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Observations placeholder

Watts, Alan – An LSD experience with Dr Oscar Janiger



Type of Spiritual Experience

Pure or enhanced perception

Number of hallucinations: 1


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................

Alan Watts compared his trip somewhat unfavorably to the rare mystical experiences he had undergone earlier in his life. Those events, which weren’t catalyzed by drugs,

"just didn’t feel like the LSD experience," he wrote. "They were very much more convincing. They seemed to be more a matter of insight than perception. They changed the meaning of experience rather than experience, and although modification of pure meaning was so much a part of LSD, it didn’t happen in the same way. LSD seemed to complicate meaning rather than simplify it. It gave the sense of indescribable complexity rather than indescribable simplicity. For this reason it did not seem to be a particularly liberating experience. It was fascinating rather than illuminating, and felt more like the statement of a complex problem than its solution."

He added

An inclination to "break wind" was inhibited by the fear that it might turn into a multi-dimensional faux pas, reverberating uncontrollably through this Riemannian cosmos!  

The source of the experience

Watts, Alan

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps