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The Cold War – it is about a group of scientists who believe that they had found for the first time ever a way of controlling the human mind. They were convinced they had discovered how to change human memory. Adam Curtis, The Living Dead II: You Have Used Me As A Fish Long Enough, BBC 1995
Their certainty and optimism turned to paranoia. They found themselves in a strange world in which nothing could be trusted, not even their own memories. ibid.
Penfield invited a psychiatrist called Ewen Cameron to come and join him in Montreal. Cameron was fascinated by Penfield’s work. He believed that if it was possible to change memories, one could produce better, more rational human beings. ibid.
In a Gothic mansion overlooking Montreal: it was both a psychiatric clinic and a centre for research. His [Cameron’s] aim was to find ways of changing the memories in the minds of his mentally ill patients. ibid.
Memory became a weapon in a confrontation between Russia and America. ibid.
Cameron had begun a series of experiments to try and brainwash the memories in his patients. He called it psychic driving. ibid.
He [Cameron] had published a paper about his work called Brainwashing Canadian Style. ibid.
The CIA decided to fund Cameron’s experiments. They wanted to find a way of controlling human beings by reprogramming their memories. ibid.
Cameron’s experiments weren’t working out quite as he expected … He couldn’t find a way of replacing them with new memories. His patients were completely free of their past and of all the emotions that went with it. ibid.
The CIA were terrified that the Russians might also working to produce a programmed assassin. They decided to continue funding Dr Cameron; whether he was creating healthy human beings or not was now irrelevant. The prefect assassin would be programmed for one simple task, and the fewer memories and emotions involved the better. ibid.
But the idea that it was necessary to manipulate the inner feelings of the American population in the interests of fighting the Cold War now began to take root in Washington. Above all in the CIA who were going to take it much further. They were concerned that the Soviets were experimenting with psychological methods to actually alter the memories and feelings of people. The aim being to produce more controllable citizens. It was known as brainwashing. Psychologists in the CIA were convinced that this really might be possible and that they should try to do it themselves. In the late ’50s the CIA poured millions of dollars into the psychology departments of universities across America. They were secretly funding experiments on how to alter and control the inner drives of human beings. The most notorious of these experiments was run by the head of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr Ewen Cameron. Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self II: The Engineering of Consent, BBC 2002
In fact Cameron’s experiments were a complete disaster. All he managed to produce were dozens of individuals with memory loss, and the ability to repeat the phrase, I am at ease with myself. And it was not an isolated case. Almost all the experiments the CIA funded were equally unsuccessful. Despite their ambitions, American psychologists were beginning to find out how difficult it was to understand and control the inner workings of the human mind. ibid.
The Central Intelligence Agency was trying to find ways to wipe the past from people’s minds. To see if they could free them from the conditioning that had been implanted there … They wanted to see if they could implant new patterns of thought into their minds. The CIA set up a secret project called M K Ultra … Dr Cameron’s experiments were a disaster. Adam Curtis, Can’t Get You Out of My Head I: Bloodshed on Wolf Mountain, BBCiplayer 2021
For 20 years the CIA had been planning assassinations and overthrowing leaders of foreign governments all around the world. Adam Curtis, Can’t Get You Out of My Head III: Money Changes Everything
M K Ultra was one program in a series of programs that came out of the CIA to experiment with different types of mind control. PSTV.tv Mind Sciences
In the late 1950s the CIA began to fund top-secret experiments in brainwashing. ibid.
Due to the psychologically destructive nature of brainwashing research the CIA began to seek new, unwitting test subjects in psychiatric hospitals. From 1957-1964 patients at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal became mind control guinea-pigs for MK Ultra scientist Ewen Cameron. ibid.
In 1977 the Church Hearings investigated the top secret mind control project. This forced the CIA to release files exposing the history of M K Ultra. ibid.
In 1980 the CIA was sued by nine victims of Dr Cameron’s mind control research. They were each awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages. ibid.
The Deputy Director of the CIA revealed that over thirty universities and institutions were involved in an ‘extensive testing and experimentation’ program which included covert drug tests on unwitting citizens ‘at all social levels, high and low, native Americans and foreign’. Several of these tests involved the administration of LSD to ‘unwitting subjects in social situations’. At least one death, that of Dr Olson, resulted from these activities. The Agency itself acknowledged that these tests made little scientific sense. The agents doing the monitoring were not qualified scientific observers. Ted Kennedy, address to Senate 1977
M K Ultra: the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior. The program consisted of some 149 sub-projects which the Agency contracted out to various universities, research foundations, and similar institutions. At least 80 institutions and 185 private researchers participated. Because the Agency funded M K Ultra indirectly, many of the participating individuals were unaware that they were dealing with the Agency. US Supreme Court, CIA v Sims 1985
Brainwashing is a system of befogging the brain so a person can be seduced into acceptance of what otherwise would be abhorrent to him. He loses touch with reality. Facts and fancy whirl round and change places ... However, in order to prevent people from recognizing the inherent evils in brainwashing, the Reds pretend that it is only another name for something already very familiar and of unquestioned respect, such as education or reform. Edward Hunter, Brainwashing 1956
We pioneers are young Leninists. Our dream is to live like Lenin. Russian girl leads class, propaganda film
I have no thought except I love Lenin. Lenin is our superman. We are his little potatoes. Lenin is our sun, our leader, our life. Without him our minds are empty. Soviet schoolchildren’s song
Behind this web of semantic ... confusion lies an image of ‘brainwashing’ as an all-powerful, irresistible, unfathomable, and magical method of achieving total control over the human mind. It is of course none of these things, and this loose usage makes the word a rallying point for fear, resentment, urges toward submission, justification for failure, irresponsible accusation, and for a wide gamut of emotional extremism. Robert Jay Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, 1961
The systematic, scientific and coercive elimination of the individuality of the mind of another. Scheaflin and Opton, The Mind Manipulators, 1978
He [Cameron] was really using it to try and change the fundamental function of the individual to alter their past memories, their past ways of behaving, and as I think he said at one point, to erase everything from their past, so that you then had a slate in which you could record new ways of behaviour. And so he used massive doses of shock. Of people receiving several shocks a day and over a course of time hundreds of ECT treatments so they were just reduced to a primitive vegetable state. (Mind Control & Brainwashing & CIA & M K Ultra) Laughlin Taylor, assistant to Dr Cameron, 1958-1960
In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then? George Orwell, 1984
Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war. It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist. ibid.
Moon would be accused of brainwashing, mind control. Reverend Sun Myung Moon: Emperor of the Universe, BBC 2000