Timothy’s longtime archivist Michael Horowitz sent this comment on the piece in New York Magazine (June 27 issue):
The New York Magazine writer who covered the recent acquisition of the Timothy Leary archives by the New York Public Library seems to have a morbid interest in descriptions of the worst moments of people’s psychedelic trips. With only a couple of exceptions, the excerpts presented from the original reports deal solely with the confusion and irrational fears that manifest during the onset of effects in people given LSD or psilocybin for the first time.
This highly selective editing ignores the fact that, lo and behold, these same folks in the middle and later stages of their trips, and upon reflection afterwards, concluded it was one of the most uniquely insightful and glorious experiences of their lives.*
Most went on to further investigate, write and speak of the personal and potential societal benefits of these compounds.
This is not to say that psychedelic drugs cannot provoke freakouts, although it should be noted that standard dosages in those days were considerably higher than they are today. Leary and his team innovated the design of a supportive environment with attention to dosage, set and setting–the parameters that were used 50 years later by the investigators at Johns Hopkins who recently released a followup to their study of a year ago that largely validated the findings of the Harvard researchers.**
*38% described it as “very pleasant” and 32% as “ecstatic.” See: Leary, Littwin, Metzner, “Reactions to Psilocybin Administered in a Supportive Environment” (1963)
**Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one
of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience.
Here’s the NY Magazine piece: How Was Your Trip, Allen?
Acid commentaries from Timothy Leary’s just-revealed archive.