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Published on March 27th, 2013 | by Dr. Jimmy Wall


The Substance: Albert Hofmann’s LSD

The Substance: Albert Hofmann’s LSD starts out with a visual trip of colours and random imagery, in a subtle way, suggesting that this might be how you might experience a good LSD trip. The very visual intro also makes the viewer a bit curious to what might be said about LSD in the documentary. Is it bad, is it good, or something in between?

A mix of different interviews with Albert Hofmann, piecing together a 90 minute history trip about LSD, what impact it had on science, pharmacology, psychology and drug culture. He explains how it was discovered and how he experienced his first trip. It also has a few very interesting interviews with Timothy Leary and his academic colleagues. One of the members of The Merry Pranksters, Carolyn Garcia, tells how LSD affected the hippie culture and how [LSD] prohibition had more a negative effect than a positive one.

The Substance: Albert Hofmann’s LSD manages to stay objective about the use of LSD and other psychotropics such as psilocybin. Informing the viewer about the positive sides of a LSD trip, but also discussing how psychotropic drugs, with their profound effect on the mind, can also send the user on a very unpleasant trip. Furthermore it highlights how the prohibition of LSD had a huge negative effect on those who used it casually, and that it more importantly had a very negative effect on scientists that wanted to conduct research on LSD.

There is still a lot to learn about LSD and its effects on the mind. Studies have shown that it can have a positive effect on those suffering from depression, which is discussed towards at the end of the documentary. However, due to the prohibition, psychiatrists now rely on psilocybin, as it is not as restricted as LSD.

Because the documentary is using archived footage for some of the interviews and to provide context, it at times feels as if it is missing something, leaving you wanting to hear more from certain people in the documentary. Moreover, this feeling that something is lacking makes the documentary a bit slow moving, leaving the viewer asking, what are you really trying to tell me? All in all, it is still a very informative and thought-provoking documentary.

For more info about The Substance: Albert Hofmann’s LSD you can visit: BIFF & The Substance

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About the Author

Dr. Jimmy Wall — journalist and columnist. Drawn to journalism thanks to Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo journalism. He shares the good old doctor’s disdain of objective journalism, as he too sees how it can be easily used to either not uncover the truth or pretend you have reported the truth. The good old doctor said it best, “I don't quite understand this worship of objectivity in journalism. Now, just flat-out lying is different from being subjective.”

One Response to The Substance: Albert Hofmann’s LSD

  1. Dawid Ryba says:

    Dr Albert Hofmann would be a remarkable man even if he hadn’t discovered the chemical compound that changed the course of the 20th century: LSD. Hofmann’s chemical creations also include chemicals used every day in maternity and geriatric wards the world over.

    Shares the best gift you can give this Christmas – the gift of knowledge

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