How to Change Your Mind_ What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness
MIDWAY THROUGH the twentieth century, two unusual new molecules,
organic compounds with a striking family resemblance, exploded upon
the West. In time, they would change the course of social, political, and
cultural history, as well as the personal histories of the millions of people
who would eventually introduce them to their brains. As it happened, the
arrival of these disruptive chemistries coincided with another world
historical explosion—that of the atomic bomb. There were people who
compared the two events and made much of the cosmic synchronicity.
Extraordinary new energies had been loosed upon the world; things
would never be quite the same.
The first of these molecules was an accidental invention of science.
Lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD, was first
synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938, shortly before physicists split an
atom of uranium for the first time. Hofmann, who worked for the Swiss
pharmaceutical firm Sandoz, had been looking for a drug to stimulate
circulation, not a psychoactive compound. It wasn’t until five years later
when he accidentally ingested a minuscule quantity of the new chemical
that he realized he had created something powerful, at once terrifying