If you listen to certain conspiraloons long enough, you’re bound to run across someone who claims to be a victim of “MK Ultra” mind-control experiments.
These MK Ultra claimants will state that their parents or other adults caused them to be subjected to something called “Project Monarch”, supposedly a programme run under the larger MK Ultra project, which involved Satanic ritual abuse, and which turned them into mind-controlled sex slaves, “Illuminati assets” and so-called “super-soldiers”. (Angela Power-Disney and Cathy O’Brien, we’re looking at you.)
While the entire concept seems extremely far-fetched, a U.S. government programme called MK Ultra really did exist from the early 1950s until the mid-1970s. However, let’s state up-front that despite years of scholarly and journalistic investigation, no “Project Monarch” has ever been found to exist as part of MK Ultra.
The origins of MK Ultra lie in the Korean conflict, when CIA Director Allen Dulles became extremely concerned about reports that U.S. soldiers who’d been POWs in Korea were returning home spouting Communist propaganda. In a 1953 speech at Princeton University, Dulles laid out the CIA’s new priorities:
In the past few years we have become accustomed to hearing much about the battle for men’s minds–the war of ideologies….I wonder, however, whether we clearly perceive the magnitude of the problem, whether we realize how sinister the battle for men’s minds has become in Soviet hands. We might call it, in its new form, ‘brain warfare’.
This reflected and played into the general paranoia about communism which had begun to take hold in the USA. And since this alleged “brain warfare” was mysterious—was it chemical? based on hypnosis? induced through torture or some other means?—the CIA undertook to “study” it using its own and other countries’ citizens, in a top-secret project called MK Ultra.
MK-Ultra’s “mind control” experiments generally centered around behavior modification via electro-shock therapy, hypnosis, polygraphs, radiation, and a variety of drugs, toxins, and chemicals. These experiments relied on a range of test subjects: some who freely volunteered, some who volunteered under coercion, and some who had absolutely no idea they were involved in a sweeping defense research program.
Experiments were performed on vulnerable populations such as developmentally delayed boys at a state institution, American soldiers, “sexual psychopaths” at a state hospital, prisoners, and unwitting mental patients.
One prisoner, a former organised crime boss named White Bulger, described being recruited for a 1957 “medical experiment”, ostensibly to discover a cure for schizophrenia:
Each week we would be locked in a secure room in the basement of the prison hospital, in an area where mental patients were housed. We went in from 9 a.m. Tuesday to 9 a.m. Wednesday. We were injected with massive doses of LSD-25.
In minutes the drug would take over, and about eight or nine men — Dr. Pfeiffer and several men in suits who were not doctors — would give us tests to see how we reacted. Eight convicts in a panic and paranoid state. Total loss of appetite. Hallucinating. The room would change shape. Hours of paranoia and feeling violent. We experienced horrible periods of living nightmares and even blood coming out of the walls. Guys turning to skeletons in front of me. I saw a camera change into the head of a dog. I felt like I was going insane.
The men in suits would be in a room and hook me up to machines, asking questions like: Did you ever kill anyone? Would you kill someone? Two men went psychotic. They had all the symptoms of schizophrenia. They had to be pried loose from under their beds, growling, barking and frothing at the mouth. They put them in a strip cell down the hall. I never saw or heard of them again.
‘They strip you of your soul’
In 1957, the MK Ultra programme spread north from the United States to Canada. In Montreal, the Allan Memorial Institute became a centre for these highly unethical human experiments, under the hand of a Scottish-born psychiatrist, Duncan Ewen Cameron.
One patient, Velma Orlikow, checked herself into the Allan Institute, hoping to receive help for post-partum depression. Instead of improving, however, Orlikow’s condition deterioriated, and her personality underwent disturbing changes.
Her granddaughter, Sarah Anne Johnson, described her grandmother’s experience as an unwitting MK Ultra participant:
Patients were subjected to high-voltage electroshock therapy several times a day, forced into drug-induced sleeps that could last months and injected with megadoses of LSD.
Dr Cameron’s theory of “psychic driving” underpinned his experimentation on these unwitting, uninformed test subjects. His first goal was a condition he called “penetration”. Johnson described how he achieved this on patients like Orlikow:
After reducing them to a childlike state – at times stripping them of basic skills such as how to dress themselves or tie their shoes – Cameron would attempt to reprogram them by bombarding them with recorded messages for up to 16 hours at a time. First came negative messages about their inadequacies, followed by positive ones, in some cases repeated up to half a million times.
‘He couldn’t get his patients to listen to them enough so he put speakers in football helmets and locked them on their heads,’ said Johnson. ‘They were going crazy banging their heads into walls, so he then figured he could put them in a drug induced coma and play the tapes as long as he needed.’
Orlikow’s entire personality changed. Johnson said she grew up knowing her grandmother was “not like other grandmas”:
‘She had a hair trigger for nerves and anger. If someone bumped into her or if we were in a restaurant and someone spilled something on her, she would just explode. She wouldn’t hurt anybody, she would just scream and yell and it would take hours to calm her down.’
It could take Orlikow three weeks to read a newspaper, months to write a letter, and years to read a book.
Other patients’ family members described their relatives’ treatment under Dr Cameron’s care: some were put into chemically induced comas for days or weeks at a time; others were subjected to rounds of high-level electrical shock treatments. They came home nervous, anxious, unable to remember basic things, unable to make or respond to humour.
One patient’s daughter said, “What they attempt to do is erase your emotions. They strip you of your soul.”
So what about Project Monarch?
Readers will note that none of the above sounds particularly suited to producing “perfectly programmed super-soldiers” or “Illuminati assets”.
Rather, the MK Ultra programme created a cohort of psychologically and mentally damaged individuals who struggled to perform the most basic tasks, and whose families felt their loved ones had been, in some important sense, destroyed.
Project Monarch can be seen as the “made for TV” version of MK Ultra.
Rather than relying on “psychic driving”, drug-induced comas and/or psychotic states, and failed attempts to “reprogram” the patient, Project Monarch ostensibly uses “Satanic ritual abuse” to deliberately create “dissociative identity disorder”, thus turning innocent children into “slaves of Satan” who unwittingly are programmed to perform certain critical but unspecified tasks on behalf of the Illuminati, the Deep State, or whichever Evil Overlords happen to be in vogue on a given day.
Project Monarch, which is both sexier and less drearily depressing than the real MK Ultra experiments, has been seized upon by various movies and TV shows—Stranger Things, for example, is based at least partly on the myth of Project Monarch.
MK Ultra was all too real. It represents the misuse and abuse of governmental authority writ very large indeed. It proves that yes, government (and non-government) agencies can and do engage in conspiracies against their own citizens, and that they will go to great lengths to avoid taking responsibility for the lives they destroy.
But the real victims of MK Ultra and their families who must continue to live with the repercussions of the programme’s actions are not well-served by belief in mythical conspiracy theories like Project Monarch.
In fact, Project Monarch claimants, like adult SRA claimants, serve only to distract attention and resources from the real victims of what was, ultimately, a crime against citizens of ostensibly democratic nations.