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LSD, Spirituality, and the Creative Process: Based on the Groundbreaking Research of Oscar Janiger, M.D.

Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Oscar Janiger, Rick Strassman · 4 HN comments
HN Books has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention "LSD, Spirituality, and the Creative Process: Based on the Groundbreaking Research of Oscar Janiger, M.D." by Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Oscar Janiger, Rick Strassman.
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Amazon Summary
An exploration of how LSD influences imagination and the creative process. • Based on the results of one of the longest clinical studies of LSD that took place between 1954 and 1962, before LSD was illegal. • Includes personal reports, artwork, and poetry from the original sessions as testimony of the impact of LSD on the creative process. In 1954 a Los Angeles psychiatrist began experimenting with a then new chemical discovery known as LSD-25. Over an eight-year period Dr. Oscar Janiger gave LSD-25 to more than 950 men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 81 and coming from all walks of life. The data collected by the author during those trials and from follow-up studies done 40 years later is now available here for the first time, along with the authors' examination of LSD's ramifications on creativity, imagination, and spirituality. In this book Marlene Dobkin de Rios, a medical anthropologist who has studied the use of hallucinogens in tribal and third world societies, considers the spiritual implications of these findings in comparison with indigenous groups that employ psychoactive substances in their religious ceremonies. The book also examines the nature of the creative process as influenced by psychedelics and provides artwork and poetry from the original experiment sessions, allowing the reader to personally witness LSD's impact on creativity. The studies recounted in LSD, Spirituality, and the Creative Process depict an important moment in the history of consciousness and reveal the psychic unity of humanity.
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

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Some accomplishments that don't get nearly enough credit in discussions like this are art, movies and music.

Countless artists, writers and musicians were influenced by psychedelics. It's not hard to make an argument that the music most people listen to and love today would not exist without the influence of psychedelics.

The Beatles are just one super famous example, where the influence of psychedelics on their music is super obvious and the tremendous influence of The Beatles is undeniable, but the same could be said of many if not most 60's/70's musicians, which in turn had huge influence on what followed, not to mention the obvious influence of psychedelics on psytrance and dance/club music in general.

Something else to consider is that from the time psychedelics were outlawed until very recently admitting psychedelic use was taboo, and so many psychedelic users were in the closet.

These are more open times, so some people are admitting it now, but many are still in the closet because coming out as a psychedelic user could still negatively impact your job prospects, the way society in general views you, and perhaps your relationships with people you care about.

So there are probably way more psychedelic users out there than most people realize, and their accomplishments when taken as a whole are very significant.

How much of such accomplishments were due to the influence of psychedelics? We don't have enough information to say for certain, but there have been studies on the effects of psychedelics on creativity[1][2][3] which show a positive effect. That's not to mention the well demonstrated potential of psychedelics to help with depression, the alleviation of which could also help users to create and contribute to society.

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I love that book, and find Feynman eloquent, likeable, and funny. He was also incredibly smart and highly accomplished.. in his own field.

But Feynman, like many other intelligent, famous people, had a bad habit of opining on and dismissing out of hand subjects he knew little about. He did this with philosophy and with psychedelics.

At least he tried LSD, but he was clearly not an authority on LSD, and his experience with it was minimal. Not to mention that back in the 60's little was known about how best to use it (there was some research in to this, but most people were not aware of the most effective methods.. and even now, while we know better we might not have the optimal method figured out).

While Feynman might not have solved his scientific problem on that particular session that doesn't mean that it's useless in helping problem solving. In fact, there has been research that indicated that it helped with both creativity and problem solving: [1][2] and there's still ongoing research in to this subject.[3][4]

As we all know today, the benefits of psychedelics can extend far beyond helping with creativity and problem solving, however.. they can help with various personal and mental issues, for example, increase empathy and openness, help with end-of-life anxiety, help with relationships, etc... apparently Feynman was either completely ignorant of this potential or chose to ignore it while focusing only on the narrow subject of scientific problem solving and his fear.. which is understandable, but not really a fair assessment of the potential of psychedelics.

Which isn't to say that Feynman should have taken more LSD (that's a personal choice for everyone, and I respect his decision).. but just because Feynman didn't doesn't mean no one should.

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To say Feynmam knew "nothing about" a drug he actually personally experienced is a hard sell.

"Feynman was either completely ignorant of his potential or chose to ignore it". [citation needed]

IMHO he did rather well i his limited time on the planet.

The comment said "this potential" (referring to a use case of LSD), not his potential.
It's interesting that you quote me as saying that Feynman knew "nothing about" LSD, when I actually said he knew "little about" it.

Not the same.

Having one trip does not make you an expert. It makes you a novice with still a lot to learn. Feynman, as smart as he was, could not become an authority on LSD after a single trip.

There have been some studies on the effect of psychedelics on creativity. A particularly relevant study by Oscar Janiger has been documented in LSD, Spirituality, and the Creative Process.[1] Other studies (including ones on microdosing) are discussed in The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide by James Fadiman.[2]

That said, this is a wide open field that could greatly benefit from more research. I am hopeful that such research will once again become acceptable to the scientific establishment before too long, as a number of studies on other effects of psychedelics have recently been completed with much success.

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"The idea that one can pop a pill and have a spiritual experience (instead of context-free noise) is ridiculous."

On the contrary. There have been a number of studies which have provided evidence that psychedelics can, in fact, lead to spiritual or mystical experiences.[1][2][3][4][5]

Now, that isn't to say that when you take psychedelics you are guaranteed to have a spiritual or mystical experience (or any other kind of experience). The effects of these substances are just too varied, not well enough understood, and not fully under our control. However, you can prepare for and structure the experience such that the likelihood of spiritual or mystical experiences increases.

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