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  • Writer's pictureRayne Marrow

Psychic Driving

The lengths people have gone through to control the human mind, and the experiments and torture many have experienced under the name of research is heartbreaking. Many have been manipulated from within, where their thoughts are not their own.

In doing research for my latest work-in-progress, and in my desire to not repeat myself, I’ve been looking at experimental psychiatry, and specifically brainwashing.

Much is written regarding biological and chemical testing, but I wanted to peel back the veil to understand the psychological testing and some aspects thereof.

Psychic Driving

Dr. D. Ewan Cameron, a renowned experimental psychiatrist, could be considered the father of the term psychic driving. “In the early 1950s, he developed experiments designed to test theories about changing human thought patterns and personality through a technique called “psychic driving,” which involved the repetition of a recorded message a few seconds in length thousands of times for up to 20 hours at a time.”1

In 1959, a headline of the Montreal Gazette, dated July 15, 1959, screamed Psychic Driving’ Technique Possible.  The idea of “chang[ing] a neurotically timid man into a  forceful personality by telling him over and over again that he is strong was advanced.”

During the 1950s, under the program named MKULTRA, the CIA researched behavior modification, which included LSD testing, and even hiring magicians to help show agents how to slip the drug to an unsuspecting individual. It is believed that Cameron worked with the CIA on this program.

What eventually came out is that Dr.  Cameron,  worked with the CIA on their training programs in Canada, and led what is considered mind control experiments. In the above cited article Cameron touted his achievement about his  success in“ a scientific paper, in which he designed a form of treatment to “bring about personality changes by “continuous repetition of carefully worded statements.”

According to a video called Mind Control, and filmed in 1979, the electric treatment used during such sessions was to induce patient regression, and then attempt to “plant new ideas into a patient.”

Yet, psychic driving was only one aspect of mental manipulation. Another, more severe method, was also used, called de-patterning. De-patterning is the “breaking up of the existing patterns of behavior by extreme electroshock therapy with prolonged periods of sleep.” Some were kept asleep up to 30 days, with the maximum known period being 65 days. Interesting enough, from those who were treated for de-patterning, “60% still had [some sort of] amnesia” which ranged from 6 months to 10 years in length.

It would appear that Cameron’s research was also implemented. According to Court House News Service, “A federal magistrate judge in San Francisco ordered the CIA to produce specific records and testimony about the human experiments the government allegedly conducted on thousands of soldiers from 1950 through 1975. Three veterans groups and six individual veterans sued the CIA and other government agencies, claiming they used about 7,800 soldiers as human guinea pigs to research biological, chemical and psychological weapons.”

The New York Times published an article about the lawsuit and settlement and explained the experiment’s goal, which was to control the human mind.  The experiments conducted “… involved LSD, electroshock therapy and a procedure known as “psychic driving,“ in which patients listened to a recorded message repeatedly for up to 16 hours.”

What are your thoughts on psychic driving? Is it helpful or harmful?

For further reading: Donald Ewen Cameron Project MKULTRA

Memory Thief , Video

1. See Ethics in Neurobiological Research with Human Subjects: The Baltimore Ethics Conference on Ethics, Edited by Adil E. Shamoo. Pg. 131


Crime Fiction Writer, Rayne Marrow, loves diving into her research, and creating characters filled with unique goals, personalities and traits. It is not just about learning something new, but also learning something useful.  

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