Early Life and Education
Leary was drafted into the United States army in 1943. During basic training, he remained enrolled in an academic program for psychology majors, which involved studies at Georgetown University and Ohio State University. Eventually, this led to his reinstatement at the University of Alabama. He completed his degree in 1945.
In 1944, Leary was promoted to corporal. He was assigned to Deshon General Hospital in Butler, Pennysylvania as a psychometrician. He served at the hospital until the war ended. He was formerly discharged when he was a sergeant in 1946 and earned many awards, including the Good Conduct Medal and the American Defense Service Medal.
After the war, Leary’s interest shifted towards pursuing an academic career. He received a Master’s Degree in psychology at Washington State University in 1946 and later acquired a psychology doctorate in 1950 from the University of California at Berkeley.
Leary worked as an assistant professor at the University of California until 1955. He developed and published an innovative monograph in 1957 that explored interpersonal relationships from a complex model system. He later worked as the director of the Kaiser Foundation and accepted a lecturing position at Harvard University in 1959. Aside from teaching, he was involved with the Harvard Center for Research in Personality and was in charge of the Harvard Psilocybin Project. In 1963, he was fired for not giving lectures to his scheduled class. His termination may have been influenced by the controversial (and currently legal) psychedelic substances he popularized among Harvard students and faculty members.