Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Trip On, Good Doctor 

Just a short note upon the passing of Albert Hofmann, who died today at the age of 102.

In case you don't know, Hofmann invented (or at least discovered) one of the more interesting substances to come out of the 20th Century -- LSD. He was also the first person to officially trip on it, although he didn't know that at the time. It was accidentally getting the stuff on his skin that led to its discovery in the first place.

It was completely legal in the US for the next 24 years, being banned at the height of its popularity. After a resurgence in the 90s, supplies of it all but vanished after the DEA raided a major laboratory in 2000. If you've had any in the last eight years, you probably haven't had the real thing.

It was a really interesting thing that Dr. Hofmann discovered, and nothing but puritan stupidity that all but removed it from use in research -- or recreation. It could have revolutionized things like criminal rehabilitation or removal of unwanted or illegal sexual paraphilias. (For example, it is theoretically possible to administer LSD to a pedophile and completely refocus their sexual drive onto something harmless, like an old shoe or a teddy bear.) Those who've never experienced it simply assume it clouds the user's awareness with hallucinations and misperceptions and the like, turning them into a drooling idiot. This is not the case. It expands the senses and heightens awareness, and the hallucinations are quite controllable; one seems to have the ability to turn them on and off like daydreams.

Remember -- language is nothing but a group hallucination, given its meaning only by the consent of those hallucinating to agree that certain sounds mean certain things. Meaning that, yes, hallucinations have their uses.

Kudos to Dr. Hofmann for giving us a way to explore that actively. Thumbs down to the stupid War on (Some) Drugs for letting fear overtake possibility.


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