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Hope Reese is a journalist based in Louisville, KY. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, Undark Magazine, Vox, and other publications. Find her on Twitter: @hope_reese

‘I Was a Storm of Confetti’: Michael Pollan On Why It’s a Good Idea To Lose Your Self

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Hope Reese | Longreads | May 2018 | 17 minutes (4,468 words)

On April 19, 1943, the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann ingested a quarter milligram of LSD to confirm that it had caused the oddly fantastical journey he had experienced the day before. To his surprise and delight, he was not mistaken –– the drug opened up a new window of consciousness. The discovery caught the attention of other researchers, and by the 1950s, psychedelic testing was in full bloom, yielding promising results for people suffering from neurosis, schizophrenia, and psychopathy.

But as counter-cultural experimentation progressed and the drugs were taken out of the lab and into the wild –– think of Tim Leary, dubbed “the most dangerous man in America” by Nixon, and his controversial LSD experiments –– there was a backlash. According to the writer Michael Pollan, society “turned on a dime” against psychedelics. “You’d have to go back to the Inquisition and Galileo for a time when scientific inquiry was stigmatized quite the way this was,” he tells me. “And it’s a measure of how powerful that backlash was and how threatened powerful interests felt about what psychedelics were doing to society.” Read more…