Excerpts from:



The People Shapers


Vance Packard

Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1977



The central figure was David Krech, a witty scientist who, until his recent death, cruised the hills of Berkeley in a Citroën. Krech first aroused my interest after World War II, when it was disclosed that he had helped run a supersecret training and screening program for would-be United States spies. Some were European refugees. All were stripped of identity. They were subjected to fiendish psychological and physical stresses. And at the end they were required to develop cover stories that would withstand Krechs ingenious, slashing interrogation. ... [p. 95]

Military planners have long been intrigued by the possibility of getting warriors, via some form of hypnosis, to perform with extraordinary strength and endurance in times of battle. The American military have experimented successfully with using hypnotic couriers. The psychologist G. H. Estabrooks, a Rhodes Scholar who obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard, revealed that he was involved in preparing many such couriers during World War II. Codes can be broken. Captured couriers can be tortured into revealing their messages. But a hypnotized courier is virtually unbreakable. ...

For at least twenty years the CIA has been testing and using many types of behavior control. Hypnosis apparently has been included, sometimes in combination with drugs. The Control of Candy Jones by Donald Bain, which was published in 1976, is based on the CIAs alleged combining of hypnosis and drugs. Herbert Spiegel wrote a favorable introduction.[Note:1]

The beautiful Candy Jones, a former model who is now a radio personality, apparently served without her conscious knowledge as a CIA courier to various nations for a number of years. Spiegel ranks her as extraordinarily high in hypnotizability, so much so that she inadvertently goes into a trance on cue, such as seeing a flickering light. And her trances can be so deep that amnesia results.

According to Bains account, she was friendly with a CIA agent whom she had known as a medic during the war. He became an expert in mind control. During a chat with him she complained of certain ailments. He gave her shots of vitamins. While she was under the influence of drugs and hypnosis he reportedly split her personality. The second personality, Arlene, was a much tougher person than Candy. She was named after a childhood playmate. It was Arlene who served as courier, complete with wigs and passport. This second personality, according to the account, was discovered accidentally when Candys husband, who was trained in hypnosis, tried to ease her acute insomnia by subjecting her to hypnosis himself. … [pp. 170-171]



If the stimulation Delgado plans to administer is electric, the shaft is an exceedingly thin steel-wire electrode coated with insulation except at the tip.[Note:2] Dozens of such needlelike wires may be inserted from one opening and can be attached to the same socket on top of the skull, or eventually inside it. ...

Delgado has pioneered in the remote control of electrical stimulation. He began shaping the behavior of subjects while he was in a nearby room manning a push-button radio device. Now he can do this from thousands of feet away.

At first the sockets he was using to receive radio messages were outside the scalp. Now the equipment, built under a microscope, is the size of a coin and can be planted under the scalp and so is unnoticeable in a free-moving subject. Also, the device not only receives instructions but broadcasts back the subjects reactions. Delgado calls it a transdermal stimoceiver.

A very recent refinement, still being perfected, is for the information being received back from inside the brain to go to a tiny computer. This computer is being programmed to recognize abnormal brain-wave activity. ... [pp. 42-43]

With humans he and his associates have stimulated several areas involved in motor activity. ... He caused one woman patient in his group, when she was alone in her own room, to turn her head and move her body as if she were looking for something. This was repeated. When she was asked what she was doing, the woman always had a plausible explanation. Apparently, she had no idea she was responding to the electrical stimulation of her brain. ... [p. 55]

Lawrence R. Pinneo, a ... neurophysiologist ... at the Stanford Research Institute, ... has proved that you can think into a computer, and that the instructions you think can cause the computer to activate and move remote-control cameras and other machines. In short, the machines obey your mental instructions.

Pinneo started with the motor theory of thought. This holds that verbal thinking is nothing more than subvocal speech. With a number of subjects he attached electrodes to the area of the scalp near the region where speech originates. On command they were to think of a word, such as schoolboy or start or left. They were to repeat the word in their minds ten times. All this thinking of words was being registered by a computer. It averaged out a recognition pattern for each word. He proceeded to build up a vocabulary of fifteen unspoken English words that the computer could recognize. He trained the computer to recognize actually spoken words (overt speech) as well as think words (covert speech). They came out much alike in the word patterns that the computer stored away. ...

In his preliminary report Pinneo stated: We conclude that it is feasible for a human verbally to communicate both overtly and covertly with a computer using biological information [EEG] alone, with a high degree of accuracy and reliability, at least with a small vocabulary.” ...

This is interesting as an exercise in scientific versatility. But what would the practical applications be, assuming that 100 percent accuracy is achieved with a much larger vocabulary of words that were only thought, not spoken? ...

Perhaps the best practical use would be in surreptitious situations. [pp. 285-286]


[Note:1] Herbert Spiegel, M.D., was a U.S. Army psychiatrist, a professor at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and an expert on hypnosis.


[Note:2] José M.R. Delgado, M.D., was a neurophysiologist at the Yale University School of Medicine.