Conceived on 17 January 1920, the second day of Prohibition, at West Point, New York. Born
Timothy Francis Learyon 22 October, 1920 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Attended the United States Military Academy at
West Pointin the early 1940s.
Awoken early on a Sunday morning, a hung over Cadet Leary retorted that he was "dying and would never be able to make reveille again in his whole life." As a result, the cadet Honor Committee charged Leary with honor violation and "silenced" him, forbidding other cadets from speaking with Leary.
During this period of introspection, Leary was taken in by the first African-American cadets, also silenced due to military racism. He began to study philosophy, and wrote his first book, based on
Eventually, Leary was urged to resign from the Academy. Thus begins his life-long emphasis as an author to undermine the dominant white-male structures of authority.
Following college and military service during WWII, Leary taught in Psychology at UC Berkeley. Then, after his first wife's suicide, moved to teach at Harvard.
His early work in psychology included interpreting the self-dynamic personality models of
Henry Stack Sullivan, as discussed in
Maps of the Mindby
Charles Hampden-Turner. Shades of Sullivan's work influenced Leary's later major theoretical work known as the
Eight Circuit Modelregarding the evolution of consciousness (see
Info-Psychology). This theory has been interpreted and embellished by
Robert Anton Wilson,
Antero Alliand others.
First introduced to hallucinogens during a research trip to study
curandera, traditional Latin American healing techniques, following in the footsteps of
R. Gordon Wasson. After taking psilocybin mushrooms in
Mexicoin 1960, Leary returns to
and starts the
Harvard Psilocybin Project. Gives mushrooms to
Jack Kerouac, amongst others and dutifully records their impressions.
Ralph Metznerjoin the project.
for the first time in 1962. Writes: "It was the most shattering experience of my life."
Fundamental in shaping and initiating the Psychedelic Movement. Throughout the 60's, Leary is one of the primary Subculture figures, advocating the philosophy expressed in the slogan:
"Tune in, Turn on and Drop out."Spends most of the 70's in jail for minor drug charges or in exile as a political dissident.
For the last decade or so of his life, Leary writes and lectures enthusiastically in support of the emerging cyberculture centered around the possibilities of computers and virtual reality.
Died on 31 May 1996 at his home in Beverly Hills, California wearing a t-shirt that read: "If you only have one wish, make it BIG." His last words are reported to have been: "Why? Why not? WHY NOT? Why not? Why not? Why not?" and later, "Beautiful."
On 9 February 1997, a portion of Leary's cremated remains were launched into space.
The Social Dimensions of Personality
The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality
The Multi-level Assessment of Personality
The Existential Transaction
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based On the Tibetan Book of the Dead(with
Richard Alpert), 1964, 1992.
The Psychedelic Reader: Classic Selections From The Psychedelic Review, The Revolutionary 1960's Forum Of Psychopharmacological Substances(editor with
Gordon Weil), 1965, 1993.
Psychedelic Prayers & Other Meditations(2nd ed), 1966, 1997.
High Priest, 1968, 1995.
Politics of Ecstasy
Confessions of a Hope Fiend
Neurologic (with Joanna Leary)
Starseed: A Psy-Phi Comet Tale
The Curse of the Oval Room
Terra II (with Joanna Leary and L. W. Brenner)
Communication with Higher Intelligence
Changing My Mind- Among Others
Flashbacks: An Autobiography, 1983, 1990.
Info-Psychology: A Manual On The Use Of The Human Nervous System According To The Instructions Of The Manufacturers, 1987.
The Game of Life
Chaos & Cyber Culture
Surfing the Consciousness Net, 1995.
The Intelligence Agents, 1979, 1996.
Design for Dying, 1997.
Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out, 4/1999.
Future History Series:
Vol. I: What Does WoMan Want?
Vol. II: Exo-Psychology
Vol. III: Neuropolitique, 1988.
Vol. IV: The Intelligence Agents, 1979, 1996.
Vol. V: The Game of Life