Timothy Francis Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) was an American psychologist and writer, known for advocating psychedelic drugs, perhaps even to assist psychotherapy. During American legality of LSD and psilocybin, Leary conducted experiments under the Harvard Psilocybin Project (see below).

Leary believed LSD showed therapeutic potential for use in psychiatry. He popularized catchphrases that promoted his philosophy such as “turn on, tune in, drop out“.  During the 1960s and 1970s, he was arrested often enough to see the inside of 29 different prisons worldwide. President Richard Nixon once described Leary as “the most dangerous man in America”.

Harvard Psilocybin Project:

1. Concord Prison Experiment: was designed to evaluate the effects of psilocybin combined with psychotherapy on rehabilitation of released prisoners. After being guided through the psychedelic experience, or “trips,” by Leary and his associates, 36 prisoners were reported to have repented and sworn to give up future criminal activity. Compared to the average recidivism rate of 60% for American prisoners in general, the recidivism rate for those involved in Leary’s project dropped to 20%. The experimenters concluded that long-term reduction in overall criminal recidivism rates could be effected with a combination of psilocybin-assisted group psychotherapy (inside the prison) along with a comprehensive post-release follow-up support program modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous.

2. The Marsh Chapel Experiment: Boston area graduate divinity students were administered psilocybin as a part of a study designed to determine if the drug could facilitate the experience of profound religious states, and nine out of the ten divinity students reported such experiences.

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