THE BLOG
12/21/2010 08:25 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

College Mind Mangling: What They Did To Us

Lest we forget -- history shows that there's just no limit to what our own government will do in the name of anti-terrorism. Here's an absolutely true account of what they did to me back when I was in college. Beware so this doesn't happen again.

I was my class's token cowboy at Princeton back in 1966, it wasn't an easy time, with the draft ready to gobble us up as soon as we tossed our graduation caps. I ended up in the Psych department where I saw a note on the bulletin board, innocent as could be, offering good pay to participate in a set of hypnosis experiments. Up for anything that pushed limits back then, I applied.

For the next two years I drove my motor bike 6 miles out of Princeton to the NJ Neuro-Psychiatric Institute's research center where I was hypnotized 3 afternoons a week, and given conditions that seriously messed with my perception of reality, supposedly to see if they could induce mystic states of consciousness, and also psychotic states, through mind manipulation.

Well, yeah, they could. Radical experiences. I later became a psychologist and have used some of the insights from those days in my meditation programs. But under the surface of this early research, as I soon found out when I was considered "safe," was very radical LSD research. I wasn't against that -- in fact under controlled sessions, it was amazing -- what a thing consciousness proved to be, when unleashed!

But the experiments got weirder and weirder -- until finally I literally had to run away -- ending up in San Francisco in 1969 with my head on backwards and just totally gone from reality for over a year.

Only when the CIA was forced to reveal their secret documents about MC ULTRA (their clandestine mind-manipulation research program that spanned 20 years) did I find out that I'd been caught up in the CIA's ultra-nasty habit of totally disregarding human costs in trying to come up with mind-manipulation tools that would disorient an enemy. Yipes.

Recently I dug into those memories and wrote a novel about my experiences following the Princeton experiments, doing my best to be fair to all sides, but I found that I could barely dramatize, let alone forgive, the professionals who had taken CIA MK-ULTRA money (laundered, as was later proven, through NIH) and at temporarily driven me out of my mind. Even as fiction based on fact, it's a wild ride.

And I wonder -- what are those same type of CIA people up to these days? What are they doing around the world with human beings' lives, in the name of finding a better way to fight terrorists? And to what extent are terrorists around the world fighting against that side of our national aura that hits them in the face once too often, even though most of us at home don't know what's going on at all?

As long as we think we're the holy good guys, and project all our own dirty nastiness out onto the world beyond our borders, we're lost in illusion. When I got my own CIA dossier released through the Freedom of Information Act 25 years ago, I was aghast. As an innocent college kid, I got sucked into something truly sinister that my own government was doing to its own people.

Get this: the supposed psychedelic-revolution leaders Tim Leary and Humphrey Osmond, who were on the board of the research institute where I worked, they knew it was CIA stuff. Tim was even working for them for a number of years... all I can say is, look out: don't be duped like we were duped.

Can any of us really relax and assume that something parallel to MK-ULTRA isn't happening right now on or own campuses, or right next door? Both of my sons are in college right now, which is why I'm taking time to write down this early history

Do you think the CIA or whoever is still secretly doing this kind of stuff?

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