Jekyll and Hyde Revisited: Paradoxes in the Appreciation of Drug Experiences and Their Effects on Creativity

This commentary article (2002) imagines the two sides of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as two parts of a psychedelic experience. This is applied to artists in this somewhat esoteric article.


Historically, states of intoxication—like dreams and madness—are seen in either one of two opposed ways. The intoxicated are either “possessed” or “under the influence” of an external agency, or revealing hidden feelings or truths (in vino veritas). Along the same lines, artists who worked during LSD, mescalin or psilocybin intoxication often refer to feelings of either being “possessed” or “liberated,” a difference that can be explained partly by their expectations and partly by their evaluations, which both tend to conform to the cultural dichotomy in interpreting the irrational. Both interpretations, however, tend to obscure not only the other, but also—it is posited—the paradoxical nature of the drug experience itself. Analysis of a protocol shows that intoxication might comprise feelings of “possession” as well as “liberation” almost simultaneously, and mediumistic and some psychedelic art shows stylistic traits that can be seen as the visual expressions of both these feelings. It seems that the “demoniacal” and “psychedelic” mode come together in experiential reality, only to be divided in the cultural sphere.

Author: Jos ten Berge

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