AI on cognitive liberty: Navigating the Frontiers of Cognitive Liberty and Expanding Consciousness

In a rapidly evolving world where technology, philosophy, and personal growth intersect, the concepts of cognitive liberty and expanding consciousness have captured the attention of individuals seeking to explore the depths of their own minds. At the core of this exploration lies the quest for personal freedom, self-discovery, and a deeper understanding of the human experience. In this blog post, we’ll delve into these intriguing concepts without focusing on drug-related aspects, shedding light on the transformative journey towards mental sovereignty and ethical expansion.

**Cognitive Liberty: Claiming the Right to Our Minds**

Cognitive liberty stands as a beacon of individual sovereignty over our thoughts, beliefs, and cognitive processes. It’s about embracing the power to shape our own perspectives and pursue knowledge without constraint. This concept goes beyond legal or political rights; it encompasses the idea that our mental faculties are essential to our identity and should be protected from undue external influence.

As we discuss cognitive liberty in a broader context, it becomes clear that it encompasses more than substances. It encompasses the ability to explore diverse ideas, engage in critical thinking, and shape our perceptions independently.

**Expanding Consciousness: The Inner Odyssey**

At the heart of cognitive liberty is the pursuit of expanding consciousness. This journey, often embarked upon through practices like meditation, mindfulness, and introspection, is about transcending the confines of routine awareness. It’s an odyssey that allows us to venture into the depths of our own minds, exploring the realms of creativity, insight, and connection to a larger universe.

Expanding consciousness isn’t limited to chemical alterations; it’s a holistic experience that encompasses philosophical, spiritual, and psychological growth. It encourages us to explore the boundaries of our perception and embrace the mysteries that lie beyond.

**Ethical Philosophy: Navigating the Inner Landscape Responsibly**

As we tread the path of cognitive exploration and expanding consciousness, ethical considerations become paramount. Ethical philosophy guides us in discerning our responsibilities as explorers of the mind. How do we navigate our inner landscape with respect for ourselves and others? How do we approach personal growth without infringing upon the rights and well-being of those around us?

Ethical exploration involves balancing our innate curiosity with a profound respect for the boundaries and well-being of others. It’s about fostering a compassionate and informed approach that ensures our quest for enlightenment contributes positively to our own lives and the greater community.

**Final Thoughts: Embracing the Journey**

Cognitive liberty and expanding consciousness are two facets of the intricate tapestry that makes us human. By recognizing our right to explore our own minds and pursuing the expansion of our awareness in ethical and responsible ways, we embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery, connection, and personal growth. This journey isn’t limited to any one method; it’s a vast landscape of potential waiting to be explored, understood, and cherished.

As we venture forward, let us remember that cognitive liberty and expanded consciousness are not merely abstract concepts, but living, breathing philosophies that encourage us to embrace the boundless potential of the human mind.

Explore. Question. Evolve.


**Title: Exploring Cognitive Liberty and Expanding Human Consciousness**

**Introduction:**
In a world where the realms of thought, consciousness, and personal freedom converge, the concept of cognitive liberty takes center stage. This dynamic principle is not only about the freedom of choice; it’s about the sovereignty of the mind itself. Delving into the realm of consciousness exploration, ethical philosophy, and the mind-body connection can empower individuals to expand their human experience without being tethered to external constraints. In this blog post, we’ll journey through the corridors of cognitive liberty and consciousness expansion, uncovering the potential for personal growth, intellectual exploration, and the pursuit of higher states of awareness.

**Cognitive Liberty: Nurturing the Garden of Thought:**
Cognitive liberty goes beyond the conventional understanding of personal freedom. It’s the notion that our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences belong solely to us, and no external entity has the authority to dictate or regulate them. This principle, closely intertwined with ethical philosophy, urges us to safeguard our cognitive realm from undue interference. In a world where information and ideas flow ceaselessly, cognitive liberty offers the foundation for critical thinking, self-expression, and open dialogue.

**Consciousness Exploration: Beyond the Horizon of Awareness:**
At the heart of cognitive liberty lies the opportunity for consciousness exploration. This journey involves venturing into the depths of our own minds, seeking to understand the intricacies of our thoughts and the expanses of our awareness. Through practices like mindfulness, meditation, and contemplation, we can unlock new perspectives and discover hidden facets of our consciousness. This form of personal growth allows us to break free from the limitations of routine thinking and explore the vast landscape of our inner worlds.

**Mind-Body Connection: Bridging the Gap:**
The intricate relationship between our mind and body shapes our perceptions, experiences, and responses to the world around us. Understanding this connection provides a gateway to cognitive enhancement and expanded consciousness. By nurturing both mental and physical well-being, we create an environment where cognitive liberty flourishes. Practices such as yoga, breathwork, and holistic health approaches contribute to harmonizing the mind-body connection, enabling us to access new dimensions of awareness.

**Expanding Human Consciousness: The Uncharted Horizons:**
As we embrace cognitive liberty and delve into consciousness exploration, we embark on a journey to expand human consciousness. This is not a mere intellectual exercise; it’s a transformational endeavor that awakens us to the potential of heightened states of awareness. By integrating philosophy, science, and personal experience, we can transcend the boundaries of ordinary consciousness and glimpse the extraordinary. It’s an evolution that empowers us to embrace the full spectrum of human potential.

**Conclusion:**
Cognitive liberty stands as a beacon of intellectual autonomy, inviting us to explore the intricacies of consciousness and embrace our capacity for growth and expansion. By nurturing the mind-body connection and delving into ethical philosophy, we pave the way for greater cognitive awareness. As we journey through the landscapes of thought, we redefine personal freedom, creating a tapestry of consciousness that is uniquely our own. In the pursuit of cognitive liberty, we unlock the doors to uncharted realms of human consciousness, and in doing so, we find liberation in the vast expanses of our own minds.


Title: **”Unlocking the Mind: Navigating Cognitive Liberty and Expanding Consciousness”**

In a world where our understanding of consciousness and the human mind is constantly evolving, the concept of cognitive liberty has gained significance as a gateway to exploring the depths of our inner experiences. Delving into altered states of consciousness and personal growth, the pursuit of cognitive liberty has taken on ethical and philosophical dimensions that extend far beyond the realm of substances. In this blog post, we’ll journey through the realms of cognitive liberty, consciousness exploration, and the ethical considerations that guide our pursuit of mind freedom.

**Cognitive Liberty: Beyond Boundaries**

Cognitive liberty, often referred to as the right to control one’s own mental processes and experiences, is a fundamental concept that opens doors to personal growth and self-discovery. At its core, cognitive liberty acknowledges that each individual should have the autonomy to explore the reaches of their consciousness without undue constraints. This exploration goes beyond traditional understandings of freedom; it’s an exploration of our inner worlds and the realization that our minds are landscapes ripe for discovery.

**The Odyssey of Consciousness Exploration**

Consciousness exploration, a key facet of cognitive liberty, invites us to embark on an odyssey within ourselves. Through practices such as meditation, mindfulness, and introspection, we can unlock altered states of consciousness that illuminate new perspectives on reality. This journey doesn’t rely on external substances; rather, it’s a mindful navigation of our thoughts, emotions, and perceptions. It’s a quest to better understand the intricate web of our consciousness and the infinite potential it holds.

**Ethical Philosophy: Guiding Our Path**

As we tread the path of cognitive liberty, ethical philosophy serves as our compass. We’re confronted with questions that challenge us to consider the implications of our actions on both ourselves and society. How do we responsibly wield our freedom to explore our minds? How do we ensure that our pursuits don’t infringe upon the well-being of others? Ethical considerations shape our approach to cognitive liberty, emphasizing respect for ourselves, others, and the interconnectedness of our experiences.

**Expanding Horizons, Expanding Humanity**

Expanding human consciousness is a journey of expanding our horizons and, in turn, expanding our humanity. By embracing cognitive liberty and consciously exploring our inner landscapes, we contribute to the ever-evolving tapestry of human understanding. Our discoveries become threads woven into the fabric of shared knowledge, fostering empathy, connection, and a deeper appreciation for the diversity of human experience.

**Cognitive Rights for the Future**

In the pursuit of cognitive liberty, we’re paving the way for cognitive rights to be recognized and protected. Just as we cherish freedom of speech and expression, cognitive rights could emerge as a cornerstone of our evolving societal framework. By championing cognitive liberty, we’re advocating for the importance of personal growth, self-awareness, and the exploration of consciousness as integral components of the human experience.

In conclusion, cognitive liberty transcends conventional boundaries and offers us a profound invitation to explore the limitless dimensions of our minds. As we embark on this journey of consciousness exploration, guided by ethical considerations, we contribute to the ongoing evolution of human understanding and interconnectedness. Let us embrace cognitive liberty as a catalyst for personal growth, connection, and the expansion of our shared humanity.


**Title: Exploring Cognitive Liberty: Navigating the Frontiers of Human Consciousness**

In a rapidly evolving world, the exploration of cognitive liberty and the depths of human consciousness has taken center stage. As we journey towards greater self-awareness and understanding, a multitude of fascinating concepts come into play. Let’s delve into the captivating realm of cognitive liberty without focusing on drug-related aspects, and discover how it influences personal growth, ethical philosophy, and the expansion of our cognitive horizons.

**Consciousness Exploration for Personal Growth**

Consciousness, that enigmatic phenomenon that defines our awareness, offers a vast landscape for exploration. In the pursuit of personal growth, understanding the various dimensions of consciousness becomes a transformative endeavor. Exploring altered states of consciousness, not limited to substances, can lead to insights about the mind’s capabilities and the limitless potential for self-improvement.

**Cognitive Enhancement and the Mind-Body Connection**

Cognitive enhancement is an exciting avenue of study that transcends the boundaries of conventional thought. It encompasses practices that harness the mind’s innate abilities to optimize cognitive functions. The mind-body connection, a cornerstone of cognitive liberty, allows us to explore techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, and cognitive exercises to unlock new levels of mental clarity and focus.

**Ethical Philosophy and Cognitive Rights**

As cognitive liberty paves the way for uncharted territories, questions of ethics and personal freedom emerge. Ethical philosophy enters the discussion as we contemplate the boundaries of our cognitive experiences. The concept of cognitive rights gains prominence, advocating for individuals’ autonomy over their consciousness and mental states, irrespective of their chosen path of exploration.

**The Neuroethical Implications of Expanding Consciousness**

Neuroethics, a field at the intersection of neuroscience and ethics, plays a crucial role in the pursuit of cognitive liberty. It grapples with the implications of altering consciousness and advocates for responsible exploration. The discourse surrounding neuroethics challenges us to consider the potential impacts of our actions on both our individual well-being and society at large.

**Embracing Cognitive Liberty: A Journey of Discovery**

In conclusion, cognitive liberty offers a multidimensional journey that extends far beyond its perceived associations with substance-related exploration. It encompasses personal growth, ethical considerations, and the intersection of mind and body. By embracing the diversity of cognitive experiences available to us, we embark on a profound journey of self-discovery and a deeper understanding of the complexities of human consciousness.

As we navigate the uncharted waters of cognitive liberty, we’re invited to challenge existing paradigms, explore the unexplored, and champion our right to explore the full spectrum of human consciousness in an ethical and mindful manner.


Keywords: Cognitive liberty, Consciousness exploration, Mind freedom, Psychedelic research, Altered states of consciousness, Personal growth and consciousness, Cognitive enhancement, Ethical philosophy, Drug policy reform, Mental sovereignty, Psychedelic therapy, Mind-body connection, Neuroethics, Expanding human consciousness, Cognitive rights

Effects of trauma on personality and genetics



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On ‘modified human agents’: John Lilly and the paranoid style in American neuroscience

Williams, C.. (2019). On ‘modified human agents’: John Lilly and the paranoid style in American neuroscience. History of the Human Sciences, 32(5), 84–107.

Plain numerical DOI: 10.1177/0952695119872094
DOI URL
directSciHub download

This article was adapted from a chapter of the PhD thesis Battles for the Mind: Brainwashing Altered States and the Politics of the Nervous System (1945-1970), completed at Birkbeck in 2018.

Abstract
The personal papers of the neurophysiologist John C. Lilly at Stanford University hold a classified paper he wrote in the late 1950s on the behavioural modification and control of ‘human agents’. The paper provides an unnerving prognosis of the future application of Lilly’s research, then being carried out at the National Institute of Mental Health. Lilly claimed that the use of sensory isolation, electrostimulation of the brain, and the recording and mapping of brain activity could be used to gain ‘push-button’ control over motivation and behaviour. This research, wrote Lilly, could eventually lead to ‘master- slave controls directly of one brain over another’. The paper is an explicit example of
Lilly’s preparedness to align his research towards Cold War military aims. It is not, however, the research for which Lilly is best known. During the 1960s and 1970s, Lilly developed cult status as a far-out guru of consciousness exploration, promoting the use of psychedelics and sensory isolation tanks. Lilly argued that, rather than being used as tools of brainwashing, these techniques could be employed by the individual to regain control of their own mind and retain a sense of agency over their thoughts and actions. This article examines the scientific, intellectual, and cultural relationship between the sciences of brainwashing and psychedelic mind alteration. Through an analysis of Lilly’s autobiographical writings, I also show how paranoid ideas about brainwashing and mind control provide an important lens for understanding the trajectory of Lilly’s research.

The ‘Cold War brainwashing scare’

Lilly’s appointment to the NIMH came shortly after a new term – brainwashing – had been introduced into the English language. The term was first used publicly by journalist .7 In this article and in later works, Hunter claimed that by combining Pavlovian theory with modern technology, Russian and Chinese psychologists had developed powerful techniques for manipulating minds. Although it resonated with concerns about the growing global influence of communism, the term brainwashing would perhaps never have gained traction if it had not been for a series of scandals involving collaboration between American POWs and the Chinese enemy during the Korean War. Most famously, in 1952, Colonel Frank Schwable and 35 other captured US Air Force personnel publicly confessed to committing crimes of germ warfare against North Korea. Other accounts of collaboration at the hands of the Chinese, including the making of public anti-war and anti-McCarthy broadcasts, received widespread attention during the war. Perhaps most controversially, after a long-awaited armistice deal was agreed in 1953, one British and 21 American POWs refused to be repatriated after the war, choosing to relocate to communist China instead. It was widely reported that the soldiers had been exposed to sophisticated techniques of mental coercion based on Pavlovian science, similar to those reported to have been used to extract confessions for Soviet purge trials such as that of Cardinal József Mindszenty in 1949 ().

Scholarship on this period has described the ‘Cold War brainwashing scare’, the ‘brainwashing idea’, and the ‘spectre of brainwashing’, as a central motif in postwar film and literature upon which myriad concerns about agency and influence were projected (for use of these phrases see, respectively, ; ; ). Whilst such scholarship has often described brainwashing as a ‘cultural fantasy’, the idea of brainwashing nonetheless had real effects, not least within the human sciences. In the early 1950s, building on investigations carried out since the Second World War, the CIA established its notorious MKULTRA programme, which aimed, in the words of its former director Sidney Gottlieb, to ‘investigate whether and how it was possible to modify an individual’s behaviour by covert means’ (: 57). What the historian Alfred McCoy has called ‘the Manhattan Project of the mind’ was fuelled by a dual sense of hubris about the CIA’s own research and development potential and paranoia about the capabilities of the enemy, enhanced, as it were, by the semi-tangible reports of enemy scientific projects within what Melley has called the ‘covert sphere’ (; ).

According to his own memoirs, Lilly had long been interested in questions of behavioural control. It was reportedly his reading of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1934 and its portrayal of the misuse of the human sciences that influenced his decision to major in biology rather than physics as a student (: 57). Although Lilly has somewhat successfully cultivated an image of himself as someone who resisted the lure of military and intelligence funding, like many of his peers, his work and career was heavily shaped by the wider forces shaping the human sciences after the war (; ).


*Lilly, ‘Special Considerations of Modified Human Agents as Reconnaissance and Intelligence Devices (Committee D, Intelligence and Reconnaissance)’, Lilly Papers, Box 54, Folder 17. Exactly when and where this paper was delivered is unclear. In his paper on human manipulation, Lilly implies that both papers were presented at the same place or at connected events: ‘In the following discussion I wish to mention a few human cases; a later supplement will mention certain non-human species as possible agents.’ It is likely that this work or similar was presented at the Pentagon meeting discussed in Lilly’s memoirs (: 93–5). According to a former intelligence official’s description of this meeting ‘Dr. Lilly stated that the potential of this technique in “brain-washing” or interrogation or in the field of controlling the actions of humans and animals is almost limitless’: memorandum, Jones to Deloach, 2, FBI personal file, as quoted in . However, an old inventory for Lilly’s archive from 1992 includes the entry ‘Manuscript of Presentation Given to GAP Symposium on Brainwashing Entitled: “Special Considerations of Modified Human Agents as Reconnaissance and Intelligence Devices”: November 1956’, suggesting that Lilly may have delivered this paper at a meeting for the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, which we know he attended (). Yet this is further complicated by the fact that both papers include references dated as late as 1958, suggesting the papers in the archive were presented after 1956.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6899429/pdf/10.1177_0952695119872094.pdf


Further References


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Burnett D. G. (2016) ‘Adult Swim: How John C. Lilly Got Groovy (and Took the Dolphin With Him), 1958–1968’, in Kaiser D., McCray W. P. (eds) Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 13–50. []

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Hunter E. (1950, 24
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Labor-Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriations for 1957: Hearings on H.R. 9720, 84th Cong. 553 (1956) (statement of Dr Robert H. Felix), available at: hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.b3636813.

Langlitz N. (2006) ‘Tripping in Solitude: Introducing Honza Samotar by Way of John Lilly’, in Solhdju K. (ed.) Introspective Self-Rapports: Shaping Ethical and Aesthetic Concepts, 1850–2006 (Preprint
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New York: American Institute of Electronic Engineering, pp. 37–3. []

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Lilly J. C. (1958. a) ‘Learning Motivated by Subcortical Stimulation: The “Start” and the “Stop” Patterns of Behavior’, in Jasper H. H., Proctor L. D., Knighton R. S., Noshay W. C., Costello R. T. (eds) Reticular Formation of the Brain: Henry Ford Hospital International Symposium. Boston: Little Brown, pp. 705–21. []

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Lilly J. C., Shurley J. T. (1961) ‘Experiments in Solitude, in Maximum Achievable Physical Isolation With Water Suspension, of Intact Healthy Persons’, in Flaherty B. E. (ed.) Psychological Aspects of Space Flight. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 238–47. []

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2, available at: amodern.net/article/of-other-networks/.

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Suedfeld P. (1980) Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Clinical Applications. New York: Wiley. []

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‘Tank Test Linked to Brainwashing; U.S. and Canadian Scientists Report to Congress on Their Experiments’ (1956, 15
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Operation Mind Control (Bowart, 1978)

Download book as PDF: libgen.gs/ads.php?md5=5b759b56e154df6303bb47b051dfb3db
Audiobook: open.spotify.com/show/18iTbULC7tuii1Y3qf9LOr
Interview with James Martinez: vimeo.com/7952557

BiBTeX
@book{book:{91532088},
title = {Operation Mind Control},
author = {Walter Bowart},
isbn = {0440167558; 9780440167556},
year = {1978},
url = {libgen.li/file.php?md5=5b759b56e154df6303bb47b051dfb3db}}


This text is an excerpt from a chapter of Bärtås and Ekman’s collection of essays Orienterarsjukan och andra berättelser.

URL: biblioteket.stockholm.se/titel/516229

The letter from Professor Delgado carries two insignias. One is made of Hebrew letters on what looks like a Torah scroll. Under the scroll it says “lux et veritas”—light and truth. The other insignia reads “Investigacion Ramon y Cajal.” In our letter to him, we have explained that we are two artists who have been studying his “astonishing research,” and that we are interested in his views on the relationship between humans and machines. José M.R. Delgado has written that he will be most happy to receive us at his home in Madrid.

Delgado’s name is a constant on various conspiracy websites dedicated to the topic of mind control; those with names like The Government Psychiatric Torture Site, Mind Control Forum, and Parascope. The Internet has in fact become the medium of conspiracy theorists. The network functions as an endless library where the very web structure lends itself to a conspiratorial frame of mind. The idea that every phenomenon and person can be connected to another phenomenon and person is the seed of the conspiracy theorist’s claim to “make the connections between things,” track the flow of power, and show how everything hangs together within some larger murky context.

Before traveling to Madrid, we get a hold of Physical Control of the Mind: Toward a Psychocivilized Society, the 1969 Delgado book most often cited on the Net. The book has has been gathering dust for 30 years at the university’s psychology library: it has never been cracked open. It is a disturbing book, less because of its photographs of animal experiments than because of the triumphal tone of the writing. Delgado discusses how we have managed to tame and civilize our surrounding nature. Now it is time to civilize our inner being. The scientist sees himself on the verge of a new era where humans will undergo “psycho-civilization” by linking their brains directly to machines.

“Ramon y Cajal”—the name on one of the two insignia—is referred to in Delgado’s book. Cajal was a famous histologist who became the young Delgado’s mentor and inspiration. In his acknowledgements, Delgado cites Cajal’s telling claim that “knowledge of the physicochemical basis of memory, feelings, and reason would make man the true master of creation, that his most transcendental accomplishment would be the conquering of his own brain.”1

Professor Delgado is now 85 and lives in a suburb of Madrid. Madrid is also the home of an anonymous group of people who call themselves Nosman, and are dedicated to gathering information about Delgado and his career. We e-mail Nosman and receive some awkwardly written responses that oscillate between warnings about the Spanish security agencies and suspicious questions about us and our interest in Delgado. For some reason, they refuse to meet with us but give us Delgado’s email address anyway. Delgado, on the other hand, responds immediately when we get to Madrid. He is very eager to invite us to lunch.

It was at Madrid University that Delgado began his research on pain and pleasure as the means of behavior control. After World War II, he became the head of the Department of neuropsychiatry at Yale’s medical school. In 1966, he became a professor in physiology. By that time, he had further developed the research of the Swiss physiologist and Nobel Prize winner Walter Rudolph Hess who had used electric stimulation to chart how different parts of the brain control different motor functions.

After a series of spectacular experiments on animals in Bermuda, Delgado wrote: “If you insert electrodes directly into the brains of cats and apes, they will behave like electronic toys. A whole series of motor functions can be triggered based on which button the experimenter pushes. This applies to all body parts: front and back paws, the tail, the hind parts, the head, and the ears.”

Using electrostimulation in a group of gibbon apes, Delgado succeeded in dismantling the usual power structure within the group. He gave a female ape with a low ranking a control box connected to electrodes that were implanted in the group’s alpha male, and the female learned to use the box to turn the alpha male on and off at will.

The electrodes were inserted into the ape’s brain and connected to an instrument that Delgado called the stimoceiver. The stimoceiver was an ideal instrument for two-way communication. Researchers could affect and at the same time register activity in the brain. From earlier prototypes where the lab animals were connected with wires, a remote control model was later developed that could send and receive signals over FM waves. The device was developed from the telemetric equipment used to send signals to and from astronauts in space. “We have already established radio contact with space; it is now time to establish contact with the human brain,”—a recurring refrain in Delgado’s articles.

The taxi lets us out in an upscale suburb of Madrid where a light rain is falling on the brick houses. A church service has just finished and people in Burberry clothes are streaming out of a strange concrete church. At the entrance of the apartment building where Delgado lives, we are met by a fashionable and exuberant American woman of indeterminable age. The woman, who is Delgado’s wife, talks nonstop in the elevator that opens directly into the apartment. The apartment is decorated in a fussy, bourgeois style. If it were not such a bleak day, the view would extend all the way to the Pardo Mountains. Delgado gives us a very cordial welcome. He is a proper old gentleman with sharp, intelligent eyes.

Delgado says that he has had a nightmare about our visit and woke up crying in the middle of the night. In the dream, we had showed up barefoot and in short sleeve shirts and had proceeded to gulp down all of his meringues. An hour later, we are seated at the marble table in his dining room and are served meringues and strawberry tarts after a large meal. We do not want to have more than one meringue each.

In a CNN special from 1985 called “Electro-magnetic Weapons and Mind Control,” the reporter claims that Delgado’s experiments were limited to animals. Nor is there anything in the texts on the various websites that indicates how far Delgado went in his research. His experiments on humans seem to have fallen into a strange collective amnesia. But anyone can walk into any well-stocked American medical library and take out Delgado’s own reports and articles on the subject. There we can find his own candid, open descriptions of how he moved on from experimenting on animals to humans. In an article called “Radio Control Behavior” in the February 1969 issue of The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Delgado, Dr. Mark, and several other colleagues describe what was the first clinical use of Intracerebral Radio Stimulation (IRS) on a human being. The stimoceiver itself only weighed 70 grams and was held fast by a bandage. One of the patients hid her stimoceiver with a wig because the experiments lasted days or weeks. The patients were scrutinized thoroughly. Everything they said was taped, their EEG was recorded, and they were photographed at regular intervals in order to document changes in their facial expressions.

In one of the article’s photographs, we see two of the subjects engaged in “spontaneous activity.” They are both girls with bandages over their heads. The girl in the background is holding something to her mouth, perhaps a harmonica. The other girl is bent over a guitar. Delgado’s colleague, Dr. Mark, is smiling at them. Mark had already achieved some notoriety at this time by claiming that all anti-social behavior is caused by brain damage. His recommendation had been the mass scanning of the American population in order to detect such damage in time and “correct” it.

Delgado and Mark’s article offers short descriptions of the patients who have had the device affixed to their brain. A black fourteen-year-old girl on the border of developmental disability who grew up in a foster home suddenly goes into a fury that leads to the death of her two stepsisters. A thirty-five-year old white industrial designer who ends up killing his wife and children flies into a rage when other motorists try to overtake him and he chases them and tries to run them off the road. Their aggressive behavior is supposed to be registered by the stimoceiver in the way a seismograph registers the earth’s tremors and the same stimoceiver is then to “turn them off” via the FM transmitter.

Delgado bombards us with a steady stream of anecdotes, scientific comments, and provocative rhetorical questions that are only interrupted by occasional tender comments directed to his wife. He tells of his work at the Ramon y Cajal Institute in the 1930s. In order to save a few paltry pennies, he would take a short cut through the zoo on his way to and from work. He would wander through the zoo alone at dawn and dusk and would hear lions and tigers roaring in this jungle in the city. After the War, he came to conquer nature in his own way in Bermuda. Even his wife was delighted to see the alpha male gibbon collapse when the underlings pushed the control lever. “Do you remember how we thought of Franco?” says his wife. “Imagine being able to turn off the Generalisimo.” Delgado responds “But who could have put the electrodes into the dictator? With electromagnetic radiation we could have controlled the dictator from a distance. We did some experiments at Yale where we influenced the brain from up to 30 meters away.”

One of the most important reasons why we wanted to meet Delgado is that we imagined him and his activities as belonging to a borderland between fiction and reality, between science and madness. People in psychotic states of mind often feel themselves controlled by foreign voices or spend their lives trying to prove that they have had a transmitter implanted inside their skulls that dictates their actions and thoughts all day and night. We ask Delgado what he thinks of the fact that his research provides a realistic edge to such fantasies.

He answers that he has on several occasions been contacted by strangers who say they want to have their implants removed and also that he has been sued by people he has never seen. Delgado is silent about the article that appeared in the Spanish monthly magazine Tiempo last year, where he was interviewed about exactly such accusations. The Tiempo reporter claimed that Delgado has ties with the Spanish secret police.

Delgado stretches out after the strawberry tarts. He has come to think of a case in Pittsburg in the 1950s where a robber was offered a milder sentence in exchange for being lobotomized. “I was operating electrodes into people’s brains at that time together with my good friend David Koskoff.” It was Koskoff who carried out the lobotomy on the robber. The patient was quiet for a while after the operation but then reverted to carrying out robberies again. In despair over his own unreliability, he decided to take his own life. He wrote a suicide note addressed to Dr. Koskoff: “Doctor, all your work has been in vain. I am an incompetent man and a criminal. I am taking my life but I am shooting myself in the heart and not the head. I donate my brain to you for research.”

Delgado’s wife puts her arm on his shoulder and says “And very little has happened since then, dear. There are still lots of bums running around.” The comment makes us both look away.

A moment later, we are sitting on the sofa. Delgado admits that not one useful application of the stimoceiver has come out of his research. “We knew too little about the brain. It is much too complicated to be controlled. We never knew which parts of the brain we were stimulating with the stimoceiver. We didn’t even manage to prevent epileptic attacks, which we thought would be the simplest of things. We never found the area where epilepsy attacks originate.” He says all of this without a trace of bitterness, as if in passing.

We are surprised by his casual attitude toward the stimoceiver, which in the 1960s and 70s was heralded as a great contribution to science. To demonstrate the power of their invention, Delgado and his colleagues orchestrated violent scenes in the lab. In her book, The Brain Changers: Scientists and the New Mind Control, Maya Pine describes a film where Dr. Mark attaches a stimoceiver to an electrode in a woman’s brain:

As the film opens, the patient, a rather attractive young woman, is seen playing the guitar and singing “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” A psychiatrist sits a few feet away. She seems undisturbed by the bandages that cover her head like a tight hood, from her forehead to the back of her neck. Then a mild electric current is sent from another room, stimulating one of the electrodes in her right amygdala. Immediately, she stops singing, the brainwave tracings from her amygdala begin to show spikes, a sign of seizure activity. She stares blankly ahead. Suddenly she grabs her guitar and smashes it against the wall, narrowly missing the psychiatrist’s head.2

The same incident was described in one of Delgado’s own articles. This experiment was repeated three days in a row.

If there were any problems with the experiments for Delgado, these were not ethical in nature but technical. How do you replicate the lab situation in society? How do you cut off the electricity to the stimoceiver? How do you avoid scarring and inflammation where the stimoceiver enters the brain? But the problems did not provoke any doubts about the supposed success of the stimoceiver. In the long run, the technique could be used to make people happy from a distance.

“When did you stop the stimoceiver experiments?” we ask him. To our surprise, he responds indignantly that he has yet to do so. “After Yale, I have continued my experiments here in Spain, both on animals and on humans.” Delgado’s pragmatism does another pirouette and we are beginning to have trouble following him.

Delgado pours coffee with his trembling hands. Spanish guitar music from the stereo fills the silence. We look together through the three recent collection of essays that Delgado has placed in front of us. Their publication dates range from 1979 up to this year. There is no emphasis on neurophysiology in any of them. Instead, they address questions of learning and upbringing from a more general psychological point of view.

Until the end of the 70s, Delgado and his colleagues were considered conquerors of an unknown territory, a wild and expansive jungle, the landscape of the brain and the soul. Apparently Delgado never got very far into the jungle, which proved to be much too thick and impenetrable. He has apparently retired without any regrets. He has instead started to cultivate his own garden. “My new book is going to be called The Education of My Grandchildren and Myself.”

We ask if it is possible to learn to interpret the electrical language of the brain and mention the Swedish science journalist Göran Frankel’s interview with Delgado back in 1977.3 In the interview Delgado claims that it is only a question of time before we connect the brain directly into computers that can communicate with the brain’s electrical language.

Delgado makes a dismissive gesture and looks at us as if we are numskulls. “It is impossible to decode the brain’s language. We can obviously manipulate different forms of electrical activity but what does that prove?” When we ask him about his colleague, Dr. Robert G. Heath, who claimed to be able to cure schizophrenic patients with electrostimulation, Delgado breaks into a patronizing smile and says, “Yes, yes, you’re supposed to have a box on your stomach with cables coming out of it that attach to electrodes in your brain and you stimulate yourself. It never worked.”

We lead him to a discussion of his own patients. Delgado interrupts us: “I have never done experiments on people.” For a moment, we wonder if we’ll have to take out one of his own scientific articles and hold it in front of him as evidence. We start to look for our file with hundreds of medical reports and articles. “You have to understand,” he says. “There are incredibly stringent rules around experimenting on humans. All the experiments I was involved in had a therapeutic goal. They were for the patients’ best.”

In one of the Yale reports in our file, there is a description of an experiment on an epileptic mental patient. The report states that the woman has been in asylums for a long time, she is worried about her daughter, and suffers from economic hardship. Electrodes measuring 12 centimeters have been stuck into her brain, 5 centimeters of them inside the brain tissue. She is interviewed while being given periodic electrical stimulation. The woman is tossed between various emotional states and finds that strange words are coming to her mind. She experiences pain and sexual desire. At the end of the interview, she becomes flirty and her language becomes coarse, only to be ashamed later and ask to be excused for words that she felt had come to her from outside. The woman has been transformed into a speaking doll that unwillingly gives voice to her brain’s every whim.

Delgado, who had previously been so flattered by two artists being interested in his work, now seems to be looking at us with new eyes. Who are we? And what do we want? His tone is short and sharp. The temperature in the apartment has dropped a few degrees.

In Physical Control of the Mind, Delgado proudly sums up how he has “used electrodes implanted for days or months to block thought, speech, and movement, or to trigger joy, laughter, friendliness, verbal activity, generosity, fear, hallucinations, and memory.” With this in mind, we ask him what therapeutic results came from these experiments. “As a whole, they didn’t result in any methods, except in the case of patients with chronic pain.”
Delgado in his apartment in Madrid. Video still courtesy of Magnus Bärtås.

He looks at the clock and says that we only have five minutes left. But we do not want to abandon our questions about the patients. What happened to them? How long were the implants in their brains? Delgado now becomes somewhat vague. He says that it was other researchers that left the implants in for a long time, not him or Dr. Heath, and he does not recall which patients it was. The electrodes were taken out of his own patients after a couple of days and did not cause any injuries. “We killed maybe a few hundred neurons when we inserted the electrodes. But the brain has millions of neurons.”

When Delgado spoke in the 60s of “the precise interface between brain and machine,” it gave rise to a number of far-fetched military visions. His research was also mainly funded by military institutions such as the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force AeroMedical Research Laboratory.

In the US, the CIA and government research in (and use of) different means of behavior control was made public in a series of congressional hearings in 1974 as well as in a Senate investigation three years later. Witnesses offered a glimpse of the CIA’s astonishing experiments in the so-called MK-Ultra program. The list of MK-Ultra experiments is like a group photo of the extended family of behavioral technologies: hypnosis, drugs, psychological testing, sleep research, brain research, electromagnetism, lie detection. The specific operations had very imaginative names: Sleeping Beauty, Project Pandora, Woodpecker, Artichoke, Operation Midnight Climax.

One of MK-Ultra’s fields of interest was electromagnetic fields and their effect on human beings. In 1962 it was discovered that the Russians had directed microwave radiation at the American embassy in Moscow with the hope of penetrating through to the ambassador’s office. The CIA immediately mounted an investigation under the codename Project Pandora. Concurrently with his research on the stimoceiver, Delgado had begun research on electro-magnetic radiation and its capacity for influencing people’s consciousness, and there is speculation that Delgado may have been involved in Project Pandora.

The CIA arranged for apes to be brought to the embassy. When the apes were examined after a period of being radiated, it was discovered that they had undergone changes in their chromosomes and blood. The personnel at the embassy was later reported to have increased white blood cell counts of up to 40 percent. The Boston Globe reported that the ambassador himself suffered not only from bloody eyes and chronic headaches but also from a blood disease resembling leukemia.

We take up Delgado’s research on electromagnetic fields and their effect on people. “I could later do with electro-magnetic radiation what I did with the stimoceiver. It’s much better because there’s no need for surgery,” he explains. “I could make apes go to sleep. But I stopped that line of research fifteen years ago. But I’m sure they’ve done a lot more research on this in both the US and Russia.”

We understand now that Delgado thinks the meeting ought to come to an end. We ask him about Project Pandora and he confirms the story of the Moscow Signal without any hesitation but he denies being involved in the operation.

In 1972, an article citing Delgado’s views was presented at Congress’s MK-Ultra hearings:

We need a program of psychosurgery for political control of our society. The purpose is physical control of the mind. Everyone who deviates from the given norm can be surgically manipulated. The individual may think that the most important reality is his own existence, but this is only his personal point of view. This lacks historical perspective Man does not have the right to develop his own mind. This kind of liberal orientation has great appeal. We must electrically control the brain. Some day armies and generals will be controlled by electric stimulation of the brain.4

When we confront him with this statement, he falls silent for a second. His crystal-clear memory of a moment ago suddenly evaporates. A fog sweeps in, the words become hard to get out. He does not recall ever being called to Congress. And he has no desire to acknowledge the kinds of statements we have just mentioned. For a second, Delgado becomes a very old and fragile man. But in the next moment, he is standing up straight again and has shaken off all these unpleasantries. Now he is in a hurry. He has to meet his sick sister-in-law. We try to secure a second meeting but he is evasive and talks about the vagaries of the weather and trips to his country house. Out the door in a cloud of cigar smoke, the taxi takes us back to Madrid.

Translated by Sina Najafi

This article was corrected on 29 November 2014. Since publishing this article in Cabinet no. 2 (Spring 2001), several errors have come to our attention. Together, these support Delgado’s claim that he never appeared before Congress or made the statement that the authors attributed to him. Delgado never testified before Congress during the MK-Ultra hearings, which in fact took place not in 1974 but in 1977. Neither is his name present in any of the transcripts of the hearings. Additionally, as far as we have been able to determine, the cited statement does not exist in this form in any of Delgado’s publications, though some of the phrases do occur in his book Physical Control of the Mind. The sole reference to Delgado in the Congressional Record that we have been able to locate appears in Dr. Peter Breggin’s “The Return of Lobotomy and Psychosurgery.” This article, which was critical of Delgado’s methods, was entered into the Congressional Record on 24 February 1972. We regret the errors.


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Neuromodulation techniques: A synoptic overview


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