Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin, best known for introducing the drug MDMA (ecstasy) to psychology, passed away Monday at the age of 88.
Shulgin played a major role in the psychedelic movement in the US, synthesizing previously unknown psychoactive substances, testing them on himself, and creating detailed reports of his experience. These experiences were transformed into a number of books, including PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved) and TiHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved). Through his experiments, Shulgin reportedly synthesized over 200 new psychoactive substances and rated them according to his personal Shulgin Rating Scale.
In 1965, he decided to pursue his own research in psychiatry and pharmacology, transforming his house in Berkeley, California into his own personal lab. While working with Californian psychologist Leo Zeff, Shulgin introduced MDMA to hundreds of US psychologists as an aide to talk therapy.
Next time you take that mystery pill, give a silent thanks to the man who made it happen.