Timothy Leary

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Timothy Francis Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) was an influential American psychologist and writer known in later life for advocating research into psychedelic drugs. A hugely controversial figure during the 1960s and 1970s, he encouraged the use of the drug LSD for its therapeutic, emotional and spiritual benefits, and popularized the phrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out", both of which proved to be hugely influential on the 1960s counterculture. Largely due to his influence in this field, he was attacked by conservative figures in the United States, and described as "the most dangerous man in America" by President Richard Nixon.


Early life

Leary was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the only child[1] of an Irish American dentist who abandoned his wife Abigail Ferris and the rest of the family when Leary was thirteen.[citation needed] Leary graduated from Springfield's Classical High School.

In 1940, Leary enrolled as a cadet in the United States Military Academy at West Point. In his first months he acquired numerous demerits for rule infractions and then got into serious trouble for a bout of drinking and failing to be forthright about it. For violating the Academy’s honor code, the Honor Committee asked him to resign. When he refused, he was "silenced," that is, shunned and ignored by his co-cadets as a tactic to pressure him to resign. Though acquitted by a court-martial, the silencing continued as well as an onslaught of demerits for minuscule infractions of the rules. When the treatment continued in his second year, his mother appealed to a family friend, U.S. Senator David I. Walsh, head of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, who conducted a personal investigation. Behind the scenes, the Honor Committee revised its position. The Honor Committee announce that it would abide by the court-martial verdict and then Leary resigned and received an honorable discharge.[2] Almost fifty years later, Leary said that it was "the only fair trial I've had in a court of law".[3]

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