This comprehensive review (1985) of the literature on psychedelics and creativity spans most of the research that had been done before the doors of perception were shut for 40 years.
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Author: Stanley Krippner
The paper is very good overview of the studied that had been done up to that date. Here are things that stood out:
- Only nine (pilot) studies had been done on psychedelic drugs and creative performance
- Berlin and colleagues (1955) asked painters to paint whilst on mescaline which produced works of art that had “greater aesthetic value”
- Barron (1963) found his subjects (creative individuals) to be engaged under the influence of psilocybin, but some saying judging afterwards that the work was not inspiring
- Janiger (1967, 1959) asked 60 prominent artists to paint a picture of an American Indian doll, which were judged as more imaginative but of lower ‘craftsmanship’
- Leary (1963) gave LSD to 65 writers who also responded positively
- Fischer, Fox and Ralstin (1972) gave psilocybin to 21 college-age volunteers and reported on a measure of brain damage (“one’s brain damage is another person’s creativity”)
- McGlothlin, Cohen and McGlothlin (1967) reported on 72 graduate students who were given LSD who showed no changes on creativity tests at two weeks and six months later
- Zegans, Pollard and Brown (1967) found that 30 graduate students did better than the control group on word associations, but no other significant results were found
- “[LSD] may increase the accessibility of remote or unique ideas and associations while making it difficult for subjects to narrow their attention on a delimited perceptual field.”
- Harman and colleagues (1966) found that professionals could get more work done and their fluency of ideas went up significantly
- Krippner (1977, 1970b, 1969) took a survey of artists (180) and musicians (27), many of which agreed with his definition of them being a psychedelic artist
- “Some (<10%) didn’t do psychedelics but got to the same state in a different way
- Of the artists surveyed, 131 said that there had been a noticeable improvement in their artistic technique resulting from their psychedelic sessions: A greater ability to use color was the example mentioned most frequently
- Of the artists, 142 attributed a change in their creative approach to the psychedelics.
- In conclusion, this author’s interviews indicated that very few artists and musicians created or performed during a psychedelic experience. However, most of those interviewed felt that the experience itself had been of artistic value.”
- And in conclusion, “What is more typical is that the creative person uses the psychedelic experience as raw material for an eventual painting, composition, poem or invention (Ebin 1961)”
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October 1, 1985