Gallery D

The Leary Phenomenon

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Timothy Leary; Unsung American Hero

By James Donahue

There has been a pattern behind the destruction of certain great men with great ideas. Timothy Leary was such a man. This brilliant Harvard psychologist, author and philosopher discovered the mental benefits of the psilocybin mushroom and the more contemporary drug LSD and openly promoted their use. He proved that these drugs could be used as a powerful tool for treating certain mental disorders and even altering personality traits caused by destructive mind conditioning during our youth.

Leary also showed that the drugs are not harmful to either mind or body, although government propaganda claims just the opposite. LSD was and still is a mind-expanding drug. Rather than destroy brain cells, it forces the user to achieve right-brain consciousness. The drug actually turned on parts of our brain that most people don't know how to use.

Many of the people who "tripped" on that drug found that their view of the world was radically altered. They had a capability of seeing through the sleazy attempts at mass mind control instituted by certain powers via our television sets, mass advertising campaigns and slanted news reports. Because LSD makes the user "tune in" with nature, the Flower Children foresaw the looming ecological nightmare, which was having its beginnings as early as the 1970s. They sounded a warning that went unheeded.

I believe the government attack on Leary and the so-called "war on drugs" was  designed to destroy the LSD culture known as the hippie movement of the 1960s and 70s. It was the most destructive attack ever made on our attempt to achieve human consciousness. It was driven by outside forces bent on blocking our evolution at all cost.

Here is Leary's tragic story.

Leary believed that the behavior of people is influenced by certain conditioning, or implanting, during early childhood years. His experiments with convicted felons at Concord State Prison during the early 1960s showed that when used in a controlled environment, the psychedelic effects of psilocybin could successfully alter the mental triggers that stimulate criminal behavior. Leary claimed a high rate of success in turning criminals into productive citizens.

At the time, the Massachusetts prison predicted a repeat offense rate of 64 percent within six months. Among the 32 prisoners who volunteered for Leary's program, only eight of them returned to prison in the first six months. Six of these came back because of technical parole violations and two for new offenses.

During experiments with numerous other volunteers, including clergy, university students and professional people, Leary found that LSD also was a tool for changing the way people thought about themselves, changing unwanted behavior patterns, and curing bad habits.

"The brain is an underutilized biocomputer containing billions of unaccessed neurons," he explained. "I learned that normal consciousness is one drop in an ocean of intelligence. That consciousness and intelligence can be systematically expanded. That the brain can be reprogrammed."

An interesting part of this reprogramming was that LSD caused people to start using the right sides of their brains. This led to radical free thinking, which helped trigger the hippie movement. The awakening to such thoughts as a need to save the environment and break from the slavery of working for big business made certain people in high places nervous. 

It was during this period that the media began publishing government inspired propaganda against the drug. Horror stories told of crazed youngsters jumping off buildings while under the influence because they thought they could fly, and of other victims who, because their minds were permanently altered, were turned into hopeless schizophrenics. These stories, of course, were lies. If based on any kind of fact, I suspect the schizophrenic was already a schizophrenic before he or she tried the drug.

It is now known that even while the propaganda machine was rolling to take LSD away from us, the U. S. military and the C.I.A. were busy experimenting with the drug, hoping to use it in mind control experiments. Of course, they learned that the drug could not be used for this purpose.

The publication of Leary's book "The Psychedelic Experience," a guide for would-be trippers, is credited with launching the Flower Power movement. Leary's slogan: "Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out" became a directive for youth. The press dubbed him the guru of the American counter-culture.

Indeed, Leary was teaching the young students of his time to be rebels. He said:

"Now is the time to flick on the inner switch to full power. Listen, you'll either spend the rest of your life as a badly paid film extra in someone else's low-budget, black-and-white documentary. Or you become the producer of your own movie. Direct it, script it, cast it, choose the locations for the greatest reality flick ever made." 

Leary clearly understood the power of the human mind. He knew that we have the power to create our own personal universe. Our minds are so powerful we can be both creative and destructive with mere thought. We are, collectively, God.

Once the decision was made to stop Leary, authorities were quick to move in. He was arrested at a Mexican border in 1965 for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Whether he was actually carrying a packet of marijuana, or police planted it on him will probably never be known.

Leary pleaded innocent to the charge, won his case, and began a campaign to make the plant legal. At the time, LSD and psilocybin were still legal.

In 1968 President Nixon, himself an amphetamine junky, launched the nation's infamous "War on Drugs." Leary was re-charged with the marijuana possession count on what authorities said was a technicality. He had another trial and this time was found guilty. He was sentenced to spend 20 years in prison. It was only after Nixon's fall, after Leary spent 32 months behind bars, that he was released.

In spite of the government's efforts to destroy him, Leary emerged as an important figure of our time. One biographer said: "in his 27 books and monographs, 250 articles, and more than 100 printed interviews published since the early l950s, Leary has helped define the Humanistic Revolution which has had a huge impact on world culture."

Leary continued to write and some of his best works were published in the 1970s and 80s following his release from prison. He also was an advocate of space colonization, intelligence increase and longevity research.

He left prison somewhat in defeat, however. He abandoned his work with LSD and never spoke of or promoted the drug again. Some believe this was an agreement he made as a condition of his release from confinement.

There was a good reason why certain forces in high places wanted the Leary driven LSD culture stopped cold. It was a last-ditch effort to collectively force humans to see themselves for what they were, rather than the fear-driven church chained slaves they were permitting themselves to be. It also was an attempt to save the planet's threatened ecological system while there was still time.

The drug LSD was given to the world as a "last ditch" and radical way of turning on right brain functioning. It was a drug that was desperately needed at this final hour. It almost worked.

Because the Leary movement ended in failure, the human race may be doomed. That is just how important I think this little flash of light in our past was. I predict that we are consequently destined to face a final do-or-die battle to just save a remnant of our species from total extinction. If we don't make it, we have only ourselves to blame.