Imagine being controlled by a remote or specifically not in control of your own self-conscious mind. Or someone having capabilities like Charles Xaviers (Professor X) from X-Men to control the minds of others and make them do things without being in their consciousness. It’s not just merely an imagination but something similar was experimented by CIA from 1953 with their program, codenamed Project MKUltra.

Project MKUltra also is known as CIA mind control program, which included numerous experiments on human subjects, developed and done by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency – obviously completely illegal at the time.

The Aim of Project MKUltra

Started on the order by CIA director Allen Welsh Dulles in 1953, Its goal was to develop a mind-controlling drug during the Korean War and against the Soviet bloc. The idea originated due to the alleged fact of Soviets, North Koreans and Chinese using mind control techniques against U.S. prisoners.

The U.S. couldn’t resist and didn’t wish to lack behind in any means of warfare techniques used by its enemies in the war, resulting in sanctioning of Project MKUltra.

CIA aimed for a more fatal area; by manipulating foreign leaders with their secret mind-controlling program. Being illegal, the experiment often included subjects without their consent or knowledge. Later it was believed that the MKUltra research was undertaken at 80 institutions which included universities and colleges, prisons, hospitals, and other institutions. A conspiracy suggests that the top officials of these institutions were aware of the CIA’s program of experiments.

A view of the old CIA building. (Credit: Ed Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Its believed subsidiary program codenamed Subproject 54 was the Navy operated top-secret plan to create “Perfect Concussion”, which was believed to use sub-aural frequency blasts to erase memory. Although this super plan never even executed probably due to the lack of technology or subjects.


Not only humans but even dogs were said to be the part of the experiment, and the experiment on dogs didn’t simply include mind control through drugs but using remote-controlled devices. Evident documents for the case of MKUltra included a letter to an unidentified doctor which was exposed in December 2018, it included discussion of work on six dogs that were made to run, make turns and stop using brain implants and remote control.

MKUltra Exposed

Project MKUltra came into the light to the public in 1975 by the Church Committee of the United States Congress and Rockefeller Commission (same committee which investigated JFK’s and Lee Oswald’s assassination). Two years before Church Committee exposed the program, CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKUltra related documents, films and any sort of evidence to be destroyed which was a major raised suspicion towards the illegal program.

Rockefeller commission
Swearing-in Ceremony of the Rockefeller Commission – Copyright – National Reconnaissance Office [Public domain]

Due to a lack of evidence, the full investigation against the MKUltra became impossible. Although a misconducted storage led to the discovery of around 20,000 documents related to the Project MKUltra that were stored incorrectly in financial records building. These documents helped in further investigation of the case and in the Senate hearing of 1977.

The Rockefeller Commission revealed their investigation on MKUltra to the public, providing a report containing how CIA and the Department of Defence were involved in experiments conducted on human subjects and how their extensive program aimed to find and manipulate human behavior through the use of specific drugs and psychological means.

The report included the death of at least one subject named Dr. Frank Olson, who died after dossed off on LSD. He was employed by CIA itself and was a chemist in the MKUltra project, who went into depression and later killed himself jumping off a thirteenth story window.

Further investigation after the revelation included interviewing Sidney Gottlieb, the chemist who directed the project MKUltra, but he claimed to gather very little information regarding the activities in the project. He was retired from the CIA 2 years before he was interviewed.

MKUltra lsd
MKUltra sub-project on LSD approved by Sidney Gottlieb – via Wikipedia

The Church Committee concluded that the Agency obviously didn’t obtain consent from the human subjects prior to the experiment, neither any guidelines were fixed before and during the program was sanctioned.

President at that time, Gerald Ford was convinced to issue the first Executive Order against the Intelligence Agencies and their activities which prohibited any experiments with the involvement of any sort of drugs on human subjects without written and informed consent.


Knowing the severity of this program, the government now had to take action towards all the lawsuits filed against the federal government and agencies involved in the case.

Some were successful in receiving compensation through the court order after successfully winning the case against the federal government.


Moreover, President Ford and CIA director of that time William Colby met with Dr. Frank Olson’s family to apologize publicly. The family received $750,000 U.S dollars as a settlement for Olson’s death during the experiment.

President Ford (centre right) in the Oval Office with the Olson family. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive


Although CIA and other government bodies involved in these human experiments insisted that MKUltra kind of projects have now been fully abandoned, stating them to be useless but an investigative journalist from Canada, Elizabeth Nickson claimed that these experiments are still going on today under different code names. Nickson’s mother was a test subject during the MKULtra program.

Moreover Victor Marchetti, before resigning from CIA in 1969 also claimed that CIA’s mind research programs continued to operate and disinformation campaigns are routinely conducted by the CIA.

Do you think the CIA succeeded in developing mind-controlling devices yet? Or the idea is completely baseless?