The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate":
The CIA and Mind Control
by John Marks

By the 1950s, most "Americans knew something about the famous
trial of the Hungarian Josef Cardinal Mindszenty, at which the
Cardinal appeared zombielike, as though drugged or hypnotized.
Other defendants at Soviet 'show trials' had displayed similar
symptoms as they recited unbelievable confessions in dull,
cliche-ridden monotones. Americans were familiar with the idea
that the communists had ways to control hapless people, and [the
term 'brainwashing'] helped pull together the unsettling evidence
into one sharp fear."

Many Americans "saw the confessions as proof that the communists
now had techniques 'to put a man's mind in a fog so that he will
mistake what is true for what is untrue, what is right for what
is wrong, and come to believe what did not happen actually had
happened, until he ultimately becomes a robot.'"

"Given the incontrovertible evidence that the Russians and the
Chinese could, in a very short time and often under difficult
circumstances, alter the basic belief and behavior patterns of
both domestic and foreign captives, [it was argued that] there
must be a technique involved that would yield its secrets under
objective investigation."

Harold Wolff and Lawrence Hinkle "became the chief brainwashing
studiers for the U.S. government... Their secret report to [CIA
chief] Allen Dulles, later published in a declassified version,
was considered the definitive U.S. Government work on the

"The CIA built up its own elaborate brainwashing program
[which]... took its own special twist from our national
character. It was a tiny replica of the Manhattan Project,
grounded in the conviction that the keys to brainwashing lay in
technology. Agency officials hoped to use old-fashioned American
know-how to produce shortcuts and scientific breakthroughs... The
Agency's brainwashing experts gravitated to people more in the
mold of the brilliant -- and sometimes mad -- scientist."

CIA officials began to look for scientists and guinea pigs. "Some
of their experiments would wander so far across the ethical
borders of experimental psychiatry (which are hazy in their own
right) that Agency officials thought it prudent to have much of
the work done outside the United States."

Montreal hospital. One of Cameron's projects was an attempt to
"depattern" experimental subjects. "Cameron defined
'depatterning' as breaking up existing patterns of behavior... by
means of particularly intensive electroshocks, usually combined
with prolonged, drug-induced sleep... Cameron claimed he could
generate 'differential amnesia.' Creating such a state in which a
man who knew too much could be made to forget had long been a
prime objective [of CIA] programs."

Cameron's depatterning "normally started with 15 to 30 days of
'sleep therapy.' As the name implies, the patient slept almost
the whole day and night. According to a doctor at the hospital
who used to administer what he calls the 'sleep cocktail,' a
staff member woke up the patient three times a day for medication
that consisted of a combination of 100 mg. Thorazine, 100 mg.
Nembutal, 100 mg. Seconal, 150 mg. Veronal, and 10 mg. Phenergan.
Another staff doctor would also awaken the patient two or
sometimes three times daily for electroshock treatments... In
standard, professional electroshock, doctors gave the subject a
single dose of 110 volts, lasting a fraction of a second, once a
day or every other day. By contrast, Cameron used a form 20 to 40
times more intense, two or three times daily, with the power
turned up to 150 volts."

"The frequent screams of patients that echoed through the
hospital did not deter Cameron or most of his associates in their
attempts to 'depattern' their subjects completely. Other hospital
patients report beinng petrified by the 'sleep rooms,' where the
treatment took place, and they would usually creep down the
opposite side of the hall."

"The Agency sent the psychiatrist research money to take the
treatment *beyond this point*. Agency officials wanted to know
if, once Cameron had produced a blank mind, he could then program
in new patterns of behavior, as he claimed he could. As early as
1953 -- the year he headed the American Psychiatric Association
-- Cameron conceived a technique he called 'psychic driving,' by
which he would bombard the subject with repeated verbal

The CIA continued to fund Cameron's research. Then, in 1964, he
retired abruptly. "His successor, Dr. Robert Cleghorn, made a
virtually unprecedented move in the academic world of mutual
back-scratching and praise. He commissioned a psychiatrist and a
psychologist, unconnected to Cameron, to study his electroshock

"The study-team members couched their report in densely academic
jargon, but one of them speaks more clearly now. He talks
bitterly of one of Cameron's former patients who needs to keep a
list of her simplest household chores to remember how to do
them... He continues, 'I probably shouldn't talk about this, but
Cameron -- for him to do what he did -- he was a very
schizophrenic guy, who totally detached himself from the human
implications of his work... God, we talk about concentration
camps. I don't want to make this comparison, but God, you talk
about ''we didn't know it was happening,'' and it was -- right in
our back yard.'"

"It cannot be said how many -- if any -- other Agency

Details are scarce, since many of the principal witnesses have
died, will not talk about what went on, or lie about it. In what
ways the CIA applied work like Cameron's is not known. What is
known, however, is that the intelligence community, including the
CIA, changed the face of the scientific community during the
1950s and early 1960s by its interest in such experiments."


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