Intelligence & Warfare

CIA Projects - Experimentation

The CIA was also researching on the effects hallucinogenic drugs applying it as a means of interrogation and indoctrination in the sense of accelerating Communist isolation techniques – thus targeting the enemy in an individual basis. Within the project MKUltra which was set up in the early 1950’s numerous subprojects existed. Subproject 68 was conducted by Dr. D Ewen Cameron, former head of the American Psychiatric Association, in 1957 at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal, Canada. Due to the precariousness of the mind control research the CIA seemed to have moved a number of experiments out of the United States. Various sources document the execution of the project 68 like the Senate Hearings from 1977 and the Orlikow vs. United States law suit from 1988.


Closest available sources are the CIA documents on the project. Within the project Cameron experimented with the isolation of persons and the influence of repeated verbal signals, called psychic driving. As the document “Application for Grant to Study the Effects upon Human Behavior of the Repetition of Verbal Signals” from 1957 states, this means not only the “reorganization of behavioral patterns” but the production of physical changes of the patients.

Cameron began his research on psychic driving as early as in 1953. Psychic driving consists of the playback of short cue statements from the therapy recording between a patient and the therapist. In the Psychoanalytic Quarterly in 1958 Cameron wrote that autopsychic driving could be used for “the penetration of defenses, elicitation of hitherto inaccessible material”. (p. 612) He went on: “Heteropsychic driving is best carried on over extended periods (ten to twelve hours daily in hospitalized patients or during sleep). Its primary uses are changing of attitudes and setting up a dynamic implant.” (p. 612) Thus, psychic driving could be used not only to access information a person sought to conceal but also to increase identification of a person with the cue statements – meaning indoctrination.

Memorandum re: Continuation of MKULTRA

A March 27, 1959 Memorandum for the record noting the continuation of MKULTRA Subproject 68, "the effects upon human behavior of the repetition of verbal signals"

Cameron succeeded in establishing “behavioral changes lasting up to two months”. During the processes different methods were used such as electroshocks, psychic driving, “partial sensory isolation” (most likely with water tanks or iron lungs), and a forced continuous sleep for 7-10 days. Cameron suggested further studies on the testing of chemical agents and physiological changes like skin conductance and temperature as well as healing wounds.

In a memorandum from 1959 some of the suggestions were picked up within the project. This investigation of physiological functions was being done by the use of chemical agents like LSD-25. The goal was to firstly, “breakdown ongoing patterns of behavior” “more rapidly”, “more transitorily” and “with less damage to the perceptive and cognitive capacities of the individual than the present physiological agents”. Cameron combined the administration of LSD with the methods of psychic driving and electroshock therapy.

Donald Ewan Cameron

Donald Ewen Cameron (1901-1967)