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Thought's on Food By Dr. Timothy Leary

Interview By Brian Doherty

I had the good fortune to able to spend some time with my childhood hero Timothy Leary, hanging out, conversing, and sucking down nitrous oxide, before his very sad death last May. I wrote about some of those experiences for a magazine, LIBERTY. That piece emphasized the political / social / technological end of Leary's thought. [that interview here]

But we also talked about food. Frighteningly thin in the later stages of his prostate cancer (There are many other terrible forms of cancer, one of the worst being Mesothelioma), I asked Tim if he were being kept on any diet regimen by his doctors. He had some thoughts about diet, doctors, and food.

"I have prostate cancer that's metastasized, a painful cancer rupture in my left hip. I'm having radiation, doing everything the cancer doctors want," Tim told me. "I want to be a good patient. They want me to follow a certain diet, but I'm not. Ray Walford, a scientist at UCLA, a longevity scientist, all his studies show that the skinnier you are, the longer you are going to live. But to the average doctor, they want to fatten people up. That thought derives from a 19th century economy of scarcity. The whole mentality of fattening people up for when the blizzard came. Fat meant you were rich, it lets you live through a whole season of starvation or drought."

In his later days, Tim's train of thought was easily derailed. I asked again, after the above comments, whether he really just ate whatever the hell he felt like. "Yup," he said. All he consumed in my presence were some mushroom on toast hors d'oevres at the party at which I met him, glasses of wine, nitrous oxide, and Benson & Hedges 120 cigarettes.

The Timothy Leary Web Site

Brian Doherty's Web Site