An illustration done by an artist 20 minutes after taking 50 micrograms of LSD. According to notes taken by the attending physician, Dr. Oscar Janiger, the patient “chooses to start drawing with charcoal and was showing no effect from the drug.” Not yet anyway.
Experimental psychiatrist Oscar Janiger was one interesting cat. After relocating from New York to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, he established his private practice. Later, Janiger would end up teaching his somewhat unconventional beliefs at the University of California-Irvine. While all that sounds pretty typical when it comes to the life of an academic, Janiger was anything but your average college professor. You see, Oscar Janiger was a hugely influential early advocate of the use of hallucinogens, and his experiments and research precede those of LSD’s most famous enthusiast, Timothy Leary. Janiger allegedly hooked up actor Cary Grant and author and author Aldous Huxley with LSD and was noted to have dosed himself with the hallucinogenic drug at least thirteen times, though his drug trips were taken in the name of science as Janiger was very interested in trying to establish a direct correlation between use of the drug and how it might influence creativity. Which brings me to the point of this post—an experiment conducted by Janiger in which he administered LSD to an artist who was armed with a box of crayons.
The goal of Janiger’s experiment was to chart how well the artist could cling to reality during his “trip” and his ability to draw the same portrait of a man before, during, and after taking LSD. There are nine pictures in all, and each is pretty telling when it comes to the long, strange journey Janiger’s high-as-fuck guinea pig went on. I’ve posted the pictures below that chronicle the various results of each stage Janiger’s patient traveled through during which he was administered 50 micrograms of LSD twice. Which, if you’re not acquainted with acid, is a pretty standard dose, although, the illustrations and their accompanying captions seem to say otherwise.
This illustration was done at the 85-minute mark following the first dose, and twenty minutes after a second, 50 microgram dose. According to Janiger, his patient seemed “euphoric.” He stated to Janiger that he could see him “clearly, so clearly.” He also sputtered out the following statement: “This… you… it’s all… I’m having a little trouble controlling this pencil. It seems to want to keep going.”
At two hours and 30 minutes in Janiger’s patient appears very focused on the business of drawing. He then makes the following statement: “Outlines seem normal but very vivid - everything is changing color. My hand must follow the bold sweep of the lines. I feel as if my consciousness is situated in the part of my body that’s now active - my hand, my elbow… my tongue.”
Two hours and 32 minutes in Janiger notes that his patient seems “gripped by his pad of paper.” The artist notes he’s going to try to create another drawing saying that the “outlines of the model are normal, but now those of my drawing are not. The outline of my hand is going weird too. It’s not a very good drawing, is it? I give up - I’ll try again…”
Two hours and 35 minutes in Janiger says that his patient was able to produce another drawing saying that he would “Do a drawing in one flourish… without stopping… one line, no break!’ When he finished his illustration, Janiger’s patient started laughing then became startled by something on the floor. Sounds about right.
At the two hours and 45-minute mark, Janiger’s patient attempted to climb into an activity box and is generally agitated. He is slow to respond to suggestions such as if he would like to “draw more.” He has become mostly nonverbal but did manage to mumble the following: “I am… everything is… changed… they’re calling… your face… interwoven… who is…” He also appears to be attempting to hum a tune (according to Janiger it sounded like the 1938 hit “Thanks for the Memory”). He would then switch his medium from charcoal to tempera.
Much more after the jump…