MK Ultra- The hidden CIA investigation that experimented on the minds of citizens

A mind control experiment was administered in 1953, designed to manipulate the psychology of countless patients. The use of hard drugs played a central role in guiding unsuspecting victims to unknowingly partake in the research project. So, for 20 years, the CIA were able to analyse the most critical part of human consciousness, our minds.

The story begins during the Cold war, the paranoia of the United States was beginning to topple as their foes in the Soviet Bloc started to advance technologically, the United states responded by initiating a project that could cause members of the enemy to confess to tactics being used by their senior authority. This experiment spawned MK Ultra headed by Allan Dulles of the CIA, its description was to develop a mind-altering technique to extract information, but the means they used to obtain this goal were incredibly dubious and effected countless lives for years to come.

LSD, a synthetic crystalline compound was the main hallucinogenic adopted to woo victims into confessing the dark secrets of their mind. The CIA were very particular in their methods of conducting research, choosing to take advantage of shameful pastimes to shield the confidentiality of their dubious practises. One of these pastimes were visits to the brothel, men who made these trips were the perfect prey as they were often lying about their whereabouts. Another aspect that the CIA preferred were individuals from a lower social class, again it was believed they’d attract the least amount of attention and thus maintain the low profile of the experiment.

Prostitutes paid by the CIA were given the task of taking victims back to a CIA managed brothel comprised of 2- way mirrors. During these sessions, members of the government department analysed the impact LSD made in mood swings and the willingness of the victims to open up. However, the results didn’t compile any logical conclusion and was deemed inconclusive. Still the experiment persisted until the late 1960’s, even opening brothels in separate locations to expand the breadth of research. The participating ladies were paid in secret using capital available to the agency; discreet transactions that attest the unethical stance of the CIA. All documents were purged once the project was discontinued, only seven files escaped the cleansing providing the basis of further investigation decades later.

The case of MK Ultra rings the bells of injustice for a host of legal and social reasons, the CIA chose to conduct an experiment in the shadows without the consent of participants. This blatant disregard for the humanity of participants was echoed in the desperation to keep the project secret at all costs. Furthermore, the violation of human rights was evident in the disrespect of social hierarchy. Mental health patients, sex workers, and prisoners were amongst the target cohort of individuals to experiment on. The CIA portrayed a dominant, bullish attitude towards the meek of society in the hope of validating pseudoscience. None of the individuals responsible for organising the project were ever charged, yet they left countless of lives affected through their incognizant doses of drugs.

MK Ultra is almost synonymous with mind-control today, but the desire for humans to manipulate the minds of others has been apparent since Ancient Egyptians when they coined the art of coercive persuasion. All the way through to the obsession of cult-like figures such as Rasputin who seemingly possessed mystic qualities of manipulation and fortune telling. A myriad of great athletes, musicians and war generals have provided ammunition to the incalculable power of the human mind when applied correctly. To echo the opening paragraph, the mind is the most critical aspect of human conscience. Malcom X once said “When your mind is a weapon, you are never unarmed” reverberating the importance of a sound mind to both navigate the trials of life and manifest the beauty of it.

Food for thought.