in the trenches of concealment and deception, across the
lines of falsehood and betrayal....It is the same in any
war. What is heroic in combat is criminal in peace. Just
as combat sanctions physical violence, so espionage grants
license to moral violence....It is trite but true to say
that they did what they did for the good of their country.
Unfortunately, it is also true that it frequently didn’t
work out that way.
David C. Martin, Wilderness
of Mirrors, pp. xii-xiv
At first, the persons involved
in U.S. hypnoprogramming research were real and interesting.
Later, they became anonymous, faceless operators and agents.
In 1940, President Roosevelt asked a World War I General,
William Donovan, to organize and head a U.S. intelligence
gathering service—and a secret scientific research program.
Between the two wars, General Donovan had become a very successful
Wall Street lawyer. He knew everybody who mattered: politicians,
tycoons, academics. They called him “Colonel” or
“Wild Bill.” The new agency was called the OSS (Organization
for Strategic Services). From the very beginning, bold and
imaginative thinking was its rule.
“Every eccentric schemer
with a harebrained plan for secret operations (from phosphorescent
foxes to incendiary bats) would find a sympathetic ear in
Donovan’s office.” Donovan’s comrade and close
friend, later U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, David Bruce,
has written about his colleague, “woe to the officer
who turned down a project because, on its face, it seemed
ridiculous, or at least unusual.” (Scheflin and Opton,
The Mind Manipulators)
Donovan hired a crew of talented
and daring young men, many of whom completed their careers
with the CIA: Stanley Lovell, George White, Richard Helms,
Frank Wisner, and Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. Donovan also recruited
the nation’s best scientific researchers—anybody
who had talent and an idea—to work for him, without leaving
their particular institutions. And he rallied prominent industrialists,
a Who’s Who of the nation.
Hull, a Yale hypnosis researcher, began a new way of researching
hypnosis by collecting and analyzing biological statistics
about trance subjects rather than pondering the trance itself.
Like Pavlov, Hull viewed hypnotism as conditioned reflex (acquired
unconscious habit). He claimed a skeptical view of hypnotic
phenomena, but he hypnotized a lot of people:
A youth of eighteen
or nineteen years is brought in by my assistant. He has
consented to act as subject in a research project. I stand
before him and look directly into his eyes. As he tilts
his head backward to look into my eyes I observe as usual
the sign of considerable emotional disturbance in the beating
of his carotid artery...I direct him to look steadily into
my eyes and to think of nothing but sleep, to relax his
muscles all over, even so much that his knees bend a little
and his legs scarcely hold him up. After three or four minutes
his eyes close, his head nods forward, and his breathing
becomes heavy. I say, ‘Now you are falling toward me,
you can’t help yourself...I catch him when well off
his balance. Upon inquiry he states, in a drowsy tone, that
he could not help falling forward but that he isn’t
sound asleep ‘because I know everything that is going
on.’ I suspect that he is mistaken and employ the following
objective test. I give him a posthypnotic suggestion that
after waking he shall pick up and examine a book on my desk
when I sit down in a chair, but that he won’t recall
anything about why he did it. I wake him as usual with a
snap of my finger...A few minutes later I sit down in the
chair. He casually walks over to my desk, picks up the book,
and after glancing at its title lays it down. I say, ‘Why
did you look at the book?’ He answers that he just
happened to notice it lying there and wondered what it was
about. (Hull, Hypnosis and Suggestibility, p.
subject obeyed the professor’s posthypnotic suggestion,
and he was amnesic for the real reason he had picked up that
book. He claimed, even believed, that Hull had not been able
to hypnotize him. Actually, that young man had not only been
hypnotized, but he had been to a somnambulist depth.
In 1930, the Yale employment
office informed Hull that he would no longer be allowed to
hire students for his experiments. Some professors from Yale’s
School of Medicine believed that hypnosis was dangerous and
they had decided to stop him. Hull was restricted to nonhypnotic
experiments for the rest of his career. He spent that time
fitting an array of definitions, postulates, corollaries,
and theorems into a complex mathematical model for predicting
human or animal behavior (a concept of learned habits powered
by biological drives).
Lovell Hires On
General Donovan recruited a biochemist, Dr. Stanley Lovell,
to head the OSS’s “dirty tricks” Research and
Development section. In Lovell’s biography, Of Spies
and Stratagems, he recounted a private conversation with Donovan
about this job proposal:
Without ado I opened
up on my basic problem...”I’d relish your assignment,
Colonel, but dirty tricks are simply not tolerated in the
American code of ethics...Americans want to win within the
rules of the game and devious, subtle devices and stratagems
are, as the British say, ‘just not cricket.’”
“Don’t be so...naive,
Lovell,” said Donovan. “The American public may
profess to think as you say they do, but the one thing they
expect of their leaders is that we will be smart...Outside
the orthodox warfare system is a great area of schemes,
weapons and plans which no one who knows America really
expects us to originate because they are so un-American,
but once it’s done, an American will vicariously glory
I pondered, then replied:
“What I have to do is to stimulate the ‘Peck’s
Bad Boy’ beneath the surface of every American scientist
and to say to him, ‘Throw all your normal law-abiding
concepts out the window. Here’s a chance to raise merry
hell. Come, help me raise it.’”
he responded, using my first name as a sort of password,
I felt, to his inner circle, “go to it.”
...with hardly an exception,
they [U.S. scientists working on these programs] did outstanding
service to their country...every one risked his future status...in
identifying himself with illegality and unorthodoxy.
(Lovell, pp. 21-22)
In his book, Lovell briefly,
but scathingly, denied any OSS use of hypnosis. He said that
hypnosis was not real, and was simply tawdry play acting on
the part of operator and subject. But British Intelligence
used hypnoprogrammed agents almost from the war’s beginning.1
And Dr. George Estabrooks divulged in 1971, in a magazine
interview, that he personally had hypnoprogrammed numerous
U.S. agents and couriers for the U.S. government during World
War II. ("Hypnosis Comes of Age,"
Science Digest, April, 1971).
So Lovell was just following
Company policy when he lied in his book, saying that hypnosis
was not real. His profession hinged on keeping secrets—on
the job, off the job, and when writing a book after the job.
In that book, Lovell also reported overhearing a conversation
between Donovan, who worked with European agents, and a Mr.
Van Bush, who was involved with the secret atom bomb research.
Lovell knew the inside scoop on both projects.
I recall Van Bush,
with his typical Will Rogers smile, asking General Donovan,
“Have you succeeded in getting any of your people really
“A few,” said
General Donovan rather casually.
I knew we had perhaps
eight hundred in Germany and occupied countries that minute,
but I also knew that Dr. Bush would be even more evasive
if General Donovan had asked him, “What, Dr. Bush,
is this Manhattan Project all about?” (Lovell,
Lovell considered it appropriate
for Donovan and Van Bush to lie about their projects. He did
the same when talking about hypnosis.
A melding of amorality and
secret scientific research and operations had been made the
foundation values of a new agency of government. It seemed
excusable at the time. Agencies of that type, however, have
proliferated and thrived in the fifty years since Donovan
accepted Roosevelt’s commission to organize the OSS.
They seem to operate with no moral guidelines except the Machiavellian
goal of winning by any means. They endlessly pursue scientific
inquiry, protected by the rule of Secret, Don’t Tell
from public oversight, yet financed by the cornucopia of public
funding. They have grown in size, wealth, technological weaponry,
propaganda abilities, and covert political power. This nation
stands on the brink of reaping the sad fruit of secret government
agencies functioning with neither moral foundation nor public
oversight and control.
Sometimes, the best way to
understand a big picture is to study closely one small piece
of it, assuming that it will be representative of the whole.
Here follows a study of secret government research into mind-control
technologies from before World War II up to the present.
As soon the OSS began, George Estabrooks (b. 1885, d. 1973)
started traveling to Washington, D.C.. Estabrooks was a Canadian
who spent three years at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He received
a doctorate, in 1926, from Harvard. He was a prominent figure
in the American hypnosis scene for fifty years--from the 1920s
to the 1970s. Most of those years he was head of Colgate University’s
Department of Psychology. Estabrooks produced the first recorded
induction (a Victrola record). He published over sixty articles
and several books, the most interesting of which is titled
Estabrooks promoted the use
of hypnoprogrammed spies by both the military and police.
He suggested that police agents could gather information from
“the criminal class.”
...If allowed a free
hand, the authorities could proceed to plant such prepared
subjects... always with the idea of obtaining information
which might, sooner or later, be of real use to the police.
(Hypnotism, p. 191)
He described a method for
programming a double agent, whose unconscious mind would be
loyal to his country (or his secret agency, or military unit),
but whose conscious mind would be loyal to whatever country
(organization, religion, or relationship) that was being infiltrated
and reported on.
...we will use
hypnotism to induce multiple personality. Hypnotism is the
means to an end, though the technique would be impossible
did we not have hypnotism at our disposal....
In his normal waking
state, which we will call Personality A, or PA, this individual
will become a rabid communist. He will join the party, follow
the party line and make himself as objectionable as possible
to the authorities.
Then we develop Personality
B (PB), the secondary personality, the unconscious personality...is
rabidly American and anticommunist. It has all the information
possessed by Personality A, the normal personality, whereas
PA does not have this advantage.
My super spy plays his
role as a communist in the waking state, aggressively, consistently,
fearlessly. But his PB is a loyal American, and PB has all
the memories of PA. As a loyal American, he will not hesitate
to divulge these memories.
(Ibid., p. 200)
- In Hypnosis, Estabrooks writes as if he is surrounded at
Colgate by persons he has made into unknowing hypnotic subjects.
excellent subject, so trained, had been reading one of my
“I can believe
everything you say,” he said, “but one thing.
When you tell me that you can remove all knowledge of ever
having been hypnotized, I simply don’t believe it.”
“Jack,” I said,
“have you ever been hypnotized?”
“Do you think I
could hypnotize you?”
In one second he was
Jack knew no better, but Estabrooks
had the satisfaction of proving the man entirely wrong and
demonstrating complete hypnotic control over him. Estabrooks
viewed persons who were susceptible to hypnosis as fodder
for the mill of any hypnotist’s notion of higher purpose,
be it research, profit, patriotism, or the mesmerizer’s
personal entertainment. His attitude echoed that of Dr. Cook
who, in 1927, advised beginning hypnotists to boldly develop
a stable of hypnotic subjects:
First secure a
good subject and practice upon him until you can hypnotize
him with absolutely no difficulty, and then place him in
the profound [somnambulistic/amnesic] stages of hypnosis...Next
secure two or three more subjects and develop them, and
thus gradually add to the number. (Cook, p. 125)
In another incident described
by Estabrooks, a visitor had joined the hypnotic operator
and his unknowing subject in the lab. As the three casually
chatted about a recent boxing match, the hypnotist tapped
his pencil three times upon the table top, as if in thought.
That was the subject’s induction cue; his eyes instantly
closed as he shifted to deep trance. The operator and his
guest performed various hypnotic demonstrations of the subject
in his somnambulistic state, then awakened him.
starts talking about that boxing match! A visitor to the
laboratory interrupts him: “What do you know of hypnotism?”
The subject looks surprised,
“When were you hypnotized
“I have never been
“Do you realize
that you were in a trance just ten minutes ago?”
“Don’t be silly!
No one has ever hypnotized me and no one ever can.”
(Ibid., p. 197)
The subject was unaware of
the missing time and unknowing of his “other life,”
the time he spent under hypnosis.
Secrecy - and Reveals Secrets - Estabrooks played
a curious dual role in the history of hypno programming. He
urged secret government hypnosis research. He said that hypnosis
would become a valuable weapon as new techniques were discovered
in the future. He participated in researching new techniques:
“For developing some of them...[I] plead guilty.”
(Estabrooks, Future of the Human Mind, 1961, p. 221) He urged
the use of consciously unknowing hypnoprogrammed, doubleminded
agents, and he had manufactured such subjects.
again and again, to the necessity for secrecy about the specifics
of that technology and its possible military applications.
But the professor also loved to talk, write, hint, and brag
about that secret technology: “The facts and ideas presented
are, so to speak, too true to be good...” (Hypnotism,
1944 ed., p. 193) In the first edition of Hypnotism (1943),
he laid the groundwork for his hypnotic “superspy”
concept. His second expanded upon it. The third edition (1957)
added two long chapters on military and unethical hypnosis.
He worked hard to inform the public that creating an unknowing,
robotically obedient, hypnotic subject was possible—even
easy. He made valuable information available about the existence
and methods of that technology. Imagining an argument with
a nonbeliever in amnesic hypnoprogramming, Estabrooks wrote:
might... question... Will your controls hold? How long will
that posthypnotic suggestion last without reinforcement?
Can you count on complete amnesia? Where is your proof that
no one but yourself and such others as you may designate
can hypnotize that man? Questions such as these...merely
involve details of technique. The theoretical and factual
basis of that technique no competent psychologist would
question. (Hypnotism, p. 193)
M. H. Erickson, and the FBI Experiment
In 1939, Estabrooks
set up a hypnosis experiment for the FBI. He recruited M.H.
Erickson, one of America’s most prominent medical hypnotists,
to do it. Erickson had worked for years in areas with application
to unethical hypnosis and had his own stable of somnambulists.
Years later, at a Colgate conference (which was taped and
later transcribed in a book which Estabrooks edited), the
two reminisced about that experiment. Erickson recalled:
sent up a couple of laboratory men to investigate the possibilities
of using it. I had Tommy go into a trance. For one whole
hour of discussion-answer I did not know what the FBI men
were doing. They uncrossed their legs and crossed them;
they took cigarettes, and one lit the other’s cigarette,
and the next time the other lit the first one’s cigarette.
"At the end of the hour they asked me to awaken Tommy,
to bring him out of the trance, talk awhile, then put him
back in the trance, and reorient him to that first trance.
They had a program of exact movements, and they asked me...to
have him visualize the entire procedure. Tommy gave a blow-by-blow
account of the first hour, including the exact time in which
so-and-so uncrossed his legs, when he recrossed them, when
he shifted his hat over to one side, when he lit the other
fellow’s cigarette, when the other fellow lit his cigarette.
had that entire program all mapped out, and I was an innocent
bystander. But Tommy did it. Then I had Tommy come out of
that trance and go back into a trance in which he regressed
to the second trance and gave a report on the first trance
with extreme accuracy...
that apparently the hypnotic subject can record a tremendous
amount of data, that he can recover it in a perfectly remarkable
fashion, and that his sense of order and system of experiencing
things is very meaningful.”
(Estabrooks, ed., Hypnosis: Current Problems, pp.
How to Program an
Unknowing Hypnotic Subject
Estabrooks estimated that ten hours of hypnosis would be enough
to accomplish his basic intention. However, he recommended
a ten-month regimen for candidates who were to be both personality
split and highly trained. What he called “candidates”
were not volunteers. His basic procedure (given in Hypnotism,
p. 195) for creating the unknowing hypnoprogrammed subject
began with a disguised induction. It then proceeded to suggested
amnesia, sealing against hypnotic competition, and the giving
of a posthypnotic suggestion for instant re-induction by cue:
1) Covertly identify
a specimen of the 20% of persons who are genetic somnambulists
and easily can go to an amnesic depth of trance. Induct
by a “disguised” method.
2) While the subject
is in trance, give a posthypnotic suggestion for him to
become deeply hypnotized again whenever the hypnotist gives
a certain cue (such as tugging the left ear lobe with the
3) Also, give a posthypnotic
suggestion which will deny the subject any conscious knowledge
of this hypnosis, or any subsequent one. That causes an
artificial, selective amnesia for all hypnosis events.
4) Give a posthypnotic
suggestion that nobody else can hypnotize this subject (called
5) Give a suggestion
under hypnosis that the subject will act in trance just
as if awake (called waking hypnosis).
Estabrooks also suggested
the creation of hypno programmed messengers to convey secret
information. He called for hypnotic conditioning in individuals
who risk capture (such as Air Force pilots) to reinforce resistance
against enemy interrogation and brainwashing. And he experimented
with murder caused by indirect suggestion.
Wiener Links Computer
Research with Neuroscience
Norbert Wiener, a professor of mathematics at MIT, organized
a 1942 conference called “Problems of Central-inhibition
in the Nervous System.” (That’s Pavlovian terminology
meaning problems in hypnotic induction.) Wiener’s organizational
backup and funding for this very significant meeting came
from The Josiah Macy Foundation, a false front funding and
facilitating conduit for secret government research.
Cybernetics - In
1942, the Josiah Macy Foundation funded and sponsored a symposium
where prominent mathematicians, engineers, and physiologists
kicked off the new science of cybernetics. This was the first
of a series of cybernetics conferences that the OSS covertly
sponsored via the Macy Foundation. Wiener defined “cybernetics”
as “the entire field of control and communication theory,
whether in the machine or in the animal...” (Wiener,
Cybernetics, p. 19)
The specific purpose of that
meeting was to begin development of a common vocabulary and
shared concepts: machine as human, human as machine. The long-term
goals of cybernetics were to create 1) machines with a human
(or more than human) ability to remember, learn, and plan,
and 2) human beings who would obey like machines—predictably,
instantly, absolutely, unconsciously.
Humans could become mechanized
only if the intricacies of physiological brain function could
be understood. The cyberneticists accepted Pavlov’s view
of the human mind as a central-nervous-system-dominated, knowable
linkage of technical mechanisms. They set out to study and
experiment with minds the same way they had already experimented
with salamander cells and molecules. Cybernetics moved forward
rapidly toward its dual goals of building a conscious machine,
as nearly alive as possible—and an unconscious (on command)
human who could function as nearly like a machine as possible.
During World War II, OSS and CIA research objectives were
often pursued and funded by linkage organizations which
channeled OSS/CIA money but kept the source of their money
and directives a secret. The Josiah Macy Foundation, The
Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology (based at
Cornell), the Geschicter Foundation for Medical Research,
and the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry were all
false front organizations that channeled covert Agency funds.
The Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry sponsored brainwashing
research, symposia, and publications such as “Factors
Used to Increase the Susceptibility of Individuals to Forceful
Indoctrination.” The Society for the Investigation
of Human Ecology channeled funds into research on creating
amnesia for recent events by means of electroshock “treatments”;
research on programming by forced listening to a repeated
taped message; hypnosis, and so on. The Josiah Macy Foundation