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Creativity and Psychoactive Substance Use: A Systematic Review

Abstract

The role of psychoactive substance use in the research of artistic creation and creativity is a long-standing topic. Ever since the discovery of LSD, researchers have examined the relationship between the effects of chemical substances and the artistic creative process. The goal of the present study was to systematically review all published empirical publications and case reports in refereed journals that focus on the relationship between psychoactive substances and creativity/creative artistic process. A total of 19 studies were identified that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Results were difficult to summarize because of the different study questions asked, the diverse methods used, the different samples applied, and the various substances examined. The general results suggest that there is an association between creativity and substance use. However, the studies were unable to show that substance use directly contributed to the growth of creativity or facilitated creative artistic process. It is concluded that specific skills may be subject to change as a consequence of substance use, and consequently may have an effect on the style of creation.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the Hungarian National Research, Development and Innovation Office (Grant numbers: K111938).

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Correspondence to Zsolt Demetrovics.

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The authors declare that they do not have any interests that could constitute a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest with respect to their involvement in the publication. The authors also declare that they do not have any financial or other relations (e.g. directorship, consultancy or speaker fee) with companies, trade associations, unions or groups (including civic associations and public interest groups) that may gain or lose financially from the results or conclusions in the study. Sources of funding are acknowledged.

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Iszáj, F., Griffiths, M.D. & Demetrovics, Z. Creativity and Psychoactive Substance Use: A Systematic Review. Int J Ment Health Addiction 15, 1135–1149 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-016-9709-8

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Keywords

  • Artistic process
  • Creativity
  • Psychoactive substance use
  • Drugs
  • Empirical research
  • Systematic review