... The powers of hypnosis not only have the potential to help mankind, but also to be used for nefarious ends.
The themes have been explored by Hollywood in such films as the Manchurian Candidate and the Bourne Identity.
As you may recall, in these films a person’s character is broken down and reprogrammed allowing them to become controlled by renegade government agents. But what few people know is that both films were based on the work of the U.S. psychologists J.W.Watkins and George Estabrooks.
Both men worked for the U.S. military on several clandestine projects. Watkins specialised in placing army recruits into deep trances and ‘reprogramming’ them. In one series of experiments, he hypnotised soldiers and told them to attack senior officers. Disregarding all their years of military discipline, they duly did so. One even pulled out a knife and attempted to stab an officer.
Similarly, the CIA has also explored hypnosis as part of its intelligence-gathering techniques. In 1953, the CIA director Allen Dulles kick-started several secret programmes when he announced that: ‘Mind warfare is the great battlefield of the Cold War and we have to do whatever it takes to win.’
Morse Allen, a CIA researcher, managed to hypnotise his secretary and, in an attempt to test his powers, ordered her to shoot her best friend. (A tragedy was only averted as the gun she’d been given had been emptied of bullets before she pulled the trigger.)
Such stories of medical marvels and total mind control will doubtless sound incredulous to cynics. ...