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Observations placeholder

Previn, André – The effects of LSD



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Internet article – Dr Oscar Janiger and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) project

Dr. Oscar Janiger was one of the pioneers in the field studying the relationship between LSD and creativity.  To ensure the comfort of his subjects during their LSD excursions, Janiger had rented a small house in the mid-Wilshire district. In one room he set up his regular psychiatric practice. In an adjacent room, furnished with a couch, a bed and a swanky hi-fi system, he conducted his LSD study.

In the enclosed back yard, he installed a garden, to give his experimental trippers a safe outdoor haven to explore. "So many of the studies prior to mine were done in hospital rooms, restricted environments," Janiger recalls, "and I thought that my study might be benefited by a naturalistic environment."

Though Janiger held an associate professorship in the Psychology Department at the California College of Medicine (later to become the University of California at Irvine), he funded the study himself by charging a $20 fee for the experience. Sandoz Laboratories, the Swiss pharmaceutical company that "discovered" LSD, supplied the drug free of charge. In return, Janiger agreed to keep Sandoz informed about the results of his experiments. Unlike many other researchers and major universities, he never accepted funding — covert or overt — from the CIA or the military.

Janiger’s research would represent a significant departure from the orthodox thinking about LSD. Up until then, most academics had classified the drug as a "psychotomimetic" agent — a substance that produces a state of temporary insanity; if LSD could create dissociative states that mirrored schizophrenia, the thinking went, the drug was ideally suited to the study of the chemical and biological causes of mental illness.

….. Los Angeles was an intellectual hub for psychedelic research, and its acid salons drew adventurous celebrities from Anaïs Nin to Jack Nicholson, Aldous Huxley to André Previn. Those were heady days . . . in more than one sense. As Cary Grant rhapsodized about LSD’s revolutionary potential that spring morning in Janiger’s office, everyone could benefit from a good dosing. "Just a few healthy magnums of LSD in the Beverly Hills reservoir . . ."

The following is from a transcript of the case notes from Janiger’s administration of LSD to André Previn

[The doctor] had suggested that I listen to some music while the drug was still effective. I am a composer and pianist, and I have never before or since been so strongly affected by music. I listened to recordings of some Brahms, Mozart and Walton, and was moved to tears almost immediately . . . I then played the piano for approximately 40 minutes. I felt that I played extremely well and possibly with more musical insight than before. I played among other things a Chopin Fantasia which I had not looked at since my student days, and remembered it perfectly and without flaws. A few days after the experiment I again attempted to play this piece and found that I had retained it completely. I would sometime be interested in repeating the experiment and recording some improvisations while under the influence of the pills.  

The source of the experience

Previn, André

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