LSD: In the news

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 4:58 pm

In the 1960s, LSD and related hallucinogens captured the attention of college professors in psychology, religion, and other disciplines because of the drugs’ potential to “expand” the mind, thereby helping to improve mental health, encourage empathy, change unhealthy behavior patterns (such as criminal behavior), improve outlook, and produce profoundly religious or spiritual experiences. Many artists, particularly musicians, also used LSD to stimulate the creative process. LSD was central to the hippie movement of the 1960s that focused on peace, love, and individual freedom.
Spearheading the research into LSD as a consciousness-expanding drug was Timothy Leary, Ph.D., a psychologist at Harvard University. With his partner, Richard Alpert Ph.D, Leary led studies at Harvard from 1960 to 1963 on the effects of taking LSD and similar drugs. Their research took them to local prisons, where the pair attempted to use hallucinogens to change criminal behavior, and to a local church, where they found that giving hallucinogens to religious people induced profound spiritual experiences. Leary and his followers believed that LSD could save the world by encouraging empathy and expanding the minds of world leaders.
Leary’s research soon lost favor with the authorities, and he and Alpert were eventually fired by Harvard. In 1970, Leary was jailed for drug possession. After his release in 1975, he continued to publicly advocate using mind-expanding drugs under appropriate conditions.
Despite the negative publicity that dogged Leary and the fact that he never encouraged used of the hallucinogens for purely recreational purposes, his work was extremely influential in popularizing LSD and in bringing about the hippie revolution of the 1960s. This revolution peaked in 1967, when a “Love In” in honor of LSD was staged at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
A few famous proponents of LSD during this time period included author Ken Kesey, author and philosopher Aldous Huxley, poet Allen Ginsberg, and The Beatles, a famous musical group.

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