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Timothy Leary, LSD, and a New Look at a Radical Drug
by admin on: August 5th, 2011

???Tune in, turn on, drop out.??? That catchy slogan was the call to arms of the 1960s, a period of worldwide social rebellion. The Vietnam War was raging, and students were rebelling all across the U.S. Old social norms were being cast aside in favor of radical change, playing out in anti-war protests, free love and yes, psychedelic drugs.

Timothy Leary led the charge. Leary was a Harvard-trained psychologist who had experimented with LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and found its psychological effects profound. The drug brings about an altered state of consciousness and, in some cases, brings psychological breakthroughs when used in therapy.

The drug was first distributed for medical use in 1947 and used in controlled settings in the 1950s by psychiatrists and the government. Some early LSD users claimed its effects on consciousness brought enormous, life-altering realizations and long-sought understanding of their lives and relationships. Notable early LSD users included film legend Cary Grant, and writer Aldous (???Brave New World???) Huxley.

Timothy Leary’s LSD experiments were conducted in the early 1960s. The goal was to achieve mystical experiences while on hallucinogenic LSD ???trips,??? which could lead to a new state of awareness. Leary???s radical experiments, and his call for a ???revolution??? in casual use of the drug, made him extremely controversial. Ultimately, LSD was banned in the U.S. after its casual use by students lead to extreme adverse effects, including suicides and psychotic breakdowns.

LSD remains controversial. Recently, however, its use as a therapeutic medication is being re-visited. In the February 2006 issue of the American Academy of Neurology’s journal, studies conducted found LSD and psilocybin (the other controversial hallucinogenic drug, culled from mushrooms) to be highly effective in the treatment of migraines and cluster headaches. In 2007, studies began in Switzerland and to test the effects of LSD on relieving anxiety related to advanced stage illnesses, such as cancer.

With research continuing, LSD may someday drop its notorious psychedelic reputation and remerge as a well-regarded medical tool for doctors and therapists.

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