Timothy Leary was a psychology professor at Harvard University during the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, many scientists were studying LSD. Leary began to experiment with the drug, too. He gave it to prison inmates and to some of his students, and he often took it himself. Leary believed that LSD’s mind-altering effects could help people achieve spiritual and intellectual awakenings, and he encouraged people to use it. He coined the phrase “Turn on, tune in, and drop out,” which became popular among the 1960s counterculture. Leary helped spark the Psychedelic Movement, which was based on using hallucinogenic drugs.
Leary was fired from Harvard in 1963, but he continued to work with LSD even after it was outlawed in 1967. He set up the Castalia Institute in Millbrook, N.Y., where he studied LSD and continued to promote it. He also cre- ated a group called the League of Spiritual Discovery (abbreviated LSD, just like the drug) that advocated the use of the hallucinogen.
Leary was sentenced to prison on drug charges in 1971, but escaped and fled to Switzerland. In 1974, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency recaptured him. While imprisoned, Leary continued to write about LSD and the counterculture. When he died of prostate cancer at the age of 76 in 1996, he had written more than 27 books and 250 articles. American poet Allen Ginsberg called Leary “a hero of American consciousness.”