Osric University

Applied Abnormal Psychology: Drug Use and Creative Expression

I don't think one can sit down and say, "I want to write a magnificent poem, and so I'm going to take LSD." - Aldous Huxley

We often associate creative expression with drug use. Mary Shelley created Frankenstein, arguably one of the most powerful and enduring myths in Western culture, while under the influence of absinthe. Samuel Taylor Coleridge penned Kubla Khan after a dose of laudanum, an opiate. William S. Burroughs was a notorious addict and prolific author. Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road in a benzedrine fury. And Charles Bukowski, so far as we know, was constantly inebriated. This is to say nothing of the multitude of 20th-century and contemporary musicians and painters whose compositions were either created during or inspired by drug experiences.

Some experiences with drugs are not unlike "peak experiences," phenomenon explored in depth by psychologist Abraham Maslow. Peak experiences are "episodes of enhanced consciousness which feel qualitatively distinct from, and superior to, normal experience" (reference).

Here are some useful sites for exploring possible links between drug experiences and creativity:

Suggested readings:


Updated 08-24-2004. Problems? Contact chris@osric.com