Oscar Janiger

Oscar Janiger (1918-2001) – Photograph by Michael Sierchio

Twenty years ago today (2021), Allen’s cousin, Oscar Janiger, the beloved “Oz”, passed away (or, rather, re-entered cosmic infinity). A remarkable man. Here’s his AP obituary:

“Torrance, California – Psychiatrist Oscar Janiger, an early advocate of psychedelic drugs, who was credited with turning on Cary Grant and numerous other celebrities to LSD, died Tuesday of kidney and heart failure. Janiger was 83. Between 1954 and 1962, “Oz”, as he was known to friends administered almost 3,000 doses of LSD to 1,000 volunteers. Among them were Grant, fellow actors Jack Nicholson and Rita Moreno, author Aldous Huxley and musician Andre Previn. Janiger bought the drug, then legal, from Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Sandoz Laboratories and administered it at his Los Angeles office. Although his work pre-dated that of LSD guru Timothy Leary, he never gained widespread recognition for it. Janiger, who took the drug 13 times himself, said he was interested in LSD’s link to creativity and what he called the ability to access a state of crazy consciousness without losing control of one’s surroundings. In 1986, he formed the Albert Hofmann Foundation for psychedelic research, named after the chemist who first synthesized the drug. He had abandoned his own LSD studies in 1962, however, after the federal government began investigating researchers. The drug was outlawed in the United States in 1966.

Born in New York, Janiger, who was a cousin of poet Allen Ginsberg, moved to Los Angeles in 1950, setting up a private practice and later teaching at the University of California, Irvine. While an associate professor of psychiatry at Irvine, he studied the connection between hormones and pre-menstrual depression in women. Most recently, he was involved with a group studying dolphins in their natural environment”.

Here’s additional obit notes – from The New York Times,  and Susan Carpenter‘s in the LA Times.

An in-depth interview (from 1990) with David Jay Brown and Jeanne St Peter can be accessed here.

A conversation (from 1992) with Douglas Cruikshank may be found here

John Whalen’s informative 1998 profile in the LA Weekly can be found here

Audio of him speaking (at a 1988 event honoring Albert Hoffman) is available here (Janiger’s remarks come approximately an hour-and forty-eight minutes in, Hoffman, himself concludes the program).

One comment

  1. I knew Oz from 1995 to his death, first as a patient then as a friend. What a wonderful Man.The calmness of a monk and the insights of a genious. I'll miss him. He once introduced me to his cousin Allen Ginsburg. A memory I will have for the rest of my life. MCP

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