ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Does LSD Work?

Updated on May 10, 2015

Awareness is our ability to perceive, with our awareness we are aware of the existence of objects and so can direct our attention toward them. Without awareness of something we cannot direct our attention toward it and so can never truly experience it. Awareness is a mysterious phenomenon, mainly because there are many different levels of awareness. A sleeping person is strangely in connection with the room they are in and subtly aware of their bodily functions (think of all the times you've woken up at 6am needing to pee), and even a person in a deep coma can be aware of visitors or voices.

LSD is a drug that affects our awareness. To affect our awareness a drug has to make changes to the chemistry within our brains. This is because awareness is created in the brain by a chemical reaction.

In your brain you have many thousands of long string like cells called neurons. These neurons are like cities bustling with activity. When you have a thought a particular neuron get's excited and sends many transport units out to it's neighbouring neurons, creating a chain reaction of excitement. These transport units are known as neurotransmitters.

The different type of neurotransmitter arriving in the new neuron determines what type of reaction the neuron has. If the neurotransmitter is glutamate, which is extremely common and regulates memory and learning, it is like a normal car arriving in the city. If the arriving neurotransmitter is dopamine, it is like a rock band arriving in town and everyone begins to party. If the neurotransmitter is serotonin, it is like a great public speaker or politician who arrives in the city and influences the cities mood and vibe.

Serotonin is an incredible neurotransmitter, largely because it has such a unique effect on our minds. It is the regulator of many important functions such as mood, memory, sleep and awareness. Furthermore it is present in a huge amount of animals, including single celled bacteria.

Serotonin has the effect of arousing us or bringing us to attention. Attention is what engages us with our awareness. Essentially if a sleeping person or comatose person is aware of their surroundings, they have very poor attention to it and are so not engaged with it. Whereas a waking person is intensely engaged with their awareness, as is someone sexually aroused.

You may notice that you remember things better when you have an emotional connection with them. This is because memory is like with arousal, and arousal is linked with serotonin. If you are slapped every time you bite your nails, pretty quickly you will remember not to do it. This has also linked serotonin with depression, where someone depressed has a waking awareness of the world, but they become chronically upset because their lack of serotonin does not allow them to be aroused and engage with the world.

LSD is a chemical created by Albert Hoffman in the mid Twentieth Century that alters our arousal and engagement with our awareness. The amazing thing about LSD is that its chemical shape is almost identical to the chemical shape of serotonin. So if serotonin is a public speaker or politician who preaches to the city, LSD is like a strange painter or graffiti artist who starts to exhibit weird paintings around town.

Serotonin creates what we would call normal attention, which is practical and useful for going about our day to day routines. It keeps our memories in check and allows us to direct our attention to the parts of our awareness that matter for our survival and it deals with things in a logical and reasonable fashion, as a public speaker or politician would.

LSD creates an altered attention, which seems to drag us out of the realm of routine into the realm of imagination and art. Like how walking down the street on your way to work is something you do everyday, but this morning you notice a magnificent piece of graffiti on the wall that really snaps you out of autopilot.

LSD has this effect by being profoundly engaging. Like serotonin it acts on your attention, and arouses you intensely. It does not cause strange aliens to appear like pop culture would have you believe, it causes you to engage deeply with things in your field of awareness, be they bodily functions, thoughts, fantasies, nature or conversations.

This can be very intense and even unnerving. Imagine becoming so engaged with you body that you begin to hear your own heartbeat. What's more it allows you to engage deeply with your memories, memories that serotonin thinking rendered impractical for day to day use. Memories like getting bullied as a child or having the best hug of all time. These would render you an emotional mess if they were always on your mind, but LSD opens the floodgates and forces your to engage with these memories that you had to hide for the sake of functioning in society.

Granted drugs are incredibly taboo in our current paradigm, and can have various negative social effects, I believe that the analysis of their effects on the mind can have profound ability to expand our collective awareness of how the deep and hidden inner workings of the brain literally create our reality, and the study of these chemicals may produce tools that can effectively change our realities for the better. One day this may even lead to our ability to change our shared reality for the better.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Steafan Fox profile imageAUTHOR

      Steafan Fox 

      3 years ago from Dublin

      Thanks, I checked it out. The 60's were an interesting time.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      You got that stuff down in a good way about neurotransmitters, attention, and how these things effects of our engagement in the world.

      For a rare discussion with an '60s Acid Guide see:


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)