Timothy Leary


Timothy Leary : biography

October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996

To the chagrin of his family, Leary elected to transfer to the University of Alabama in the fall of 1941 because of the institution’s expeditious response to his application. Although he enrolled in the university’s ROTC program, maintained top grades, and began to cultivate academic interests in psychology and biology, he was expelled a year later for spending a night in the female dormitory. Having lost his student deferment in the midst of World War II, Leary was drafted into the United States Army and reported for basic training at Fort Eustis in January 1943. In lieu of further officer training, Leary remained in the non-commissioned track and enrolled in an extended academic program for psychology majors that included external studies at Georgetown University and Ohio State University; following retroactive suspension and eventual reinstatement at the University of Alabama, he completed his degree via correspondence courses and graduated in August 1945. Shortly after his promotion to corporal in 1944, Leary was assigned to Deshon General Hospital in Butler, Pennsylvania as a staff psychometrician largely due to the magnanimity of erstwhile professor Donald Ramsdell. He primarily worked with deaf patients at the hospital and served there for the remainder of the war. While stationed in Butler, Leary began to court Marianne Busch; they would marry in April 1945. Formally discharged at the rank of sergeant in January 1946, Leary earned the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal during his Army stint.http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Leary__Timothy.html

Following the resolution of the war, Leary decided to pursue an academic career. He received an M.S. degree in psychology at Washington State University in 1946 and his Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1950.John Cashman, The LSD Story, Fawcett Publications, 1966, p. ? His Ph.D. dissertation was entitled "The Social Dimensions of Personality: Group Structure and Process." In 1947, Marianne gave birth to their first child, Susan, while he was working on his doctorate. A son, Jack, was born two years later. In 1952 the Leary family spent a year in Spain, subsisting on a research grant. A Berkeley colleague, Marv Freedman, later recalled, "Something had been stirred in him in terms of breaking out of being another cog in society…".Greenfield, Robert 2006. Timothy Leary:A Biography. Harcourt Books, 68–77.

The new Ph.D. stayed on at Berkeley as an assistant professor from 1950 to 1955. Despite his nascent professional success, his marriage was strained by multiple infidelities and mutual alcohol abuse. Marianne would eventually commit suicide in 1955, leaving him to raise their son and daughter alone. He described himself during this period as "an anonymous institutional employee who drove to work each morning in a long line of commuter cars and drove home each night and drank martinis … like several million middle-class, liberal, intellectual robots."

From 1955 to 1958, Leary was director of psychiatric research at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Subsiding on small research grants and insurance policies, Leary—determined to write the great American novel—and his children relocated to Europe in 1958. Overcome by indigence during an unproductive stay in Florence, Leary soon returned to academia in the fall of 1959 as a lecturer in clinical psychology at Harvard University at the behest of Berkeley colleague Frank Barron and David McClelland. He would reside with his children in nearby Newton, Massachusetts. In addition to his teaching duties, Leary was affiliated with the Harvard Center for Research in Personality under McClelland and oversaw the Harvard Psilocybin Project & concomitant experiments in conjunction with assistant professor Richard Alpert. In 1963, Leary was terminated for failing to give his scheduled class lectures against his position that he had fulfilled his teaching obligations in full. The decision to dismiss him may have been influenced by his role in the popularity of then-legal psychedelic substances among Harvard students and faculty members.Jay Stevens, "Storming Heaven", Grove Press, 1987

His early work in psychology expanded on the research of Harry Stack Sullivan and Karen Horney regarding the importance of interpersonal forces in mental health, focusing on how understanding interpersonal processes might facilitate diagnosing disorders and identifying human personality patterns. He developed a complex and respected interpersonal circumplex model, published in The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality, demonstrating how psychologists could methodically use Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) scores to predict respondents’ interpersonal response characteristics, or ways they might respond to various interpersonal situations.