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Timothy Leary and the 1960’s Counter-Culture

October 29, AD2013

\"Robbe

I found out I was an adopted child when I was six or seven years old. Years later when I struggled with an addiction to alcohol and suffered from various forms of depression, I spent a lot of time in therapy, and because one of the most important aspects of any kind of therapy is finding the root of the problem, the subject of my adoption was always dissected. While I know that the simple fact of being adopted must have left its imprint on me, I mostly joke about it now. I tell people that because I was born smack dab in the “Summer of Love,” I was most likely conceived on an acid trip which subsequently led to my mental problems.

While there is no proof of this, I have always had a fascination with the Sixties, and more specifically, with the years between 1965 and 1971. Prior to becoming a Christian, I romanticized this era and truly bought into the idea that was a wonderful time of “free love”, rock music, and of course, hippies. Indeed, hippies were defined by virtually everything so-called straight society was not. This was all very attractive to me until I found out about the down side of this era. In short, two consequences from the times were drug addiction, and rampant sexually transmitted diseases. And among the heavy weights of the era was Timothy Leary.

Born on October 22, 1920, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Leary had a career as a noted psychology professor and researcher before becoming a controversial advocate of psychedelic drugs during the 1960’s. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1943, and earned a Doctorate in Psychology in 1950 from the University of California at Berkeley. He worked as an assistant professor at Berkeley until he accepted a lecturing position at Harvard University in 1959. After taking mushrooms while in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Leary conducted behavioral experiments with psilocybin, an active ingredient of the fungi that was allowed for use in that particular research.

He also used the drug in studies with seminary students, inmates, and colleagues. Leary began using LSD in the early 1960’s. By now the well-respected, brilliant psychologist had become convinced that to alleviate psychic suffering, something more than behavioral analysis was needed, and he believed LSD was the be-all, end-all. What is the most interesting to me, was finding out that by December, 1961, he was dropping acid nearly all of his waking moments, and according to Barry Miles, author of Hippie, the more Leary took acid, the more he claimed to have seen God. As a Christian, I learned a long time ago that what we are all seeking is union with God, whether we think we are or not, and whether or not we believe in Him.

For Leary, he found his god in LSD, and while many of us try to fill ourselves with anything other than God, most of us don’t think our drugs of choice are any form of a Higher Power. Most of us know full well that temporal “highs” are just very good feelings, or even euphoria, but not very many of us claim we “found God.” That is the difference between Leary and most others, and may be why certain illegal drugs are extremely difficult to quit, especially drugs as powerful as LSD. Miles said that by early 1962, Leary’s drug sessions included ministers and theological students. “One time,” Miles said, “They took LSD in goblets and read aloud from the New Testament. This, however, was also balanced by Hindu ‘sex rituals,’ held in the attic in a room filled with erotic tapestries.

This is truly evil, but common when we come upon anything that gives us euphoria. It also was hardly a new concept. Perhaps a new drug, a new chemical, but it affected the same part of the brain back then as it does today.

What follows the euphoric feelings is: if we do “it” enough, we begin to mistake that feeling of being “high” for happiness. “Our hearts are restless ‘till they rest in thee,” said Saint Augustine, from his famous Confessions. He is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers, and is the patron saint of brewers because of his conversion from a former life of loose living, which included parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions. His complete turnaround and conversion has been an inspiration to many who struggle with a particular vice or habit they long to break. As Augustine told it, his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him to \”take up and read\” which he took as a divine command to open the Bible and read the first thing he saw. Augustine read from Paul\’s Epistle to the Romans – the so-called \”Transformation of Believers\” section, consisting of chapters 12 through 15 – wherein Paul outlines how the Gospel transforms believers, and the believers\’ resulting behavior. The specific part to which Augustine opened his Bible was Romans, Chapter 13, verses 13 and 14, to wit:

Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in clambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.

“Confessions” has since become a must-read classic of Christian theology. Leary became a media icon with his much-quoted line, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” This phrase alone speaks volumes in contrast to Paul’s letter to the Romans, and its insistence on making no provision for the flesh. Illegal substances such as LSD are always used to satisfy the flesh, and of course, the user is left wanting…always chasing the dragon. Whereas when we rest in Christ, we want for nothing more.

During the Sixties, and over the next two decades, our American human ‘individualism’ was let go. And as Kurt Anderson, from the New York Times observed on July 3, 2012:

The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, never intended for ‘self-love’ to become what it has. Indeed, Jefferson wrote to a friend 38 years after the Declaration, ‘Self-love is no part of morality. In fact, it is exactly its counterpart. It is the sole antagonist of virtue leading us constantly by our propensities to self-gratification in violation of our moral duties to others.’

It’s therefore no surprise that selfishness is winning today in terms of worldliness. But we as Christians know there is more to come – the story doesn’t end here. I am forever grateful to know who comes out on top in the end.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

Filed in: Symposiums

About the Author:

I am first and foremost a devout Roman Catholic. I am also a happily married mother of four children. I graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, and recently graduated from St. Mary's University @ San Antonio with a Master's degree in Community Counseling. As an active member of my parish, I am the pro-life coordinator who loves our Catholic faith, and is constantly seeking to grow as close to our Lord as possible. My favorite quote is: "You can do no great things, just small things with great love." - Blessed Mother Teresa

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  • poetcomic1

    I was in high school in the late 60’s. It was a terrible, terrible time. It was as though a permanent fissure opened up between my generation and all the generations that had gone before. I’m still trying to find my way back from that grinning skull with lipstick on it called the Counterculture.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      Wow, what a great way to describe it – “that grinning skull with lipstick on it called the Counterculture.” Things changed so drastically during that time, it’s difficult to imagine how life would be now if it had not. Everything seemed to turn on its head, and in came sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. (Well, rock came in with the Fifties technically with Elvis and Chuck Berry) But the United States certainly seemed to lose an innocence of sorts with the assassination of JFK, Vietnam, the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King…etc…..

    • Greg

      The effort to undermine the culture had been ongoing for some time. The sixties simply provided an open door for plans that had been in the works since early 20th Century when German psychology became the pillar of the American education system.

      We see the same forces at work in the eugenics movement of the 20’s and 30’s that gave rise to Planned Parenthood and to the Final Solution of the Holocaust.

      Psychiatry in the 50’s was involved in mass barbarism with electroshock and with lobotomies. Rather than drug the wife you did not want, you had her committed and lobotomized. (Same with some children – see the story of the daughter of Rose and Joe Kennedy who was lobotomized.)

      As we hit the 60’s the idea of drugs as straitjackets was in full swing. In the Soviet countries they were used as tools to torture political dissidents. This is where we find LSD making its grand entrance – it was simply a feature of the attempt to control populations through the use of drugs. The MKUltra project run by the CIA was coincident with Leary’s introduction of the drug to the streets.

      If one fails to see the deceptive and evil nature of psychiatry, one will miss the true story here.

    • Jeff_McLeod

      The radical leftist ideology is what harmed culture, and since psychology was part of that culture, the radical left co-opted and corrupted psychology as well.

      Individual psychologists abused their standing as academics, but the discipline of psychology is honorable when practiced by honorable people like Robbe.

      I don’t dispute the effects you are relating, but I dispute the cause.

      I’m saying the discipline of psychology was honorable when it was taught by St. Thomas Aquinas, it was honorable when it was taught in the 19th century by the German Fr. Franz Brentano (who had much more intellectual reach than Wundt), and it is honorable when it is taught — as I teach it — in the phenomenological tradition of St. Edith Stein.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      Thank you Jeff. You’re very wise to not want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. In short, men of a corrupt nature will always corrupt in whatever they are engaged. There are, and will always be good and bad of everything man-made. (Edith Stein is quite fascinating btw)….Thanks again for your comments here.

  • Maria

    Also coming out of the 60s was the tearing down of the Catholic school system. Dr William Coulson had a career in psychology with the biggest names in the field – Carl
    Rogers and Abraham Maslow. Together they were responsible for putting
    psychology into the public and Catholic schools throughout America and the
    western world. Coulson said that these men realised early on that it was a
    mistake.See bottom of FLI’s website page: http://www.fli.org.au/?page_id=2940

    • Robbe Sebesta

      Wow Maria, is all I can say….fascinating stuff! And most interesting to me right now because I am just out of grad-school, and we had to know all about Maslow and Rogers. Of course, throughout my studies, I never heard of this – what you posted. I’m so grateful to you for sharing this because I think it really says so much to where we are now in regards to psychology and psychiatry.

    • Greg

      Robbe, once again, without seeing the big picture of a profession determined to destroy and enslave a culture, the Leary story is incomplete. He was only one cog in a huge machine of deception designed to strip the culture of faith and replace it with a culture that believed man was solely a biological entity that should be controlled with mind altering substances and practices.

      Rogers and to a lesser extent Maslow were all throughout the seminaries as well.

  • jamey brown

    Thank you, Robbe. Boy, are you coming from the right place. Yes, we are always struggling with sin. The problem is as old as mankind and every generation thinks they have found a new and clever and foolproof way around it. But the answer is still “Metanoia–to repent, to go beyond the mind that you have,” says Father Robert Barron. But we don’t want to do that. We think we know enough, we have learned enough, we have the answers now. In AA my sponsor used to tell me that the disease (alcoholism, or addiction, or whatever) is always telling you about your recovery, “Stop, you’ve gone far enough. That’s good enough.” The same is true with the enemy and your spiritual growth. He’s always telling you, “Hey, you’ve done enough. Stop. Look, you’re better than those other people. Don’t go too far. What, are you trying to be a saint or something?” Well, yes we are. Christ tells us “to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Wow, he sets the bar very high, and we don’t want to change. Oh, it’s so hard. Just the slightest change in my routine can through me off, even though I know I would be much happier if I, like Mary, would “[choose] the better part” (Luke 10:42). The resistance is strong, but like you said, we have the strength of God–who is all goodness and truth itself–to rely on, not just our own.
    Bless you and thank you for welcoming me into the group. I am humbled to even be called a columnist amongst all you scholars and theologians, and our genius theologian/scientist editor. You have changed me already–rather, the Lord working through you has done it.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      Exactly! Max Lucado (for whom I hold a deep respect) wrote a book and its subtitle is – “Christ loves you just as you are, but also loves you too much to let you stay that way.” We should never become complacent, which of course goes against our human nature. Change, even good change, like you said is difficult. And our society is now built with the intent of making everything easier and easier. Why spend time in the kitchen making anything healthy when there is fast food 24/7? Why spend time in the gym, or running miles and miles when there is lipo-suction and other forms of plastic surgery? Why work on your marriage when there is now ‘no-fault’ divorce you can do-it-yourself over the internet? The easier the better, and I understand this completely and fight against it. I’ve been married 21 years and we have contemplated divorce more than once, seriously (I even got an apartment with the plan of moving out, and never did). So I know it’s difficult, but somewhere along the line, I decided I wanted my marriage to be a protest to this culture of divorce. I think it was when I read “The Cellist of Sarajevo.” It’s the true story of a cellist who, decided the only way he could protest the war in his country was to go sit among the rubble in one of the streets and play his cello every day for a specified time. He said it was because it brought beauty into a place of ugliness. It’s one of my favorite books. Anyway….I digress and will stop with my pontificating….lol…..thanks again for your comments!! You bring a lot to the table already, I can tell!

  • jamey brown

    Very good article, Robbe (or is it Robbe Lyn?). You hit
    all the high points of that convulsive era—my era. I hitchhiked out to
    California from Indiana in 1970 with my girlfriend who had lived in
    Haight-Ashbury. I was taking LSD back then and it is psychologically
    addicting like you said. But it is so monumentally strong, it blurs your
    thinking so much that you can only take it every 4 or 5 days.
    Under itsinfluence I really thought I was seeing a perfect world where everything was united, everything was one. I was an atheist so I thought that everything was united—the dog, the fern, the girlfriend, the ant. All just different aspects of a single creation. All our minds similar, although I have yet to hear a chimpanzee folk song. Of course this feeling of oneness wears off with the drug.
    Of course it never occurred to me the supernatural existence of God who is beyond our existence. Or that I could have a “high” that was eons above what a drug could do. All it takes is about 20 years of rigid self-examination and a surrender to a being with “incalculable intelligence,” in the words of Fr. George Rutler, a surrender to God.
    “A Catholic,” says G.K. Chesterton, “is someone who has plucked up courage to face the incredible and inconceivable idea that something else may be wiser than he is.”
    Your scope of the whole surreal nightmare is far better than mine—too many “tall boy” beers and skinny cigarettes. I am thankful that in your brilliance you brought up Augustine, a sort of archetype for “party guy” converts, maybe for all mankind. His wildly careening quest for truth led him to the fact that only God is truth—the whole truth, and that all things material will fail you. And His Catholic Church is Christ on earth. We 60’s people were searching for truth, but we sought the easy way, “according to their desires, they shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). And oh how we were led astray, to the Culture of Death. And if I may say about your parents, I’ll bet they were smart and good people who just couldn’t have a family then. Aren’t you glad they didn’t abort you?

    • Robbe Sebesta

      Thank you Jamey! I am so humbled by your kind words. And you really hit the nail on the head – on how so many were led astray to the culture of death. Indeed, and it’s true too, and we do it now – we seek the easy way to the Truth, and we want the Truth that feels good to us…..not the real Truth. If we want the real Truth, that means changing ourselves, and giving some things up that we like, and maybe like a LOT! Not too many want to do that. I myself fight a daily battle with at least something that is worldly, when I know what is better for me is always His Word. Ah well…..when we are weak, He is strong right? So nice to meet you, and glad you joined our gang!

  • Howard

    Having lived through those years on both coasts and at the epicenters of the social upheaval, I agree with your assessment. The Haight-Ashbury area in S.F. (in which I lived for a period) was high in murder, rape and other crimes during that time – an epicenter not of an physical earthquake. Leary was only one of many leaders in this time.

    It was a time for experimentation of all sorts feed by lyrics of some very good popular music; one big party. No limits, even to the extent of the craziness of Charles Manson, Black Panthers, SLA & Patty Hearst. Allowed judgment of any act depended upon looking inward. As James knows, drug use was rampant in the Army during that time also.

    Those presumed to be “straights” now, will still romanize that decade or so. The truth is that we are now trying to clean up the mess created by large scale self indulgence.

    • Greg

      Howard, unfortunately, because we did not correctly analyze the mess we have not cleaned it up. It was not a case of self indulgence as much as the deceptive manipulation of self indulgence, a common human vice.

      The real story – which continues in even more dramatic forms today – is the story of a mental health profession that dumped extremely dangerous and harmful psychotropic substances on the public.

      The mass drugging of children today is criminal beyond anything that arises from self-indulgence. The proliferation of psychiatric drugs into the society has debilitated a large segment of the population and has turned some into mass murderers.

      The trend that started at that time, with Leary et al being only one small faction, was an enslavement of the culture by a mental health profession that could not deliver results but which did deliver increased social ills through drug-induced mental instability and illness. We turned into a culture that no longer recognized spiritual ills but rather turned all problems into mental health illnesses that could only be treated (never cured) with dangerous psychoactive substances.

      We have a long way to go to dig ourselves out of this trap.

    • Howard

      Although I cannot speak as a mental health professional, I can take a stab at analyzing the behavior of those persons who are not drugged currently. The dangerous social behaviors that are being championed now I cannot blame on chemicals meandering through brains, but on free will decisions made by morally corrupt leaders that have been adopted as proper to civilization. I suppose “deceptive manipulation of self indulgence” could be a valid way to say it.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      Thank you Howard. You seem to understand I was speaking of that particular time, and since you lived there, you ultimately saw first-hand the consequences of drug abuse and “free” love.

    • Greg

      Robbe, what you are missing in the story is the thread up to the present. LSD was very specifically a drug spread by the mental health profession. At that time, the champions of “free love” were also the wave of pop psychologists who sought to replace religion as the figures who defined the nature of man. (And it was a time when pop psychology flooded the seminaries.) It was the substitution of the field of psychology/psychiatry (with its drugs) for religion that began the cultural transformation. The significance of Leary et al was a takeover of the cultural role of leaders determining norms (ethics) and defining the nature of man (as a soul-less) biological entity. That movement continues to today, with psychology and psychiatry attacked the tenets and existence of traditional faith. That is the real story – the story that helps one properly evaluate today’s culture.

  • David

    Say what you will about Timothy Leary, but it’s not like he just pulled some spiritual association with LSD out of thin air. Psychedelics have a long pedigree of use in religious rituals- from Native American use of psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, and other plants, to the soma of ancient India, and amanita muscaria mushrooms among Siberian shamans. This explicit connection with spiritual practice, as well as the psychedelic experience seeming to resemble spiritual states described in Hindu and Buddhist texts provided the basis for Leary & others to make those claims and promote their use. Characterizing the psychedelic experience as mere “euphoria” is highly inaccurate and does not acknowledge the profound effects it can have on a person, for better or worse.

    • Greg

      Though I found the analysis flawed – as it had to be undertaken from a distance – I do not attribute the positive aspects you do.

      Hindus and Buddhists, for example, reject the use of such drugs, and the motivation for the drugs was quite different. LSD was put forth as a drug that would mimic psychosis.

      It was thought that psychologists and psychiatrists could better study psychosis by imitating its features using such drugs. This was then quickly expanded to usage as a psychosis-inducing agent in the MKUltra project, a secret CIA effort that resulted in the deaths of a number of people, as well as serious mental problems.

      This use of psychotropic drugs was just the beginning of an era of proliferation of dangerous drugs into the culture. We now live with a number of drugs that induce varying forms of psychosis, including the drugs that have resulted in almost every single mass shooting case.

      The article is correct in generally perceiving an evil influence arising from the Leary / Alpert duo but it came up short on acknowledging the problem was a mental health profession gone criminal.

    • David

      I wasn’t so much trying to put a positive spin on it as simply pointing out that Leary didn’t come up with a spiritual spin on the psychedelic experience on his own- aboriginal cultures had been doing so long before. Of course, there is a major difference between the use of such substances in a traditional cultural setting versus appropriating it to a different culture without any controls or points of reference. On a more insidious level, by connecting psychedelics with Hindu and Buddhist modes of thought, many followed the example of Richard Alpert, who became a pied piper leading young hippies to the east in his Ram Das persona. Hindus and Buddhists reject the use of such drugs as you point out, but many westerners involved in eastern traditions will cite the use of psychedelics as what initially inspired them to start practicing meditation.

    • Greg

      Accurate analysis, David. We are on the same page in that regard. Ram Das was one very unhappy camper – who first sought happiness through LSD and then through his eastern guru, which did no better. I encountered him one time at a commune in New Mexico, as he was putting the finishing touches on Be Here Now. He was not a pleasant nor very enlightened person. LSD tended to move people into some mental traps from which only the very skilled could escape.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      “Mere” euphoria? I think that is a contradiction in terms…addicts seek that feeling, along with “other-worldliness,” they want to change how they feel. I don’t claim to be a physician, or an addictionologist. Therefore, I refute your claim that a hallucinogenic (such as LSD) providing euphoria is highly inaccurate. And I never claimed Leary was the founder of any drug, psychedelic, or otherwise. I was just stating the facts about him, and how prevalent he was at that particular time. Thank you for your comments.

    • Greg

      Robbe, will you acknowledge the premise that you are working from secondary sources and not from having been there observing the events as they took place?

      LSD was not a euphoria inducer in the sense that other pleasure drugs were / are. To label it such is to perhaps miss the nature of the situation. Most drug users seeking euphoria and a high stayed well clear of LSD. Its use was not as prevalent as you may imagine – a high percentage who dabbled in it would later stay clear or ended up in the hospital, or in jail.

      Prozac and other anti-depressants of today are closer to your description. They affect some of the same chemicals but without the psychosis-inducing nature of LSD. As mentioned, it was originally manufactured and given to psychologists and psychiatrists as a tool to mimic psychosis. (And used by the CIA to create psychosis.)

    • Robbe Sebesta

      Of course I will acknowledge that I wasn’t there in San Francisco, on Haight-Ashbury. I think I already did by saying I was only just born in the “Summer of Love.” And regardless of whether LSD produced a euphoric high, it was and is still a mind-altering substance that has helped ushered in many “worse” mind-altering substances. Now, when you speak of the plethora of anti-depressants, you are talking about an entirely different subject. You can Nay-say all you want about Prozac and it’s bedfellows, but it has helped many people (myself included for a time) out of clinical depression. Author Elizabeth Wurtzel who wrote, “Prozac Nation” will attest that Prozac saved her life. Of course, there are downsides to these drugs too. They don’t work for everyone, and they are probably over-prescribed. I understand that. But they are not “controlled substances,” because they do not give the user any sort of a “high” that a real addict seeks.

    • Greg

      Robbe, you confirmed my observation about your article and experience. The analysis presented was flawed. It missed the primary evil that arose out of that era – which was the trap you fell into with Prozac and the general psychiatric mentality (deception) that followed. Without adequate experience of that time and an understanding of how Leary was simply part of a psychiatric movement to inundate the culture with psychotropic substances the analysis comes up severely short.

      The downside to Leary is best typified by the views you put forth in defense of a deceptive industry that pushes antidepressants and other dangerous drugs on an unsuspecting, naive population.

      Being born in the “summer of love” has double meaning – you were brought up in the shadow of the psychiatric crimes of a generation of psychiatric drug pushers. Do not blame Leary for your troubles, blame an entire industry that has fed you lies and deceptive drug sales pitches.

      The drugs you mention are not “an entirely different story,” Rather they are the heart of the story.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      Greg,
      I fail to see what you are going on about here. All I’m trying to do is show, in less than 1200 words, the downside of this particular period of time, and what Timothy Leary was doing. It isn’t a thesis, and what I said is nothing but factual. And I’m not blaming anyone for any of my adult choices. I stopped doing that a long time ago. I was joking about “being born on an acid trip,” but I think you failed to see that for some reason. All I am now is grateful, mainly to God, then to my parents and my biological mother for giving me away where I undoubtedly was cared for better than if she had kept me. I’m also grateful to my saint-to-be-husband, and yes, even to the psychologists and psychiatrists that have helped me. And I disagree also with what you said about “Drugs are the heart of the story,” rather, again, it’s peoples’ choices surrounding drugs (including the physicians who prescribe them).

  • Greg

    Good attempt to piece together history as a factor in the present, but seems like a view from afar and thus not very accurate. There is much to be gleaned from the story of Leary and his sidekick Alpert who renamed himself Ram Dass.

    The comment about LSD being difficult to quit, as though it was addictive, however, shows an unfamiliarity with the drug. Also there is much missing in the analysis of why and how it came on the scene and why Harvard psychologists Leary and Alpert were such big promoters.

    The evil that flowed from those events was significant, much more significant than is commonly recognized or acknowledged, however, the analysis you provide does not really capture the nature of the evil and the manner in which it has mushroomed (no pun intended) in our present age.

    Good effort to look for causes but with so much missing data you may be led astray and not see the true significance of those events.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      Greg, we are allowed only 1200 words per story. To summarize the Sixties and Timothy Leary in their entirety would take, and has taken multiple books the size of “Moby Dick” and then some. The only “true significance” I was attempting to point out was that of Leary being thought of as some medical guru at the time, but looking back, we can see he was little more than a very intelligent drug dealer (among other things). And, as I stated, LSD is not necessarily physically addictive, but it can be psychologically so. This is taken from Dependency.net: LSD dependence is typically psychological,
      not physical. While the drug does not cause physical cravings,
      individuals who take it often associate it with particular people and
      circumstances and make a habit out of using the drug whenever they are
      in social situations. This can make quitting difficult, since it may
      require that the user stop associating with friends who use LSD in order
      to break the habit of using it as a social ritual. Users may become
      tolerant to LSD, which means that they require more and more of the drug
      each time to achieve the same effect. Higher doses carry a higher risk
      of bad side effects, so increasing the dose can quickly become
      dangerous.

    • Greg

      Robbe, as I stated before, you are working from secondary sources that lack the depth of insight needed to speak to the situation. LSD was very different from other drugs in that it was not what we think of as recreational pleasure. It bore no resemblance to cocaine, marijuana, or other pleasure drugs. Because it was so unpredictable and its effects so powerful, the recreational users steered clear – at least after their first exposure. This left two groups who tended to use it – those pursuing an inner (perhaps spiritual) journey that would increase their knowledge of life or those who were mentally unstable and out of control. In both cases, it was disappointing and quite dangerous. (And then there were spy agencies using it to mess with people.)

      The problem I point out, which you may have overlooked, was the subsequent generations of drugs – Prozac et al – that cause psychological dependence, for the reasons you point out. LSD is a relative non-event compared to the hugely harmful proliferation of mind-altering drugs that saturate our culture. That is the true story of evil, especially the mass drugging of children with Ritalin and now with anti-depressants.

      Hope you see that primary thread that links the 60’s with the present – the damaging experimentation and pushing of dangerous drugs by psychology and psychiatry.

    • Howard

      Greg I don’t think that the particular drug is the issue here. Leary was a superstar among those professing the use of drugs for personal reasons. Contributing to the inward vision of youth of the day. He was one of the most influential leaders that legitimized this behavior. We are really talking about an attitude created that led to your concern about present day drug use.

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  • james

    Interesting take on those years. The subsequent delve into psychology and counseling is also classic of someone coming to terms with a trauma. I’m not sure
    if those acid dropping hippies would have aborted you had Roe V happened the summer before, for all we know your parents were pro life. Sounds like an alcohol syndrome since that became your drug of choice. Very legal and handled well by
    an overwhelming majority of people who don’t have to struggle with addictive personality issues. And the irony that brewers of this drug have a Catholic saint
    as their patron. You really should have “a fascination with the 60’s” as Vatican II began the long process of letting the wind blow where it will. Now,Tim Leary is another story. He reminds me of the joke “ Reality is a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs” – and a 1000 to 1 did do acid safely and had experiences too sublime for description then went on to become … holy. It’s always those who trip up their lives that give the ones who don’t a bad name. Well, during the season in question I was dodging heavy ordinance in Vietnam – so forgive me if I laugh at your take on a weird doctor who invented a party drug as “truly evil”. The true evil were those politicians responsible for killing 58 K American kids and God knows the number of Vietnamese; many of whom died in that lovely summer of 1969.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      “They took LSD in goblets and read aloud from the New Testament. This,
      however, was also balanced by Hindu ‘sex rituals,’ held in the attic in a
      room filled with erotic tapestries.”

      James, the quote above is what I called truly evil, because it is. Taking mind-altering substances while reading the New Testament, while engaging in ‘sex rituals.’ This is blatant evil and any true Christian will attest to it. If you want to laugh, be my guest. I have no concern for a reaction such as this because it shows me that you must have missed the point. However, I thank you for your comments.

    • james

      LSD is the size of a fruit fly and your referance to Hindu sex rituals
      (as opposed to what ? ) diisparages an entire religion. At one time
      the church forbade its members from even reading the bible and they
      burnt heritics. Some perspective, please.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      James,
      Sin is sin, period. Always has been, always will be. And if they engaged in Hindu sex rituals, how that disparage anything? It’s just a fact. You seem to cling to the idea that man defines God. What we do does not matter in reference to Him. He’s still the Supreme Being no matter what we humans “do in His name.” I know that I have broken at least commandment, which means I’ve broken them all. I am the worst sinner of all, but what I DO doesn’t define who I AM. I am, as you are, a child of God, and He has redeemed us all through what HE did. That is perspective.

    • james

      I still think you would have to be a Hindu to make the ritual genuine. Peace.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      “And the irony that brewers of this drug have a Catholic saint
      as
      their patron. You really should have “a fascination with the 60’s” as
      Vatican II began the long process of letting the wind blow where it
      will.”

      I forgot to mention also that this isn’t irony. And your second sentence I’m interpreting as a veiled insult which is fine when people can’t find anything else to validly criticize. However, I am a convert from basically Paganism, of 11 years. My fascination with the SIxties started long before then and had obviously nothing to do with anything remotely related to what was happening at the Vatican. Just an fyi. Thanks again!

    • james

      So the brewers fervently pray between batches that those addicted to
      their craft will swear off ? No insult intended, sarcasm maybe. I think
      it’s the picture of that petulant looking child that stoked my response
      along with your indictment of a generation that marched for peace, the
      enviroment, justice and equality.

    • Robbe Sebesta

      It’s okay, no harm, no foul. That generation wasn’t all negative, of course. I was just showing the downside of what has been glorified by some.