Very few periods throughout history are as associated with a particular type of drug as the sixties are to psychedelics, or hallucinogens. Things began to transform little by little after 1963 in the way America saw its political stance, social beliefs, and culture, and the crowd that was at the head of these transformations was seemingly the youth of the U.S. When the birth control pill, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, new music, and the budding drug market were all at the forefront of mainstream society, they all appeared to unify and consequently develop a new counterculture in The United States; the hippie. When the “hippie movement” is mentioned, one cannot think of it without Timothy Leary, The Beatles, Woodstock, and subsequently, the rise in LSD and marijuana use being brought to mind. The hippie did not attempt to alter society with the use of violence, but as an alternative, tried to revolutionize society by means of peace and love. These international changes in popular culture during the sixties era had significant affects on the illegal drug use patterns in New Zealand, influencing the increase in drug related statistics.
Hippies had become an established social group by 1965 in the U.S and the movement spread as far as the United Kingdom and here in New Zealand. This generation of liberals brought about one of the largest movements of its time; the anti-war peace movement. Labeled the poster child of mind-altering hallucinogens and as the subversive leader of the counter-culture movement of the sixties, Doctor Timothy Leary, one of the first prominent leaders of the hippie movement had a philosophy that people enjoyed learning about. Leary promoted gender equality and living life freely. Following Leary’s termination from Harvard University where he conducted experiments with Harvard undergraduates on the interactive environments of psychiatric patients by using an assortment of then legal psychedelic drugs, he ventured on an endeavor to enlighten people of the psychic attributes of LSD. He wished to inform the public about the advantages of altered states of consciousness and the necessity for people to “turn on, tune in, and drop out”, which he said in 1967, and is perhaps now his most memorable legacy (Keys & Gallagher 2000). This notorious statement obtained expansive international recognition and awareness for those who wished to seek an alternative to their society’s “systems” and in the end influenced the world. Primarily, what he meant by it was to simply stimulate your mind, discover yourself and lead your own life, though doing this by way of drugs was the most common interpretation. For these reasons, Doctor Leary was as feared as he was loved. Educational conformists perceived Leary to be “a corrosive influence on society”; Richard Nixon even referred to him as “the most dangerous man in America” (Higgs 2009), which simply encouraged this generation of hippie youth to further adhere to his precepts. The effects felt in New Zealand lead Greg Newbold (2004) to state that illegal drug use since first identified in New Zealand in the later part of the 1960’s has risen inexorably ever since. Timothy Leary’s words that altered our society, “Turn in, tune in, and drop out” provided acceptance and union to a generational movement that accepted and endorsed a way of life that ran counter to everything the world had previously stood for. This resulted in a phenomenon that was composed of nonconformists who were no longer determined by the dictates, morals and values of others. His trip into the science of psychedelics and hallucinogens may have instigated the social revolution of the sixties more than any other single aspect. A small but influential group of young men who were heavily inspired by Doctor Leary’s words were The Beatles. John Lennon’s song “Tomorrow Never Knows” was inspired by The Psychedelic Experience, authored by Timothy Leary (The New York Times 2006). Doctor Leary...
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Keys, D. and Galliher, J. (2000) Confronting the drug control establishment. New York: State University of New York Press, p.6-9.
Lewisohn, M. (2010) The complete Beatles chronicle. Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Review Press.
Littleproud, B. (2009) Woodstock - Peace, music and memories. Iowa County: Krause Publications .
Perone, J. (2005) Woodstock: An Encyclopedia Of The Music and Art Fair. Westport: Greenwood Press, p.160.
Newbold, G., 2004. ‘The Control of Drugs in New Zealand’, in R. Hil, and G. Tait, (eds.), Hard Lessons: Reflections on Governance and Crime in Late Modernity. Hants, Ashgate.
The New York Times (2006) Timothy Leary: A biography. [online] Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/books/review/25sante.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [Accessed: 12 May 2013].
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