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LSD: My Problem Child – Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  2,732 ratings  ·  153 reviews
This is the story of LSD told by a concerned yet hopeful father, organic chemist Albert Hofmann. He traces LSD's path from a promising psychiatric research medicine to a recreational drug sparking hysteria and prohibition.

We follow Dr. Hofmann's trek across Mexico to discover sacred plants related to LSD, and listen in as he corresponds with other notable figures about hi

Paperback, 232 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Multidisciplinary Assn for (first published 1979)
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Start your review of LSD: My Problem Child – Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science
The title gives you an idea of what to expect, but the book is still a (mostly pleasant) surprise.

Albert Hofmann, as everyone knows, is the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD. The standard narrative is that he's not at all like most of the people who have taken LSD since the fateful afternoon on which he became the first to experience an acid trip while bicycling home from his laboratory. The truth is more complicated. Hofmann does view LSD as his "problem child." He has a disapproving attitude r
Albert Hoffman completed his PhD in Zürich at the age of 23, synthesized LSD-25 at 32, has been experimenting with psychedelic substances till 98 and died aged 102. In this book he writes about his childhood, about the discovery of LSD and its role in psychiatric research, about his trips to Mexico for sacred Indian rituals involving psychoactive mushrooms and seeds, about his encounters with various people from Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary to crazy american hippies and about what all this ps ...more
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
Marvellous! I shall always carry the picture of this very Bourgeois Swiss chemist cycling home with a head full of LSD and muttering about a further synthesis, while the Aztec gods played with his head.

Darcia Helle
This book gives tremendous insight into Albert Hoffmann's life and research. Hoffmann is the scientist who, in 1938, first isolated the compound LSD-25 from ergot. At the time, Hoffmann had no idea that this compound had what we've come to know as psychedelic properties. He certainly didn't foresee the psychedelic craze of the 1960s.

Hoffmann, who died in 2008 at the age of 102, tells us how his research began, how it progessed, and what, ultimately, went wrong. Some of the early researchers (in
Ilaria ♡
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, own
When I first found out that Hofmann, the creator of LSD, had written a book about it, I thought he was going to praise his work and his substance, but I was wrong.
He meticulously describes every process he went through for the creation of this substance, which was accidental.
His narration is supported by direct evidence, meaning all the experiences of doctors, scientists, chemists and reportages.
In fact, a major part of the book is filled by testimonies of these people telling about their experi
Apr 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: druggies, chemistry nerds, history buffs, people who like erowid experience reports
Shelves: nonfiction, ebook, sci
Interesting from a historical and chemical perspective. I never knew so many psychedelic drugs were chemically related. Unfortunately descends into mysticism. I think it ultimately doesn't contribute anything new to the dialogue on psychedelics or drugs in general. (I realize the book was written in 1980, but Hofmann says nothing so revolutionary that I can't imagine it wasn't thought of by then.) The most interesting part of this book is the reminder that psychedelics were seen as potentially a ...more
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An impressive, first hand account about lsd25, or simply lsd, and its birth by hofmann himself. Apart from its history there are nomerous accounts about its use by regular and famous people, who shared their views with hofmann. Some interesting quests about magic mushrooms. The end of the book is kind of boring (some letters exchanged with famous people about lsd), but 90% of the book is worth of the five stars.
Maxwell Rosenbloom
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
LSD changed my life. This is an essential read for anyone who's had a similar experience. Hofmann understood the significance of his discovery: after some reflection, he viewed it as something that could bridge the illusory divide between humans and nature on a mass scale—something that would have benefited our now dying planet. Instead, Hoffmann unfortunately had to witness LSD run rampant through a culture that didn’t have any precedent for it. Mass hysteria led to prohibition, which halted sc ...more
Emily Smith
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I gave this book four stars because although I did not understand much of the chemistry being discussed, I still learned a lot. For those who understand biology and chemistry I'm sure this book will be even more enjoyable.
I wanted to read this to see if Albert Hofmann really thought of LSD as a "problem child," but the more I read the more I understood, and agreed, that it is far from it. It is an extremely beneficial drug that has only become a problem because people do not educate themselves b
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. Very detailed in chemical and cultural uses of hallucinogens, with a most thoughtful and personal take on the spiritual and metaphysical properties of the sacred drugs (LSD, Peyote, Mushrooms, and Morning Glory). The conclusion really draws on the spiritual benefits of hallucinogens, of course with careful considerations of tragic events related to its misuse, and how a different reality rises to the surface with the aid of such drugs, as well as with other experiences such as medi ...more
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shamanism, chaos, science, art
Who would have thought that this chemist is such a prolific writer. This book is a joy to read even from a very literary point of view. In the beginning it takes us into the heart of the process which lead to the discovery of the most defining substance behind 60's turbulences. In the second part Hofmann mentioned his view on mess that happened and notable people influenced by the powers of LSD effects. But the last chapter is a marvel; almost like a re-reading of "The Master and his Emissary", ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it
It was enlightening, to say the least, to read a work of Hofmann's. It is written in a similar style to Aldous Huxley's Doors of Perception. Although a bit dry at times, it has loads of information for the reader to discover. ...more
Lea Dokter
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is so interesting to read the thoughts of the creator of LSD on its discovery, uses in therapy (his "wonder child) and its misuse by the counterculture of the 60's and 70's (his "problem child"). This book is filled with experiences, related issues and inspiring thoughts; I learned a lot! ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A considered and nuanced collection of Dr Hoffman's thoughts and experiences with LSD. Appx 1/3 is devoted to history/discovery, 1/3 to sacred plants and spiritual insight, and 1/3 to the intellectual relationships developed around LSD experiences. Wonderful book. ...more
Avery (ThePagemaster)
A very interesting read. Very great to read about the initial discovery and how Hofmann talks about the repercussions that follow, as well as lay to rest any misconceptions of LSD, as well as any other hallucinogens; not to mention the famous acquaintances he befriended along his life.
Sarah Coupal
Sep 26, 2020 rated it liked it
A bit dry and scientific but it was interesting to get Hofmann's perspective. ...more
Teo 2050


Hofmann A (1979) LSD - My Problem Child - Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science

Translator's Preface (by Jonathan Ott)


01. How LSD Originated
• First Chemical Explorations
• Ergot
• Lysergic Acid and Its Derivatives
• Discovery of the Psychic Effects of LSD
• Self-Experiments

02. LSD in Animal Experiments and Biological Research
• How Toxic Is LSD?
• Pharmacological Properties of LSD

03. Chemical Modifications of LSD

04. Use of LSD in Psychiatry
• First Self-
Maram Mazen
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolute must-read for anyone with interest in the topic. An absolutely lovely and humorous book by a lovely and spiritual scientist and human being who created/discovered LSD. Has very interesting pieces of info on the history of its discovery and initial studies and uses that I could only find here in this book. It also has reflections on what may have gone wrong in the first wave of psychedelics use. I laughed out loud on several occasions in the book on his recollection of his own trips and ...more
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
amazing! a wise man, a very clear vision of what needs to change in our society, outstanding.
Costin Manda
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This is the second book about LSD that I read, after The Center of the Cyclone: An Autobiography of Inner Space, by John C. Lilly and it is also the autobiography of a scientist, but unlike Lilly, who seemed to have gone bonkers while writing his book, Hoffman maintains a scientific attitude about the whole thing, objective when needed, subjective in more personal chapters that he clearly delimits from the others. LSD: My Problem Child is the story of the invention of the drug, straight from its ...more
Dimitris Hall
Reading Hofmann describe the discovery that would change the world and usher in a new, revolutionary age of entheogenic spirituality in the West was nothing short of a delight. I think the story of how LSD was first synthesized, or discovered, is one of the biggest practical jokes humanity has ever experienced, played on it by some divine tricksters with a dirty sense of humor.

The fundamental importance of a mystical experience, for the recovery of people in Western industrial societies who are
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Ah yes. "LSD: My Problem Child." Who among ye does not know about it? Or let me paraphrase that: who in the psychedelic community does not know of this monument of a book? Albert Hofmann wrote it as an account of his journey discovering the infamous ergotamine hallucinogen LSD, the compound that has arguably had a stronger cultural influence than any other in the known world. After having wanted to read it for many, many years, I finally got to add it to my collection. As such, I deem it suitabl ...more
Joseph Hirsch
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A long time ago, in a galaxy far away (actually it was in Switzerland in the 1930s, I believe) a young chemist was studying the effects of ergot, and its potential applications as a postpartum hemostatic agent. Like an alchemist, he was tampering with things perhaps beyond his comprehension, and his discovery of LSD (specifically LSD-25) led to a change in human consciousness arguably as large as the one inaugurated by the Curies in their groundbreaking work on the nature of matter.

Dr. Albert Ho
Matthew Sylvester
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
There's some good material in here that is wide ranging: Hofmann's recounting of the discovery of LSD, a variety of trip-anecdote, some of which are genuinely funny because of how horrific they sound, and recounting the work of ethnobotanists working in indigenous cultures to glean the secrets of esoteric cults.

Throughout, Hofmann's voice is not so much of a writer, but rather as a synthesiser or collector of various material: correspondences with writers, material of expeditions in Central Ame
Aug 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really interested in reading about the discovery of LSD but I think that this book might not have been the best way to go about it. At first, I had to get through several introductions that just irritated me with their talk of LSD being a key for researching “karmic experiences” and “past lives”. Hoping this would be limited to introductions by other people rather than Hoffman himself I continued and was happy to find him marvelously explaining the chemical research that led to his acciden ...more
Kevin T
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the more delightful reads of 2019...sleeper hit for me. It is hard for us to remember that psychedelics are both old and new for humanity. Vague understandings of indigenous cultures attempting to meet the gods. Then fast forward to Timothy Leary telling us all to Turn on, Tune in and Drop out. The CIA using people in mind control experiments. Banned. Then one day "decriminalized" in Denver?

Dr Hoffman is a serious man who walks the reader through a brief history of LSD and psiloc
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: know-thyself
Another book that is left with little attention from psychedelic users. Didn't expect this read to be profound, but here is why I fully enjoyed this book and recommend to 'mind-alterers':
1) It gives detailed overview of how LSD was REALLY invented, what is ergot plant, what it was used for and finally, how and why Sandoz labs banned its sale
2) Hofmann gives meticulous accounts of his and his friends' accounts on LSD (Wasson, Huxley, Junger, Gelpke, etc.)
3) The book is impartial observation into
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read from the clear-headed analytical and scientific mind of the discoverer of LSD how the infamous substance changed his life.
Read how it came into existence in his lab, the very first trip reports, animal experiments, how it then spread across the world, initially as a potential medicine for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, later artists got a hold on it, and then eventually it fueled a whole counterculture. So what did A. Hofmann think of all this?
Also read how it brought the author i
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The father of LSD, Albert Hofmann tells the history of his "holy son", from his perspective and other significant figures in the world of acid. From an original veiwed as a wonderboy with potentially exceptional attributes to the field of pshychology. Compared to that significance the microscope has had for biology, and telescope has had for astronomy. To the turbulant years of its link to the devil and destroyer of souls, namely the "hippie years".

There is no question that LSD is not a toy to
Triin Rast
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of the most interesting book about psychedelic drugs particularly in a sense of the development of recreational drugs.

This book is a must-read for everyone who thinks that drug are only bad for people and are damaging for the society. Albert Hofmann wouldn't ever imagined that his discovery will be used outside of laboratory, psychiatric clinics or in most extreme cases at some artists homes or in the nature.

The abuse of LSD and other (psychedelic) drugs emerged during the t
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Albert Hofmann (January 11, 1906 – April 29, 2008) was a Swiss scientist known best for being the first person to synthesize, ingest, and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Hofmann was also the first person to isolate, synthesize, and name the principal psychedelic mushroom compounds psilocybin and psilocin. He authored more than 100 scientific articles and numer ...more

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“el espacio interior del alma es igual de infinito y enigmático que el espacio cósmico exterior, y (...) tanto los cosmonautas del espacio exterior cuanto los del interior no pueden permanecer allí, sino que tienen que regresar a la tierra, a la conciencia cotidiana. además, ambos viajes exigen una buena preparación, para que puedan desarrollarse con un mínimo de peligro y convertirse en una empresa realmente enriquecedora.” 5 likes
“Lo más importante fue para mí el reconocimiento, confirmado por todos mis experimentos con LSD, que lo que de común se denomina «realidad», incluida la realidad de la propia persona, de ningún modo es algo fijo, sino algo de múltiple significación, y que no existe una realidad, sino varias; cada una de ellas encierra una distinta conciencia del yo.” 1 likes
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