me since I did some inhalants prior to trying either of them. Notable changes in perception but quite a let down overall.
    Peyote on the other hand was much more fun all around.

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Brilliant Minds: How LSD Changed the World!