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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Qualitative Research Proposal on the relationships of Drugs and Arts


Drugs usage so often are renowned to enhance the creative abilities in ones mind eventhough there are no conclusive evidence of such statement yet the tendency of artist abusing intoxicant are high in number. The objective of the study is to understand the attraction of drug abuse by creative minds and observe the relationship of the intoxicant under the influences of drugs. In order to achieve the study, participants of artists from different variety of criteria which admitably uses drugs in their creative process and depicted subtly in their arts. The study will conduct under the design of a semi-structured interviews and observation of the subject and its environment. In conclusion, the datas that will be obtained from the study would help to better understand drug abuse and creative minds.


Creativity is the usage of imagination and original ideas in a production of an artistic works. Art is an expression of a human creative skill and imagination using a variety of meduim and styles. Throughout the history of mankind a handful of creative groups of artistes have uses art to express their perspective and philosphy of their current state of time and reality. In the mid 1920s, the artistic world expriences a cultural movement that focuses on the elements of unexpected juxtapostions of a dream-like reality known as the Surrealism Revolution. It is closely related to the society's great interest in a unique and alternate reality that gives a moment of escape from their harsh and ever changing environment.

From the beginning of 1960s, the world expriences a phenomenal experimentations of intoxications that contains hallucinogenic qualities which enables the society a break from reality. Thus numerous of artistic and creative people have found a deep and significant value of drug usage in order to create an artwork of the same abstract phenomenon. Though the society soon changes its perception towards drugs abuse and began retaliating agaisnt such activities, the artistic communities seems to have a special bond and relationships towards intoxicant to the degree that many of the truely awe inspring modern artworks of an illusionalistic values are blamed or closely related to drug abuse.

But what is it about drugs that attracts the creative minds to abuse it? Why are there such a high tendancy for artist towards intoxicants to create their artworks? And what are the relationships between Drugs and Creativity? These are the questions that need to be answered and researched to a conclusive and none bias explanation. Though there are plenty of research concerning the matter of drug abuse from both the biological perspective of health issues and the psychological perspective of behavioral issues, most of these studies done are focused on the criminal activities and negative effects of drug usage.

There is a lack of understanding in the relationship between drug abuse and the effects of it on a creative human brain.  According to a reading of this topic, it is state that, They (the creative people) love novelty, which is known to increase cotical arousal (Berlyne, 1971). It is a typical stereotyping of an artist when this literature labelled that one of the biggest traits in a creative mind is the traits of oversentivity or withdrawal which leads to a lowering of the level of arousal (C. Martindale, 1999).  Thus from the lack of arousal, a craving for the novelty of a mental-stimulant is often prefered by the creative minds instead of the strong stimuli of a real-world adventure (C. Martindale, 1999).

Though this researches reasonable explanation of the phenomenon but it is purely based on a stereotyping of a artistic mind that has issues of withdrawal thus a close affection for intoxicants.  There is an enormous variation in the responds of drugs, for some a direct aesthetic inspiration is found but mostly it is an extremely significant exprience that indirect way could help the creative process (A. Huxley, 1960). From the statements of artistes who had exprience drug abuse in order to create an artwork it is easy to conclude that there is plenty of studies need to be done to understand the interconnecting of drug usage and the creative process.

It is important that such a research is to be done on this topic in order to truly understand the relationship. Such a study would benefit a wide range of audience, from the general public and art societies that could truly understand and even appreciate those artworks that depicts such a tale in a greater value to higher education institutions that offers art courses that would enables the lecturer to understand the attraction of their students to do such activities. The need for this study is important to rationalize and benefit from the understanding of the mechanism of the drugs on creative mind is to find a healthier substitution that doesnt place the artist at risk to bring beauty to the society.

The Purpose of the Study

The intention of the proposed study is to learn and understand the creative mind or artist tendancy to abuse drugs, the effects and influence of it in the process and artworks, and also the nature of their social world. The purpose of the study will be to understand and truly discover the tendancy of artist to drug abuse from a close research on a focused group of selected artist with a wide range of age and lifestyle using a variety of artistic medium and style whom of course has exprienced drug abuse. From there we could develop a hard and concrete explanation behind such phenomena.

Why do the artist abuse the drugs? When and why did the artist had the tendacy to try drugs? How does the drugs enchance the artist vision and creative process? What effects does the drugs have on the artist creative skills? Who are these creative minds and what is the artist backgrounds? What type of drugs do these artistic people tolerate and abuse? Do the artist depend on the drugs in order to create an artwork? If yes, why and how does it help? if no, then why do the artist still abuse it?

These are the central questions of the proposed study. There is without a doubt that additional questions will be included along the way through the research process once obtain a clearer clarity on the subject. The focus will be on the artists and their relationship with drugs, and each question or concern will be examined from their perspectives in order to truly understand their reasons and their views on the attachement.

Limitation of the Study

The proposed study will be approached in the manner of a qualitative research with a primary method that involves the usage of a semi-structured interview. A preliminary decriptive examination will be included of the expriences of creative process under the influence of drug from the artist's perception. It will be limited to a subject of no more than 30 artists of different age and lifestyle with various medium usage and style, and limitation of the drugs to only Cannabis, Opium, Psilocybin Mushrooms, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Cocaine, Heroine and PCP.  These limitations are due to the time constraints of interviewing and data analysis of subsequent responses.

 Research Paradigm

The proposed study will be approached in a qualitative research manner. The qualitative researchers often associates with theoretical perspective of  phenomenology (Bogdan & Biklen, 1982). Using the perspective of a phenomenological approach, researchers will indentify and discover the comprehension of the events and in the human interactions. in addition, the interpretation of the data by this approach would emphasize on the context accumulated. The phenomenological approach stresses the researchers to "centers on the attempt to achieve a sense of the meaning that others give to their own situations" (Smith, 1989, p. 12).

A handful of qualitative researchers have emphasize the significance of the subject's  perspective and their point of view of the world and reality (Bogdan & Taylor, 1982; Blumer, 1999; Mezirow, Darkenwald, & Knox, 1975; Rock, 1989; Rockhill, 1982; Smith, 1993). Though reliability and validity of the qualitative research methods has been highlighted, however it is plausible to study the subjective in a careful and objective manner if the important systematic procedures is followed as stressed by Glaser and Strauss (1967).  Both the data collection and analysis is describe as a rigorous and demanding process by Blumer (1969), in which the researcher is in constant revision and test of the images and conceptions of the data recovered.


In order to fully understand the relationship and interconnection between drug abuse and the creative process, the subjects of the study would be selected from numerous groups of art societies of various style of art. For this we would visit art galleries of a specific district and find  artists which shows a significant influences of intoxication depicted in their artworks and interview them directly at the gallery itself as well as a visitation to their personal studios. This procedure is taken in order to cover as much variety of artist in their environment and exprience their culture which would enable the researchers a clearly view of their perspective.  Furthermore, with this sampling techniques all type of artist could be used who has genuine drug abuse expriences and genuine usage of it on their creative process.

Data Collection & Analysis

The methods used in order to collect the datas from this qualitative study of the drug abuse among creative people would be the primary semi-structured interviews of the selected artistes. It is proposed to begin the interviewing process as soon as the selected participant's criteria is found in the gallery in order to view his responses in a general location. Then it is suggested that the researches does a second interviewing of the subject in their secured location of their personal studios. This method is necassary in order to detect their perception on their drug abuse activity.

The interviews will be in the conversational style of informal and open-ended manner that is based on unstructured questions with occasional inquiries for clarification in order to keep the connection between the researcher and the subject to a comfortable level subsequently allowing the subject to answer in as truthful as possible. The subjects will also be asked to create a work of art in their respectative studios in both with and without the influences of drugs. The artworks would help to give a definative prove on the comparrison and add credibility to the data.

The anticipated numbers of subjects would be below 30 participants with all of their identity kept anonymous from the public unless requested otherwise. All the interviews would be video-recorded which would vary in length from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, this is to ensure all the subtle subconcious body movement of the subject is recorded in order to be scrutinized and analyzed in detailed. A transcript of the recorded interviews will be written.

Throughout the process of study data anylises would be carried out. The data obtained from the casual field notes of the interviews, analysis of the recorded interviews, and other sources of follow-up interviews and professional comments will be written into a memoranda to be reviewed by respectable figures of the topic in order to gain more clarification of the data.

 All of the files obtained will be entered into computer files. A computer software program that make use of coding system known as The Ethnographer will be utilized in order to organize the different topics and themes found in these files. In order to designate major categories and subcategories, a scheme of numbers and letters will be applied. The "Hard copies" of all computer files of data will also be classified using codes of colored pens to mark the margins with an appropriate numbers and letters.

Connections made  between categories and themes will be used to help build a structure for the organization of the data for portrayal in the final document. These documents and connections of all the data anylize would be used to further the understanding of the relationship of drug abuse in creative minds.

Reliability and Validity

The validity of this study is not a high concern for it is not so much of 'getting it right' as getting it 'differently contoured and nuanced' (Richardson 1994, p. 521). Nevertheless, there are methods that will be taken to ensure the reliability of the research. One of the methods would be the 'Unobtrusive Measures' of reducing as much as possible the researchers presences in the environment to ensure low level of disturbance. The methods would be used when interviewing the subject, it will be done in the friendliest manner to bring as much authenticity of answers from the subject.

Other methods used to prove the validity of the study is by using the statements of the respondent validation.  In this study the biggest prove of validation by the respondent would be the artworks produced under both state of conciousness. All of the data obtained from the research would be double checked and confirm its validity from the subjects interviewed and the professional guidances of figures that are closely related to the topic of the study.


Aldous Huxley
Huxley on Drugs and Creativity : The Paris Review (1960)

Colin Martindale
Handbook of Creativity : Part 3 -Origin of Creativity (1999)
Chapter 7 : Biological Bases of Creativity 
Subtopic : Creativity and Need for Novelty and Stimulation (Page 144 - 145)
Cambridge University Press (NY)
Berlyne, DE (1971) Aesthethics and Psychohiology. New York : Appleton Century
"centers on the attempt to achieve a sense of the meaning that others give to their own situations" (Smith, 1989, p. 12).
(Bogdan & Taylor, 1982; Blumer, 1999; Mezirow, Darkenwald, & Knox, 1975; Rock, 1989; Rockhill, 1982; Smith, 1993)
Glaser and Strauss (1967)
Blumer (1969)
'getting it right' as getting it 'differently contoured and nuanced' (Richardson 1994, p. 521).

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