Are You Out of Your Mind?

Artwork by Katie Heywood

Artwork by Katie Heywood

If you’re a fan of James Bond movies, this is the conspiracy for you. The CIA has no shortage of insane stories, though the average citizen knows very few. One of the most bizarre comes from the 1950s and ‘60s. Known as Project MKUltra, the CIA tested real human volunteers to find and develop drugs and procedures in hopes of forcing confessions during interrogations and torture. The subjects were not informed of the simple fact that they were about to undergo mind control experiments.

The experiments became officially sanctioned in 1953, lasting 13 years until 1966. The subjects, who were unaware of the conditions, partook in many illegal activities including taking psychedelic drugs such as LSD. The subjects were hypnotized, exposed to sensory deprivation, isolated, verbally and sexually abused, and put through other forms of psychological torture. The conspiracy website RationalWiki found a video showing that even a cat was among those tested.

A 1977 joint intelligence hearing revealed that the unwitting players were exposed to drugs and other substances that could cause them to age faster or slower and become paralyzed. The subjects were also put at risk of permanent brain damage, extended periods of shock and confusion as well as amnesia, making them forget that anything even happened in the first place.

As the experiments were meant to give the CIA dominance during interrogations, some of the substances tested could effectively brainwash the subject and cause them to withstand torture and reveal truths they may not otherwise have when not being mind controlled. The agency also gave participants a spooky knockout pill in the form of food, drinks, cigarettes and aerosols.

The CIA carried out Project MKUltra across 80 institutions used as fronts. Forty-four of those were colleges and universities including George Washington University in D.C. The rest were comprised of hospitals, prisons, and pharmaceutical companies.

The operation was said to have caused several deaths, although the exact number is unknown as the CIA destroyed the majority of the documents in 1973. Why erase the evidence? That is one of many unanswered questions from Project MKUltra. But one can safely assume that the CIA was up to some shady, no good, very bad things. And who knows what they’re up to in 2017? The world may never know the truth.