Did LSD drive me crazy?

Albert Hofmann on the effects of LSD

"So in the spring of 1943 I repeated the synthesis of LSD-25. As with the first preparation, only a few tenths of a gram of this compound was obtained. In the final phase of the synthesis, the purification and crystallization of the lysergic acid diethylamide I was disturbed by unusual sensations in my work in the form of the tartrate (tartaric salt). I take the description of this incident from the report that I sent to Professor Stoll at the time:

"Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I had to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and go home because I was stricken with a strange restlessness combined with a slight dizziness.

At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicating state, which was characterized by an extremely excited imagination.

In the twilight state with my eyes closed - I found the daylight uncomfortably glaring - I was continually penetrated by fantastic images of extraordinary plasticity and with an intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. This condition evaporated after about two hours. "

It was already clear to me that lysergic acid diethylamide had been the cause of the strange experience last Friday, because the changes in sensations and experiences were of the same kind as then, only much more profound.

I was only able to speak intelligibly with the greatest effort and asked my laboratory assistant, who was aware of the self-experiment, to accompany me home.

Already on the way home by bike - a car was not available at the moment, cars were reserved for the privileged few during the war - my condition assumed threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision swayed and was distorted like a curved mirror. I also had the feeling that I couldn't move my bike.

Meanwhile, my assistant later told me that we had driven very quickly. Finally, when I got home safely, I was just able to ask my companion to call our family doctor and ask the neighbors for milk.

Despite my intoxicating state of confusion, I was able to think clearly and purposefully for brief moments - milk as a non-specific detoxifying agent.

At times dizziness and fainting became so severe that I could no longer stand upright and had to lie down on a sofa. My surroundings had now changed in a frightening way. Everything in the room spun, and the familiar objects and furniture took on grotesque, mostly threatening shapes. They were in constant motion, as if animated, as if filled with inner restlessness.

I hardly recognized the woman next door who brought me milk - I drank more than two liters in the course of the evening. It was no longer Mrs. R., but a malicious, insidious witch with a colored grimace.

But worse than these transformations of the outside world into the grotesque were the changes that I felt in myself, in my inner being. All efforts of my will to stop the disintegration of the outer world and the dissolution of my self seemed in vain.

A demon had entered me and taken possession of my body, my senses and my soul. I jumped up and screamed to get rid of him, but then sank powerlessly back onto the sofa.

The substance I wanted to experiment with had defeated me. She was the demon who scornfully triumphed over my will. A terrible fear of having gone mad seized me.

Slowly I came back from an incredibly strange world into the familiar everyday reality. The horror gave way to a feeling of happiness and gratitude, the more normal feeling and thinking returned and the certainty grew that I had finally escaped the danger of madness.

Now I gradually began to enjoy the incredible play of colors and shapes that went on behind my closed eyes. Changing like a kaleidoscope, colorful, fantastic shapes penetrated me, opening and closing in circles and spirals, spraying in fountains of color, rearranging and crossing, in constant flow.

It was particularly strange how all acoustic perceptions, such as the sound of a door handle or a passing car, turned into visual sensations. Each sound produced a corresponding, lively changing image in form and color. "

Source: Albert Hofmann. LSD - my problem child. The discovery of a "miracle drug". Klett-Cotta, Munich, 2012.