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Hofmann's Potion - documentary DVD review
HOFMANN'S POTION rating: 4 stars
Featuring: Timothy Leary, Stanislav Grof, Ram Dass, Aldous Huxley, Dr. Ralph Metzner
Director: Connie Littlefield   Studio: Alive Mind
DVD release: 08 August 2008   Runtime: 57 min. (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (English)

In 1943, Albert Hofmann, a Swiss Chemist researching a cure for migraine headaches, was accidentally exposed to Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD - 25). He felt dizzy and disoriented and had to go home. He found the intoxication to be not unpleasant and had some peculiar visual sensations. Three days later, he tried again. This day, referred to as Bicycle Day, Hofmann took a much larger dose and had quite an experience (rode his bicycle home). A door had been opened, and LSD would be sent all over the world for psychiatrists and researchers to evaluate.

Hofmann's Potion brings to light the early days of LSD research. LSD was at first thought useful to expose doctors to what it's like to be schizophrenic. While this assumption turned out to be false, it did open the minds of many who took the drug. It was seen to turn the perception inward; after the experience, the world would seem vivid in new ways. Some studies show that used as a treatment for alcoholism, LSD has a 50% success rate, as compared to the 10% enjoyed by AA and other treatment methods.

Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary famously did research with LSD (and other psychoactive drugs) at Harvard. Eventually, Leary's ability to generate negative press got the program shut down. In Canada, Dr. Humphrey Osmond and others conducted research in wise and comfortable ways, allowing subjects to experience a journey into their minds in a safe environment. This is generally preferred above, say, taking it at a party or in a sleazy alleyway. Subjects had a guide to help them from freaking out or having, as the kids say, a 'bad trip.' Leary's turn on, tune in, drop out philosophy surely spooked and threatened the establishment, helping to pave the way for the illegalization of LSD.

Hofmann's Potion is an interesting look at the birth of LSD research with a bittersweet aftertaste about the mindless nature of bureaucracies that would shut down the compassionate research and implementation of therapies using LSD.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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