Thursday, July 14, 2016

LSD: the catalyst of creativity

Since it's first consumption in 1943, LSD has played an interesting role in human creativity and perception. Albert Hofmann, the creator of LSD, gives the following description of his first (accidental) encounter with the hallucinogenic drug:

“At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away (Hoffman).”

Source: Horgan

As LSD was legal in the United States until October 6, 1966, the drug was used medicinally and in both academic and governmental research (uconlineprogram). In academia, the drug was used to show student psychologists the effects of schizophrenia first-hand. The government used LSD, and other drugs, to try to force people into certain states, like states of illogical thinking, euphoria, or complete physical paralysis. The results of one of the experiments can be found here:

Although drugs are often seen as having wholly negative consequences, an argument can be made that certain drugs enhance creativity. For instance, graphic designer Brian Pollet ingested 20 different drugs over the course of 20 days with the goal of creating a new piece of art everyday. The result was remarkable artwork:

Source: Tikunova

The remaining pieces of art can be found here:
Additionally, an artist decided to view the affects of LSD over time by drawing herself in intervals across a nine hour time period.

Source: Dainius

The full progression can be found here:
Apart from drugs offering creative performance in the arts, drugs have also been used to induce creative performance in other domains, like science. For instance, Francis Crick, Steve Jobs, and Richard Feynman all consumed LSD recreationally (Love).

Although now illegal, LSD has played a role in many scientific and artistic endeavors and should not be denounced as wholly negative.

Love, Dylan. “Meet The Science And Tech Geniuses Who Got High And Solved Amazing Problems.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 22 Aug 2013. Web. 14 July 2016. 
Hofmann, Albert. “LSD — My Problem Child.” The Psychedelic Library. The Psychedelic Library, n.d. Web. 14 July 2016.

uconlineprogram. “Neuroscience pt3.” YouTube. YouTube, 16 May 2012. Web. 14 July 2016.

“Artist Draws Nine Portraits on LSD During 1950s Research Experiment.” Open Culture. Open Culture, 15 Oct 2013. Web. 14 July 2016.

 Horgan, John. "Tripping in LSD's Birthplace: A Story for 'Bicycle day'." Scientific American. Scientific American, 19 April 2014. Web. 16 July 2016.

Tikunova, Paulina. “Artist Takes 20 Different Drugs And Creates 20 Illustrations To Show Drug Effects.” Bored Panda. Bored Panda, Feb 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.

Dainius. “Artist Used LSD And Drew Herself For 9 Hours To Show How It Affects Brain.” Bored Panda. Bored Panda, Oct 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.

“Famous People Who Struggled with Drug Addiction”. Bio. A & E Television Network, n.d. Web. 14 July 2016.

TED. “VS Ramachandran: 3 clues to understanding your brain.” YouTube. YouTube, 23 Oct 2007. Web. 14 July 2016.

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