When Big Lurch woke up, he was alone in a prison cell, confused and covered in blood.

On November 7, 2003, he was sentenced to life in prison, joining a long line of offenders incarcerated for violent acts they committed while under the influence of PCP, or Phencyclidine. 

Discovered by accident in the 1950s, PCP was initially used in clinical settings as an anesthetic under the brand name Sernyl. Patients, however, experienced mania, delirium, hallucinations, and severe disorientation under the drug's influence, which led to its removal from the market in 1965. 

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That's when hippies started using it recreationally.

You wouldn't think that PCP, a dissociative anesthetic known for inducing extreme aggression, would become a choice drug during the peace movement, but it did.

The free-spirited, nonconformist, Bohemian masses of the late 60s and early 70s loved PCP. So much so that it became ubiquitous within hippie culture, which, ironically, promoted unity and serenity, not detachment and violence. 

How did this happen? How did this violent drug win over the hippies?

You could blame copywriting.

"What is it?" asked Martin, as he examined the small, white pill that was just placed in his palm. 

"Try it," said the man. "It's a Peace Pill."

"A Peace Pill?"

"That's right," said the man. "Go ahead, try it. First one's on me."

Martin put the PCP tablet on his dry tongue, where it stuck. Then he took it down with a swig of beer and waited for the peace to wash over him. 

When a benefit is baked into the name of a product, it sells itself.

And that's exactly what the word "Peace" in Peace Pill did in the 60s.

In Martin's case, for example, it created an expectation, an assumption, a belief in his mind that shaped his perception of the drug. So profound was his perception that he ignored any evidence - pharmacological or physical or anecdotal - pointing to the fact that PCP was not, in fact, peaceful at all. 

Just think: If copywriting can sell violence to pacifists, what else can it sell? 

The answer is anything

What are you selling?


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