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MKUltra was a secret project of Research and Development (R&D) that began at Harvard University in the 1940s.[10] One of its primary developers was Harvard director Henry Murray.[11] Murray's developments in unethical human experimentation and LSD research were made for espionage application that was later used by the CIA. The program oversaw Monarch, the Silva Mind Control program, and black sites such as Montauk Point.


MKULTRA was first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee and by the Rockefeller commission. Investigative efforts were hampered in 1973 when all MKULTRA files were ordered to be destroyed. It left investigations to rely on sworn testimonies of direct participants and a relatively small number of documents that survived the destruction order.

The commission report indicated that Project MKULTRA used many methodologies to manipulate individual mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs and other chemicals, sensory deprivation, isolation, and both verbal and sexual abuse.

In 1975, US intelligence insisted that the MKULTRA experiments were abandoned. In a 1977 interview, Victor Marchetti indicated a coverup. On the Senate floor in 1977, Senator Ted Kennedy said:

"The Deputy Director of the CIA revealed that over thirty universities and institutions were involved in an "extensive testing and experimentation" program which included covert drug tests on unwitting citizens "at all social levels, high and low, native Americans and foreign." Several of these tests involved the administration of LSD to "unwitting subjects in social situations." At least one death, that of Dr. Olson, resulted from these activities. The Agency itself acknowledged that these tests made little scientific sense. The agents doing the monitoring were not qualified scientific observers."

Scope of research[]

In 1977, a FOIA request uncovered a cache of 20,000 documents relating to project MKULTRA, which led to the Senate Hearings of 1977. In recent times most information regarding MKULTRA has been officially declassified. One 1955 MKULTRA document gives an indication of the size and range of the effort; this document refers to the study of an assortment of mind-altering substances described as follows:

  1. Substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public.
  2. Substances which increase the efficiency of mentation and perception.
  3. Materials which will prevent or counteract the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
  4. Materials which will promote the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
  5. Materials which will produce the signs and symptoms of recognized diseases in a reversible way so that they may be used for malingering, etc.
  6. Materials which will render the induction of hypnosis easier or otherwise enhance its usefulness.
  7. Substances which will enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture, and coercion during interrogation and so-called "brain-washing".
  8. Materials and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use.
  9. Physical methods of producing shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use (Note: this has been accomplished by utilizing methods of Ritual Abuse).
  10. Substances which produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc.
  11. Substances which will produce "pure" euphoria with no subsequent let-down.
  12. Substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced.
  13. A material which will cause mental confusion of such a type that the individual under its influence will find it difficult to maintain a fabrication under questioning.
  14. Substances which will lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men when administered in undetectable amounts.
  15. Substances which promote weakness or distortion of the eyesight or hearing faculties, preferably without permanent effects.
  16. A knockout pill which can surreptitiously be administered in drinks, food, cigarettes, as an aerosol, etc., which will be safe to use, provide a maximum of amnesia, and be suitable for use by agent types on an ad hoc basis.
  17. A material which can be surreptitiously administered by the above routes and which in very small amounts will make it impossible for a person to perform physical activity.

Frank Olson[]

The death of Frank Olson on November 28, 1953 in Manhattan, became a major lead for investigators to become aware of MKUltra.[12][13] Frank Olson was a civilian bacteriologist for the United States Army Biological Warfare Laboratories (USBWL) who worked at Camp Detrick. The installation established the top secret U.S. bioweapons program in 1943.[14] Frank Olson worked with Pediatrician Harold Abramson in research experiments with aerosolized anthrax.[15] Abramson was an early advocate of therapeutic LSD.[16]

In May 1952, Frank Olson was appointed to the committee for Project Artichoke, an experimental US interrogation program.[17][18]

According to investigative journalist Gordon Thomas, British psychiatrist William Sargant stated that Frank Olson had become a security threat and his access to military facilities should be limited.[14] The Rockefeller Commission report in 1975,[19] indicated that Frank Olson had been dosed with LSD, without his knowledge, nine days before his death.[20][13]

In 1975, it was revealed to the public for the first time that unethical experiments were being conducted on both unwitting and cognizant human subjects[21] as part of an extensive program known as MKUltra. The limited details of the program was contained in a report prepared by the Inspector General's office in 1963. In a prepared Statement by Admiral Stansfield Turner, the program's agenda was to find out how to influence and control human behavior through the use of psychoactive drugs such as LSD and mescaline, and other chemical, biological, and psychological means.[22]

In 1994, the Olson family had Frank Olson's body exhumed to be buried with his wife. The family decided to have a second autopsy performed to implicate "wrongful death".[13] On September 28, 1994, the U.S. General Accounting Office issued a report which stated that between 1940 and 1974, DOD and other national security agencies studied thousands of human subjects in tests and experiments involving hazardous substances.[23]

Harvard University[]

Harvard University, hailed as "The Michigan of the East" by then Senator John F. Kennedy,[24] was involved in MKUltra[25] from 1948[26] to 1974.[27][28] Most MKUltra records were destroyed in 1973, so it has been difficult for investigators to gain the full scope of the more than 150 funded research sub-projects sponsored by MKUltra.[29][30]

Harvard is a private Ivy League research institution in New England, USA.[31] Abroad, Harvard owns the Villa I Tatti research center in Florence, Italy[32] and the Harvard Shanghai Center in Shanghai, China.[33] Villa I Tatti in Florence, opened in 1961 and is not open to the general public.[34]

Admissions to Harvard opened up to bring in more diverse groups of students between 1945 and 1960. By limiting drawings from select New England prep schools,[35] more Catholics, Jews, and other minority groups were able to be admitted.[36][37]

Henry Murray[]

Boston Psychoanalytic Society
Murray and Cobb's research helped to found the Boston Psychoanalytic Society in 1931.[7][38]

In 1927, at the age of 33, Henry Murray, assistant director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic, collaborated with Stanley Cobb, Bullard Professor of Neuropathology at the Medical School, to introduce psychoanalysis into the Harvard curriculum. The agenda was influenced by the decision-making apparatus in Vienna, Austria.[7]

In 1935, Henry Murray and Christiana Morgan developed the concept of "apperception", a theory that enabled Murray to come up with the "situation test" which he used in selection processes. After becoming director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic, Murray acted as a consultant for the British Government, to help set up the British War Officer Selection Board in 1938.[7] Murray's "situation test" was also used to select secret agents for the United States in 1939, after he became lieutenant colonel for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). In 1943, Lt. Murray helped complete Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler.[39][11]

In 1947, Henry Murray was introduced to project MKUltra.[40][41] The program was not Murray's invention,[42] but he helped to establish it in the United States at the Psychological Clinic Annex.[43] As chief researcher, Murray was involved with developing drugs that might be useful for mind control such as Lysergic acid diethylamide.[44] Psychologist Timothy Leary, who began research in psychedelic drugs at Harvard in 1960, said that Henry Murray supervised the program.[45] They tested mind control drugs on people, some without their knowledge.[44]

Henry Murray was responsible for unethical experiments, most notably from late 1959 to early 1962, in which he used twenty-two Harvard undergraduates as research subjects[46] being of Jewish and Polish descent.[47]

The unwitting undergraduates were submitted to "vehement, sweeping and personally abusive" attacks, specifically-tailored to assault the ego,[41] self identity. The Freudian concept, "Ego" (which comes from German "Ich") is the most central part of the mind, which mediates with one's surroundings.[48]

University of Michigan[]

University of Michigan was involved in MKUltra from 1948[49] to 1974.[50][51] Most MKUltra records were destroyed in 1973, limiting the scope of MKUltra sub-projects.[29] When Rensis Likert established ISR at Michigan and Henry Murray established PCA at Harvard in 1948, MKUltra testing and experimentation began in the education system.[52]

Rensis Likert[]

In 1947, Rensis Likert was introduced to project MKUltra at the University of Michigan.[53][41] The program was not Likert's invention.

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia, Project MKUltra#Aims and leadership
  2. Wikipedia, Frank Olson
  3. Wikipedia, Advanced Placement#Criticism
  4. Wikipedia, Eight Schools Association
  5. Sirica, John J. (1979). To Set the Record Straight: The Break-in, the Tapes, the Conspirators, the Pardon. New York: Norton. p. 44. ISBN 0-393-01234-4.
  6. Elizabeth Nickson (October 16, 1994). "Mind Control: My Mother, the CIA and LSD". The Observer.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Wikipedia, Henry Murray#Professional career
  8. Wikipedia, Ivy League
  9. Wikipedia, Ivy Preparatory School League
  10. Wikipedia, Project MKUltra#1994 U.S. General Accounting Office report
  11. 11.0 11.1 Wikipedia, Henry Murray#Harvard human experiments, 1959-62
  12. Hersh, Seymour M. (1974-12-22). "Huge C.i.a. Operation Reported in U.s. Against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Wikipedia, Frank Olson#Murder and wrongful death allegations
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ignatieff, Michael (April 1, 2001). "What did the C.I.A. do to Eric Olson's father?". The New York Times Magazine
  15. Regis, Ed (1999). The Biology of Doom: America's Secret Germ Warfare Project. New York: Henry Holt & Company, p.158. ISBN 978-0-80505-764-5.
  16. Wikipedia, Harold Alexander Abramson
  17. Olson, E (2002-08-22). "Family Statement on the Murder of Frank Olson"
  18. Wikipedia, Frank Olson#Work with Army and CIA
  19. "CIA Documents Concerning The Death of Dr. Frank Olson" (PDF). Frank Olson Project. January 11, 1975.
  20. Coen, Bob; Nadler, Eric (2009). Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail. Berkeley: Counterpoint Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-58243-509-1.
  21. Wikipedia, Unethical human experimentation in the United States
  22. Wikipedia, Project MKUltra#Revelation
  23. Wikipedia, Project MKUltra#1994 U.S. General Accounting Office report
  24. "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the University of Michigan - Student Union Building Steps". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. October 14, 1960
  25. Wikipedia, Ted Kaczynski#Harvard College
  26. Wikipedia, History of the University of Michigan#Later 20th century—Increasing student activism
  27. Wikipedia, Project MKUltra
  28. Wikipedia, Zodiac Killer#Final Zodiac letter
  29. 29.0 29.1 Horrock, Nicholas M. (4 Aug 1977). "80 Institutions Used in C.I.A. Mind Studies: Admiral Turner Tells Senators of Behavior Control Research Bars Drug Testing Now". New York Times.
  30. "Chapter 3, part 4: Supreme Court Dissents Invoke the Nuremberg Code: CIA and DOD Human Subjects Research Scandals". Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments Final Report. "Because most of the MK-ULTRA records were deliberately destroyed in 1973 ..."
  31. Wikipedia, Harvard University
  32. "Villa I Tatti: The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies".
  33. "Shanghai Center".
  34. Wikipedia, Villa I Tatti, visitor information
  35. Malka A. Older. (1996). Preparatory schools and the admissions process. The Harvard Crimson, January 24, 1996
  36. Powell, Alvin (October 1, 2018). "An update on Harvard's diversity, inclusion efforts". The Harvard Gazette.
  37. Wikipedia, SAT#1946 test and associated changes
  38. Wikipedia, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
  39. Wikipedia, Henry Murray#World War II, Office of Strategic Services, 1939-45
  40. Chase, Alston. "Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Wikipedia, Henry Murray#Harvard human experiments, 1959-62
  42. "MKUltra: Inside the CIA's Cold War mind control experiments". The Week. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  43. Moreno, Jonathan (2012). Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century. Bellevue Literary Press, NYU School of Medicine. ISBN 9781934137437.
  44. 44.0 44.1 Nofil B. "The CIA's Appalling Human Experiments With Mind Control". History Channel.
  45. Jonathan D Moreno Harvard's Experiment on the Unabomber, Class of '62 Psychology Today May 25, 2012
  46. Chase A (June 1, 2000). "Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber". The Atlantic Monthly. pp. 41–65. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
  47. Wikipedia, Ted Kaczynski#Childhood
  48. Wiktionary, ego#Etymology
  49. Wikipedia, History of the University of Michigan#Later 20th century—Increasing student activism
  50. Wikipedia, Project MKUltra
  51. Wikipedia, Zodiac Killer#Final Zodiac letter
  52. Wikipedia, World War II, Office of Strategic Services, 1939-45
  53. Chase, Alston. "Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 23, 2017.