Michael Hollingshead

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Michael Hollingshead was a British researcher in psychedelic drugs and hallucinogens including psilocybin and lysergic acid diethylamide, among others, at Harvard University in the mid-twentieth century. He was the father of comedian Vanessa Hollingshead.[1]


Hollingshead was the Executive Secretary for the Institute of British-American Cultural Exchange in 1961.[2] A research scientist, Dr. John Beresford, received a package of one gram of LSD from Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland at a time when it was still legal to use in experiments, and he in turn gave part of it to Hollingshead.[3] One experiment Hollingshead conducted involved studying the effects on web-weaving by spiders under the influence of the drug. He claims to have first tried LSD by licking the spoon of a batch of LSD-laced cake icing he had packed in a mayonnaise jar for transport. (This jar was to become an object of psychedelic legend.) After his first experience, he contacted Aldous Huxley who suggested he get in contact with Timothy Leary to discuss LSD's potential.[4] In September 1961 he met Leary in Cambridge, and was invited to live in Leary's house and teach a course at Harvard. Shortly thereafter, he introduced Leary to LSD.[5]

He participated in the Concord Prison Experiment with Leary, Ralph Metzner, and several others in 1962. For the next few years he worked with psychedelic therapists, and lived at Millbrook with Leary and Richard Alpert (aka Ram Dass). He then set up a New York-based project of his own together with Jean Houston, where guided trips were performed and data gathered which, according to Hollingshead's book, formed the core material for Masters' and Houston's book The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience. In 1965 he moved to London where he opened the World Psychedelic Center. He also worked with experimental film, collaborating on the Scott Bartlett short subject "A Trip to the Moon", in 1968.[6]

Hollingshead was an associate of the Castalia Foundation, a contributor to the Psychedelic Review, and interviewed Robert Anton Wilson for High Times magazine in 1980.[7] According to Psychedelia Britannica, he died in the early 1980s.[8] In a 2018 interview, Hollingshead's daughter Vanessa asserted that her father died in Bolivia due to a stomach ulcer in 1984.[9]

Among those Hollingshead is reputed to have introduced to LSD are: Timothy Leary, William S. Burroughs, Roman Polanski, Allen Ginsberg, Storm Thorgerson, Maynard Ferguson, Donovan, Keith Richards, Paul Krassner, Huston Smith, Pete LaRoca, Charles Mingus, Saul Steinberg, Alan Watts, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison.[citation needed]

Bibliography and articles[edit]

  • Hollingshead, Michael & Timothy Leary, George Litwin, Günther Weil, Richard Alpert (1962) The Politics of the Nervous System. - The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (1962) by Atomic Scientists of Chicago, Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science (Chicago, Ill.) (response to Psycho Chemicals as Weapons by Dr. E. James Lieberman - January 1962)
  • Hollingshead, Michael (1973) The Man Who Turned On the World. Abelard-Schuman Publ. New York (also Blond & Briggs, Ltd.)
  • The Sayings of Michael Hollingshead. Blotter magazine Issue #3
  • Hollingshead, Michael (1968) Introduction to "Lightshow" Harbinger Magazine (produced by the Oracle staff as their 13th issue and attempted revival of the publication) Harbinger University Press, July 1968. by Michael Hollingshead
  • Harris, Lee & Chris Render (1994) Best of Homegrown Red Shift ISBN 0-9524350-0-4 (contributor to anthology of Homegrown magazine)


  1. ^ "Erowid Character Vaults - Michael Hollingshead". Erowid. 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  2. ^ Best Sellers (1987) by Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation, University of Scranton.
  3. ^ Forte, Robert (1999). Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In. Park Street Press. p. 31. ISBN 0892817860.
  4. ^ Conners, Peter (2010). White Hand Society - The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg. City Lights Books. p. 148. ISBN 9780872865358.
  5. ^ Melechi, Antonio (1997). Psychedelia Britannica. Turnaround. pp. 89, 90. ISBN 1873262051.
  6. ^ Miss Peachum. "Scott Bartlett". The New American Cinema Group. Retrieved November 11, 2016. 'Seven young men, each of them involved in one of the arts (Carlo Ceniveros, Gene Schoefeld, Micheal Hollingstead, Jin Arender, Scott Barlett, Edward Bear, Iver Flom) talk for the greater part of the film. They are involved in a discussion of mystical processes important to them: astrology and the I Ching.'
  7. ^ Hollingshead, Michael (1980). "Robert Anton Wilson: The Author of The Illuminatus Trilogy Expounds on Multiple Realities, Guerrilla Ontology, LSD, Life Extension and Things that Go Bump in the Night". High Times. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ Melechi, Antonio (1997). Psychedelia Britannica. Turnaround. p. 104. ISBN 1873262051.
  9. ^ "Episode 922 - Vanessa Hollingshead". WTF with Marc Maron. Retrieved June 8, 2018.

External links[edit]