On This Day … 22 October

People (Births)

  • 1920 – Timothy Leary, American psychologist and author (d. 1996).

People (Deaths)

  • 1952 – Ernst Rüdin, Swiss psychiatrist, geneticist, and eugenicist (b. 1874).
  • 1979 – Mieko Kamiya, Japanese psychiatrist and author (b. 1914).

Timothy Leary

Timothy Francis Leary (22 October 1920 to 31 May 1996) was an American psychologist and writer known for his strong advocacy of psychedelic drugs. Evaluations of Leary are polarised, ranging from bold oracle to publicity hound. He was “a hero of American consciousness”, according to Allen Ginsberg, and Tom Robbins called him a “brave neuronaut.”

As a clinical psychologist at Harvard University, Leary worked on the Harvard Psilocybin Project from 1960 to 1962. He tested the therapeutic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin, which were still legal in the United States at the time, in the Concord Prison Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment. The scientific legitimacy and ethics of his research were questioned by other Harvard faculty because he took psychedelics along with research subjects and pressured students to join in. However, the claims that Leary pressured unwilling students are refuted by at least one of Leary’s students, Robert Thurman. Leary and his colleague, Richard Alpert (who later became known as Ram Dass), were fired from Harvard University in May 1963. Many people of the time only came to know of psychedelics after the Harvard scandal.

Leary believed that LSD showed potential for therapeutic use in psychiatry. He used LSD himself and developed a philosophy of mind expansion and personal truth through LSD. After leaving Harvard, he continued to publicly promote the use of psychedelic drugs and became a well-known figure of the counterculture of the 1960s. He popularized catchphrases that promoted his philosophy, such as “turn on, tune in, drop out”, “set and setting”, and “think for yourself and question authority”. He also wrote and spoke frequently about transhumanist concepts of space migration, intelligence increase, and life extension (SMI²LE). Leary developed the eight-circuit model of consciousness in his book Exo-Psychology (1977) and gave lectures, occasionally billing himself as a “performing philosopher.”

During the 1960s and 1970s, he was arrested 36 times worldwide. President Richard Nixon once described Leary as “the most dangerous man in America”.

Ernst Rudin

Ernst Rüdin (19 April 1874 to 22 October 1952) was a Swiss-born German psychiatrist, geneticist, eugenicist and Nazi. Rising to prominence under Emil Kraepelin and assuming his directorship at what is now called the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich. While he has been credited as a pioneer of psychiatric inheritance studies, he also argued for, designed, justified and funded the mass sterilisation and clinical killing of adults and children.

Mieko Kamiya

Mieko Kamiya (神谷 美恵子, Kamiya Mieko, 12 January 1914 to 22 October 1979) was a Japanese psychiatrist who treated leprosy patients at Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium.

She was known for translating books on philosophy. She worked as a medical doctor in the Department of Psychiatry at Tokyo University following World War II. She was said to have greatly helped the Ministry of Education and the General Headquarters, where the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers stayed, in her role as an English-speaking secretary, and served as an adviser to Empress Michiko. She wrote many books as a highly educated, multi-lingual person; one of her books, titled On the Meaning of Life (Ikigai Ni Tsuite in Japanese), based on her experiences with leprosy patients, attracted many readers.

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