Timothy Francis Leary Biography

(American Psychologist and Writer Known for His Strong Advocacy of Psychedelic Drugs)

Birthday: October 22, 1920 (Libra)

Born In: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Once called the ‘Most Dangerous Man in America’ by President Richard Nixon, Timothy Leary was a Harvard University lecturer and a psychologist who advocated the use of psychedelic drugs for therapeutic use. A highly intelligent man, he was rebellious by nature and believed in questioning authority instead of meekly giving in. His fascination with psychedelic drugs began after he consumed psilocybin mushrooms in Mexico, which have a psychedelic effect on the human brain. He started conducting experiments on the effects of psychedelic drugs on human subjects in Harvard University, an act which led to his dismissal from the job. Soon he became a passionate advocate of these drugs and even founded The League for Spiritual Discovery, a religious organization that regarded LSD as its holy sacrament. His activities led to a slew of criticisms and legal charges which in turn led to his arrests and imprisonments. Even though he was very notorious for his work with drugs, he had his own fan following mainly consisting of rebellious teenagers; his lectures advocating drug use were a rage among the college students. A prolific writer, he also has several published works to his name. His notoriety made him a celebrity of sorts, and he was often invited to Hollywood parties.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Timothy Leary

Died At Age: 75


Spouse/Ex-: Barbara Chase (m. 1978–1992), Marianne Busch (m. 1945–1955), Mary Cioppa (m. 1956–1957), Nena von Schlebrügge (m. 1964–1965), Rosemary Woodruff Leary (m. 1967–1976)

children: Zach Leary

Psychologists American Men

Died on: May 31, 1996

place of death: Beverly Hills, California, United States

Cause of Death: Prostate Cancer.

Ancestry: Irish American

U.S. State: Massachusetts

City: Springfield, Massachusetts

Notable Alumni: Washington State University

Founder/Co-Founder: International Foundation for Internal Freedom, League for Spiritual Discovery

More Facts

education: University Of California, Berkeley, University Of Alabama, Washington State University

  • 1

    What was Timothy Leary's role in the counterculture movement?

    Timothy Leary was a prominent figure in the counterculture movement of the 1960s, advocating for the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD for spiritual and personal exploration.

  • 2

    How did Timothy Leary contribute to the development of the psychology of consciousness?

    Leary's work focused on exploring altered states of consciousness through the use of psychedelics, which led to advancements in the understanding of psychology and the mind.

  • 3

    What was Timothy Leary's stance on the legalization of psychedelic drugs?

    Leary was a strong advocate for the legalization of psychedelic drugs, believing that they had the potential to expand consciousness and lead to personal growth and enlightenment.

  • 4

    How did Timothy Leary's ideas on consciousness and spirituality influence modern psychology?

    Leary's exploration of altered states of consciousness and spirituality influenced modern psychology by challenging traditional views and expanding the understanding of the human mind and behavior.

Childhood & Early Life
Timothy Leary was born to a dentist father and his wife in Massachusetts. He father abandoned his family when Timothy was 13.
He graduated from Classical High School. He enrolled at the College of the Holy Cross in 1938 and studied there till 1940.
Under his father’s pressure he joined as cadet in the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. During his brief stint at the Academy, he got into serious trouble due to his rebellious nature. He resigned and was honorably discharged by the Army.
He joined the University of Alabama in the fall of 1941. However, a year later, he was expelled from the university after he was caught spending a night in the female dormitory.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 during the Second World War and was discharged in 1946 following the resolution of War. By this time he had risen to the rank of a sergeant and had won many awards.
He decided to pursue an academic career and received an M.S. degree in psychology from Washington State University in 1946. He earned his Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology from the University of California in 1950.
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He was appointed as an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine in 1950 and held this post till 1955.
He also began working simultaneously as the Director of the Kaiser Family Foundation Psychological Research Division in Oakland from 1952 to 1958.
He developed a complex model of interpersonal circumplex which was published in ‘The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality’ while he was at the Kaiser Foundation.
He joined the faculty at Harvard University as a lecturer in 1959 where he taught clinical psychology. He was also associated with the Harvard Center for Research in Personality and was in charge of the Harvard Psilocybin Project and concomitant experiments along with assistant professor Richard Alpert.
He went to Mexico in 1960 where he consumed psilocybin mushrooms for the first time, which produces psychedelic effects; this kindled his interest in psychedelic drugs. On his return to Harvard, he started conducting experiments with psychedelic drugs on human beings.
He directed the Concord Prison Experiments that were conducted between 1961 and 1963 to study whether the drug psilocybin when combined with psychotherapy could motivate prisoners to leave behind their anti-social lifestyles.
He was fired from his Harvard job in 1963 because of the controversial nature of his experiments.
In 1966, he founded a religious organization, the League for Spiritual Discovery that considered LSD as its holy sacrament. The hidden motive behind this was to push for the legalization of LSD based on the argument of freedom of religion.
He toured extensively in 1966 and 1967 presenting a multimedia performance on the LSD experience titled ‘The Death of the Mind’ in various college campuses. He encouraged the students to explore their own psychedelic religions.
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He received an invitation to attend the hippie event ‘Human Be-In’ organized by Michael Bowen in 1967. While speaking to the gathering of over 30, 000 hippies, he coined the phrase ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’—which was also the motto for the League for Spiritual Discovery.
He worked with the writer Brian Barritt during the late 1960s and early 1970s to design his eight-circuit model of consciousness. The model initially consisted of seven circuits, but was later revised to include an eighth one.
He was arrested and sent to prison on possession of illegal drug charges in 1970. He managed to escape but was recaptured in 1972. He wrote several books while in prison. He was released in 1976.
He remained a prolific writer and continued lecturing after his release.
Major Works
He is primarily known for his experiments on human beings involving psychedelic drugs and for being an open advocate for the use of LSD and other drugs for therapeutic purposes.
Awards & Achievements
By the time he was discharged from the army in 1946, he had won several awards including the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
Personal Life & Legacy
Timothy Leary married several times. His first wife Marianne committed suicide while many of his other marriages ended in divorce. His daughter Susan also died by committing suicide.
He was a heavy user of psychedelic drugs like marijuana, LSD, heroin and morphine.
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1995 and died a year later in 1996.
Facts About Timothy Francis Leary

Timothy Leary was an advocate for the use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes and explored the potential benefits of drugs like LSD in treating mental health disorders.

Leary coined the phrase "turn on, tune in, drop out" which became a popular slogan among the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

He was a Harvard professor who conducted controversial research on the effects of psychedelics on the human mind, which ultimately led to his dismissal from the university.

Leary was known for his charismatic personality and ability to attract followers, earning him a reputation as a prominent figure in the psychedelic community.

In his later years, Leary became a proponent of transhumanism and advocated for the exploration of human consciousness through technological advancements, such as virtual reality.

See the events in life of Timothy Francis Leary in Chronological Order

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