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AMST 3100 The 1960s The Psychedelic Movement Primary source is Jay Stevens, Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream, 1998 Spiritual Lag? Jay Stevens argues that, in a sense, the hippies were an attempt to push evolution – to raise consciousness to new levels.

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amst 3100 the 1960s

AMST 3100 The 1960s

The Psychedelic Movement

Primary source is Jay Stevens, Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream, 1998

spiritual lag
Spiritual Lag?
  • Jay Stevens argues that, in a sense, the hippies were an attempt to push evolution – to raise consciousness to new levels.
  • The psychedelic movement, of which hippies were a central element, was an attempt to restore spirituality and humanity to Western cultures that had become uprooted by the force of modernity.
    • Modernity: Social patterns resulting from industrialization, urbanization, rationalization, and other changes that have occurred over the last few centuries.
    • The argument is that the rapid shift toward modernity came at the expense of the environment and human spirituality - or humanity itself.
the problem
The Problem
  • Rapid industrialization and mass society have transformed and uprooted our spiritual roots.
    • The emphasis on materialism and consumerism detract us from our spiritual health.
    • The rise of weapons of mass destruction (particularly The Bomb), brought by modernity, suggest that the human race may be headed toward apocalypse unless we develop our spiritual health and connect with our humanity.
    • Einstein felt that in the dangerous nuclear age, we were like children playing with loaded weapons. We needed to grow - very quickly - if we were to avoid disaster.
aldous huxley july 26 1894 november 22 1963
Aldous HuxleyJuly 26, 1894 – November 22, 1963
  • Writer of Brave New World (1932), a fictional novel featuring a dystopian culture where the masses were given “happy pills” to keep them content and passive while elites ran the world. This drug (soma) was used for escapism rather than growth.
    • Huxley wondered if in real life there might be a drug that could be used to create utopia, not dystopia. Such a drug would not be an escapist drug – it would be an engaging drug that facilitated our connections to humanity and life.
    • Huxley felt a sense of urgency in the need for social change and growth, given the events of World War II, the emergence of the Cold War, and the nuclear arms race that was so frightening.
the crisis of modernity
The Crisis of Modernity
  • This sense of crisis led many thinkers to argue that we are doomed unless we find a way to speed up evolution, or to raise consciousness to a higher level.
    • This raised the question of whether we can consciously “evolve” ourselves. Hence, the interest in finding a key to unlock the doors of perception.
    • They asked: is there a door in the mind we can pass thru, and if so, does a key exist to unlock it?
  • These thinkers thought that perhaps LSD and other psychedelic drugs were the key to raising consciousness.
  • LSD was viewed as a “mind detergent” capable of washing away years of social programming. It was a tool to help push us up the evolutionary ladder.
  • By 1967, during the peak of the psychedelic movement, a countercultural momentum had developed in which the hippies began to see themselves as the true revolutionaries of the mind and spirit.
    • LSD was one of the sacred sacraments of this movement.
  • By 1967, LSD had been one of the most extensively studied chemicals in our society.
  • Yet despite this, there was no consensus about LSD.
    • It was linked to madness, yet also to curing madness.
    • It was linked to mystical experiences and profound insights, yet it merely chemically scrambled neurons.
  • Was it a source of enlightenment? Or was it just a way to get the neurons to malfunction?
  • From a spiritual perspective, the question was whether the psychedelic state of consciousness was an affirmation of the mystic’s argument that the kingdom of Nirvana is inside all of us, waiting to be discovered.
  • The history of LSD has a religious component, a scientific component, and a cultural component.
the scientific aspect of lsd
The Scientific Aspect of LSD
  • LSD is the product of scientific research.
  • In 1943 Albert Hofmann was searching for a new headache powder and revisited a drug he had synthesized in 1938 - LSD. This time he discovered (accidentally) that LSD was capable of producing fantastic hallucinations.
    • However, it was unclear what it could be used for.
  • Sandoz, the drug firm Hofmann worked for, then sent the LSD to psychiatrists seeking to get their feedback.
    • Could LSD help patients release repressed material?
      • The psychiatric testing of LSD had begun. It it arrived in the U.S. in 1949.
post wwii rise in psychology
Post WWII Rise in Psychology
  • The post-war rise in psychology contributed to an interest in LSD.
  • Given what the Nazis had done during the war, researchers were greatly interested in the mind and human behavior.
    • Freudians especially were interested in the unconscious – in releasing the inner mind. They were attracted to mind drugs for this purpose.
      • Freudians treated the wealthy more than any other demographic. Consequently wealthy people would be among the first to take LSD.
timothy leary
Timothy Leary
  • By the mid-1950s scientists became interested in scientifically testing the effectiveness of traditional therapy – psychotherapy.
  • Timothy Leary was one of the first scientists involved.
  • Leary found that those receiving traditional therapy were no more likely to improve than the control group.
  • However, he found that where successful therapy had occurred, something else had occurred: these patients had experienced a “vitalizing transaction” – a moment of epiphany type of realization.
  • The key to these vitalizing transactions lay somewhere in the unconscious mind, according to Leary.
1950s research of lsd
1950s Research of LSD
  • The 1950s research of LSD revealed that it made people extremely sensitive to nuance – it heightened awareness of other’s moods as well as heightening the moods of the subjects.
  • LSD was found to produce astonishing effects in both normal and crazy people.
    • A catatonic on acid would sometimes come out of their shell, only to return after the effects wore off.
  • LSD made some people become selfless, yet at other times they became egocentric. The selfless state was similar to the spiritual state called Nirvana.
historical backdrop
Historical Backdrop
  • Historically, the use of mind drugs is associated with
    • 1. Pleasure, and/or
    • 2. Healing and spiritual enlightenment.
  • Psychedelic drugs are less associated with a third motivating factor for drug use – escapism.
    • The drugs that work best for escapism tend to dull rather than awaken or sharpen the mind. Drugs like alcohol, heroin, cocaine, barbiturates, etc., are typically used for
      • 1. Pleasure, and/or
      • 2. Escapism.
historical backdrop14
Historical Backdrop
  • The first scientific approach toward mind-altering drugs occurred in 1855, when these drugs began to be cataloged.
  • By the late 1800s, artists and intellectuals had discovered the potentials of peyote and magic mushrooms.
    • They used these psychedelic drugs for both pleasure and mind stimulation.
  • In the 1800’s Victorian culture, experiences of the body were viewed in a moralizing tone as immoral – as a threat to civilization and decency.
historical backdrop15
Historical Backdrop
  • The U.S. was particularly influenced by conservative mores, given its Christian and Victorian influences.
    • There was even a Prohibition Era between 1920-1933 that outlawed alcohol consumption (the 18th Amendment, later repealed by the 21st Amendment).
    • Consequently, the U.S. even today is unusually moralistic in its approach toward sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, and other pleasures of the body.
historical backdrop16
Historical Backdrop
  • Yet nearly all societies use mind-altering drugs of some kind.
    • One reason may be that the human mind is constantly dulled by the inflow of everyday data. Consequently the mind seeks out sensation in the way we use grit to sharpen a dull blade.
  • In other words, mind-altering drugs may be intrinsically appealing because they function to simulate new sensations that sharpen the brain.
historical backdrop17
Historical Backdrop
  • It took less than 30 years for peyote to pass from the hands of scientists to the hands of artists and intellectuals.
  • For LSD the period was even shorter.
  • Aldous Huxley was one of the artists/intellectuals who was an important catalyst for the spread of LSD.
aldous huxley
Aldous Huxley
  • Fascinated by mind drugs.
  • Huxley was searching for an ideal drug which did not pollute the body the way alcohol does.
  • Huxley became interested in the scientific reports on the effects of psychedelic drugs and he sent a note to two of the key researchers – Humphrey Osmond and John Smythies.
    • Huxley wanted to try mescaline, and Osmond agreed. So in 1953 Osmond turned Huxley on.
aldous huxley19
Aldous Huxley
  • Huxley’s philosophical interests:
    • 1. The gap between rational technology and wisdom.
    • 2. Evolution (or the misapplication of evolution).
      • Particularly the dangers of engineering human nature with new technologies. See also the novel Frankenstein for this indictment.
    • 3. The failure of education to create the whole man.
    • 4. The increasing concentration of power in the form of Big Government and Big Business.
  • In Brave New World the all-powerful corporate state issued a mind-altering drug which induced euphoria. Here, the drug was used for diabolical purposes.
aldous huxley20
Aldous Huxley
  • Huxley was interested in a drug which could be used for enlightenment rather than entrapment.
  • He had dabbled in many forms of psychic awareness – chanting, meditation, hypnosis, and Eastern philosophy. What he discovered is that widely divergent mystical experiences had some core similarities:
    • They blended a physiological experience into the very structure of the mind to produce a moment of deep mystical revelation.
      • The physical sensation of dancing and chanting around a bonfire could serve as a catalyst toward achieving the mental state of selflessness where a person becomes “at one” with the universe. The physical and the mental are connected.
aldous huxley21
Aldous Huxley
  • By the 1950s, Huxley was considering psychedelic drugs as a tool to raise consciousness.
  • His first mescaline trip in 1953 excited him to the possibilities – he thought he may have found the key to the doors of perception.
    • Huxley wrote an essay titled after William Blake’s poem, “The Doors of Perception” which became a classic among later psychedelic drug users.
the psychedelic experience
The Psychedelic Experience
  • The psychedelic experience transcends words.
  • Huxley likened the psychedelic experience to a journey or a “trip” where the perceiver sailed beyond the horizon.
  • Tripping is paradoxical. It is a social experience on the one hand, because of the heightened skill at nonverbal communication; yet no two people found themselves in the same part of this “other world.” Sometimes one felt distinctly alone.
  • Some people had powerful mystical experiences; others didn’t.
the psychedelic experience23
The Psychedelic Experience
  • Some trippers began to distinguish between a mere “visionary experience” and the more powerful “mystical experience.”
    • Both Huxley and Timothy Leary were interested in the mystical experience because of its transformational powers.
  • By 1956 Huxley was at the center of an emerging movement, part scientific and part religious/aesthetic.
  • This movement was spurred on by Al Hubbard (Captain Al), who turned Huxley on to acid in 1955.
the psychedelic experience24
The Psychedelic Experience
  • Al Hubbard was a flamboyant millionaire who had taken an interest in psychedelic drugs and had experienced a mystical vision.
    • Thereafter, he devoted his time to spreading the good word. By 1959, he had turned on 1700 people.
  • Hubbard was an excellent guide for acid trips. He emphasized the importance of set and setting on the trip.
    • He attended to the set of preconceptions, moods, etc of the tripper, along with the proper setting in which to make the trip most rewarding. Hubbard got people in the right mood and provided the right setting for a rewarding trip.
    • To Jay Stevens, he played the role of the ancient shaman who guides tribal members on their trips using techniques passed down thru time.
which way to go
Which way to go?
  • While scientists studied LSD in the laboratory under careful scientific conditions, Hubbard used a more informal mystical approach to the acid trip.
  • Huxley opted for Hubbard’s approach. If the goal was to speed up human evolution and raise consciousness, Huxley concluded it was important to select the right mix of brilliant and influential people and turn them on informally.
    • This technique would hopefully cause a snowball throughout the culture.
      • After all, Huxley felt the human race didn’t have much time.
emergence of an lsd subculture
Emergence of an LSD Subculture
  • By 1956 LSD researchers had become an informal fraternity of trippers who got together and shared their stories.
    • They even began to have LSD parties among themselves.
  • LSD was beginning to take off, especially in California.
    • California provide the right cultural climate for acid because it was a “hip” place even in the 1950s.
    • Eventually the scientists shared acid with the artists and intellectuals, and by the early 1960s many famous people had tripped.
    • LSD became the fashionable party drug among the Hollywood elite.
a short cut to wisdom
A Short Cut to Wisdom?
  • Among the intellectuals, the debate over acid was whether it was indeed possible to mass produce the mystical experience.
  • To writers like Anais Nin, you couldn’t take a short cut to wisdom.
  • But to Huxley, humans did not have the luxury to ignore short cuts.
    • The world of the 1950s was already too close to the nightmarish dystopia of Brave New World.
    • Huxley did not promote the wholesale distribution of LSD. He was selective about who should be turned on. LSD was too powerful to give to just anybody.
      • Huxley was interested in turning on Beat artists particularly.
the cia
  • While Al Hubbard was celebrating the mystical properties of psychedelic drugs like LSD, the CIA was looking for a drug they could use for mind control.
    • The Cold War drove both the Americans and Soviets toward diabolical methods of warfare, including chemical and psychological warfare.
  • The CIA needed a domestic supplier of LSD so they contracted with Sandoz for huge local supplies of the drug, which eventually contributed to LSD’s cheap and ready availability in the U.S. (LSD was not illegal until 1966).
the cia experiments
The CIA Experiments
  • The CIA experiments with LSD were so bizarre they seem like science fiction.
    • Driving a car thru New York City and randomly dosing unsuspecting civilians.
    • Dosing unsuspecting soldiers and, in one experiment, faking that their plane was about to crash to see how they reacted.
  • These experiments on unsuspecting American citizens were not alarming to the U.S. Inspector General – after all, we were at war!
the importance of set and setting
The Importance of Set and Setting
  • What the CIA, psychologists, and artists began to agree on was how crucial set and setting are in influencing the quality of the psychedelic experience.
what made lsd so attractive to the kids of the 1960s
What made LSD so attractive to the kids of the 1960s?
  • The kids of the 60s grew up with messages of rigid conformity. Any deviation from cultural norms was viewed as a sign of mental instability.
  • 1. This rigidity led kids to develop a fascination with the surreal superheroes found in comic books.
    • Plasticman, the Human Torch, Captain Marvel – they were all nonconformists. But they had started out as ordinary conformists until a chemical accident transformed them.
      • They affirmed the idea of chemically-induced evolution or transformation. This made comic book superheroes subversive.
what made lsd so attractive to the kids of the 1960s32
What made LSD so attractive to the kids of the 1960s?
  • 2. Mad Magazine emerged during the 1950s and 60s to goof the adult world and encouraged an irreverent attitude toward authority.
  • 3. Elvis Presley and rock’n’roll bypassed rational thinking and conformity in favor of kinetic, emotionalized body music.
  • 4. Hollywood’s new antiheroes, like James Dean and Marlon Brando, were role models of teen alienation and rebellion. They were nonconformists.
  • 5. The Beatniks, bored with bland conformity, were gluttons for new and alternative experiences. The more intense the better. They were ripe for LSD and helped lead the way.
the beats
The Beats
  • Many of the Beatniks tripped. Beats sought the same state of selflessness that Huxley sought.
  • Beats like William Burroughs were concerned with shedding their social skin to explore their asocial self.
    • They felt that the socially-constructed self of Western culture was a conformist straightjacket. It was trapped by repressive societal mores. They advocated shedding the repressed social self for something freer. LSD liberated people by de-constructing the socially constructed self.
  • Beats viewed traveling as a means of not being held down by oppressive social structures. Tripping was a form of traveling.
    • California was the promised land – a place free from the stifling moralistic norms of the East Coast.
neal cassady
Neal Cassady
  • Jack Kerouac was a chronicler of the Beat culture, and he portrayed Neal Cassady as the closest thing to a genuine beatnik.
    • Cassady was different. He had charisma and spoke in long, flowing, intense rushes of words. Everyone liked him, he was full of life, and he lived in the moment.
    • Most importantly, Neal Cassady seemed to have no ego. He was as close to selfless as Kerouac had ever seen.
      • He was a role model for how to achieve Nirvana.
        • He was existentially free.
  • Kerouac’s On the Road was a tone poem to Jack Cassady (Dean Moriarty).
allen ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
  • One of the leading Beats of the era was Allen Ginsberg.
    • His poem “Howl” became a classic among the emerging underground.
    • San Francisco was fast becoming the new Mecca.
  • Ginsberg took acid and became an immediate advocate of LSD.
    • He felt everyone should use it as a de-contamination tool.
the emerging counterculture
The Emerging Counterculture
  • The Beats were “hip.” They excelled at producing existential vaudeville: theater experiences that were surreal.
    • The Beats loved absurdity.
  • In doing so, they were morphing into what would later be called hippies.
    • A distinguishing feature of the hippies was the presentation of the absurd self.
  • It was the emerging fashion to push things to their extreme, including all kinds of sexual and drug experimentation, and this became a hallmark of the 1960s counterculture.
timothy leary37
Timothy Leary
  • Leary was a product of the 1950s backlash movement called humanistic psychology.
    • It was time to ask what made people healthy – not just what made them sick.
  • Leary’s humanism led him to have contempt for the Organization Man conformity of that era.
  • When he discovered psychedelic drugs for himself in 1960 he felt that he had discovered a tool to unleash the intuitive mind and to experience profound transformations.
    • And he couldn’t wait to share his discovery.
timothy leary38
Timothy Leary
  • Leary experimented with psychedelic drugs at Harvard, using his students as assistants.
    • Their first experiment was to give psilocybin to 175 people in a naturalistic study.
      • Over 50% of the participants claimed the experience taught them something about themselves, and 90% wanted to try it again.
  • By 1961 it was less clear whether Leary was running a scientific experiment or whether he was trying to start a cultural revolution.
  • By 1962 Leary was experimenting with LSD. If psilocybin was all about love, LSD was all about death and rebirth. It was much more powerful.
timothy leary39
Timothy Leary
  • Leary and Huxley exchanged enthusiastic correspondence over Leary’s research.
  • They discussed the proper strategy to introduce mind expansion to a culture of Organization Men.
    • Huxley argued that they should turn on artistic, intellectual and economic elites, and Leary initially agreed.
    • However, after listening to Allen Ginsberg, Leary would later shift toward making LSD available to a wider array of people.
    • Ginsberg stressed that it should be up to the individual and that everyone, not just elites, should have access to LSD. Ginsberg was an egalitarian.
      • By turning everyone on, they would generate a snowball effect of mass change.
lsd crosses over
LSD Crosses Over
  • Eventually psychedelic drug use spread across different groups, including the wealthy and the avant garde, who mingled at the same drug parties that Beats, artists, and intellectuals attended.
    • Note: the motivations for drug use varied by the group. Some took the drugs mainly for pleasure purposes while others took them for spiritual growth purposes.
    • Gradually the West Coast parties began to emphasize the pleasure purposes.
      • This was not a problem for Timothy Leary, who felt that American culture was too rigid and sexually hung-up. Leary believed pleasure and spirituality were linked.
social change
Social Change
  • At the core of the egalitarian philosophy was that true social change begins from the bottom – among the masses - and moves up to the elite. This view opposes the more elitist view that change must stem from elites and their institutions, and the masses will follow.
  • The problem with the egalitarian approach was that by giving everyone access to acid, there would be many casualties. This debate relates to a deeper debate.
  • The most important debate among the counterculture involved whether to place the emphasis upon Nirvana or Utopia as the primary goal of The Movement.
personal politics versus institutional politics
Personal Politics versus Institutional Politics
  • The 1960s protestors felt that both personal (psychological) and institutional (social structural) changes were needed, but which was more important – making people at peace with themselves or making institutions more humanistic?
  • Hippies and Radicals were split on this issue.
    • Hippies favored a personal-change emphasis, with LSD as the tool for personal introspection. Their goal was Nirvana.
    • Radicals favored an institutional-change emphasis, with organized social activism as the tool for change. The radical’s goal was Utopia.
personal politics versus institutional politics43
Personal Politics versus Institutional Politics
  • Regardless of whether the emphasis was on Nirvana or Utopia, the two are interrelated.
    • Under a Nirvana emphasis, we would expect that as minds became loving, institutions would eventually be reconstructed to be more humanistic.
    • Under a Utopian emphasis, we would expect that as institutions became more humane, minds would eventually be reconstructed to be more loving and compassionate toward others.
  • Both approaches are valid.
timothy leary44
Timothy Leary
  • By 1962, Leary was beginning to see himself as a spiritual prophet of sorts – that he needed to lead society to a higher consciousness.
  • Leary’s research had confirmed that psychedelic drugs produced forms of the mystical experience.
    • His mission was assuming an increasingly religious or spiritual tone.
    • According to his friends’ characterization, he saw himself as having “evolved” from his earlier - more scientific - self into a spiritual Guru self. He was losing interest in the scientific component of psychedelics. For this reason, Harvard would eventually boot him out.
the politics of consciousness
The Politics of Consciousness
  • “Lysergic acid hits the spot. Forty billion neurons, that’s a lot.” – Marshall McLuhan.
  • By 1962, the mood began to change.
  • Some psychiatrists began to feel that LSD was a dagger pointed at the heart of psychiatry. They were fearful that Leary would bring down the house.
    • LSD had become easy to get, and it was now associated with an emerging hedonistic California subculture.
  • Others in psychiatry advocated continued LSD experimentation.
research into safety of lsd
Research into Safety of LSD
  • By the mid-60s, qualms about the safety of LSD were being put to rest.
  • Researcher Sidney Cohen surveyed a sample of 5000 LSD users and learned that an average of 1.8 psychotic episodes occurred per 1000 ingestions – far less than the anti-drug forces had argued. LSD was fairly safe.
lsd as a therapy tool
LSD as a therapy tool
  • With the question of safety out of the way, interest now focused on the best way to use LSD.
  • There were 2 schools of thought in psychiatry:
  • 1. LSD could be used as a facilitator of traditional Freudian psychiatry, or
  • 2. LSD could be used in huge doses to try to produce an integrative or mystical insight that would lead to a radical change in behavior. This was called “psychedelic therapy.”
    • If successful, the effects could be dramatic. Humphrey Osmond claimed a success rate of 50-70% for chronic alcoholics, while Dr. Al Hubbard (by now a PhD) reported a success rate of 80%.
lsd therapy
LSD therapy
  • What some trippers discovered was that, underneath the fragile ego, there exists an “imperishable self” that is at one with nature, death, and the universe.
  • Much therapy involved moving past the vain ego into this selfless state. If successful, neurotic patterns die away because much neurosis stems from an “insecure” ego. This is how the Freudians see it.
different interpretations of lsd
Different Interpretations of LSD
  • However, LSD’s effects were seen differently by different researchers.
  • One researcher might see LSD “dissolving” the ego while another might see it as a form of depersonalization, while Timothy Leary saw the same effects as a mystical union or an integrative experience.
  • A hallucination to one was a vision to another.
  • These discrepant interpretations represented turf wars between various types of psychologists, spiritualists, artists and others.
1962 lsd research is curtailed
1962: LSD Research is Curtailed
  • To conservative representatives of the Establishment, LSD was harmful. Period. In 1962, Congress passed a law that gave the FDA approval over all new experimental drugs.
  • This law was aimed mostly at speed, but it could be used against LSD too. LSD was no longer so readily available for research after 1962.
    • The research machine was being turned off by the authorities.
  • However, it was too late to turn off the publicity machine.
the fifth freedom
The Fifth Freedom
  • If the psychedelic movement had a highpoint of nostalgia, it might be in mid-1962 when Timothy Leary gathered 35 LSD experimenters in Mexico for tripping.
  • Leary was interested in “internal freedom,” involving the right to do what one wanted with one’s own consciousness. This was the “Fifth Freedom” to Leary.
    • By this point, Leary had rejected the idea of turning on only elites. What was needed as a group of well-trained acid guides, capable of training others in the art of psychedelics.
    • So Leary founded the International Foundation for Internal Freedom (IFIF) to promote the movement.
      • IFIF lasted only a year. Leary dissolved it in 1963 as “too rigid” or too bureaucratic. Leary’s attention shifted toward founding a commune that would offer less formalized training.
leary s goal 4 million
Leary’s goal: 4 million
  • Leary estimate that 25,000 people had used LSD by 1961. He forecasted that by 1967 one million people would try it.
    • To Leary, the magic number was 4 million people, after which he felt the movement would snowball great change in American society.
1962 the good ole days
1962: the good ole days
  • Leary’s subculture blended Beat coolness with a zest for having fun while learning at the same time. The prevailing mood was “serious cosmic fun.”
  • At this point (1962) the subculture was moving beyond Beat but had not yet morphed into the hippie scene.
  • The official definition of LSD at that time was that it was potentially useful but had become dangerous in the “irresponsible” hands of scientists like Timothy Leary.
  • By now, the psychedelic movement was generating much publicity. Of the many magazine articles written about LSD at that time, Playboy provided one of the only positive articles.
1963 huxley dies
1963: Huxley dies
  • It was soon after then (11-22-63) that Aldous Huxley would die of disease and expressed his wish to his wife that he die while tripping.
  • Huxley believed in LSD but feared that the politics of LSD would bring the movement to an end.
    • Given the socially conservative climate of America, he did not want anyone to promote LSD irresponsibly.
leary s millbrook commune
Leary’s Millbrook Commune
  • During the early 1960s, Leary moved to Millbrook, NY, where he established a psychedelic commune on the wealthy estate of a benefactor.
  • Millbrook became the center of the psychedelic movement, which was growing in popularity.
  • Leary offered a merging of psychology with a dose of spiritualism and hedonism at Millbrook.
    • The weekend drug parties at Millbrook quickly became famous.
the boy most likely to succeed
The Boy Most Likely to Succeed
  • In the early 1950s, Timothy Leary was a well respected psychologist. By 1963 he was a famous psychedelic guru.
  • A similar change occurred for Ken Kesey.
  • Kesey was a regular jock athlete with a likeable personality who got good grades in school. As a senior in high school he was voted “most likely to succeed.”
kesey discovers lsd
Kesey discovers LSD
  • When Kesey attended the Stanford Writing Program in 1958 he discovered that he was a gifted writer and that he was attracted to the Beat subculture.
    • He grew a beard, began playing folk songs on his guitar, and started to smoke pot.
  • Later he volunteered as a drug tester at a hospital studying psychedelic drugs.
    • Kesey found that LSD was great and became an instant convert to the cause.
kesey becomes famous
Kesey becomes famous
  • It was during this period that he got his material for his famous novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.”
  • This novel was a metaphor of 1950s America, where there was no room for individuality in the “combine.”
  • Meanwhile, Kesey began to have gatherings for mutual drug exploration in his California home.
  • By 1962, an inner circle of fellow-adventurers had emerged to call themselves the Merry Band of Pranksters, with Kesey at the center of it all and with Neal Cassidy as their role model.
how does one sustain nirvana
How does one sustain Nirvana?
  • One of the issues that Kesey and Cassidy were familiar with involved how to sustain one’s state of cosmic consciousness.
  • As Leary and others in the movement had discovered, people would often drift back to old routines and regress.
so how do you sustain nirvana
So how do you sustain Nirvana?
  • At Millbrook they were working on ways to “break set.” This involved brain research and other ways to sustain nirvana.
  • For Kesey and the Pranksters, the trick was to “live totally in the here and now,” where one was not trapped by the socially conditioned self.
the pranksters take a trip
The Pranksters take a trip
  • By 1964 Kesey had finished his second novel and purchased a bus to travel with his Merry Pranksters to New York for its publication party. They were going to go to the World’s Fair - and also to look up Timothy Leary.
  • The bus, named Further, was equipped with motion film cameras, a sound system, and drugs. They planned on making a film of their adventure to the East Coast and filmed almost anything and everything.
the pranksters go to millbrook
The Pranksters go to Millbrook
  • When they reached Millbrook, they realized that the psychedelic movement had split in different directions.
  • Timothy Leary’s group regarded the Pranksters as too garish, while the Pranksters regarded Millbrook as too stuffy and “egghead” like.
    • In others words, Millbrook was too scientifically serious while the Pranksters were too hedonistic.
    • The Millbrook meeting strengthened the Prankster’s sense of their own psychedelic identity as a distinct and separate subculture from the Leary crowd.
the psychedelic movement splits
The psychedelic movement splits
  • The Pranksters avoided the “heaviness” or seriousness of Leary’s subculture.
    • They also rejected the careful reliance on LSD guides that Leary believed was necessary for the revolution.
    • Instead they adopted a “go with the flow” approach.
  • But here were the seeds of disaster: where Leary pulled away from Huxley, Kesey was pulling away from Leary. Kesey was developing a loose code where anyone and everyone could take LSD freely. This was exactly what Huxley feared would happen, and what would bring down the authorities to put a stop to LSD.
the west coast scene
The West Coast scene
  • When the Merry Pranksters returned to the West Coast in 1964 they believed the represented a legitimate heir to the psychedelic movement.
  • In this hedonistic subculture, there were no rules. New recruits had to figure out for themselves what the informal norms were and prove themselves before being accepted into the group.
  • At Millbrook, new recruits were given Leary’s writings. At Kesey’s home, new recruits were given comic books and science fiction novels like “Stranger in a Strange Land” about an alien on Earth who had no ego.
pranksters and hells angels
Pranksters and Hells Angels?
  • As Kesey’s subculture grew it attracted the authorities. Narcotics raids were infrequent, however, and generally did not yield much.
  • By 1965, the Pranksters decided to test their philosophy of love and drugs on the Hells Angels.
    • Hunter Thompson was the midwife for this strange bedfellow meeting, which went surprisingly well, but which unfortunately increased the Angel’s sense of self-importance.
    • The Hells Angels would go on to provide security at various pop festivals. The most notorious was Altamont in 1969, where they murdered a man and beat up members of the Jefferson Airplane.
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Allen Ginsberg
  • At the same time that Kesey was taming the Hells Angels, Kesey was also meeting with Allen Ginsberg.
  • Ginsberg brought his radical egalitarian politics into the West Coast movement, which was already egalitarian under Kesey.
the acid test parties
The Acid Test parties
  • The Acid Test was Kesey’s experiment on the nature of “group mind” and a possible new art form.
  • It was a total party experience, complete with lights, music, cameras, theater, incense, and LSD.
  • The music at these public parties was provided by the Warlocks, soon to rename themselves “The Grateful Dead.”
  • During these parties people would play weird sounds, do spontaneous theater, and make magic.
  • The conditions were designed to manipulate the suggestibility of the psychedelic condition – to push people further, and to push people together.
  • Ultimately, thousands of people showed up at these parties, which were becoming famous.
kesey is busted
Kesey is busted
  • By the end of 1965 Kesey’s Acid Tests were the psychedelic equivalent of a Billy Graham crusade.
  • The tests peaked out in 1966 at the “Tripps Festival,” where 10,000 people paid admission to come in and gawk or grok.
  • Just before this event Kesey was arrested for pot – and this time the authorities intended to put him away for good. Kesey decided to flee to Oregon while he appealed and when Kesey vanished, the movement temporarily lost one of its most charismatic leaders.
    • And at just the moment that the movement was about to snowball.
leary and buddhism
Leary and Buddhism
  • Meanwhile, Timothy Leary had become interested in Buddhist mysticism. He believed that he was a tool of the great transformation of our age.
    • Occasionally Leary himself lapsed into his “Holy Man” performance to the irritation of some insiders who felt he had too big of an ego.
  • To many in the counterculture, the evolution of the human race depended on the restoration of unity between outer science (Western philosophy) and inner yoga (Eastern philosophy).
    • Many were experimenting with Eastern ideas by the mid-1960s.
millbrook issues
Millbrook issues
  • One problem at Millbrook was that when Leary left the estate to research Buddhism or other topics, Millbrook sometimes devolved into a hedonist playground for omnisexuals.
    • Plus, petty personal conflicts emerged.
  • Another problem was that some people wanted to push the envelope to higher and higher doses of acid. The problem was that they always came back down and little had really changed.
  • Yet another problem was that Leary had problems with finances. Millbrook was expensive to operate.
      • Consequently he began to devote weekends to paying customers who paid to have a drug-free “experiential weekend” – workshops designed to stimulate psychedelic growth and enlightenment.
leary is busted big in 1966
Leary is busted big in 1966
  • The politics of LSD were getting repressive by the mid-60s. Leary had moved from research, to politics, to the idea that people should be free to feed their minds without government restrictions.
  • But by now government and medical bureaucracies were portraying LSD as worse than heroin. A new era of Prohibition was on the horizon.
  • In 1966, Leary was busted for pot in Texas (it had been found on his daughter) and received a 30-year jail sentence plus a $30,000 fine.
    • He appealed and set up a defense fund, but this was the beginning of the end.
leary part shaman part showman
Leary: part shaman, part showman
  • Media coverage of Timothy Leary tended to portray him as a colorful weirdo not to be taken too seriously. When he was taken seriously (by a liberal media outlet) he was often criticized for not being serious or responsible enough to the movement. He was caught between these two characterizations.
  • Leary was becoming part showman, because this helped pay the bills, yet Leary saw himself as part shaman.
  • Meanwhile the authorities had staked out Millbrook with the intention of shutting it down.
  • It was none other than G. Gordon Liddy, the local DA and future Watergate bumbler-burgler (chief operative of the White House Plumbers), who sent 24 deputies to raid Millbrook in 1966.
lsd outlawed in 1966
LSD outlawed in 1966
  • The Psychedelic Movement had grown so large that by 1966 Americans began to react to it.
  • The reaction was severe.
  • The governors of California and Nevada competed for the prestige of being the first to sign anti-LSD legislation.
  • Their eagerness was matched by Washington politicians.
  • By October of 1966, the possession of LSD had been made illegal in every state in the country.
the lsd backlash
The LSD backlash
  • The backlash against LSD was not simple politics. It wasn’t until 1965 that concrete evidence of its danger first appeared. This evidence suggested that people with unstable personalities were prone to disintegration when exposed to LSD in uncontrolled settings. They tended to “freak out” in an anxious or panicked state.
  • A second problem with LSD was that some people claimed to have “flashbacks” months after tripping.
  • The mainstream media immediately exploited these fears and began to portray LSD as a social danger.
  • In March of 1966, Time Magazine declared that America was in the midst of an LSD epidemic.
is 7 temporary psychosis that bad
Is .7% temporary psychosis that bad?
  • Unfortunately there was little hard data on this. Among researchers it was largely agreed that roughly 2% who took LSD in uncontrolled settings experienced anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Of that 2%, one-third became temporarily psychotic.
  • In other words .7% of LSD users had a temporarily psychotic breakdown.
  • However, the media and politicians tended to exaggerate these psychotic breakdowns, and LSD was labeled a drug that causes insanity.
the lsd witch hunt
The LSD Witch-Hunt
  • This LSD witch-hunt occurred partly from
    • 1. Ignorance.
    • 2. Capitalistic journalistic styles that emphasize sensationalism.
    • 3. The dominant value system that all drugs are bad.
    • 4. Poor research. For example the FDA concluded that 3.6 million people had an LSD problem by counting known illegal cases (360) and multiplying them arbitrarily by 10,000.
  • The Reefer Madness of the 1930s became LSD Madness in the 1960s.
lsd research conclusions
LSD Research Conclusions
  • The researchers generally did find one thing to agree about regarding LSD – it did offer the potential to affect personality (for better or worse, depending on one’s views).
  • Regarding personality change, researchers had found only one significant effect on personality.
    • In 1966, a Rand Corporation study concluded that LSD users tended to have second thoughts about settling into a routine corporate job after a single acid trip. Rather, the user stated they would prefer a more contemplative lifestyle.
    • If a person became more sensitive to poetry and music but less concerned with competition and success, is this good or bad? People do not agree here.
    • But even this effect wore off over time if users stopped tripping.
there really is a reason to be concerned
There really is a reason to be concerned.
  • Perhaps the most threatening aspect of LSD is its unpredictability. It is difficult to tell what it will do beforehand.
  • Therefore, it is not surprising that some authorities were so concerned.
  • The fallout led to LSD’s outlaw by 1966 and to Sandoz’s decision to stop making LSD – even for research purposes - in 1966.
    • This was at the very time that many researchers were saying that what was needed was more research.
lsd a 3 part story
LSD: a 3-part story
  • Some view the LSD story as a 3-part story:
  • 1. A scientific story about the potential of LSD to unlock consciousness.
  • 2. A religious story about LSD as a means to human salvation.
  • 3. A cultural story involving a cultural revolt against the over-socialized or over-disciplined self into a more hedonistic and re-creative self.
the counterculture
The Counterculture
  • At the essence of the 1960s is a restless desire for change.
  • The question was, in what direction?
  • Corporations were a major blame during the 60s. They promoted rampant materialism as well as the imperialism that led to Vietnam. But most kids realized that corporations were only the tip of the iceberg. The real menace was “The Establishment” of which corporations were members.
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The Counterculture
  • Big Business, Big Government, Big Labor – all were part of the Establishment and its promotion of
    • Anticommunism.
    • American hegemony abroad.
    • An emphasis on “managing” people as cogs in a machine-like system.
  • Americans were polarized about how to view themselves during the 60s. Was it better to dismantle the Establishment and redistribute wealth or to get a good job?
  • One of the rising strains within the counterculture was hedonism. Students who advocated a disciplined and carefully structured campaign against the Establishment were running into others who advocated hedonism and personal politics as solutions to a repressive society.
kesey and the counterculture
Kesey and the Counterculture
  • Ken Kesey was opposed to Vietnam and the Establishment, but he was equally opposed to the idea of youth as a political vanguard to seizing power in the name of equality.
  • To Kesey, this was playing their game. Kesey felt that people should simply turn their backs on the combine.
  • And many did just that - to the disappointment of the SDS and other political radicals who advocated a disciplined political solution.
  • Those who dropped out called themselves “freaks” or “heads.” By 1965, the youth protest movement had 2 symbolic capitols: Berkeley for the radicals and Haight Ashbury for the heads.
the hippies
The Hippies
  • The hippies emerged by the mid-60s, but unlike the nihilistic and dark Beats, the hippies were colorful and loving.
  • The hippies were the locus of the personal political revolution, where individual diversity was championed in context of communal allegiances.
  • To hippies, the revolution started with the ego and the self, and LSD was the tool of this personal revolution because it opened the self up for change. Taking acid was a very serious thing.
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The Hippies
  • At first, hippies used acid as a de-conditioning agent to remove elements of the overly socialized, conventional self.
  • Haight Ashbury provided the geographic context for this re-making of the self.
  • The catalyst in this was Ken Kesey and the Acid Tests, where the Merry Pranksters introduced thousands of people to acid – way more than Leary had done.
  • By the summer of 1966, 15,000 people were living and tripping in the Haight, and from this emerged countercultural shops of all kinds.
hippies are you experienced
Hippies: Are you experienced?
  • The Psychedelic movement initiated new forms of slang: LSD was acid, a user was an acid head, a dose was a hit, marijuana was pot, getting high was groovy, people were far out in cosmic or bummer ways, etc.
  • People who moved to the Haight typically changed their names.
  • Huxley predicted that acid would awaken the baby boomers appetite for spiritual meaning – but he had not anticipated the sources of this “food.”
    • Astrology, numerology, black magic, Eastern mysticism, various New Age philosophies, etc – all of these tend to emphasize that knowledge and direct experience go hand in hand. They emphasize experiential knowledge over book knowledge.
sex drugs and rock
Sex, Drugs, and Rock
  • Doing acid was not conducive to having a full time job, so many hippies had part time jobs. For this reason they also pooled their resources and developed a sense of tribe or extended family.
  • At the center of the lifestyle was sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Rock music was a perfect complement to drugs, as was dancing. The outside world was temporarily exorcized.
the decline of the movement
The decline of the movement
  • So this was the choice: hippie or radical activist.
  • Unfortunately, instead of coming together as one beautiful tribe, Haight Ashbury was getting zooier. A miscalculation had occurred – by 1968 kids were tripping wherever and whenever they could without the least interest in human spirituality.
  • Hedonism, a feature of the dominant capitalist culture, was usurping the drive of the counterculture. LSD was becoming merely a source of mindless fun, or worse, a source of escapism for some.
  • By the late 60s, many kids were using it for the wrong reasons and in the wrong settings – and bad trips were becoming more common. (It didn’t help that the acid was often of inferior quality and frequently had strychnine in it).
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The decline of the movement
  • In the end, the psychedelic movement withered due to
  • 1. A new era of Prohibition and ignorance about the nature of LSD and countercultural drugs in general.
  • 2. A split in the movement between hippies and radical activists.
    • Hippies emphasize personal change, with LSD as the tool for transformation, along with hedonism, with nirvana as the ultimate goal.
    • Radical activists emphasize institutional change with disciplined social activism as the tool for change toward utopia.
  • 3. A collapse of idealism by the late 60s, along with rising cynicism and fatalism.
legacy of the psychedelic movement
Legacy of the Psychedelic Movement
  • What is left of the psychedelic movement is
  • 1. Largely underground again due to Prohibition.
  • 2. Taking new forms in various New Age movements involving spiritualism.
  • 3. The legacy of new music, art and dance forms that involve wildly expressive or trance like behaviors (raves, electronic trance music, avant garde art forms, etc).
  • 4. Found in the subcultural legacy of the Dead, Phish, Radiohead, and other post-hippie segments of society.