Wednesday, April 30, 2008
His trip is over:|
Albert Hofmann, the father of the mind-altering drug LSD whose medical discovery inspired—and arguably corrupted—millions in the 1960s hippie generation, has died. He was 102.
Hofmann died Tuesday at his home in Burg im Leimental, said Doris Stuker, a municipal clerk in the village near Basel where Hofmann moved following his retirement in 1971.
For decades after LSD was banned in the late 1960s, Hofmann defended his invention.
"I produced the substance as a medicine. ... It's not my fault if people abused it," he once said.
The Swiss chemist discovered lysergic acid diethylamide-25 in 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a fungus found on wheat and other grains at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm in Basel.
He became the first human guinea pig of the drug when a tiny amount of the substance seeped onto his finger during a laboratory experiment on April 16, 1943.
"I had to leave work for home because I was suddenly hit by a sudden feeling of unease and mild dizziness," he subsequently wrote in a memo to company bosses.
He said his initial experience resulted in "wonderful visions."
"What I was thinking appeared in colors and in pictures," he told a Swiss television network for a program marking his 100th birthday two years ago. "It lasted for a couple of hours and then it disappeared."
Three days later, Hofmann experimented with a larger dose. The result was a horror trip.
"Everything I saw was distorted as in a warped mirror," he said, describing his bicycle ride home. "I had the impression I was rooted to the spot. But my assistant told me we were actually going very fast."
"The substance which I wanted to experiment with took over me. I was filled with an overwhelming fear that I would go crazy. I was transported to a different world, a different time," Hofmann wrote.