When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Albert Hofmann: Looking Back At LSD Inventor's First Strange Trip

Father of LSD Albert Hofmann
Father of LSD Albert Hofmann
Pascaline Minet

GENEVA — There are those few rare researchers through the ages so devoted to science that they have used their own bodies as a laboratory for their experiments. After inventing the hallucinogenic substance LSD, the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann unintentionally, and then intentionally, took doses of the drug.

In his autobiography published in 1980, Hofmann recounts the first intentional LSD trip on April 19, 1943. On that day, the young chemist ingested the new substance that he'd synthesized in his laboratory at Sandoz, of which the full effects were still unknown to him."I could not speak intelligibly. I asked my laboratory assistant to escort me to my house. On the way, my state began to assume worrying proportions. Everything that entered my field of vision shook and was distorted as if in a curved mirror. I felt like I was not moving forward. However, the lab tech later told me that we were moving very quickly."

Arriving at his home after his bike ride, he switched into a parallel universe.

He then rode his bike back home. He embarked on the first LSD "trip" in the history, paving the way for many other psychedelic and scientific experiments.

Strange sensations

Hofmann had isolated lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938 from a parasitic crop fungus, rye ergot. Initially, he dismissed the potential of this substance, not seeing its full potential. In April 1943, he returned to it. He first absorbed a tiny amount of it inadvertently, probably by rubbing his eyes. The strange sensations he was seized with would ultimately lead him to try the substance again.

Animated short of Hofmann's first LSD trip in 1943 Video: rolie1982 on YouTube

Without knowing the strength of LSD's hallucinogenic effects, Hofmann took what he thought was a small amount, 0.25 milligrams. This is actually a massive dose. Arriving at his home after his bike ride, he switched into a parallel universe. The nice neighbor who occasionally visited him was instead transformed into "a malicious witch with a colorful mask." He struggled in vain against the altered perceptions imposed on him. "All of my attempts to put an end to the disintegration of the outside world and the dissolution of my ego seemed like lost pain," he wrote in his autobiography. Finally, the effects faded and by the next day, the chemist had returned to a nearly normal state.

Exploring the soul

A few years later, a patent on LSD was filed by Sandoz pharmaceuticals, which set out to market the substance. Its therapeutic effects were the subject of multiple scientific studies, but it was within the American counter-culture that LSD really had the most effect, starting first with the Beat Generation, then the hippies. Psychology professor and activist Timothy Leary encouraged widespread consumption, believing that LSD can help everyone achieve a higher level of consciousness. But the substance had by then acquired a troublesome reputation linked to the bad trips it can cause, and eventually was criminalized throughout the West in the late 1960s.

He dropped acid for the last time at the age of 97.

Albert Hofmann deplored the mass use of "his' drug, which he considered risky. But, all of his life, he remained convinced of the use of the LSD as a tool to not only explore the human soul, and a means to relieve the blues. This latter use is still being pursued today by a few scientists, including Solothurn psychiatrist Peter Gasser. In 2007, he studied the benefit of taking small doses of LSD to reduce anxiety brought on by fatal illness. His main intention, before evaluating the benefits of this therapeutic approach, was to show that it could be carried out safely in the practice.

As for the inventor of LSD, he does not seem to have suffered from his own psychedelic experiences. Albert Hofmann passed away at the ripe age of 102 in 2008. Two years earlier, when he celebrated his 100th birthday in Basel at a LSD conference, he announced that he dropped acid for the last time at the age of 97.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Settlers, Prisoners, Resistance: How Israeli Occupation Ties Gaza To The West Bank

The fate of the West Bank is inevitably linked to the conflict in Gaza; and indeed Israeli crackdowns and settler expansion and violence in the West Bank is a sign of an explicit strategy.

Settlers, Prisoners, Resistance: How Israeli Occupation Ties Gaza To The West Bank

Israeli soldiers take their positions during a military operation in the Balata refugee camp, West Bank.

Riham Al Maqdama


CAIRO — Since “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” began on October 7, the question has been asked: What will happen in the West Bank?

A review of Israel’s positions and rhetoric since 1967 has always referred to the Gaza Strip as a “problem,” while the West Bank was the “opportunity,” so that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to withdraw Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005 was even referred to as an attempt to invest state resources in Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

This separation between Gaza and the West Bank in the military and political doctrine of the occupation creates major challenges, repercussions of which have intensified over the last three years.

Settlement expansion in the West Bank and the continued restrictions of the occupation there constitute the “land” and Gaza is the “siege” of the challenge Palestinians face. The opposition to the West Bank expansion is inseparable from the resistance in Gaza, including those who are in Israeli prisons, and some who have turned to take up arms through new resistance groups.

“What happened in Gaza is never separated from the West Bank, but is related to it in cause and effect,” said Ahmed Azem, professor of international relations at Qatar University. “The name of the October 7 operation is the Al-Aqsa Flood, referring to what is happening in Jerusalem, which is part of the West Bank.”

Keep reading...Show less

The latest