The dangers of false memories induced through faulty memory enhancing techniques drew warranted attention this week. A well written piece by Christopher French, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, was published at ‘The Conversation’. His article, ‘The legacy of implanted Satanic abuse ‘memories’ is still causing damage today’, explored the manners such false memories can damage the lives of those who experience them, and deeply effect the standings of relationships with family and friends. Calling for stories based on so-called recovered memories to receive the skepticism they deserve, the professor additionally wrote:
Experimental psychologists have repeatedly demonstrated the ease with which false memories can be implanted in a sizeable proportion of the population under well-controlled laboratory conditions. But it is also undoubtedly the case that such false memories can arise spontaneously…
One of the techniques that has been shown to result in false memories is asking people to imagine events that never actually took place. It appears that, eventually and especially in people with good imaginations, the memory of the imagined event is misinterpreted as a memory for a real event. The use of hypnotic regression is a particularly powerful means to implant false memories.
‘The UFO Trail’ has long explored the extents the intelligence community (IC) might take interest in the process of implanting such memories. It is now common knowledge that during the Cold War era the CIA prioritized developing methods of indoctrinating specific individuals to preferred perspectives and ways of thinking. It is difficult to envision a more effective working model of indoctrination than the extents some alleged alien abductees cling to beliefs resulting from mental imagery induced via hypnosis. Such beliefs are typically very strong.
The IC has more recently invested a great deal of effort and resources in developing what became known as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The American Psychological Association (APA) is currently under fire and experiencing leadership upheaval resulting from its members’ involvement in conducting torture and related human experimentation in collaboration with the IC.
The procedures employed physical torture, psychological torture and administration of drugs, some of which were first used in such contexts during infamous Project MKULTRA. A newly published report suggested hypnosis was also an interrogation tool used in recent years.
A potentially relevant story slipped through the news cycle in 2010 without generating much interest. Turkish Lt. Col. Gurol Dogan was sentenced to over seven years in prison for using the administration of drugs and hypnosis as interrogation techniques during the detention of three noncommissioned officers. They were suspected of leaking classified information. Two of the officers later sued, resulting in Col. Dogan’s arrest and conviction.
While further research has not yet conclusively determined the source of the colonel’s training for such interrogation procedures, it was discovered that former Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss registered earlier this year to lobby on behalf of the government of Turkey. His formal disclosure informed the Justice Department that Goss would advise Turkey on a variety of issues, including counterterrorism efforts and lobbying US Congress.
Reference to use of hypnosis employed by the American intelligence community was contained in the recently released Hoffman Report. It is 500-plus pages on national security interrogation and torture compiled by the law offices of Sidley Austin LLP. The report was presented to the APA.
Reference was made to Mel Gravitz, a prominent psychologist and expert in memory and hypnosis, who declined to meet with the authors of the report or field their questions. Gravitz worked for many years as a CIA contractor and was a member of a “Professional Standards Advisory Committee” that oversaw what, absent double speak, would be described as psychologists conducting and perfecting torture techniques. It has become increasingly clear that such state-sponsored activities also included experimentation on detainees, as documented in a Seton Hall University School of Law report, ‘Guantanamo: America’s Battle Lab’.
Also covered in the Hoffman Report was psychologist and acting agent for Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Michael Gelles. His actions were called into question when he worked with detained Petty Officer Daniel King in 2001. King was a Navy cryptanalyst first detained in 1999 under suspicion of spying but eventually released following a dramatic saga which included grueling interrogation sessions resulting in formal complaints and legal action.
Gelles, when questioned about conflicts of interest in aiding NCIS in its interrogations while presenting himself to King as a psychologist, was quoted in the Hoffman Report as stating he was merely “screening Petty Officer King to determine whether or not hypnosis would be an appropriate avenue for him.” Gelles asserted that he was “not serving in two capacities, as [his] only role was advising NCIS, and in this instance assisting NCIS in determining whether or not Petty Officer King was a proper subject for hypnosis.”
Gelles’ actions were later described by Elizabeth Swenson, an APA Ethics Committee liaison, as “ethically very marginal.” She added that Gelles was “misleading” and “omitted information that could have really helped [King] about how false memories can be established and solidified by interrogation.”
It was not specified exactly how or why NCIS might have employed hypnosis with Petty Officer King. It also does not appear difficult to surmise.
It is well known throughout the UFO community that regressive hypnosis is employed as a memory enhancer and investigative tool for alleged alien abduction. That has continued to be the case for decades, in spite of all that is now known about the high risk of confabulation, low likelihood of accuracy and inherent emotional suffering to the hypnosis subject. Sometimes ufology hypnotists try to minimize the implications by calling their activities “relaxation techniques,” or similar terms other than hypnosis.
Did the intelligence community develop an interest in the extents ufology hypnosis subjects often so willingly accept hypnotists’ suggestions of extraordinary circumstances? Clearly, the CIA once heavily pursued hypnosis as a potential behavior modification tool, but does the IC continue to experiment with it as a means to implant memories and cultivate belief systems, and has its research and development overlapped with the UFO community? Such suspicions may have substance.
During the 1990’s, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, hypnotist and MUFON Director of Abduction Research John Carpenter quietly provided copies of information contained in the case files of 140 alleged abductees to Robert Bigelow. The transactions were done in exchange for cash, which Carpenter framed as reimbursements and others described as selling the files. Carpenter was paid approximately $14,000 in what eventually became known as the Carpenter Affair. The transactions were done without the knowledge or consent of the alleged abductees. The circumstances began being disclosed to the public around the turn of the century, largely through the investigative efforts of Gary Hart and no thanks to MUFON leadership.
Providing Bigelow with abductee case file information was acknowledged and discussed by Carpenter in emails with ‘The UFO Trail’. The email exchanges were referenced several times, along with documentation of his statements, including the 2012 post, ‘The Leah Haley Case: John Carpenter’, and the 2013 post referenced above, ‘The Carpenter Affair: For the Record’.
The file transactions were reportedly also confirmed by Robert Bigelow and Col. John Alexander. The colonel was a staff member at the time at the now dissolved National Institute for Discovery Science, a Bigelow-founded nonprofit corporation. The reasons Bigelow, Alexander or their associates would have had any interest in the contents of such files were never clearly established, and Carpenter suggested at one point that other investigators were approached with similar proposals but declined to elaborate further.
Gary Hart indicated that his investigation also suggested other researchers of alien abduction sold case files to unspecified buyers. “Everyone does it,” Hart reported he was told by a well known researcher in a 2000 complaint filed to MUFON about the Carpenter Affair. The unnamed researcher, Hart reported, was referring to both selling case files and having sexual relations with alleged abductees they investigated and hypnotized.
In a 2007 interview with investigative journalist Sharon Weinberger, Col. Alexander discussed the intelligence community’s interest in mind control. He stated that when he took part in CIA briefings during the 1990’s, there was never any talk of mind control projects. It was a dangerous topic because Congress would pull the funding if the term was used. But that changed after 9/11. A younger generation of lawmakers that weren’t around for MKULTRA were willing to pursue possibilities.
“It’s interesting, that it’s coming back,” Alexander told Weinberger at the time.
He suggested it would be helpful, for instance, if terrorists could be “electronically neutered.” That way they wouldn’t have to be held forever at sites such as Guantanamo Bay. It was only a matter of time, he indicated, until technology allowed that to happen.
“We’re now getting to where we can do that,” he asserted.
In hindsight and if the colonel is to be taken seriously, he was almost certainly alluding to the situations now coming to light involving the IC and the APA. Are segments of ufology, some of its files on alleged alien abductees and related hypnosis sessions somewhere in that R&D mix? Hopefully we will one day know for sure, but, in the mean time, I wouldn’t cover bets against it.
Meanwhile, another menacing question looms: If qualified professionals continue to report that regressive hypnosis is a particularly powerful means to implant false memories, and the IC employed such procedures in collaboration with the APA to manipulate the minds of detainees, what does that indicate about using it as a tool to investigate alleged alien abduction?