Strange Case of the Harvard Drug Scandal – Andrew Weil






On May 27 1963. President Nathan M. Pusey of Harvard University announced that an assistant professor of clinical psychology and education had been fired. This was the first faculty firing since Pusey took office in 1953, and it had overtones of the sensational The man dismissed was Dr. Richard Alpert, a young psychologist, member of Harvard’s Social Relations department and son of George Albert. former president of the New Haven Railroad.

Shortly after his appointment to the Harvard faculty in 1958, Alpert had become interested in the psychological effects of a group of drugs that have since been well publicized: the hallucinogens or psychotomimetics-substances producing hallucinations and peculiar changes of consciousness when taken by normal persons. One of these, peyote, is a cactus found in the vicinity of the Rio Grande that has been used ceremonially for many years by North American Indians. Aldous Huxley and numerous other writers have carefully described the startling effects of its active principle, mescaline. Other hallucinogenic drugs are psilocybin, which was first isolated from a species of Mexican mushroom in 1958, and LSD-25, synthesized in 1938 from a compound in a fungus attacking rye: but not discovered to have hallucinogenic properties until 1943.

Supported by the Harvard Center for research in Personality, Richard Alpert, with his associate Dr. Timothy F. Leary, a lecturer on clinical psychology, set out to investigate the new drugs.

Thus began, quietly and respectably, a series of events that was to lead to the formation of a cult of chemical mystics, and was to involve state, Federal and Mexican authorities in a whirl of investigations and lead, ultimately, to the academic downfall of both Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary.

Many scientists had studied hallucinogenic drugs before 1960, but most of them were physicians, interested in determining physiological effects or in using the drugs to reproduce, under laboratory conditions, the symptoms of mental illness. LSD, particularly, was widely employed in the early 1950’s to cause “model psychoses” in normal subjects, and there was some hope that these experiments would point to an understanding of the chemical basis of schizophrenia. Unfortunately, these early efforts produced little new or valuable information. The biochemistry of the drugs remains to be worked out, and the dream of understanding the chemical nature of mental illness has not materialized.

Today, there is very little medical research with the hallucinogens. But the medical studies indirectly gave rise to another kind of interest in the drugs. Many of the people who served as subjects were overwhelmed by the experience. Some-especially artists, students and creative writers-called it the most significant experience of their lives. A few set about popularizing the hallucinogens in magazine articles and books, and stimulated considerable nonprofessional curiosity.

The bulk of the medical evidence indicated that LSD, mescaline and psilocybin were not physically dangerous. Certainly, they could not cause addiction. There were, however, alarming reports of temporary acute mental damage that resulted from taking the drugs, and hints that unsupervised use of them could lead to permanent adverse psychological changes. For example, in one of the early experiments, at the Harvard Medical School, a student volunteer subject under LSD was almost killed when he walked into rush-hour traffic on Boston’s Huntington Avenue, “believing he was God and nothing could touch him.” Descriptions of the drugs stressed such effects as heightened perceptions, increased awareness of one’s surroundings, tremendous insights into one’s own mind, accelerated thought processes, intense religious feelings, even extrasensory phenomena and mystic rapture.

In more clinical terms. the hallucinogens cause bizarre hallucinations ( primarily visual ), delusions and unusual mental states. But the effects vary strikingly from person to person and from time to time in the same individual. making it impossible to define a “typical” drug experience.


For “investigational use only.”

LSD, mescaline and psilocybin are all commonly taken by mouth, and all are similar in their action on the mind. An LSD intoxication lasts from eight to ten hours, compared to eight to twelve for mescaline and four to six for psilocybin. All of the compounds are legally classified for “investigational use only” under Federal food and drug laws, which means they can be obtained and used only by “experts qualified by scientific training and experience to investigate the safety and effectiveness of drugs.” In addition, Massachusetts and some other states have enacted restrictive legislation. The possession of mescaline or peyote by persons other than qualified researchers is a felony under Massachusetts law. (Food and drug laws do not define the adjective “qualified,” and though a number of physicians have urged that it be taken to mean “qualified by possession of the M.D. degree,” psychologists and others are not necessarily banned from studying investigational drugs.)

Before February. 1963. when the thalidomide disaster brought a tightening of Federal regulations on investigational drugs, nearly anyone could purchase hallucinogenic compounds for research purposes. Several American chemical companies supplied mescaline at about four dollars per dose. Researchers could obtain LSD and psilocybin at nominal prices from Sandoz, Inc., a Swiss drug company with branch offices in Hanover, N. J. Distributors of investigational drugs were expected to determine the qualifications of persons they supplied by asking purchasers to complete brief forms outlining their educational backgrounds, research facilities and proposed investigations. With its limited staff, however, the Food and Drug Administration could make only occasional spot checks of the files of companies suspected of violations.


Students were fascinated

Alpert and Leary ordered psilocybin from Sandoz, Inc., in 1960. Although neither of the researchers was an M.D. (both had Ph.D.’s in clinical psychology), their respectable Harvard connections and apparently sound research proposals convinced Sandoz of their reliability.

Unlike past investigators of hallucinogens, Alpert and Leary intended to study the mental and emotional effects that appealed to intellectuals and artists. They were sure that “negative reactions” to the drugs (such as severe paranoia or temporary psychosis) were due entirely to the way in which the chemicals were administered. They felt that if one took psilocybin in an aesthetic setting with the expectation of having a wonderful time, the results would be different.

Though hallucinogens in 1960 were still too esoteric for most people to have heard of them, they exerted a strange fascination on college students. Only a few Harvard students knew what mescaline and psilocybin were, but there was a fear that a university drug project might make others curious enough to use the compounds. It seemed fortunate that Alpert and Leary planned to work most unobtrusively under the auspices of a responsible research organization-the Center for Research in Personality.

Leary had first come across hallucinogenic drugs at a “mushroom party” in Mexico when friends persuaded him to eat psilocybin containing mushrooms. He was overwhelmed by the “consciousness broadening” powers of the drugs.

No one seemed to realize the extent to which Alpert and Leary were committed to the value of the drug experience before they had done extensive testing. Both were subsequently convinced that the mystic insight one could get from psilocybin would be the solution to the emotional problems of Western man. In their view of the world, all human behavior consisted of “games,” each with its rules, jargon and rituals.

Thus, one played the “doctor game,” the “lawyer game,” even the “psychotic game.” The trouble, according to Alpert and Leary, was that Westerners are unable to see that they are merely playing games, and consequently get bogged down in one particular “role.” It followed that the key to understanding life and to integrating one’s life successfully with one’s environment was to develop the ability to see one’s activities as games. As Leary said in a 1961 speech, “. . . only that rare Westerner we call ‘mystic’ or who has had a visionary experience of some sort sees clearly the game structure of behavior.” This reduced the search for happiness in life to finding a way to induce visionary experience. Taking hallucinogenic drugs was the simplest method.

At the beginning, Alpert and Leary administered psilocybin to 38 people: professional and non-professional normal volunteers, outstanding creative intellectuals and psychological drug “addicts.” To produce the most positive reactions to psilocybin, the two experimenters ran their studies in “pleasant, spacious, aesthetic surroundings.” Subjects were allowed to control their own dosages (within reasonable limits); no one took the drug among strangers, and Leary and Alpert usually took it with their subjects. The “outstanding creative intellectuals” included Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Seventy-five percent of the subjects reported that the psilocybin experience was “very pleasant.” Sixty nine percent “were judged to have attained marked broadening of awareness.” More subjects were tested (167 in all ), and the percentage of positive reactions rose still higher. Ninety-five percent thought that the drug session” had changed their lives for the better.”

Alpert and Leary began mimeographing these statistics for distribution to the center staff. They predicted the use of psilocybin in psychotherapy (“instant psychoanalysis”), called it an aid to creative development and envisioned its regular use in a Harvard graduate seminar. “The students,” wrote Leary, “will take psilocybin once a month and spend the intervening class sessions applying the insights to problems in their field.”

Alpert and Leary began calling psilocybin and its sister hallucinogens ”consciousness-expanding materials” to avoid prejudices against the word “drug.” Many Harvard students listened, grew curious and wanted to try for themselves.

By 1961, Alpert and Leary had a second project under way: the rehabilitation of imitates at a local prison through psilocybin “therapy.” Again, the investigators consumed the drug with the subjects. They later reported that psilocybin enabled the prisoners to see themselves as players in the “cops-and-robbers game.”


Arguments over methods

By this time, the investigators were heading toward trouble. Intradepartmental opponents of the project charged that Alpert and Leary gave the drugs in sessions resembling cocktail parties, that they were slipshod in collecting data and that they were in no position to make observations when they themselves were drugged. The psychologists countered with the assertion that no one was qualified to observe people under the influence of psilocybin unless he was in the same state and thus able to know what his subjects were feeling.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of students began to try to locate sources of mescaline and to ask how they could get to be subjects in the psilocybin research. The University Administration did not become really alarmed until two undergraduates landed in mental hospitals after taking one or another of the drugs. There was, of course, no way of proving that the drugs had contributed to the breakdowns. But when the dean’s office checked into recent affairs at the Center for Research in Personality. it didn’t like what it found. David C. McClelland, director of the center, vouched for the soundness of the study, however, and the parents of the two hospitalized students wanted everything kept quiet. Harvard may have wished to dissociate itself from the drug project in 1961, but it had no grounds on which to act.

In the fall of 1961, the university took a significant step to protect its most vulnerable students. It extracted an agreement from Alpert and Leary that no undergraduates would be used in their research. But following its historic tradition of noninterference with members of the university faculty, Harvard put no other restrictions on Alpert and Leary.

Whenever they spoke to university officials, the two psychologists gave highly creditable accounts of their research, always emphasizing that since the things they were studying were unorthodox, their procedures had to be unorthodox. In private however, Alpert and Leary chafed under the prohibition against Using undergraduates and ridiculed the stuffiness of regulations that restrained their “applied mysticism.”

More and more students tried to ferret out sources of the hallucinogens; some succeeded. A chemical supply house in New York City was selling mescaline at $35 a gram, (about two doses) more than four times the normal trade price. Another Manhattan firm sold the drug at regular prices to undergraduates. Knowing the authorities would never get around to checking up, it let the students fill out the brief FDA forms. One student ordered quantities of dried peyote from a Texas shipper and dispensed it to his classmates at reasonable rates. A parcel of LSD impregnated sugar cubes arrived from New York. The cubes sold for one dollar apiece on the burgeoning Harvard Square black market.

Alpert and Leary believed that the Government did not have the right to deny citizens the freedom to explore their own consciousness. “Internal freedom” was as important as the external freedoms of speech and religion, they asserted. To shut off access to consciousness-expanding materials was a step toward totalitarianism.

Not many outside Harvard’s Social Relations Department had yet heard of Alpert and Leary. Although the coterie of interested undergraduates was growing, it represented only a tiny fraction of the students. The first “leak” was an article on mescaline and psilocybin published in the February 20,1962, issue of The Harvard Crimson, the university’s daily student newspaper. It gave a sketchy description of the work going on at the center and compared psilocybin to the soma of Huxley’s Brave New World. “Ethical and philosophical questions raised by the availability of such a compound are staggering in complexity, yet they will have to be faced,” the article concluded. “The work going on now in Cambridge may force us to find answers to them in the very near future.”


The researchers reply

The very near future turned out to be just around the corner. Alpert and Leary immediately sent a letter to The Crimson, explaining that they were not “unbounded in their enthusiasm” for psilocybin, as the article had stated, but rather unbounded in their concern-“concern for the many problems created by the consciousness expanding drugs.” They emphasized that their research was carefully controlled and in strict adherence to university codes. “All subjects are informed volunteers. No undergraduates or minors.”

A few days later, the director of Harvard University Health Services, Dr. Dana L. Farnsworth, wrote a letter of his own to The Crimson, in which he suggested that mescaline could .do a great deal of harm. “Actually,” he wrote, “the ingestion of this drug can precipitate psychotic reactions in some apparently normal persons. It has been known to increase slight depressions into suicidal ones and to produce schizophrenic like reactions.”

The little skirmish in The Crimson’s mail column encouraged critics of the psilocybin project to speak out. The resulting dispute led to a private meeting for all members of the Center for Research in Personality on March 14, 1962. Sitting quietly in the room, unknown to the organizers of the discussion, was a reporter for the crimson.

Herbert C. Kelman, lecturer on social psychology, summed up the feelings of the hostile faction. “The program,” he argued, “has an anti-intellectual atmosphere. Its emphasis is on pure experience, not on verbalizing findings.” He also charged that graduate students who had participated in the project had formed an insider sect that considered nonparticipants square. Others accused Alpert and Leary of running irresponsible, party like psilocybin sessions and of ignoring or underestimating possible permanent psychological damage to subjects. Leary defended his unorthodox research methods; Alpert pointed out that Health Services physicians were on 24-hour call in case they were needed.

The Crimson’s account of the stormy meeting touched off violent reactions. Participants in the center debate, including Dr. Kelman, strongly protested the newspaper’s intrusion on a private meeting. Other faculty members who had not previously heard of the controversy over psilocybin now joined the battle.

The squabble had gotten out of the family, and the Harvard administration was apprehensive. Quickly, the Boston newspapers seized on the affair. A psychopharmacologist in the Massachusetts Public Health Department expressed the belief that one person not under the influence of the drug should be present during all experiments. On March 20, five days after The Crimson’s first story appeared. the state food and drug division announced that it had launched an investigation of psilocybin research at Harvard.

President Pusey said that the university planned no investigation of its own and added that he was confident David McClelland, director of the center, would satisfy the state inspectors. Other Harvard officials said they had not interfered with the project because to have done so would have been an abridgment of academic freedom. Dr. Dana Farnsworth stated that University Health Services had not taken any action because there was no evidence of any direct harm to any individual involved.”

Legal issues arose. The deputy commissioner of the Health Department told reporters he thought psilocybin fell into the category of drugs that had to be administered by a physician. He explained that state law permitted physicians alone to administer “hypnotic or somnifacient” (sleep-producing) drugs. If psilocybin was a “harmful drug” under Massachusetts law, he warned, “those who gave it would be subject to prosecution even if they had discontinued their work.”


One inquiry ends

The state finished its inquiry in mid-April. It decided that the psilocybin research could go on if simple medical precautions were taken, and it dropped the matter of the legality of work done before March, 1962. The only demand the state made was that a licensed physician be present when the drug was actually administered; he would not have to stay for the whole of the session The Crimson reported: “Massachusetts authorities have apparently adopted a friendly attitude toward the research and are insisting on medical precautions in order not to violate state laws or upset public opinion.” It seemed that the storm had blown over.

The appointments of both Alpert and Leary were to expire on June 30, l963, and Harvard’s governing body -the Corporation-had voted not to renew their terms. This meant the two psychologists would be around for only one more year, with further trouble unlikely. In May, 1962, the Center for Research in Personality named a faculty committee to “advise and oversee” future work with psilocybin. Alpert happily agreed to the idea, commenting, “We hope to establish guidelines to make us and the rest of the university comfortable about the project.”

But several persons were distinctly unhappy. One was Alfred J. Murphy, senior food and drug inspector of the Health Department, who had supervised the state inquiry. Sadly, he recalled how Harvard had thwarted him in the late 1950’s after his office learned that an undergraduate had a supply of peyote. When Murphy arrived on campus with a search warrant, the university seemed to him to be using every trick possible to delay him until the student had disposed of the illegal drug. Murphy said he had run into a similar faculty conspiracy to protect the Alpert and Leary psilocybin project.


A committee gives up

Also unhappy were the Harvard people appointed to the faculty advisory committee on psilocybin research. One of the first things they urged was that Alpert turn over his full supply of psilocybin to University Health Services for safekeeping. When Alpert said he would keep some for “personal use,” the committee members insisted he relinquish all of his drugs. Alpert vehemently told them he had a “citizen’s right” to have and use all the psilocybin he wanted. The committee gave up. It never met again.

One Harvard junior told a friend that Alpert had persuaded him to take psilocybin in a “self exploratory” session at Alpert’s apartment. Alpert tried out a new short-acting hallucinogen, dimethyltryptamine (DMT); he gave it to himself by injection, found he could stay “up” for thirty blissful minutes, and reported it was “like taking an internal shower.” An undergraduate group was conducting covert research with mescaline. There were stories of students and others using hallucinogens for seductions, both heterosexual and homosexual.

Farnsworth called Alpert in and demanded that he turn over his entire stock of psilocybin for safekeeping during the summer. Alpert reluctantly complied. Later, by accident, Farnsworth found out that Alpert had not given him everything. He had kept a batch for himself and had supplied some to an outside institution. There was as well evidence of Leary’s having used Harvard stationery to order more psilocybin from Sandoz.

To get away from it all, Alpert, Leary and friends took off for Mexico, where they had rented for the summer a resort hotel in the seaside town of Zihuatanejo, near Acapulco. People interested in exploring their consciousness joined them. Some Harvard students dropped in.

The Alpert and Leary who returned to Cambridge in the fall of 1962 were noticeably different from the men who had embarked on an interesting research project in 1960. The old Alpert had said his greatest ambition was to get a tenured position at Harvard. The new one said he couldn’t care less that the Corporation had not renewed his appointment; the university was petty, uninteresting and closed-minded. Both Alpert and Leary seemed determined to show everyone they had the answer to man’s problems. And if the university refused to listen, they would take their arguments to the public.

Within a few weeks of the opening of the fall semester, the campaign began. The two maintained the drugs offered hope to an ailing society, but warned that there were those who wanted to suppress information about them and keep them unavailable. The issue, they said, was whether anyone had a right to prevent you from experiencing the ecstasy of consciousness expansion. Everyone had to fight for “internal freedom.”

In October, Leary dramatically announced the formation of a private organization, the International Federation for Internal Freedom, to carry on the fight. It would “encourage, support and protect research on psychedelic [mind manifesting] sub stances.” Students were encouraged to join and form “research cells,” through which they would eventually be able to obtain and use the drugs.

Consciousness expansion became the most popular subject of dinner table conversation at Harvard. A few undergraduates took the university’s rugged introductory organic chemistry course solely to develop the skill necessary to synthesize mescaline. And to capitalize on the vast market that had been created in Cambridge, a new character appeared in Harvard Square: the professional “junk” peddler. Instead of pushing morphine or heroin, salesmen offered high-grade marijuana, mescaline and sugar cubes with LSD in them.

The university, through John Monro. dean of Harvard College, and Dana Farnsworth of the Health Services, issued a stern warning to undergraduates that hallucinogenic drugs ‘may result in serious hazard to the mental health and stability even of apparently normal persons.” A few days later, Monro called the drugs “a serious psychiatric hazard” and added, “I don’t like anyone urging our undergraduates to use them.”

When this appeared in The Crimson, Alpert and Leary in reply labeled the warnings “reckless and inaccurate,” scientifically. They said there was no reason to believe “that consciousness-expanding drug experiences are any more dangerous than psychoanalysis or a four-year enrollment in Harvard College.” They predicted that “the control and expansion of consciousness” would be a “major civil-liberties issue of the next decade.” Finally, they defended their own use of the drugs and exhorted Harvard men to “place your trust not in Dean Monro’s ‘grown-up responsibility of faculty members’ ( including the authors of this letter) but in the scientific data and in your own experienced judgment.”

On the day the Alpert-Leary letter was printed, the director of the Boston branch of the Federal Food and Drug Administration announced that the FDA had begun an investigation of possible illegal sales in Cambridge of mescaline, psilocybin and LSD. The situation seemed as black as it had been the previous spring.

Then the university had another surprise: Alpert was going to be around longer than expected. He had received a verbal promise of a one year appointment at the Graduate School of Education from the dean of the school. The university felt obligated to honor this commitment, and on January 7,1963, the Corporation voted a year’s extension to Alpert.

Little more than a week later, Leary announced a program for the International Federation for Internal Freedom-known as IFIF. The organization had applied for incorporation and was starting to set up branch centers in cities across the country IFlF’s biggest project was the establishment of a summer “Freedom Center” in Mexico at the resort the Alpert-Leary group had taken over in 1962. A closer to home undertaking was “an experiment in multifamilial living” that began with the purchase of a spacious house on Kenwood Avenue in suburban Newton.


Meditation in Newton

Alpert, Leary and his young daughters, a married Harvard senior with wife and baby, and several friends moved into the house to form a “transcendental community,” where they could “maintain a level of experience which cuts beyond routine ego and social games.’ One feature of the house was a specially constructed “meditation room,” accessible solely by a ladder. The only furnishings were mattresses and cushions on the floor. A tiny light gave just enough illumination to see the Buddha statue in one corner. The fragrance of incense completed the effect. To this room, residents of the house came frequently for “active meditation,” whether drug-induced or not. Otherwise, they led casual, if unusual, lives. The students went to their classes and did their work (except when they found themselves involuntarily “turned on”- something that happened occasionally to people who took the drugs regularly.

Alpert continued to conduct his course in motivation at Harvard for undergraduates and graduates. Leary taught his graduate seminars in research methods. And IFIF executives took care of official correspondence. Anyone who wandered into the house in Newton was welcome to stay, meditate or move in.

In February, IFIF began mailing packets of literature to Harvard undergraduates. graduate students, faculty and anyone else interested. Each got a resume of the Alpert-Leary psilocybin experiments on over 400 subjects (“91 per cent of our subjects enjoyed pleasant experiences; about 66 per cent reported insights and positive life-change”). A covering letter gave the assurance that this research had been “congenially separated” from Harvard in the fall of 1962. There was an application blank for membership in IFIF (dues, $10 per year) and another blank for joining the Freedom Center in Mexico, during the summer of 1963. at $200 a month for room and board (“half rates for children”).

Alpert had been fund raising among wealthy citizens of Boston and New York. He would interest them in his work, introduce them to the drug experience, then urge them to contribute to IFIF. Many did. Meantime a second “multifamilial dwelling” opened in Newton, and IFIF-Los Angeles began operations. Alpert and Leary went on radio in Boston to explain their mission.

The city of Newton was not converted. In March, Alpert was accused of violating the housing code’s ban on multifamily dwellings. Neighbors had complained of strange goings-on. Local residents were sure that the inhabitants of the big white house on Kenwood Avenue practiced everything from free love to communism. Alpert claimed his transcendental community was a single-family unit “in a larger sense.” He has not been bothered since.

In April, Leary, without giving any formal notice to the university, disappeared from Cambridge. He turned up shortly afterward in Los Angeles. President Pusey and the dean of the faculty took the matter to the Harvard Corporation, which promptly relieved Leary of teaching duties and stopped his salary. Leary wrote to David McClelland, explaining that he had been “on leave” from the university. He hinted at a suit if he were not reinstated.

The university had other problems Couriers were now bringing drugs to Harvard each weekend, and more

and more students were experimenting for themselves to see if Alpert and Leary had the right idea. One could arrange to buy marijuana and mescaline in local sandwich shops. The newest fad, which sprouted in May, was the consumption of morning-glory seeds, supposed to cause visions and all the rest.

About mid-May, the university decided Alpert and Leary had become intolerable. Armed with a list of sources of information on the two, the dean of the faculty and the dean of the college set out to investigate.


One senior talked

Patiently, they assured each person they questioned that no action would be taken against students; they only wanted facts on Alpert and Leary. To their discouragement, all but one of the people involved refused to help. Most showed absolute allegiance to the two psychologists. One senior, who thought that others had talked, told the deans that Alpert had given him psilocybin in a personal session in 1962. It was just what the university was looking for.

On Tuesday, May 14,1963, President Pusey called Alpert into his office and charged him with giving an undergraduate psilocybin, in defiance of the prohibition on using undergraduates in his research, and then later assuring officers of the university that he had not given the drug to any undergraduate after the prohibition went into effect. Alpert admitted that he had done it, but said that the incident had not been part of his research; it was an extracurricular affair, quite apart from the concerns of the university. President Pusey disagreed. He told Alpert he would bring before the Corporation at its next meeting the matter of the termination of Alpert’s contract.

The following day, Alpert wrote a long letter to Pusey and the members of the Corporation in which he explained the importance of his research and urged the university not to oppose the exploration of man’s consciousness. The Corporation, unconvinced, voted on Monday, May 27, to terminate both of Alpert’s appointments (the one that was to expire June 30, 1963, and the School of Education appointment that was to run through 1964) immediately.

The Crimson applauded the university’s action in a special edition. “In firing Richard Alpert,” the paper editorialized, ” Harvard has dissociated itself not only from flagrant dishonesty but also from behavior that is spreading infection throughout the academic community.”

Alpert responded with the announcement that he and Leary would now devote full time to IFIF and that IFIF had just moved its offices from Boston to Cambridge-two blocks from Harvard Square. “We welcome anyone interested,” Alpert wrote The Crimson, but added that, because of restrictive FDA regulations, “we will continue an active research and training program in Mexico.”

Harvard considered its responsibilities in the matter discharged.

Alpert and Leary had opened their Mexican Freedom Center. Irked by reports of odd happenings at Zihuatanejo, the Mexican Government in June gave the whole IFIF group five days to leave the country. Reluctantly. Alpert and Leary returned to Cambridge, looking. they said, for another country in which to carry on.

Back to

Center for Research in Personality at Harvard


Harvard Psilocybin Project 1961-1963

Richard Alpert (AKA RAM DASS) at left with Timothy Leary, 1961