LSD Psychiatrist Dead at 86

One of the early pioneers in the medical use of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has died in Maryland at the age of 86.   Dr. Gerald D'Arcy Klee died March 10 of complications following surgery according to a statement issued by his family.    A prominent psychiatrist and medical educator, Dr. Klee is best-known as one of the  researchers working on the Edgewood Arsenal experiments conducted at the Edgewood Arsenal north of Baltimore, Maryland between 1952 and 1959.   The experiments, which are believed to have been linked to CIA research into mind control along with the more notorious MKULTRA project, involved testing LSD and other hallucinogenics on willing military subjects.  

Though the results were classified until 1975,  hundreds of U.S. soldiers were given LSD and THC as well as chemical and biological agents to study their effect on mental and physical functioning.    Due to the many claims filed by veterans during the 1970s indicating significant health problems resulting from the experiments, Congress launched a formal investigation to determine whether proper informed consent had been obtained from the soldiers who participated in the research.

Dr. Klee's involvement in the experiments came to light when he confirmed media reports that the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Psychiatric Institute had conducted the research.   "A large proportion of the people who have gotten involved in research in this area have been harebrained and irresponsible — Timothy Leary being the most notorious example — and a lot of the stuff that has been published reflects that," Dr. Klee  said in a 1975 interview with the Baltimore Evening Sun.  "We didn't have any axes to grind, and the university's role was to conduct scientific experimentation," he said. "The interests of the University of Maryland group were purely scientific, and the military was just there", he added.   He also admitted to using LSD himself prior to conducting the research.  "I felt obliged to take it for experimental reasons and also because I didn't think it would be fair to administer a drug to someone else that I hadn't taken myself,"  he said in the same interview.

According to Dr. Klee, the soldiers who participated were primarily enlisted men who received bonus leave time to take part in the research.   Though some "bad trips" had been observed in soldiers following LSD ingestion,  Dr. Klee denied any long-term ill effects,  However,  he admitted there was no follow-up after the soldiers completed their one-month participation at Edgewood Arsenal.    While the army would later admit to administering LSD to more than 1500 people between 1956 and 1967, Dr. Klee denied any knowledge of these later experiments.  He led an unsuccessful campaign to have then-President Richard Nixon renounce the use of LSD as a military weapon.  

 

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