THE MOST DANGEROUS GAMEÖĒThe Most Dangerous Game traces the history of top-secret CIA mind control operation MK-ULTRA: from the covert importation of NAZI scientists at the end of WWII, to the illegal brainwashing experiments conducted on the patients of world famous psychiatric researcher, Dr. Ewen Cameron - cut to the pulsing hypnotica of Mitchell Akiyama.Ē
School of Public Health, UC Berkeley
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Harvey Weinstein, Iím the Associate Director of the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley and a Clinical Professor in the School of Public Health.
Great. Iíd like to start off by asking you about the whole notion of mind control. I know you have had a great deal of exposure to the concept due to your own personal experience. But do you remember a time before you had any notion of the fact that governments had been experimenting in the realm of mind control? Do you remember that time?
Sure. That was prior to 1979.
What happened in 1979?
In 1979 I read a review of a book in the NY Times Magazine. It was a book by John Marks called The Search For The Manchurian Candidate, in which he revealed the secret CIA-funded experimentation program called MK-ULTRA. And, it was in the review if that book that I realized for the first time that my father had been a victim of that particular program.
Now, itís interesting because obviously your father would have had a medical history, upon which was based very standard clinical assumptions about his condition. How did it become clear that MK-ULTRA was linked to your father, that he was not suffering from some natural phenomena? And how did your whole investigation move forward from there? Well, my father do you want the whole story? No, you can just give us an abbreviated version.
Basically I had become a psychiatrist to find out what had happened to my father. And, even though by 1979 I had finished medical school, done psychiatric training and practiced as a psychiatrist, I still had never quite figured out the pieces of the puzzle as to why someone who one month was relatively OK, within 3 months after that, was someone whoís mind didnít work anymore. And, the realization that there was something else going on that was over and above what I would find in the psychiatric literature, sort of opened my eyes to the fact that there was that it was a much more complicated explanation that I had ever dreamed of before.
Formulating from your mind as a psychiatrist, what do you think the intention and goal was of those who authored these programs? I mean, are they inherently anti-humane in their nature or is there a scientific desire for truth which precedes our humanity for each other? Do you know what Iím saying?
Yes, I do. I think that the goal for those people who planned the program was very straightforward. It was an attempt to figure out a way to interrogate people and to develop procedures so that people couldnít hide anything, in terms of interrogation of any kinds of secrets. Secondly, that it was an attempt to learn how peopleís behavior could be changed so that they would do what someone was bidding them to do, in particular, a government organization. Those were the people working for the CIA, Army or Air Force Intelligence. For the physicians or the scientists involved, I think it was probably a complex series of motivations. One was that there were people who felt that they wanted to learn as much as they could about how to change human behavior. That, in Ewen Cameronís case, it was an attempt to understand schizophrenia. That if he could develop these methods that would wipe peopleís brains clean and teach them new ways of being, then he would probably be well on his way to win a Nobel Prize. For other people it was an opportunity, at some level, to exercise power over others and I canít tell you about any particular individual but it would seem to me that given the nature of some of the experiments, including what were called terminal experiments, there were major power issues involved over controlling someone else.
In reference to your fatherís case, in particular, what were some of the forms of technology that were deployed, mind science technologies, that you know of?
Wellin terms of "technology"----
I mean, thatís a harsh word
Yeah. Basically, he was using at the time, what was sort of high tech sound techniques. He was using multiple kinds of loop recorders to force people to listen to recorded messages 24 hours a day, for weeks on end, with multiple loud speakers and pillow speakers, and stuff that had not been done before. The other, I suppose, technologies that were used was excessive shock treatments with the latest in equipment to basically destroy peopleís thinking patterns.
So now, when they would use these types of de-patterning, I think they called it what was it? De-Patterning and Psychic Driving. Can you explain, clinically, what happens to the mind when you have this recurring pattern driven into someoneís mind?
No, I canít explain. What I can tell you is that if you use massive shock treatment, and if you give people massive doses of drugs, such as PCP, or Mescaline, or Amphetamines, or LSD, or the other things that Cameron used I would suspect that you destroy the normal physiological pathways of synaptic transmission. And basically what, clinically--what you see is someone who is an organic preparation, they canít think. Their mind - if you want to think of it in terms of a spirit, or soul - is gone. You just have a physiological preparation which can be fed, which can urinate and defecate, but an ability to motivate, to think, to act in any kind of purposeful fashion is wiped out. So basically what Cameron was trying to do was to turn the mind, turn the brain into a tabula rasa, something that he could etch his own programming onto. In point and fact, it wasnít successful for lots of different reasons. But, that was what he was trying to do.
Good. Thanks. Now I guess there are lots of theories about whether Cameron was contacted by the CIA what time they came together and where that relationship emanates from. What do you think the CIAís elemental desire was? What could the intelligence community have gained from this type of research?
Well, ultimately they didnít gain anything, thatís the bottom line. What they thought they were going to gain at that time was this ability to control people and also to learn how to protect their own agents against control by others. Those were the two major goals for these services. And it wasnít just the CIA, it was the military intelligence in the United States, it was military intelligence in Canada, it was intelligence in Great Britain, and other countries as well. This was in the, you know, the midst of the Cold War. It was after the Korean War and during a time when about 8,000 American POWS had given false confessions, and there was a concern that Communists would be able to take over our people. So that was the goal. But it was very clear, very soon, that what the Communists had done was basically develop psychological methodologies using peer pressure, in which people were so debilitated and so afraid, that they would do anything to escape from a very negative situation. But the CIA didnít pay much attention to that and continued to look for these drugs in other sort of major traumatic interventions for years and years afterwards.
Cool. Let me ask you, was there a point in our history I guess we look at the history and this is outside of the realm of just clinical---but was there was a point in military research where it went from weapons against civilians, that were like bombs, artillery to point where they moved to a psychological warfare? Do you think this was the dawning of that age, or do you think weíve always had a fascination, psychologically, with control? You know what Iím saying, like -
You have multiple questions there. Um, first of all, if you look at military operations in this century. At the beginning of this century wars were 90% of the casualties of war were military. And, in current wars, 90% of the casualties are civilian. So there has been, over the last 100 years, a real shift towards who is affected by war. Thatís one thing. Secondly, the phenomenon of psychological operations, Psy Ops. I think that that is something that, again, probably has evolved since - primarily since the second World War. I think it was there to some degree earlier, but it has certainly been the case in guerrilla operations, which are the major wars that we have in the world nowadays, and insurgency operations and rebel movements. It certainly was true with respect to the Cold War where there was increasing attention paid to the use of intelligence operatives, and attempts to find out what other people knew. Remember it was Harry Truman, I think, in 1947 who set-up the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency for the first time, and it was only in the early 1940s that the United States Government, for the first time, became aware that it didnít have an intelligence-gathering apparatus and thatís when the Office of Strategic Services was set up. So that, itís relatively recent in terms of American history, although I suspect that well, I know that people have been interrogating people for hundreds and hundreds of years.
People certainly know about the Spanish Inquisition, for example.
Just for historical reasons, can you just give us a brief statement about who Ewen Cameron was and what was happening at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal? Just a brief synopsis
Sure. Ewen Cameron was probably the foremost psychiatrist of his time in the 1950s. He was Chair of Psychiatry at McGill University and Director of Allen Memorial Institute. He was, at one time, President of the American Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the World Psychiatric Association, and others. So he was one of the preeminent psychiatric physicians during that era. He was someone who was very concerned about schizophrenia and about providing mental health services to people. So, at one level, the origins of his interests were very strongly positive in terms of aiding his patients. He also was one of the people who was called as a witness during the Nuremberg trials. He evaluated Rudolph Hess, and came to the conclusion, among others, that Hess was sane and competent to stand trial. However, in a series of papers that he wrote after that, one of his conclusions was that social and behavioral scientists must take control of these disordered personalities and the people who have the capability of inflicting danger on others, such as Nazis. In other words, that social and behavioral scientists should have a say in basically the reordering of the world. What he took from the Nuremberg trials, I think, was a kind of a sense of power and, based on expertise, which I think led to some of the misuses of power that he used later on.
Letís talk about, again, sort of bring us up to date What was the evolution of his research, his anti-humane research that occurred at Allan Memorial and his connection to the CIA?
Well, I think the evolution of his research, as I said, was based on his desire to cure schizophrenia. And, the story goes, he was actually taping a session with a patient on day, a woman, and began to play it back to her. And, as he played it back to her she got more and more anxious until she bolted out of his office and he thought to himself: gee, if he makes people listen to what they say maybe he can force them to change their behaviors. So he tried this and discovered that he couldnít force people to sit in the room and listen and then he had to figure out a way to make them listen. And that led to the development of this process called De-Patterning. In other words, if you destroy someoneís brain, if you, as he said, develop a tabula rasa, then they would be forced to listen to these messages, these recordings. Then he decided that it was important to try to move beyond just a tape recording of the patient to, sort of, multiple messages and different kids of ways and he became more and more sophisticated at doing that and, in fact, one of his papers refers to a phenomenon called "group pressure," which, again, was something that people were becoming aware of as a result of the Korean War and what had happened with Communist POWs. That there was a phenomenon in which brainwashing could occur based on, sort of, the group that one was involved with. So when you begin to look at his experimental procedures, you begin to see more and more of a relationship to what was becoming common knowledge as a result of the Communist brainwashing techniques.
When do you think the US intelligence services became linked to him?
Um, I think that the grant that he got, I canít remember exactly, it think itís in the mid-50s, early 50s. And the way that happened was John Gittinger, who was a psychologist working for the CIA as part of the MK-Ultra program, read one of Cameronís papers about - I think it was the one on psychic driving, or it may have been the one on de-patterning - but in any case, he read about it and he contacted Ewen Cameron, again, in the 50s, and that began the process whereby the CIAís front organization began to fund those procedures.
Now, a lot of people have connected the historical roots of mind control and the modern application of mass marketing techniques like, Christopher Simpson who wrote "The Science of Coercion" - and the idea that there is, literally, this "science of coercion" which emanates from the Nazis. Obviously not originating with the Nazis since most basic organized religion is a form of brainwashing and mass mind control but through the Nazi propaganda techniques. Which then comes back to America in the form of advertising culture. Do you see modern day media with all its repetitive messaging as a form of psychic driving? Do you think that there is a link between them
Well, Iím not - I wouldnít say Iím anywhere near an expert, at all, in sort of the social psychology of Ďsellingí. It is clear that commercials work because people buy goods based upon what they read about. I think that the work that Cameron and others was doing is more akin to torture than it is to - and brainwashing, I think, is torture - than it is to this sort of broad movement of selling goods and materials. There was a paper that was written by Farber, Harlowe and West very interesting in the early 1950s and basically it was a paper that described what it was that the Communists did in their brainwashing techniques and it depended on three different variables: debility, dependency and dread. If you put someone in a position of being disabled by not feeding them, or not allowing them to sleep, or overwhelming them with sound, if you put them in periods of darkness, if you make them dependent on you as the jailer, or the interrogator so that they, if they, if they want to go to the bathroom they have to get your permission to do that. And if you do this in a way where they canít predict from one minute to another what is going to happen next, so theyíre always dreading. Thereís no consistency to whatís going to happen, anybody can be can be put in a position of being open to brainwashing, that was sort of a seminal paper. And itís very interesting that a couple of years ago I was asked to look at some of the material from the School of the Americas, and some of the interrogation materials that they had in the manuals, and what I found in there was that it echoed exactly, word for word, what the Farber, Harlowe & West article said, and this is, you know, forty years later. So the striking thing is that much of this material has permeated torture techniques, interrogation techniques around the world up to the present day.
Thatís amazing because, really, what you talk about there, it really applies to some of the assertions made by the Project Monarch people, where thereís food deprivation, sleep deprivation, and theyíre made highly suggestible. Remind me what Project Monarch - Project Monarch was is a mind control research project that emanates from MK-Ultra, but is based around aspects of Himmlerís research in Nazi Germany. What Himmler actually discovered was that children who had been exposed to major forms of trauma - sexual trauma before the age of 5, like pedophilia, or ritual trauma, like in satanic cults, these children were - a.) they had higher abilities because their survival mechanisms were enhanced, so they could see better, they were stronger. And these, in some histories, were considered to be the Ďmaster raceí that Hitler was actually looking for because they were, these people were from the north where they had very inbred families. And b) that these children were perfect candidates for compartmentalization due to the mindís defense to the trauma they were enduring. And so anyway, this emanates to modern day when the US Government, in a very covert project, came to look for children of pedophiles to see if they could find the same aspects--
I remember that.
And this one woman, Cathy OíBrien, was, in fact, Ďrecruitedí out of a family run child porn ring. Yeah, now, has anybody ever -I remember hearing about this - has anybody ever actually found documents that document something called "Project Monarch." I donít think there are any specific documents with a Monarch letterhead on them. Because it was a covert, illegal operation but we have, weíve got an incredible history of her, particularly with her and Gerald Ford, her with Reagan. She was involved in Monarch was developed for the covert ops aspect of the CIA. In other words, people who were involved in, letís say drug smuggling and prostitution who they wanted to be kept in check. Control of these individuals could be maintained through trauma-based mind control and compartmentalization of the mind. Thatís why they talk about satanic cults being actually used as networks for drug smuggling because the ritual-based thereís a ritualistic, trauma-based control in it. Now, it gets into this whole thing that echoes much of what you have said about the use of sound and those elements of the Farber, Harlowe paper. I have hung out with them and while it seems hard to believe at first, they have pretty a pretty strong case. That they were actually using harmonic equipment from NASA on Cathy and her daughter. And at one point during her trial to get custody of her daughter they invoked the National Security Act because of the nature of what they were talking about. But, I mean, what youíre talking about is--thatís a whole other story. What we are trying to discover is the historical foundation of mind control research in the intelligence community. What Iím going to ask you next is from the standpoint of your knowledge about the study of people for mind science applications and then your current work in the study of human rights around the world, is there a point when peopleís human rights are breached by being studied as a species? Because itís one thing when you jail someone, and itís another when actually start to poke around with subliminal advertising and putting messages in media. How do you look at that?
Well, peopleís - one of the basic human rights is you have the right not to be the recipient of torture, to be experimented upon. And so thatís led to the whole phenomenon of informed consent. The Nuremberg trials laid down the conditions under which people can be experimented upon, and certainly I think that Ewen Cameron and other people totally ignored this whole process at that time. In the work that I do, I am - some of what I have done is to document torture, and to work with torture survivors. Itís quite clear that state-sponsored oppression is found worldwide. Amnesty International has documented that more than 100 countries currently practice torture, and so we have a phenomenon whereby, within our within humanity, we have people who inflict pain or degradation on other people in order to intimidate, isolate, extract information, and a variety of other goals that certainly have wide-spread results and wide-spread responses on the individuals, their families and their communities. I donít think this is new, torture has been practiced for a long time. Where it perhaps became unique was in the involvement of intelligence services in using these techniques which certainly destroyed human dignity, which is the principle upon which human rights are based, and which ultimately resulted in long-term destruction of various peopleís brains, like my father. So, that was probably the most significant change in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Could the study of the human mind. Wait, let me back up. In psychology we have the whole structural fragmentation thereís been thereís the whole Freudian approach, then thereís Jungian and these are in a sense evolutions in the study of the technology of the mind. I look at technology in computers and microchips as one thing, but I think of the mind and itís synapses and the atomic structure, that the fact that the mind isnít located in one place - Or in every place. Or in every place, right. No, beautiful. Isnít that the next technological advance, to move into the body as a form of technology? Or is that too, too barren of an interpretation?
Well, Iím not sure I understand your question but there is no question that technology has certainly entered the field of psychiatry in a very big way because of the newer neuro-imaging techniques whether theyíre PET scans or whatever. The fact is that now we can actually look at different parts of the brain, give stimuli, and see them light up. The question that sort of remains to be discovered is: what is the meaning of that Ďlighting upí, and what does it tell us about how the actions of those neurons or those neuro-transmitters or those synapses actually affect human thinking in human behavior. But, itís very apparent to me that technology is actually very quickly moving into helping us discern more clearly what are the basic biological elements of human behavior.
Right. Now when you think of the mind for example there was this concept that if a child has received heavy trauma before the age of five, that they compartmentalize some of their memories. This compartmentalization and the blockage of the mind of its own memories, can you explain a little bit of why, you know?
No, I actually donít want to get into that discussion
OK. ---because itís leads us to things like false memory syndrome and other things that I just donít want to get into. Thatís fine I appreciate that.
Then I guess my next question is that, we say we only use 10 % of our mind and I wonder what this really means. Whatís your personal view of the mind and what our next level of exploration will be? Do you see it as an unlimited realm, where we can move into it almost like a form of space where we travel, and begin to investigate new aspects of it, or do you think weíve basically really figured it out and hit the extent of our knowledge about the mind?
Well, I donít think that weíve figured out whatís going on with the mind. I think that what we have discovered in recent years that many of our earlier theories, whether they were Freudian or Neo-Freudian, or whatever, have biological bases. I think - take the phenomenon of sleep, we now know so much more about the architecture of sleep than we ever did before. We know that certain, sort of, psychiatric syndromes, whether itís Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or depression, seem to have biochemical roots. Iím not someone who thinks that itís all in the biochemistry because I think that there are environmental, social vulnerabilities, and social and psychological pressures external, which may in fact interact with the biology to produce these syndromes. I donít think we know enough at all about what that means. So, I think that weíre sort of still on the frontier of this science of the mind. I think that one concern I have is that we focus so much on the biology that we forget that we live in a world where weíre impacted by everyday life, and that that has effects as well. And then the real trick is trying to relate those two phenomena, the social/environmental and the biological.
Last major question: Oftentimes scientific advances, at least in the realm of health, are advanced at the expense of an animal or, in some cases, a human being. In some ways, is there ever justification for - Justification for experimenting on humans? Right.
Well, I think thatís an interesting question. I was once asked whether I thought that the results of the Nazi experiments on humans in concentration camps, whether those results should be used, because perhaps they could be useful, Iím not convinced they havenít been used, in fact. My own response to that is, no, they shouldnít be used. That if the kinds of work that motivate that research need to be done, they should to be done, again, with informed consent in ways that protect people. I think that thereís much that we canít do on animals. I think we try to do computer models, we attempt to experiment in lots of different ways, but I think sometimes you have to use humans, for example, in clinical trails of drugs, etc. to see if theyíre going to be efficacious. But, the bottom line is no one should ever be experimented upon unwittingly. People should have a very clear understanding of the costs and benefits of any experiment they choose to participate in. People should not be experimented upon when they want, desire and need treatment; they should know the difference between treatment and research. Investigators must be very clear about the difference between treatment and research. This concept of therapeutic experimentation is one that I find very troublesome. I think that the issues of power that are involved in the role of being a clinician, or being a researcher working on human subjects, are critical. I think Human Subjects Committees have to be vigilant and constantly need to - we constantly need to revisit what is that they do because the bottom line is protecting people from ever going through what my father did.
Amazing. I have one more thing that was beautiful. I think that you just gave us the definitive list of the guidelines for a reformed mental health sector. You travel to countries like Indonesia. I have been around the world several times my self and am so struck by how our world is so fragmented, to the point where someone could be experiencing one reality in one region and so different a reality in another. I mean, if we look at the mind of Earth, the mind of our species, is it incredibly isnít it so fragmented itself? I mean, do you ever look at the world as a mind in itself, divided, compartmentalized by itís traumatic experience? Is it that crazy to think of it that way, that we all share I mean if you talk about Jungís collective unconscious that, we do all share one mind and are all just shards of glass, and thus are part of one window, what is the state of the collective unconscious right now?
(laugh) I donít have a clue!
Iím not sure how to answer your question. As I go to different places around the world, you know, and Iím leaving for Bosnia on Saturday, just came back from Indonesia a couple of weeks ago, there are several things that strike me. One is that people are people, and that they value many of the same things, wherever you go, no matter what the culture is, no matter what the language is that they speak. Whatís also unfortunately common is these abuses of power, and the techniques people use to maintain power, whether itís torture or oppression, or disappearances, or murders, or rape, or whatever, unfortunately you see those across cultures. I think that those of us in the US, or Canada, or wherever, many people walk around with blinders on. That, at some level, theyíre aware that there are health disparities, or social disparities, we choose to try to ignore them as much as possible, and thatís in our own countries. What we choose to ignore, even more so, are the incredible, painful deprivation and degradations that much of the world experiences. You know, there almost 50 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world, and it seems to me that most of the west refugee policy is based on keeping people out, rather than trying to protect people, and those people go through enormous, enormous deprivations and privations, and horrors, that most of us donít even want to think about. If we actually believe in any kind of communitarian philosophy, or any kind of sense that we are in a world together, I think that weíre letting people down. Itís incredible to me how little people in this country know whatís happened to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, people sort of follow the news only for so long then they choose to forget. Unfortunately, there are people whoís daily lives are filled with social suffering, and we donít want to hear much about social suffering, and if people come to this country who have suffered, we want to treat them and make them well, and make them forget as fast as possible. Of course we want them to express their feelings first, and then forget. Thereís a real disconnect between the way that we live in the West and the way most of the world experiences life.
True true, and this is the last, and you can go. Is this need to block out, a form of survival? Do we, in some ways, block ourselves from the whole experience to keep ourselves whatís that natural inclination toward insulation?
I think itís denial. I think, yes, itís a way of making sure that we are comfortable in our own existence. You know, humanitarian aid agencies talk about compassion fatigue, how much can people give money to CARE, or Save The Children? We go from one crisis to another, and then you just donít want to hear about it anymore. I think thatís a tragedy, because we go from one acute crisis to another and forget that in between those acute crises we forget that the crises are still occurring, theyíre just not reaching the publicís attention by the media. We do have a tendency, I think that itís normal, we want to live our lives and comfortably and securely as possible, and also some of whatís happening to folks is so awful. Itís acutely painful, I mean, some of the work I do, I hear stories that are horror stories, and you do want to maintain distance. On the other hand, you have to empathize with what these people are experiencing and recognize that it could happen to you. One of the things the first time I went to Bosnia, I mean, people kept telling me, you know, we were just like you, we went for Sunday drives.cuts off