The Search for the Manchurian Candidate
Well before Harold Wolff and Lawrence Hinkle finished their
study for Allen Dulles in 1956, Wolff was trying to expand his
role in CIA research and operations. He offered Agency officials
the cooperation of his colleagues at Cornell University, where
he taught neurology and psychiatry in the Medical College. In
proposal after proposal, Wolff pressed upon the CIA his idea that
to understand human behavior—and how governments might manipulate
it—one had to study man in relationship to his total environment.
Calling this field "human ecology," Wolff drew into
it the disciplines of psychology, medicine, sociology, and
In the academic world of the early 1950s, this cross-disciplinary
approach was somewhat new, as was the word "ecology,"
but it made sense to CIA officials. Like Wolff, they were far
in advance of the trends in the behavioral sciences.
Wolff carved out vast tracts of human knowledge, some only freshly
discovered, and proposed a partnership with the Agency for the
task of mastering that knowledge for operational use. It was a
time when knowledge itself seemed bountiful and promising, and
Wolff was expansive about how the CIA could harness it. Once he
figured out how the human mind really worked, he wrote, he would
tell the Agency "how a man can be made to think, 'feel,'
and behave according to the wishes of other men, and, conversely,
how a man can avoid being influenced in this manner."
Such notions, which may now appear naive or perverse, did not
seem so unlikely at the height of the Cold War. And Wolff's
stature added weight to his ideas. Like D. Ewen Cameron, he was
no obscure academic. He had been President of the New York Neurological
Association and would become, in 1960, President of the American
Neurological Association. He served for several years as
of the American Medical Association's Archives of Neurology
Both by credentials and force of personality,
Wolff was an impressive figure. CIA officials listened respectfully
to his grand vision of how spies and doctors could work symbiotically
to help—if not save—the world. Also, the Agency men never
forgot that Wolff had become close to Director Allen Dulles while
treating Dulles' son for brain damage.
Wolff's specialized neurological practice led him to believe that
brain maladies, like migraine headaches, occurred because of disharmony
between man and his environment. In this case, he wrote to the
Agency, "The problem faced by the physician is quite similar
to that faced by the Communist interrogator." Both would
be trying to put their subject back in harmony with his environment
whether the problem was headache or ideological dissent. Wolff
believed that the beneficial effects of any new interrogation
technique would naturally spill over into the treatment of his
patients, and vice versa. Following the Soviet model, he felt
he could help his patients by putting them into an isolated,
state—from which it would be easier to create new behavior patterns.
Although Russian-style isolation cells were impractical at Cornell,
Wolff hoped to get the same effect more quickly through sensory
deprivation. He told the Agency that sensory-deprivation chambers
had "valid medical reason" as part of a treatment that
relieved migraine symptoms and made the patient "more receptive
to the suggestions of the psychotherapist." He proposed keeping
his patients in sensory deprivation until they "show an increased
desire to talk and to escape from the procedure." Then, he
said, doctors could "utilize material from their own past
experience in order to create psychological reactions within them."
This procedure drew heavily on the Stalinist method. It cannot
be said what success, if any, Wolff had with it to the benefit
of his patients at Cornell.
Wolff offered to devise ways to use the broadest cultural and
social processes in human ecology for covert operations. He understood
that every country had unique customs for child rearing, military
training, and nearly every other form of human intercourse. From
the CIA's point of view, he noted, this kind of sociological
could be applied mainly to indoctrinating and motivating people.
He distinguished these motivating techniques from the "special
methods" that he felt were 'more relevant to subversion,
seduction, and interrogation." He offered to study those
methods, too, and asked the Agency to give him access to everything
in its files on "threats, coercion, imprisonment, isolation,
deprivation, humiliation, torture, 'brainwashing, "black
psychiatry,' hypnosis, and combinations of these with or without
chemical agents." Beyond mere study, Wolff volunteered the
unwitting use of Cornell patients for brainwashing experiments,
so long as no one got hurt. He added, however, that he would advise
the CIA on experiments that harmed their subjects if they were
performed elsewhere. He obviously felt that only the grandest
sweep of knowledge, flowing freely between scholar and spy, could
bring the best available techniques to bear on their respective
In 1955 Wolff incorporated his CIA-funded study group as the Society
for the Investigation of Human Ecology, with himself as president.
Through the Society, Wolff extended his efforts for the Agency,
and his organization turned into a CIA-controlled funding mechanism
for studies and experiments in the behavioral sciences.
In the early days of the Society, Agency officials trusted Wolff
and his untried ideas with a sensitive espionage assignment. In
effect, the new specialty of human ecology was going to telescope
the stages of research and application into one continuing process.
Speeding up the traditional academic method was required because
the CIA men faced an urgent problem. "What was bothering
them," Lawrence Hinkle explains, "was that the Chinese
had cleaned up their agents in China.... What they really wanted
to do was come up with some Chinese [in America], steer them to
us, and make them into agents." Wolff accepted the challenge
and suggested that the Cornell group hide its real purpose behind
the cover of investigating "the ecological aspects of disease"
among Chinese refugees. The Agency gave the project a budget of
$84,175 (about 30 percent of the money it put into Cornell in
1955) and supplied the study group with 100 Chinese refugees to
work with. Nearly all these subjects had been studying in the
United States when the communists took over the mainland in 1949,
so they tended to be dislocated people in their thirties.
On the Agency side, the main concern, as expressed by one ARTICHOKE
man, was the "security hazard" of bringing together
so many potential agents in one place. Nevertheless, CIA officials
decided to go ahead. Wolff promised to tell them about the inner
reaches of the Chinese character, and they recognized the operational
advantage that insight into Chinese behavior patterns could provide.
Moreover, Wolff said he would pick out the most useful possible
agents. The Human Ecology Society would then offer these candidates
"fellowships" and subject them to more intensive interviews
and "stress producing" situations. The idea was to find
out about their personalities, past conditioning, and present
motivations, in order to figure out how they might perform in
future predicaments—such as finding themselves back in Mainland
China as American agents. In the process, Wolff hoped to mold
these Chinese into people willing to work for the CIA. Mindful
of leaving some cover for Cornell, he was adamant that Agency
operators not connected with the project make the actual recruitment
pitch to those Chinese whom the Agency men wanted as agents.
As a final twist, Wolff planned to provide each agent with techniques
to withstand the precise forms of hostile interrogation they could
expect upon returning to China. CIA officials wanted to "precondition"
the agents in order to create long lasting motivation "impervious
to lapse of time and direct psychological attacks by the enemy."
In other words, Agency men planned to brainwash their agents in
order to protect them against Chinese brainwashing.
Everything was covered—in theory, at least. Wolff was going
to take a crew of 100 refugees and turn as many of them as possible
into detection-proof, live agents inside China, and he planned
to do the job quickly through human ecology. It was a heady chore
for the Cornell professor to take on after classes.
Wolff hired a full complement of psychologists, psychiatrists,
and anthropologists to work on the project. He bulldozed his way
through his colleagues' qualms and government red tape alike.
Having hired an anthropologist before learning that the CIA security
office would not give her a clearance, Wolff simply lied to her
about where the money came from. "It was a function of Wolff's
imperious nature," says his partner Hinkle. "If a dog
came in and threw up on the rug during a lecture, he would continue."
Even the CIA men soon found that Harold Wolff was not to be trifled
with. "From the Agency side, I don't know anyone who wasn't
scared of him," recalls a longtime CIA associate. "He
was an autocratic man. I never knew him to chew anyone out. He
didn't have to. We were damned respectful. He moved in high places.
He was just a skinny little man but talk about mind control! He
was one of the controllers."
In the name of the Human Ecology Society, the CIA paid $1,200
a month to rent a fancy town house on Manhattan's East 78th Street
to house the Cornell group and its research projects Agency technicians
traveled to New York in December 1954 to install eavesdropping
microphones around the building. These and other more obvious
security devices—safes, guards, and the like—made the town
house look different from the academic center it was supposed
to be. CIA liaison personnel held meetings with Wolff and the
staff in the secure confines of the town house, and they all carefully
watched the 100 Chinese a few blocks away at the Cornell hospital.
The Society paid each subject $25 a day so the researchers could
test them, probe them, and generally learn all they could about
Chinese people—or at least about middle-class, displaced,
It is doubtful that any of Wolff's Chinese ever returned to their
homeland as CIA agents, or that all of Wolff's proposals were
put into effect. In any case, the project was interrupted in midstream
by a major shake-up in the CIA's entire mind-control effort. Early
in 1955, Sid Gottlieb and his Ph.D. crew from TSS took over most
of the ARTICHOKE functions, including the Society, from Morse
Allen and the Pinkerton types in the Office of Security. The MKULTRA
men moved quickly to turn the Society into an entity that looked
and acted like a legitimate foundation. First they smoothed over
the ragged covert edges. Out came the bugs and safes so dear to
Morse Allen and company. The new crew even made some effort (largely
unsuccessful) to attract non-CIA funds. The biggest change, however,
was the Cornell professors now had to deal with Agency representatives
who were scientists and who had strong ideas of their own on research
questions. Up to this point, the Cornellians had been able to
keep the CIA's involvement within bounds acceptable to them. While
Harold Wolff never ceased wanting to explore the furthest reaches
of behavior control, his colleagues were wary of going on to the
outer limits—at least under Cornell cover.
No one would ever confuse MKULTRA projects with ivory-tower research,
but Gottlieb's people did take a more academic—and
to behavioral research than their predecessors. The MKULTRA men
understood that not every project would have an immediate operational
benefit, and they believed less and less in the existence of that
one just-over-the-horizon technique that would turn men into puppets.
They favored increasing their knowledge of human behavior in relatively
small steps, and they concentrated on the reduced goal of influencing
and manipulating their subjects. "You're ahead of the game
if you can get people to do something ten percent more often than
they would otherwise," says an MKULTRA veteran.
Accordingly, in 1956, Sid Gottlieb approved a $74,000 project
to have the Human Ecology Society study the factors that caused
men to defect from their countries and cooperate with foreign
governments. MKULTRA officials reasoned that if they could understand
what made old turncoats tick, it might help them entice new ones.
While good case officers instinctively seemed to know how to handle
a potential agent—or thought they did—the MKULTRA men hoped
to come up with systematic, even scientific improvements. Overtly,
Harold Wolff designed the program to look like a follow-up study
to the Society's earlier programs, noting to the Agency that it
was "feasible to study foreign nationals under the cover
of a medical-sociological study." (He told his CIA funders
that "while some information of general value to science
should be produced, this in itself will not be a sufficient
for carrying out a study of this nature.") Covertly, he declared
the purpose of the research was to assess defectors' social and
cultural background, their life experience, and their personality
structure, in order to understand their motivations, value systems,
and probable future reactions.
The 1956 Hungarian revolt occurred as the defector study was getting
underway, and the Human Ecology group, with CIA headquarters approval,
decided to turn the defector work into an investigation of 70
Hungarian refugees from that upheaval. By then, most of Harold
Wolff's team had been together through the brainwashing and Chinese
studies. While not all of them knew of the CIA's specific interests,
they had streamlined their procedures for answering the questions
that Agency officials found interesting. They ran the Hungarians
through the battery of tests and observations in six months, compared
to a year and a half for the Chinese project.
The Human Ecology Society reported that most of their Hungarian
subjects had fought against the Russians during the Revolution
and that they had lived through extraordinarily difficult
including arrest, mistreatment, and indoctrination. The psychologists
and psychiatrists found that, often, those who had survived with
the fewest problems had been those with markedly aberrant
"This observation has added to the evidence that healthy
people are not necessarily 'normal,' but are people particularly
adapted to their special life situations," the group declared.
While CIA officials liked the idea that their Hungarian subjects
had not knuckled under communist influence, they recognized that
they were working with a skewed sample. American visa restrictions
kept most of the refugee left-wingers and former communist officials
out of the United States; so, as a later MKULTRA document would
state, the Society wound up studying "western-tied rightist
elements who had never been accepted completely" in postwar
Hungary. Agency researchers realized that these people would
little" toward increasing the CIA's knowledge of the processes
that made a communist official change his loyalties.
In order to broaden their data base, MKULTRA officials decided
in March 1957 to bring in some unwitting help. They gave a contract
to Rutgers University sociologists Richard Stephenson and Jay
Schulman "to throw as much light as possible on the sociology
of the communist system in the throes of revolution." The
Rutgers professors started out by interviewing the 70 Hungarians
at Cornell in New York, and Schulman went on to Europe to talk
to disillusioned Communists who had also fled their country. From
an operational point of view, these were the people the Agency
really cared about; but, as socialists, most of them probably
would have resisted sharing their experiences with the CIA—if
they had known.
Jay Schulman would have resisted, too. After discovering almost
20 years later that the Agency had paid his way and seen his
interviews, he feels misused. "In 1957 I was myself a quasi-Marxist
and if I had known that this study was sponsored by the CIA, there
is really, obviously, no way that I would have been associated
with it," says Schulman. "My view is that social scientists
have a deep personal responsibility for questioning the sources
of funding; and the fact that I didn't do it at the time was simply,
in my judgment, indication of my own naivet� and political
innocence, in spite of my ideological bent."
Deceiving Schulman and his Hungarian subjects did not bother the
men from MKULTRA in the slightest. According to a Gottlieb aide,
one of the strong arguments inside the CIA for the whole Human
Ecology program was that it gave the Agency a means of approaching
and using political mavericks who could not otherwise get security
clearances. "Sometimes," he chuckles, "these left-wing
social scientists were damned good." This MKULTRA veteran
scoffs at the displeasure Schulman expresses: "If we'd gone
to a guy and said, 'We're CIA,' he never would have done it. They
were glad to get the money in a world where damned few people
were willing to support them.... They can't complain about how
they were treated or that they were asked to do something they
wouldn't have normally done."
The Human Ecology Society soon became a conduit for CIA money
flowing to projects, like the Rutgers one, outside Cornell. For
these grants, the Society provided only cover and administrative
support behind the gold-plated names of Cornell and Harold Wolff.
From 1955 to 1958, Agency officials passed funds through the Society
for work on criminal sexual psychopaths at Ionia State Hospital,
a mental institution located on the banks of the Grand River in
the rolling farm country 120 miles northwest of Detroit. This
project had an interesting hypothesis: That child molesters and
rapists had ugly secrets buried deep within them and that their
stake in not admitting their perversions approached that of spies
not wanting to confess. The MKULTRA men reasoned that any technique
that would work on a sexual psychopath would surely have a similar
effect on a foreign agent. Using psychologists and psychiatrists
connected to the Michigan mental health and the Detroit court
systems, they set up a program to test LSD and marijuana, wittingly
and unwittingly, alone and in combination with hypnosis. Because
of administrative delays, the Michigan doctors managed to experiment
only on 26 inmates in three years—all sexual offenders committed
by judges without a trial under a Michigan law, since declared
unconstitutional. The search for a truth drug went on, under the
auspices of the Human Ecology Society, as well as in other MKULTRA
The Ionia project was the kind of expansionist activity that made
Cornell administrators, if not Harold Wolff, uneasy. By 1957,
the Cornellians had had enough. At the same time, the Agency sponsors
decided that the Society had outgrown its dependence on Cornell
for academic credentials—that in fact the close ties to Cornell
might inhibit the Society's future growth among academics notoriously
sensitive to institutional conflicts. One CIA official wrote that
the Society "must be given more established stature in the
research community to be effective as a cover organization."
Once the Society was cut loose in the foundation world, Agency
men felt they would be freer to go anywhere in academia to buy
research that might assist covert operations. So the CIA severed
the Society's formal connection to Cornell.
The Human Ecology group moved out of its East 78th Street town
house, which had always seem a little too plush for a university
program, and opened up a new headquarters in Forest Hills, Queens,
which was an inappropriate neighborhood for a well-connected
Agency officials hired a staff of four led by Lieutenant Colonel
James Monroe, who had worked closely with the CIA as head of the
Air Force's study of Korean War prisoners. Sid Gottlieb and the
TSS hierarchy in Washington still made the major decisions, but
Monroe and the Society staff, whose salaries the Agency paid,
took over the Society's dealings with the outside world and the
monitoring of several hundred thousand dollars a year in research
projects. Monroe personally supervised dozens of grants, including
Dr. Ewen Cameron's brainwashing work in Montreal. Soon the Society
was flourishing as an innovative foundation, attracting research
proposals from a wide variety of behavioral scientists, at a time
when these people—particularly the unorthodox ones—were still
the step-children of the fund-granting world.
After the Society's exit from Cornell, Wolff and Hinkle stayed
on as president and vice-president, respectively, of the Society's
board of directors. Dr. Joseph Hinsey, head of the New York
Medical Center also remained on the board. Allen Dulles continued
his personal interest in the Society's work and came to one of
the first meetings of the new board, which, as was customary with
CIA fronts, included some big outside names. These luminaries
added worthiness to the enterprise while playing essentially figurehead
roles. In 1957 the other board members were John Whitehorn, chairman
of the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins University, Carl
Rogers, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University
of Wisconsin, and Adolf A. Berle, onetime Assistant Secretary
of State and chairman of the New York Liberal Party.
Berle had originally put his close friend Harold Wolff in touch
with the CIA, and at Wolff's request, he came on the Society board
despite some reservations. "I am frightened about this one,"
Berle wrote in his diary. "If the scientists do what they
have laid out for themselves, men will become manageable ants.
But I don't think it will happen."
There was a lot of old-fashioned backscratching among the CIA
people and the academics as they settled into the work of accommodating
each other. Even Harold Wolff, the first and the most enthusiastic
of the scholar-spies, had made it clear from the beginning that
he expected some practical rewards for his service. According
to colleague Hinkle, who appreciated Wolff as one the great grantsman
of his time, Wolff expected that the Agency "would support
our research and we would be their consultants." Wolff bluntly
informed the CIA that some of his work would have no direct use
"except that it vastly enhances our value . . . as consultants
and advisers." In other words, Wolff felt that his worth
to the CIA increased in proportion to his professional accomplishments
and importance—which in turn depended partly on the resources
he commanded. The Agency men understood, and over the last half
of the 1950s, they were happy to contribute almost $300,000 to
Wolff's own research on the brain and central nervous system.
In turn, Wolff and his reputation helped them gain access to other
leading lights in the academic world.
Another person who benefited from Human Ecology funds was Carl
Rogers, whom Wolff had also asked to serve on the board. Rogers,
who later would become famous for his nondirective, nonauthoritarian
approach to psychotherapy, respected Wolff's work, and he had
no objection to helping the CIA. Although he says he would have
nothing to do with secret Agency activities today, he asks for
understanding in light of the climate of the 1950s. "We really
did regard Russia as the enemy," declares Rogers, "and
we were trying to do various things to make sure the Russians
did not get the upper hand." Rogers received an important
professional reward for joining the Society board. Executive Director
James Monroe had let him know that, once he agreed to serve, he
could expect to receive a Society grant. "That appealed to
me because I was having trouble getting funded," says Rogers.
"Having gotten that grant [about $30,000 over three years],
it made it possible to get other grants from Rockefeller and NIMH."
Rogers still feels grateful to the Society for helping him establish
a funding "track record," but he emphasizes that the
Agency never had any effect on his research.
Although MKULTRA psychologist John Gittinger suspected that Rogers'
work on psychotherapy might provide insight into interrogation
methods, the Society did not give Rogers money because of the
content of his work. The grant ensured his services as a consultant,
if desired, and, according to a CIA document, "free access"
to his project. But above all, the grant allowed the Agency to
use Rogers' name. His standing in the academic community contributed
to the layer of cover around the Society that Agency officials
felt was crucial to mask their involvement.
Professor Charles Osgood's status in psychology also improved
the Society's cover, but his research was more directly useful
to the Agency, and the MKULTRA men paid much more to get it. In
1959 Osgood, who four years later became president of the American
Psychological Association, wanted to push forward his work on
how people in different societies express the same feelings, even
when using different words and concepts. Osgood wrote in "an
abstract conceptual framework," but Agency officials saw
his research as "directly relevant" to covert activities.
They believed they could transfer Osgood's knowledge of "hidden
values and cues" in the way people communicate into more
effective overseas propaganda. Osgood's work gave them a tool—called
the "semantic differential"—to choose the right words
in a foreign language to convey a particular meaning.
Like Carl Rogers, Osgood got his first outside funding for what
became the most important work of his career from the Human Ecology
Society. Osgood had written directly to the CIA for support, and
the Society soon contacted him and furnished $192,975 for research
over five years. The money allowed him to travel widely and to
expand his work into 30 different cultures. Also like Rogers,
Osgood eventually received NIMH money to finish his research,
but he acknowledges that the Human Ecology grants played an important
part in the progress of his work. He stresses that "there
was none of the feeling then about the CIA that there is now,
in terms of subversive activities," and he states that the
Society had no influence on anything he produced. Yet Society
men could and did talk to him about his findings. They asked questions
that reflected their own covert interests, not his academic pursuits,
and they drew him out, according to one of them, "at great
length." Osgood had started studying cross-cultural meaning
well before he received the Human Ecology money, but the Society's
support ensured that he would continue his work on a scale that
suited the Agency's purposes, as well as his own.
A whole category of Society funding, called "cover grants,"
served no other purpose than to build the Society's false front.
These included a sociological study of Levittown, Long Island
(about $4,500), an analysis of the Central Mongoloid skull ($700),
and a look at the foreign-policy attitudes of people who owned
fallout shelters, as opposed to people who did not ($2,500). A
$500 Human Ecology grant went to Istanbul University for a study
of the effects of circumcision on Turkish boys. The researcher
found that young Turks, usually circumcised between the ages of
five and seven, felt "severe emotional impact with attending
symptoms of withdrawal." The children saw the painful operations
as "an act of aggression" that brought out previously
hidden fears—or so the Human Ecology Society reported.
In other instances, the Society put money into projects whose
covert application was so unlikely that only an expert could see
the possibilities. Nonetheless, in 1958 the Society gave $5,570
to social psychologists Muzafer and Carolyn Wood Sherif of the
University of Oklahoma for work on the behavior of teen-age boys
in gangs. The Sherifs, both ignorant of the CIA connection,
studied the group structures and attitudes in the gangs and tried
to devise ways to channel antisocial behavior into more constructive
paths. Their results were filtered through clandestine minds at
the Agency. "With gang warfare," says an MKULTRA source,
"you tried to get some defectors-in-place who would like
to modify some of the group behavior and cool it. Now, getting
a juvenile delinquent defector was motivationally not all that
much different from getting a Soviet one."
MKULTRA officials were clearly interested in using their grants
to build contacts and associations with prestigious academics.
The Society put $1,500 a year into the Research in Mental Health
Newsletter published jointly at McGill University by the sociology
and psychiatric departments. Anthropologist Margaret Mead, an
international culture heroine, sat on the newsletter's advisory
board (with, among others, D. Ewen Cameron), and the Society used
her name in its biennial report. Similarly, the Society gave grants
of $26,000 to the well-known University of London psychologist,
H. J. Eysenck, for his work on motivation. An MKULTRA document
acknowledged that this research would have "no immediate
relevance for Agency needs," but that it would "lend
prestige" to the Society. The grants to Eysenck also allowed
the Society to take funding credit for no less than nine of his
publications in its 1963 report. The following year, the Society
managed to purchase a piece of the work of the most famous behaviorist
of all, Harvard's B. F. Skinner. Skinner, who had tried to train
pigeons to guide bombs for the military during World War II, received
a $5,000 Human Ecology grant to pay the costs of a secretary and
supplies for the research that led to his book, Freedom and
Dignity. Skinner has no memory of the grant or its origins
but says, "I don't like secret involvement of any kind. I
can't see why it couldn't have been open and aboveboard."
A TSS source explains that grants like these "bought legitimacy"
for the Society and made the recipients "grateful."
He says that the money gave Agency employees at Human Ecology
a reason to phone Skinner—or any of the other recipients—to
pick his brain about a particular problem. In a similar vein,
another MKULTRA man, psychologist John Gittinger mentions the
Society's relationship with Erwin Goffman of the University of
Pennsylvania, whom many consider today's leading sociological
theorist. The Society gave him a small grant to help finish a
book that would have been published anyway. As a result, Gittinger
was able to spend hours talking with him about, among other things,
an article he had written earlier on confidence men. These hucksters
were experts at manipulating behavior, according to Gittinger,
and Goffman unwittingly "gave us a better understanding of
the techniques people use to establish phony relationships"—a
subject of interest to the CIA.
To keep track of new developments in the behavioral sciences,
Society representatives regularly visited grant recipients and
found out what they and their colleagues were doing. Some of the
knowing professors became conscious spies. Most simply relayed
the latest professional gossip to their visitors and sent along
unpublished papers. The prestige of the Human Ecology grantees
also helped give the Agency access to behavioral scientists who
had no connection to the Society. "You could walk into someone's
office and say you were just talking to Skinner," says an
MKULTRA veteran. "We didn't hesitate to do this. It was a
way to name-drop."
The Society did not limit its intelligence gathering to the United
States. As one Agency source puts it, "The Society gave us
a legitimate basis to approach anyone in the academic community
anywhere in the world." CIA officials regularly used it as
cover when they traveled abroad to study the behavior of foreigners
of interest to the Agency, including such leaders as Nikita Khrushchev.
The Society funded foreign researchers and also gave money to
American professors to collect information abroad. In 1960, for
instance, the Society sponsored a survey of Soviet psychology
through the simple device of putting up $15,000 through the official
auspices of the American Psychological Association to send ten
prominent psychologists on a tour of the Soviet Union. Nine of
the ten had no idea of the Agency involvement, but CIA officials
were apparently able to debrief everyone when the group returned.
Then the Society sponsored a conference and book for which each
psychologist contributed a chapter. The book added another $5,000
to the CIA's cost, but $20,000 all told seemed like a small price
to pay for the information gathered. The psychologists—except
perhaps the knowledgeable one—did nothing they would not ordinarily
have done during their trip, and the scholarly community benefited
from increased knowledge on an important subject. The only thing
violated was the openness and trust normally associated with academic
pursuits. By turning scholars into spies—even unknowing ones—CIA
officials risked the reputation of American research work and
contributed potential ammunition toward the belief in many countries
that the U.S. notion of academic freedom and independence from
the state is self-serving and hypocritical.
Secrecy allowed the Agency a measure of freedom from normal academic
restrictions and red tape, and the men from MKULTRA used that
freedom to make their projects more attractive. The Society demanded
"no stupid progress reports," recalls psychologist and
psychiatrist Martin Orne, who received a grant to support his
Harvard research on hypnotism. As a further sign of generosity
and trust, the Society gave Orne a follow-on $30,000 grant with
no specified purpose.
Orne could use it as he wished. He believes the money was "a
contingency investment" in his work, and MKULTRA officials
agree. "We could go to Orne anytime," says one of them,
"and say, 'Okay, here is a situation and here is a kind of
guy. What would you expect we might be able to achieve if we could
hypnotize him?' Through his massive knowledge, he could speculate
and advise." A handful of other Society grantees also served
in similar roles as covert Agency consultants in the field of
In general, the Human Ecology Society served as the CIA's window
on the world of behavioral research. No phenomenon was too arcane
to escape a careful look from the Society, whether extrasensory
perception or African witch doctors. "There were some unbelievable
schemes," recalls an MKULTRA veteran, "but you also
knew Einstein was considered crazy. You couldn't be so biased
that you wouldn't leave open the possibility that some crazy idea
might work." MKULTRA men realized, according to the veteran,
that "ninety percent of what we were doing would fail"
to be of any use to the Agency. Yet, with a spirit of inquiry
much freer than that usually found in the academic world, the
Society took early stabs at cracking the genetic code with computers
and finding out whether animals could be controlled through electrodes
placed in their brains.
The Society's unrestrained, scattershot approach to behavioral
research went against the prevailing wisdom in American
as to methods and to subjects of interest. During the 1950s one
school of thought—so-called "behaviorism,"—was accepted
on campus, virtually to the exclusion of all others. The
led by Harvard's B. F. Skinner, looked at psychology as the study
of learned observable responses to outside stimulation. To
they championed the approach in which psychologists gave rewards
to rats scurrying through mazes, and they tended to dismiss matters
of great interest to the Agency: e.g., the effect of drugs on
the psyche, subjective phenomena like hypnosis, the inner workings
of the mind, and personality theories that took genetic differences
By investing up to $400,000 a year into the early, innovative
work of men like Carl Rogers, Charles Osgood, and Martin Orne,
the CIA's Human Ecology Society helped liberate the behavioral
sciences from the world of rats and cheese. With a push from the
Agency as well as other forces, the field opened up. Former iconoclasts
became eminent, and, for better or worse, the Skinnerian near-monopoly
gave way to a multiplication of contending schools. Eventually,
a reputable behavioral scientist could be doing almost anything:
holding hands with his students in sensitivity sessions, collecting
survey data on spanking habits, or subjectively exploring new
modes of consciousness. The CIA's money undoubtedly changed the
academic world to some degree, though no one can say how much.
As usual, the CIA men were ahead of their time and had started
to move on before the new approaches became established. In 1963,
having sampled everything from palm reading to subliminal perception,
Sid Gottlieb and his colleagues satisfied themselves that they
had overlooked no area of knowledge—however esoteric—that
might be promising for CIA operations. The Society had served
its purpose; now the money could be better spent elsewhere. Agency
officials transferred the still-useful projects to other covert
channels and allowed the rest to die quietly. By the end of 1965,
when the remaining research was completed, the Society for the
Investigation of Human Ecology was gone.
MKULTRA subprojects 48 and 60 provided the basic documents on
the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology. These were
supplemented by the three biennial reports of the Society that
could be found: 1957, 1961, and 1961-1963. Wolff's own research
work is MKULTRA subproject 61. Wolfs proposals to the Agency are
in #A/B, II, 10/68, undated "Proposed Plan for Implementing
[deleted]" in two documents included in 48-29, March 5, 1956,
"General Principles Upon Which these Proposals Are Based."
The Agency's plans for the Chinese Project are described in #A/B,
II, 10/48, undated, Subject: Cryptonym [deleted] A/B, II 10/72,9
December,1954, Subject: Letter of Instructions, and #A/B, II,
10/110, undated, untitled.
Details of the logistics of renting the Human Ecology headquarters
and bugging it are in #A/B, II, 10/23, 30 August, 1954, Subject:
Meeting of Working Committee of [deleted], No. 5 and #A/B, II,
10/92, 8 December, 1954, Subject: Technical Installation.
The Hungarian project, as well as being described in the 1957
biennial report, was dealt with in MKULTRA subprojects 65 and
82, especially 65-12, 28 June 1956, Subject: MKULTRA subproject
65; 65-11, undated, Subject: Dr. [deleted]'s Project—Plans for
the Coming Year, July,1957-June,1958; and 82-15,11 April 1958,
Subject: Project MKULTRA, Subproject 82.
The Ionia State sexual psychopath research was MKULTRA Subproject
39, especially 39-4, 9 April 1958, Subject: Trip Report, Visit
to [deleted], 7 April 1958. Paul Magnusson of the Detroit Free
Press and David Pearl of the Detroit ACLU office both furnished
Carl Rogers' MKULTRA subproject was # 97. He also received funds
under Subproject 74. See especially 74-256, 7 October 1958, Supplement
to Individual Grant under MKULTRA, Subproject No. 74 and 97-21,
6 August 1959, Subject: MKULTRA Subproject 97.
H. J. Eysenck's MKULTRA subproject was #111. See especially 111-3,
3 April 1961, Subject: Continuation of MKULTRA Subproject 111.
The American Psychological Association-sponsored trip to the Soviet
Union was described in Subproject 107. The book that came out
of the trip was called Some Views on Soviet Psychology,
Raymond Bauer (editor), (Washington: American Psychological
The Sherifs' research on teenage gangs was described in Subproject
# 102 and the 1961 Human Ecology biennial report. Dr. Carolyn
Sherif also wrote a letter to the American Psychological
Martin Orne's work for the Agency was described in Subproject
84. He contributed a chapter to the Society-funded book, The
Manipulation of Human Behavior, edited by Albert Biderman
and Herbert Zimmer-(New York: John Wiley & Sons; 1961), pp.
169-215. Financial data on Orne's Institute for Experimental Psychiatry
came from a filing with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Attachment
to Form 1023.
The quote from John Gittinger came from an interview with him
conducted by Dr. Patricia Greenfield. Dr. Greenfield also interviewed
Jay Schulman, Carl Rogers, and Charles Osgood for an article in
the December 1977 issue of the American Psychological Association
Monitor, from which my quotes of Schulman's comments are taken.
She discussed Erving Goffman's role in a presentation to a panel
of the American Psychological Association convention in Toronto
in August 1978. The talk was titled "CIA Support of Basic
Research in Psychology: Policy Implications."
February 1978. Dr. Sherif talked about
her work when
she and I appeared on an August 1978 panel at the American
Association's convention in Toronto.
1. In 1961 the Society changed its name to
the Human Ecology Fund, but for convenience sake it will be called
the Society throughout the book. (back)
2. Also to gain access to this same group
of leftist Hungarian refugees in Europe, the Human Ecology Society
put $15,000 in 1958 into an unwitting study by Dr. A. H. M. Struik
of the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. An Agency document
extolled this arrangement not only as a useful way of studying
Hungarians but because it provided "entree" into a leading
European university and psychological research center, adding
"such a connection has manifold cover and testing possibilities
as well as providing a base from which to take advantage of
in that area of the world." (back)
3. Professor Laurence Hinkle states that it
was never his or Cornell's intention that the Society would be
used as a CIA funding conduit. When told that he himself had written
letters on the Ionia project, he replied that the Society's
bookkeeper was always putting papers in front of him and that
he must have signed without realizing the implications. (back)
4. By 1961 the CIA staff had tired of Queens
and moved the Society back into Manhattan to 201 East 57th Street.
In 1965 as the Agency was closing down the front, it switched
its headquarters to 183i Connecticut Avenue N.W. in Washington,
the same building owned by Dr. Charles Geschickter that housed
another MKULTRA conduit, the Geschickter Fund for Medical Research.
5. Other establishment figures who would grace
the Human Ecology board over the years included Leonard Carmichael,
head of the Smithsonian Institution, Barnaby Keeney, president
of Brown University, and George A. Kelly, psychology professor
and Society fund recipient at Ohio State University. (back)
6. According to Dr. Carolyn Sherif, who says
she and her husband did not share the Cold War consensus and would
never have knowingly taken CIA funds Human Ecology executive director
James Monroe lied directly about the source of the Society's money,
claiming it came from rich New York doctors and Texas millionaires
who gave it for tax purposes. Monroe used this standard cover
story with other grantees. (back)
7. A 1962 report of Orne's laboratory, the
Institute for Experimental Psychiatry, showed that it received
two sizable grants before the end of that year: $30,000 from Human
Ecology and $30,000 from Scientific Engineering Institute, another
CIA front organization. Orne says he was not aware of the latter
group's Agency connection at the time, but learned of it later.
He used its grant to study new ways of using the polygraph. (back)
The Search for the Manchurian Candidate
With one exception, the CIA's behavioral research—whether on
LSD or on electroshock—seems to have had more impact on the
outside world than on Agency operations. That exception grew out
of the work of the MKULTRA program's resident genius, psychologist
John Gittinger. While on the CIA payroll, toiling to find ways
to manipulate people, Gittinger created a unique system for assessing
personality and predicting future behavior. He called his
Personality Assessment System (PAS). Top Agency officials have
been so impressed that they have given the Gittinger system a
place in most agent-connected activities. To be sure, most CIA
operators would not go nearly so far as a former Gittinger aide
who says, "The PAS was the key to the whole clandestine business."
Still, after most of the touted mind controllers had given up
or been sent back home, it was Gittinger, the staff psychologist,
who sold his PAS system to cynical, anti-gimmick case officers
in the Agency's Clandestine Services. And during the Cuban missile
crisis, it was Gittinger who was summoned to the White House to
give his advice on how Khrushchev would react to American pressure.
A heavy-set, goateed native of Oklahoma who in his later years
came to resemble actor Walter Slezak, Gittinger looked much more
like someone's kindly grandfather than a calculating theoretician.
He had an almost insatiable curiosity about personality, and he
spent most of his waking hours tinkering with and trying to perfect
his system. So obsessed did he become that he always had the feeling
even after other researchers had verified large chunks of the
PAS and after the CIA had put it into operational use—that the
whole thing was "a kind of paranoid delusion."
Gittinger started working on his system even before he joined
the CIA in 1950. Prior to that, he had been director of psychological
services at the state hospital in Norman, Oklahoma. His high-sounding
title did not reflect the fact that he was the only psychologist
on the staff. A former high school guidance counselor and Naval
lieutenant commander during World War II, he was starting out
at age 30 with a master's degree. Every day he saw several hundred
patients whose mental problems included virtually everything in
the clinical textbooks.
Numerous tramps and other itinerants, heading West in search of
the good life in California, got stuck in Oklahoma during the
cold winter months and managed to get themselves admitted to
hospital. In warmer seasons of the year, quite a few of them worked,
when they had to, as cooks or dishwashers in the short-order hamburger
stands that dotted the highways in the days before fast food.
They functioned perfectly well in these jobs until freezing nights
drove them from their outdoor beds. The hospital staff usually
called them "seasonal schizophrenics" and gave them
shelter until spring. Gittinger included them in the psychological
tests he was so fond of running on his patients.
As he measured the itinerants on the Wechsler intelligence scale,
a standard IQ test with 11 parts,
Gittinger also noticed that the cooks had different personality
traits than the dishwashers. The cooks seemed able to maintain
a high degree of efficiency in a distracting environment while
customers were constantly barking new orders at them. They kept
their composure by falling back on their internal resources and
generally shutting themselves off from the commotion around them.
Gittinger dubbed this personality type, which was basically
an "Internalizer" (abbreviated "I"). The dishwashers,
on the other hand, did not have the ability to separate themselves
from the external world. In order to perform their jobs, they
had to be placed off in some far corner of the kitchen with their
dirty pots and pans, or else all the tumult of the place diverted
them from their duty. Gittinger called the dishwasher type an
"Externalizer" (E). He found that if he measured a high
digit span in any person—not just a short-order cook—he could
make a basic judgment about personality.
From observation, Gittinger concluded that babies were born with
distinct personalities which then were modified by environmental
factors. The Internalized—or I—baby was caught up in himself
and tended to be seen as a passive child; hence, the world usually
called him a "good baby." The E tot was more interested
in outside stimuli and attention, and thus was more likely to
cause his parents problems by making demands. Gittinger believed
that the way parents and other authority figures reacted to the
child helped to shape his personality. Adults often pressured
or directed the I child to become more outgoing and the E one
to become more self-sufficient. Gittinger found he could measure
the compensations, or adjustments, the child made on another Wechsler
subtest, the one that rated arithmetic ability. He noticed that
in later life, when the person was subject to stress, these
tended to disappear, and the person reverted to his original
type. Gittinger wrote that his system "makes possible the
assessment of fundamental discrepancies between the surface personality
and the underlying personality structure—discrepancies that
produce tension, conflict, and anxiety."
Besides the E-I dimensions, Gittinger identified two other fundamental
sets of personality characteristics that he could measure with
still other Wechsler subtests. Depending on how a subject did
on the block design subtest, Gittinger could tell if he were Regulated
(R) or Flexible (F). The Regulated person had no trouble learning
by rote but usually did not understand what he learned. The Flexible
individual, on the other hand, had to understand something before
he learned it. Gittinger noted that R children could learn to
play the piano moderately well with comparatively little effort.
The F child most often hated the drudgery of piano lessons, but
Gittinger observed that the great concert pianists tended to be
Fs who had persevered and mastered the instrument.
Other psychologists had thought up personality dimensions similar
to Gittinger's E and I, R and F. even if they defined them somewhat
differently. Gittinger's most original contribution came in a
third personality dimension, which revealed how well people were
able to adapt their social behavior to the demands of the culture
they lived in. Gittinger found he could measure this dimension
with the picture arrangement Wechsler subtest, and he called it
the Role Adaptive (A) or Role Uniform (U). It corresponded to
"charisma," since other people were naturally attracted
to the A person while they tended to ignore the U.
All this became immensely more complicated as Gittinger measured
compensations and modifications with other Wechsler subtests.
This complexity alone worked against the acceptance of his system
by the outside world, as did the fact that he based much of it
on ideas that ran contrary to accepted psychological doctrine—such
as his heretical notion that genetic differences existed. It did
not help, either, that Gittinger was a non-Ph.D. whose theory
sprang from the kitchen habits of vagrants in Oklahoma.
Any one of these drawbacks might have stifled Gittinger in the
academic world, but to the pragmatists in the CIA, they were
Gittinger's strange ideas seemed to work. With uncanny accuracy,
he could look at nothing more than a subject's Wechsler numbers,
pinpoint his weaknesses, and show how to turn him into an Agency
spy. Once Gittinger's boss, Sid Gottlieb, and other high CIA officials
realized how Gittinger's PAS could be used to help case officers
handle agents, they gave the psychologist both the time and money
to improve his system under the auspices of the Human Ecology
Although he was a full-time CIA employee, Gittinger worked under
Human Ecology cover through the 1950s. Agency officials considered
the PAS to be one of the Society's greatest triumphs, definitely
worth continuing after the Society was phased out. In 1962 Gittinger
and his co-workers moved their base of operations from the Human
Ecology headquarters in New York to a CIA proprietary company,
set up especially for them in Washington and called Psychological
Assessment Associates. Gittinger served as president of the company,
whose cover was to provide psychological services to American
firms overseas. He personally opened a branch office in Tokyo
(later moved to Hong Kong) to service CIA stations in the Far
East. The Washington staff, which grew to about 15 professionals
during the 1960s, handled the rest of the world by sending assessment
specialists off for temporary visits.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in Human Ecology grants and then
even more money in Psychological Assessment contracts—all CIA
funds—flowed out to verify and expand the PAS. For example,
the Society gave about $140,000 to David Saunders of the Educational
Testing Service, the company that prepares the College Board exams.
Saunders, who knew about the Agency's involvement, found a correlation
between brain (EEG) patterns and results on the digit-span test,
and he helped Gittinger apply the system to other countries. In
this regard, Gittinger and his colleagues understood that the
Wechsler battery of subtests had a cultural bias and that a Japanese
E had a very different personality from, say, a Russian E. To
compensate, they worked out localized versions of the PAS for
various nations around the world.
While at the Human Ecology group, Gittinger supervised much of
the Society's other research in the behavioral sciences, and he
always tried to interest Society grantees in his system. He looked
for ways to mesh their research with his theories—and vice versa.
Some, like Carl Rogers and Charles Osgood, listened politely and
did not follow up. Yet Gittinger would always learn something
from their work that he could apply to the PAS. A charming man
and a skillful raconteur, Gittinger convinced quite a few of the
other grantees of the validity of his theories and the importance
of his ideas. Careful not to threaten the egos of his fellow
he never projected an air of superiority. Often he would leave
people even the skeptical—openmouthed in awe as he painted unnervingly
accurate personality portraits of people he had never met. Indeed,
people frequently accused him of somehow having cheated by knowing
the subject in advance or peeking at his file.
Gittinger patiently and carefully taught his system to his colleagues,
who all seem to have views of him that range from great respect
to pure idolatry. For all his willingness to share the PAS, Gittinger
was never able to show anyone how to use the system as skillfully
as he did. Not that he did not try; he simply was a more talented
natural assessor than any of the others. Moreover, his system
was full of interrelations and variables that he instinctively
understood but had not bothered to articulate. As a result, he
could look at Wechsler scores and pick out behavior patterns which
would be valid and which no one else had seen. Even after Agency
officials spent a small fortune trying to computerize the PAS,
they found, as one psychologist puts it, the machine "couldn't
tie down all the variables" that Gittinger was carrying around
in his head.
Some Human Ecology grantees, like psychiatrist Robert Hyde, were
so impressed with Gittinger's system that they made the PAS a
major part of their own research. Hyde routinely gave Wechslers
to his subjects before plying them with liquor, as part of the
Agency's efforts to find out how people react to alcohol. In 1957
Hyde moved his research team from Boston Psychopathic Hospital,
where he had been America's first LSD tripper, to Butler Health
Center in Providence. There, with Agency funds, Hyde built an
experimental party room in the hospital, complete with pinball
machine, dartboard, and bamboo bar stools. From behind a two-way
mirror, psychologists watched the subjects get tipsy and made
careful notes on their reaction to alcohol. Not surprisingly,
the observers found that pure Internalizers became more withdrawn
after several drinks, and that uncompensated Es were more likely
to become garrulous—in essence, sloppy drunks. Thus Gittinger
was able to make generalizations about the different ways an I
or an E responded to alcohol.
At Gittinger's urging, other Human Ecology grantees gave the Wechsler
battery to their experimental subjects and sent him the scores.
He was building a unique data base on all phases of human behavior,
and he needed samples of as many distinct groups as possible.
By getting the scores of actors, he could make generalizations
about what sort of people made good role-players. Martin Orne
at Harvard sent in scores of hypnosis subjects, so Gittinger could
separate the personality patterns of those who easily went into
a trance from those who could not be hypnotized. Gittinger collected
Wechslers of businessmen, students, high-priced fashion models,
doctors, and just about any other discrete group he could find
a way to have tested. In huge numbers, the Wechslers came flowing
in—29,000 sets in all by the early 1970s—each one accompanied
by biographic data. With the 10 subtests he used and at least
10 possible scores on each of those, no two Wechsler results in
the whole sample ever looked exactly the same. Gittinger kept
a computer printout of all 29,000 on his desk, and he would fiddle
with them almost every day—looking constantly for new truths
that could be drawn out of them.
Gittinger made a chance observation
that became, he says, the
"bedrock" of his whole system. He noticed that the short-order
cooks tended to do well on the digit-span subtest which rated
their ability to remember numbers. The dishwashers, in contrast,
had a poor memory for digits. Since the cooks had to keep track
of many complex orders—with countless variations of medium rare,
onions, and hold-the-mayo—their retentive quality served them
Simply by knowing how people scored on the Wechsler digit-span
test, he could predict how they would react to liquor. Hyde and
Harold Abramson at Mount Sinai Hospital made the same kind of
observations for LSD finding, among other things, that an E was
more likely than an I to have a bad trip. (Apparently, an I is
more accustomed than an E to "being into his own head"
and losing touch with external reality.)
John Gittinger was interested in all facets of personality, but
because he worked for the CIA, he emphasized deviant forms. He
particularly sought out Wechslers of people who had rejected the
values of their society or who had some vice—hidden or otherwise—that
caused others to reject them. By studying the scores of the defectors
who had come over to the West, Gittinger hoped to identify common
characteristics of men who had become traitors to their governments.
If there were identifiable traits, Agency operators could look
for them in prospective spies. Harris Isbell, who ran the MKULTRA
drug-testing program at the Lexington, Kentucky detention hospital,
sent in the scores of heroin addicts. Gittinger wanted to know
what to look for in people susceptible to drugs. The Human Ecology
project at Ionia State Hospital in Michigan furnished Wechslers
of sexual psychopaths. These scores showed that people with
urges have different personality patterns than so-called normals.
Gittinger himself journeyed to the West Coast to test homosexuals,
lesbians, and the prostitutes he interviewed under George White's
auspices in the San Francisco safehouse. With each group, he separated
out the telltale signs that might be a future indicator of their
sexual preference in others. Gittinger understood that simply
by looking at the Wechsler scores of someone newly tested, he
could pick out patterns that corresponded to behavior of people
in the data base.
The Gittinger system worked best when the TSS staff had a subject's
Wechsler scores to analyze, but Agency officials could not very
well ask a Russian diplomat or any other foreign target to sit
down and take the tests. During World War II, OSS chief William
Donovan had faced a similar problem in trying to find out about
Adolf Hitler's personality, and Donovan had commissioned psychoanalyst
Walter Langer to make a long-distance psychiatric profile of the
German leader. Langer had sifted through all the available data
on the F�hrer, and that was exactly what Gittinger's TSS
assessments staff did when they lacked direct contact (and when
they had it, too). They pored over all the intelligence gathered
by operators, agents, bugs, and taps and looked at samples of
a man's handwriting.
The CIA men took the process of "indirect assessment"
one step further than Langer had, however. They observed the target's
behavior and looked for revealing patterns that corresponded with
traits already recorded among the subjects of the 29,000 Wechsler
Along this line, Gittinger and his staff had a good idea how various
personality types acted after consuming a few drinks. Thus, they
reasoned, if they watched a guest at a cocktail party and he started
to behave in a recognizable way—by withdrawing, for instance—they
could make an educated guess about his personality type—in this
case, that he was an I. In contrast, the drunken Russian diplomat
who became louder and began pinching every woman who passed by
probably was an E. Instead of using the test scores to predict
how a person would behave, the assessments staff was, in effect,
looking at behavior and working backward to predict how the person
would have scored if he had taken the test. The Gittinger staff
developed a whole checklist of 30 to 40 patterns that the skilled
observer could look for. Each of these traits reflected one of
the Wechsler subtests, and it corresponded to some insight picked
up from the 29,000 scores in the data base.
Was the target sloppy or neat? Did he relate to women stiffly
or easily? How did he hold a cigarette and put it into his mouth?
When he went through a receiving line, did he immediately repeat
the name of each person introduced to him? Taken as a whole, all
these observations allowed Gittinger to make a reasoned estimate
about a subject's personality, with emphasis on his vulnerabilities.
As Gittinger describes the system, "If you could get a sample
of several kinds of situations, you could begin to get some pretty
good information." Nevertheless, Gittinger had his doubts
about indirect assessment. "I never thought we were good
at this," he says.
The TSS assessment staff, along with the Agency's medical office
use the PAS indirectly to keep up the OSS tradition of making
psychological portraits of world leaders like Hitler. Combining
analytical techniques with gossipy intelligence, the assessors
tried to give high-level U.S. officials a better idea of what
moved the principal international political figures.
One such study of an American citizen spilled over into the legally
forbidden domestic area when in 1971 the medical office prepared
a profile of Daniel Ellsberg at the request of the White House.
To get raw data for the Agency assessors, John Ehrlichman authorized
a break-in at Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office in California.
John Gittinger vehemently denies that his staff played any role
in preparing this profile, which the White House plumbers intended
to use as a kind of psychological road map to compromise Ellsberg—just
as CIA operators regularly worked from such assessments to exploit
the weaknesses of foreigners.
Whether used directly or indirectly, the PAS gave Agency case
officers a tool to get a better reading of the people with whom
they dealt. CIA field stations overseas routinely sent all their
findings on a target, along with indirect assessment checklists,
back to Washington, so headquarters personnel could decide whether
or not to try recruitment. The TSS assessment staff contributed
to this process by attempting to predict what ploys would work
best on the man in the case officers' sights. "Our job was
to recommend what strategy to try," says a onetime Gittinger
colleague. This source states he had direct knowledge of cases
where TSS recommendations led to sexual entrapment operations,
both hetero- and homosexual. "We had women ready—called
them a stable," he says, and they found willing men when
they had to.
One CIA psychologist stresses that the PAS only provided "clues"
on how to compromise people. "If somebody's assessment came
in like the sexual psychopaths', it would raise red flags,"
he notes. But TSS staff assessors could only conclude that the
target had a potentially serious sex problem. They could by no
means guarantee that the target's defenses could be broken.
the PAS helped dictate the best weapons for the attack. "I've
heard John [Gittinger] say there's always something that someone
wants," says another former Agency psychologist. "And
with the PAS you can find out what it is. It's not necessarily
sex or booze. Sometimes it's status or recognition or security."
Yet another Gittinger colleague describes this process as "looking
for soft spots." He states that after years of working with
the system, he still bridled at a few of the more fiendish ways
"to get at people" that his colleagues dreamed up He
stayed on until retirement, however, and he adds, "None of
this was personal. It was for national security reasons."
A few years ago, ex-CIA psychologist James Keehner told reporter
Maureen Orth that he personally went to New York in 1969 to give
Wechsler tests to an American nurse who had volunteered her body
for her country. "We wanted her to sleep with this Russian,"
explained Keehner. "Either the Russian would fall in love
with her and defect, or we'd blackmail him. I had to see if she
could sleep with him over a period of time and not get involved
emotionally. Boy, was she tough!" Keehner noted that he became
disgusted with entrapment techniques, especially after watching
a film of an agent in bed with a "recruitment target."
He pointed out that Agency case officers, many of whom "got
their jollies" from such work, used a hidden camera to get
their shots. The sexual technology developed in the MKULTRA safehouses
in New York and San Francisco had been put to work. The operation
worked no better in the 1960s, however, than TSS officials predicted
such activities would a decade earlier. "You don't really
recruit agents with sexual blackmail," Keehner concluded.
"That's why I couldn't even take reading the files after
a while. I was sickened at seeing people take pleasure in other
people's inadequacies. First of all, I thought it was just dumb.
For all the money going out, nothing ever came back."
Keehner became disgusted by the picking-at-scabs aspect of TSS
assessment work. Once the PAS had identified a target as having
potential mental instabilities, staff members sometimes suggested
ways to break him down, reasoning that by using a ratchet-like
approach to put him under increased pressure, they might be able
to break the lines that tied him to his country, if not to his
sanity. Keehner stated, "I was sent to deal with the most
negative aspects of the human condition. It was planned
First, you'd check to see if you could destroy a man's marriage.
If you could, then that would be enough to put a lot of stress
on the individual, to break him down. Then you might start a minor
rumor campaign against him. Harass him constantly. Bump his car
in traffic. A lot of it is ridiculous, but it may have a cumulative
effect." Agency case officers might also use this same sort
of stress-producing campaign against a particularly effective
enemy intelligence officer whom they knew they could never recruit
but whom they hoped to neutralize.
Most operations—including most recruitments—did not rely on
such nasty methods. The case officer still benefited from the
TSS staffs assessment, but he usually wanted to minimize stress
rather than accentuate it. CIA operators tended to agree that
the best way to recruit an agent was to make the relationship
as productive and satisfying as possible for him, operating from
the old adage about catching more flies with honey than vinegar.
"You pick the thing most fearful to him—the things which
would cause him the most doubt," says the source. "If
his greatest fear is that he can't trust you to protect him and
his family, you overload your pitch with your ability to do it.
Other people need structure, so you tell them exactly what they
will need to do. If you leave it open-ended, they'll be scared
you'll ask them to do things they're incapable of."
Soon after the successful recruitment of a foreigner to spy for
the CIA, either a CIA staff member or a specially trained case
officer normally sat down with the new agent and gave him the
full battery of Wechsler subtests—a process that took several
hours. The tester never mentioned that the exercise had anything
to do with personality but called it an "aptitude" test—which
it also is. The assessments office in Washington then analyzed
the results. As with the polygraph, the PAS helped tell if the
agent were lying. It could often delve deeper than surface concepts
of true and false. The PAS might show that the agent's motivations
were not in line with his behavior. In that case, if the gap were
too great, the case officer could expect to run up against considerable
deception—resulting either from espionage motives or psychotic
The TSS staff assessors sent a report back to the field on the
best way to deal with the new agent and the most effective means
to exploit him. They would recommend whether his case officer
should treat him sternly or permissively. If the agent were an
Externalizer who needed considerable companionship, the assessors
might suggest that the case officer try to spend as much time
with him as possible.
They would probably recommend against sending this E agent on
a long mission into a hostile country, where he could not have
the friendly company he craved.
Without any help from John Gittinger or his system, covert operators
had long been deciding matters like these, which were, after all,
rooted in common sense. Most case officers prided themselves on
their ability to play their agents like a musical instrument,
at just the right tempo, and the Gittinger system did not shake
their belief that nothing could beat their own intuition. Former
CIA Deputy Director Ray Cline expresses a common view when he
says the PAS "was part of the system—kind of a check-and-balance—a
supposedly scientific tool that was not weighed very heavily.
I never put as much weight on the psychological assessment reports
as on a case officer's view.... In the end, people went with their
own opinion." Former Director William Colby found the assessment
reports particularly useful in smoothing over that "traumatic"
period when a case officer had to pass on his agent to a replacement.
Understandably, the agent often saw the switch as a danger or
a hardship. "The new guy has to show some understanding and
sympathy," says Colby, who had 30 years of operational experience
himself, "but it doesn't work if these feelings are not real."
For those Agency officers who yearned to remove as much of the
human element as possible from agent operations, Gittinger's system
was a natural. It reduced behavior to a workable formula of shorthand
letters that, while not insightful in all respects, gave a reasonably
accurate description of a person. Like Social Security numbers,
such formulas fitted well with a computerized approach. While
not wanting to overemphasize the Agency's reliance on the PAS,
former Director Colby states that the system made dealing with
agents "more systematized, more professional."
In 1963 the CIA's Inspector General gave the TSS assessment staff
high marks and described how it fit into operations:
The [Clandestine Services] case
officer is first and foremost,
perhaps, a practitioner of the art of assessing and exploiting
human personality and motivations for ulterior purposes. The
of advanced skill in this art are highly individualistic in nature,
including such qualities as perceptiveness and imagination. [The
PAS] seeks to enhance the case officer's skill by bringing the
methods and disciplines of psychology to bear.... The prime objectives
are control, exploitation, or neutralization. These objectives
are innately anti-ethical rather than therapeutic in their intent.
In other words, the PAS is directed toward the relationship between
the American case officer and his foreign agent, that lies at
the heart of espionage. In that sense, it amounts to its own academic
discipline—the psychology of spying—complete with axioms and
reams of empirical data. The business of the PAS, like that of
the CIA, is control.
One former CIA psychologist, who still feels guilty about his
participation in certain Agency operations, believes that the
CIA's fixation on control and manipulation mirrors, in a more
virulent form, the way Americans deal with each other generally.
"I don't think the CIA is too far removed from the culture,"
he says. "It's just a matter of degree. If you put a lot
of money out there, there are many people who are lacking the
ethics even of the CIA. At least the Agency had an ideological
basis." This psychologist believes that the United States
has become an extremely control-oriented society—from the classroom
to politics to television advertising. Spying and the PAS techniques
are unique only in that they are more systematic and secret.
Another TSS scientist believes that the Agency's behavioral research
was a logical extension of the efforts of American psychologists,
psychiatrists, and sociologists to change behavior—which he
calls their "sole motivation." Such people manipulate
their subjects in trying to make mentally disturbed people well,
in turning criminals into law-abiding citizens, in improving the
work of students, and in pushing poor people to get off welfare.
The source cites all of these as examples of "behavior modification"
for socially acceptable reasons, which, like public attitudes
toward spying, change from time to time. "Don't get the idea
that all these behavioral scientists were nice and pure, that
they didn't want to change anything, and that they were detached
in their science," he warns. "They were up to their
necks in changing people. It just happened that the things they
were interested in were not always the same as what we were."
Perhaps the saving grace of the behavioral scientists is summed
up by longtime MKULTRA consultant Martin Orne: "We are sufficiently
ineffective so that our findings can be published." With
the PAS, CIA officials had a handy tool for social engineering.
The Gittinger staff found one use for it in the sensitive area
of selecting members of foreign police and intelligence agencies.
All over the globe, Agency operators have frequently maintained
intimate working relations with security services that have
mistreated their own citizens. The assessments staff played a
key role in choosing members of the secret police in at least
two countries whose human-rights records are among the world's
In 1961, according to TSS psychologist John Winne, the CIA and
the Korean government worked together to establish the newly created
Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). The American CIA station
in Seoul asked headquarters to send out an assessor to "select
the initial cadre" of the KCIA. Off went Winne on temporary
duty. "I set up an office with two translators," he
recalls, "and used a Korean version of the Wechsler."
The Agency psychologist gave the tests to 25 to 30 police and
military officers and wrote up a half-page report on each, listing
their strengths and weaknesses. Winne wanted to know about each
candidate's "ability to follow orders, creativity, lack of
personality disorders, motivation—why he wanted out of his current
job. It was mostly for the money, especially with the civilians."
The test results went to the Korean authorities, whom Winne believes
made the personnel decisions "in conjunction with our operational
"We would do a job like this and never get feedback, so we
were never sure we'd done a good job," Winne complains. Sixteen
years after the end of his mission to Seoul and after news of
KCIA repression at home and bribes to American congressmen abroad,
Winne feels that his best efforts had "boomeranged."
He states that Tongsun Park was not one of the KCIA men he tested.
In 1966 CIA staffers, including Gittinger himself, took part in
selecting members of an equally controversial police unit in
anti-terrorist section that fought the Tupamaro urban guerrillas.
According to John Cassidy, the CIA's deputy station chief there
at the time, Agency operators worked to set up this special force
together with the Agency for International Development's Public
Safety Mission (whose members included Dan Mitrione, later kidnapped
and killed by the Tupamaros). The CIA-assisted police claimed
they were in a life-and-death struggle against the guerrillas,
and they used incredibly brutal methods, including torture, to
stamp out most of the Uruguayan left along with the guerrillas.
While the special police were being organized, "John [Gittinger]
came down for three days to get the program underway," recalls
Cassidy. Then Hans Greiner, a Gittinger associate, ran Wechslers
on 20 Uruguayan candidates. One question on the information subtest
was "How many weeks in the year?" Eighteen of the 20
said it was 48, and only one man got the answer right. (Later
he was asked about his answer, and he said he had made a mistake;
he meant 48.) But when Greiner asked this same group of police
candidates, "Who wrote Faust?" 18 of the 20 knew
it was Goethe. "This tells you something about the culture,"
notes Cassidy, who served the Agency all over Latin America. It
also points up the difficulty Gittinger had in making the PAS
work across cultural lines.
In any case, CIA man Cassidy found the assessment process most
useful for showing how to train the anti-terrorist section. "According
to the results, these men were shown to have very dependent
and they needs d strong direction," recalls the now-retired
operator. Cassidy was quite pleased with the contribution Gittinger
and Greiner made. "For years I had been dealing with Latin
Americans," says Cassidy, "and here, largely by psychological
tests, one of [Gittinger's] men was able to analyze people he
had no experience with and give me some insight into them....
Ordinarily, we would have just selected the men and gone to work
In helping countries like South Korea and Uruguay pick their secret
police, TSS staff members often inserted a devilish twist with
the PAS. They could not only choose candidates who would make
good investigators, interrogators, or whatever, but they could
also spot those who were most likely to succumb to future CIA
blandishments. "Certain types were more recruitable,"
states a former assessor. "I looked for them when I wrote
my reports.... Anytime the Company [the CIA] spent money for training
a foreigner, the object was that he would ultimately serve our
control purposes." Thus, CIA officials were not content simply
to work closely with these foreign intelligence agencies; they
insisted on penetrating them, and the PAS provided a useful aid.
In 1973 John Gittinger and his longtime associate John Winne,
who picked KCIA men, published a basic description of the PAS
in a professional journal. Although others had written publicly
about the system, this article apparently disturbed some of the
Agency's powers, who were then cutting back on the number of CIA
employees at the order of short-time Director James Schlesinger.
Shortly thereafter, Gittinger, then 56, stopped being president
of Psychological Assessment Associates but stayed on as a consultant.
In 1974 I wrote about Gittinger's work, albeit incompletely, in
Rolling Stone magazine. Gittinger was disturbed that disclosure
of his CIA connection would hurt his professional reputation.
"Are we tarred by a brush because we worked for the CIA?"
he asked during one of several rather emotional exchanges. "I'm
proud of it." He saw no ethical problems in "looking
for people's weaknesses" if it helped the CIA obtain information,
and he declared that for many years most Americans thought this
was a useful process. At first, he offered to give me the Wechsler
tests and prepare a personality assessment to explain the system,
but Agency officials prohibited his doing so. "I was given
no explanation," said the obviously disappointed Gittinger.
"I'm very proud of my professional work, and I had looked
forward to being able to explain it."
In August 1977 Gittinger publicly testified in Senate hearings.
While he obviously would have preferred talking about his psychological
research, his most persistent questioner, Senator Edward Kennedy,
was much more interested in bringing out sensational details about
prostitutes and drug testing. A proud man, Gittinger felt "humiliated"
by the experience, which ended with him looking foolish on national
television. The next month, the testimony of his former associate,
David Rhodes, further bruised Gittinger. Rhodes told the Kennedy
subcommittee about Gittinger's role in leading the "Gang
that Couldn't Spray Straight" in an abortive attempt to test
LSD in aerosol cans on unwitting subjects. Gittinger does not
want his place in history to be determined by this kind of activity.
He would like to see his Personality Assessment System accepted
as an important contribution to science.
Tired of the controversy and worn down by trying to explain the
PAS, Gittinger has moved back to his native Oklahoma. He took
a copy of the 29,000 Wechsler results with him, but he has lost
his ardor for working with them. A handful of psychologists around
the country still swear by the system and try to pass it on to
others. One, who uses it in private practice, says that in therapy
it saves six months in understanding the patient. This psychologist
takes a full reading of his patient's personality with the PAS,
and then he varies his treatment to fit the person's problems.
He believes that most American psychologists and psychiatrists
treat their patients the same whereas the PAS is designed to identify
the differences between people. Gittinger very much hopes that
others will accept this view and move his system into the mainstream.
"It means nothing unless I can get someone else to work on
it," he declares. Given the preconceptions of the psychological
community, the inevitable taint arising from the CIA's role in
developing the system, and Gittinger's lack of academic credentials
and energy, his wish will probably not be fulfilled.
The material on the Gittinger Personality Assessment System (PAS)
comes from "An Introduction to the Personality Assessment
System" by John Winne and John Gittinger, Monograph Supplement
No. 38, Clinical Psychology Publishing Co., Inc. 1973; an interview
with John Winne; interviews with three other former CIA psychologists;
1974 interviews with John Gittinger by the author; and an extended
interview with Gittinger by Dr. Patricia Greenfield, Associate
Professor of Psychology at UCLA. Some of the material was used
first in a Rolling Stone article, July 18, 1974, "The
CIA Won't Quite Go Public." Robert Hyde's alcohol research
at Butler Health Center was MKULTRA Subproject 66. See especially
66-17, 27 August, 1958. Subject: Proposed Alcohol Study—1958-1959
and 66-5. undated, Subject: Equipment—Ecology Laboratory.
The 1963 Inspector General's report on TSS, as first released
under the Freedom of Information Act, did not include the section
on personality assessment quoted from in the chapter. An undated,
untitled document, which was obviously this section, was made
available in one of the CIA's last releases.
MKULTRA subproject 83 dealt with graphology research, as did part
of Subproject 60, which covered the whole Human Ecology Society.
See especially 83-7, December 11, 1959, Subject: [deleted]
Review and 60-28, undated, Subject [deleted] Activities Report,
May, 1959-April, 1960.
Information on the psychological profile of Ferdinand Marcos came
from a U.S. Government source who had read it. Information on
the profile of the Shah of Iran came from a column by Jack Anderson
and Les Whitten "CIA Study Finds Shah Insecure," Washington
Post, July 11, 1975.
The quotes from James Keehner came from an article in New Times
by Maureen Orth, "Memoirs of a CIA Psychologist," June
For related reports on the CIA's role in training foreign police
and its activities in Uruguay, see an article by Taylor Branch
and John Marks, "Tracking the CIA," Harper's Weekly,
January 25, 1975 and Philip Agee's book, Inside the Company:
CIA Diary (London: Penguin; 1975).
The quote from Martin Orne was taken from Patricia Greenfield's
APA Monitor article cited in the last chapter's notes.
Gittinger's testimony before the Senate Select Committee on
and the Kennedy subcommittee on August 3, 1977 appeared on pages
50-63. David Rhodes' testimony on Gittinger's role in the abortive
San Francisco LSD spraying appeared in hearings before the Kennedy
subcommittee, September 20, 1977, pp. 100-110.
1. Developed by psychologist David Wechsler,
this testing system is called, in different versions, the
and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. As Gittinger worked
with it over the years, he made modifications that he incorporated
in what he named the Wechsler-Bellevue-G. For simplicity's sake,
it is simply referred to as the Wechsler system throughout the
2. As with most of the descriptions of the
PAS made in the book, this is an oversimplification of a more
complicated process. The system, as Gittinger used it, yielded
millions of distinct personality types. His observations on alcohol
were based on much more than a straight I and E comparison. For
the most complete description of the PAS in the open literature,
see the article by Gittinger and Winne cited in the chapter notes.
3. Graphology (handwriting analysis) appealed
to CIA officials as a way of supplementing PAS assessments or
making judgments when only a written letter was available. Graphology
was one of the seemingly arcane fields which the Human Ecology
Society had investigated and found operational uses for. The Society
wound up funding handwriting research and a publication in West
Germany where the subject was taken much more seriously than in
the United States, and it sponsored a study to compare handwriting
analyses with Wechsler scores of actors (including some homosexuals),
patients in psychotherapy, criminal psychopaths, and fashion models.
Gittinger went on to hire a resident graphologist who could do
the same sort of amazing things with handwriting as the Oklahoma
psychologist could do with Wechsler scores. One former colleague
recalls her spotting—accurately—a stomach ailment in a foreign
leader simply by reading one letter. Asked in an interview about
how the Agency used her work, she replied, "If they think
they can manipulate a person, that's none of my business. I don't
know what they do with it. My analysis was not done with that
intention.... Something I learned very early in government was
not to ask questions." (back)
4. A profile of Ferdinand Marcos found the
Filipino president's massive personal enrichment while in office
to be a natural outgrowth of his country's tradition of putting
loyalty to one's family and friends ahead of all other considerations.
Agency assessors found the Shah of Iran to be a brilliant but
dangerous megalomaniac whose problems resulted from an overbearing
father, the humiliation of having served as a puppet ruler, and
his inability for many years to produce a male heir. (back)
5. This source reports that case officers
usually used this sort of nonthreatening approach and switched
to the rougher stuff if the target decided he did not want to
spy for the CIA. In that case, says the ex-CIA man, "you
don't want the person to say no and run off and tattle. You lose
an asset that way—not in the sense of the case officer being
shot, but by being nullified." The spurned operator might
then offer not to reveal that the target was cheating on his wife
or had had a homosexual affair, in return for the target not disclosing
the recruitment attempt to his own intelligence service. (back)
6. While Agency officials might also have
used the PAS to select the right case officer to deal with the
E agent—one who would be able to sustain the agent's need for
a close relationship over a long period of time—they almost
never used the system with this degree of precision. An Agency
office outside TSS did keep Wechslers and other test scores on
file for most case officers, but the Clandestine Services management
was not willing to turn over the selection of American personnel
to the psychologists. (back)
William Thetford (April 25,
1923–July 4, 1988) was trained as
a psychologist and remained professionally active in this field
throughout his life. Thetford worked in a collaborative venture with Helen Schucman in writing A Course In Miracles
(ACIM) and also with its initial edits. 
He died in 1988, aged 65, in Tiburon, California, after having made
his involvement with the ACIM material and its study the most central
focus of his life.
Thetford was born on April 25, 1923, in Chicago, Illinois
to John and Mabel Thetford as the youngest of three children. At the
time of his birth and early childhood, his parents were both regular
members of the Christian Science
church. At the age of seven, the untimely death of his older sister
caused his parents to disavow their affiliation with the Church of
Christian Science. Afterwards, for the next few years, Thetford sampled
various other Protestant denominations.
At the age of nine he contracted a
severe case of scarlet fever,
which led to rheumatic fever and a debilitating heart condition. These
resulting health problems forced him to spend the next three years at
home recuperating. During his forced recuperation period he took
advantage of the many free hours, using the time to satisfy his
voracious appetite for reading. Despite his absence from the classroom,
he entered high school at the age of twelve.
Following graduation from high school,
he was awarded a four-year scholarship to DePauw University in Indiana
where he graduated with majors in psychology and pre-medicine in 1944.
During the course of his university studies, Thetford eventually
settled on the idea of specializing in psychology, and in 1949 he
received his PhD in this field from the University of Chicago.
While he was a student during the early
1940s he served for a time as an administrative assistant for the Manhattan Project, the World
War II atom bomb development
project. The Metallurgical Laboratory where
the first atomic reactor was
assembled was located under Stagg
at the University of Chicago during those years. In his graduate
studies he was fortunate to be one of the first students of the
renowned psychologist, Carl
and hiring of Helen Schucman
For the next five years after his
graduation in 1949, Thetford worked as a research psychologist in both
Chicago, and later in Washington, DC.
According to Colin Ross, from 1951 to 1953 Thetford worked on Project
BLUEBIRD, an early CIA mind control program that led to Project MKULTRA.
He spent 1954 and 1955 as the director of clinical psychology at the
Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. From 1955 to
1957 he was an assistant professor of psychology at Cornell University's CIA-funded
Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology.
In 1958 he accepted an assistant
professorship, which later developed into a full professorship, at the Columbia University
College of Physicians and Surgeons. During a portion of this same
period he also served as the director of clinical psychology at the Columbia-Presbyterian
Hospital. It was here that he would stay for the next 20 years, and
it was here that he first met Helen Schucman, hiring her as a research
psychologist and assistant.
The working relationship between
Thetford and Schucman was
apparently often somewhat strained, yet throughout these difficulties
they would always maintain a certain level of professional courtesy and
respect for one another. The story is often retold that it was into
this environment of inter-relational strain between Thetford and
Schucman that the ACIM material was in a sense first “invited” into
this world. This “invitation” came in the form of an exclamation by
Thetford one day, in the midst of one of their periodic difficulties,
in which Thetford exclaimed, “There must be another way!” This
exclamation was followed by a certain speech he made to Schucman
describing how he believed that it was time for them to try to refocus
their energies on constructive and helpful agendas, rather than being
forever hyper critical and hyper competitive with one another.
Expecting a typically condescending response from Schucman, the studied
silence that followed his speech was then followed by a most surprising
concurrence from Schucman, fully supporting his new proposal. This
speech was given in June 1965.
The next four months were filled with a
number of unusually vivid
dream sequences and even some unusual waking experiences for Schucman.
Amongst her vivid dream sequences, she began to become familiar with a
certain internal character who spoke to her as Jesus in her dreams.
Little did she know that the voice of this dream character would soon
come to dominate the rest of her life. Many of her unusual experiences
during these four months are recorded in the biographical work, Absence
from Felicity, by Kenneth Wapnick.
Schucman appears to have confided her experiences with Thetford, who
acted as a sort of a calming, encouraging and stabilizing influence for
Schucman during this period.
Finally in October of that year, the
transcriptions of what is now
known as ACIM first began. According to both Thetford and Schucman, due
to Schucman’s intensely divided feelings about the work of the
transcription, Schucman would at times require a great deal of
reassurance from Thetford in order to complete the process that
eventually resulted in the first typewritten copy of ACIM, (which later
became known as the Urtext).
According to Thetford, Schucman was
sitting at home on the night of
October 21, 1965, when she heard an internal "voice" say to her, "This
is a course in miracles. Please take notes."
When she first heard this internal
voice, she thought she recognized
it as the same voice of the dream sequence character that in her recent
dream sequences had represented the person of Jesus to her. Schucman
then wrote down about a page of notes before she realized that this
request was going to be of much greater significance, and would require
a far greater commitment in time than it had ever asked of her before.
In a panic, she phoned Thetford to ask for his advice. Thetford
encouraged Schucman to do what the voice asked, and to take the notes.
He offered to meet with her the next morning before work, to review her
notes, to discuss them further with her, and then to determine what she
should do with this "Voice".
On the following morning, after
Thetford's review of the notes, he
was so impressed with what she read to him that he encouraged Schucman
to continue with the note taking. Schucman was initially taken aback by
Thetford's reaction, but then apparently after giving herself enough
time to recover from her initial jitters to honestly review the notes
herself, she agreed. Soon they recognized that the notes, which
eventually became ACIM (referred to as The Course by ACIM
students), was their answer, the "other way" that they had agreed to
find together four months earlier.
Classifying this transcription process
as one of Schucman’s unusual
waking experiences is an understatement at best. During the process
Schucman claimed to have the mental equivalent of a tape recorder in
her thoughts, which she described as being able to turn on and off at
will, at her convenience, so that she might be able to transcribe into
shorthand notes, what she was internally hearing. This voice identified
itself as none other than the historical Jesus.
During the beginning of this process,
one of Thetford’s gentle
complaints was, “In the beginning I spent most of my time while typing
these notes with one hand on the typewriter and the other on Helen’s
shoulder”. After some months of experiencing an initial struggle in
this process, eventually they both began to experience less
subconscious resistance to the process, and the initial transcription
began to move along more smoothly.
From 1965 through 1972 Thetford directly
assisted Schucman with the
transcription of the first three sections of the work, which was in
fact the great bulk of the material. Then in 1972, somewhat to both of
their reliefs (yet on some levels to their dismay) it appeared that the
writing was complete, which for the most part it was.
In 1972 Thetford and Schucman were first
introduced to Kenneth Wapnick
whom they later invited to assist them with the voluminous amount of
editing that was required to render the rough draft of the ACIM
manuscript into a publishable format. Wapnick readily accepted this
invitation, and was eventually instrumental in assisting them in
accomplishing this task. Thetford, Wapnick and Schucman, the three
principle transcriber-editors of ACIM were to remain friends for the
rest of their lives, throughout the arduous process of seeing this
manuscript through to first successful publication, and beyond to
witness the initial spreading of its teachings.
After the completion of the bulk of the
transcribing process, for brief periods during 1973, 1975, and 1977 the
short transcriptions of Psychotherapy,
of Clarification of Terms, and of the Song of Prayer,
which are the remainder of the standard material of ACIM, were
transcribed in similar fashion.
From 1971 to 1978 Thetford, along with
David Saunders, headed the CIA mind control Project MKULTRA Subproject 130:
Move to California
In 1978 Thetford resigned from his
positions at both Columbia University and at Columbia
Presbyterian Hospital. In 1980 he packed up his household, and at
the apparent invitation of Judith
Skutch Whitson, moved to Tiburon, California, where Whitson was
by now employed full time in the publication and distribution of ACIM.
Now in Tiburon at age 57, Thetford
transitioned into a sort of
semi-retirement, no longer accepting any demanding positions of heavy
responsibility in either his professional life, or in his involvement
with the ever growing readership of ACIM. In California Thetford took
on two part time professional positions; one as a psychology consultant
at Travis Air Force Base and the other
as one of the directors of the ACIM related Center for Attitudinal Healing
in Tiburon, as offered to him by his friend and fellow student of ACIM,
Here in California, Thetford spent the
final eight years of his
life, regularly attending meetings of fellow ACIM students where ACIM
principles would be discussed, but only rarely engaging in these
discussions in any kind of an authoritative manner. Instead, during
this final period of his life, he appears to have been primarily
concerned with his own personal study of the ACIM material, and with
enriching his own grasp of its message. Still, some of his interchanges
with his associates during this period are somewhat illuminating.
No mind-control technique has more captured popular imagination—and
kindled fears—than hypnosis. Men have long dreamed they could
use overwhelming hypnotic powers to compel others to do their
bidding. And when CIA officials institutionalized that dream in
the early Cold War Days, they tried, like modern-day Svengalis,
to use hypnosis to force their favors on unwitting victims.
One group of professional experts, as well as popular novelists,
argued that hypnosis would lead to major breakthroughs in spying.
Another body of experts believed the opposite. The Agency men,
who did not fully trust the academics anyway, listened to both
points of view and kept looking for applications which fit their
own special needs. To them, hypnosis offered too much promise
not to be pursued, but finding the answers was such an elusive
and dangerous process that 10 years after the program started
CIA officials were still searching for practical uses.
The CIA's first behavioral research czar, Morse Allen of ARTICHOKE,
was intrigued by hypnosis. He read everything he could get his
hands on, and in 1951 he went to New York for a four-day course
from a well-known stage hypnotist. This hypnotist had taken the
Svengali legend to heart, and he bombarded Allen with tales of
how he used hypnosis to seduce young women. He told the ARTICHOKE
chief that he had convinced one mesmerized lady that he was her
husband and that she desperately wanted him. That kind of deception
has a place in covert operations, and Morse Allen was sufficiently
impressed to report back to his bosses the hypnotist's claim that
"he spent approximately five nights a week away from home
engaging in sexual intercourse."
Apart from the bragging, the stage hypnotist did give Morse Allen
a short education in how to capture a subject's attention and
induce a trance. Allen returned to Washington more convinced than
ever of the benefits of working hypnosis into the ARTICHOKE repertory
and of the need to build a defense against it. With permission
from above, he decided to take his hypnosis studies further, right
in his own office. He asked young CIA secretaries to stay after
work and ran them through the hypnotic paces—proving to his
own satisfaction that he could make them do whatever he wanted.
He had secretaries steal SECRET files and pass them on to total
strangers, thus violating the most basic CIA security rules. He
got them to steal from each other and to start fires. He made
one of them report to the bedroom of a strange man and then go
into a deep sleep. "This activity clearly indicates that
individuals under hypnosis might be compromised and blackmailed,"
On February 19, 1954, Morse Allen simulated the ultimate experiment
in hypnosis: the creation of a "Manchurian Candidate,"
or programmed assassin. Allen's "victim" was a secretary
whom he put into a deep trance and told to keep sleeping until
he ordered otherwise. He then hypnotized a second secretary and
told her that if she could not wake up her friend, "her rage
would be so great that she would not hesitate to 'kill.' "
Allen left a pistol nearby, which the secretary had no way of
knowing was unloaded. Even though she had earlier expressed a
fear of firearms of any kind, she picked up the gun and "shot"
her sleeping friend. After Allen brought the "killer"
out of her trance, she had apparent amnesia for the event, denying
she would ever shoot anyone.
With this experiment, Morse Allen took the testing as far as he
could on a make-believe basis, but he was neither satisfied nor
convinced that hypnosis would produce such spectacular results
in an operational setting. All he felt he had proved was that
an impressionable young volunteer would accept a command from
a legitimate authority figure to take an action she may have sensed
would not end in tragedy. She presumably trusted the CIA enough
as an institution and Morse Allen as an individual to believe
he would not let her do anything wrong. The experimental setting,
in effect, legitimated her behavior and prevented it from being
Early in 1954, Allen almost got his chance to try the crucial
test. According to a CIA document, the subject was to be a 35-year-old,
well-educated foreigner who had once worked for a friendly secret
service, probably the CIA itself. He had now shifted his loyalty
to another government, and the CIA was quite upset with him. The
Agency plan was to hypnotize him and program him into making an
assassination attempt. He would then be arrested at the least
for attempted murder and "thereby disposed of." The
scenario had several holes in it, as the operators presented it
to the ARTICHOKE team. First, the subject was to be involuntary
and unwitting, and as yet no one had come up with a consistently
effective way of hypnotizing such people. Second, the ARTICHOKE
team would have only limited custody of the subject, who was to
be snatched from a social event. Allen understood that it would
probably take months of painstaking work to prepare the man for
a sophisticated covert operation. The subject was highly unlikely
to perform after just one command. Yet, so anxious were the ARTICHOKE
men to try the experiment that they were willing to go ahead even
under these unfavorable conditions: "The final answer was
that in view of the fact that successful completion of this proposed
act of attempted assassination was insignificant to the overall
project; to wit, whether it was even carried out or not, that
under 'crash conditions' and appropriate authority from Headquarters,
the ARTICHOKE team would undertake the problem in spite of the
This operation never took place. Eager to be unleashed, Morse
Allen kept requesting prolonged access to operational subjects,
such as the double agents and defectors on whom he was allowed
to work a day or two. Not every double agent would do. The candidate
had to be among the one person in five who made a good hypnotic
subject, and he needed to have a dissociative tendency to separate
part of his personality from the main body of his consciousness.
The hope was to take an existing ego state—such as an imaginary
childhood playmate—and build it into a separate personality,
unknown to the first. The hypnotist would communicate directly
with this schizophrenic offshoot and command it to carry out specific
deeds about which the main personality would know nothing. There
would be inevitable leakage between the two personalities, particularly
in dreams; but if the hypnotists were clever enough, he could
build in cover stories and safety valves which would prevent the
subject from acting inconsistently.
All during the spring and summer of 1954, Morse Allen lobbied
for permission to try what he called "terminal experiments"
in hypnosis, including one along the following scenario:
CIA officials would recruit an agent in a friendly foreign country
where the Agency could count on the cooperation of the local police
force. CIA case officers would train the agent to pose as a leftist
and report on the local communist party. During training, a skilled
hypnotist would hypnotize him under the guise of giving him medical
treatment (the favorite ARTICHOKE cover for hypnosis). The hypnotist
would then provide the agent with information and tell him to
forget it all when he snapped out of the trance. Once the agent
had been properly conditioned and prepared, he would be sent into
action as a CIA spy. Then Agency officials would tip off the local
police that the man was a dangerous communist agent, and he would
be arrested. Through their liaison arrangement with the police,
Agency case officers would be able to watch and even guide the
course of the interrogation. In this way, they could answer many
of their questions about hypnosis on a live guinea pig who believed
his life was in danger. Specifically, the men from ARTICHOKE wanted
to know how well hypnotic amnesia held up against torture. Could
the amnesia be broken with drugs? One document noted that the
Agency could even send in a new hypnotist to try his hand at cracking
through the commands of the first one. Perhaps the most cynical
part of the whole scheme came at the end of the proposal: "In
the event that the agent should break down and admit his connection
with US intelligence, we a) deny this absolutely and advise the
agent's disposal, or b) indicate that the agent may have been
dispatched by some other organ of US intelligence and that we
should thereafter run the agent jointly with [the local intelligence
An ARTICHOKE team was scheduled to carry out field tests along
these lines in the summer of 1954. The planning got to an advanced
stage, with the ARTICHOKE command center in Washington cabling
overseas for the "time, place, and bodies available for terminal
experiments." Then another cable complained of the "diminishing
numbers" of subjects available for these tests. At this point,
the available record becomes very fuzzy. The minutes of an ARTICHOKE
working group meeting indicate that a key Agency official—probably
the station chief in the country where the experiments were going
to take place—had second thoughts. One participant at the meeting,
obviously rankled by the obstructionism, said if this nay-sayer
did not change his attitude, ARTICHOKE officials would have the
Director himself order the official to go along.
Although short-term interrogations of unwitting subjects with
drugs and hypnosis (the "A" treatment) continued, the
more complicated tests apparently never did get going under the
ARTICHOKE banner. By the end of the year, 1954, Allen Dulles took
the behavioral-research function away from Morse Allen and gave
it to Sid Gottlieb and the men from MKULTRA. Allen had directly
pursued the goal of creating a Manchurian Candidate, which he
clearly believed was possible. MKULTRA officials were just as
interested in finding ways to assert control over people, but
they had much less faith in the frontal-assault approach pushed
by Allen. For them, finding the Manchurian Candidate became a
figurative exercise. They did not give up the dream. They simply
pursued it in smaller steps, always hoping to increase the percentages
in their favor. John Gittinger, the MKULTRA case officer on hypnosis,
states, "Predictable absolute control is not possible on
a particular individual. Any psychologist, psychiatrist, or preacher
can get control over certain kinds of individuals, but that's
not a predictable, definite thing." Gittinger adds that despite
his belief to this effect, he felt he had to give "a fair
shake" to people who wanted to try out ideas to the contrary.
Gottlieb and his colleagues had already been doing hypnosis research
for two years. They did a few basic experiments in the office,
as Morse Allen did, but they farmed out most of the work to a
young Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota, Alden Sears.
Sears, who later moved his CIA study project to the University
of Denver, worked with student subjects to define the nature of
hypnosis. Among many other things, he looked into several of the
areas that would be building blocks in the creation of a Manchurian
Candidate. Could a hypnotist induce a totally separate personality?
Could a subject be sent on missions he would not remember unless
cued by the hypnotist? Sears, who has since become a Methodist
minister, refused to talk about methods he experimented with to
build second identities.
By 1957, he wrote that the experiments that needed to be done
"could not be handled in the University situation."
Unlike Morse Allen, he did not want to perform the terminal
Milton Kline, a New York psychologist who says he also did not
want to cross the ethical line but is sure the intelligence agencies
have, served as an unpaid consultant to Sears and other CIA hypnosis
research. Nothing Sears or others found disabused him of the idea
that the Manchurian Candidate is possible. "It cannot be
done by everyone," says Kline, "It cannot be done consistently,
but it can be done."
A onetime president of the American Society for Clinical and
Hypnosis, Kline was one of many outside experts to whom Gittinger
and his colleagues talked. Other consultants, with equally impressive
credentials, rejected Kline's views. In no other area of the behavioral
sciences was there so little accord on basic questions. "You
could find an expert who would agree with everything," says
Gittinger. "Therefore, we tried to get everybody."
The MKULTRA men state that they got too many unsolicited suggestions
on how to use hypnosis in covert operations. "The operators
would ask us for easy solutions," recalls a veteran. "We
therefore kept a laundry list of why they couldn't have what they
wanted. We spent a lot of time telling some young kid whose idea
we had heard a hundred times why it wouldn't work. We would wind
up explaining why you couldn't have a free lunch." This veteran
mentions an example: CIA operators put a great deal of time and
money into servicing "dead drops" (covert mail pickup
points, such as a hollow tree) in the Soviet Union. If a collector
was captured, he was likely to give away the locations. Therefore
Agency men suggested that TSS find a way to hypnotize these secret
mailmen, so they could withstand interrogation and even torture
Morse Allen had wanted to perform the "terminal experiment"
to see if a hypnotically induced amnesia would stand up to torture.
Gittinger says that as far as he knows, this experiment was never
carried out. "I still like to think we were human beings
enough that this was not something we played with," says
Gittinger. Such an experiment could have been performed, as Allen
suggested, by friendly police in a country like Taiwan or Paraguay.
CIA men did at least discuss joint work in hypnosis with a foreign
secret service in 1962.
Assuming the amnesia would hold, the MKULTRA veteran says the
problem was how to trigger it. Perhaps the Russian phrase meaning
"You're under arrest" could be used as a preprogrammed
cue, but what if the police did not use these words as they captured
the collector? Perhaps the physical sensation of handcuffs being
snapped on could do it, but a metal watchband could have the same
effect. According to the veteran, in the abstract, the scheme
sounded fine, but in practicality, a foolproof way of triggering
the amnesia could not be found. "You had to accept that when
someone is caught, they're going to tell some things," he
MKULTRA officials, including Gittinger, did recommend the use
of hypnosis in operational experiments on at least one occasion.
In 1959 an important double agent, operating outside his homeland,
told his Agency case officer that he was afraid to go home again
because he did not think he could withstand the tough interrogation
that his government used on returning overseas agents. In Washington,
the operators approached the TSS men about using hypnosis, backed
up with drugs, to change the agent's attitude. They hoped they
could instill in him the "ability or the necessary will"
to hold up under questioning.
An MKULTRA official—almost certainly Gittinger—held a series
of meetings over a two-week period with the operators and wrote
that the agent was "a better than average" hypnotic
subject, but that his goal was to get out of intelligence work:
The agent "probably can be motivated to make at least one
return visit to his homeland by application of any one of a number
of techniques, including hypnosis, but he may redefect in the
process." The MKULTRA official continued that hypnosis probably
could not produce an "operationally useful" degree of
amnesia for the events of the recent past or for the hypnotic
treatment itself that the agent "probably has the native
ability to withstand ordinary interrogation . . . provided it
is to his advantage to do so."
The MKULTRA office recommended that despite the relatively negative
outlook for the hypnosis, the Agency should proceed anyway. The
operation had the advantage of having a "fail-safe"
mechanism because the level of hypnosis could be tested out before
the agent actually had to return. Moreover, the MKULTRA men felt
"that a considerable amount of useful experience can be gained
from this operation which could be used to improve Agency capability
in future applications." In effect, they would be using hypnosis
not as the linchpin of the operation, but as an adjunct to help
motivate the agent.
Since the proposed operation involved the use of hypnosis and
drugs, final approval could only be given by the high-level Clandestine
Services committee set up for this purpose and chaired by Richard
Helms. Permission was not forthcoming
In June 1960 TSS officials launched an expanded program of operational
experiments in hypnosis in cooperation with the Agency's
Staff. The legendary James Angleton—the prototype for the title
character Saxonton in Aaron Latham's Orchids for Mother
and for Wellington in Victor Marchetti's The Rope Dancer
Counterintelligence, which took on some of the CIA's most sensitive
missions (including the illegal Agency spying against domestic
dissidents). Counterintelligence officials wrote that the hypnosis
program could provide a "potential breakthrough in clandestine
technology." Their arrangement with TSS was that the MKULTRA
men would develop the technique in the laboratory, while they
took care of "field experimentation."
The Counterintelligence program had three goals: (1) to induce
hypnosis very rapidly in unwitting subjects; (2) to create durable
amnesia; and (3) to implant durable and operationally useful
suggestion. The Agency released no information on any "field
experimentation" of the latter two goals, which of course
are the building blocks of the Manchurian Candidate. Agency officials
provided only one heavily censored document on the first goal,
In October 1960 the MKULTRA program invested $9,000 in an outside
consultant to develop a way of quickly hypnotizing an unwitting
subject. John Gittinger says the process consisted of surprising
"somebody sitting in a chair, putting your hands on his forehead,
and telling the guy to go to sleep." The method worked "fantastically"
on certain people, including some on whom no other technique was
effective, and not on others. "It wasn't that predictable,"
notes Gittinger, who states he knows nothing about the field testing.
The test, noted in that one released document, did not take place
until July 1963—a full three years after the Counterintelligence
experimental program began, during which interval the Agency is
claiming that no other field experiments took place. According
to a CIA man who participated in this test, the Counterintelligence
Staff in Washington asked the CIA station in Mexico City to find
a suitable candidate for a rapid induction experiment. The station
proposed a low-level agent, whom the Soviets had apparently doubled.
A Counterintelligence man flew in from Washington and a hypnotic
consultant arrived from California. Our source and a fellow case
officer brought the agent to a motel room on a pretext. "I
puffed him up with his importance," says the Agency man.
"I said the bosses wanted to see him and of course give him
more money." Waiting in an adjoining room was the hypnotic
consultant. At a prearranged time, the two case officers gently
grabbed hold of the agent and tipped his chair over until the
back was touching the floor. The consultant was supposed to rush
in at that precise moment and apply the technique. Nothing happened.
The consultant froze, unable to do the deed. "You can imagine
what we had to do to cover-up," says the official, who was
literally left holding the agent. "We explained we had heard
a noise, got excited, and tipped him down to protect him. He was
so grubby for money he would have believed any excuse."
There certainly is a huge difference between the limited aim of
this bungled operation and one aimed at building a Manchurian
Candidate. The MKULTRA veteran maintains that he and his colleagues
were not interested in a programmed assassin because they knew
in general it would not work and, specifically, that they could
not exert total control. "If you have one hundred percent
control, you have one hundred percent dependency," he says.
"If something happens and you haven't programmed it in, you've
got a problem. If you try to put flexibility in, you lose control.
To the extent you let the agent choose, you don't have control."
He admits that he and his colleagues spent hours running the arguments
on the Manchurian Candidate back and forth. "Castro was naturally
our discussion point," he declares. "Could you get somebody
gung-ho enough that they would go in and get him?" In the
end, he states, they decided there were more reliable ways to
kill people. "You can get exactly the same thing from people
who are hypnotizable by many other ways, and you can't get anything
out of people who are not hypnotizable, so it has no use,"
The only real gain in employing a hypnotized killer would be,
in theory, that he would not remember who ordered him to pull
the trigger. Yet, at least in the Castro case, the Cuban leader
already knew who was after him. Moreover, there were plenty of
people around willing to take on the Castro contract. "A
well-trained person could do it without all this mumbo-jumbo,"
says the MKULTRA veteran. By going to the Mafia for hitmen, CIA
officials in any case found killers who had a built-in amnesia
mechanism that had nothing to do with hypnosis.
The MKULTRA veteran gives many reasons why he believes the CIA
never actually tried a Manchurian Candidate operation, but he
acknowledges that he does not know.
If the ultimate experiments were performed, they would have been
handled with incredible secrecy. It would seem, however, that
the same kind of reasoning that impelled Sid Gottlieb to recommend
testing powerful drugs on unwitting subjects would have led to
experimentation along such lines, if not to create the Manchurian
Candidate itself, on some of the building blocks, or lesser antisocial
acts. Even if the MKULTRA men did not think hypnosis would work
operationally, they had not let that consideration prevent them
from trying out numerous other techniques. The MKULTRA chief could
even have used a defensive rationale: He had to find out if the
Russians could plant a "sleeper" killer in our midst,
just as Richard Condon's novel discussed.
If the assassin scenario seemed exaggerated, Gottlieb still would
have wanted to know what other uses the Russians might try. Certainly,
he could have found relatively "expendable" subjects,
as he and Morse Allen had for other behavior control experiments.
And even if the MKULTRA men really did restrain themselves, it
is unlikely that James Angleton and his counterintelligence crew
would have acted in such a limited fashion when they felt they
were on the verge of a "breakthrough in clandestine technology."
Whether they went further simply cannot
Morse Allen's training in hypnosis was described in Document #A/B,
V,28/1, 9 July 1951, Subject [Deleted]. His hypnosis experiments
in the office are described in a long series of memos. See especially
#A/B, III, 2/18, 10 February 1954, Hypnotic Experimentation and
Research and #A/B, II, 10/71, 19 August 1954, Subject:
[deleted] and unnumbered document, 5 May 1955, Subject: Hypnotism
and Covert Operations.
The quote on U.S. prisoners passing through Manchuria came from
document #19, 18 June 1953, ARTICHOKE Conference.
Alden Sears' hypnosis work was the subject of MKULTRA subprojects
5, 25, 29, and 49. See especially 49-28, undated, Proposal for
Research in Hypnosis at the [deleted], June 1, 1956 to May 31,
1957, 49-34, undated, Proposals for Research in Hypnosis at the
[deleted], June 1, 1956 to May 31, 1957; 5-11, 28 May 1953, Project
MKULTRA, Subproject 5 and 5-13,20 April 1954, Subject: [deleted].
See also Patrick Oster's article in the Chicago Sun-Times,
September 4, 1977, "How CIA 'Hid' Hypnosis Research."
General background on hypnosis came from interviews with Alden
Sears, Martin Orne, Milton Kline, Ernest Hilgard, Herbert Spiegel,
William Kroger, Jack Tracktir, John Watkins, and Harold Crasilneck.
See Orne's chapter on hypnosis in The Manipulation of Human
Behavior, edited by Albert Biderman and Herbert Zimmer (New
York: John Wiley & Sons; 1961), pp. 169-215.
The contemplated use of hypnosis in an operation involving a foreign
intelligence service is referred to in the Affidavit by Eloise
R. Page, in the case John D. Marks v. Central Intelligence
Agency et al., Civil Action no. 76-2073.
The 1959 proposed use of hypnosis that was approved by TSS is
described in documents #433, 21 August 1959, Possible Use of Drugs
and Hypnosis in [deleted] Operational Case; #434, 27 August 1959,
Comments on [deleted]; and #435, 15 September 1959, Possible Use
of Drugs and Hypnosis in [deleted] Operational Case.
MKULTRA Subproject 128 dealt with the rapid induction technique.
See especially 128-1, undated, Subject: To test a method of rapid
hypnotic induction in simulated and real operational settings
A long interview with John Gittinger added considerably to this
chapter. Mr. Gittinger had refused earlier to be interviewed directly
by me for this book. Our conversation was limited solely to hypnosis.
1. Sears still maintains the fiction that
he thought he was dealing only with a private foundation, the
Geschickter Fund, and that he knew nothing of the CIA involvement
in funding his work. Yet a CIA document in his MKULTRA subproject
says he was "aware of the real purpose" of the project."
Moreover, Sid Gottlieb brought him to Washington in 1954 to demonstrate
hypnosis to a select group of Agency officials. (back)
2. Under my Freedom of Information suit, the
CIA specifically denied access to the documents concerning the
testing of hypnosis and psychedelic drugs in cooperation with
foreign intelligence agencies. The justification given was that
releasing such documents would reveal intelligence sources and
methods, which are exempted by law. The hypnosis experiment was
never carried out, according to the generic description of the
document which the Agency had to provide in explaining why it
had to be withheld. (back)
3. Referring to this CIA-mob relationship,
author Robert Sam Anson has written, "It was inevitable:
Gentlemen wishing to be killers gravitated to killers wishing
to be gentlemen." (back)
4. The veteran admits that none of the arguments
he uses against a conditioned assassin would apply to a programmed
"patsy" whom a hypnotist could walk through a series
of seemingly unrelated events—a visit to a store, a conversation
with a mailman, picking a fight at a political rally. The subject
would remember everything that happened to him and be amnesic
only for the fact the hypnotist ordered him to do these things.
There would be no gaping inconsistency in his life of the sort
that can ruin an attempt by a hypnotist to create a second personality.
The purpose of this exercise is to leave a circumstantial trail
that will make the authorities think the patsy committed a particular
crime. The weakness might well be that the amnesia would not hold
up under police interrogation, but that would not matter if the
police did not believe his preposterous story about being hypnotized
or if he were shot resisting arrest. Hypnosis expert Milton Kline
says he could create a patsy in three months- an assassin would
take him six. (back)