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Bicycle Day - Tactical Ninja

Apr. 20th, 2016

10:46 am - Bicycle Day

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Quote from a friend:

"YOLO"
- Dr Albert Hofmann April 20th 1943

For those who don't know, today is the day that the man who synthesised LSD for the first time did an experiment on himself that would change the world. He had some inkling that his molecule was psychoactive after having experienced some effects from accidental absorption through the skin. He thought that 250 micrograms would be a pretty safe starting dose to explore this further (apparently experimenting on yourself was pretty common in those times). Normally he'd be right, but LSD was something new and different.


NB a normal dose in this day and age is 50-100 micrograms. He'd taken more than twice this.

"Here the notes in my laboratory journal cease. I was able to write the last words only with great effort. By now it was already clear to me that LSD had been the cause of the remarkable experience of the previous Friday, for the altered perceptions were of the same type as before, only much more intense. I had to struggle to speak intelligibly. I asked my laboratory assistant, who was informed of the self-experiment, to escort me home. We went by bicycle, no automobile being available because of wartime restrictions on their use. On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror. I also had the sensation of being unable to move from the spot. Nevertheless, my assistant later told me that we had traveled very rapidly. Finally, we arrived at home safe and sound, and I was just barely capable of asking my companion to summon our family doctor and request milk from the neighbors.

In spite of my delirious, bewildered condition, I had brief periods of clear and effective thinking—and chose milk as a nonspecific antidote for poisoning.

The dizziness and sensation of fainting became so strong at times that I could no longer hold myself erect, and had to lie down on a sofa. My surroundings had now transformed themselves in more terrifying ways. Everything in the room spun around, and the familiar objects and pieces of furniture assumed grotesque, threatening forms. They were in continuous motion, animated, as if driven by an inner restlessness. The lady next door, whom I scarcely recognized, brought me milk—in the course of the evening I drank more than two liters. She was no longer Mrs. R., but rather a malevolent, insidious witch with a colored mask.

Even worse than these demonic transformations of the outer world, were the alterations that I perceived in myself, in my inner being. Every exertion of my will, every attempt to put an end to the disintegration of the outer world and the dissolution of my ego, seemed to be wasted effort. A demon had invaded me, had taken possession of my body, mind, and soul. I jumped up and screamed, trying to free myself from him, but then sank down again and lay helpless on the sofa. The substance, with which I had wanted to experiment, had vanquished me. It was the demon that scornfully triumphed over my will. I was seized by the dreadful fear of going insane. I was taken to another world, another place, another time.

My body seemed to be without sensation, lifeless, strange. Was I dying? Was this the transition? At times I believed myself to be outside my body, and then perceived clearly, as an outside observer, the complete tragedy of my situation. I had not even taken leave of my family (my wife, with our three children had traveled that day to visit her parents, in Lucerne). Would they ever understand that I had not experimented thoughtlessly, irresponsibly, but rather with the utmost caution, an-d that such a result was in no way foreseeable? My fear and despair intensified, not only because a young family should lose its father, but also because I dreaded leaving my chemical research work, which meant so much to me, unfinished in the midst of fruitful, promising development. Another reflection took shape, an idea full of bitter irony: if I was now forced to leave this world prematurely, it was because of this Iysergic acid diethylamide that I myself had brought forth into the world.

By the time the doctor arrived, the climax of my despondent condition had already passed. My laboratory assistant informed him about my self-experiment, as I myself was not yet able to formulate a coherent sentence. He shook his head in perplexity, after my attempts to describe the mortal danger that threatened my body. He could detect no abnormal symptoms other than extremely dilated pupils. Pulse, blood pressure, breathing were all normal. He saw no reason to prescribe any medication. Instead he conveyed me to my bed and stood watch over me. Slowly I came back from a weird, unfamiliar world to reassuring everyday reality. The horror softened and gave way to a feeling of good fortune and gratitude, the more normal perceptions and thoughts returned, and I became more confident that the danger of insanity was conclusively past.

Now, little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux. It was particularly remarkable how every acoustic perception, such as the sound of a door handle or a passing automobile, became transformed into optical perceptions. Every sound generated a vividly changing image, with its own consistent form and color.

Late in the evening my wife returned from Lucerne. Someone had informed her by telephone that I was suffering a mysterious breakdown. She had returned home at once, leaving the children behind with her parents. By now, I had recovered myself sufficiently to tell her what had happened.

Exhausted, I then slept, to awake next morning refreshed, with a clear head, though still somewhat tired physically. A sensation of well-being and renewed life flowed through me. Breakfast tasted delicious and gave me extraordinary pleasure. When I later walked out into the garden, in which the sun shone now after a spring rain, everything glistened and sparkled in a fresh light. The world was as if newly created. All my senses vibrated in a condition of highest sensitivity, which persisted for the entire day."

From LSD - My Problem Child, by Dr Albert Hoffman.


Apparently Albert Hoffman took LSD many, many more times in his lifetime. He lived to over 100 years old and was lucid till the day he died. For 50 years, his problem child has been listed as one of the supposedly most dangerous substances known - Schedule 1 in the UN Conventions, claiming high potential for abuse with no medical benefits. In that time there have been no deaths that are attributable to LSD. There have been many deaths that were *claimed* to be caused by LSD, but none of them stand up to scrutiny. Likewise, the common myths associated with it:

- staring into the sun until you go blind
- thinking you can fly
- acid casualties

are also unsupported by evidence. In fact, when ranked for level of harm against 20 other drugs by a panel of experts in the UK a few years ago, LSD ranked 18th*, below cannabis, ecstasy, and khat.

Now, research is finally being allowed again. It's being looked at as a potential therapeutic aid for end-of-life anxiety in terminal patients**, and most recently, images of brains on LSD are finally beginning to reveal how it has such a profound impact on our perceptions.

I think Albert Hoffman would be pleased to know that his problem child is finally getting some understanding, and it makes me a little sad that he didn't quite live to see it.

* mushrooms were 20th
** I would have loved for my mother to have had access to this in her final year with pancreatic cancer. Instead they gave her benzos for her anxiety and she crashed her car because of them, which took away her confidence and was the catalyst to her final downward spiral. She stopped driving, became completely housebound, and gave up. LSD may have helped her retain her identity for longer.

Comments:

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From:fbhjr
Date:April 20th, 2016 12:40 am (UTC)
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Very interesting!
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From:tatjna
Date:April 20th, 2016 12:44 am (UTC)
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Such a tiny molecule to make such big changes to the course of history - and so misunderstood.
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From:fbhjr
Date:April 20th, 2016 12:51 am (UTC)
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I remember when I was a kid (back in the '60s) that my mother used to warn me that at the movie theater people would come and stick it in my drink when I wasn't watching.
To the best of my knowledge no 6 year olds were so gifted by anyone...
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From:tatjna
Date:April 20th, 2016 12:52 am (UTC)
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Hahah yeah, it'd be completely pointless (and expensive!)

:)
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From:fbhjr
Date:April 20th, 2016 12:55 am (UTC)
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That was the main thing that didn't make sense to me, even at age 6.
"Why would they give away what they paid for?" I asked my mother.
"To get you hooked!" she told me.
"But, I don't have any money to pay them, even if I was hooked..."
"You don't understand how these people are!"

Guess I still don't...
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From:tatjna
Date:April 20th, 2016 12:57 am (UTC)
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"Also, it's not addictive!"

(although I wouldn't expect a 6 year old or a 60s Mum to know this)
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From:fbhjr
Date:April 20th, 2016 12:59 am (UTC)
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My family has a particularly high chance of getting hooked on things.
Or, we're just obsessive.
Either way, I worry about it more than most...
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From:tatjna
Date:April 20th, 2016 01:06 am (UTC)
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Understandable. I grew up in the Go Ask Alice era, and was constantly bombarded with messages about how I'd get addicted to everything and end up in a gutter if I so much as looked at drugs.

Since then I've learned that the most addictive drugs are heroin, nicotine, sugar, caffiene, and alcohol - three of which I've been addicted to in my time.

Some have potential for psychological dependence, which isn't the same as addiction but for some people might as well be. Things like cannabis come in this category.

Then there are the ones that if you take them one day and then again the next, you won't get much of an effect at all, and there's a negligible chance of addiction even in regular users or people who are addicted to other things. LSD is one of these.

Giving it to a kid to get them 'hooked' is one of the most ludicrous things that people believe. Even with heroin, only about 25% of people who use regularly become addicted. There is no drug that is instantly addictive, but the state has done a good job of making people think they all are.

/geekrant

Edited at 2016-04-20 01:08 am (UTC)
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From:fbhjr
Date:April 20th, 2016 01:08 am (UTC)
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I'm still stuck on caffeine.
Don't think I'll ever be off sugar.
At least I avoided the others...

Like I said, it didn't make sense to me at 6. Certainly not any more now.
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From:tatjna
Date:April 20th, 2016 01:09 am (UTC)
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I'm now a casual user of caffeine, but yeah. Sugar is the toughest of the lot, because it's almost impossible to avoid in food even if you don't actually add it to things.
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From:thewronghands
Date:April 20th, 2016 12:09 pm (UTC)
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Forgive my ignorance, I am asking and not arguing. [grin] Doesn't cocaine have a pretty high retention rate? I've heard comments from my friends who have tried it along the lines of "and then you feel like God, and you don't want to give that up ever, and that's why it's so powerful". (Though I will note that only one of those four friends went on to have a drug problem that had actual negative effects on his life. The other folks are totally fine.)

Hooray geek rants! They're interesting.
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From:tatjna
Date:April 20th, 2016 06:09 pm (UTC)
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The risk of dependnce for cocaine is about 5-6% within 2 years of first use, and 15-16% within 10% years. So about the same as alcohol.

Cocaine acts in the dopamine system, so lends itself to binges to avoid the unpleasant comedown and continue feeling 'like god'.

I don't mind questions or challenges, this subject is my passion and I love discussing it. :)

Edited at 2016-04-20 06:09 pm (UTC)
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From:richaarde
Date:April 20th, 2016 03:06 am (UTC)
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It's odd to see something so eloquently written about a guy getting high out of his mind.
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From:clevermanka
Date:April 20th, 2016 12:26 pm (UTC)
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Agreed! That was beautiful!
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From:tatjna
Date:April 20th, 2016 09:17 pm (UTC)
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Or by a scientist, for that matter! :)
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From:cjy420
Date:April 22nd, 2016 12:14 am (UTC)

lsd

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haven't used in 30 years but what good times in the late 60's and the 70's
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From:kehleyr
Date:April 23rd, 2016 05:22 pm (UTC)
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Quite fascinating read, thank you for sharing!
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