Watch a 1950s Housewife Take LSD

Watch a 1950s Housewife Take LSD

Jan 18, 2011

Apparently tripping balls felt the same in 1956 as it does today.

Sidney Cohen Watch a 1950s Housewife Take LSD

The history of LSD is both scandalous and funny, which is why it’s important to read about it as much as possible.

My favorite book on the topic is “Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond” by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain. It’s both dense and comprehensive, tracing a historical path of its potential uses from a “truth serum” for MK-ULTRA’s chemical mind control experiments, to partying with stinky hippies, to serious psychiatric aid for recovering alcoholics who desperately need a spiritual awakening.

The video below, which features Dr. Sidney Cohen dosing a housewife for a study he conducted at Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Los Angeles in 1956, is a rare peek at the more serious side of LSD research, and it turns out that watching prim, nervous housewives in ’50s style dresses tripping balls is amusing. Her best quotes:

“I can feel the air I can see it. I can see all the molecules. Can’t you see it?”

“I am one with what I am. I can see everything in color.”

“I wish I could talk in Technicolor.”

Most people who have taken LSD can agree that its extremely difficult to explain the drug’s effects with words, which is why its effects proved difficult to study. Nonetheless, Dr. Cohen took his tests seriously, and according to his “New York Times” obituary, while he was famous for “acknowledging LSD’s value in psychotherapy, [he] wrote of his concern over its abuse by the ‘beatnik microculture,’ warning that this could set back serious research for years.”

Biographer Don Lattin, who recently published “The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America,” reportedly found this clip while working on his new book— a biography about Aldous Huxley, philosopher Gerald Heard, and Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who believed that LSD could be a useful tool for recovering addicts.

I’ll probably buy Lattin’s new book when he completes it, mostly to read more about Bill Wilson. While dropping acid may feel exactly the same in 2011 as it did in 1956, it’s hard to imagine it being seriously suggested today that the best way to cure addicts is to give them more drugs.

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