I’m not even gonna pretend that I didn’t spend my younger years experimenting with all manners of drugs. Or that Ecstasy/X/MDMA – or any other name variation – didn’t change my life (for the better I might add, just in case that wasn’t clear). And it was all thanks for a madcap/brilliant scientist who decided to introduce MDMA to psychologists in late 1970s.
Alexander Shulgin, or Sasha as he was known to his close friends, gently passed away on June 2, 2014, around 5pm, in Lafayette, California. Mr. Shulgin was a visionary and an extraordinary chemist and while he was most famous for his reintroduction and popularization of MDMA he was much more than just the ‘Godfather of Ecstasy’. He synthesized hundreds of psychoactive chemicals and since these chemicals had to be tested to see if they worked, Shulgin self tested – which just goes to show how much he trusted his ability as a chemist.
In case you thought that ingesting all those chemicals must surely have sent him off the edge at an early age, let me just state that Shulgin passed at age 88, yes he had illnesses but that is as respectable age as any to pass away. He leaves behind legions of fans of his work, dubbed psychonauts. He also wrote two books (amongst others) titled Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story and Tihkal: A Continuation and he also pioneered responsible, personal psychopharmacology.
If you’re one who doesn’t believe in drug usage, MDMA and a lot of other drugs are now being researched for medical reasons. In fact MDMA is being used on ex-soldiers to help them get over the war.
I never met Shulgin, but live vicariously through a friend who met him when he was in Barcelona, Spain. I would have loved to have joined his troop of friendly experimenters and be able to talk about the human mind.
In a tiny backyard laboratory and with limited funds, Shulgin managed to accomplish synthetic feats many chemists technically could have, but didn’t. Through his passion and his willingness to take risks (to his freedom and financial stability) he managed to contribute so much to the fields of psychopharmacology and medicinal chemistry. He will be sorely missed by many. Thank Mister Shulgin, you have changed not only my life but that of many others.