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Oscar Janiger, LSD pioneer, 83

Celebrity LSD pioneer dies

By Sarah Tippit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar Janiger, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who
"turned on" scores of artists, intellectuals and elite members of
Hollywood's entertainment community, including the late Cary Grant, to the
psychedelic drug LSD in the 1950s and 1960s, has died at 83.

Janiger died on Tuesday of kidney and heart failure at Little Company of
Mary Hospital in suburban Torrance, spokeswoman Laurie Hanley said. He
maintained a therapy practice until just a few weeks before the end of his

>From 1954 until 1962 -- four years before LSD was declared illegal --
Janiger was one of the first researchers to probe the drug's potential for
enhancing intellect and creativity. He incorporated the drug into his
therapy and handed it out to an estimated 1,000 volunteers including such
luminaries as novelists Anais Nin and Aldous Huxley, actors Cary Grant and
Jack Nicholson, and conductor/composer Andre Previn.

Janiger often said he was particularly interested in artists' ability to
access a state of altered consciousness in uniform conditions using this
"creativity pill," which he saw as a "marvellous instrument to learn more
about the mind."

Although his research predated that of Timothy Leary, it was never widely
recognised because he never published his data.

Born in 1918 in New York, Janiger became interested in psychiatry at age 7
when, upon taking long walks in the country, he realised that his
imagination could create a whole new cast of characters on the same long
road each night.

"From then on when I'd get into situations, I'd determine what aspect that
was within me was being projected outward, and what was a reflection of
the world that others can validate along with me. That, of course, has
been the theme of my work in therapy and as a scientist," he said during a
1990 interview.


Janiger received his MA in cell physiology from Columbia University. For a
time he worked as a New York City high school teacher but got reprimanded
for pasting stars on the classroom ceiling. He ultimately quit after being
reprimanded again for bringing mouldy bread, cheese and wine into the
classroom to teach children about the advent of penicillin.

He went on to the University of California Irvine School of Medicine,
where he served on the faculty in their Psychiatric department for more
than 20 years in addition to maintaining a private practice in Beverly

Unlike the LSD field tests conducted by the United States government,
Janiger's subjects were fully aware they were being given the drug and
each paid $20 for a "hit" of "acid" which was made by a Swiss
pharmaceutical firm.

Janiger gave his patients the LSD in a room that adjoined a garden in his
office rather than hospital or prison settings that had typically been
used in previous government tests. He personally took LSD 13 times and
said that it helped him see that "many, many things were possible."

About 70 of his patients took part in a creativity experiment in which he
asked them to paint or draw an American Indian

Kachina Doll before taking the LSD and then again one hour after taking
it. Some 250 works of art were created during those sessions.

Affectionately nicknamed "Oz," as in "wizard," by his friends, Janiger's
interests were wide ranging. After LSD was outlawed in 1966 he remained an
advocate of the drug but turned his attention to other research.

Among his many accomplishments he established a relationship between
hormonal cycling and pre-menstrual depression in women, discovered blood
proteins specific to male homosexuality, and determined through studies of
the Huichol Indians in Mexico that centuries of peyote use do not cause
chromosomal damage.

He is survived by a sister and two sons. 

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