The Harvard Psychedelic Club: The Lyrical “Excursions” That Changed the World



He told him, “There is no doubt that what you stand for is the future of American psychology. You are establishing vanguard tactics. That’s just what we need to move the roost at Harvard.” David McClelland to Timothy Leary During a joint dinner in a restaurant in Florence. The year was 1958, and the offer of admission to a prestigious American university as a scholar was just what Leary needed to get his life in order, after his wife’s suicide left him emotionally frustrated, penniless, and in charge of his two children. But what Professor McClelland could not have imagined was To what extent will Leary revolutionize this prestigious educational institution? When, in his well-known investigations of character, he incorporated psilocybina hallucinogenic substance found in, for example, mescaline, a certain mushroom, or lysergic acid diethylamide, popularly known by its German abbreviation, LSD.

From the mid-1950s, experiments with chemicals prevalent in other cultures began to attract the attention of Westerners. In 1954, the writer Aldous Huxley published doors of perceptionAnd A collection of articles on his experiences with mescaline. Three years later, the journal life He published an extensive report in which the banker and amateur mycologist R. Gordon Wasson He recounted his 1955 trip to southern Mexico to become, according to him, the first white man to swallow a “divine mushroom.”

was also in Mexicobut in the summer of 1960, where Timothy Leary took magic mushrooms for the first time. The trip, which he himself described as “the most profound religious experience of my life,” convinced him that psilocybin would revolutionize the practice of psychology. With this idea in mind, he returned to the United States, where he enlisted the support of the university to develop, along with professors Richard Albert And Houston SmithThe Harvard Psilocybin Project, a program whose goal was Giving a controlled dose of that substance For individuals who will later write a report on their experience.

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“In the late 1960s and early 1970s, in my late teens and early 20s, I explored hallucinogens a bit. That was one of the reasons I became interested in meditation, spirituality, and religious philosophies. Then, in the 1980s, I covered religion, spirituality as a journalist, and wrote a lot. about cults, cults, and the new religious and social movements that emerged from the psychedelic counterculture of the time.” no latinRegular collaborator New York timesAnd The Wall Street Journal also San Francisco Chroniclewhich has just been published in Spanish Harvard Psychedelic Club (Errata Nature, 2023). Although I had already written about Leary, Alpert, and Smith, the full story and Andrew Weil’s role in Leary and Albert’s fall from grace was never told. Finally, thanks to Mark Tauber, the editor at HarperCollins who encouraged me to write it, this story became a book. “.

Victims of envy

Intrigued by psilocybin’s therapeutic and recreational potential, Leary, Alpert, and Smith began experimenting with the substance with more enthusiasm than scientific rigor. Tests were conducted with alcoholics to try to get them to quit, and programs developed within prisons to assess their antidepressant effects on inmates and even Good Friday. Group intake of LSD and a placebo treatment with members of different faiths were organized in the church to see if the substance was capable of creating mystical experiences.

Despite the erratic nature of the investigations, Leary and his colleagues enjoyed the confidence and independence of Harvard University, which did not question the acquisition of LSD for the project, nor its use in the experiments. In reality, The cause that started Leary and his colleagues’ troubles within the educational institution was not psilocybin or the poor results the program was getting, but envy.

In their search for student volunteers who could take part in the experiments, Leary and Albert met Ronnie Winston and his roommate, Andrew Weil. However, while the former was included in the research and was able to try LSD, the latter was rejected. Will begins plotting his personal revenge on Leary and Albert after he is injured. In addition to Gather misleading information about both teachersWeil wrote an incendiary article in the magazine look Question all research. As if that weren’t enough, he researched undergraduates who had taken LSD and reported the facts to university authorities, who only allowed Leary’s studies if the recipients were, at least, alumni.

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Once out of college, Leary attempted to continue experimenting with psilocybin, first in Mexico, and after being expelled by the authorities in that country, in Ancient And Dominica, where three-quarters of the same thing happened. However, that Persecution and Harassment Policy, in which the CIA played a relevant roleIt did not turn out as the US government expected. Leary was forced to return to his country, and there he found support Brothers Peggy, William and Tony Hitchcock, wealthy heirs gave him an estate of more than a thousand hectares in the state of New York. In it, Leary and Alpert set up an experiment center to access altered states of consciousness, which It started as a kind of Xanadu dope and ended up as a bad trip as a paranoid Leary developed cult dynamics.. “Leary had a huge ego, which is ironic since psychedelics are often said to inspire ‘non-double’ consciousness and even ‘ego detachment.’ However, they can also inspire greatness and Leary was a brilliant man, with clear messianic leanings,” he recalled. Don Latin.

Revolutionary and proud

Until the fall from grace of Leary and his cohorts, complete with arrests, prison sentences, and bizarre escapes, the members of the Harvard Psychedelic Club enjoyed several years of Popular thanks to an entire generation of young people who attained enlightenment through LSD and captured their experiences in records, films, novels, paintings, posters, and endless works of art.

They have changed the way we look at religion and spirituality, the environment, dietary choices, and even healthcare practice.”

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“Although perhaps not as significant as some of the political and technological revolutions of the twentieth century, such as communism and the advent of computers, LSD and the drug counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s revolutionized the United States.” United States and Europe. They have changed the way we look at religion and spirituality, the environment, dietary choices, and even healthcare practice.where it was possible to find out the relationship that binds Blend of mind, body and spiritLatin tells that during his interviews with the protagonists of his book, he investigated how, assuming their past mistakes already, they were proud of that revolution in which they were an important part.

When I started doing the interviews, Leary was already dead, but the others were well aware of what they had done and mostly proud. Andy Weil had repented of his youthful actions as a student at Harvard and left. After a trip to India he changed his name to Ram trampled, He apologized for his negligence in promoting and distributing LSD in the mid-1960s as a drug that anyone could use.. In any case, his research has helped many people of my generation find gentler approaches to expanding the mind, such as meditation,” acknowledges Latin, who draws attention to recent research on the human psyche that has reclaimed its interest in entheogenesis and its effects when it comes to Improve living conditions, for example, those who suffer from depression. These new lines of research show that the members of the Harvard Psychedelic Club were right. In fact, although most clinical trials are now using psilocybin and MDMAMore and more are starting to look at LSD.”

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