Timothy Leary was interested in psychology before he was interested in psilocybin.
In 1950 Leary received his doctorate in psychology from the University of California Berkeley.
He was an assistant professor there until 1955.
In 1959 he became a Lecturer at Harvard University.
In 1960 Leary took a trip to Mexico which was where he first ingested psilocybin mushrooms.
Regarding this experience, Leary commented:
“I learned more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than the preceding 15 years of studying and doing research in psychology.”
In the following years Leary linked up with Richard Alpert – commonly known as Ram Dass, who was also a Harvard lecturer, studying and analyzing psilocybin’s effect on the brain.
They started the Harvard Psilocybin Project — and at the time, neither Psilocybin or LSD were illegal in the United States.
Leary and Alpert worked on documenting psilocybin’s effects on human consciousness by administering it to volunteer subjects and recording their real-time descriptions of the experience.
They concluded that psychedelics, under the guidance of psychologists/guides, in the right dose and good setting, could benefit people in ways that normal therapy couldn’t.
Two years later in 1962, various faculty members and administrators at Harvard were intimidated by Leary & Alpert’s research. These opposing faculty members termed that they were “concerned” about the safety of Leary and Alpert’s research subjects…
The rigor of this research was also critiqued as unorthodox. This is somewhat understandable because Leary & Alpert sometimes ingested psilocybin as the conducted research. I personally don’t think this would make a significant difference in their research findings — I think they likely had more accurate research after ingesting psilocybin.
The volunteers of this research were graduate students, but in 1963, Ram Dass, who was then Richard Alpert, administered psilocybin to an undergraduate student and was dismissed from Harvard. Leary was also fired at this time and the Harvard Psilocybin Project ended.
This was far from the end of Leary & Alpert.
Leary moved to Millbrook, New York and continued his psychedelic research. Alpert was also at Millbrook for some time.
Around 1970, the president at the time, Richard Nixon, labeled Tim Leary as “The most dangerous man in America”
It’s funny how later on Nixon was impeached.
Leary did end up in jail & prison multiple times.
& he actually escaped one time, haha, the time was during his 10-year prison sentence in 1970…
In the years before his prison sentence Leary had designed a psychological test for prisoners and he was given this test in prison.
He answered all the right questions which put him in the most low-security prison possible then ended up escaping to Algeria where he joined the Black Panther Party before one of their leaders attempted to hold him and his wife hostage. Leary and his wife fled to Switzerland.
In 1973 Leary was still on the run but he was arrested and faced 95 years in prison.
He ended up with a 15 year sentence in Folson Prison, California, where his cell was right next to Charles Manson’s cell. They couldn’t see each other but they conversed.
Leary became an FBI informant to shorten his prison sentence. He was released in 1976.
Leary continued lecturing, debating, and writing for the rest of his life.
He even pursued politics at one point and asked John Lennon to write him a song for his campaign.
Lennon said yea and wrote the song “Come Together” for Leary. What a great song.
The Moody Blues also wrote a song titled “Legend of a Mind” with the main lyrics being:
“Timothy Leary’s dead..…No he’s on the outside looking in.”
…Leary was still alive at this time.
Here are a few of Leary’s quotes:
“Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”
“Grow with the flow.”
“Think for yourself and question authority.”
“I am 100 percent in favor of the intelligent use of drugs, and 1,000 percent against the thoughtless use of them, whether caffeine or LSD. And drugs are not central to my life.”
Timothy Leary Died May 31, 1996 in Beverly, CA, but his spirit lives on.