1. Boy George Lost Control of His Bodily Functions
Culture Club frontman Boy George described a bad trip in his autobiography, "Take It Like a Man."
Although he had used other drugs in the past, including weed and heroin, it was the first time he had taken acid. Compared to other drugs he had taken, there is a long delay between taking LSD and the drug taking effect -- typically up to an hour. George got bored waiting after taking the first tab, and took a second dose, so the trip was very intense.
George and his friends headed to a club. After a bout of paranoia about the police presence outside, and upsetting another celebrity, George felt he had lost control of his body. The visual hallucinations made it feel like "everything was breathing and coming at me. I started shrinking and feeling scared. We had to leave."
He then alienated most of his companions, who left him alone with celebrity pal, Marilyn. By then, George had lost control of his bodily functions. "I was tripping so badly I couldn't get myself to the toilet. Marilyn led me to the loo in hysterics and left me staring at the bowl. I caught my melting face in the mirror and started to freak. 'I can't go, I can't' [then] I pissed myself."
2. Jack Hallucinated Bugs and Snakes
Jack took his final acid trip at age 20, "the only one in which I lost the ability to know the difference between what was real and what was induced hallucination." He ingested 125 micrograms of LSD which took effect while he was walking on the beach with a friend, Bill, who was not intoxicated.
"All of a sudden I was transported to never-never land, a deep dark place where everybody was a bug with insect faces, antennae coming out of their heads and all this dripping and masticating going on with their mouths... Snakeheads were bobbing around every corner." As the visual distortions continued, "I started raving, going nuts... I was gone. It was about three hours of grisly horror. I was so distracted by the ghastliness of it all that I didn't have time to notice how scared I was. I thought this metamorphosed world was reality. I was screaming and yelling and jumping around while Bill tried to maintain me."
The bug and snake hallucinations continued on the drive home, and Mark kept trying to jump out of the car, so Bill had to tie him down. The drive was "one of the most gruesome experiences I can ever remember... I was out of my mind, horrified by these hideous visions I kept seeing... It was really a miserable, miserable experience."
After he came down, Jack's eyes were damaged from the sun for weeks afterwards -- the pupils dilate in response to LSD and he had not worn sunglasses. He became socially isolated -- he felt like an outsider and discontent, unable even to have a sense of belonging with his previous "subversive" companions, and described himself as more inclined to see the dark side of humanity. "Now I didn't belong to anything. I'd stepped away from my family and lost a lot of friends. I went off into the abyss because I was disconnected, on the road to nowhere. I never took LSD again."
3. Mark's Behavior Got Him Hospitalized
At age 17, Mark took 5000 micrograms of LSD with four friends. As the acid took effect, Mark felt alienated from his companions, although later he reflected that maybe the hostility was all in his head. Feeling increasing paranoia, he went off into town on his own.
As the intoxication effects intensified, it looked as if "the streets were melting and churning," and people looked like comic book characters. A field looked like a Van Gogh painting, "everything in my field of vision looked slabbed on, like one of his paintings."
Mark stopped by the home of a family he knew, in search of sanctuary, and requested a shower, which he then felt unable to control. His parents arrived, but his behavior became out of control. He ran out of the house, thinking he could fly, and was briefly sobered by the experience of stubbing his toe. He returned to the house, but then "the whirlwind began again," and he began racing around the house being chased by their Saint Bernard dog. In an effort to control Mark's behavior, his companions put him in a small room, which only antagonized him further. He threw a chair through the window and escaped.
On his way home, he felt an impulse to be free and unencumbered, so he stripped off his clothes. An ambulance was called, he was tied onto a stretcher, and taken alone to a hospital, where he was given an injection of antipsychotic medication. He was kept under observation for ten days, and charged with indecent exposure.
4. Wayne Anthony's Girlfriend Became Destructive and Violent
Wayne Anthony described a horrific turn of events, when he and his girlfriend dropped acid and she had a bad trip from the start. This was also a bad trip for Wayne, because he had to cope with trying to subdue her aggressive behavior and getting her professional help while he was under the influence himself. This story illustrates the fact that although most people do not become violent from taking acid, when they do, it can be completely unprovoked and irrational, and very difficult to control.
As a musician, she owned a lot of recording equipment, which she smashed to pieces while under the influence of LSD. Stripping herself naked, she proceeded to cut herself with a broken shard of plastic, and became violent towards Wayne and others who attempted to dress and help her. Wayne called an ambulance and he and the paramedic struggled to get her into the ambulance, as she was so physically aggressive. While in hospital, she assaulted a nurse, and it took many people to hold her down so she could be forcibly injected with a sedative. She was given the maximum dose of sedating medication to calm her down.
After coming down, she was horrified at what she had done -- assaulting herself and others, and destroying her own equipment.
5. Dr Frank Olson Took His Own Life
In a tragic LSD government experiment, Dr Frank Olson, a Special Operations Officer and biochemist, consumed a drink spiked with LSD. A first hand account of what he experienced during this trip is not available, but he was reported to have suffered from psychosis as a result. Days later, he took his own life by throwing himself out of a tenth floor window of the Statler Hotel in New York.
We will never know what Dr Olson actually experienced during or after this trip, but the subsequent investigation indicated that he may have had a history of emotional instability. Furthermore, being spiked with a hallucinogenic drug without your knowledge is likely to be much more confusing and frightening than experiencing the effects after intentionally taking the drug through your own choice. While the triggering of psychosis and deaths by suicide and accidents are relatively uncommon under the influence of LSD, it is a risk. People who have a history of emotional or mental health problems are particularly strongly cautioned of this risk.
Anthony, W. Class of 88: The True Acid House Experience. London: Virgin Books. 1998.
Black, D. Acid: The Secret History of LSD. London: Satin Publications. 1998.
Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States. Report to the President. 1975.
Hayes, C. (editor). Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures. New York: Penguin. 2000.
O'Dowd, G. & Bright, S. Take it Like a Man: The Autobiography of Boy George London: Pan McMillan. 1995.