LSD - the guy who made millions of trips
Owsley was the scion of a political family from Kentucky. His father was a government attorney, and his namesake and grandfather, Augustus O. Stanley, was a member of the United States Senate after serving as Governor of Kentucky. Another ancestor, William Owsley, also served as Governor of Kentucky in the mid 1800s. Exploration of current online genealogy sites shows that the Owsley family line stretches back through Colonial America to landed aristocracy in England, and is related to many of the royal families of Europe; indeed, Owsley appears to be a direct descendant of Charlemagne.
When Owsley was twenty-one, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1956 and served for eighteen months before being discharged in 1958. Later, inspired by a 1958 performance of the Bolshoi Ballet, he began studying ballet in Los Angeles, supporting himself for a time as a professional dancer. In 1963, he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley where he became involved in the psychoactive drug scene. He dropped out after a semester, took a technical job at KGO-TV, and began producing LSD in a small lab located in the bathroom of a house near campus. His makeshift laboratory was raided by police on February 21, 1965. He beat the charges and successfully sued for the return of his equipment. The police were looking for methamphetamine, but found only LSD . which wasn't illegal at the time.
Owsley moved to Los Angeles to pursue the production of LSD. He used his Berkeley lab proceeds to buy 800 grams of lysergic acid monohydrate, the basis for LSD. His first shipment arrived on March 30, 1965. He produced 300,000 capsules (270 micrograms each) of LSD by May 1965 and then returned to the Bay Area.
In September 1965, Owsley became the primary LSD supplier to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters; by this point Sandoz LSD was hard to come by and "Owsley Acid" had become the new standard. He was featured (most prominently his freak-out at the Muir Beach Acid Test in November 1965) in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a book detailing the history of Kesey and the Merry Pranksters by Tom Wolfe. Owsley attended the Watts Acid Test on February 12, 1966 with his new apprentice Tim Scully and provided the LSD.
Owsley met the members of the Grateful Dead in 1966 and began working with them as their first soundman (and helping to finance them). Along with his close friend Bob Thomas, he designed the Lightning Bolt Skull Logo, often referred to by fans as "Steal Your Face" or SYF (after the name of the 1976 Grateful Dead album featuring only the lightning bolt skull on the cover, although the symbol predates the namesake album by eight years). The 13-point lightning bolt was derived from a stencil Owsley created to spray-paint on the Grateful Dead's equipment boxes ---he wanted an easily identifiable mark to help the crew find the Dead's equipment in the jumble of multiple bands' identical black equipment boxes at festivals. The lightning bolt design came to him while driving one night in a thunderstorm. Owsley suggested to Bob Thomas that the words "Grateful Dead" might be drawn beneath the red white and blue circled bolt in such a way that it looked like a skull; Bob went off and returned, having discarded the hidden word concept, with the now familiar Grateful Dead icon. The lightning-adorned skull logo actually made its first appearance on the 1973 release, "History of the Grateful Dead, Volume 1: Bear's Choice," an album put together by Owsley from recordings he had made in 1970 as his tribute to his dear friend, the recently deceased Grateful Dead co-founder Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. The iconic "Dancing Bears" also first appeared on the reverse cover of this album, painted by Bob Thomas as an inside reference to Owsley; dubbed "Bear" as a young teen when he sprouted body hair before the rest of his friends, he'd studied ballet in his early 20's and displayed a distinctive style of dancing while tripping on LSD at shows--- becoming what his friends called 'The Dancing Bear.'
During his time as the soundman for the Grateful Dead, he started what became a long-term practice of recording the band while they rehearsed and performed. His initial motivation for creating what he dubs his "sonic journal" was to improve his ability to mix the sound, but the fortuitous result was an extensive trove of recordings of the Grateful Dead during what many consider their heyday. Focusing on quality and clarity of sound, he favored simplicity in his miking, and his tapes are widely touted as being unrivaled live recordings. He made numerous live recordings of the Dead and other leading 1960's and 70's artists appearing in San Francisco, including Jefferson Airplane, Old and In The Way, Janis Joplin, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Taj Mahal, Santana, Miles Davis, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Blue Cheer, a band who took their name from the nickname of Owsley's acid, and many others. While many Owsley recordings have been released, many, many more remain unpublished at this time.
Owsley and Scully built electronic equipment for the Grateful Dead until late spring 1966. At this point Owsley rented a house in Point Richmond, California, and Owsley, Scully, and Melissa Cargill (Owsley's girlfriend who was a skilled chemist introduced to Owsley by a former girlfriend, Susan Cowper) set up a lab in the basement. Owsley developed a method of LSD synthesis which left the LSD 99.9 percent free of impurities. The Point Richmond lab turned out over 300,000 tablets (270 micrograms each) of LSD they dubbed "White Lightning." LSD became illegal in California on October 6, 1966, and Scully wanted to set up a new lab in Denver, Colorado.
Scully set up the new lab in the basement of a house across the street from the Denver zoo in early 1967. Scully made the LSD in the Denver lab while Owsley tableted the product in Orinda, California. Owsley and Scully also produced a new psychedelic they called STP.
STP was distributed in the summer of 1967 in 20mg tablets and quickly acquired a bad reputation. Owsley and Scully made trial batches of 10mg tablets and then STP mixed with LSD in a few hundred yellow tablets but soon ceased production of STP. Owsley and Scully produced about 196 grams of LSD in 1967, but 96 grams of this was confiscated by the authorities.
In late 1967 Owsley's Orinda lab was raided by police; he was found in possession of 350,000 doses of LSD and 1,500 doses of STP. His defense was that the illegal substances were for personal use, but he was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. A newspaper headline mis-identifying Owsley as an "LSD Millionaire" following his arrest inspired the Grateful Dead song "Alice D. Millionaire". The same year, Owsley officially shortened his name to "Owsley Stanley".
After he was released from prison, Owsley (1999 pic) went on to do more sound work for the Grateful Dead. Later, he would work as a broadcast television engineer
A naturalized Australian citizen since 1996, Owsley and his wife Sheilah live off the grid in the bush of Far Northern Tropical Queensland where he creates sculpture, much of it wearable art, though he himself does not refer to it as jewelry. He has 2 sons and 2 daughters by 4 different women; Peter and Nina preceded the 1960s, while Starfinder and Redbird followed them.
Owsley believes that the natural human diet is a totally carnivorous one, thus making it a no-carbohydrate diet, and that all vegetables are toxic.. He claims to have eaten almost nothing but meat, eggs, butter and cheese since 1959 and that he believes his body has not aged as much as the bodies of those who eat a more "normal" diet. He is convinced that insulin, released by the pancreas when carbohydrates are ingested, is the cause of much damage to human tissue and that diabetes mellitus is caused by the ingestion of carbohydrates.
Owsley received radiation therapy in 2004 for throat cancer (a squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil) which he first attributed to passive exposure to cigarette smoke at concerts, but which he later discovered was almost certainly caused by the infection of his tonsil with HPV. He credits his low carb diet with starving the tumor of glucose ---slowing its growth and preventing its spread enough that it could be successfully treated despite its advanced state at diagnosis.
In 1966, the Grateful Dead sometimes performed a song titled "Alice D. Millionaire", which is a reference to the newspaper headline of when Stanley was arrested. The headline read "LSD Millionaire Busted".
The Jimi Hendrix cover version of the Beatles song "Day Tripper", from a 1967 BBC session first released on CD in 1987, features Jimi Hendrix clearly shouting out, "Oh Owsley, can you hear me now?" during the climactic guitar solo.
The title of the Jefferson Airplane song "Bear Melt", from their 1968 live album Bless Its Pointed Little Head, is a reference to Stanley's nickname "Bear". Paul Kantner also refers to Stanley by name on the album. The Jefferson Airplane song "Mexico", which was released as a single in 1970, opens with the lyric, "Owsley and Charlie, twins of the trade, come to the poet's room."
The Frank Zappa song "Who Needs the Peace Corps?", from the Mothers of Invention' 1968 album We're Only in It for the Money, satirized the hippie scene and features the opening verse:
What's there to live for?
Who needs the peace corps?
Think I'll just DROP OUT
I'll go to Frisco
Buy a wig & sleep
On Owsley's floor
The Steely Dan song "Kid Charlemagne" from the 1976 album The Royal Scam was inspired by Stanley:
While the music played you worked by candlelight
Those San Francisco nights
You were the best in town
Just by chance you crossed the diamond with the pearl
You turned it on the world
That's when you turned the world around
Did you feel like Jesus
Did you realize
That you were a champion in their eyes
On the hill the stuff was laced with kerosene
But yours was kitchen clean
Everyone stopped to stare at your technicolor motor home
Every A-Frame had your number on the wall
You must have had it all
You'd go to L.A. on a dare
And you'd go it alone
Could you live forever
Could you see the day
Could you feel your whole world fall apart and fade away 
In 1990, a UK psychedelic Ska Punk band named themselves AOS3 after Owsley's initials, culled from a chapter of the book "The Brotherhood Of Eternal Love". They used an Image of Owsley as a T-shirt graphic, and named their first tape release simply "Owsley".
In 1996, Peter Kember's post-Spacemen 3 band Spectrum released the "Songs for Owsley" EP. The song "Owsley" is an appropriately tripped-out melange of electronic mayhem and highly processed vocals.
Glasgow psychedelic pop group The Owsley Sunshine, take their name from a brand of LSD produced by Stanley.
Australian band The Masters Apprentices released a song called "Our Friend Owsley Stanley III" in the late 60s.
For the unrepentant patriarch of LSD, long, strange trip winds back to Bay Area
Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The name Owsley became a noun that appears in the Oxford dictionary as English street slang for good acid. It is the most famous brand name in LSD history. Probably the first private individual to manufacture the psychedelic, "Owsley" is a folk hero of the counterculture, celebrated in songs by the Grateful Dead and Steely Dan.
For more than 20 years, Stanley -- at 72, still known as the Bear -- has been living with his wife, Sheila, off the grid, in the outback of Queensland, Australia, where he makes small gold and enamel sculptures and keeps in touch with the world through the Internet.
As a planned two-week visit to the Bay Area stretched to three, four and then five weeks, Bear agreed to give The Chronicle an interview because a friend asked him. He has rarely consented to speak to the press about his life, his work or his unconventional thinking on matters such as the coming ice age or his all-meat diet.
Sporting a buccaneer's earring he got when he was in jail and a hearing aid on the same ear, he keeps a salty goatee, and the sides of his face look boiled clean from seven weeks of maximum radiation treatment for throat cancer. Having lost one of his vocal cords, he speaks only in a whispered croak these days. At one point, he was reduced to injecting his puree of steak and espresso directly into his stomach.
"I never set out to change the world," he rasps in recalling his early manufacture of LSD. "I only set out to make sure I was taking something (that) I knew what it was. And it's hard to make a little. And my friends all wanted to know what they were taking, too. Of course, my friends expanded very rapidly."
By conservative estimates, Bear Research Group made more than 1.25 million doses of LSD between 1965 and 1967, essentially seeding the entire modern psychedelic movement.
Less well known are Bear's contributions to rock concert sound. As the original sound mixer for the Grateful Dead, he was responsible for fundamental advances in audio technology, things as basic now as monitor speakers that allow vocalists to hear themselves onstage.
Says the Dead's Bob Weir: "He's good for a different point of view at about any given time. He's brilliant. He knows everything."
Bear, whose grandfather was a Kentucky governor and U.S. senator, grew up in Los Angeles and Arlington, Va. He was thrown out of military school in the eighth grade for being drunk and dropped out of school altogether at 18. He managed to get accepted to the University of Virginia, where he spent a year studying engineering. By 1956, he was in the Air Force, specializing in electronics and radar.
Later, Bear studied ballet, acting and Russian, worked in jet propulsion labs as well as radio and television, and then entered UC Berkeley in 1963, but lasted less than a year.
Then he discovered acid.
He found the recipe for making LSD in the Journal of Organic Chemistry at the UC Berkeley library. Soon after, Bear began to cook acid.
The Berkeley police raided his first lab in 1966 and confiscated a substance that they claimed was methedrine. When it turned out to be something else -- probably a component of LSD -- Bear not only walked free but successfully sued the cops for the return of his lab equipment.
By the time he made a special batch called Monterey Purple for the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival -- Owsley Purple was the secret smile on Jimi Hendrix's face that night -- "Owsley" was an underground legend.
In December 1967, agents arrested him at his secret lab in Orinda. The "LSD Millionaire" headline in The Chronicle prompted the Dead to write the song "Alice D. Millionaire." In 1970, after a pot bust in Oakland, a judge revoked Bear's bail, and he served two years at Terminal Island near the Los Angeles Harbor.
"If you make some, you've got to move some to get some money to make it," he says now. "But then you had to give a lot away to keep the street price down. So anyway, I'm sort of embedded in this thing that I'm tangled up in. ... Just as soon as it became illegal, I wanted out. Then, of course, I felt an obligation."
Bear, chemist to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, was involved with the Dead almost from the band's beginnings at Kesey's notorious Acid Tests. Bear was the Dead's first patron and, briefly, their manager. He bought the band sound equipment and began to use the Dead as a laboratory for audio research.
"We'd never thought about high-quality PAs," says the Dead's Weir. "There was no such thing until Bear started making one."
Bear made the first public address system specifically dedicated to music in 1966. If he was the first concert sound engineer in rock music to take his job seriously, his habit of making tape recordings of the shows he mixed also gave the Dead an unprecedented archive of live recordings dating back to the band's first days. Many of Bear's tapes have been turned into albums.
Bear has always lived in a quite particular world. "He can be very anal retentive, on a certain level, on a genius level," says Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane. "I've seen him send his eggs back three times at Howard Johnson's."
His all-meat diet is a well-known example. When he was younger, Bear read about the Eskimos eating only fish and meat and became convinced that humans are meant to be exclusively carnivorous. The members of the Grateful Dead remember living with Bear for several months in 1966 in Los Angeles, where the refrigerator contained only bottles of milk and a slab of steak, meat they fried and ate straight out of the pan. His heart attack several years ago had nothing to do with his strict regimen, according to Bear, but more likely the result of some poisonous broccoli his mother made him eat as a youth.
As a sound mixer, Bear holds equally strict viewpoints, insisting that the most effective rock concert systems should have only a single source of sound, his argument quickly veering into the realm of psycho-acoustics.
"The PA can only be in one spot," he says. "All the sounds have to come from a single place because the human brain is carrying around the most sophisticated sound processing of any computer or living creature. It equals the bats that fly by echo. It equals the dolphins. It equals the owls that hunt at night without any daylight at all. It is a superb system for locating and separating one sound from everything else."
Bear left Northern California in the early '80s, convinced that a natural disaster was imminent. He predicted at the time that global warming would lead to a six-week-long ultra-cyclone that could cover the Northern Hemisphere with a new ice age. Determining that the tropical northern side of Australia would be the most likely region to survive, Bear made a beeline for Queensland and says he felt at home the moment he set foot on the new continent.
"I might be right about the ice age thing," he allows. "I might be wrong."
Old friends express shock that Bear would ever even admit to that possibility, but, if not exactly mellowed in his old age, he has found room to accommodate other points of view.
"He's come a long way," says Wavy Gravy, who visited Bear in Australia this year. "He used to be real snappy and grumpy. Now he can be actually sweet."
His four children are grown. He has five grandchildren, and his oldest son, Pete, in Florida, just became a grandfather, making Bear a great-grandfather for the first time. His other son, Starfinder, a veterinarian, hosted a party for him last month at his Oakland home attended by the old Dead crowd, a tortoise and a caged iguana. He has two daughters, Nina and Redbird, and maintains his own Web site (www.thebear.org) where he sells his sculpture and posts various diatribes and essays.
He keeps up with the music scene -- he singles out Wolfmother and the Arctic Monkeys as new bands he likes. "Any time the music on the radio starts to sound like rubbish, it's time to take some LSD," he says.
Owsley Stanley (he legally dropped the "Augustus" 40 years ago) has also not joined the ranks of the penitent psychedelicists who look on their experiences as youthful indiscretions.
"I wound up doing time for something I should have been rewarded for," he says. "What I did was a community service, the way I look at it. I was punished for political reasons. Absolutely meaningless. Was I a criminal? No. I was a good member of society. Only my society and the one making the laws are different."
At the hilltop San Anselmo home where Bear had been house-sitting, pretty much all available space was taken over with his belongings. He squatted over the piles, trying to figure out what to ship and what to take with him. Two days before his flight, it looks like he'll need every minute.
This time, he was extending his stay to catch his old friends Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady of Hot Tuna play at the Fillmore. But when he left for the airport the next day, he got as far as Sausalito before he discovered that he had left the briefcase with the tickets back in San Anselmo, and the trip home was postponed for another week.
"I even said, 'I wonder what I'm leaving behind this time?' before I left," he says, somewhat sadly.
E-mail Joel Selvin at email@example.com.
This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
starfinder7/12/2007 4:56:11 PM
A couple corrections: He has NEVER had a heart attack, though he did have bypass surgery a few years ago ---to correct blockages which he blames on the high carb diet he ate from childhood until his early 20s. Broccoli, being low in carbs, would not be a factor (not that he has ever considered it edible), though he does joke about mothers trying to 'poison' their heroically resistant children with such veggies. Unfortunately, the broccoli crack makes his espousal of a low-carbohydrate diet seem pretty crackpot, when (speaking more as someone with 2 Ivy degrees in biology and veterinary medicine than as a loyal son) there is plenty of hard science to substantiate the critical role of high carb consumption in the etiology of atherosclerosis. And anyone who thinks he cooks his food to any significant degree has obviously never been served a steak by him ---cooking, he will gladly tell you, is the process of getting the meat back up to body temperature, and nothing more. Raw but warm.
droog7/12/2007 4:22:05 PM
Menlo Bob you are too funny. It's not a newspaper's job to discern the morality of a subject, just to report it. I don't see this as pro or anti drug, just an interview with someone who had an impact on American life. Maybe you need some Owsley to open your mind.
Frightwig7/12/2007 10:53:17 AM
Thank you, Mr. Owsley, for helping open so many minds. LSD is a beneficial drug on so many levels --it is clear that our government has made it illegal to suppress dissent and free thought. One point, though: I've not found that LSD makes crappy music on the radio sound any better ... :) The 80s are a good example. It may inspire the next wave of musicians however.
Lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD, LSD-25, or acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline family. Its unusual psychological effects, which include visuals of colored patterns behind the eyes, a sense of time distorting, crawling geometric patterns, and the loss of the user's sense of identity, has made it one of the most widely known psychedelic drugs. It has been used mainly as a recreational drug, an entheogen, and as a tool to supplement various practices for transcendence, including in meditation, psychonautics, art projects, and illicit (formerly legal) psychedelic therapy.
It is synthesized from lysergic acid derived from ergot, a grain fungus that typically grows on rye, and was first synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann. The short form LSD comes from its early code name LSD-25, which is an abbreviation for the German "Lysergsäure-diethylamid" followed by a sequential number.
LSD is sensitive to oxygen, ultraviolet light, and chlorine, especially in solution, though its potency may last for years if it is stored away from light and moisture at low temperature. In pure form it is colorless, odorless, and mildly bitter.
LSD is typically delivered orally, usually on a substrate such as absorbent blotter paper, a sugar cube, or gelatin. In its liquid form, it can be administered by intramuscular or intravenous injection. The threshold dosage level needed to cause a psychoactive effect on humans is between 20 and 30 µg (micrograms).
Introduced by Sandoz Laboratories as a drug with various psychiatric uses, LSD quickly became a therapeutic agent that appeared to show great promise. However, the extra-medicinal use of the drug in Western society during the mid-twentieth century led to a political firestorm that resulted in the banning of the substance. A number of organizations.including the Beckley Foundation, MAPS, Heffter Research Institute and the Albert Hofmann Foundation.exist to fund, encourage and coordinate research into its medicinal uses
LSD was first synthesized on November 16, 1938, by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, as part of a large research program searching for medically useful ergot alkaloid derivatives. Ergot is a fungus that, by infecting cereal grains used for making rye breads, causes ergotism. After Dr. Hofmann succeeded in synthesizing ergobasine (which became the preeminent uterotonic), he began working on other amide derivatives of lysergic acid. LSD is one of the major drugs making up the hallucinogen class of drugs. Lysergic acid diethylamide, the 25th lysergic acid derivative Hofmann synthesised (hence the name LSD-25) was developed initially as a probable analeptic, a circulatory and respiratory stimulant, based on its structural similarity to another known analeptic, nikethamide (nicotinic acid diethylamide). However, no extraordinary benefits of the compound were identified during animal tests (though laboratory notes briefly mention that the animals became "restless" under its effects), and its study was discontinued. Its psychedelic properties were unknown until five years later, when Hofmann, acting on what he has called a "peculiar presentiment," returned to work on the chemical.
While re-synthesizing LSD-25 for further study on April 16, 1943, Hofmann became dizzy and was forced to stop work. In his journal, Hofmann wrote that after becoming dizzy he proceeded home and was affected by a "remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness". Hofmann stated that as he lay in his bed he sank into a not unpleasant "intoxicated like condition" which was characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. He stated that he was in a dreamlike state, and with his eyes closed he could see uninterrupted streams of "fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors." The condition lasted about two hours after which it faded away. Hofmann had attributed the psychoactive effects he experienced to accidentally absorbing a tiny amount of LSD-25 into his skin. Three days later he would take a much larger dose in order to test its effects further; this day would later be referred to as the "Bicycle Day
On April 19, 1943, Dr. Albert Hofmann intentionally ingested 250 µg of LSD, which he hypothesized would be at most a threshold level dose, based on his research on other ergot alkaloids. Surprisingly, the substance showed a potency orders of magnitude above almost any other substance known at the time, amounting to a much heavier dose than typically given in modern therapeutic use. After ingesting the substance Hofmann found himself struggling to speak intelligibly and asked his laboratory assistant, who knew of the self-experiment, to escort him home on his bicycle, since wartime restrictions made automobiles unavailable. On the bicycle ride home, Hofmann's condition became more severe and in his journal he stated that everything in his field of vision wavered and was distorted, as if seen in a curved mirror. Hofmann also stated that while riding on the bicycle, he had the sensation of being stationary, unable to move from where he was, despite the fact that he was moving very rapidly. Once Hofmann arrived home, he summoned a doctor and asked his neighbor for milk, believing it might help relieve the symptoms. Hofmann wrote that despite his delirious and bewildered condition, he was able to choose milk as a nonspecific antidote for poisoning.
Upon arriving the attending doctor could find no abnormal physical symptoms other than extremely dilated pupils. After spending several hours terrified that his body had been possessed by a demon, that his next door neighbor was a witch, and that his furniture was threatening him, Dr. Hofmann feared he had become completely insane. In his journal Hofmann said that the doctor saw no reason to prescribe medication and instead sent him to his bed. At this time Hofmann said that the feelings of fear had started to give way to feelings of good fortune and gratitude, and that he was now enjoying the colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind his closed eyes. Hofmann mentions seeing "fantastic images" surging past him, alternating and opening and closing themselves into circles and spirals and finally exploding into colored fountains and then rearranging themselves in a constant flux. Hofmann mentions that during the condition every acoustic perception, such as the sound of a passing automobile, was transformed into optical perceptions. Eventually Hofmann slept and upon awakening the next morning felt refreshed and clearheaded, though somewhat physically tired. He also stated that he had a sensation of well being and renewed life and that his breakfast tasted unusually delicious. Upon walking in his garden he remarked that all of his senses were "vibrating in a condition of highest sensitivity, which then persisted for the entire day"
Early researchers on LSD saw its potency and noticed that even in extremely small quantities it could significantly alter the mental functioning of healthy volunteers. Since LSD could produce changes in perceptions and emotions, early researchers hypothesized that the cause of some mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia, were caused by endogenous compounds with a similar activity to LSD. Much of the research during the late 1940s dealt with this hypothesis and many LSD sessions conducted for scientific study were often termed "experimental psychoses", and this is where the terms "psychoactive" , "psychotomimetic" and "hallucinogenic" were coined to refer to such drugs. Generally these studies revolved around the attempt to block the effects of LSD with premedication, which was thought to be able to lead to medical treatments for schizophrenia. The studies showed that there was no such connection (the effects of LSD and those of schizophrenia are drastically different and have different causes and functions). Some early researchers also started to suggest that LSD could have positive effects and could be used as a treatment for patients with psychiatric illnesses. Some reports suggested that even small doses of LSD could have dramatic effects on the personalities and attitudes and even lifestyles of test subjects. Early LSD research also found evidence of the drug's ability to facilitate relief of various emotional episodes related to traumatic memories from childhood of patients
LSD is not considered addictive, in that its users do not exhibit the medical community's commonly accepted definitions of addiction and physical dependence. Rapid tolerance build-up prevents regular use, and there is cross-tolerance shown between LSD, mescaline and psilocybin. This tolerance diminishes after a few days without use and is probably caused by downregulation of 5-HT2A receptors in the brain.
LSD causes expansion and altered experience of senses, emotions, memories, time, and awareness for 6 to 14 hours, depending on dosage and tolerance. Generally beginning within thirty to ninety minutes after ingestion, the user may experience anything from subtle changes in perception to overwhelming cognitive shifts. Changes in auditory and visual perception are typical. Visual effects include the illusion of movement of static surfaces ("walls breathing"), after image-like trails of moving objects ("tracers"), the appearance of moving colored geometric patterns (especially with closed eyes), an intensification of colors and brightness ("sparkling"), new textures on objects, blurred vision, and shape suggestibility. Users commonly report that the inanimate world appears to animate in an unexplained way; for instance, objects that are static in three dimensions can seem to be moving relative to one or more additional spatial dimensions. Many of the basic visual effects resemble the phosphenes seen after applying pressure to the eye and have also been studied under the name "form constants". The auditory effects of LSD may include echo-like distortions of sounds, changes in ability to discern concurrent auditory stimuli, and a general intensification of the experience of music. Higher doses often cause intense and fundamental distortions of sensory perception such as synaesthesia, the experience of additional spatial or temporal dimensions, and temporary dissociation