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LSD: My Problem Child
by Albert Hofmann
Publisher:
J.P. Tarcher, Inc. 
Year:
1979 
ISBN:
0874772567 
Reviewed by Harley, 10/14/2005

LSD: My Problem Child is a wonderful guided tour through the history of LSD and the very thoughts of Dr. Hofmann. The book covers the discovery of the compound, its use in early psychiatry, and its later use in the counter culture. He also presents a great deal of information about his early experiments on animals, himself, and his friends. And there is even a chapter on”The Mexican Relatives of LSD”, which provides information on mushrooms and the first isolation of psilocin and psilocybin, Morning Glories and the first isolation of natural LA-111, and a bit on salvia divinorum. This book is a wonderful collection of scientific information and, at the same time, can be read and understood by almost anyone with an interest in the subject. The length is fair and thus shouldn’t stop anyone from reading it; I have certainly seen larger books provide less information.

Just think how things would be if not for the accidental rediscovery of a once scrapped compound. The fate of LSD, and history itself, may have been very different if not for Dr. Hofmann’s simple hunch and persistent curiosity. This book is a must have for any true psychonaut’s library.

7 Comments »

  1. The story of the discovery of LSD and its subsequent rearangement of the established social and political order by its founder,Dr. Albert Hoffman (who will be turning 100 years old soon!)What more can I say? It’s the personal account of the invention of LSD straight from the horses’ mouth – a man that has seen both world wars and countless rise and falls of various sub-cultures and lived to tell the tale.

    As for the mundane technical details:

    the book contains some chemistry terms and other technical information,but it’s nothing too dificult and can even be skipped without detracting much from the book. Chemistry types should learn some interesting information about the process involved in the discovery of LSD though. The book was originally written in German,Hoffman’s native language,and translated by the great Jonathan Ott. I don’t know much German,but a couple people that are fluent in both English and German have told the book is translated superbly – and Ott has translated many German language books – so I imagine very little was lost in the translation.

    Hoffman is a very sincere and objective person I believe. It must be remembered that he is first and foremost a scientist,not a mystic. That being said,he seems to balance the rational/scientific with the mystical/spirtual very well though. One of the most interesing parts of the book(in my opinion)is when Hoffman talks about non-drug mystical experiences he had as a child.

    My only complaint is that reading the book got boring at times because I had simply heard much of this information before (especially the “Mexican Relatives of LSD” chapter that talks about Wasson’s famous rediscovery of psilocybin mushrooms amongst other things). However,this is hardly Hoffman’s fault. I imagine that much of information contained in this book has directly trickled down into later books that I’ve read. In any case,it’s still great the here the tale from the man himself. And those newer to psychedelic literature should learn a great deal of intersting information.

    To my knowledge,this book has been out of print for some time for some ungodly,unknown reason. I’ve tried to find a copy without paying out the proverbial ass for it with little sucess. (Please reprint this book someone) Fortunately,this work can be found all over the ‘net very easily. Follow the links in the “Erowid Library” to find it.

    I give it 4 1/2 stars…

    Comment by monoamine — 10/23/2005 @ 6:19 am

  2. I’m just wondering why on earth the cheapest copy on Amazon.com is $100. If anyone can tell me, email shogunwarrior@gmail.com please.

    Comment by Sterling — 11/1/2005 @ 12:46 pm

  3. The prices are high because the book is currently out of print. Happily, MAPS (maps.org) is just in the finishing stages of getting a new edition to the printer. I believe they’re hoping that it will be available around the end of the year. At that point, it should again be available for normal book prices.

    Comment by fire — 11/3/2005 @ 2:09 pm

  4. Hey Erowid crew, please relay any information you can share about the reprinting of this wonderful book to us. It’s a shame it hasn’t found a wider audience that it deserves. Any related info would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks guys (as usual).

    Comment by monoamine — 12/18/2005 @ 1:53 am

  5. THIS REALLY SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT READ AND CANT WAIT TO RECIEVE MY 15$ COPY I PAID FOR FROM AMAZON. THIS BOOK IS NOW OUT IN REPRINT AND EASILY PURCHASED FOR LESS THAN 20 DOLLARS. LOOK FORWARD TO SOME GREAT LEARNING EXPERIENCES. LOVE THE SITE, EROWID.

    Comment by IGGY — 6/22/2006 @ 1:51 pm

  6. It was really quite interesting to learn what the discoverer of LSD 25 had to say about his “problem child.” Some of it was a bit technical, to be sure, but that is to be expected from a researcher and chemist. For anybody who has ever experienced LSD, and even for some who haven’t, it is a book worth reading.

    Comment by Michael — 8/23/2008 @ 10:54 pm

  7. I just finished reading this short book, and was absolutely impressed by Hofmann’s simple eloquence, intelligence, and sensitivity. Essential reading for anyone remotely interested in the subject; this is the view from ground zero! Strikingly well written (and translated)!

    Comment by David — 2/21/2013 @ 5:17 pm

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