Cary Grant, circa 1955. (Getty Images)

Cary Grant’s experiments with LSD

Cary Grant, a leading man of Hollywood’s Golden Age, dropped LSD more than 100 times in his later years. The sessions were conducted under a therapist’s care at a time when a group of Los Angeles psychiatrists became convinced that the drug was a tool that could change lives.

Grant endured an appalling childhood. His mother was institutionalized when he was 10. His father abandoned him. It was “just horrendous,” the actor’s former wife said years later. “And he never really dealt with those things. He tried to. That’s the reason he tried LSD.”

After his sessions, Grant declared himself “born again.” “All the sadness and vanities were torn away,” he said.

Then came Timothy Leary. According to Michael Pollan’s history of psychedelics, the Harvard psychologist almost singlehandedly recast LSD in the public imagination as a vehicle of revolution, urging America’s youth to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.”

Middle America panicked. So did California, and in October of 1966 the state that birthed the hippie movement became among the first to outlaw LSD.

Experimentation on the drug retreated into the shadows. Only in recent years have psychedelics begun to reemerge as a respectable treatment for addiction and PTSD, with research performed at august institutions such as Johns Hopkins and, more recently, UC Berkeley.

In September 2020, Berkeley announced a new psychedelic research center. Among its goals: Not only to advance therapies for the mentally anguished, but to better the lives of the healthy.

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