Timothy Leary (1920 – 1996) was a psychologist who researched psychedelic drugs which change the activities of the brain—especially LSD—and promoted their use. He became the roving Hippie, the sage of Aquarius, the 1960s icon who promoted peace and love through psychedelic drugs to a nation divided over the rise of the hippie counterculture, as Leary tried to avoid arrest and prison. Leary coined the slogan, "Turn on, tune in, drop out."
Professors at Harvard led the attack on the wayward lecturer, warning that experimental drugs like LSD should be administered by physicians in controlled medical settings, not by psychologists at late-night parties. Leary responded that "control of the mind through drugs, which we call internal politics, will be the leading civil rights issue in the coming decades." He claimed, "LSD use is a sacramental ritual." In 1963, he was fired from Harvard.
Harvard's action made him immensely popular in the dropout world, despite repeated reports of "bad trips" and psychological damage to drug users. Despite repeated arrests he avoided prison until 1970. The terrorist group the Weather Underground helped him escape, but in 1973 he was apprehended trying to enter Afghanistan. Leary returned to prison until paroled in 1976. Leary continued his advocacy lectures across the country from his base in Hollywood. He married five times, twice to one woman. The first of his spouses committed suicide, as did his only daughter.
He died of cancer, but remains an iconic hero to the surviving addicts he introduced to dangerous drugs.
- Fourth Communication from the Weatherman Underground, September 15, 1970.
- Timothy Leary Archive Online video exhibit from the Internet Archive