Chapters from:

Secret, Don’t Tell

The Encyclopedia of Hypnotism

Carla Emery

Claire, Michigan: Acorn Hill Publishing, 1998



Chapter 1

Svengali: Unethical Stage Hypnosis in Literature and Life

The hypnotist can be erotically fascinated by the sight of his inanimate, plastic, unresisting subject. In this, hypnotists share a dream world with undertakers.

Robert Marks, p. 119

An Englishman with a French name, George Du Maurier (1834-1896), wrote his last and most famous novel, Trilby, about hypno-control. It was the first “best seller.”

Du Maurier got the idea for his tale of Svengali’s cruel domination of his hapless hypnotic subject from viewing a demonstration of a subject’s complete, amnesic dissociation in a hypnotist’s office. In the late 19th century, both natural split personalities and artificial personality splitting (by suggested amnesia under hypnosis) were hot new items in psychological research.[1] The young female whose hypnotic submission was demonstrated to Du Maurier was an unknowing, chronic, hypnotic subject, an artificially-split personality.

The novelist watched her be hypnotized, made to obey commands under trance, then awakened. He saw her obedience to posthypnotic commands and her rationalization of them as being freely willed choices. He observed her total unawareness of the previous trance state. He realized the tragic potential for abuse of such a long-term, unknowing, hypnotic subject.

Svengali and Trilby

The novel, Trilby, published in 1894, contained some minor technical errors. Nevertheless, it introduced the basic, sordid facts of hypnotic exploitation to a mass readership.[2] By the vehicle of fiction, it presented important facts about abusive hypnosis. Du Maurier’s tale of poor Trilby stimulated a much needed public awareness, and discussion, of unethical hypnosis. What Svengali did to Trilby has never quite been forgotten, despite ceaseless efforts by the hypnosis lobby to discredit the basic facts.

In the novel, Svengali, a middle-aged, unsuccessful musician, captured Trilby by a disguised induction, then hypno-trained her into a split personality (and a brilliant singer). Thereafter, she kept her puppet master, Svengali, living in luxury, supported by her concert performances. She always sang in an amnesic trance.[3]

He began Trilby’s conditioning by persuading her to agree to a Mesmer-style induction by passes:

Svengali told her to sit down on the divan, and sat opposite to her, and bade her look him well in the white of the eyes.

“Recartez-moi pien tans le planc tes yeaux.”

Then he made little passes and counterpasses on her forehead and temples and down her cheek and neck. Soon her eyes closed and her face grew placid. (Du Maurier, p. 69)

In the novel, as with real-life subjects, Trilby did not understand how a seemingly harmless first submission to hypnosis can develop into a terrible long-term mind slavery. Svengali gradually transformed her from a proud, independent person into an obedient hypno-tool. Now she lived a cruel, secret life in addition to the “real” life that she consciously lived.

Conceited, derisive, and malicious, he alternately bullies and fawns in a harsh, croaking voice...Though Trilby is repelled at first by his greasy, dirty appearance and regards him as a spidery demon or incubus, she becomes completely his creature under his hypnosis....Gecko...[is] a young fiddler, small, swarthy, shabby, brown-eyed, and pock-marked; a nail-biter. Though he loves Trilby he helps Svengali train that Svengali may exploit her. (Magill, Masterplots, p. 1158)

At the story’s end, foul Svengali dies. Trilby dies a few hours after. (Du Maurier’s presumption that a mind-controlled victim cannot survive without the puppet master is false.) The novel concludes with Gecko, Svengali’s assistant, trying to explain to Trilby’s grieving former friends what happened to her—and how a hypnotic split personality functions:

Gecko sat and smoked and pondered for a while, and looked from one to the other. Then he pulled himself together with an effort, so to speak, and said, “Monsieur, she never went mad—not for one moment!...She had forgotten—voila tout!”

“But hang it all, my friend, one doesn’t forget such a…”

“...I will tell you a secret. There were two Trilbys. There was the Trilby you knew...But all at once—pr-r-r-out! presto! augenblick!...with one wave of his hand over her—with one look of his eye—with a word—Svengali could turn her into the other Trilby, his Trilby, and make her do whatever he might have run a red-hot needle into her and she would not have felt it...

“He had but to say ‘Dors!’ and she suddenly became an unconscious Trilby of marble, who could...think his thoughts and wish his wishes—and love him at his bidding with a strange unreal factitious love...When Svengali’s Trilby was singing—or seemed to you as if she were singing—our Trilby was fast fact, our Trilby was dead...and then, suddenly, our Trilby woke up and wondered what it was all about...” (Du Maurier, pp. 456-459)

Trilby is now back in print (Everyman, 1994), an old fable that refuses to be forgotten. Svengali, the name that Du Maurier gave to Trilby’s evil hypnotist, is the author’s best-known character. The mere word is resonant with sinister implications. A Svengali is “one who attempts, usually with evil intentions, to persuade or force another to do his bidding.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)

Exploitation of Female Stage Mediums

The publication of Du Maurier’s novel wound up a century of European hypno-abuse of genetically susceptible persons, especially young women. Trilby spotlighted the specific problem of hypnotic exploitation of women (and men) in the theater world.

The use of somnambulist (highly-conditioned) mediums on stage, or in séances serving smaller audiences, was common in that era. The medium tended to be young, female, and attractive. She was a highly susceptible hypnotic subject, of course—and not protected by strong and prosperous family connections.

The use of hypnotized women on stage for entertainment emerged from eighteenth century scientific demonstrations of trance and medical hypnosis. Scientific researchers regarded their subjects as means to an end, as useful objects whom they manipulated like laboratory rats to prove, or disprove, their competing hypotheses. Medical hypnotists who were followers of Charcot viewed their patients being treated by hypnosis as disgusting neurotics. Their mechanistic mind manipulations respected only the knowledge and will of the operator. Unethical hypnotists viewed subjects as possessions destined by inborn genetic susceptibility to be ruled by the power of any master who made the effort to acquire and manipulate them. Most hypnotists scorned their subjects for the very quality they worked hardest to develop in them: mindless obedience.

Du Maurier may also have read the autobiography of Charles Lafontaine before he wrote Trilby. Lafontaine failed as an actor, but then became wealthy as a stage hypnotist. The secret of his success on stage was not his own talent, but that of his female hypnotic subject. Lafontaine

...taught her a theatrical role that she then performed beautifully on the stage before a large audience and of which she could remember nothing in her waking state. (Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious, p. 157)

He might have read Auguste Lassaigne’s autobiography. Lassaigne was French, born in 1819. He was just a touring solo juggler the day he watched an 18-year-old girl named Prudence receive treatment from a magnetizer. Observing her somnambulist behavior, he became fascinated with the possibilities of hypnosis. Perhaps, he also suddenly envisioned a more prosperous professional future for himself. He courted and married Prudence. Thereafter, she traveled with Auguste, and his act became a stage show in which he hypnotized her.

Offstage, Auguste used hypnotic suggestions to sexually arouse Prudence, which produced “heavenly voluptuousness.” His control, however, was imperfect; an angry Prudence could resist induction! (Ibid.)

In 1894, the same year that Trilby was published, a legal case involving a disreputable psychic healer, Ceslav Lubicz-Czynski, was reported. He had a chronically abused medium:

He made use above all of a method which nowadays is hardly ever applied and which was called “Psychic Transfer.” He hypnotized a female employee who served him as a medium (and at the same time as a lover) and suggested to the patient sitting nearby that his pains and sufferings would be transferred to the medium. (Hammerschlag, p. 35)

In deep trance, the young woman was caused to experience other people’s ailments, daily acquiring her mental version of their pains and suffering. How cruel! The sexual exploitation was also objectionable, for Czynski was at that time pursuing a rich aristocratic client, the Baroness Hedwig von Zedlitz, with the hope of marriage to her. He conducted his “courtship” during his hypnotic services to her. That is what caused the legal case (not his psychological and sexual abuse of the medium), for the Baroness said “Yes” under hypnosis—and her relatives reported the matter to the police.

“Voodoo Death” on Stage

In 1894, another hypnotist, Franz Neukomm, also made European news. Ella first was hypnotized by two doctors who were hired by a “relative” to treat her for a “nervous ailment.” Their power of suggestion temporarily suppressed the symptoms, but then she got even worse. Neukomm happened to be passing through, and her relative took Ella to be mesmerized by him. He also achieved an effective cure of her problem. Neukomm then saw opportunity knocking. He convinced Ella’s relative that the somnambulist girl might again relapse in the absence of his hypnotic influence and therefore should remain in his care. He would look after her without charge. Her relative then abandoned Ella to Neukomm. Thereafter, she traveled with the hypnotist as his medium. Neukomm was “effective,” to say the least. One day, he suggested to Ella that a cold needle, which he placed on her hand, was red-hot. Its touch then produced a real burn on her hand (a known somnambulist phenomenon).

During each show, Neukomm invited an ailing volunteer from the audience up on stage. Then he would hypnotize Ella and give her a suggestion to place herself in the mind of the patient and provide information about his or her state of health. The night that Ella died, Neukomm, to increase the audience’s sense of drama, had changed his hypnotic instructions in a small, but significant way. He told Ella, “Your soul will leave your body in order to enter that of the patient.”

Ella showed an uncharacteristic, strong resistance to that hypnotic suggestion. She tried to deny it.

Imperious master Neukomm deepened her trance, and firmly repeated the “leave your body” command. Once more, she resisted. He further deepened the trance and repeated the command again.

Ella Salamon died. The postmortem stated that heart failure, caused by Neukomm’s hypnotic suggestion, was the probable cause of her death. Neukomm was charged with manslaughter and found guilty. (Schrenck-Notzing, 1902) Ella’s death was similar to what anthropologists call “voodoo” death, death by suggestion.[4]

Hypnotic Subject Killed on Stage

In another case of that era, a stage hypnotist named Flint was performing in Switzerland, when his program went terribly wrong:

One of his acts was to lead on to the stage his wife, who was his partner in the show, and bring her to a state of rigidity. He would then place a heavy piece of rock on her stomach and invite volunteers from the audience to come and smash the rock with a hammer. One night a member of the audience misjudged his blow with the hammer and, instead of smashing the rock, he hit the performer’s wife and caused internal injuries from which she died shortly afterwards. (Magonet, pp. 19-20)

Abusive Hypnosis in Literature

When novelists write about unethical hypnosis, they deal with issues of dominance versus submission, the predator’s technical expertise versus the subject’s ignorance, and betrayal versus trustworthiness. In storyland, however, the mind-controlling villain never enjoys a final victory.

In the late 1800s, the subject of hypnosis dominated in French nonfiction publishing. Some years, every book published in France was about hypnosis. French fiction writers also wrote about it. Alexander Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, wrote six novels which involved mesmerism, “The Marie Antoinette Series.” De Maupassant’s last short story, “Le Horla,” featured a man who realizes he is a victim of predatory hypnosis. E.T.A. Hoffman was another European writer who was fascinated by hypnosis. His fiction is saturated with every aspect of it. He viewed deep trance as true penetration of the hypnotist’s mind into the subject’s mind. Hoffman said that hypnotism

...can be either good or evil. The evil magnetizer is a kind of moral vampire who destroys his subject...Therefore, the magnetic relationship can be either good (friendly, fatherly), or evil (demoniacal). (quoted in Ellenberger, p. 160)

Thomas Mann’s 1931 story, “Mario and the Magician,” sees hypnotism as an overthrowing of a person’s normal duality and balance of surrender and control tendencies:

...the capacity for self-surrender,... for becoming a tool, for the most...utter self-abnegation, was but the reverse side of that other power to will and to command. Commanding and obeying formed together one single principle, one indissoluble unity.

Mann ended that story by letting the hypnotist’s insulted subject hit back. Dr. George Estabrooks observed a similar incident in real life. He...

...attended a stage exhibition and arrived late. He was horrified to see a respectable acquaintance stripped to his underwear with a broom handle for a flute gamboling around the stage under the delusion that he was a Greek faun. Highly gratified also to see the faun knock the hypnotist flat the moment the trance was removed. (Young, in LeCron, p. 385)

Chapter 8

Mind-Control Research: Goals and Methods

Terminal Experiments

Mind-Control Research Goals

Personality Restructuring

In working on this book I have had to come to terms with my own emotions—disbelief, bewilderment, disgust, and anger and, more than once in the early stages, a feeling that the subject was simply too evil to cope with. Nothing I had researched before could have prepared me...

– Gordon Thomas, Journey into Madness, p. 8

In a stream of memos during the 1950s, the CIA laid out an ambitious array of mind-control research goals. Even unlikely-sounding paths of inquiry were eventually crafted into operational technologies by throwing enough time, money, and brain power into the process.

Terminal Experiments

[They wanted]...reliable results relevant to operations. In documents and conversation, Allen and his coworkers called such realistic tests “terminal experiments”—terminal in the sense that the experiment would be carried through to completion. It would not end when the subject felt like going home or when he or his best interest was about to be harmed....By definition, terminal experiments went beyond conventional ethical and legal limits.

– John Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, p. 32

When Morse Allen was directing BLUEBIRD (the first CIA hypnosis project), he first performed hypnosis experiments on agency secretaries and office staff. Soon, however, he needed subjects with whom the CIA could take more risks.

Hypnosis skeptics, for years, had been rebuking experimenters in the field of antisocial hypnosis. The skeptics said that experiments proved nothing when the volunteers had knowingly agreed to participate. They argued that those subjects were unconsciously confident that their professor, or boss, or officer was not really going to hurt them or make them do something wrong. Morse Allen agreed. He wanted to test subjects for whom the stakes were completely real—even to the point of life or death.

For how could researchers learn to make permanent changes in the way a person’s brain works without making permanent changes in the way the experimental subject’s brain works? How could they research techniques that might—or would—cause brain damage? Or death? To solve this dilemma, a dual policy for secret government experimentation developed: a classic double standard.

For such subjects, called terminal subjects, all risks were permissible, even long-term changes in personality, even risks to life and sanity. And all those risks could be taken without the subject’s pre-knowledge or permission. Because asking permission or providing pre-knowledge could negate the experiment.

For persons in the research bureaucracy and experimenters, however, no risk was acceptable. These morally questionable terminal experiments were labeled “top secret,” deliberately keeping the information and results from the public. The top-secret label was also a “license to kill” for research bureaucrats and technicians, absolving them of accountability for their actions.

Morse Allen approved the use of terminal experiments in 1950. From then on, subjects were entrapped, used, and permanently changed by CIA experimentation. They were discarded when the experimenter had no more use for them. The CIA, however, still felt that a frustrating atmosphere of moral inhibition was impeding their research. A 1950 memo said:

We shall continually strive to attain more knowledge and better techniques. In the meantime, my general feeling is that because we have accomplished things which seem almost impossible, the authorities concerned almost believe that nothing is impossible. As you know, there are definite limitations, especially since we are so greatly handicapped by popular and official prejudice against some of our methods. (quoted in Scheflin & Opton, p. 114)

The CIA began researching brainwashing techniques in 1953,

..the very year that the United States government signed the Nuremberg Code that prohibits human experimentation on captive populations, such as prisoners, or anybody else for that matter, unless the person is fully informed on the nature of the experiment and freely gives his or her consent. (Chavkin, The Mind Stealers)

Wolff, a CIA brainwash researcher, told his superiors:

Where any of the studies involve potential harm to the subject, we expect the Agency to make available suitable subjects and a proper place for the performance of necessary experiments. (quoted in Weinstein, 1988, p. 133)

The CIA’s last policy restraints on terminal experiments vanished in 1954. That was the year a Russian defector, Vladimir Petrov, revealed that the May 1951 disappearance of two British intelligence agents had been staged by the KGB because it knew that the two (who were double agents also working for the KGB) were suspected and were under investigation by superiors. A very disturbed U.S. Joint Chief’s officer wrote:

It would appear that very nearly all U.S./U.K. high-level planning information prior to 25 May 1951...must be considered compromised.... (Martin, p. 61)

President Eisenhower instructed Lieutenant General James Doolittle to make recommendations for improved CIA operations to prevent another such Soviet intelligence coup in the future. Sixty days later, Doolittle turned in recommendations to pursue

...“every possible scientific and technical avenue of approach to the intelligence problem”...he urged the CIA to become “more ruthless” than the KGB. “If the United States is to survive, longstanding American concepts of ‘fair play’ must be reconsidered...We must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated and more effective methods than those used against us.” (Martin, p. 62)

Doolittle’s recommendations were followed. In 1959, a hypnotist, writing of “hypnosis in war,” said: “It is relevant to note that an individual who was concerned with this type of work described it as ‘unethical’ and a ‘dirty mess.’” (Marcuse, Hypnosis: Fact and Fiction, p. 204).

In that same decade, Alden Sears ran a University of Denver study for MKULTRA, using students as hypnotic subjects. He researched the “building blocks” that make an unknowing hypnotic subject: “Could a hypnotist induce a totally separate personality? Could a subject be sent on missions he would not remember unless cued by the hypnotist?” In 1957, Sears wrote that the next experiments, on methods “to build second identities [artificial personality splitting]...could not be handled in the University situation.” (John Marks, 1979, pp. 186-7)

Sears refused to participate in that ugly second generation of experiments. He became a minister instead. Afterwards, he would never talk about the hypnosis experiments he had done.

Where Terminal Research Was Done

In the 60s, MKULTRA directors kicked mind-control experimentation into high gear. Their investigations had three experimental levels: 1) basic research, 2) clinical testing, and 3) testing in operational situations. Richard Helms was “the driving force behind this.” (Weinstein, p. 129). Various chunks of research were

...conducted at industrial facilities, academic centers, hospitals, government research sites and state and federal correctional and mental health institutions...MKULTRA’s funding bypassed normal channels...its full scope was known to only a handful of people. (Scheflin and Opton, p. 132)

Fifteen penal, or mental, institutions were used by the CIA for secret research on their inmates. The Addiction Research Center of the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky, was one such institution. The Federal Narcotics Bureau, the Food and Drug Administration, and possibly certain defense contractors, were also involved in mind experiments.

For example, in one typical LSD experiment, the CIA enlisted the aid of the Navy and also that of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Both served as false-front conduits for CIA money. A typical CIA document states that the directors of NIMH and the National Institutes of Health fully recognized the CIA’s “interest” and had offered the Agency “full support and protection.” (Lee and Schlain, p. 24)

CIA mind-control researchers also worked, and were based, in educational institutions. They involved “at least 185 scientists and some eighty institutions: prisons, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and forty-four medical colleges and universities” in this type of study. (Chavkin, p. 12) Those facilities were

...all over the United States, at the great research centers like Boston Psychopathic, the University of Illinois Medical School, Mount Sinai, Columbia University, the University of Oklahoma, the Addiction Research Center at Lexington, Kentucky, the University of Chicago, and the University of Rochester, and still other centers, researchers had begun projects funded by the Agency through intermediaries. (Thomas, pp. 156-157)

Ivy League colleges, especially, became centers for defense and CIA contracts. At Harvard, “students and professors had for years served as guinea pigs for CIA- and military-funded” experiments (Lee and Schlain, p. 73). A professor later recalled that

Princeton was crawling with agents. They came courting everyone. It was obvious. They would give us whatever we wanted...We realized we were being recruited, but at that time we were flattered that such a prestigious government agency was interested in us. (Ibid., footnote, p. 46)

In New York, MKULTRA researched in a very different social atmosphere—a safehouse disguised as a brothel. Although listed under the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the safehouses were actually managed and funded by the CIA. George White organized the first one in a Greenwich Village apartment. He equipped it with a stable of prostitutes. He observed their interactions with customers through a special two-way glass, which functioned as a mirror on the brothel side and as a clear observation glass on the researcher’s side.

The CIA was studying the use of “lovemaking” for espionage purposes and analyzing the sexual behavior of johns—especially of certain targeted individuals. White also tested experimental drugs, administered by experimental covert means, to the unknowing patrons. In 1955, White was transferred to San Francisco where he set up two more safehouses doing similar experiments. The safehouse experiments went on into the 60s.

After retiring, White wrote in a personal letter:

I was a very minor missionary, actually a heretic, but I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. Where else could a red blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape, and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest? (quoted in John Marks, 1979, p. 101)[5]

Cameron’s Patients

Cameron’s patients are the best-known individual victims of CIA-supported mind-control experiments. The patients and their presenting symptoms when they arrived at Dr. Cameron’s office at McGill University in Canada for psychiatric help were not unusual: unhappy wife, middle-aged businessman with a holocaust flashback, hypochondria, arthritis, and menopause. Once they fell into Cameron’s trap, however, they became humanoid white rats expended in extreme, ruthless, and brain-damaging experiments on mind control.[6]

Cameron was working on a new mind-control technique. One patient, Mr. Weinstein, was a middle-aged Canadian businessman who owned a prosperous clothing manufacturing company. Weinstein made the mistake of asking Cameron for help to overcome an occasional phantom choking sensation. After years of Cameron’s bizarre, destructive experimentation, Weinstein acquired severe mental damage. His son, Harvey, grew up and became a psychiatrist out of a burning need to understand what happened to his father’s mind.[7]

Why did Cameron entrap normal people (with minor problems) to use in his experiments? He did that because both brainwashing and hypno-programming work best on normal persons. Dr. Sargant, an English psychiatrist, expert on brainwashing, and a personal friend of both Dr. Cameron and CIA Director Dulles explained:

...the really crucial point which the whole history of hypnotism demonstrates is that the people most susceptible to hypnotic states are normal people. Hypnotism has never been very successful in treating the severely mentally ill...Many normal people, on the other hand, become hysterical under stress, and, when they do, they become amenable to hypnotism and to techniques which depend on the same brain mechanisms.

It is not the mentally ill but ordinary normal people who are most susceptible... (Sargant, The Mind Possessed, p. 31)

The people most susceptible to brain changing are stressed, normal people. So, Cameron captured normal people for his experiments. They did not stay normal. They became stressed. Funded, in part, by the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, he experimented with conditioning (building unconscious reflex habits), hypnosis (using a Sodium Amytal induction), other drugs, electroshock, and psychic driving. He analyzed the three stages of electroshock amnesia. He studied the retroactive amnesia for recent events which electroshockings can cause.

Cameron worked on two major CIA goals. One was the creation of irresistibly powerful remembering. His technique was forced listening to a short, taped message played over and over. He called that psychic driving. The other goal was its opposite: the causing of irresistibly powerful forgetting. Cameron’s method to accomplish that was a large amount of electroshock. The amount was called regressive because subjects lost their bladder control.

CIA Settles with Canadian Nine

In the spring of 1988, the CIA was on the brink of going to court because of a years-long lawsuit against it. The lawsuit was filed by Dr. Ewen Cameron’s nine surviving mind-control research subjects. The Canadian government had already made compensatory payments to them, acknowledging its role in looking the other way and allowing them to be used in U.S. research. The now elderly Canadians were represented by a pair of Washington, D.C. lawyers, Turner and Rauh. The U.S. Justice Department was defending the CIA: “not guilty.”

Abruptly, the Justice Department made the Canadians a cash offer. The U.S. would pay $750,000 total to the nine survivors if they would drop their case with a) no admission of guilt from the CIA, b) no trial, and c) their agreement never to publicly discuss the matter again.

They agreed, got the money, and never gave another interview. The CIA avoided a prolonged court battle which would have resulted in glaring publicity and the possible coming forward of more victims of their mind-control research, or more revelations about those experiments. The Company also avoided being found guilty, for the paper trail in this case was wide and clear indeed.

Medical Ethics

Henry K. Beecher, a medical ethicist studying publicly available statistics, was astonished and disturbed by the steady increase, after World War II, in experimentation on unknowing subjects:

...they would not have been available if they had been truly aware of the uses that would be made of them...many of the patients in the examples to follow never had the risk satisfactorily explained to them, and it seems obvious that further hundreds have not known that they were the subjects of an experiment although grave consequences have been suffered as a direct result of experiments... There is a belief prevalent in some sophisticated circles that attention to these matters would “block progress.” But, according to Pope Pius XII, “ is not the highest value to which all other orders of values... should be submitted.” (Beecher “Ethics and Clinical Research,” 1966)

Beecher said that ethical errors were increasing not only in numbers, but also in variety. Above all, he was dismayed by the ballooning government budget for research on human beings.

Since World War II the annual expenditure for research (in large part on man) the Massachusetts General Hospital has increased a remarkable 17-fold. At the National Institutes of Health, the increase has been a gigantic 624-fold...Medical schools and university hospitals are increasingly dominated by investigators. (Ibid.)

That was just NIH funding. What would the numbers have looked like to Beecher if military, think tank, NIMH, CIA, and NSA fundings for human research were added in?

What exactly were they doing to all those people?

Mind-Control Research Goals

Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against such fundamental laws of nature such as self-preservation?

– 1952 ARTICHOKE memo, quoted in Chavkin, p. 13

In 1950, the CIA’s BLUEBIRD program began to target specific hypnotism goals. At first, the research goals were all defensive: to identify disloyal persons, establish a defector’s legitimacy, make CIA agents able to resist hostile interrogation, and strengthen interrogation methods used on captured enemies. The list of goals soon changed, however, to include offensive uses of hypnosis. Hypnotism would make it

...possible to brief a prisoner or other individual, subsequently dispatch him on a mission and successfully debrief him on his return without his recollection of the whole proceeding. (CIA memo, “Defense Against Soviet Medical Interrogation and Espionage Techniques,” quoted in Scheflin & Opton, p. 114)

They also targeted the basic goal of getting absolute control, in absolute secrecy, over another person. The victim would become an unknowing hypno-puppet who would obey any command:

The support program will consist of both fundamental and applied research studying all means through which control of an individual may be attained. (CIA memo quoted in Scheflin & Opton, p. 116)

They preferred the method of disguised hypnotic induction over nondisguised. Disguised induction would help achieve an

...absence of resistance and counter-control: ideally, the technique will be so elegant, so smooth, that the manipulated will not suspect, let alone object, that someone or something is trying to shape their behavior. (Schrag, Mind Control, p. 10)

One author wrote of a military scenario in which hypnosis is used obtain the services of an apprehended spy, obtain all the knowledge he might have by use of an involuntary technique and send him back out as a double agent. (Teitlebaum, Hypnosis Induction Techniques, p. 172)

In 1960, the CIA’s Technology and Science Director, who was in charge of operational experiments in hypnosis, began an aggressive, new, enlarged program which he called “field experimentation” in the “counterintelligence program.” There were

...three goals: (1) to induce hypnosis very rapidly in unwitting subjects; (2) to create durable amnesia; and (3) to implant durable and operationally useful posthypnotic suggestion. (John Marks, 1979, p. 189).

An outline of ARTICHOKE research targets listed further goals in the hypnosis area: development of techniques for disguised induction, hypnotic memory training, and sealing.

Disguised Induction

They were “investigating the possibility of obtaining control of an individual by application of special interrogation techniques” (Scheflin & Opton, p. 116). “Special interrogation techniques” was a euphemism for methods of disguised induction. The ARTICHOKE research program subdivided that research into experiments on how to cause an unknowing person to become hypnotized using polygraphs, drugs, hypnosis, subconscious isolation, or electroshock.

Hypnotic Memory Training

They called hypnotic memory training memory enhancement. Hypnosis definitely improves memory. If a person’s memory is good to start with, hypnosis makes it even better. Hypnotic memory training had at least two intelligence and military applications: a) couriers bearing unconsciously remembered messages and b) subjects used as human tape recorders where no mechanical recording of speech was possible or permitted. In 1962, a research hypnotist issued a lyric call to use hypnosis to

...produce synthetic genius, emergent ordinary mortals...phenomenal memory...we are convinced that synthetic genius lies within the grasp of the human, but it will take long and patient research to activate this dream. (Wright, in Estabrooks, Ed., Hypnosis: Current Problems, p. 235)

Dr. Gindes studied rote memory in hypnotized persons for the Army.

...five soldiers were hypnotized...and given a jumbled “code”...they were allowed sixty seconds to commit the list to memory. In the waking state, each man was asked to repeat the code; this none of them could do...During rehypnotization, they were individually able to recall the exact content of the code message. (Gindes, pp. 33-34)

The men had learned to spell “ordinary” as “sqlcnrbc,” “tendency” as “tmslnfsk,” and so on. (Gindes, pp. 53-54)


In 1500 B.C., the Egyptians were using a hypnocourier system. Programmed virgins served the Pharaoh as royal “message bearers from the gods.” The women were sent under military escort to distant dignitaries who knew the cue which would unlock the messenger’s lips and release the consciously unknown secret message locked in her unconscious. At journey’s end, when presented to the dignitary and cued, the words of her message would miraculously form themselves at her lips and speak themselves. She had no conscious knowledge from where those words came. She had no foreknowledge what words it was that her mouth would speak.

Modern hypnocouriers are described in a 1963 text on clinical and experimental hypnosis:

Hypnosis is assuming an ever-increasing role in the psychological aspects of warfare. For instance, a good subject can be hypnotized to deliver secret information. The memory of this message could be covered by an artificially induced amnesia. In the event that he should be captured, he naturally could not remember that he had ever been given the message. He would not remember the message. However, since he had been given a posthypnotic suggestion, the message would be subject to recall through a specific cue, this having been given to him in the form of a posthypnotic suggestion. (William Kroger, Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis in Medicine, Psychology, and Dentistry, p. 299)

The basic system was to read or tell a message to a hypnotized subject, who then was instructed to remember the message and speak it on cue. It could be long and complicated. The courier did not consciously know the message, or even the fact that he carried a message. The message’s intended recipient, who knew the cue, would speak or act it out when ready. After perceiving that cue, the courier would go into a posthypnotic trance and speak the message—like a human tape recorder on “play.” A supplementary hypnotic suggestion could cause the courier to be amnesic for the meaning of the words he was speaking. (Bowart, in Operation Mind Control, reported the case of a military man trained in this way.)

Estabrooks promoted the use of consciously unknowing hypno-messengers by government agencies:

If one expert can build up a code, another can break it down...a code must be printed somewhere...And human nature is weak. With hypnotism we can be sure of our private messenger. We hypnotize our man in, say, Washington...give him the message. That message, may we add, can be both long and intricate. An intelligent individual can memorize a whole book if necessary. Then we start him out for Australia by plane with the instructions that no one can hypnotize him...except Colonel Brown in Melbourne...It is useless to intercept this messenger. He has no documents and no amount of “third degreeing” can extract the information, for the information is not in the conscious mind to extract... (Hypnotism, 1944 edition, pp. 210-211)


An early CIA memo described sealing as “establishing defensive means for preventing hostile control.” In civilian language it means that sealing the programmed mind blocks it from attempts by other hypnotists to put that person into trance. Sealing was another CIA hypno-programming goal:

Can we prevent any unauthorized source or enemy from gaining control of the future activities (physical and mental) of agency personnel (or persons of interest to this agency) by any known means? (CIA memo quoted in Scheflin & Opton, pp. 116-117)

The usual method of sealing was, and is, simply a hypnotic suggestion that the subject cannot be hypnotized by any unauthorized person.


In a chapter called “Tampering with the Mind: I,” Scheflin and Opton included a long list of hypno-programming goals obtained from a CIA memo written in the 1950s. Here are thirteen of those goals, and my opinion of their probable research outcomes:

(1) Identify Hypnotically Susceptible Personality—The CIA wanted to know “the types of personalities which could or could not be controlled.” Since the 1950s, many studies, both military and nonmilitary, have sought ways to covertly recognize hypnotizability. Some systems are based on personality and behavior traits. A hysteric is always a good hypnotic subject. Compulsives are the hardest personality type to either hypnotize or to control by hypnosis, because they are going to be, and do, what they are going to be and do. Psychotics are categorically considered impossible to hypnotize, but there have been exceptions.

In some research, women were easier to hypnotize than men, but only by a small percentage. In both sexes, the higher the IQ, the greater the hypnotic susceptibility. In one study, bright female introverts were most susceptible. Extroverts forget more over time than introverts, but they are better at retrieving information from deeply buried memory, especially if it’s relatively inaccessible. Introverts are more affected by punishment, extroverts by reward.

That data could be interpreted to make introverts preferred candidates for hypno-programming. They have better memory for unconscious instructions, less ability to recover repressed memory, and are more controllable by suggested suffering.

More formal evaluations of hypnotizability are derived from Rorschach or TAT tests and from brainwave patterns (more alpha indicates more susceptibility). If the subject had an imaginary playmate in childhood, that also indicates susceptibility.[8]

(2) Which Mind Control Method for Each Personality?—The CIA list included the goal of knowing “the methods which would or would not work on those personality types.” Therefore, they studied every conceivable induction method: open or disguised. That included study of hypnotic induction hardware of every sort, including instruments for electronic induction by brainwave manipulation and post-electroshock induction. They studied the inductive effects of fatigue and stress, visualization, relaxation, narcohypnosis, repetition, disorientation, sensory deprivation, extrasensory (mind-to-mind, psychic) induction, and combinations of those. (Research knowledge in these areas is covered in Part IV of this book.)

(3) Time Needed to Establish Mind Control?—The CIA wanted to know “the amount of time needed for ‘alteration of personality’ with each technique.” How much time does the operator need to take control of a subject’s mind? Using verbal techniques only? Using narcohypnosis? Electroshock? How long is it from the beginning of the process to the end—when the subject emerges as a controlled person, totally amnesic for all time spent under hypnosis?

Candy and Palle were trained for years. Estabrooks said that the essentials could be accomplished in ten days, but he recommended ten months for complete training. Bowart’s military interviewees and the Operation Mind Control subject reported that their operators spent six to eight weeks setting up basic programming, including their final electroshock series to reinforce amnesia.

(4) Is the Conditioning Permanent?—The CIA also listed the goal of learning “the duration of the change.” Would the personality splitting and hypno-programming be permanent? In most cases, it would. However, time could have some weakening effect. Unconscious knowledge of safe distance or isolation from the operator can be even more helpful to a subject who unconsciously wants to escape and heal. If a victim becomes consciously aware that this technology exists, he may realize his situation, stop making excuses for the hypnotist, and start wresting his mind FREE.

(5) Can the Conditioning Be Reversed?—Early CIA euphemisms for hypno-programming were “brain changing” and “personality restructuring.” The hypno-programming technology indeed could profoundly change a subject’s personality. This goal on the list asked about “the ability to restore the original personality.” In plain English, the question was: Could anybody undo their hypno-programming (conditioning)?

If the subject can get himself out of reach of all induction cues, and if he can avoid triggering any pre-existing check-in cues, his operator cannot reinforce old conditioning and cannot lay on new conditioning. In the absence of reinforcement, time may gradually loosen the hold of unwelcome conditioning. If that subject-in-hiding obtains the help of a skilled trance manipulator, more of the damage can be undone. Some—or all—of the old conditioning suggestions can be reversed. How much is reversed depends on how deep the changes were etched in the subject’s brain, how much time and effort is spent on the healing process, if the subject has a safe place to hide from the hypnotist while healing, and if the healer has a clear understanding of this technology. (But then the subject will be in rapport with the new helper. This may or may not be a problem, depending...)

Humpty-Dumpty is easier to break than to put back together. And when Humpty-Dumpty is back together, he will not look exactly like the egg he was because the experience of being hypno-programmed and then overcoming it is going to deeply affect that personality. Some amnesia can be overcome, however. Perhaps old induction cues can be blocked. (Or the subject can live in hiding from those cues.) The best-case scenario probably will result in a sadder-but-wiser, more comfortable, more functional, and somewhat reintegrated, personality who is relatively safe from the abusive former operator. (See Part V, therapy topics, for more on this.)

(6) What Could Go Wrong During the Conditioning?—The CIA wanted to know “the adverse side effects” of conditioning. The answer is that subjects may die if given a miscalculated dose of narcohypnotic drug. Some may be pushed into psychosis, temporarily, or permanently. Some may develop long-term neurotic symptoms reflecting unwholesome hypnotic repressions: rationalizations, hypochondria, phobias, compulsions, nightmares, etc. Some may have their body, relationships, or life damaged by thoughtless, or abusive, suggestions.

In general, the more stable the person is to start with, the more effectively their programming will implant, the better their unconscious will compensate for unconscious burdens with defense mechanisms, and the better their cover personality will function.[9]

(7) How Complete Will the Control Be?—The CIA wanted to know “the extent to which the new personality could be controlled.” They learned that a mind-controlled person makes a better patsy than assassin because the unconscious retains some capacity to influence outcomes and sidestep the most unthinkable commands. For example, Zebediah shot his elbow instead of his hand. Mrs. E. tended to fail at murder and suicide instructions. Candy obeyed all the preceding orders, but she converted her suicide instruction into a break for freedom.

Nevertheless, obedience potential caused by hypno-programming is far greater than is generally recognized by the public. The assertion that “you can’t be made to do anything under hypnosis that you don’t want to” is FALSE. Great effort was made to train a subject to give reflexive responses, to be totally unconscious, mechanical, automatistic, and absolute in obedience. With ruthless training, involving techniques from the physical methods of psychiatry, a close approximation of robotic response was possible—including some criminal and self-destructive actions.[10]

(8) Complex Conduct Be Hypno-controlled?—The CIA wanted evidence as to “the complexity of the conduct which could be commanded of the controlled personality.” Research described in psychiatric case studies, and other research reports, makes it clear that direct commands (“suggestions”), indirect commands, and specific commands are all possible. So, also, are complex commands such as: “join it, believe in it, participate in it, but be unconsciously loyal to us and report back weekly.”

Any variety of neurosis or psychosis can be suggested under hypnosis. The resulting performance can fool even an expert. A love attachment can be suggested (Nielsen caused Palle to love Bente). A loving relationship can also be terribly harmed by hypnotic suggestion. A subject could be caused to not pay bills, sending all surplus money to one or more designated persons instead.

(9) Are Personality Changes Caused by Hypnotic Suggestion Detectable?—The CIA list targeted research into “changes in attitude of the person whose personality had been altered.” Would the victim’s family realize what had happened to their loved one? Would the neighbors catch on? The answer is that changes may be observable, but they are unlikely to be correctly interpreted unless observers understand that unethical hypnosis is possible and how it works.

(10) Can Preconditioning Be Detected?—The CIA listed “the ability to detect preconditioning and to determine the method used and the purpose to be accomplished by the conditioning” as a goal. Preconditioning has two meanings. It is, technically, the first stage of hypnosis, the period during which a subject becomes willing to be hypnotized by an operator, but has not yet been hypnotized.

The other meaning of “preconditioning” is probably the one which the CIA had in mind, however. This goal sought a method to detect if a person of interest to them was already somebody’s unknowing hypnotic subject—a previously conditioned (“preconditioned”) subject.[11] They wanted not only to be able to identify that preconditioning, but also to be able to detect the operator’s method of conditioning the subject—and the operator’s motive for that preconditioning.

The method could be tough to find out. Only the subject’s unconscious knows, and his sealing would have to be broken to access that information. If the subject doesn’t know his operator’s motive, consciously or unconsciously, there is no way to find out—unless the CIA also has physical custody of the subject’s operator, and probes his mind.

(11) Can a Preconditioned Subject Be Reprogrammed?—The CIA listed “the ability to recondition a preconditioned person” as a research goal. If a person of interest to them was already somebody’s hypnotic subject, could they undo (“recondition”) his previous programming, and then implant their own? Or simply implant their own and make it dominant over the previous programming? Since it was on their list, the CIA probably did try reconditioning and probably came up with some answers. I don’t know what those might be, but I feel sorry for their victims.

(12) Can We Reprogram a Reprogrammed Hypno-programmed Person?—The CIA put “the possibilities of multiple conditioning” of an agent on their research list. If a hypno-programmed enemy agent was captured by the CIA, could he be reprogrammed into a double agent? If a hypno-programmed CIA agent was apprehended by the enemy and reprogrammed by the enemy to be their own agent, could the CIA then reprogram that person back to being loyal to them? In the case of a double agent, the original operator would imagine that he still had an effective agent, when actually another unconscious isolate of the poor victim’s unconscious mind reports to yet another master, without either the subject’s conscious mind, or the original hypnotic operator knowing it.

I suppose the CIA carried out this experiment, too. I feel great sorrow and sympathy for the subjects who suffered such mental abuse. The reprogramming of a reprogrammed subject who was hypno-programmed before is an even more horrific concept.

Reprogramming could also be applied to somebody, who was originally programmed by the agency, and then managed to (partially or entirely) deprogram themselves. The reconditioning would, theoretically, restore the unconscious automatism of a balking subject. I also pity any victim who went through a first conditioning, got free, and then was subjected to yet another (probably far more brutal) conditioning period in order to enslave him again.

However, “reprogramming” is a mechanical concept. NO HUMAN IS TRULY A MACHINE. A living brain accumulates data, changes and adapts. It can develop an intense dislike for the condition of mind-slavery—even, or especially, at the unconscious level. It may look for loopholes in its programming which will support that person’s survivability by enhancing his freedom. It may even find ways to avoid, even defy, the master.

(13) Perfect Amnesia?—The CIA also listed “the ability to induce states of amnesia so that the conditioned person is unaware of the conditioning” as a research goal. Posthypnotic amnesia is the foundation of all the previous scenarios. The person who knows what happened will take measures to protect himself from another hit. The CIA and the military wanted dependable ways to cause effective amnesia which would conceal the hypnotic conditioning—and all future episodes of hypnotic suggestion—from the subject’s conscious mind.

The verbal (left) hemisphere can be silenced or made to lie. But, short of brain damage, the imaging (right) brain is very hard to silence. Projective techniques that involve imagery are likely to reveal the truth.

Personality Restructuring

...the day has come when we can combine sensory deprivation with drugs, hypnosis and astute manipulation of rewards and punishment to gain almost absolute control over an individual’s behavior...a very rapid and highly effective type of positive brainwashing that would allow us to make dramatic changes in a person’s behavior and personality...[in] a few months—or perhaps even less than that...

The techniques of behavioral control make even the hydrogen bomb look like a child’s toy, and, of course, they can be used for good or evil. But we can no more prevent the development of this new psychological methodology than we could have prevented the development of atomic energy...

– McConnell, Psychology Today, April 1970

When James V. McConnell announced the new method of positive brainwashing in the article quoted above, he was a famous Michigan behaviorist. In the early 1970s, he trained flatworms by electric shocks to prefer the lighted tunnel to the dark one. He edited and published both The Journal of Biological Psychology and the Worm Runner’s Digest, a radical behaviorist periodical. If anybody outside the Company knew what happened when you put all the MKULTRA research together and applied it with the goal of personality restructuring to a single subject, it would be McConnell. In that article, he urged readers to adopt

...a revolutionary viewpoint toward society and its problems. Today’s behavioral psychologists are the architects and engineers of the Brave New World... (Ibid., p. 74)

He suggested temporary incarceration for antisocial persons while they were being “cured” by means of this new technology. The subject would be housed in a “rehabilitation center” while experts “restructure his entire personality.” McConnell argued:

No one owns his own personality. Your ego, or individuality, was forced on you by your genetic constitution and by the society into which you were born. You had no say about what kind of personality you acquired, and there’s no reason to believe you should have the right to refuse to acquire a new personality if your old one is antisocial... (Ibid.)

His words set off a furor. Who would have the right to define “antisocial”? How would they define it? (Was it “antisocial” of me to write and publish this book?) People asked for more information which McConnell declined to provide. Instead, he expressed regret for saying what he had said. He never again discussed the technology of “positive brainwashing.”

Related CIA and psychiatric research, however, provides further insight.

Research Personality Restructuring

The CIA used language derived from research on artificial neurosis to describe the creation of an unknowing hypnotic subject—often with a new opinion, behavior, or loyalty. Sometimes they called it giving somebody a new personality; sometimes it was called personality restructuring. Whatever its name, the process could, they hoped, covertly and permanently change a subject’s beliefs and behaviors. (If they became an unknowing hypno-robot in the process, that would not be seen as a problem.)

In the 50s and 60s, U.S. brainwash specialists studied the phenomenon of Christian conversion, and also why some Americans turned Communist in Chinese POW camps. They contemplated the history of heiress Patricia Hearst who was kidnapped by revolutionaries, became a gun-shooting revolutionary, then was captured by police, and became a law-abiding heiress again. They studied how meat-eaters become vegetarians; and how vegetarians become meat-eaters, and so on.

They must have also wondered if restructuring the personality might secretly convert a Communist follower, or leader, into a staunch advocate of free elections, free enterprise, demilitarization, dismantling of the Russian empire, and economic integration of the Soviet areas with the U.S. and Europe. What an achievement it would be if an important political opponent could be covertly hypnotized and given a new personality—one that took orders from the CIA and had a Western political philosophy.

Hypnosis, voluntary or involuntary (drug or disguised induction), was the key to restructuring an old personality into a new one. After induction would come training for depth, obedience, and amnesia—and then the personality restructuring, the mental reprogramming.


Dr. Cook, a University of Chicago professor, hypnotist, and author, described his process of hypno-transformation in a 1927 book. After he “treated” a daughter, whose father objected to her love for a “worthless suitor,” her feelings changed to “abhorrence.” (She then became infatuated with the hypnotist!)

In another case, a jealous Miss Edith thought her fiancée too attentive to a lovely cousin. She explained her problem to Dr. Cook, hired him, and together they hatched a plot. Edith then dared her fiancée to be hypnotized by Cook. The young man accepted her dare. Cook hypnotized him and gave a posthypnotic suggestion that he would visit the cousin and scold her severely for some imagined neglect until she became angry. After that, Miss Edith had no competition.

Cook freed an Iowa man of tobacco chewing:

...hypnotized him twelve times in four weeks. Before he left the city he was entirely cured of the tobacco habit, although he had no recollection of his experience while in the hypnotic state. (Cook, Practical Lessons in Hypnotism and Autosuggestion, pp. 160-1)

A father, worried about his son’s choice of companions, brought the young man to Cook’s office. The son

...was test the power of hypnotism...and placed in the somnambulistic state. He was then told that it would be impossible for him to be induced to accompany his friends to any questionable places, and that whenever they met him he would treat them civilly, but would no longer make companions of them. Over and over again these suggestions were emphatically repeated to him before he was awakened, and this was repeated daily for twelve days, during which time he had no communication with any of his companions, as his father had brought him quite a distance...(Ibid., pp. 225-6)

Cook suggested amnesia to the son for all the implanted suggestions. He was “cured” and avoided those unwholesome companions in the future.

Like Cook, another hypnotist, Marcuse, reported changing a person’s convictions by hypnosis, obtaining a religious conversion. A “vehemently atheistic” subject lived in a boarding house. Marcuse enlisted one of his fellow boarders to report developments. The professor hypnotized the atheist in his office, read him a list of reasons for belief, and then suggested amnesia for the hypnosis. Marcuse soon exactly repeated the treatment. His dinner-table spy reported that other dining room guests were astonished at the sudden reversal of the subject’s opinions on religion. For the first time, he began to attend church services. (Marcuse, Hypnosis, p. 228)

Reprogramming by simple hypnosis is not a sure thing. If it were, there would be no failures in stop-smoking clinics (most of which use hypnosis). But, what if the subject is an artificially-created split personality who was programmed using narcohypnosis and other physical methods of psychiatry? That makes the outcome more predictable.

Chapter 9

Physical Methods of Psychiatry



[There were]... CIA documents describing experiments in sensory deprivation, sleep teaching, ESP, subliminal projection, electronic brain stimulation...Another document mentioned “hypnotically-induced anxieties” and “induced pain as a form of physical and psychological control.”...Deadly chemicals were concocted for the sole purpose of inducing a heart attack or cancer without leaving a clue as to the actual source of the disease. CIA specialists also studied the effects of magnetic fields, ultrasonic vibrations, and other forms of radiant energy on the brain.

– Lee and Schlain, Acid Dreams, xx

After World War II, advocates of physical methods of psychiatry argued for “practical” (physical) therapies. They downgraded the “philosophical” approaches to healing, meaning the Freudian and Jungian methods.

The physical treatments offered, as of 1944, were narcohypnosis and drug abreaction sessions, electroshock, insulin shock, continuous sleep maintained by drugging, new vitamins, endocrine supplements, stimulants, anticonvulsants, and lobotomy. Advocates of physical psychiatry were hopeful that yet more and better electrical, chemical, and surgical treatments for the brain would soon be discovered.

The Rockefeller Foundation, CIA, National Institutes of Health, and others, lavishly funded that research. The following, 1950s, list of CIA mind-control research areas included physical methods of psychiatry and psychoanalytic methods:

(a) Psychosurgery.

(b) Shock method:

(1) electrical.

(2) drug: metrazol, cannabis indica, insulin, cocaine.

(c) Psychoanalytic methods:

(1) psychoanalysis.

(2) narcoanalysis and synthesis.

(3) hypnoanalysis and synthesis.

(d) Combinations of the foregoing.

Other CIA documents from the 1950s list their goals in ultrasonics and “enhanced” polygraph techniques. For example, tests were done using an EEG as a polygraph. The question was “Do you masturbate?” Lobotomy was recommended in one document as a “solution” to neutralize a person “from a security point of view.” (Lee and Schlain) Another document discussed a covert procedure in which the operator used electroshock to cause anesthesia, then lobotomized the subject with an icepick.[12]

Amnesia Research

The CIA was always interested in methods to cause amnesia. July 15, 1953, after an employee who knew much sensitive information left the Agency, operations people told superiors in ARTICHOKE that they needed a drug which would cause amnesia. The bosses replied that work was constantly in progress on causing predictable amnesias by a variety of means.

What predictably causes predictable amnesias? Repeated suggestions to not remember (taped or oral) given to a hypnotized person? Amnesia suggestions given to a narcohypnotized person? An electroshock series? Artificial personality splitting by means of an artificial neurosis? The answer is YES. To ALL of them. Those methods can be used singly—or in COMBINATION.

Hypno-programming Uses for Amnesia

Here follow reasons why amnesia is advantageous for a hypno-programmer:

Broken Feedback Circuit—Amnesia hides the problem from the subject’s conscious mind. If a subject remembers being hypnotized and remembers being given the hypnotic suggestions, he may resist them. Amnesia, however, produces a person who does not know that he has been hypnotized and given suggestions. An amnesic person makes no effort to overcome hypnotic conditioning or to avoid contact from the hypnotist. He is not consciously aware that there is a problem.

Secret Will Rule—An amnestic brain programming overpowers a competing conscious willing. What is secret in your mind automatically overrules that which is not secret. The secret will rule.

One-Way Amnesia—Both natural and artificial multiple personalities are usually one-way amnestic. That means that the original self, “A,” knows nothing about the split self, “B,” but B knows all about A. The knowing goes one way but not the other. B sees, hears, and knows all that A experiences. A, the original personality, neither sees, hears, nor knows what the split does during a fugue.[13] The split, however, is aware and critical of all the original personality’s acts, thoughts, and feelings.

For this reason, Arlene had all the information possessed by Candy, plus her own. However, until Arlene revolted and informed John (who enlightened Candy), Candy knew nothing about Arlene’s life. Candy’s mental access to what Arlene knew had been blocked by Dr. Jensen. Arlene referred to her own life as a split-off, hidden observer when she said, “...I’ll go along tomorrow. I’ll sit there and I’ll watch...Where she goes, I go.” (Bain, p. 99)

Amnesia suggestions given to a narcohypnotized person were an especially promising area for research and operations.


The question may be raised whether in narcohypnosis we are not dealing simply with sleep only instead of actual hypnosis. Anyone who has practiced narcohypnosis will have to answer this question in the negative, since the patients carry out suggestions and in every other way conduct themselves like deeply hypnotized subjects.

– Schilder and Kauders, Hypnosis


Hyperventilation is a chemical induction technique. It can be a method of disguised induction. If you breathe as rapidly as possible (hyperventilation) for two to four minutes, you will have some degree of gaseous alkalosis. You will feel dizzy and confused. You will also be in a state of light trance. Changes in blood acidosis/alkalosis relate to changes in state of consciousness.

Hard, prolonged crying causes hyperventilation. (Hyperventilation induction is the key to Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy. Over-breathing lowers consciousness. In that state, a subject is encouraged to relive past traumas and to access and express deep emotion. You need a strong heart and lungs to undertake this stressful “scream” therapy.)


Narcotic trance induction goes back to prehistory. Narcohypnosis began shortly after chemical anesthesia for surgery was discovered in 1846. Hypnotists experimented, testing to see if there were hypnotic effects associated with use of alcohol, ether, chloroform, scopolamine, and chlorpromazine. In the 1920s, Pavlov put dogs into a narcotic trance by injecting barbiturate. Again and again, doctors observed significant spontaneous hypnotic responses after barbiturate injection. The chemicals of choice for trance induction were eventually narrowed to two fast-acting barbiturates, oral or injected: Sodium Pentothal and Sodium Amytal (called “Evipan,” in Europe). (I recently saw Trilene and Propofoy also recommended for this use.)

Barbiturates are a class of hypnoid chemicals (chemical trance inducers). They have been around since the 1930s, widely used both as surgical anesthetics and hypnotics. Operating personnel must be careful what they say because their patients are in deep trance and are highly suggestible!

In 1936, Horsley began using Sodium Pentothal as a narcohypnotic entryway to repressed thoughts and emotions. His procedure was a rapid psychoanalysis done with a narcohypnotized subject. His 1943 book on that technique, Narco-Analysis, became a standard text on barbiturate use in hypnotherapy. During World War II, American and English doctors used narcohypnosis to treat combat-traumatized veterans.[14]

Roy P. Grinker and John P. Spiegel published War Neuroses in North Africa in 1943, and Special Report: Conference on Narcosis, Hypnosis, and War Neuroses, in 1944.[15] Grinker and Spiegel published another book in 1945, War Neuroses. J.G. Watkins was an American who first researched hypnotic coercion as a military hypnotist. His 1949 book, The Hypnotherapy of War Neuroses, pioneered use of barbiturate drugging as a direct route to the unconscious in America.[16]

Police Use of Barbiturates—Police investigators at first called the barbiturates “truth serum.” In the 1930s, they used them in interrogations or to elicit confessions. They gradually learned, however, that an operator could accidentally (or deliberately) suggest false guilt under those drugs because they enhanced suggestibility. Their popularity in police work then waned. Yet, as recently as 1979, B.L. Danto, who was both a doctor and a police officer, recommended “The Use of Brevital Sodium in Police Investigation” to overcome “unconscious resistance” and interrogate suspects. He argued that, whereas not everyone is susceptible to hypnotic induction, everybody is susceptible to Sodium Brevital.

Research on Narcohypnosis—During the Moscow show trials of 1937 and 1938, one by one, formerly strong, rational, and socially significant Communists (who had somehow gotten on Stalin’s black list) humbly and publicly confessed to unlikely crimes. A European OSS agent, Allen Dulles, interviewed German chemical company executives after World War II. They believed the confessions were achieved by drug-hypnosis.

In 1942, Donovan formed a committee of psychiatrists and biochemists to investigate the drugs that might be used to extract data from an unwilling person. The Germans were also researching narcohypnotic technology. In 1944, the Gestapo in Hungary, aided by a Hungarian hypnotist named Volgyesi, used a drug-hypnosis combination to create a suggestible state, then interrogate and “prepare” people for trial.

In 1947, special military investigation teams carefully sifted through the records at Dachau where the German mind-control experiments had been conducted. The teams sent their findings, including descriptions of Nazi narcohypnotic experiments, back to the CIA. “None of the German mind-control research was ever made public.” (John Marks, 1979, pp. 4-5)

After Dulles became head of the CIA, he created an elite team to research mind control, including every aspect of every hypnoid drug. RAND Corporation did a series of research reports for the government in the 1950s on methods to force persons (the “enemy”) to do things against their will. They concluded:

The drug technique would probably turn out to be the simplest and most efficient...and would be the most likely candidate for...hypnotizing defendants against their will. (RAND quoted in Bowart, pp. 70-71)

The CIA studied the ability of barbiturates to quickly force deep trance on resistant subjects. They learned that a person could be first drugged, and then hypnotized. Or he could be first hypnotized, then drugged to push the trance even deeper. A 1950s Air Force report on the military uses of hypnosis pointed out that hypnotic drugs increased both induction speed and trance depth.

The Air Force tested whether narcohypnosis would increase the percentage of persons who could be made somnambulists. (Bowart, p. 71) Normally 10-20% of people, in a first induction, can be taken to somnambulistic (amnesic) depth of hypnosis. With a series of inductions and intensive hypnotic training, it rises to 75%. A RAND report said about 90% of the population would become somnambulists if trained under narcohypnosis. (Bowart, p. 71) Other experts have said narcohypnosis could train 95%. Lindner said “all.”

Practitioners of narcohypnosis learned that injection works fastest. Oral doses take half an hour for full effect. Horsley compared oral and injected doses:

Any of the quick-acting barbiturates may be given by mouth, where they will produce a similar effect but of delayed and more gradual onset...[the] intravenous method possesses the considerable advantages of speed, accuracy of dose, and greater force of suggestibility. However...the oral administration of a rapidly acting barbiturate is a valuable aid to the induction of hypnosis. (Horsley, 1952, p. 149)

The CIA, therefore, spent years studying covert ways to dose unsuspecting victims with Sodium Amytal or Sodium Pentothal. Barbiturate powder cannot be prepared in the necessary solution for injection (mixed with water) ahead of time. It is unstable when exposed to air. Even in solution, it deteriorates within half an hour. Therefore, the barbiturate solution to be injected must be mixed right before injection. So the CIA experimented with barbiturate powder “mickeys” slipped into a drink, or delivered in aerosol sprays.

A CIA operation, targeting a Russian agent, involved both drugs and hypnosis. They were administered in a fake psychiatric-medical exam:

Afterward, the team reported to the CIA’s Director that EXPLOSIVE had revealed “extremely valuable” information and that he had been made to forget his interrogation through a hypnotically induced amnesia.(John Marks, 1979, p. 42)

It can be assumed that the CIA investigators also learned that barbiturate is rapidly destroyed by a normally functioning liver. So its effect soon wears off. It is highly addictive. It cannot be given to a nursing mother, for it enters the breast milk and may overdose the baby, suppressing its respiration. A nursing baby would have to be taken from the mother (weaned) before a series of narcohypnotic immersions for her could begin.

The optimal amounts of drug, and the best timing of doses, would also have become apparent. Candy’s barbiturate conditioning was done using an intravenous-drip to control the flow and thereby her depth of trance. Intravenous-drip could, theoretically, hold her at that depth. An IV could work for Jensen, in his hidden office across the continent from everybody in Candy’s life.

It would not be suitable for clandestine drugging in a situation where unexpected company might show up and see the intravenous line. A covert drugging with any risk of exposure would use oral or injected barbiturate.

If a dose large enough to result in unconsciousness (and maximally deep trance) is given by injection, suggestions can be spoken which will stick at any stage—while the subject is unconscious or in the groggy semiconscious state as the drug wears off. If the operator wants the subject to talk back, however, there is only one period in the drug’s cycle in which that is possible. Immediately following injection of a large dose, the subject is unconscious.

As the subject’s liver gradually throws off the narcohypnotic poison, his level of consciousness gradually rises. In the stage of complete unconsciousness, the subject doesn’t speak, or doesn’t speak clearly (mumbles). But as the drug wears off there is a stage during which the subject can speak clearly and answer questions. After a while, the subject is waking up from the trance. He is no longer deeply narcohypnotized.

Interrogators were frustrated by that small window of opportunity to get answers from a narcohypnotized subject. Then somebody thought of combining a barbiturate with a stimulant.

Barbiturate Plus Stimulant—Before World War II, psychiatrists noted the possibility of using barbiturate plus stimulant. Barbiturate stripped away consciousness and exposed the unconscious mind to manipulation, but the subject was very groggy. Before World War II, European police tried a dose of chemical stimulant to recover some alertness. They used

...strychnine or vitamin B6, or methyl-amphetamine as an antidote. This more complex procedure gives some control of the degree of relaxation. (Rolin, p. 36)

After the war, Horsley mentioned the concept of a barbiturate-stimulant combination:

This process of conditioning by large doses of drugs, counteracted by Methedrine if the patient becomes too drowsy to think clearly, is mainly of theoretical interest, but its possibilities are sinister. (Horsley, 1952, p. 146)

Government researchers, however, believed they had a mandate to think the unthinkable, and then to accomplish it. In February, 1951, the CIA ordered six “hyposprays” and inquired about the possibility of procuring a double-barreled hypospray that could fire both barrels at once. That order also included 300 ampules of Sodium Amytal, 100 of Caffeine Sodium-benzoate, and 100 of Caffeine Sodium. (Scheflin and Opton)

The ARTICHOKE program called the technique of barbiturate followed by stimulant the “A Treatment.” They began with a large enough dose of a hypnoid drug to knock out the subject’s conscious mind. The subject then lay there, unconscious and still. They gave a shot of stimulant. The conscious mind stayed off-line, but the stimulant roused the subject’s unconscious enough to answer questions. “Described in CIA documents as ‘the twilight zone,’ this groggy condition was considered optimal for interrogation.” (Lee & Schlain, p. 7)

Project CHATTER—In 1947, the Navy came aboard the mind-control effort with Project CHATTER. It was an offensive tactic research project seeking ways to extract information from persons against their will, but “without torture.” CHATTER lasted until 1953. The program researched barbiturate-stimulant combinations. With drug induction alone, the subject had a tendency to just lie there unconscious, “sleeping,” spoiling chances of interrogation.

In one CHATTER experiment, the subject was given an injection of Sodium Pentothal to induce a deep trance, then stimulated back to semi-consciousness by an injection of Benzedrine. The operator then regressed the subject to an earlier time and suggested that he was talking to his wife:

For roughly an hour, the subject seemed to have no idea he was not speaking with his wife but with CIA operatives trying to find out about his relationship with Soviet intelligence. (John Marks, 1979, p. 40)

In 1953, CHATTER ended. It was officially declared to have failed to reach its goal.

Barbiturate Forces Induction?

During WWII, the prestigious Menninger Clinic did much defense-oriented hypnosis research. Afterwards, however, it reported a new series of experiments, supposedly proving that Sodium Pentothal was useless to overcome the resistance of reluctant hypnotic subjects.

Since that drug is devastatingly effective at overcoming resistance, the Menninger experiments were obviously phony.[17] Perhaps the report was intended to nudge the private sector away from use of narcohypnosis and create public and professional ignorance about this technology. Indeed, in the years since then, this has largely taken place.

Back in the Real World—Medical recognition of forced induction and forced depth maintenance by means of narcohypnosis, however, goes back at least to Schilder and Kauders, two Austrian psychiatrists of the Freudian era.

The clinical textbook they wrote mentioned:

...the most effective means to induce deep hypnosis in persons who are otherwise refractory, namely, the use of narcotics and sedatives. (Schilder & Kauders, pp. 34-35)

L. R. Wolberg did narcohypnosis during World War II when young men with nervous breakdowns were available by the thousands, and quick cures were badly wanted by their superior officers. He later wrote that “supplementary hypnotic drugs” solved the problem of “definite resistances to trance depth...which cannot be overcome by ordinary training procedures...” (Wolberg, Hypnoanalysis, p. 50) Horsley wrote that resistant patients it is sometimes useful to give a full narcotic dose and to induce hypnosis during the stage of confusion while the subject is still half-asleep. (Horsley, in LeCron, Experimental Hypnosis, p. 146)

In 1949, Melvin Powers published instructions for both oral and injected barbiturate use under his chapter heading “How to Hypnotize Refractory Subjects”:

Under normal circumstances, a person cannot be hypnotized against his will by the power of suggestion. However, we can hypnotize a person by using drugs. (p. 24)...The technique is not involved, and skill can be easily acquired...Sodium amytal and sodium pentothal are the most commonly used. (Powers, Hypnotism Revealed, p. 52)

Narcoanalyst Lindner began with a drug induction, did hypnotic training of the narcohypnotized subject, then did a Freudian analysis under drug-hypnosis. He said that “With [narco-] hypnoanalysis it is as if surgical removal of such barriers and hazards (resistances and natural reluctances) has been accomplished.” He called narcohypnosis “a means to the dissolution of the resistance normally present when treatment begins...” (Lindner, Rebel Without a Cause, p. 19)

Marcuse’s authoritative and popular book on hypnosis (in print from 1959 to 1976) advised,

If the patient has tremors or agitation which make it difficult for him to relax or if the patient actively resists verbal induction, then both hypnosis and drugs are required. (Marcuse, Hypnosis, pp. 131-2)

A medical doctor who wrote directions for preparing and administering barbiturate in a psychiatric textbook stated:

The use of intravenous more certain and requires less time than does hypnosis. It does not, moreover, involve the emotional dependence [trust?] often prerequisite to successful hypnosis...(Kolb, Modern Clinical Psychiatry, 1982)

T.O. Burgess (1956), an American doctor, also recommended narcohypnotic inductions for the “resistant or refractory patient”:

Refractory cases or unresponsive subjects can be made more receptive by light oral dosage of Sodium Amytal administered about half an hour before trance induction. (Burgess in LeCron, Experimental Hypnosis, p. 343)

The infamous medical ghoul, Dr. Ewen Cameron, also recommended barbiturate induction

...especially with apprehensive patients. This consists in the administration of a disinhibiting drug. Our preference is for intravenous sodium amytal. The use of this preparation allows one to maintain careful control over the state of the patient from minute to minute. If too little is given, then nothing is gained; if too much, then it becomes almost impossible to maintain the patient’s attention at the level necessary for hypnosis...a well-developed hypnosis can be achieved by this means...Its main use is gradually to accustom the patient to the procedure of being hypnotized, so that ultimately he can be hypnotized without the use of such disinhibiting drugs. (Cameron, General Psychotherapy, 1950, pp. 222-223)

A Summary of Mind-control Uses of Barbiturate

1) Amnesia—Deep narcohypnosis immediately and severely interferes with normal memory-forming capacity. The unconscious mind retains trance-period events in its memory, but the dissociated conscious mind may not be alert and focused enough to form memory links with that data. So the subject has difficulty remembering what happened.

2) Immobilization—A large dose of barbiturate makes the subject unconscious and thus physically immobilizes him. In smaller doses, it weakens and discoordinates the subject and makes it hard, or impossible, to think, run, or plan an escape. This provides time for an operator to implant long-term control conditioning.

3) Forced Trance Induction—A subject cannot resist trance induction once the barbiturate enters his bloodstream. He cannot wake himself up after the induction (as may be possible in non-narcotic trance), even if he finds the situation objectionable.

4) Opportunity to Carry Out Hypnosis Training—The drug speedily (oral) or instantly (injected) strips away consciousness and conscious control. It lowers consciousness and holds it down. During that period it eliminates the subject’s power of will because his unconscious is exposed to a hypnotist’s manipulations with no protective filtering, analyzing, and discriminating conscious layer. A drugged subject, if given no suggestions, is narcotized, but not hypnotized. He simply sleeps it off. He shows no signs of hypnosis except extreme, uncritical, suggestibility to speech heard while sleeping.

Hypnotic training is a standardized set of suggestions regarding a posthypnotic induction cue, etc. Hypnotic training can be done under regular hypnosis—or it can be done to a narcohypnotized person. Posthypnotic suggestions used to train a narcohypnotized subject are likely to include instructions to a) maintain trance at the deep level of the drug trance even after the drug has worn off; b) return to consciousness only when cued to do so by the hypnotist, rather than rising in consciousness naturally and gradually as the drug wears off; c) a re-induction cue to re-enter that same deep level trance state any time a designated (non-drug) entry cue is perceived.

5) Speed of Induction—Horsley wrote that

...the main advantage of narcotic hypnosis over verbally induced hypnosis is the speed...Most normal persons respond only gradually to verbally induced hypnosis, and, as a general rule, only a light degree of hypnosis is induced during the first session. In most normal persons the depth of hypnosis can be increased at subsequent sessions, but many hours of hard work are required to produce complete amnesia and somnambulism. Once this has been achieved, however, any normal person can be rehypnotized quickly and easily. The value of narcosis is, then, that it practically eliminates the necessity for hours of preliminary sessions of instruction in how to be hypnotized. And, after a single session of narcotic hypnosis, posthypnotic suggestion is effective for the subsequent induction of hypnosis by verbal methods alone. (Horsley, 1952, pp. 148-9)

6) Depth-Conditioning—Drug induction can condition a subject for future hypnotizability and for increased trance depth. The more times that a person is hypnotized, the more easily that person can be hypnotized. The deeper a subject is pushed in one trance, the deeper that subject tends to go next time.

The rule that a deep hypnosis, once accomplished, will facilitate all subsequent hypnoses, applies also in this instance [narcohypnotic induction]. (Schilder and Kauders, pp. 34-35)

M.H. Erickson said that narcohypnosis made it possible for most subjects to be developed to a somnambulistic (amnesic) depth. (“Hypnosis in Medicine,” p. 643) Lindner said hypnotic drugs vastly increased the percentage of persons who could be trained to be somnambulists. He believed that anybody, by using drugs, could be turned into an amnesic, induction-conditioned hypnotic subject.

7) Rapport—The deeper the subject descends into a state of hypnosis (drug-induced or otherwise), the more the subject acquires the childlike characteristic attitude of exaggerated respect (awe) and unconscious obedience toward the hypnotist called rapport. Even drug-forced hypnosis causes that intense bonding, even under the cruelest circumstances.

8) Suggestibility—Drugging maximizes trance depth. Greater depth increases the strength of suggestions. Hypno-programming can thus be efficiently implanted. A Swiss expert on unethical hypnosis noted the dark possibilities of extremely deep trance:

In the first stages of hypnosis the subject can preserve his personal independence; he will not carry out any action in this state of mind which runs counter to his moral or ethical beliefs. This can change to an appreciable degree as soon as the hypnosis reaches a certain depth...the subject’s capacity for judgment is more or less excluded. In this state of consciousness the subject is almost wholly exposed to the suggestions which the hypnotist gives to him. The danger that criminal advantage can be taken of hypnosis brought to such a depth has rightly been pointed out.(Hammerschlag, Hypnotism and Crime, pp. 29-30)

Christenson, a military research hypnotist, wrote:

In narcosynthesis the subject cannot readily inhibit expression of thoughts or behaviors which are suggested by the administrant, so that the subject is no longer a ‘free agent’ and the question of coercion is a legitimate issue. (“Dynamics in Hypnotic Induction,” in LeCron, ed., Experimental Hypnosis, p. 49)

9) Addiction—The shift to lowered consciousness, whether from a drug or non-drug cause, is addictive. Induction is a “rush,” a moment of pleasurable and extreme brain excitation. Rushes are addictive. “...apart from the specific suggestions by the hypnotist of well-being, it [hypnosis] commonly causes euphoria and even elation.” (Horsley, p. 148) The euphoria is caused by chemical messengers settling into receptors in neurons of the brain’s bliss center. Brain chemistry makes people long to re-experience a remembered intense (lowered consciousness) experience such as childhood, falling in love, etc.

Repeated barbiturate induction soon creates an humbling, enticing addiction. It takes very few times. Barbara Noel believed that her psychiatrist deliberately addicted her to barbiturate to reinforce his control. He would make her beg for the injection, then finally give it to her. (Chemical addiction can be converted by suggestion into unconscious craving for induction—even by a non-drug, cued method.)


Narcohypnosis is a century old. It is also the latest thing. During three weeks, in July 1995, 101,000 tablets of Rohypnol, the “date rape drug,” came into the U.S. at Laredo, Texas. Hoffmann-La Roche manufactures it in Mexico and also in South America, Europe, and Asia. Its U.S. street name is “roofies” or the “forget pill.” Ten times stronger than Valium, lasting up to eight hours, Rohypnol is a narcohypnotic that can be slipped into a beverage. As with the old barbiturates, a slight overdose can depress respiration and cause death.


[The shock voltage is]...about equivalent to that consumed [by]...a 100-watt light bulb. This much power applied continuously would soon be lethal, but the shock timer is usually set between one-half and one second, long enough to set off a grand mal epileptic convulsion, but not long enough to kill.

– Scheflin and Opton, p. 365

Electroshock has three effects which are of interest to mind controllers:

Increased suggestibility

Amnesia, even retroactive amnesia


Here is a detailed look at each of those three uses.

Shock to Increase Suggestibility

Shock is inductive. It literally can send a person into trance (a state of relaxed “sleep”). Induction by mild shocking is called electronarcosis.[18] More intense shocking will also cause convulsion. Electroshock is also known as ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), or ECS (electroconvulsive shock).

The treatment jolts 70 to 140 volts of electricity through the subject’s brain. That’s enough to cause convulsions as long as the shocking continues. Dr. Ugo Cerletti, the Italian psychiatrist who demonstrated the first experimental human convulsion was fascinated:

We observed...the onset of the classic epileptic convulsion. We were all breathless during the tonic [muscular contraction] phase of the attack, and really overwhelmed during the apnea [failure to breathe] as we watched the cadaverous cyanosis of the patient’s face; the apnea of the spontaneous epileptic convulsion is always impressive, but at that moment it seemed to all of us painfully endless. Finally, with the first stertorous breathing and the first clonic [alternating contractions and relaxations] spasm, the blood flowed better...we observed...the characteristic gradual awaking of the patient “by steps.” He rose to sitting position and looked at us...We asked: “What happened to you?” He answered: “I don’t know. Maybe I was asleep.” (Cerletti quoted in Marti-Ibanez, et al, pp. 91-120)

A nonprofessional also wrote a clear description of an ECT convulsion:

The nurse at the patient’s head took up two pencil-like electrodes with flat, flanged bases and smeared contact jelly on them; she and Dr. Rosen then pressed the electrodes against Mary’s temples. Dr. Rosen set the dials quickly and pushed the button. At once, Mary grunted deeply, and her head jerked back...Her eyes were clenched shut, and her face was drawn into a tight, distorted mask. Her legs rose stiffly in the air, the toes and arches of her feet curled under, and her whole body now began spasmodically thrashing about. All three nurses kept hold of her, “riding,” as Dr. Rosen said, with her motions to prevent self-damage. As far as I could tell, she stopped breathing. At last, after forty-five seconds...the convulsion subsided, a long gargling sound came from her throat, and as she sank down, her breathing began again. (Morton Hunt, Mental Hospital, p. 32)

CIA Researches Using Shock to Increase Suggestibility—In 1949, S. M. Korson reported “The Successful Treatment of an Obsessive-Compulsive Neurosis with Narcosynthesis Followed by Daily Electroshocks” in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. Under a series of narcohypnotic inductions, Korson had developed the subject’s hypnotic obedience. He then gave a series of electroshocks to cause retroactive amnesia which would prevent loss of conditioning. An obsessive-compulsive is the hardest kind of personality to hypnotize, the hardest to brainwash, the hardest to change. Any method that worked on that type patient would work on anybody. The CIA probably followed Korson’s work with interest.

Dr. Irving Janis of the RAND Corporation delivered a study to the CIA, in 1949, which surveyed the research done on ECT to date. He said it caused “a temporary intellectual impairment, diffuse amnesia, and general ‘weakening of the ego’” This effect of being made extra suggestible, extra hypnotizable, extra persuadable continues “during the period when a series of electroshock convulsions is being administered.” (Janis quoted in Bowart, p. 251) Janis recommended that the CIA should research ECT’s potential for mind control.

They did. The 1950 BLUEBIRD goals include research into the mind-control uses of electroshock. In a 1951 CIA memo, Morse Allen, head of the behavior-control research program,

...asked if the psychiatrist had ever taken advantage of the “groggy” period that followed normal electroshock to gain hypnotic control of his patients. No, replied the psychiatrist, but he would try it in the near future and report back to the Agency. (J. Marks, 1979, pp. 25-6)

During the Korean Conflict, Dulles

...discovered, talking to psychiatrists in Scientific Intelligence, that electroshock treatments not only produced amnesia in patients for nonspecific periods, but when their memories started to that stage it would have been possible for the Chinese and North Korean doctors to implant anti-American values.(Thomas, pp. 97-8)

An agency report speculated:

Conceivably, electroshock convulsions might be used as an adjunctive device to achieve somnambulism in a very high percentage of the cases. ...From my own and others’ investigations of the psychological effects of such treatments, I would suspect that they might tend to reduce resistance to hypnotic suggestions. It is conceivable, therefore, that electroshock treatments might be used to weaken difficult cases in order to produce a hypnotic trance of great depth. (CIA memo quoted in Bowart, p. 72)

A brainwashing specialist later summed it up:

The short-time memory losses and the confusion produced by the treatment may actually create a state of mind that makes it easier to become free of those ideational fixations that interfere with the restructuring of attitudes. (Valenstein, p. 161)

Tien Shocks Bad Wife into Good Wife

In Detroit, Michigan, in the early 1970s, “Laura” and her husband, Tom, “bickered constantly.” Laura wanted a divorce and custody of her three-year-old (hyperactive) son. A relative told the couple that Dr. Tien could save their failing marriage. Tom talked Laura into seeing Dr. Tien in one last try to save the marriage.

Dr. Tien diagnosed Laura as a “depressed, disturbed, emotionally unstable woman.” Laura agreed to become a changed woman by the electroshock method (which Tien called “psychosynthesis”). It worked. As Laura sucked on a baby bottle filled with chocolate milk during the suggestible period as she was coming to after her electro-jolt and the convulsion it caused, Tien talked her into a new set of beliefs. He gave her a new name, “Susan,” implanted a new self-definition, “good,” not “bad,” and provided her a fresh start on her married life.

Laura legally changed her name to Susan (Tien’s patients often did that). In a later check-in, Laura and Tom reported their marriage now worked well. Tien said Susan had become “a more stable, mature individual than Laura ever was.” Most of Tien’s patients, including Susan, were grateful for their cure, according to reporter Dolores Katz in the Detroit Free Press (Feb. 11, 1973). Tien’s method obviously derived from Cameron’s theory of “blanking” followed by building a new personality.

Tien was profitably mass-producing those “new personalities, new lives” using electro-induction and giving suggestions in the hypnotic period following the shock. He shocked hundreds of patients into new personalities—about twelve treatments a day. Tien’s system was a kinder, gentler version of Dr. Ewen Cameron’s shock system.

...the most controversial of his treatment methods is the wholesale use of electroconvulsive therapy, known to the layman as shock treatment. This is designed to ‘erase’ undesirable elements of an individual’s personality so he can be ‘reprogrammed’ to function in a more desirable manner... (Katz)

Not everybody was enthused. St. Lawrence Hospital had to hire special staff members to work with Tien because regular staff refused.

Susan and his other shock-list patients received a series of around twenty treatments at the hospital on an outpatient basis, three times a week. In her periods of post-shock susceptibility, she learned to fear and loathe and hide her “bad” past.

Tien and a the electrodes that connect Laura to the shock treatment machine... The patient, Laura, talks of her childhood experiences while the electrodes are fitted to her head. (Ibid.)

Dr. Tien had Laura talk of running away and getting her longed for divorce at the moment he shocked her. That is the circuit he wanted to burn out. Right before the zap, Tien asked Laura a question about her childhood:

LAURA: ...I can’t remember.

TIEN: No? You mean the bad times were so bad you got all mixed up? So now you want your husband to divorce you and take your son away?

LAURA: No. You’re mixing me up.[19] I never wanted that. I want the divorce and I want my son with me.

TIEN: Yes, it is all mixed up, isn’t it? Do you remember running away? Just like your father ran away? Just like your mother ran away, leaving you with your grandmother? Remember running away from the orphanage? Remember running away from the foster home? Is it all coming back? You are so desperate sometimes and you feel so depressed, Laura. You can’t put up with this any more. And now you want to run away from Tom. (Ibid.)

At that moment, the nurse slipped a rubber mouthpiece into Laura’s mouth and the doctor hit the switch. Tien “deliberately stimulates unpleasant memories immediately prior to the shock treatment so they can be erased.”[20]

Laura’s body briefly convulsed. A nurse wheeled the unconscious woman on a gurney into the next room where her husband Tom was waiting. When Laura started to wake up, Dr. Tien came in.

TIEN: Susan, your husband is here.

(Laura/Susan opens her eyes and looks submissively at Tom, who cuddles her in his arms and attempts to feed her from the baby bottle.)

TOM: Come on, Susan, drink your milk.

SUSAN (childishly): I don’ wan’ it.

TOM: It’s good for you. You’re a good girl, aren’t you?

(Susan begins to drink from the bottle...) (Ibid.)

The nurse had handed Tom a baby bottle filled with chocolate milk. (Tien said adults liked chocolate milk better than plain in their bottle. He said the cuddling by husband or parent while giving the bottle “makes the individual receptive to new ideas.”)[21]

As Susan sucked on the bottle, Dr. Tien commenced the reprogramming:

TIEN: Have you ever been a bad girl, Susan?

SUSAN: Yeah. Sure.

TOM: No. Susan has never been bad.

TIEN: Right, Tom. It’s Laura who was bad, not Susan.

TOM: Susan’s a good girl...(Ibid.)

Tien repeated that one over and over: “...the psychiatrist’s voice croons, ‘Susan is a good girl. She’s never been bad, like Laura. Susan loves her husband. She’s a good girl, Susan is.’” Then Tien moved on to specifics:

“Tell me, Susan, did your grandmother ever make you get in a doghouse?”

“W-h-a?” Susan mumbled.

“No,” Dr. Tien categorically stated. “Susan’s grandmother never did that. Laura’s grandmother did it. You’re a new person now. Have you ever been in an orphanage?” (Ibid.)

Susan catches on. “No, never,” she says. Laura’s real childhood with all its traumas, like her root self with all its rebelliousness, is being split away from her in this semi-conscious state. “Susan” is learning repression and denial, how to lie—even to herself—about her true past. That solves the problem. She was BAD but now she’s GOOD.

“Susan is a good girl...Susan loves her husband,” Tien urged again. Tien stressed to his patients that they were getting “new,” “good” personalities to replace “old,” “bad” ones. “Susan” had wanted to leave her husband: bad girl. Now she will stay with him: good girl, and grateful for her cure.

After the treatment, Laura switched to calling herself Susan all the time.

ECT for the purpose of solving marital problems has not always ended happily. Dr. Cameron’s patient named Lauren, in a similar situation, also agreed to take the ECT character cure. Her husband said she came out of her month of shockings much better. Lauren, however, believed the shockings did not improve her. Two years later she decided her misery was definitely caused by her husband. She divorced him and declares she’s been happy ever since.

Shock to Cause Retroactive Amnesia

The second mind-control use of electroshock is to erase the subject’s memory for what happened during the shock series, or in the weeks immediately before it. A little shock, as from a prod, will not accomplish this. A big shock from a big shocker, called “electroconvulsive treatment,” causes convulsions and memory loss. The memory loss from any series of shocks which are strong enough to cause convulsion can be retroactive. The current may be sent through both hemispheres of the brain using electrodes attached to the temples, or through only one hemisphere (right).

CIA Research on Using Shock to Cause Amnesia—In 1951, a famous psychiatrist, who was “a cleared Agency consultant,” told Morse Allen that electroshocking could cause amnesia. He added that, in “the stupor following shock treatments,” subjects were likely to be very loose-lipped about information. Allen was interested.

The psychiatrist also mentioned that...these treatments could not be detected unless the subject was given EEG tests within two weeks...Allen noted that portable battery-driven electroshock machines had come on the market...the Office of Scientific Intelligence recommended that this same psychiatrist be given $100,000 in research funds “to develop electric shock and hypnotic techniques.” (J. Marks, 1979, pp. 25-26)

A severe series of electroconvulsive shocks will cause retrograde amnesia: an inability to remember not only the time of shocking, but also a period of time preceding the shocking.

There are clear memory losses for the events immediately surrounding the convulsions and with a prolonged treatment series the memory loss commonly extends further and further back in time... Most of the memories return within days or weeks, but some memory gaps persist for six months or longer and there may be permanent loss of recall of events that took place during the period of the treatment. (Valenstein, p. 159)

Dr. Ewen Cameron researched ECT extensively on his own, and for the CIA. (He hoped for a Nobel Prize. The man who invented the lobotomy had received one.) He tried to depattern (blank) patients’ minds by electroshocking. (Then he tried to program in new personalities by forcing the subject to listen to repeated suggestions played on an endless-loop tape—psychic driving— in a normal state or under hypnosis.)

Cameron wanted the subjects amnesic for the blanking and reprogramming. His research had shown that if “schizophrenics” remember their “symptoms,” those symptoms will return. If hypno-programmed persons remember being conditioned, they will fight it. So both he and the CIA wanted a method that would cause permanent, leak-proof, amnesia.

Electroshock’s ability to effectively erase memory of the time just before the shock greatly interested the CIA. Maybe somebody could be ordered to do something, then shocked and made to forget what they had done. Maybe an unwilling candidate could be narcohypnotized, hypno-programmed, and then shocked into retrograde amnesia—made unable to remember that they had been hypno-conditioned. The CIA hired researchers to find out what kinds of shocks best guarantee permanent loss of memory. Cameron received a grant.

Three Stages of ECT Amnesia

Dr. Cameron observed that his typical depatterning patient moved through three distinct amnesia stages. He named them the First, Second, and Third Electroshock Amnesia Stages (Cameron, “Production of Differential Amnesia as a Factor in the Treatment of Schizophrenia,” 1960, pp. 26-33).

First Stage—In the First Stage of electroshock amnesia, the subject loses much of her recent memory, “yet she still knew where she was, why she was there, and who the people were who treated her.” (J. Marks, p. 135). That is called keeping your “space-time image.” The subject knows where she is, why she is there, and recognizes familiar faces. Names are harder.

Second Stage—In the Second Electroshock Amnesia Stage, the subject loses that space-time image and is aware of the loss. That awareness causes extreme anxiety. The subject wants to remember. At this stage the subject asks repeatedly, ‘Where am I?’, ‘How did I get here?’, ‘What am I here for?’...

Third Stage—In this final stage, the subject becomes bizarrely calm. All the previous anxiety is gone. Cameron said this stage was: extremely interesting constriction of the range of recollections which one ordinarily brings in to modify and enrich one’s statements. Hence, what the patient talks about are only his sensations of the moment, and he talks about them almost exclusively in highly concrete terms. His remarks are entirely uninfluenced by previous recollections—nor are they governed in any way by his forward anticipations. He lives in the immediate present. (Cameron, “Production of Differential Amnesia”)

Regressive Shock

Cameron developed the policy of giving a regressive amount of ECT as the means to create an unbreachable amnesia. Regressive ECT is caused by so much shocking that the subject temporarily becomes infantile in behavior. Both regular and regressive ECT affect memory, but regressive ECT affects memory the most. Regressive ECT is caused by shocks given more frequently—as much as several times a day, or even several times an hour, or even several shocks given in rapid-fire sequence—sometimes at a stronger voltage than usual. The series of close, strong shocks is continued until regression occurred, defined as the point when the patient lost bladder control:

They were dazed, out of contact, and for the most part, helpless. All showed incontinence of urine, and incontinence of feces was not uncommon. Most of them were underactive and did not talk spontaneously...They appeared prostrated and apathetic. At the time most of them whined, whimpered and cried readily...They could usually be made to walk if led and supported, but their movements were slow, uncertain and clumsy...They could not dress themselves and none...could complete the task of extracting a match from a matchbox and lighting the match. (Rothschild, p. 148)

Post-Shock Recovery—Scheflin and Opton compared the recovery of patients from ECT treatments to people who are very gradually

...coming out of a dead-drunken state, progressing back toward sobriety through the stages of blotto, soused, sodden, plain drunk and merely high...At first the patients do not know who they are, where they are, or what has happened to them...Gradually the world comes back into focus. (Scheflin & Opton, p. 366)

It took seven to ten days free of shocks for the subjects to come out of their torpor. They came out of it missing time. They also under performed mentally, only gradually recovering over the next five years. (J. Marks, p. 107) Over time, the subject’s amnesia gradually receded. However, in cases where a regressive amount of shocking had been given, Cameron wrote, “it is rare to find that any memories of the period of hospital treatment are brought back.”

I once met a woman whose mother had briefly been hospitalized in the Deep South for a nervous breakdown. While in the hospital, this patient had been assaulted and raped by a black man, and had become pregnant as a result. The hospital forced her to endure an abortion, then electroshocked her into a condition of complete amnesia for what had happened, thus also erasing a source of potential liability.

In later years, the woman often complained to her daughter that, “There are patches in my memory that I just can’t remember.” It bothered her a lot, but she never overcame the amnesia. Her husband and pastor knew the truth about what had happened. It was from them that the daughter finally learned the full story, after her mother’s death.

Shock to Cause “Calm”

An electroconvulsive shock series that reaches Cameron’s Phase Three results in a temporarily emotionless, “calm,” subject. Shocking has been, and still is, a treatment for depressed patients and for unmanageable ones because of this post-shock characteristic of being subdued and obedient. An English psychiatrist wrote, in 1947: “The quiet cooperation of the [electroshocked] patient will be appreciated by the nursing staff.” (Thorpe, pp. 89-92) To manage “a patient in a state of wild excitement” he recommended

...“intensive therapy”...that which commences with several shocks daily until the excited state is suppressed, and by this method the most maniacal patient can be rapidly and dramatically brought under control. (Ibid.)

Anybody who is wildly and dramatically protesting the injustice of what is being done to him can also be brought under control. Because of the retroactive amnesia, he may then forget what the fuss was all about.

In 1993, I met a young woman who works as a nurse’s aid in a downtown Seattle hospital which has a big mental ward. I mentioned that my college psychology professor had just told us that shock therapy was now outdated and seldom used.

The nurse’s aid looked astonished. She said, “They use it lots.” A few days later, I heard on the radio that electroshock is the single most common treatment for hospitalized mental patients.

Chapter 10

The History of Deliberate Personality Splitting

History of Research on Artificial Neurosis

Focus Shifts to Child, Real or Suggested

Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again.

– William Cullen Bryant, The Battlefield

George Estabrooks proposed, over and over, that superspies with one-way amnesia should be created by deliberate personality splitting. An absolutely dependable, unbreakable amnesia for all events under hypnosis is the most essential single element to create an unknowing, authority-controlled hypnotic subject. A split personality is a very hard form of amnesia to overcome.

Is artificial personality splitting possible? A college psychology text declares: “Multiple personality is a rare event and there are no experimental means for producing it.” (Coon, p. 38) That statement, however, is FALSE. The artificial creation of multiple personality was discussed for years in the psychological literature, and experiments were done—successfully.

We know a great deal about multiple personality... and can now produce the condition on demand through hypnosis. (M.E. Wright in Estabrooks, ed., Hypnosis: Current Problems, p. 234)

The “Dual I”

In the 1800s, the hysterical disorders (dissociation, amnesia, conversion reaction, and multiple personality, all symptoms of excessive repression) were becoming understood. Scholars observed that hypnosis sometimes resulted in the spontaneous appearance of another personality. And they noticed that the dissociation caused by hypnotism could result in an amnesia similar to the amnesia of a multiple personality.

The first person who deliberately tried to split a personality was a French doctor named Azam. In 1858, he tried “to bring about the phenomena of the dual ‘I’ artificially, by means of hypnosis.” (Hammerschlag, p. 14) The study of hypnotic dissociation and case descriptions of dual and multiple personalities were now underway. Hypnotists and psychiatrists (often the same persons), learned that dual, or multiple, personality could be cured by hypnotism— and caused by hypnotism.

Max Dessoir, around 1890, declared that everybody’s mind contained the potential of a second personality which could be hypnotically stimulated into such strength that it would put the original personality at risk. Pierre Janet described a theory of dissociation in 1889:

Things happen as if an idea, a partial system of thoughts, emancipated itself, became independent and developed itself on its own account. The result is, on the one hand, that it develops far too much, and, on the other hand, that consciousness appears no longer to control it. (Janet, The Major Symptoms of Hysteria, p. 42).

Dissociation was Janet’s explanation for hypnotic amnesia, split personalities, etc. He believed that a split personality was caused by the “overdevelopment” of a dissociated subsystem which, if large enough, could become a rival for selfhood.

In 1945, Dr. Wolberg wrote about creating “dual personality” in his psychiatric patients:

...dual personality may be created by a relatively simple technique...The patient is told while in deep hypnosis that the [designated] part of another individual of whom he is unaware. This new personality, however, knows all about him. A name may be given to this alter ego, and it may then begin to function as a distinct entity, with wishes and attitudes of its own...With proper suggestions the analyst can take the second personality into his confidence as an ally... (Hypnoanalysis, p. 280)

Speaking of the case history of Mrs. E., Dr. Reiter wrote: “Bit by bit he [Bergen] had built up a secondary personality within her, which it was extremely difficult to bring to light.” In analyzing Palle Hardwick’s case, the doctor referred again and again to

...the artificially produced splitting of H’s personality...(p. 7)...the prompt and automatic carrying out of the given suggestions and the subsequent loss of memory about what passed under the hypnosis, in other words a complete and artificial splitting into two separate personalities. (Reiter, p. 65)

How did the hypno-exploiters, Bergen and Nielsen, split the personalities of Mrs. E. and Palle? Dr. Reiter said it took two things to make a personality split: automatic obedience and complete amnesia. Automatic obedience makes the artificial shifting from one personality to another happen, on cue from the hypnotist. Complete amnesia keeps the subject ignorant of that shift. Then he does not try to fix it. A healthy person has been given a mental disease (split personality) and made to function like a sick one.

In 1968, H. D. Birns published a book on hypnosis that described personality splitting:

The starting place to deliberately create a manageable multiple personality is, of course, with a normal person who has a self-controlled conscious and a self-controlled unconscious. The next step is to displace the conscious will, substituting the will of the hypnotist. That goal would require achieving a very deep state of hypnosis with the subject...

The techniques, and modifications of techniques, used in hypnosis may be numerous, but their purpose is the same: to enable the hypnotist to unseat the conscious mind from its accustomed place of authority so that he can take over control of the body. (p. 29) ...a hypnotist who has complete control of a subject is like a driver operating an automobile. And while the likeness is true, it’s not really quite accurate because it doesn’t do justice to the awesome powers that the hypnotist possesses. (Birns, p. 39)

Birns said that the last step was to “...create a split in the subject’s unconscious that identifies with and acts in the place of the hypnotist—like the internalized parental figure in a normal subconscious.”

Dr. William Sargant, a British brainwashing expert, wrote about Pavlov’s technique for giving dogs nervous breakdowns:

Hypnoid, paradoxical and ultraparadoxical states of brain activity can also cause a splitting of the stream of consciousness, so that certain thoughts, memories, or patterns of behavior implanted in the brain somehow become isolated and totally divorced from the main stream of consciousness, memory and behavior (pp. 12-13) ...In the hypnoid phase of brain activity, the mind may also become split. Pavlov showed with his dogs how one small special area of cortical brain activity could be so specially excited that it resulted in reflex inhibition of much of the rest of the ordinary cortical activity. (Sargant, 1974, p. 34)

Sargant also wrote about research on human mindsplitting using verbal midbrain implants developed while the subject was hypnotized:

Pavlov thought that the alterations were sited in the cortex, but we now know that the process could easily be initiated by alterations in the other part of the brain, for example, the reticular area of the midbrain. (Ibid.)

CIA Researches Subconscious Isolation

The CIA also researched artificial personality splitting. In private memos, they called an artificially-created, new personality a subconscious isolate. The CIA goal was to create a split so deep, so wide, so complex, that reunification (and, therefore, conscious remembering) would be impossible. They sought permanent changes. They wanted to bury their secrets in a subconscious isolate that could never escape and tell.

The CIA called the process of creating an unknowing hypnotic subject the “application of SI.” One goalsetting memo asked: “Can we obtain control of the future activities (physical and mental) of any individual, willing or unwilling, by application of SI and H techniques?” (It can be assumed that SI stood for “subconscious isolation” and H meant “hypnotic.”)

A November 9, 1950, BLUEBIRD PROJECT memo repeated that SI goal: is recommended that BLUEBIRD conduct experiments and develop techniques to determine the possibilities and the practicability of positive use of SI on willing and unwilling subjects for operational purposes. Positive use of SI would be for the purpose of operational control of individuals to perform specific tasks under post hypnotic suggestion...

After SI and H techniques were applied, the subject’s conscious mind did not know that it now contained a subconscious isolate which would robotically obey its operator’s hypnotic cues and instructions (and know everything the conscious mind did not know). Subconscious isolation created amnesia. That increased “compliance to suggested acts.” (Scheflin and Opton, p. 115).

After Condon’s novel came out in 1959, the term Manchurian Candidate became the popular name for an unknowing hypno-programmed person. Candy Jones was narcohypnotized into a “Candidate” in 1960.

History of Research on Artificial Neurosis

We undertook to produce synthetically a complete model of a stable neurosis...We took a model of neurosis because in it are found those properties of a stable conflict, of a prolonged affective disorganization of behavior...

– Luria, The Nature of Human Conflicts

An artificial neurosis is a conflict between an urge and an inhibition, which has been implanted in a person’s unconscious under hypnosis, and then hidden there by suggested amnesia. The hypnotist suggests the urge, the amnesia, and perhaps also the inhibition.

Pavlov Applies Freud

An artificial neurosis is created by applying Pavlovian methodology to Freudian theory. Freud determined that neurosis and its resulting symptoms may be caused by an unresolved, unconscious conflict (such as between an inappropriate sexual desire and conscience). That’s how natural repression causes natural neurosis. Freud used his understanding of this natural cause of neurosis to help the patient. Because, if the repressed memory can be remembered, the patient usually will deal with the conflict and cure himself.

Pavlov undertook to cause neurosis, instead of cure it. He defined neurosis as “a chronic deviation of the higher nervous activity, lasting weeks, months, and even years.” If he could experimentally cause neurosis, using Freud’s model, it would prove that particular theory correct. Pavlov’s experiments succeeded. He created experimental neuroses in animals by reversing Freud’s method of curing neurosis. Pavlov caused dogs to develop real neuroses. He thus demonstrated that learning can create emotional responses—and can cause one type of mental problem:

We have definite experimental neuroses in our animals...what is analogous to human psychoses....This was the reason for my becoming thoroughly acquainted with psychiatry....(Pavlov, Lectures on Conditioned Reflexes, p. 39)

Pavlov could produce nervous breakdowns in dogs either by over-stimulating their excitatory system (stress) or their inhibitory system (repression). Or he did it by creating a conflict between excitation and inhibition. For example, he gave them severe electric shocks timed together with the arrival of food to set up a conflict between the avoidance of pain (fear) and the desire for nourishment. They were afraid to eat, but they needed food to live. They were now neurotic.

Luria Researches Artificial Neurosis

A.R. Luria continued Pavlov’s research in his Soviet laboratory in the 1920s. Luria was a prominent Russian scientist: Professor of Psychology at the Academy of Communistic Education, and a Research Associate at the State Institute of Experimental Psychology in Moscow. Luria took Pavlov’s research on creating artificial neurosis one step farther. Whereas Pavlov had experimented on dogs, Luria now experimented on human beings.

Luria wanted to create “a complete imperativeness of those tendencies in the area of which we provoked the conflict.” (Luria, The Nature of Human Conflicts, p. 240) He wanted to be able to go into somebody’s mind, tweak it a certain way, and overcome their natural will with his implanted “imperativeness.” He worked for a government which liked the idea of control—of being able to change people in a specific, permanent, controlling way.

Failed Conditioning Method—Luria’s first efforts to implant “imperativeness” failed. The method which had failed used a Pavlovian conditioning approach. Luria called it “a prolonged elaboration of an automatism.” It failed because, after the conditioning treatment, all of his subjects remembered what had happened. Remembering, they rejected the implanted thoughts Luria was trying to drill into them. They rejected Luria’s attempts to railroad their minds into “prolonged affective disorganization of behavior.” Luria reported:

...many of our subjects were well able to adjust themselves to or correct the difficulties set before them...These results told us...that the disturbances we obtained were not of a stable and intensive character. (Ibid.)

Luria did not give up his quest to create such a complete imperativeness that the subject could not correct the difficulties. His goal was still to make a stable (permanent) and intensive (unconsciously powerful and dominant) implant in a subject’s brain.

Success—To accomplish that, Luria had, somehow, to overcome the subject’s natural feedback ability to observe what has happened in his mind and to self-heal by reprogramming himself.[22] So, Luria tried it again. This time he deeply hypnotized the subject and suggested amnesia. This time he succeeded. His subject’s conscious mind did not reject the implanted thoughts because it didn’t know they were there.

Luria never talks plainly. His book sounds like gibberish until you catch his meaning. Then you realize that Luria instructed his “technician” (a skilled hypnotist) to begin programming the subject with “a natural reaction of the personality” such as sexual desire or an aggressive impulse embodied in the emotion of anger. The hypnotist was to seek to “obtain a stable conflict of maximal strength, closely related in its structure to the more acute neurotic states.”

Therefore, an imaginary incident which aroused a sexual or aggressive feeling which would predictably be opposed by conscience was suggested to the hypnotized subject. Luria found it easy to set up “a collision between our suggested activity and the natural... personality” (Luria, p. 241) when the subject was hypnotized.

Accordingly, the subject was programmed to unconsciously believe that he had sexual relations with his mother when he was a little boy, or some such. Luria thus successfully implanted into a hypnotized person “a conflict of fair stability and direct suggestion...[to] provoke a tendency of undisputed imperativeness...” (Ibid, p. 140) The hypnotic implant set up a primitive unconscious conflict in the subject’s mind, such as between desire and fear/shame or between anger and fear/shame.

The conflict could not be resolved because it could not escape from its hole of suggested amnesia into the mind’s light of reason (where the subject’s conscious mind would identify it as garbage and toss it out). The implanted conflict (now permanently concealed in the subject’s unconscious by suggested amnesia) would be stable because it was insulated from the subject’s self-correcting mental feedback mechanism. The deep-level guilt, shame, or anger generated by that suggested fictional conflict could then be used to drive whatever “imperative” Luria wanted.

Luria had succeeded in causing the targeted stable disorganization of personality. He called that an “artificial neurosis.”[23]

Artificial Neurosis Comes to the U.S.

In 1932, Horsley Gantt published his English translation of Luria’s book. There were many psychoanalytically-trained medical hypnotists at that time. They were comfortable with both Freudian theory and with hypnosis. Some continued Luria’s research in the United States.

In 1934 and 1935, M.H. Erickson published his research on artificial neurosis. He said the implanted lie should be “a reproachable act committed by the subject—an act which would be contrary to the subject’s usual personality trends.” (Erickson, Huston, and Shakow, 1934, p. 66) In another Erickson experiment,

...hypnotized medical students were told they had illegally performed an abortion...he was able (in nine out of twelve subjects) to suggest the presence of conflict, to induce guilt feelings, and to proceed successfully with the experiment; that is, to obtain in six of his subjects both psychological and physiological disturbances. (Marcuse, Hypnosis: Fact and Fiction, p. 112)

In 1942, P. L. Harriman reported in an article called “The Experimental Production of Some Phenomena Related to the Multiple Personality” that he had implanted conflicts, under deep hypnosis, in ten subjects. Then he concealed the implants from the subjects’ conscious minds by suggested amnesia. He used automatic writing to test whether the implanted conflict was finding unconscious expression. The subjects were consciously unaware of their implanted conflicts (and of their automatic writing), but the writing which he suggested that they do while hypnotized showed that their conflicts were unconsciously active. Their “personalities had been changed.”

Jules H. Masserman was a University of Chicago psychiatrist who continued the work of integrating Pavlovian concepts of conditioning with Freudian concepts. In a 1943 book, Behavior and Neuroses, Masserman explained compulsions, obsessions, masochism, etc., in terms of the Pavlovian/Freudian linkage. His conditioning theories were based on animal research—experimental neuroses he created in cats and dogs.

Masserman taught animals to find food by opening a food box in their cage in response to a certain noise. Then, the moment the animal opened the box, he gave a severe electric shock, or a terrifying blast of air. It took only one or two such incidents to make the animals neurotic. Fear now was in conflict with hunger. Two powerful instinctual drives were in direct opposition. Eventually, fear won. The animals would no longer eat.

In 1945, a psychiatrist and narcohypnosis expert described solving a man’s problem by giving him “an experimental conflict.” His series of suggestions concluded:

You will not consciously know what it is, but it will nevertheless be on your mind. It will...govern your actions and speech, although you will not be aware that it is doing so. (Wolberg, Hypnoanalysis, p. 302)

By the late 1960s, hundreds of hypnotic experiments had been done on hypnotically-caused emotional states and shifts of state, such as depression, elation, and rage. For decades, researchers also studied repression, rationalization, and displacement using suggested unconscious conflicts. They established that:

With the aid of hypnotism it is possible to reproduce, artificially and temporarily, the diverse symptoms of hysteria, or with equal ease to make a manageable laboratory model of compulsion neurosis. By the same means, one can create an artificial “complex,” making it effectively “unconscious,”and, for the first time under controlled conditions with known antecedents, study the irruption of unconscious strivings into the normal stream of behavior and the methods of defense set up against them. (R. W. White quoted in Moss, Hypnosis in Perspective, p. 119)

Young’s classic list of hypnotic techniques that can be used for unethical purposes ended with artificial neurosis. He explained that means of illusions, delusions, age regression, transidentification, and other powerful devices available in hypnosis, the personality can be temporarily so altered as to circumvent the ego demands and implant complexes which are as bona fide as those of a neurosis or a psychosis... (Young, 1952, pp. 406-7)

Focus Shifts to Child, Real or Suggested

Could they [adults] be returned to a state of neurologic and psychologic infancy for a short period, and then could new patterns of behavior be introduced?

– Ewen Cameron, quoted in John Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, p. 108

In the 1950s, research on methods of artificial personality splitting also began to make use of the Freudian views of early childhood development and the psychology of the hypnotic subject.

Freudian Hypnosis Researchers

Sandor Ferenczi was one of the first psychoanalytic (Freudian) hypnosis researchers. Writing between 1916 and 1926, he hypothesized that hypnosis resurrects and reactivates a childlike persona in the subject’s unconscious. He said that persona is characterized by abject dependency and Oedipal cravings toward the hypnotist (who is unconsciously viewed as parent). Ferenczi believed that a normal adult represses the unconscious wish to regress to childhood, but trance turns off the conscious mind and frees those immature desires to shape the subject’s role in the hypnotic relationship.

...the situation during hypnosis tends to favor a conscious and unconscious imaginary return to childhood, and to awaken reminiscences, hidden away in everyone, that date from the time of childlike obedience. (Ferenczi, Contributions to Psychoanalysis, p. 375)

Ferenczi defined two styles of hypnotic induction and management which reflected that regressive element. He called them maternal and paternal. The maternal style of induction is conventional, gradual, polite, considerate, gentle, cooperative, and based on love or persuasion. A maternal-style hypnotist’s voice is warm and friendly. A maternal induction lulls, persuades, or bores the subject into trance. Ferenczi said that a subject in a maternal hypnosis rapport is motivated by a need for love.

The paternal induction style is abrupt, shocking, dictatorial, highly authoritarian in tone, a domineering technique based on fear. A paternal-style induction uses a fast, directive induction method with a cold, unfriendly tone of voice. Ferenczi said that paternal hypnosis reawakens the hating and fearing attitude learned by a little child when disciplined by his parents. He said that, in paternal hypnosis, the subject is motivated by need for “abasement” and for “compliance.” According to psychoanalysts, that need for abasement is an infantile, erotic, masochistic complex. Such a subject is in awe of the hypnotist, and submits to the operator’s demands out of fear of him.

...the hypnotist with the imposing exterior, who works by frightening and startling...[is like] the stern, all-powerful father, to believe in, to obey, to imitate whom, is the highest ambition of every child...[hypnosis] consists in the deliberate establishment of conditions under which the tendency to blind belief and uncritical obedience present in everyone, but usually kept repressed by the censor (remains of the infantile-erotic loving and fearing of the parents), may unconsciously be transferred to the person hypnotizing... (Ferenczi, Sex in Psychoanalysis, Ch. 2)

Ferenczi believed instinctive Oedipal impulses were at the very center of hypnosis.

The capacity to be hypnotized...depends on the positive, although unconscious, sexual attitude which the person being hypnotized adopts in regard to the hypnotist....[The hypnotic subject] is really in love with the hypnotist, and has brought this tendency from the nursery. (Ferenczi, Theory and Technique of Psychoanalysis, p. 473)

Hypnosis always arouses a childlike state of mind: dependence and transference. Transference means relating to the hypnotist as if to a parent figure, hero, or godlike spiritual leader.

...the hypnotic subject is being directed to assume a state of mind in which mature discriminations are excluded and childish dependence upon the hypnotist is encouraged. As some people are pleased to be in a state where life seems narrowed down to an easily manageable level of closeness with a powerful guiding parent, hypnosis is in no danger of extinction... (Kovel, p. 209)

In the midst of World War II, Margaret Estabrook reported, in a Seattle newspaper, on research which created an artificial childhood:

...hypnosis is a peculiar relationship between two people. The hypnotist is a figure of parental authority, just as a doctor is to a patient, or a teacher to his pupil. Even more strikingly than in these other relationships, the subject tends to respond emotionally to the hypnotist in the same manner that he responded to his own parents in his childhood. In particular, “parental” commands in the form of suggestions are readily obeyed... (Margaret Estabrook, 1942, p. 1)

The artificial neurosis was created in a subconscious isolate defined as a child. The deeply hypnotized subject had been given a fake memory:

When you were a very small child, one and a half years old, your mother was taken to the hospital and your father made you drink milk from a cup. Up to this time you had been breast-fed. You thought it was your father’s fault that your mother could no longer feed you. (Estabrook, p. 1)

The artificial memory was deliberately made painful.

When painful emotions have been aroused, as in the subject who accepted the weaning story, there is a natural tendency to forget or “repress” the cause of them. This is particularly true of childhood experiences.... (Ibid.)

Young children have a natural tendency not to remember painful things. A false memory that will predictably cause painful emotions, when implanted in a hypnochild, will be strongly repressed and resistant to uncovering and healing.

Mind-control researchers were looking for ways to cause hard-to-overcome amnesia. One way turned out to be loading a hypnochild subconscious isolate with guilt, pain, or shame.

Natural Development of Multiple Personality

How does multiple personality develop under natural circumstances? Since Freud, psychologists have understood that the earlier a trauma happens in a person’s life, the more devastating (and hard to remember) it can be. Over 95% of natural multiple personalities develop as a result of some combination of monstrous psychological, physical, and sexual abuses in childhood. All persons who suffer from spontaneous multiple personality

...have a history of being severely abused; the disorder is thought to stem from ways some children try to mentally isolate themselves against the horror of unremitting abuse. (Goleman, pp. C1, C6)

Sybil’s life story, told by Dr. Schreiber, is a well-known case history of a naturally-split personality. Her amnesia and multiple personalities developed during a childhood in which she was frequently beaten, shut up in closets, cruelly tortured, and nearly killed. The original Sybil-self escaped by dissociating, which created a split-self who suffered that torture instead of her.

E.R. Hilgard said that the cause of multiple personality can be traced to a “severely brutal period in childhood.” (Divided Consciousness, p. 32) He detailed some elements of brutality that can result in a split personality:

...a disintegration of values at the heart of the family, with violent and excessive punishment, overt sexual assaults in childhood, unbalanced parental roles, one parent occasionally sadistic, the other rather passive and aloof. In resolving the conflicts over identification and guilt, and in trying to cope in a context in which a unified strategy cannot work, the person divides...[and] the cause of the dissociations...lies in motivational conflicts that are often deeply unconscious. (Ibid., p. 40)

A Dutch psychoanalyst wrote in his post-WWII study of brainwashing:

The method of systematically exploiting unconscious guilt to create submission is not too well known. Guilt may be instilled early in life...[may] burden the child with a sense of guilt when he does not understand what was unmoral or wrong about a given act. (Meerloo, The Rape of the Mind, p. 81)

A real child lacks understanding. It is a phenomenon of hypnosis that a hypnochild (created by suggestion) also does not understand. Therefore, suggested amnesia is hardest to overcome if the problem programming:

a) embodies conflict;

b) is implanted in a child, or a hypnochild;

c) has associations to psychological trauma;

d) embodies guilt and/or torture.

The Controllable Child

Here are the mental characteristics of a very young child:

Dependence—Controllers say they are taking responsibility for another person’s behavior or welfare. The silver lining of control, for the child, is the presumed privilege of dependence. A very young child must depend on adults to meet every need. Therefore, a young child humbly seeks approval and acceptance. It’s a matter of survival. There’s submission in any adult/child relationship, real or hypnotic.

Does Not Clearly Distinguish Fantasy from Reality—A child does not clearly distinguish between fantasy and reality. Young children like to play pretend. Even when not playing pretend, a very young child does not distinguish reality from fantasy very well.

Accepts Logical Inconsistencies—A young child’s way of reasoning allows logical inconsistencies. That stage of nonlogical thinking is called preoperational. A very young child’s mind passively accepts any logic provided by an authority figure, however preposterous it may appear to an adult mind. The child’s literal and passive acceptance of whatever he is told resembles the acceptance of suggestions by a hypnotized person.

Obedience—A child usually accepts a statement that he is guilty and believes that he deserves punishment. At the same time he internalizes the principle that he is in submission to the dominant punisher and must obey—or be punished. An adult mind understands that when the other person stops playing fair and begins to cheat, it is time to get OUT of the game. A child does not understand that.

Natural Amnesia—Early childhood memories (before age three or four) tend to be inaccessible to adult retrieval. Very young children are naturally amnesic. Children—or hypnochild subconscious isolates—are more likely than adults to repress painful emotional memories.

Assumption That Might Makes Right—Lawrence Kohlberg, a researcher on the development of moral reasoning in children, discovered that very young children reason on the basis that might makes right. So the child offers obedience to authority (and avoids punishment). Older they go through a “good girl,” “nice boy” stage when adult approval is more important than anything else to them. So a child, or child split, might be urged to “be a good girl”—defined as doing what pleases the adult.

Greater Imprinting Capacity—The earlier in life the programming occurs, the more deep-rooted and severe the psychological consequences are, and the more strongly driven an artificial neurosis may be.

Hypnochild Given Artificial Neurosis

The next technological advance in this black psychiatry sequence came when merely verbal hypnotic induction was replaced by narcohypnosis. It was Dr. Brickner, et al, who thus advanced this process of creating artificial neurosis. Their 1950 report, “Direct Reorientation of Behavior Patterns in Deep Narcosis (Narcoplexis),” described creation of a “psychotherapeutic method which utilizes directly certain neurophysiologic factors.” The “neurophysiologic factor” was the forcing of their subject into a state of deep trance by drugging. They used intravenous sodium amytal

...because of the known accessibility and responsiveness of patients while under the effects of this drug. However, the doses we employed were much larger than those ordinarily used. (Brickner, 1950, p. 166)

They gave large doses in order to push the subject’s chemical trance to a very deep level.

When the brain is in that state, specific psychologic impacts often can be made with unusual directness. Frequently this results in unusually rapid psychologic changes. (Ibid., p. 194)

Even the biggest doses of barbiturate did not make the subjects “patternless.” But the drug did create a physiological state of

...childishness and allowed the subjects’ basic and primitive conditioning patterns which had been created early in life, to be stripped of their higher defenses...[and] directly susceptible to attack. (Brickner, et al, 1950, p. 166)

The “higher defense” that was stripped away was the subject’s conscious mind. The method was an IV drip of amobarbital sodium solution until the patient was in clinical coma.

Then Brickner read a script which pictured the patient in infancy, or early childhood. It dealt with the “early pattern” which they intended to reprogram. Each script followed the artificial neurosis model. It implanted a phony memory which was meant to become dominant over the subject’s real experience, and to replace it as a psychological dynamic in his personality in order to achieve the operator’s desired change in his behavior.

The script was read for an hour, either live or on tape, until the subject awoke from the drug trance. It was read to the drugged subject over and over during that hour, perhaps five times each session. They used an average of sixteen narcosis/script reading sessions to build the subject’s new personality.

The script regressed the subject to early childhood and then reprogrammed him while in that drugged hypnochild state. The hypnotist pretended to be a childhood parent of the drugged patient. The script created a phony, implanted “memory.” The new memory, thus implanted, was psychoanalytic dynamite. Brickner explained that an incest memory caused “unusually rapid psychologic changes.” The script suggested

...a triangular (oedipal) situation, involving child and parents...WE HAVE NOT HESITATED TO GRANT COITAL RELATIONS WITH A a script... (Ibid., p. 172) [caps added]

The subject was kept totally amnesic about the new “memories.” “No conscious insight is given...” (Ibid., p. 173)

Brickner’s Technique, Summarized—An artificial neurosis is an implanted set of false memories. The hypnotist lies to the subject; the subject believes those lies because he is hypnotized. Brickner used the following steps:

The subject received hypnotic training and conditioning under very deep barbiturate narcosis.

The script addressed the subject as a child.

New, false memories of childhood, intended to be the basis for major, permanent changes in the subject’s personality, were implanted.

Coital relations with a parent was part of the script.

The script was read to the subject over and over.

Chapter 33

Brainwashing: The Technology

Stage One: Deconditioning

Stage Two: Breaking Point

Stage Three: Reconditioning

The message of coercion is: you must change and become what we tell you to become—or else. The threat embodied in the ‘or else’ may be anything from death to social ostracism, any form of physical or emotional pain. The goal of naked coercion is to produce a cowed and demoralized follower.

– Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, p. 438

Brainwashing’s Goal Is Conversion

Stressed humans naturally tend to make conversions—which may, or may not, be permanent. The conversions happen because stressed humans (and dogs) may respond to crisis by discarding inappropriate old programming and discovering, in suffering, the key to spiritual growth and to new and better behavior. A person can change by adopting a group’s shared values and beliefs. Or, they can change independently, creating a new personal path out of the debris of shattered past attempts. Brainwashing is a deliberate regimen of stress that seeks a true change of heart, which results in future collaboration.

In the 1950s, certain U.S. government agencies began to fund brainwashing research. In 1957, Dr. William Sargant, an English brainwashing specialist, stated the goal in one question: “Why do stressed humans tend to make conversions?” They were looking for a way to deliberately, systematically elicit conversion: predictable stresses for predictable results. The experiments confirmed that harsh manipulation of a confined person can break down previous attitudes and instill a new set of the brainwasher’s choice.

Brainwashing is not what advertisers, politicians, educators, and evangelists do, because their audience is not a captive one. If you can walk away from unwelcome persuasion, it is not brainwashing. If you cannot walk away, it may be. Indoctrination is the mildest level of brainwashing. Indoctrination is a very direct conversion system which attempts to change a person’s viewpoint while he or she is still a thinking individual. More severe and classic brain washing regimens differ from indoctrination in that they attempt to change a person’s mind without allowing any input or control from the victim. Complete control over a person’s environment allows extreme psychological manipulations.

Methods of Brainwashing

The technique of brainwashing involves total external control, an atmosphere of stress, and two or three induction methods (alternating, or combined) which increase suggestibility. Since brainwashing is a coercive mind-control technology that contains elements that lower consciousness and increase suggestibility, there is a link between hypnotism and brainwashing. Stress increases suggestibility. Extreme stress can cause trance. The Pavlovian induction types historically associated with brainwashing are:

Type One: Sensory deprivation.

Type Two: Over-stimulation—prod, whip, sexual abuse, haranguing, terrifying, etc.

Type Three: Brain syndrome caused by fatigue and hunger.

Three Stages of Brainwashing

Brainwashing takes place in a series of three major stages. A Dutch psychoanalyst, Joost Meerloo, first analyzed and named them in his post-WWII analysis of Nazi brainwashing techniques:

I. Deconditioning of the subject.

II. Subject’s artificial breakdown and identification with the new authority, with the brainwashers’ orthodoxy, whatever it is.

III. Subject’s reindoctrination, retraining in the new orthodoxy.

So, the first stage is breakdown. The second is the phenomenon of the breaking point, and identification with the brainwashers. The third is the subject’s reindoctrination. All three stages—deconditioning, breaking, and reindoctrination—have been carefully researched.

Stage One: Deconditioning

[The purpose is] to destroy the old loyalties and value systems... their personal meaning systems... extinguishing old conditioned patterns.

– Perry London, Behavior Control, p. 91

Biderman and Lifton independently analyzed the exact coercive elements, and their chronological order, which accomplish the subject’s deconditioning. Each came up with an eight-item list.

Biderman’s List of Deconditioning Factors

1) Isolation, Disorientation, and Loss of Control—A brainwashing regimen always starts with isolation of the victim.[24] Brainwashers isolate a prospective subject from associates who might sustain his old beliefs. Isolation may be solitary confinement. Patricia Hearst was shoved into a closet in a house where only SLA members lived.

If the inmate is to be held in a group, the brainwashing program usually isolates new candidates from all former associates. It surrounds them instead with new associates who are also undergoing brainwashing, or who are already single-mindedly devoted to the new point of view. In a brainwashing program described by Sargant, the inmates lived for nine to twelve months in a camp which was so isolated that all ties with the subjects’ friends and families were cut.

The camp regimen deliberately shattered all their old patterns of behavior. In any brainwashing situation, the subject has totally lost control—and is confused. This is deliberate. In a classic brainwashing regimen, the isolation from former peers is combined with loss of control and disorientation. The victim has been snatched abruptly out of his accustomed environment and thrust into a totally different one. The subject’s lack of opportunity to mentally prepare for the change is deliberate. It makes him less able to resist.

Many victims of totalitarianism have told me in interviews that the most upsetting experience they faced in the concentration camps was the feeling of loss of logic, the state of confusion into which they had been brought—the state in which nothing had any validity...In order to tame people into the desired pattern, victims must be brought to a point where they have lost their alert consciousness and mental awareness. ...Feelings of terror, feelings of fear and hopelessness, of being alone, of standing with one’s back to the wall, must be instilled. (Meerloo, p. 49)

2) Monopolization of Perception—Unauthorized information is prohibited and prevented. There may even be outright sensory deprivation. The victim’s attention is focused on his own physical and mental misery, and the necessarily exaggerated importance of all interactions with the tormenters. Isolated from family and friends, he is now totally dependent on his captors who have the exclusive right either to continue or relieve his suffering. He may be in sensory deprivation, being made susceptible to propaganda. Or he may be mentally over-stimulated. In that type of brainwashing regimen, subjects are given no chance to relax, not a moment’s peace, no opportunity simply to think their own thoughts. Mind and body are constantly occupied, and fatigued, with specified group activities and propaganda input.

3) Exhaustion—Mental collapse under stress can have both a physical and mental basis. Physical stresses, such as fatigue, isolation, and malnutrition; and mental stresses, such as humiliation, weaken the physical foundation of body and mind. Extreme physical stress, especially torture, causes brain syndrome, which further weakens the will to resist and creates suggestibility. Exhaustion makes a person susceptible to any repeated message, an easy target for hypnotic suggestion. Another brainwashing technique wearies the subject mentally by locating a psychological “sore spot,” then prodding it again and again.

4) Threats—The subject, now totally isolated and totally helpless, is threatened.

5) Occasional Indulgences—This is the carrot of the carrot-and-stick behavior modification program.

6) Subjugation—Subjugation conditioning often involves invasion of body space. Most people have a limit, a physical area inside which they do not like other persons to intrude. This private space is usually a circle around us, about two or three feet from the body. Harsher brainwashing regimens involve constant interrogation, sleep deprivation, bad and insufficient food, inadequate toileting facilities, humiliating treatment, and no contact with persons outside the brainwashing setup.

7) Degradation, Omnipotence, Omniscience—Physical or sexual assaults—anything that shames—further subjugate and degrade the victim. The subject is shamed. The captors, on the other hand, demonstrate what Lifton called omnipotence and omniscience. Degradation of the subject seems to prove the programmers’ omnipotence. The abuse in this category typically involves not only humiliation and degradation, but also forced self-betrayal.

8) Enforcing Trivial Demands—This conditioning is for takeover of the subject’s will.

Lifton’s Brainwashing Analysis

Dr. Lifton interpreted brainwashing as a manipulated, forced conversion experience. His 8-point method incorporated psychoanalytic elements, the Chinese Communist indoctrination system, and all three of Dr. Meerloo’s elements (deconditioning, breaking, and reindoctrination):

1. Captors acquire total control over victim.

2. Captors assault victim’s sense of identity.

3. Victim feels guilt and accepts blame.

4. Victim confesses vices, both real and imaginary, the uglier, the better.

5. Victim betrays self and others, then feels “cut off from his former roots and unable to return...”

6. Victim is pushed to extreme death anxiety and breaking point.

7. Captors swap leniency for total compliance. The prisoner now eagerly behaves any way they want, because he now believes this may be a way to survive.

8. The prisoner’s conversion is reinforced by a systematic regimen of criticism, self-criticism, and instruction in exactly what he is supposed to believe.

Stage Two: The Breaking Point

...the Chinese Communist leaders not only find nothing to resent in charges that they ‘brainwash’ their opponents, but regard the term as a quite apt and honorable description of what they wish to achieve. (p. 6) Practitioners of ‘thought-reform’ seek ‘real’ changes in beliefs and values. They demand that the victim be ‘honest, sincere, and full’ in his ‘self-examination, repentance, and change.’

– Blake in Biderman and Zimmer (eds), The Manipulation of Human Behavior, p. 10

Finally, the subject’s mental tension reaches the cortex overload stage. Then, ultraparadoxical breakdown (a physiological phenomenon first described by Pavlov) occurs.

Ultraparadoxical Stage

The breaking point is a physiological event. Abuse causes the ego, the “I,” to shrink, pull back, and weaken until, finally, exhausted, it gives up. Pavlov named that moment of giving up the ultraparadoxical stage. When pressure, exhaustion, and fear become unbearable, the subject reaches the breaking point.

Sargant argued that anything that causes temporary cortex over-stimulation and collapse has the healing effect of loosening up old programming patterns, thereby allowing the implant of new ones. His list of over-stimulations which could cause the ultraparadoxical break included electroshock, voodoo possession, rock concerts, and suggested confabulations and implanted false memories. Sargant approved of whatever it took to drive the patient into the transmarginal collapse, so that his previous behavior patterns could be broken up.

Pavlov stressed dogs, through deconditioning, into the ultraparadoxical crisis. After the breakdown, he conditioned new habits into them. Sometimes, he put the dog through the whole routine again: stressing it into another breakdown, and then retraining into yet another set of habits. At the breaking point, the exhausted, confused dog—or person—will accept any sort of relief.

Submission to and Positive Identification with Enemy

A curious phenomenon of this second stage of brainwashing is the subject’s identification with the brainwashers. At the breaking point, the victim switches, from fear and hate of Big Brother, to trust and love of Big Brother.


…suddenly begin to feel affection for the examiner who has been treating them so harshlya warning sign that the ‘paradoxical’ and ‘ultraparadoxical’ phases of abnormal brain activity may have been reached: they are near to breaking point... (Sargant, Battle for the Mind, p. 214)

Meerloo wrote of the breaking moment:

...the moment of surrender may often arrive suddenly. It is as if the stubborn negative suggestibility changed critically into a surrender and affirmation. What the inquisitor calls the sudden inner illumination and conversion is a total reversal of inner strategy in the victim. From this time on, in psychoanalytic terms, a parasitic superego lives in man’s conscience, and he will speak his new master’s voice. (Meerloo, p. 92)

At the breaking point, the subject begins to reject what he is being told to reject and begins to accept what he is being told to accept. At this point of emotional extremity, he makes the Pavlovian reversal. Now he loves Big Brother. The breaking point is also the point of confession: “I was bad but now I’m good.”

Compulsives Resist the Best

The “obsessional neurotic,” better known as the compulsive, whether canine or human, is the personality type which is most able to resist brainwash techniques. He tends to avoid becoming emotionally involved in what is going on. That protects him from being influenced. Brainwashers have the most success with compulsives using Type Three inductions—lack of food, lack of sleep, illness, injury, and exhaustion.

Many human eccentrics may approximate to Pavlov’s stronger dogs, who acquired new behavior patterns only when they had first been debilitated by castration, fever, or gastric disorders which made them lose a great deal of weight. Once reindoctrinated, they were fattened up, and the new behavior patterns became as firmly fixed as the old; indeed, Pavlov could not get rid of them again. (Sargant, Battle for the Mind, p. 86)

Internalization of the Guilt for Breaking

All brainwashers dread conformity based on opportunism rather than conviction. All work to achieve a sincere conversion. They make

...the ultimate test of the loyalty and sincere devotion of the individual to the system...his acceptance of the inquisitorial process itself: the purge, coercion, confession, and the entire paraphernalia of enforced conversion... (Biderman and Zimmer (eds), p. 8)

The subject’s final capitulation happens when he not only gives outward obedience to whatever the captors will for him to do, but he also honestly comes to think and believe whatever they demand. After that, he no longer blames Big Brother for bringing him to the breaking point. He now thanks Big Brother for his “help.” The subject now blames what happened on himself.

He now feels a deep conviction of guilt. He accepts personal responsibility for what happened: “I was bad. It had to be done to me, so I could be made good. I’m so grateful Big Brother fixed my wrong thinking.” The subject now believes that he was imperfect, and needed the brainwashing cure. This taking of responsibility for his mistreatment is called the internalization of obedience. At the breaking point, the victim’s independent will steps back, yields to the controller’s will, then internalizes that submission.

Self-loathing Measures Inmate’s Renewal—

One final test of loyalty demands that the prisoner act as though he hated himself with the intensity of the criminal definition which the system has placed upon him. (Blake in Biderman & Zimmer, eds, The Manipulation of Human Behavior, p. 8)

Similar language described a model prison therapy, the Asklepeion program at the Marion Illinois Federal Penitentiary:

...object of the “therapies” is initially to “unfreeze” the prisoner’s formal organization of beliefs about him or her self (or, as Opton describes it, “to degrade the self-concept and shatter his personal identity”). When this has been achieved, the person will then “change” his or her personality and belief system. In the final stage the new personality will be “refrozen.” (Ackroyd, et. al., p. 268)

The “refreezing” takes place in Stage Three.

Stage Three: Reconditioning

Through both continual training and taming, the new phonograph record has to be grooved... Incidental relapses to the old form of thinking have to be corrected... The victim is daily helped to rationalize and justify his new ideology...This systematic indoctrination...

– Meerloo, The Rape of the Mind, p. 92

In Stage One, the relentless deconditioning pressure unfroze former convictions, values, beliefs, and attitudes. That left the subject vulnerable to the implanting of new ones. In Stage Two, the ultraparadoxical stage, the subject reversed strategies and began to identify with the brainwasher. Meerloo called Stage Three “The Reconditioning to the New Order.” It accomplishes the subject’s reindoctrination.

The brainwashed, broken subject learns the new orthodoxy in a hypnoidal way. Because of that characteristic of greatly increased suggestibility to new ideas and new conditioning, Pavlov called Stage Three the hypnoidal stage. In the hypnoidal stage, the subject stops being critical. He accepts suggestions or commands without argument, without questioning, and in an uncritical way. New habits, new convictions, and new behavior are now easily programmed into his mind.

Soviet brainwashers omitted this third stage of brainwashing. The Russians sent the prisoner on to serve his time after he broke and “confessed.” Chinese brainwashers, however, sent the softened-up prisoner for the third stage: reconditioning.

Reconditioning is accomplished by message repetition, operant conditioning, and milieu control. The typical instruction program continues from morning to night, repeating its teachings over and over. As the prisoner shows signs of genuine conversion, he is rewarded with group approval and upgrades in physical circumstances. Operant conditioning, a system of rewards and punishments, retrains by linking hope to conformity, and fear to nonconformity. Milieu control works because humans are social beings and generally follow the crowd.

Grateful for the Cure

After the prisoner has been broken and retrained, he defends the new mental conditioning. He feels genuine gratitude for having been brainwashed. The human mind has a natural tendency to defend its status quo—whatever it is. Retraining is finished when all the new attitudes are “frozen” in place. They will now be as resistant to outside change as were their predecessors. The more rigid the subject’s personality was before the break, the more stoutly he will now defend and cling to his new programming.



[Note:1] Secret, Don’t Tell: The Encyclopedia of Hypnotism (1998) by Carla Emery was published in hardcopy (550 pages) and CD (reader and audio files) versions. The book’s website:

[1] Stevenson’s tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was another literary representation of this type of research.

[2] Readers now need better technical explanations and plainer speaking on this subject than any novel can provide. They need facts, stated as facts, to combat the flood of lies, claimed to be truth.

[3] In reality, subjects cannot be so totally metamorphosed by hypnotic suggestions from talentless to skilled. It is not possible to make somebody who croaks like a frog into a concert-quality singer by means of hypnosis. Du Maurier wasn’t all wrong, however. Any training is enhanced by adding a trance component. Trainers, from sports psychologists to motivational specialists, now use visualization-relaxation inductions to create trance and then give suggestions to their students.

[4] Numerous cases of death by suggestion are recorded in G. Frazer’s classic, The Golden Bough (N.Y.: Macmillan, 1931, p. 204, etc.). More deaths caused by suggestion, “belief,” are described in W. B. Cannon’s article “‘Voodoo’ Death” (American Anthropologist, XLIV (1942), 169-81. Reprinted, abridged, in Reader in Comparative Religion An Anthropological Approach, W.A. Lessa and E. Z. Vogt (eds.). N.Y.: Harper & Row, 1965.)

[5] By “All-Highest,” did George White mean the CIA Director? Or his MKULTRA project director? Or the National Security Council? Definitely, he did not mean God. Here we have “situational ethics” stated blatantly

[6] In The Sleep Room: The Story of the CIA Brainwashing Experiments in Canada by Anne Collins is the most painstakingly documented history of the Cameron/CIA connection and the personal stories of Cameron’s victims.

[7] The son, Dr. Harvey Weinstein, told the story of his father’s life and his own search for the truth about what happened to his father in a heartbreaking book originally titled A Father, A Son, and the CIA, then Psychiatry and the CIA: Victims of Mind Control.

[8] See Section IV, “Susceptibility,” for more markers.

[9] A cover personality is the “new personality,” the conscious self, which is unaware of the conditioning period or of its second, secret hypnotic life.

[10] The CIA had a project “designed to turn people into programmed assassins who would kill on automatic command.” (Lee and Schlain, Acid Dreams, xx)

[11] See Part V for methods to identify a victim of unethical hypnosis.

[12] Lee and Schlain describe many more CIA records of goals, experiments, and activities in Acid Dreams, some even more horrific than these.

[13] The period of time during which a dissociated personality split takes over, in an episode for which the original personality is amnesic, is called a fugue. A person may have one short fugue, or a series of them, or one long one, or any combination. Pierre Janet very narrowly defined “fugue” as an escape episode involving the dissociation (splitting off) of a set of ideas whose unity is based on a ruling emotion—such as fear. But modern writers use “fugue” to mean any time lapse or memory blackout.

[14] The words narcosynthesis, narcohypnosis, and narcoanalysis all mean the same thing: Freudian analysis (or hypnotherapy) using drug induction and hypnotic training as the foundation of the therapy process.

[15] Both of those Grinker and Spiegel books were funded by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation (OSS funds conduit) and “privately” distributed.

[16] I haven’t read it. Estabrooks said the Watkins techniques “give us a picture of hypnotism that is weird and fascinating.”

[17] See Section V for the discussion on M.H. Erickson’s equally phony experiments.

[18] A Hungarian psychiatrist, Volgyesi, used a mild electric shock to induce “passivity” (trance) in the 1930s. He then deepened, formalized the trance, and treated the subject with verbal suggestions.

[19] Confusion is also inductive and increases suggestibility.

[20] “ECT Timed with Disturbing Thoughts,” Clinical Psychiatry News, Dec. 1975, p. 2, is a related article.

[21] In a 1951 article, the authors reported feeding shock patients using “a standard nursing bottle with nipple...she began to suck and was able to swallow the milk slowly but completely. To our further surprise, it was found that the other patients being [ECS] treated at this time also readily fed from nursing bottles...a return to an early, infantile mode of activity...”

[22] The brain’s natural self-governing capacity requires an operational feedback circuit. When memory works normally, pain, shame, or fear can cause reprogramming. But there will be no reprogramming if memory of the problem is blocked by amnesia.

[23] Modern knowledge of the molecular basis of brain chemistry and the various emotional states has caused near abandonment of investigation into mental distress caused by stress or misprogramming. It is so much easier just to give somebody a pill which will repress excess neurotransmitter or to cause a shortage of some kind of neurotransmitter rather than to struggle trying to change problem programming or problem circumstances. Most cases of mental illness are caused by dysfunctions of brain chemistry and drugs are the answer. But, in some cases, the problem is the client’s life circumstances, or his programming. In those cases, the best treatment would be non-drug. Change the patient’s circumstances or the patient’s beliefs (programming).

[24] The isolation of brainwashing is a physical corollary to the mental isolation of a hypnotic subject whose operator has become the subject’s sole definer of reality.