Nov 17, 2022 I Nick Redfern

When UFOs and Mind-Control Come Together, Things Get Crazy: MK-Ultra

On April 13, 1953, CIA chief Allen Dulles ordered the creation of a program of mind-control known as MK-Ultra to be conducted by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. Rumors and half-truths about new mind-control techniques being used by Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean interrogators on U.S. prisoners of war panicked the CIA into a search for its own sure-fire method of questioning captives. In April 1961, Dr. Gottlieb decided the animal experiments, which he had been conducting with electrode implants in their brains, were successful and that it was time to experiment with human brains. Information has leaked out concerning experiments with three Viet-Cong (VC) prisoners in July 1968. A team of behaviorists flew into Saigon and traveled to the hospital at Bien Hoa, where the prisoners were being confined. The agents from Subproject 94 set up their equipment in an enclosed compound, and the team’s neurosurgeon and neurologist inserted miniscule electrodes into the brains of the three VC prisoners.

After a brief recovery period, the prisoners were armed with knives and direct electrical stimulation was applied to their brains. The goal of the experiment was to determine if individuals with such electrodes implanted in their brains could be incited to attack and to kill one another. The Agency was seeking a perfect sleeper assassin, a true Manchurian Candidate, who could be electronically directed to kill a subject. After a week of enduring electrical shocks to their brains, the prisoners still refused to attack one another. They were summarily executed and their bodies burned. There is a good reason why I mention this: the experiments described above the extent to which the human mind was manipulated and controlled and to truly startling and controversial degrees. But, such experiments were not just on the enemies – as well as the potential enemies – of the United States. They were undertaken on America’s very own people. One such program focused on the issue of alien abductions. 

(CIA) The mind can be a strange thing

NOTE: This CIA document was declassified under the terms of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. The CIA is an arm of the U.S. Government. That places the document in the public domain

Regardless whether people believe or don’t believe in the reality of the alien abduction phenomenon, there is no doubt that the vast majority of people have heard of it. It was, however, a phenomenon that was pretty much unknown until September 19, 1961. Yes, there were a few, earlier cases, but, for the most part, they were not publicized until after September 19. So, what, exactly is so significant about that particular date? The answer is that it was the date of a now-historic UFO event which occurred to a married couple from New Hampshire. They were Betty and Barney Hill. At the time in question, the Hills were driving home from a vacation in Canada, when the journey suddenly took on strange and unearthly proportions.  It was on a dark stretch of road that the Hills caught sight of a curious light in the sky; it even seemed to be monitoring or shadowing them. They watched it for a while, and then something really strange happened: the Hills became confused, experienced a sense of missing time – of several hours, no less – and after getting home started to experience weird dreams; dreams which suggested they may have been taken on-board the craft and even experimented on by weird-looking, humanoid figures. In no time at all, the dreams became definitive nightmares. Something had to be done. And, it was. 

When things got really bad for the Hills, and the nightmares and stress began to overwhelm them (Barney, for example, developed ulcers), they sought help; it was a very good idea, as that same help led to answers for what happened on that mystery-filled drive back to New Hampshire. They were pit in touch with a neurologist and psychiatrist who operated out of Boston, Massachusetts, named Benjamin Simon. Clearly aware that the Hills were in deep states of anxiety, he elected to subject them to regressive hypnosis – with the permission of Betty and Barney, of course. What followed next can only be described as incredible. Both husband and wife told near-identical stories of being taken from their vehicle, onto what can only be described as an unidentified flying object, and subjected to a series of medical procedures – most of which were fairly intrusive and stressful. Frightening, even. The encounter went on for roughly two hours. So detailed were the memories of Betty and Barney that the time Benjamin Simon worked with the Hills went on for months. 

Such was the phenomenal reaction to the story, it prompted author John Fuller to write a book on the subject, titled The Interrupted Journey – an appropriate title, indeed – and which was published in 1966. Since then, the alien abduction phenomenon has grown and grown and spread like wildfire. We may never know for sure how many people believe they may have been kidnapped and experimented on by black-eyed, dwarfish beings from far away galaxies. After all, not everyone wants publicity – and particularly so not publicity of a very controversial type. In that sense, there may be as many silent abductees as there are publicly visible abductees. To demonstrate the sheer level of experiences on record, though, it is worth noting that after Whitley Strieber’s 1987 alien abduction-themed book, Communion, was published Strieber and his late wife, Anne received letters in no less than six figures. Other books, such as Budd Hopkins’ Missing Time and Dr. John Mack’s Passport to the Cosmos, have added to the controversy and given it more publicity.

As for what may be behind the abductions, certainly the most controversial and widespread belief is that alien entities are engaged in a massive, covert program to create what may amount to untold numbers of untold alien-human hybrids. Some researchers and abductees believe the outcome of the rise of the hybrids will be a positive one: the dawning of a new world, filled with prosperity and peace. Dr. David Jacobs, though, in his books, The Threat and Walking Among Us, concludes that the hybrid issue is downright dangerous, and that we are being infiltrated by aliens who, bit by bit, are infiltrating us all across the goal: complete control. That many abductees believe they have been implanted with devices that have an unclear agenda, adds weight to the theory that the alien abduction issue is a threat to both national security and the people of Earth. But, what if there was a far more down to earth explanation for the alien abduction phenomenon; an explanation that leads us right back to the secret world of the Controllers? This is a question that raises such issues as MK-Ultra and government-sponsored mind-control operations. 

As an example, we’ll start with the case of Alison. In her forties, Alison lives in Phoenix, Arizona – after spending many years in Sedona. Alison has memories and dreams of what she believes were probably five alien abductions. They covered her late twenties to her early thirties. At least, they are the ones she remembers. Each and every event would start the same: her dogs would become restless – whining, crying, and, on a couple of occasions, even hiding under Alison’s bed. It was at that point – always at night – when Alison knew they were coming. Whatever or whoever they were, or were not. In moments, Alison would feel distinctly disoriented, dizzy and confused. Sometimes, a low hum would fill the house. The dogs, at this point, would sit as still as statures, seemingly oblivious at what was going on. The next thing Alison would remember would be waking, feeling not unlike she had the world’s worst hangover. It was always after the incident that Alison would feel the sudden need to sleep – for up to thirteen or fourteen hours, straight, during which she would have vivid, traumatic dreams. Interestingly, on nearly all of the occasions the electric in her home would go off, for reasons that her local electric company could explain.

As for those dreams, they were filled with images and memories of small, humanoid entities running around r home, then transferring her to a UFO, where she would be poked, prodded and experimented on. Blood, ova, saliva and skin cells were routinely taken from her. On occasion, a small metallic object was inserted into one of her nostrils. Most important of all was the fifth encounter – which also happened to be the last encounter. Possibly with good reason. Alison says that during the last experience, something clearly went wrong. The experience began as it usually did: with that beyond-annoying hum. And, then, the aliens put in an appearance as Alison started to feel weird and dizzy. On this occasion, though, the hum suddenly stopped and Alison quickly came out of her strange, groggy state. The aliens were nowhere to be seen: in their place were what appeared to be a group of military men dressed in black SWAT-type outfits. Realizing that they had been rumbled, the men quickly exited Alison’s home – never to return. Although, in earlier years, Alison was a firm believer in the alien abduction phenomenon, today her views are very different: she believes that what she was really subjected to was a highly classified program involving mind-altering technologies that was designed to convince people they had had encounters with extraterrestrials. She has no idea at all why such a program should be run, but she no longer believes in the existence of aliens. But, she does believe in a program to make us believe in aliens. One final thing: at the very end, a very pale faced, skinny Man in Black was on the scene.

(Nick Redfern) The sinister Men in Black on the scene

It’s highly possible that there was a very early precursor to the experiences of Alison, Whitley Strieber, and Betty and Barney Hill. It’s an event which may well have been the very first test of a science that has since been fully perfected. The story in question dates back to a hot summer’s day in the early 1950s and a little French town called Pont-Saint-Esprit, which is located in the southern part of the country. The town is a tranquil one, filled with a great deal of history dating back to the 1700s. Today, however, it is a decidedly infamous locale – chiefly as a result of a series of events that took place on August 15, 1951. That was the date upon which all hell broke loose around Pont-Saint-Esprit, and numerous townsfolk took on the forms of marauding animals – in their minds, at least. The official story is that the people of the town were the victims of a certain fungus called ergot, which can affect rye. It does far more to the person who eats the infected rye: it provokes graphic and terrifying hallucinations, as werewolf / shapeshifter authority Linda Godfrey makes clear. She says, in her 2006 book, Hunting the American Werewolf, that “ergot is now widely regarded as a possible cause of the bestial madness. According to this theory, it was not demonic influence but the ingestion of Claviceps purpurea (which contains a compound similar to LSD), which led to the demented behavior and thus, executions, of many alleged witches, werewolves, and vampires.”

The day began as a normal one for the people of this picturesque old town. By sundown, however, it was like a scene out of The Walking Dead: what seemed to amount to raging infection was everywhere, and those free of that same, perceived infection cowered behind locked doors, fearful of becoming the next victims of whatever it was that had cursed Pont-Saint-Esprit. Hundreds of people rampaged around town. Others swore they saw their fellow townsfolk change into hideous creatures. All told, close to 260 people were affected. Seven died. And more than four dozen were so psychologically traumatized that they were temporarily held at local asylums – for the good of themselves and for the unaffected people of the town, too. But, was ergot really the cause of the devastation and death? Here’s where things become really controversial. One of those who have dug deep into the mystery of what erupted on August 15, 1951 is H.P. Albarelli, Jr. He is the author of a huge book titled A Terrible Mistake. It’s an immense 826-page-long investigation of the mysterious 1951 death of a man named Frank Olson, a brilliant chemist who, in the early 1950s, worked for the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Division.

(Nick Redfern) Strange characters everywhere

Although Olson was at the forefront of researching mind-altering technology, his work was not destined to last. Nor was his life. Olson died on November 28, 1953, as a result of an, ahem, “fall” from the 10th floor of the Statler Hotel, Manhattan. Today, the overriding theory is that Olson – who began to regret working on the controversial programs – was forcibly thrown out of the window of the room by people who were fearful Olson was about to blow the lid on the sheer extent to which unwitting people had been dosed with psychedelics, chemical concoctions, and various other mind-manipulating substances, and all in the name of national security. A controversial scenario, to be sure. Frank Olson – while liaising with French Intelligence counterparts – traveled to France in both 1950 and 1951, the latter being the year in which the town of Pont-Saint-Esprit became a Bedlam, as Albarelli, Jr. notes in his book. The French were as interested as the Americans (and the Russians and the Brits, too, as it transpired) in how the human mind could be clandestinely manipulated. In view of all this, it’s very notable that Olson’s name turns up in previously classified CIA documents on the events at Pont-Saint-Esprit. One such document, which has surfaced through the terms of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act – the title of which is blacked-out for national security reasons – states: “Re: Pont-Saint-Esprit and F. Olson files. SO Span/France Operation file, including Olson. Intel files. Hand carry to Berlin – tell him to see to it that these are buried.”

While this communication is couched in cagey and careful language, it appears to link Olson to Pont-Saint-Esprit, and it makes it abundantly clear that whatever really happened – and which led to people believing they and their friends were changing into wild beasts – had to be kept hidden at all costs. “Buried,” even. Whatever the answer to the strange affair, the people of Pont-Saint-Esprit have not forgotten that terrible day when the townsfolk became monsters – in their minds, but not physically.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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