These nine drawings were done by an artist under the influence of LSD, as part of a test conducted by the US government during the 1950’s. The government was keen to learn of any potentially beneficial effects that these new synthetic drugs may have, and how such effects could be used. Their primary hope was to be able to use LSD as a truth serum, using the patient’s altered sense of reality to overcome any conscious guards.
The artist was to be given a dose of LSD 25, and free access to an activity box full of crayons, paints and pencils. His subject throughout is the doctor administering the drugs. The first drawing is done 20 minutes after the patient has received the first dose (50μg). The attending doctor observes that the patient starts drawing with charcoal. The artist explains “Condition normal , no effect from the drug yet.”
85 minutes after the first dose and 20 minutes after a second dose has been administered (100μg total). The doctor notes that the patient seems euphoric.
“I can see you clearly, so clearly. This…. you…. it’s all… I’m having a little trouble controlling this pencil. It seems to want to keep going.”
2 hours and 30 minutes after the first dose. Patient appears very focused on the business of drawing.
“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”
2 hours and 32 minutes after first dose. Patient seems gripped by his pad of paper.
“I’m trying another drawing. 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…I’ll try again…”
2 hours and 35 minutes after first dose. Patient follows quickly with another drawing.
“I’ll do a drawing in one flourish… without stopping… one line… no break”
Upon completing the drawing the patient starts laughing and then becomes alerted by something on the floor.
2 hours and 45 minutes after first dose. Patient tries to climb into activity box, and he is generally agitated and responds slowly to the suggestion that he might like to draw some more. He has become largely non-verbal.
“I am… everything is… changed… they’re calling.. your face… interwoven…who is…” Patient mumbles inaudibly to a tune (sounds like “Thanks for the Memory”).
He changes medium to tempera.
4 hours and 25 minutes after first dose. Patient retreated to the bunk, spending approximately 2 hours lying, waving his hands in the air. His return to the activity box is sudden and deliberate. He changes his medium to pen and water color.
“This will be the best drawing, like the first one, only better. If I’m not careful, I’ll loose control of my movements, but I won’t, because I know. I know.” (He continues to repeat “I know” over and over.)
Patient makes the last half a dozen strokes of the drawing while running back and forth across the room.
5 hours and 45 minutes after the first dose. Patient continues to move about the room, intersecting the space in complex variations. It’s an hour and a half before he settles down to draw again; he appears to be over the effects of the drug. “I can feel my knees again. I think it’s starting to wear off. This is a pretty good drawing, but the pencil is mighty hard to hold. (He is holding a crayon).
8 hours after first dose Patient sits on bunk bed.He reports the intoxication has worn off, expect for the occasional distorting of faces. We ask for a final drawing, which he performs with little enthusiasm. “I have nothing to say about this last drawing. It is bad and uninteresting. I want to go home now.”