Harvard Psychedelic Research Project

The Harvard Psychedelic Research Project was founded in 1960 by "35 professors, instructors, and graduate students" of Harvard University (Leary, 1988: 3). The "task force" included names such as Walter Houston Clark, Houston Smith, Richard Alpert, Gunther Well, Ralph Metzner, Walter Pahnke, Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, George Litwin, Frank Barron, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Arthur Koestler, Ken Kesey, Andrew Well, Stanley Krippner, Al Hubbard, Gordon Wasson, Gerald Heard, Charles Olson, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and Ken Babbs.

According to Timothy Leary, during the course of their "experiments" over 400 individuals were administered high doses of psychedelic drugs in an attempt to bring empirically-grounded inquiry and sound phenomenological reporting to the investigation of psychoactive substances. The work of the group went on to be reported in the now-defunct Psychedelic Review, whose mission was to publish "original research reports, scholarly and historical essays, outstanding phenomenological accounts of spontaneous or induced transcendent experiences, and reviews of relevant pharmacological and other literature." (Psychedelic Review, 1966).

Although the research of this group has fallen into relative obscurity, Leary had high expectations for the group. According to Leary, "rarely in the short history of psychology was such elegant, complex, socially-influential research conducted!" (Leary, 1988: 5). These high expectations perhaps led to their 1960s field experiments. "As the world came to know, our 1963 decision was to expand our experimental design from selected laboratory samples of hundreds to field studies involving millions." (Leary, 1988: 7).


Leary, Timothy (1988). Change your Brain. Berkeley, CA: Ronin Publishing.

Psychedelic Review (1966). Statement of Purpose. Psychedelic Review. Vol. 1:1

See Also

The Psychedelic Review - http://www.maps.org/psychedelicreview/