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Leo Zeff papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSP 74

Scope and Contents

The Leo Zeff papers documents his research on ibogaine through photographs, reports and correspondence, and a manuscript of reflections shared with Alcoholics Anonymous members in 1977.


  • 1985 - 1988


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

This collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

To the extent that he owns the copyright, the donor has assigned the copyright of his works to the Archives; however, copyright of some items in this collection may be held by their respective creators.

Biographical Information

Before Leo J. Zeff (May 14, 1912 – April 13, 1988) graduated with his PhD and began his private practice in Oakland, California, he proudly served in the army as a Lieutenant Colonel.   He was one of the first psychologists to be licensed as a PhD, and he specialized in Jungian psychology. In 1961, Zeff was introduced to MDMA by Alexander Shulgin.  His plans for retirement immediately ceased once he discovered the possible therapeutic benefits of using the drug in some of his patients’ sessions.  Zeff named MDMA “Adam” and when LSD and like drugs were made illegal, Zeff made the difficult decision to go underground and keep treating his patients with the drugs.  Due to this unorthodox practice, Zeff operated under pseudonyms when mentioned in other researchers’ works.  It is not until 2004 when Zeff’s real name was used.  He firmly believed that LSD along with other drugs such as psilocybin, MDA, harmaline, ibogaine, and MDMA was of benefit to several of his patients if administered properly.  He invented a specific protocol and a basic set of rules for administering the drug, and music was played during the session.  In The Secret Chief Revealed: Conversations with Leo Zeff, Pioneer in the Underground Psychedelic Therapy Movement Myron J. Stolaroff states: “Zeff believed this [playing music] to be very important. This is one area in which I wish the conversation-text had delved more deeply. The music which was considered so important is barely discussed, other than to say that it was always on.”  Zeff is noted as a pioneer in his field and made many contributions and advancements in psychoactive substances research.  The Council on Spiritual Practices has the Zeff Memorial Library, which contains books, anthologies, papers, and newsletters about entheogens.


0.25 Cubic Feet (One half-width legal-size manuscript box)


The Leo Zeff papers contains photographs, reports, and correspondence that document Zeff's research on ibogaine.


Collection materials are arranged by subject.

Acquisition Information

Collection donated by Sara Zeff Geber on October 1, 2010.

Manuscript "Reflections Shared at the Sequoia Fall Retreat, November 1977" later donated by Arthur Friedman on September 22, 2014.


Leo Zeff papers
Under Review
Kristin Leaman, Jonnie McConnell, Lauren Haslem, and Serena Potter
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Edition statement
Fourth edition. Collection description was first completed September 2011.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 W. State Street
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States