Mick Brown at Literary Review:
For better or worse, Albert Hofmann has a lot to answer for. It was Hofmann, a chemist working for Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland, who in 1943, in search of a respiratory and circulatory stimulant, inadvertently hit upon a substance called lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. Accidentally ingesting some of the substance, Hofmann found himself overcome by ‘an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors’. This was the world’s first acid trip.
It was Hofmann, too, who in 1958 isolated psilocybin, the ingredient found in several species of ‘magic mushrooms’ from Latin America. These had long been used in shamanic rituals, but Hofmann’s breakthrough allowed psilocybin to be easily prepared in the laboratory for clinicians and psychiatrists to use in ‘psychedelic therapy’.