Back in the 1950s, the U.S. government conducted many experiments on human subjects involvingpsychedelic drugs such as LSD.
Project MKUltra is perhaps one of the most well known of these programs, in which the Scientific Intelligence Division of the CIA aimed to develop drugs and methods that would successfully force confessions through mind control. These experiments included giving LSD to mental patients, prisoners, drug addicts, and prostitutes without their knowledge to study their reactions.
One experiment that occurred during that time period but wasn’t associated with Project MKUltra involved an artist being asked to draw his experiences under the influence of LSD. After being given an activity box full of crayons and pencils, he documented his altering perception of reality and the same subject in the nine drawings below.
1. “First drawing is done 20 minutes after the first dose (50ug).”
“An attending doctor observes – Patient chooses to start drawing with charcoal. The subject of the experiment reports – ‘Condition normal…no effect from the drug yet.'”
2. “85 minutes after the first dose and 20 minutes after a second dose has been administered (50ug +50ug).”
“The patient seems euphoric. ‘I can see you all clearly, so clearly. This…you…it’s all…I’m having a little trouble controlling this pencil. It seems to want to keep going.'”
3. “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 colour. 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.'”
4. “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, it is? I give — I’ll try again…'”
5. “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, then becomes startled by something on the floor.”
6. “2 hours and 45 minutes after first dose.”
“Patient tries to climb into activity box, and is generally agitated — responds slowly to the suggestion 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.'”
7. “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, changing media to pen and water colour. ‘This will be the best drawing, like the first one, only better. If I’m not careful, I’ll lose control of my movements, but I won’t, because I know. I know.’ (This saying is then repeated many times.) Patient makes the last half-a-dozen strokes of the drawing while running back and forth across the room.”
8. “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 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 — this pencil is mighty hard to hold.’ (He is holding a crayon.)”
9. “8 hours after first dose.”
“Patient sits on bunk bed. He reports the intoxication has worn off, except for the occasional distorting of our 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.'”