During the beginning of the Cold War, the United States feared that the North Korean, Soviet, and Chinese agents were using mind control on U.S. prisoners of war to brainwash them. In response, MK-Ultra was created and run by chemist and poison expert, Sidney Gottlieb (Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief' 1). Gottlieb first joined the CIA in 1951 as a poison expert and headed the chemical division of the Technical Services Staff (Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief' 1). He became known as the “Black Sorcerer and “Dirty Trickster” for his shrewd understanding of producing different poisons and how they can be used in experiments for mind control (Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief' 1). He made pills, potions, and powders that could instantly kill or cripple without leaving a single trace (The CIA Search for Mind Control 1). Most of Gottlieb’s experiments were conducted by giving large amounts of LSD, which is an intense psychedelic drug that causes hallucinations and dissociation, to unwitting subjects through “techniques that would crush the human psyche to the point that it would admit anything.” (Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief' 1). Gottlieb is now known as the man who brought LSD to America and the godfather of the entire LSD counterculture. He ordered the CIA to pay $240,000 for the entire world’s supply of LSD (Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief' 1). He began handing out LSD to prisons, hospitals, clinics, and other institutions for “research projects” to see how people reacted to the drug and whether or not it could be used for mind control (Kinzer, Stephen 4). Many people who volunteered for the experiments found the LSD pleasurable and told their friends about it (Kinzer, Stephen 4). Famous celebrities such as Ken Kensey, Robert Hunter, and Allen Ginsberg, used Sidney Gottlieb’s LSD, but none of these people knew his name (Kinzer, Stephen 4). Gottlieb was behind the scenes orchestrating the experiments. One prisoner who volunteered for what he thought was a cure for schizophrenia, was given LSD every single day for over a year, later realized that it had nothing to do with schizophrenia and that he was a guinea pig in this experiment (Kinzer, Stephen 6). They were using him to see what his long term reaction to LSD would be. He said that he felt like he was going insane and that it was horrific (Kinzer, Stephen 6). He was in prison for committing a crime but he felt they were committing an even bigger crime on him.
The CIA, with Gottlieb established secret detention centers throughout Europe, East Asia, Japan, Germany and the Philippines (Kinzer, Stephen 7). They were mostly under the control of America so Gottlieb did not have to worry about legalities in these countries. They would capture enemy agents and other people that they felt were “expendable” (Kinzer, Stephen 7). They put them in cells to test them with drugs, as well as other techniques like electroshock, extreme temperatures, and sensory isolation (Kinzer, Stephen 9). Gottlieb wanted to see if he could break down the human ego. He designed ways to understand and destroy the human mind. He was known to be compassionate at times, but was one of the most prolific torturers of all times. He had a legal license to kill whenever he wanted to without having anyone looking over his shoulder and did not have to file any reports.
This guy [Sidney Gottlieb] had a license to kill. He was allowed to requisition human subjects across the United States and around the world and subject them to any kind of abuse that he wanted, even up to the level of it being fatal — yet nobody looked over his shoulder. (Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief' 1)
He was trying to find a way to control the mind and the intention was to lead the CIA to global world power. When his boss, Richard Helms was removed by President Nixon in 1972, Gottlieb knew it was just a matter of time before he would be gone (Kinzer, Stephen 10). Helms was the only person in the CIA who really knew what Gottleib was up to (Kinzer, Stephen 10). They agreed that they should destroy all records of what they had done (Kinzer, Stephen 11). Although most of the records were destroyed, there is still information that can be put together to explain what he did.
Sydney Gottlieb grew up in a neighborhood in the Bronx (Kinzer, Stephen 14). His parents were Orthodox Jews from Hungary (Kinzer, Stephen 15). He lived in a bustling area with ample opportunity for smart kids like him. But Sydney stood out from the other kids. He was born with deformed feet and for most of his childhood he could not walk (Kinzer, Stephen 16). His family’s business made enough to pay for operations and he finally walked without braces at the age of 12 (Kinzer, Stephen 17). He also had a stuttering problem (Kinzer, Stephen 18). His classmates harassed him and he was left out and ostracized by both disabilities (Kinzer, Stephen 19). He was very smart and excelled in college. He won awards and took classes to help his speech (Kinzer, Stephen 21). Gottlieb tried to enlist in the army but was turned down and it upset him very much (Kinzer, Stephen 24). He wanted to serve his country so he found a different way to serve by working for the FDA (Kinzer, Stephen 25). He had children and was moving into a path towards being a government scientist.
At one time, Sydney Gottlieb was known for his public service and charitable actions. In the end he will always be known for his link to LSD, mind control and torturous experiments. It seems that he was compassionate in some ways but there had to be something very evil inside his mind. He was carried away by the power to destroy others. I believe the trauma in his childhood from his disabilities might have led him to seek revenge on others. Not many people are handed that power with no consequences but Gottlieb had all the power and resources he needed. His obituaries and articles after his death call him an assassin, a poisoner, even a mad scientist. He is the sole reason for the making of MK-Ultra and the conspiracies surrounding it.
MK-Ultra was active from 1953 to 1973, but details about the illicit program were not released to the public until 1975, during a worldwide congressional investigation into widespread illegal CIA activities (MK-Ultra 1). Information in the documents released about the MK-Ultra is very brief and does not give full, concrete evidence about these experiments and how they were conducted, which leave people unsatisfied and giving many questions. Three main conspiracies made by the public about MK-Ultra are;
1. Is it real?
2. Is it still conducting experiments today?
3. Are celebrities being mind controlled by MK-Ultra?
The first conspiracy theory of whether it was real or not is the most questioned theory of all. Although there are declassified documents that prove the existence of MK-Ultra, some people do not believe that they conducted inhumane mind control experiments on unwitting subjects. Accordingly, there are CIA documents that point to these experiments being real. In the declassified file “Project MKULTRA, Subproject 8”, there is proof of the approval of Sidney Gottlieb’s request of mass amounts of LSD costing a total of $39,500.00 dollars (Project MKULTRA, Subproject 8 1). A page of MKULTRA, which is a collection of declassified CIA documents regarding MK-Ultra, states that the program conducted experiments on dogs by “utilizing permanent septal electrodes in the brain of selected species of canines in order to determine the locus in which stimulations will produce specific reactions” (PROPOSAL 1) Valerie Wolf, Christine DeNicola, and Claudia Mullen are alleged victims of MK-Ultra’s experiments and protested their testimonies in court (Valerie Wolf, Claudia Mullen, and Christine DeNicola Testimonies 1). In Christine DeNicola’s testimony, she states:
These horrible experiments have profoundly affected my life. I developed Multiple Personality Disorder because his goal was to split my mind into as many parts as possible so he could control me totally. He failed, but I have to endure years of constant physical, mental and emotional pain even to this day. (Valerie Wolf, Claudia Mullen, and Christine DeNicola Testimonies 1)
The existence of MK-Ultra and its experiments is very plausible and can be proven with evidence.
The second conspiracy theory is whether or not MK-Ultra is still conducting experiments today. MK-Ultra officially ended in 1973 when CIA Director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of MK-Ultra and all files related to it, but how do we know it still isn’t happening today (MK-Ultra 1). In Moscow, Russia, the Psychotechnology Research Group created a dungeon-like room where they conduct experiments that can “read the subconscious mind and alter behavior” (Weinberger 1). ave been working on a project called the “MindReader 2.0” which is able to alter behavior and the subconscious mind on command. These experiments caught the attention of the American DHS (Department of Homeland Safety) (Weinberger 1). They were so interested in these experiments that they considered buying all of their technology to bring back to America (Weinberger 1). The government is also producing “microwave weapons” which are used for riot control (Broad 1). These weapons send loud “booms and voices” into people’s heads through radiation waves (Broad 1). These weapons are claimed to be unlethal, but many Americans believe it can cause permanent psychological damage such as Multiple Personality Disorder or schizophrenia (Broad 1). This conspiracy is potentially true, but there is no concrete evidence to prove it.
The final conspiracy is whether or not celebrities are being mind-controlled by MK-Ultra or the government. It is believed that celebrities are brainwashed before signing unfair contracts to a record label or recording company and are “selling their soul” to Hollywood. This means that they can not have their own opinion on certain topics and have to believe what Hollywood or MK-Ultra wants them to believe. Celebrities talk about their alter egos or act very differently at times and this is believed to be trauma caused from MK-Ultra mind control programming. The MK-Ultra mind control programming consists of electroshock torture, molestation, not being allowed to sleep and various other horrible things. This conspiracy is the least plausible since there is no evidence of these claims.
Almost fifty years after the disappearance of MK-Ultra, countless conspiracies still remain. The three most questioned theories are; whether or not it was real, if they are still conducting experiments today, and if celebrities are being mind controlled. The horrendous crimes committed by MK-Ultra left an enduring mark on the CIA and Sidney Gottlieb’s name. The program was “officially” stopped in 1973, but if they kept it a secret from us then, how do we know they won’t keep it a secret from us now?
Broad, William J. “Microwave Weapons Are Prime Suspect in Ills of U.S. Embassy Workers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Sept. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/09/01/science/sonic-attack-cuba-microwave.html.
By. “Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control.” The History Reader, 11 Sept. 2019, www.thehistoryreader.com/modern-history/sidney-gottlieb-and-the-cia-search-for-mind-control/.
Gross, Terry. “Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief'.” NPR, NPR, 9 Sept. 2019, www.npr.org/2019/09/09/758989641/the-cias-secret-quest-for-mind-control-torture-lsd-and-a-poisoner-in-chief.
KINZER, STEPHEN. Poisoner In Chief: Sidney Gottlieb & the CIA's Quest for Mind Control. HENRY HOLT, 2019.
“MK-ULTRA.” Download PDF, www.wanttoknow.info/050626mkultra.
“MK-Ultra.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 16 June 2017, www.history.com/topics/us-government/history-of-mk-ultra.
“Project MKULTRA, Subproject 8.” File:Mkultra-Lsd-Doc.jpg, 12 Mar. 2004, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mkultra-lsd-doc.jpg.
“PROPOSAL.” File:DeclassifiedMKULTRA.jpg, 3 June 2013, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DeclassifiedMKULTRA.jpg.
“Valerie Wolf, Claudia Mullen, and Christine DeNicola Testimonies.” Targeted Individuals Canada, 12 Aug. 2012, targetedindividualscanada.com/2012/08/10/valerie-wolf-claudia-mullen-christine-denicola-t
Weinberger, Sharon. “The Weird Russian Mind-Control Research Behind a DHS Contract.” Wired, Conde Nast, 5 June 2017, www.wired.com/2007/09/mind-reading/.