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This is the story of LSD told by a concerned yet hopeful father, organic chemist Albert Hofmann. He traces LSD's path from a promising psychiatric research medicine to a recreational drug sparking hysteria and prohibition. We follow Dr. Hofmann's trek across Mexico to discover sacred plants related to LSD, and listen in as he corresponds with other notable figures about hi This is the story of LSD told by a concerned yet hopeful father, organic chemist Albert Hofmann. He traces LSD's path from a promising psychiatric research medicine to a recreational drug sparking hysteria and prohibition. We follow Dr. Hofmann's trek across Mexico to discover sacred plants related to LSD, and listen in as he corresponds with other notable figures about his remarkable discovery. Underlying it all is Dr. Hofmann's powerful conclusion that mystical experience may be our planet's best hope for survival. Whether induced by LSD, meditation, or arising spontaneously, such experiences help us to comprehend "the wonder, the mystery of the divine‹in the microcosm of the atom, in the macrocosm of the spiral nebula, in the seeds of plants, in the body and soul of people." More than sixty years after the birth of Albert Hofmann's problem child, his vision of its true potential is more relevant, and more needed, than ever.


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This is the story of LSD told by a concerned yet hopeful father, organic chemist Albert Hofmann. He traces LSD's path from a promising psychiatric research medicine to a recreational drug sparking hysteria and prohibition. We follow Dr. Hofmann's trek across Mexico to discover sacred plants related to LSD, and listen in as he corresponds with other notable figures about hi This is the story of LSD told by a concerned yet hopeful father, organic chemist Albert Hofmann. He traces LSD's path from a promising psychiatric research medicine to a recreational drug sparking hysteria and prohibition. We follow Dr. Hofmann's trek across Mexico to discover sacred plants related to LSD, and listen in as he corresponds with other notable figures about his remarkable discovery. Underlying it all is Dr. Hofmann's powerful conclusion that mystical experience may be our planet's best hope for survival. Whether induced by LSD, meditation, or arising spontaneously, such experiences help us to comprehend "the wonder, the mystery of the divine‹in the microcosm of the atom, in the macrocosm of the spiral nebula, in the seeds of plants, in the body and soul of people." More than sixty years after the birth of Albert Hofmann's problem child, his vision of its true potential is more relevant, and more needed, than ever.

30 review for LSD: My Problem Child – Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    The title gives you an idea of what to expect, but the book is still a (mostly pleasant) surprise. Albert Hofmann, as everyone knows, is the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD. The standard narrative is that he's not at all like most of the people who have taken LSD since the fateful afternoon on which he became the first to experience an acid trip while bicycling home from his laboratory. The truth is more complicated. Hofmann does view LSD as his "problem child." He has a disapproving attitude r The title gives you an idea of what to expect, but the book is still a (mostly pleasant) surprise. Albert Hofmann, as everyone knows, is the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD. The standard narrative is that he's not at all like most of the people who have taken LSD since the fateful afternoon on which he became the first to experience an acid trip while bicycling home from his laboratory. The truth is more complicated. Hofmann does view LSD as his "problem child." He has a disapproving attitude regarding the use of the drug as a recreational inebriant. What one ought to expect from the book, but probably doesn't, is that this is very much a scientist's book. It is not what certain types of human have been known to refer to as "trippy," despite containing what are known as "trip reports." Hofmann is a fairly dry writer, and assumes that the reader is as interested as he is in accounts of the chemistry of LSD and other psychiatric drugs. Wade Davis' writing on psychedelic drugs in One River is something like these parts of the book, from an ethnobotanist's perspective. This makes for a very pleasant and welcome departure from the nature of most psychedelia, which tends to be about somehow approximating the psychedelic experience or the various rantings and ravings of those who believe their minds to have been expanded. And what's most curious about the book is that, while it is very much a book written by a chemist, it is also a mystic's book. So Hofmann is both chemist and mystic, man of science and man of well, if not God, then something of that general order. Suitably enough, given that psychedelics are both chemical molecules and gateways to mystical experiences (as shown by the Good Friday experiment at the Harvard Divinity School and the recent Johns Hopkins studies). Now, whether a mystical experience is "real" in that it literally involves meeting the "spirit realm" is not something I want to deal with. My personal feeling is that everything is reducible to some sort of material explanation, but that mystical experiences are, in themselves, a remarkable and peculiar species of experience, and one that might aid the world in general, no matter how annoying the people are who result from such experiences. And I think Hofmann comes across as being more or less in the same camp as I am, although he has spiritual beliefs I do not have. It is not a very well-written book, and the content veers from this to that so often that it can get disorienting, hence the three stars and no more. But at the heart of the book is an accurate and serious account of a fascinating molecule and a plea for its reasonable and sensible use in therapeutic contexts. This book was written some time ago, but it is only now that the potential of psychedelic drugs in therapeutic contexts has come to the attention of largely white Euro-or-Anglo-oriented therapists. And that renews the importance of this account by the father of LSD. If you intend to purchase this book, buy the MAPS edition. 100% of profits go to "psychedelic psychotherapy research."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lysergius

    Marvellous! I shall always carry the picture of this very Bourgeois Swiss chemist cycling home with a head full of LSD and muttering about a further synthesis, while the Aztec gods played with his head.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vladimir

    Albert Hoffman completed his PhD in Zürich at the age of 23, synthesized LSD-25 at 32, has been experimenting with psychedelic substances till 98 and died aged 102. In this book he writes about his childhood, about the discovery of LSD and its role in psychiatric research, about his trips to Mexico for sacred Indian rituals involving psychoactive mushrooms and seeds, about his encounters with various people from Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary to crazy american hippies and about what all this ps Albert Hoffman completed his PhD in Zürich at the age of 23, synthesized LSD-25 at 32, has been experimenting with psychedelic substances till 98 and died aged 102. In this book he writes about his childhood, about the discovery of LSD and its role in psychiatric research, about his trips to Mexico for sacred Indian rituals involving psychoactive mushrooms and seeds, about his encounters with various people from Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary to crazy american hippies and about what all this psychedelic stuff might actually mean. It's a little bit more boring that I've expected, but still pretty educational and interesting enough.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Darcia Helle

    This book gives tremendous insight into Albert Hoffmann's life and research. Hoffmann is the scientist who, in 1938, first isolated the compound LSD-25 from ergot. At the time, Hoffmann had no idea that this compound had what we've come to know as psychedelic properties. He certainly didn't foresee the psychedelic craze of the 1960s. Hoffmann, who died in 2008 at the age of 102, tells us how his research began, how it progessed, and what, ultimately, went wrong. Some of the early researchers (in This book gives tremendous insight into Albert Hoffmann's life and research. Hoffmann is the scientist who, in 1938, first isolated the compound LSD-25 from ergot. At the time, Hoffmann had no idea that this compound had what we've come to know as psychedelic properties. He certainly didn't foresee the psychedelic craze of the 1960s. Hoffmann, who died in 2008 at the age of 102, tells us how his research began, how it progessed, and what, ultimately, went wrong. Some of the early researchers (including Hoffmann) took the LSD and detailed their "trips" in journals. Excerpts of these are shared with us, which make for fascinating reading. Hoffmann talks a lot about the psychiatric research associated with LSD, though he doesn't get into the other research, such as the amazing work done with alcoholics and heroin addicts. He mentions in passing the CIA's experiments on unknowing victims. I would have liked a bit more information on these issues to be included, since these were such important parts of LSD's history. However, Hoffmann didn't stray far from his own personal research and experiences.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ilaria ♡

    When I first found out that Hofmann, the creator of LSD, had written a book about it, I thought he was going to praise his work and his substance, but I was wrong. He meticulously describes every process he went through for the creation of this substance, which was accidental. His narration is supported by direct evidence, meaning all the experiences of doctors, scientists, chemists and reportages. In fact, a major part of the book is filled by testimonies of these people telling about their experi When I first found out that Hofmann, the creator of LSD, had written a book about it, I thought he was going to praise his work and his substance, but I was wrong. He meticulously describes every process he went through for the creation of this substance, which was accidental. His narration is supported by direct evidence, meaning all the experiences of doctors, scientists, chemists and reportages. In fact, a major part of the book is filled by testimonies of these people telling about their experiences with LSD. The language is very specific, but even if you're not a scientist or a chemist (I hope one day I will!) you'll be able to understand everything, because he explains in detail, in a very neat way. If you're interested or curious like me, about drugs (curious in terms of knowledge, not testing haha) give this book a try. :) Ilaria.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Minerva

    Interesting from a historical and chemical perspective. I never knew so many psychedelic drugs were chemically related. Unfortunately descends into mysticism. I think it ultimately doesn't contribute anything new to the dialogue on psychedelics or drugs in general. (I realize the book was written in 1980, but Hofmann says nothing so revolutionary that I can't imagine it wasn't thought of by then.) The most interesting part of this book is the reminder that psychedelics were seen as potentially a Interesting from a historical and chemical perspective. I never knew so many psychedelic drugs were chemically related. Unfortunately descends into mysticism. I think it ultimately doesn't contribute anything new to the dialogue on psychedelics or drugs in general. (I realize the book was written in 1980, but Hofmann says nothing so revolutionary that I can't imagine it wasn't thought of by then.) The most interesting part of this book is the reminder that psychedelics were seen as potentially a legitimate aid to psychiatric investigation until the 1960s counterculture movement. But this opinion is resurging today too.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Pablo

    An impressive, first hand account about lsd25, or simply lsd, and its birth by hofmann himself. Apart from its history there are nomerous accounts about its use by regular and famous people, who shared their views with hofmann. Some interesting quests about magic mushrooms. The end of the book is kind of boring (some letters exchanged with famous people about lsd), but 90% of the book is worth of the five stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell Rosenbloom

    LSD changed my life. This is an essential read for anyone who's had a similar experience. Hofmann understood the significance of his discovery: after some reflection, he viewed it as something that could bridge the illusory divide between humans and nature on a mass scale—something that would have benefited our now dying planet. Instead, Hoffmann unfortunately had to witness LSD run rampant through a culture that didn’t have any precedent for it. Mass hysteria led to prohibition, which halted sc LSD changed my life. This is an essential read for anyone who's had a similar experience. Hofmann understood the significance of his discovery: after some reflection, he viewed it as something that could bridge the illusory divide between humans and nature on a mass scale—something that would have benefited our now dying planet. Instead, Hoffmann unfortunately had to witness LSD run rampant through a culture that didn’t have any precedent for it. Mass hysteria led to prohibition, which halted scientific/ psychological study for over 50 years. Now we must undergo this beautiful internal transformation in the shadows, as criminals, in constant fear of being locked in cages.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emily Smith

    I gave this book four stars because although I did not understand much of the chemistry being discussed, I still learned a lot. For those who understand biology and chemistry I'm sure this book will be even more enjoyable. I wanted to read this to see if Albert Hofmann really thought of LSD as a "problem child," but the more I read the more I understood, and agreed, that it is far from it. It is an extremely beneficial drug that has only become a problem because people do not educate themselves b I gave this book four stars because although I did not understand much of the chemistry being discussed, I still learned a lot. For those who understand biology and chemistry I'm sure this book will be even more enjoyable. I wanted to read this to see if Albert Hofmann really thought of LSD as a "problem child," but the more I read the more I understood, and agreed, that it is far from it. It is an extremely beneficial drug that has only become a problem because people do not educate themselves before using it. Those who abused it is what instigated the government to restrict it, which I find extremely illegal (ironic!). My favorite part of the book was reading what Albert and the other people who took LSD, along with other other hallucinogens, wrote after their experiences. I hope that other people who read this become more open to the possibility that such mind altering substances can be beneficial both physically and above all, mentally, despite the negative stigmas and perceptions that ignorant people and law enforcement perpetuate.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    Amazing book. Very detailed in chemical and cultural uses of hallucinogens, with a most thoughtful and personal take on the spiritual and metaphysical properties of the sacred drugs (LSD, Peyote, Mushrooms, and Morning Glory). The conclusion really draws on the spiritual benefits of hallucinogens, of course with careful considerations of tragic events related to its misuse, and how a different reality rises to the surface with the aid of such drugs, as well as with other experiences such as medi Amazing book. Very detailed in chemical and cultural uses of hallucinogens, with a most thoughtful and personal take on the spiritual and metaphysical properties of the sacred drugs (LSD, Peyote, Mushrooms, and Morning Glory). The conclusion really draws on the spiritual benefits of hallucinogens, of course with careful considerations of tragic events related to its misuse, and how a different reality rises to the surface with the aid of such drugs, as well as with other experiences such as meditation.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marjan

    Who would have thought that this chemist is such a prolific writer. This book is a joy to read even from a very literary point of view. In the beginning it takes us into the heart of the process which lead to the discovery of the most defining substance behind 60's turbulences. In the second part Hofmann mentioned his view on mess that happened and notable people influenced by the powers of LSD effects. But the last chapter is a marvel; almost like a re-reading of "The Master and his Emissary", Who would have thought that this chemist is such a prolific writer. This book is a joy to read even from a very literary point of view. In the beginning it takes us into the heart of the process which lead to the discovery of the most defining substance behind 60's turbulences. In the second part Hofmann mentioned his view on mess that happened and notable people influenced by the powers of LSD effects. But the last chapter is a marvel; almost like a re-reading of "The Master and his Emissary", but slightly more mystical.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David

    It was enlightening, to say the least, to read a work of Hofmann's. It is written in a similar style to Aldous Huxley's Doors of Perception. Although a bit dry at times, it has loads of information for the reader to discover. It was enlightening, to say the least, to read a work of Hofmann's. It is written in a similar style to Aldous Huxley's Doors of Perception. Although a bit dry at times, it has loads of information for the reader to discover.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lea Dokter

    It is so interesting to read the thoughts of the creator of LSD on its discovery, uses in therapy (his "wonder child) and its misuse by the counterculture of the 60's and 70's (his "problem child"). This book is filled with experiences, related issues and inspiring thoughts; I learned a lot! It is so interesting to read the thoughts of the creator of LSD on its discovery, uses in therapy (his "wonder child) and its misuse by the counterculture of the 60's and 70's (his "problem child"). This book is filled with experiences, related issues and inspiring thoughts; I learned a lot!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    A considered and nuanced collection of Dr Hoffman's thoughts and experiences with LSD. Appx 1/3 is devoted to history/discovery, 1/3 to sacred plants and spiritual insight, and 1/3 to the intellectual relationships developed around LSD experiences. Wonderful book. A considered and nuanced collection of Dr Hoffman's thoughts and experiences with LSD. Appx 1/3 is devoted to history/discovery, 1/3 to sacred plants and spiritual insight, and 1/3 to the intellectual relationships developed around LSD experiences. Wonderful book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Avery (ThePagemaster)

    A very interesting read. Very great to read about the initial discovery and how Hofmann talks about the repercussions that follow, as well as lay to rest any misconceptions of LSD, as well as any other hallucinogens; not to mention the famous acquaintances he befriended along his life.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Coupal

    A bit dry and scientific but it was interesting to get Hofmann's perspective. A bit dry and scientific but it was interesting to get Hofmann's perspective.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2019.03.25–2019.12.21 Contents Hofmann A (1979) LSD - My Problem Child - Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science Translator's Preface (by Jonathan Ott) Foreword 01. How LSD Originated • First Chemical Explorations • Ergot • Lysergic Acid and Its Derivatives • Discovery of the Psychic Effects of LSD • Self-Experiments 02. LSD in Animal Experiments and Biological Research • How Toxic Is LSD? • Pharmacological Properties of LSD 03. Chemical Modifications of LSD 04. Use of LSD in Psychiatry • First Self- 2019.03.25–2019.12.21 Contents Hofmann A (1979) LSD - My Problem Child - Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science Translator's Preface (by Jonathan Ott) Foreword 01. How LSD Originated • First Chemical Explorations • Ergot • Lysergic Acid and Its Derivatives • Discovery of the Psychic Effects of LSD • Self-Experiments 02. LSD in Animal Experiments and Biological Research • How Toxic Is LSD? • Pharmacological Properties of LSD 03. Chemical Modifications of LSD 04. Use of LSD in Psychiatry • First Self-Experiment by a Psychiatrist • The Psychic Effects of LSD 05. From Remedy to Inebriant • Nonmedical Use of LSD • Sandoz Stops LSD Distribution • Decision Regarding LSD 25 and Other Hallucinogenic Substances • Dangers of Nonmedicinal LSD Experiments • Psychotic Reactions • LSD from the Black Market • The Case of Dr. Leary • Meeting with Timothy Leary • Travels in the Universe of the Soul • • Dance of the Spirits in the Wind • • Polyp from the Deep • • LSD Experience of a Painter • • A Joyous Song of Being 06. The Mexican Relatives of LSD • The Sacred Mushroom Teonanácatl • Psilocybin and Psilocin • A Voyage into the Universe of the Soul with Psilocybin • • Where Time Stands Still • • The "Magic Morning Glory" Ololiuhqui • • In Search of the Magic Plant "Ska Maria Pastora" in the Mazatec Country • • Ride through the Sierra Mazateca • • A Mushroom Ceremony 07. Radiance from Ernst Jünger • Ambivalence of Drug Use • An Experiment with Psilocybin • Another LSD Session 08. Meeting with Aldous Huxley 09. Correspondence with the Poet-Physician Walter Vogt 10. Various Visitors 11. LSD Experience and Reality • Various Realities • Mystery and Myth

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maram Mazen

    Absolute must-read for anyone with interest in the topic. An absolutely lovely and humorous book by a lovely and spiritual scientist and human being who created/discovered LSD. Has very interesting pieces of info on the history of its discovery and initial studies and uses that I could only find here in this book. It also has reflections on what may have gone wrong in the first wave of psychedelics use. I laughed out loud on several occasions in the book on his recollection of his own trips and Absolute must-read for anyone with interest in the topic. An absolutely lovely and humorous book by a lovely and spiritual scientist and human being who created/discovered LSD. Has very interesting pieces of info on the history of its discovery and initial studies and uses that I could only find here in this book. It also has reflections on what may have gone wrong in the first wave of psychedelics use. I laughed out loud on several occasions in the book on his recollection of his own trips and those of others..

  19. 5 out of 5

    Salomon

    amazing! a wise man, a very clear vision of what needs to change in our society, outstanding.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Costin Manda

    This is the second book about LSD that I read, after The Center of the Cyclone: An Autobiography of Inner Space, by John C. Lilly and it is also the autobiography of a scientist, but unlike Lilly, who seemed to have gone bonkers while writing his book, Hoffman maintains a scientific attitude about the whole thing, objective when needed, subjective in more personal chapters that he clearly delimits from the others. LSD: My Problem Child is the story of the invention of the drug, straight from its This is the second book about LSD that I read, after The Center of the Cyclone: An Autobiography of Inner Space, by John C. Lilly and it is also the autobiography of a scientist, but unlike Lilly, who seemed to have gone bonkers while writing his book, Hoffman maintains a scientific attitude about the whole thing, objective when needed, subjective in more personal chapters that he clearly delimits from the others. LSD: My Problem Child is the story of the invention of the drug, straight from its inventor, Albert Hoffman, a then chemist for pharma company Sandoz. In a nutshell I loved the book, the style, the author's integrity and the fine ironies that he slips from time to time. As you can see in the link above, the book is already free online so there is no real reason not to read it. Hoffman explains in the book how, while researching the chemical properties of the ergot and attempting to potentate substances already discovered to have positive medical effects, he created Lysergic acid diethylamide. The substance had no visible effects on the test animals so he went on testing other substances. Five years it took for Hoffman to return to LSD in order to further understand its function. Usually a very thorough chemist, he touched some of the substance and only then the effect was understood. This simple anecdote hints on how many interesting chemicals we might have gone unnoticed, even after someone created them. The method by which chemists work to find useful chemicals in nature is also very interesting. They take a plant, let's say, that has a specific effect that is testable via animal experiments. They isolate the active substance that produces that effect. Then they attempt to recreate the substance synthetically. After doing that, they test all kinds of related substances that they create via simple chemical operations from the original substance. This often leads to more powerful drugs or even completely new effects. Quoting from the book: "Of the approximately 20,000 new substances that are produced annually in the pharmaceutical-chemical research laboratories of the world, the overwhelming majority are modification products of proportionally few types of active compounds. The discovery of a really new type of active substance - new with regard to chemical structure and pharmacological effect - is a rare stroke of luck." It took another five to ten years for LSD to reach mainstream. Until then psychologists and psychiatrists were using it to more effectively reach the patients and LSD was considered a wonder-drug. Sandoz was extremely happy with Hoffman's discovery. But then it became a subject of abuse. A counterculture of recreational use for LSD led to an institutional backlash that made the drug illegal, even if it was not addictive, not toxic and one could not overdose accidentally. However, it was essential to take it in a controlled environment, with someone to act as a guide and safety net. Many people did not do this and hurt themselves or others or had psychotic breaks. To get someone out of an LSD trip was simple: either guide them via calm words or (the technical solution) give them a calmer agent like cloropromazine which immediately cuts off the "high". How come the black market is filled with toxic, addictive, nasty drugs, but someone considers LSD to be a problem? Anyway, I am quoting again from the book, a little bit that talked about experiments on primates, but one that I took to be a fine ironic jab at society's reaction to the drug: "A caged community of chimpanzees reacts very sensitively if a member of the tribe has received LSD. Even though no changes appear in this single animal, the whole cage gets in an uproar because the LSD chimpanzee no longer observes the laws of its finely coordinated hierarchic tribal order." What I liked about the book very much was how thoroughly and objectively Hoffman researched LSD and other psychedelics (he also identified and separated psilocybin, another psychoactive substance present in "magic mushrooms" used by native Americans in religious rituals). He not once preached the recreational use of the drugs, deplored the misuse of these kinds of substances, but he also kept a strong position that they do no harm and can have amazing effects when used for medical purposes and the correct way. Far from being a "druggie" book, this is one of those autobiographies that you can't let down from your hands until finishing reading it. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dimitris Hall

    Reading Hofmann describe the discovery that would change the world and usher in a new, revolutionary age of entheogenic spirituality in the West was nothing short of a delight. I think the story of how LSD was first synthesized, or discovered, is one of the biggest practical jokes humanity has ever experienced, played on it by some divine tricksters with a dirty sense of humor. The fundamental importance of a mystical experience, for the recovery of people in Western industrial societies who are Reading Hofmann describe the discovery that would change the world and usher in a new, revolutionary age of entheogenic spirituality in the West was nothing short of a delight. I think the story of how LSD was first synthesized, or discovered, is one of the biggest practical jokes humanity has ever experienced, played on it by some divine tricksters with a dirty sense of humor. The fundamental importance of a mystical experience, for the recovery of people in Western industrial societies who are sickened by a one-sided, rational, materialistic world view, is today given primary emphasis, not only by adherents to Eastern religious movements like Zen Buddhism, but also by leading representatives of academic psychiatry. Moreover, I find it equally, if not even more fascinating that a single person could bring together the worlds of material science as expressed in long chemical formulas and that of the spirit, psychoanalysis and transcendence so successfully and inspirationally. Everything in this story could have gone a different way. A lot of people made a lot of mistakes in handling and promoting LSD -- they thought it would change too much, or that everyone should take some, or without any guidance, which is absolutely not advisable. LSD was demonized and banned worldwide as a result. However, I find it encouraging that, just as these wrong turns could have gone a different way, a lot of the happy accidents in this story might have never happened, either. So today, it kind of all balances out, and now, slowly, entheogenic research is recovering the pace it once had. I leave you with Hoffman's 100th-birthday speech in 2006 which, I think, encapsulates a lot of what he wanted to share in this book in a just a few emotional minutes. Also, you should read How to Change Your Mind from 2018 for more on this subject. That incredible book and its coverage of this story is what inspired me to read My Problem Child. I only give this one 4 stars because I loved Michael Pollan's work even more, and I read that one first. The characteristic property of hallucinogens, to suspend the boundaries between the experiencing self and the outer world in an ecstatic, emotional experience, makes it possible with their help, and after suitable internal and external preparation, as it was accomplished in a perfect way at Eleusis, to evoke a mystical experience according to plan, so to speak. Meditation is a preparation for the same goal that was aspired to and that was attained in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Accordingly, it seems feasible that in the future, with the help of LSD, the mystical vision, crowning meditation, could be made accessible to an increasing number of practitioners of meditation I see the true importance of LSD in the possibility of providing material aid to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive reality. Such a use accords entirely with the essence and working character of LSD as a sacred drug.

  22. 4 out of 5

    ThePagemaster

    Ah yes. "LSD: My Problem Child." Who among ye does not know about it? Or let me paraphrase that: who in the psychedelic community does not know of this monument of a book? Albert Hofmann wrote it as an account of his journey discovering the infamous ergotamine hallucinogen LSD, the compound that has arguably had a stronger cultural influence than any other in the known world. After having wanted to read it for many, many years, I finally got to add it to my collection. As such, I deem it suitabl Ah yes. "LSD: My Problem Child." Who among ye does not know about it? Or let me paraphrase that: who in the psychedelic community does not know of this monument of a book? Albert Hofmann wrote it as an account of his journey discovering the infamous ergotamine hallucinogen LSD, the compound that has arguably had a stronger cultural influence than any other in the known world. After having wanted to read it for many, many years, I finally got to add it to my collection. As such, I deem it suitable to ask the question: "who among ye in the psychedelic community have actually read this book?" Well, I can now proudly declare that I have! And I was not disappointed. Of all I have read and understood about the renowned substance, not much of it has come from the grand master himself. Well, other than countless audio samples in countless psytrance tracks and documentaries of course. We begin with a brief personal history of Hofmann’s leading up to his discovery, after which we move on to the iconic ”bicycle day”. We’ve all heard that story, so there wasn’t much new under the sun there. However, as our expedition continues, we go to remote parts of the world, investigating mystery cults, tribes, and their sacred plant medicines, including Psilocybe mushrooms, Salvia Divinorum, and Oliloqui (containing LSA). Hofmann refers to his voyage as ”the magic circle”, beginning with the discovery of LSD, and ending with LSA. He openly expresses his surprise and amazement when he ended up so close to where he began; that a compound so closely related to the paradigm shattering acid diethylamide that changed the world actually existed in nature all along. Also expressed are his concerns about the drug he discovered. It seemed to him utterly absurd that anyone would want to use LSD for recreational purposes. Needless to say, he wasn’t exactly delightfully taken aback when it escaped the laboratory and caused mayhem in the hippie movement of the 60s. Because of this, the alkaloid got a reputation that, according to the author (and many others), isn’t all that fair. His wonder child became a problem child, and yet, Hofmann believes that when it’s used in its proper context, it could change the world for the better. Other than his personal odyssey into the realm of entheogens, we also get a second part, which is philosophical in nature. Very much so in fact. Hofmann delves deep into the mysteries of existence, dualism, and spiritual matters. He seems to be some sort of Christian, though not a zealous one by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, he leans more to what is commonly known as ”intelligent design”, which is explored continously in the second part of the book. Accordingly, I will have to quote some passages. ”In such an ecstatic state, transmitter and receiver, outer material and inner spiritual worlds, outer and inner space, are all melted together, conjoined in consciousness; and so arises a notion of the primordial Idea, the Idea that was in the beginning, that was with God, that was God”. ”In the creation history of John one reads: ”In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.” The translation, word, for the original Greek logos is controversial. Logos might as well be translated as idea. ”In the beginning was the idea..”.” As if the quotes you just read weren’t enough to convince you to read this hallmark of all things psychedelic, we also get to read some of the encounters the author had with figures such as Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, and other well known figures in literature and counter culture. Not perfect by any means, LSD: My Problem Child is a book I think everyone should read. It doesn’t matter if you’re particurlarly interested in or experienced with the indole – reading it will provide some well needed understanding about a compound that, whether we like it or not, has had a massive impact on today’s world. 4 melting walls out of 5 possible.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Hirsch

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far away (actually it was in Switzerland in the 1930s, I believe) a young chemist was studying the effects of ergot, and its potential applications as a postpartum hemostatic agent. Like an alchemist, he was tampering with things perhaps beyond his comprehension, and his discovery of LSD (specifically LSD-25) led to a change in human consciousness arguably as large as the one inaugurated by the Curies in their groundbreaking work on the nature of matter. Dr. Albert Ho A long time ago, in a galaxy far away (actually it was in Switzerland in the 1930s, I believe) a young chemist was studying the effects of ergot, and its potential applications as a postpartum hemostatic agent. Like an alchemist, he was tampering with things perhaps beyond his comprehension, and his discovery of LSD (specifically LSD-25) led to a change in human consciousness arguably as large as the one inaugurated by the Curies in their groundbreaking work on the nature of matter. Dr. Albert Hoffman thought his wonder drug would have applications ranging from psychiatry to palliative care, and it did, but when a Harvard-associated Professor named Timothy Leary got his hands on LSD, it hopped its laboratory containment and quickly spread from the campus to the counterculture, and on into mainstream society. Thus, Dr. Hoffman's mixed feelings about his eponymous "Problem Child." As a biography, or even a work solely focused on LSD, the book is largely forgettable. As one man's personal mission to straddle the line between science and metaphysics, and to try to develop a syncretic spiritual-scientific way of looking at the world, it can at times be a sublime read. I also enjoyed the sections on Hoffman's various encounters with other questers after some modern Eleusinian elixir. The chapters on the German titanist Ernst Jünger, and the truly brilliant Aldous Huxley, were worthy reads. Timothy Leary's starry-eyed guru quality had a creepy, cultish quality to it, and I got the feeling that he made Hoffman a bit uneasy, though he was too kind to share his deepest feelings about acid's principle avatar. A second book consisting of five essays, obviously influenced by Ernst Jünger's epigrammatic "Strahlen," is included in the end, and includes some prescient ruminations on how humanity might abandon fission-based nuclear reaction and seek to either harness or mimic the more potent power of fusion as provided by our sun. Recommended. Some photos and models included.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Sylvester

    There's some good material in here that is wide ranging: Hofmann's recounting of the discovery of LSD, a variety of trip-anecdote, some of which are genuinely funny because of how horrific they sound, and recounting the work of ethnobotanists working in indigenous cultures to glean the secrets of esoteric cults. Throughout, Hofmann's voice is not so much of a writer, but rather as a synthesiser or collector of various material: correspondences with writers, material of expeditions in Central Ame There's some good material in here that is wide ranging: Hofmann's recounting of the discovery of LSD, a variety of trip-anecdote, some of which are genuinely funny because of how horrific they sound, and recounting the work of ethnobotanists working in indigenous cultures to glean the secrets of esoteric cults. Throughout, Hofmann's voice is not so much of a writer, but rather as a synthesiser or collector of various material: correspondences with writers, material of expeditions in Central America. The book isn't an objective history of LSD and other compounds, but as the title suggests is rather Hofmann's perspective of a drug he is the father of and is responsible for, having brought it into this world. That's a unique lens to look through I think - it kept me reading, and deserves some thinking about. Hofmann struggles with LSD's use as a recreational drug in the 60s, particularly in American society, and this book is an attempt to change the perspective of it as such. He attempts to use the sacredness of mushrooms and other plants in Central American cultures to situate appropriate use of LSD in the West - the image of psychologists replacing the healing priest is one that best characterises this for me. While perhaps not intended by Hofmann, the juxtaposition of Western Science profaning indigenous customs and rites in the name of preservation with Hofmann's view of the profanation of the sacredness of LSD by American youth movements is rather interesting. This tension, the appropriate use and abuse of LSD, is Hofmann's central theme - deriving his authority on the matter almost entirely from having discovered/fathered it. In short, for Hofmann, he attempts to situate LSD as a substance that provides individuals in modern society with access to "mystical experiences", which are vital to heal the individual and overcome societal malaise and spiritual degradation.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    I was really interested in reading about the discovery of LSD but I think that this book might not have been the best way to go about it. At first, I had to get through several introductions that just irritated me with their talk of LSD being a key for researching “karmic experiences” and “past lives”. Hoping this would be limited to introductions by other people rather than Hoffman himself I continued and was happy to find him marvelously explaining the chemical research that led to his acciden I was really interested in reading about the discovery of LSD but I think that this book might not have been the best way to go about it. At first, I had to get through several introductions that just irritated me with their talk of LSD being a key for researching “karmic experiences” and “past lives”. Hoping this would be limited to introductions by other people rather than Hoffman himself I continued and was happy to find him marvelously explaining the chemical research that led to his accidental discovery of LSD. This was the most interesting part of the book for me. Hoffman shares with the reader the chemical reasoning behind his research, his desire to understand the activity of ergot-derived medicine. As a bonus, he also talks at length at the techniques for isolation and characterization that he had at his disposal in the 1930s and 40s. A fascinating discussion for anyone familiar to modern analytical methods. However, the book then descends – by steps punctuated with more account of his actual chemical research – into accounts of people experimenting with LSD, mushrooms and other hallucinogens. Perhaps this is the part that some, interested in LSD experience, might enjoy, but I was annoyed at the lack of explanations as to the actual effects of these substances in the chemistry of the brain. While it was clearly not Hoffman’s fault that much of that research had not yet been done by the time he first published this book in 1979, this book has been re-published several times since then without the least addition as to the medical understanding of these substances in the human body.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kevin T

    This was one of the more delightful reads of 2019...sleeper hit for me. It is hard for us to remember that psychedelics are both old and new for humanity. Vague understandings of indigenous cultures attempting to meet the gods. Then fast forward to Timothy Leary telling us all to Turn on, Tune in and Drop out. The CIA using people in mind control experiments. Banned. Then one day "decriminalized" in Denver? Dr Hoffman is a serious man who walks the reader through a brief history of LSD and psiloc This was one of the more delightful reads of 2019...sleeper hit for me. It is hard for us to remember that psychedelics are both old and new for humanity. Vague understandings of indigenous cultures attempting to meet the gods. Then fast forward to Timothy Leary telling us all to Turn on, Tune in and Drop out. The CIA using people in mind control experiments. Banned. Then one day "decriminalized" in Denver? Dr Hoffman is a serious man who walks the reader through a brief history of LSD and psilocybin. He talks about the chemistry, the pharma industry (Glaxo and Merck couldn't crack psilocybin, so they went hat in hand to him), culture clashes, and how he watched a bright future for psychedelic use in psychiatry get tainted by reckless thinkers like Leary and Alpert. Included are letters between him and prominent thinkers and authors over the years and anecdotes of shared experiences with other scientists and humanists. Now that psychedelics are en vogue again this is a must read from the literal father of LSD, who is a warm, thoughtful and deliberate man. It could provide a useful, sober guide, and warning, to the second modern generation of pyschedelic researchers and proponents.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Another book that is left with little attention from psychedelic users. Didn't expect this read to be profound, but here is why I fully enjoyed this book and recommend to 'mind-alterers': 1) It gives detailed overview of how LSD was REALLY invented, what is ergot plant, what it was used for and finally, how and why Sandoz labs banned its sale 2) Hofmann gives meticulous accounts of his and his friends' accounts on LSD (Wasson, Huxley, Junger, Gelpke, etc.) 3) The book is impartial observation into Another book that is left with little attention from psychedelic users. Didn't expect this read to be profound, but here is why I fully enjoyed this book and recommend to 'mind-alterers': 1) It gives detailed overview of how LSD was REALLY invented, what is ergot plant, what it was used for and finally, how and why Sandoz labs banned its sale 2) Hofmann gives meticulous accounts of his and his friends' accounts on LSD (Wasson, Huxley, Junger, Gelpke, etc.) 3) The book is impartial observation into the events from 1938 till the book was published. The events include trips to Mexico in search of magic mushrooms, ipomea and other plants that are considered as mind altering. 4) Hofmann warns the 'users' of the negative effects that can be caused by the careless use of LSD. He gives real examples from his life and lets you judge these nuances. 5) There are many trip reports involving shrooms and LSD. Especially Gilpke's (Islamic scholar) accounts of his own and various artists' use of LSD are highly interesting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Darkvine

    Read from the clear-headed analytical and scientific mind of the discoverer of LSD how the infamous substance changed his life. Read how it came into existence in his lab, the very first trip reports, animal experiments, how it then spread across the world, initially as a potential medicine for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, later artists got a hold on it, and then eventually it fueled a whole counterculture. So what did A. Hofmann think of all this? Also read how it brought the author i Read from the clear-headed analytical and scientific mind of the discoverer of LSD how the infamous substance changed his life. Read how it came into existence in his lab, the very first trip reports, animal experiments, how it then spread across the world, initially as a potential medicine for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, later artists got a hold on it, and then eventually it fueled a whole counterculture. So what did A. Hofmann think of all this? Also read how it brought the author in contact with a wide range of people, and how it sent him on excursions to bring back specimen of shamanic plants which were rumoured to have similar mindbending properties, and whose extraction might yield similar potent chemicals to study and develop into medicine. I would say if you are looking for books on psychedelics, especially LSD, then this book right from the source where it all began, is an essential read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Krokki

    The father of LSD, Albert Hofmann tells the history of his "holy son", from his perspective and other significant figures in the world of acid. From an original veiwed as a wonderboy with potentially exceptional attributes to the field of pshychology. Compared to that significance the microscope has had for biology, and telescope has had for astronomy. To the turbulant years of its link to the devil and destroyer of souls, namely the "hippie years". There is no question that LSD is not a toy to The father of LSD, Albert Hofmann tells the history of his "holy son", from his perspective and other significant figures in the world of acid. From an original veiwed as a wonderboy with potentially exceptional attributes to the field of pshychology. Compared to that significance the microscope has had for biology, and telescope has had for astronomy. To the turbulant years of its link to the devil and destroyer of souls, namely the "hippie years". There is no question that LSD is not a toy to be playing or use as a recreational drug, but the tools with wich it can bring to the understanding of psyhology and get people more in touch with their consciousness and collective un-consciousness with nature are to great to not explore. The way LSD alters the mind will and probably has at diffrent times of age, changed the human race.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Triin Rast

    This is probably one of the most interesting book about psychedelic drugs particularly in a sense of the development of recreational drugs. This book is a must-read for everyone who thinks that drug are only bad for people and are damaging for the society. Albert Hofmann wouldn't ever imagined that his discovery will be used outside of laboratory, psychiatric clinics or in most extreme cases at some artists homes or in the nature. The abuse of LSD and other (psychedelic) drugs emerged during the t This is probably one of the most interesting book about psychedelic drugs particularly in a sense of the development of recreational drugs. This book is a must-read for everyone who thinks that drug are only bad for people and are damaging for the society. Albert Hofmann wouldn't ever imagined that his discovery will be used outside of laboratory, psychiatric clinics or in most extreme cases at some artists homes or in the nature. The abuse of LSD and other (psychedelic) drugs emerged during the time when the use of LSD wasn't regulated and people were taking it for misleading purposes, underestimating the real power of this drug. Great insight also to South-American jungle life and other plant-based drugs.

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