LSD History

In this LSD history article you will find out how LSD became popular and the harmful side effects of this hallucinogenic drug. Learn about LSD history: how LSD was discovered, LSD and popular culture, and acid trips, bad trips, and effects of LSD addiction.


LSD, or D-lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as acid, is a popular and potent hallucinogenic drug. It owes much of its popularity to its use by rock groups and other pop culture icons. The discovery of its negative effects and subsequent law enforcement efforts to stop its production and use have led to a decline in its popularity.

LSD history - discovery of LSD and early experiments

LSD history indicates that LSD was discovered in 1938 in Switzerland by chemist Albert Hofmann, who was trying to develop medicines from a fungus called ergot. LSD failed to perform as he hoped, so he set it aside until 1943, when he found that LSD created an intoxicated state. On what is known as "Bicycle Day," Hofmann rode his bicycle home after ingesting LSD and experienced both paranoia and hallucinations, followed by a feeling of relaxation.

LSD history shows that In 1948 LSD was brought to the United States to be studied for use in psychiatric medicine. It was hoped the drug might cure a multitude of ills, including schizophrenia, alcoholism, and criminal tendencies. Some early tests with LSD looked promising, and doctors, scientists, and students began experimenting with the drug, both professionally and recreationally.

History of LSD in popular culture

One of these early scientists was Dr. Timothy Leary, a psychologist at Harvard. In the early 1960s began experimenting with LSD, believing that it could improve people’s personalities. His studies were later discovered to be flawed, but he gained a following among some individuals. His experiments and erratic behavior led to his dismissal from Harvard. He then took LSD on the road to San Francisco, distributing it to young people and encouraging them to "turn on, tune in, and drop out" beginning a new stage of LSD history.

With the help of chemists like Owsley Stanley, LSD was produced in large quantities and distributed for free to young people. It became the drug of choice for the counterculture of the 1960s. Many young users felt that LSD gave them a positive, religious experience.

LSD history shows that LSD was adopted by a number of popular rock performers, including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix. This led to the development of acid rock, a genre of music that uses LSD as part of the musical experience. The Beatles also became proponents of the drug for a time, and their immense popularity with young people brought LSD into pop culture.

The darker side of LSD history

Though early promoters of LSD focused on the positive effects they believed LSD could produce, LSD can have serious negative effects, including paranoia, psychosis, and increased rates of suicide. These “bad trips,” along with acid flashbacks, which can occur years after a person used LSD, began to come to light and reduced the appeal of the drug to many users. LSD also came to be associated with the violence of the 1960s, including student riots and the Charles Manson murders.

Meanwhile, LSD history indicates that the U.S. government had been running its own secret tests on the possible applications for LSD, and found it to be too dangerous and too unpredictable for any practical military, intelligence, or medical use. This led to the government ban on the use of LSD and crack down on those producing it, so it was no longer free and easy to get.

The history of LSD shows that throughout the 1980s LSD remained a less popular drug. In the 1990s it experienced a brief resurgence in popularity in connection with drug and music parties known as raves. Law enforcement crack downs on production and distribution of LSD, and the declining popularity of raves, led to a sharp decrease in the use of LSD. Today LSD is still a drug of concern due to its use by some young people, but it is much less popular than it has been in the past.

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