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Harvard To Fire Psych Professor over “Mind Drug” Experiments

May 27, 1963 - Harvard University will reportedly dismiss a clinical professor of psychology June 30 for testing so-called consciousness-expanding drugs on students. The Harvard Crimson, student newspaper, says the university will terminate the appointment of Dr. Richard Alpert (pictured), assistant professor of clinical psychology and associate director of the Laboratory of Human Development. The paper gives as its source Dr. Nathan M. Pusey, president of Harvard. It quotes him as saying that the action stems from Dr. Alpert’s giving drugs to students last spring. Dr. Alpert was said to have violated an agreement among experimenters at Harvard not to use undergraduates for tests unless approval was given by a member of the university’s medical health staff. Last December, Dean John U. Monro of Harvard College warned students against the use of “mind-distorting drugs.” He said a “determined and convinced promotion of these drugs seems to be taking hold at the universities.” The most prominent among the drugs referred to is psilocybin. Others are known as mescaline and LSD. Dean Monro contended there was “unanimity among our doctors that these drugs are dangerous” and might lead to serious mental illness.

The drugs are not considered by Federal officials to be narcotics. The FDA has authority over the manufacture and distribution of LSD and psilocybin, which it has cleared for investigational use only.


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