Government Mind Control
“The CIA was testing LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs on Americans in a top-secret experiment on behavior modification.”
Starting in 1953, the Central Intelligence Agency conducted research on psychedelic drugs as part of a top-secret behavior modification program codenamed MK-ULTRA. This bizarre project saw the CIA undertake an extensive—and ethically dubious—series of psychological experiments involving hypnosis, shock therapy, interrogation and hallucinogens like LSD. The CIA started by using volunteers; the novelist Ken Kesey was one notable subject. But the program heads soon began dosing people without their knowledge; MK-ULTRA left many victims permanently mentally disabled.
To observe the effects of the drug on unwitting subjects, they secretly administered LSD to hundreds of mental patients, prisoners, foreign nationals and private American citizens without their consent. In one particularly audacious eight-year program called “Operation Midnight Climax,” the agency set up a string of brothels in San Francisco. Prostitutes would dose their unsuspecting clients, and CIA agents would then monitor the men’s behavior from behind two-way mirrors. Many of the test subjects experienced adverse psychological reactions, and at least one—a biochemist named Frank Olson—died under mysterious circumstances only days after ingesting the drug.
Project MK-ULTRA was scaled back extensively and then terminated in the late 1960s, and the CIA destroyed most of the program’s records in 1973. A cache of surviving documents relating to the agency’s “mind control” program was eventually discovered and revealed to the public in 1977, but the full extent of the government’s psychedelic experimentation remains uncertain.