Psychedelic drugs are characterised by their abilities to alter perception, mood, and other cognitive processes (Nichols 2004). Their other common name, hallucinogens, is a misnomer as many psychedelic drugs do not produce hallucinations while there are many types of non-hallucinogens that do (McCage 2012; Keeler, Ewing, Rouse 1971). The two groups of psychedelics that this paper will focus on are tryptamines and phenethylamines, considered by many to be the two main categories of classic hallucinogens (Bonson 2012, Nichols 2004). The first group, tryptamines, act similarly to serotonin, affecting mood, sleep, appetite, and sexuality (McCage 2012). This group includes drugs like LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) (Bonson 2012).
Tryptamines target the 5-HT2A receptors which play essential roles in cognitive processing and working memory (Nichols 2004). The second group, phenethylamines, are noradrenaline-like, also responding to serotonergic receptors, like 5-HT2A, as well as well as noradrenergic systems (Abraham, Aldridge, Gogia 1996). However, tryptamine hallucinogens have a “high binding affinity” for 5-HT1A receptors which sets them apart from phenethylamine and explains certain hallucinatory aspects” (Bonson 2012).
Ultimately, interactions between the drugs and the receptors lead to unstable moods, time perception changes, feelings of dissociation and derealization, and finally, “feelings of insight and altered meaning” (Baggot 2015).How Psychedelics May Affect Creativity Creativity is traditionally considered to be “the production of novel, appropriate ideas or works” (Amabile, Pillemer 2011). As outlined by Baggot (2015), various self-report tests administered after taking psychedelics include questions about gained insight and altered meanings. These questionnaires include the Altered States of Consciousness Questionnaire (Dittrich 1998), Hallucinogen Rating Scale (Strassman 2005), Linton-Langs Questionnaire (Linton and Langs 1962), and the Subjective Drug Effects Questionnaire (Katz et al.
, 1968). Therefore, it is clear that new connections can be an effect of psychedelics. As a result, many may channel these feelings through creative outlets.