My 12 Hours as a Madman: LSD in Maclean's Magazine (1953)

My 12 Hours as a Madman
by Sidney Katz
October 1st, 1953
Maclean's Magazine

Here is the minute-by-minute report of a Maclean's editor who swallowed an experimental drug that turned him into a raving schizophrenic: what he saw, what he felt, what he said and did—fully documented by tape recordings, photographs, scientific witnesses and his own tormented memories that still haunt him.

On the morning of Thursday, June 18, 1953, I swallowed a drug which, for twelve unforgettable hours, turned me into a madman. For twelve hours I inhabited a nightmare world in which I experienced the torments of hell and the ecstasies of heaven...
Time lost all meaning. Hours were telescoped into minutes; seconds stretched into hours. The room I was in changed with every breath I drew. Mysterious flashes of multicolored light came and went. The dimensions of the room, elasticlike, stretched and shrank. Pictures, chairs, curtains and lamps flew endlessly about, like planets in their orbits. My senses of feeling, smelling and hearing ran amuck. It was as though someone had rooted out the nerve nets in my brain, which control the senses, then joined them together again without thought to their proper placings.
But my hours of madness were not all filled with horror and frenzy. At times I beheld visions of dazzling beauty—visions so rapturous, so unearthly, that no artists will ever paint them. I lived in a paradise where the sky was a mass of jewels set in a background of shimmering aquamarine blue; where the clouds were apricot-colored; where the air was filled with liquid golden arrows, glittering fountains of iridescent bubbles, filigree lace of pearl and silver, sheathes of rainbow light—all constantly changing in color, design, texture and dimension so that each scene was more lovely than the one that preceded it.
Two weeks have now passed since I spent half a day as a madman.(I was so frightened and bewildered by the experience that it is only now that I am able to sit down and write a complete account of what happened to me. Even now, as I relive the nightmare from this safe distance, I grow tense and my body is bathed in perspiration.)
I volunteered to become a temporary madman in the interests of medical research into the problem of mental illness. This is one phase of research where some of the guinea pigs have to be human beings. For animals can't describe their sensations.

The drug I took was LSD—lysergic acid diethylamide.

- excerpts from My 12 Hours a Madman by Sidney Katz, for Maclean's Magazine (1953)

Read the full article.

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