Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of drugs. Throughout history people have taken them to alter their perceptions and change their moods. The attractions lie in the promise of instant pleasure and the possibility of heightened perceptions. Nietzsche said that no art could exist without intoxication and believed that a dream-like state was an essential precondition to superior vision and understanding. But artists and writers from De Quincey to Coleridge to Huxley have found drugs to be both a creative and a destructive force in their lives and work. Coleridge said in his poem about opium: Fantastic Passions! Maddening Brawl! And shame and terror over all! The world of drugs is a topsy-turvy world of ambivalence and paradox: a world of clarity and confusion; stimulation and stupefaction; medicine and poison; vitality and death.Can drugs really stimulate creativity? What is the impact of drugs on the body? And what role have narcotics and stimulants played in the history of medicine?

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Programme ID: p00548fh

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00548fh

Auto-category: 615.78 (Drugs and their effects)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Throughout history, people have taken drugs to alter their perceptions and change their moods.