ECT

Krew is telling it

If I am to continue with my revelations of the invisible world, I must first tell of an odious experiment. Being earnestly fixed on my task as witness to the case, I am obliged to relate the tale in all its ghastly detail. The experiment takes place many years from now – far into the future, when atheists rule the world, and men of physic assay the human soul with scales of empiricism. These diabolic doctors control the masses by manipulating their perception of reality. In effect, they constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of society.[i] They call themselves “clinical psychiatrists” but they are more commonly known as “happiness engineers”

Sunhill Asylum, February 12, 1957

Pontius strides to the lectern, looks round the audience and clears his throat:

‘Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure, that I stand before you today, to announce the beginning of Operation Cyclops. Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your selection for the program; each one of you has been carefully chosen for your expertise and experience in psychiatric medicine. As participants in this trial, you will be making a valuable contribution to clinical psychology, and will no doubt further our understanding of the human mind…

‘I must begin with a word of caution. Whatever you hear in this room is strictly confidential and may not be divulged to anyone—not even your fellow clinicians. The basement wards set aside for this experiment remain out of bounds to other staff, and only those issued with yellow passes have access to the restricted areas. If, after learning of this program, you feel unable to take part, you may leave henceforth without prejudice to your future career. But I need not remind you, that in signing the official secrets act, you are bound by law never to divulge the details of this sensitive research.

‘Operation Cyclops is funded by Division 12 of the American Psychological Association. The subjects chosen are the very worst of mental defectives; they are all degenerates of one sort or another, and considered detrimental to a healthy society; what is more, every patient selected for the trial has proven resistant to all conventional forms of treatment and coercion.

‘As every clinical psychologist knows, there are many provocative techniques for controlling and influencing human behaviour; these fall broadly into three arenas: surgical, pharmacological and electroshock. These are the scientific weapons we have at our disposal; but in reality, all of these techniques are highly unpredictable. Take lobotomy, for example: for over two decades, it has been the standard surgical means of modifying behavioural patterns of schizophrenics, hysterics and manic depressives. Every hypothetical model must meet the requirements of explaining existent facts – but it must also predict new ones. Lobotomy falls short of this ideal because results vary from person to person; therefore behavioural modification cannot be quantified on a consistent basis. We have found that conscience can often be eliminated surgically, without impairment of day to day working efficiency. But achieving this goal is not always possible. Indeed, it is the exception and not the rule. It was Walter Freeman, the father of lobotomy, who coined the term “surgically induced childhood”. But few patients ever achieve this outcome; most become complete vegetables; yet others become unmanageable monsters. What is needed is a more predictable method of behavioural modification—one that renders the patient more amenable to the social pressures under which he is supposed to exist.

‘So, what is Operation Cyclops? A simple answer would be: a terminal experiment in narcosynthesis or intravenous hypnotic medication. But Cyclops is far more sophisticated than that…

‘As most of you know, hypnosis is the key to restructuring an old personality into a new one. Under normal circumstances, a person cannot be hypnotized against their will. To achieve a trance state, a good rapport must exist between patient and doctor. However, any person may be hypnotized, even against their will, by using barbiturates. Sodium pentothal, mescaline, scopolamine, and even marijuana have all been used for narcosynthesis—with varying degrees of success. Each drug has its strengths and weaknesses; but as I shall explain, no single drug alone has all the required properties for successful de-patterning. To make this clear, I will examine two such drugs: sodium pentothal and scopolamine. We shall explore the effects of each – examine their strengths and weaknesses, and then postulate on the qualities of an ideal narcohypnotic…

‘Sodium Pentothal is a strong hypnoid drug which strips away consciousness and exposes the unconscious mind to suggestion; often referred to as a “truth serum”, it is the drug of choice for extracting secret information, and is used extensively by government agencies the world over. Even subjects who show resistance to trance depth may be overcome by a strong narcotic dose; hypnosis is then induced during the stage of confusion whilst the subject is still half asleep.[ii] But as far as psychiatric work is concerned, sodium pentothal has many drawbacks that are associated with barbiturates in general… Could we have the first slide please?’

Pontius signals to the projectionist whose head bobs behind a small window at the rear of the auditorium. The lights dim slowly. Then a dazzling beam of light hits the screen. A diagram appears depicting four coloured horizontal bands. Pontius rubs his ear lobe then says:

‘As this diagram shows, the descent from lucid consciousness to narcosis may be divided into four stages: 1) The sedative stage; 2) The unconscious stage with exaggerated reflexes; 3) The unconscious stage, without reflex response, (even to painful stimuli); and 4) Death.

‘Ordinarily, narcosynthesis is primarily concerned with the sedative stage, which may be further subdivided into three planes of consciousness. Next slide please… Plane 1 has no evident effect, or only a slight sedative effect. The patient remains conscious but shows symptoms of slight intoxication. In Plane 2 the subject experiences cloudiness of thought; he remains totally calm and suffers various degrees of amnesia. During this stage the subject might start talking at random, or have conversations with imaginary characters. However, his amnesia is so isolated, that upon recovery, he rarely remembers what happened to him. Plane 3 is characterised by slurred speech and poor coordination; old thought patterns are disrupted, and the subject becomes receptive to new patterns; but exactly how receptive depends on the individual. Next slide please…’

The audience mumbles as a grim photograph of two men in stripped pyjamas appears on screen; they stand like somnambulists with haunted expressions, gaunt as the prisoners of Dachau. Pontius notes the reaction of his peers then remarks:

‘This photograph shows subjects of a previous narcosynthesis trail that took place at this very hospital. The patients had a variety of pathological symptoms: schizophrenia, depression, hysterical anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and chronic tension state. The trial was devised by myself and Doctor Popovsky – a brilliant clinician and very dear friend, who is sadly no longer with us. Our method was twofold: induction by barbiturates and induction by E.C.T. We call this narco-electro-induction. It allows smaller drug doses whilst doubling the hypnotic effect. Any resistance is immediately punished by a strong electro-shock. Once the grande mal seizure passes, and the patient returns to a hypagogic state, they become doubly receptive and suggestible. Research shows that deep sleep treatment stops patients complaining about their E.C.T, and provides a rapid route to de-patterning. Patients are only roused from their stupor to receive food and be walked to the toilet. However, incontinence usually follows after a period of six weeks. Next slide please…’

Another photograph depicting a gloomy ward where patients sleep in limbo, connected by feeding tubes to large machines with lights and dials. Pontius taps the screen with a pointer which extends suddenly from his sleeve:

‘We successfully kept fifty defectives in narco-hypnosis for a period of six months; but the experiment was complicated by the forced induction of food; two subjects died shortly after the antidote was given, and a further three choked on their own vomit. The remaining 45 achieved a blank slate goal, but they were so chronically addicted to barbiturates that personality restructuring became completely impossible.

‘So whilst barbiturates are very powerful and induce deep trance states, depatterning is hampered by addiction and a highly depressed cerebral cortex. Next slide please…’
The beam sweeps across the stage as the slide loads in the gate. A primeval white flower appears with a long narrow funnel and golden stamens:

‘This is the bloom of the Borrachero tree – a species indigenous to the north Indian regions of South America: it is common throughout Columbia, Equador and Venezuela. The translation of “Borrachero” is drunken binge. The Borrachero is a member of Solanaceae or deadly nightshade family—just like Henbane and Belladona—the infamous ingredients of medieval witchcraft.

‘Scopolamine is an alkaloid extracted from the seeds of this tree. Scopolamine was first promoted in the west by the obstetrician Robert Ernest House. Doctor House noted that women in childbirth who were given scopolamine as a sedative, could answer questions even when in a state of hypnagogic sleep; furthermore, they were often exceedingly accurate and candid in their remarks. Later on, during World War Two, Josef Mengele experimented with scopolamine in Auschwitz. He found it to be a highly potent narcohypnotic. His subjects remained totally conscious but had no will of their own, and they followed orders without question, even to the point of jumping out of windows, or cutting off their own limbs.

‘So, how does scopolamine work on the brain? Well, scopolamine is a muscarinic receptor antagonist that blocks the action of acetylcholine in the parasympathetic nervous system. Prescribed in small doses, it is often used to suppress those bodily processes that remain out of our control, such as defecation, urination and salivation.

‘Scopolamine is a tropane—a nitrogen containing bicyclic compound—just like atropine and cocaine. But compared with atropine, scopolamine is more potent in its anticholinergic effects. However, scopolamine is less potent on the heart. In contrast to atropine, scopolamine, in therapeutic doses, depresses the central nervous system causing drowsiness, euphoria, amnesia, fatigue, and a dreamless sleep which is characterized by a marked decrease in the REM cycle.

‘But at high does, Scopolamine does the complete opposite and acts as a deliriant; it overexcites the central nervous system, causing rapid heart-rate, restlessness, extreme confusion and intense hallucinations. Overdoses often lead to extreme psychosis and insanity. Many subjects suffer chronic memory loss and have recurrent nightmares so terrifying, that they will do anything to stay awake. This results in a viscous circle where lack of sleep incurs further psychotic episodes.

‘Scopolamine can depress the cerebrum to such an extent as to destroy the power of reasoning. Subjects who have taken scopolamine often have no memory of what transpired; and because they cannot remember anything, they cannot report anything. As you can imagine, this is very useful to the clinician who wants to implant new beheaviours. However, some subjects do awaken for brief intervals and retain what they observe in what Dr. Gauss calls “memory islands”. But the conscious mind can rarely access these islands without the use of trigger words or images. Whilst under the influence of the drug there is little imaginative faculty. However cortical memories may be retrieved by auditory stimulation. Subjects cannot lie because they have no power to think or reason.

‘So, there we have two very different drugs; sodium pentothal – a barbiturate that exposes the unconscious mind to suggestion – and scopolamine, which preserves the conscious mind but obliterates the will and memory. Each drug has their uses, and each has their drawbacks. The ideal narcohypnotic would possess characteristics of both drugs; it would allow access to the conscious and subconscious minds, whilst simultaneously eradicating the will and thus removing any resistance to de-patterning; it would preserve the mental faculties enough to allow the induction of new personalities, whilst reinforcing the deep trance state. Not only that, it would allow the imagination to operate at a sufficiently lucid level so that an individual brain could build its own construct around the repatterning process. This interior construct is vital for a successful outcome. Could we have the next slide please…’

A photograph of a pink phial appears on the screen.

‘ – The liquid in this phial has all the qualities of the ideal narcohypnotic. It contains a psychoactive compound that was jointly developed by the C.I.A and the U.S. Navy. The liquid is pink, odourless and has the taste of rancid milk. The name of this compound is CYCLOPS – an acronym for Cysteine-Chloral-hydrate-Lithofellic-Oxaluric-Pentothallic-Scopolamine.[iii] That’s quite a mouthful isn’t it! The precise molecular formula is a closely guarded secret, but over two hundred asylums throughout Europe and America have been selected for trials. And Sunhill is lucky enough to be on the list.

‘So what is the purpose of Operation Cyclops? The answer is simple: to combine sensory deprivation with drugs, hypnosis, and the astute application of E.C.T., in order to gain total control of an individual’s mind and behaviour. With this technology, we can induce states of amnesia that are so subtle and covert, that not even the subject is aware of their conditioning. And by this method of personality restructuring, the entire fabric of the psyche may be overturned: a vehement atheist may become a devout Catholic; a violent fascist, a liberal pacifist; or a misanthropic misogynist, a free spirited lover of women…

‘Now listen carefully to the following key points. The deeper a subject descends into narco-electro-induction, the more childlike he becomes. But whilst under the influence of Cyclops, they remain especially susceptible to auditory commands and stimulation. Without the conscious mind to filter, analyse and discriminate, the power of the will is eliminated, and the subject becomes exceedingly pliable. Preliminary evidence shows that regressed subjects remain totally submissive and obedient, even many years after their initial induction.

‘We now come to the most sensitive part of the trial. The nurses selected for the Cyclops program have one single objective: to regress their patients to an infantile state. The exact prcoeedure is detailed in the handouts. Each nurse will be assigned a patient. As surrogates, you will treat your patient as your own special baby. What does this mean exactly? Use your imagination. Psycho-sexual-infantilism was used in mind control experiments during the Victorian era with gin as the hypnotic. Indeed, it is a little known fact that state sponsored surrogates were used by the security services during the war; the purpose was to disarm the enemy and extract information. Then, when the subject was completely regressed, and in a compromised state, photographs were taken and later used as blackmail. I mention this only because such black psy-ops were the forerunners of this trail. To understand why the method is so effective, let us examine the process of regression on a clinical front…

‘Infantile regression gives the subject an addictive rush of pleasure which is followed by intense feelings of euphoria and elation. The elation of all manic depressives is a subverted reality function; this reality is derived from reliving the infantile joy of nursing at the breast. Hence these psycho-sexual fantasies mask all the unhappiness and frustrations of the current predicament. As Freud discovered, infantile desires are already hard wired into the brain stem. I quote: The theory of the psychoneuroses asserts with complete certainty that only sexual wish-feelings from the infantile life experience repression during the developmental period of childhood. These are capable of returning to activity at a later period of development … and thus supply the motive power for all psychoneurotic symptom formations. At a subconscious level, the subject wants to be your baby; he wants to be hypnotised, and re-experience those deep seated Oedipal pleasures. As Freud made perfectly clear, there is a strong possibility that all dreams are produced by libidinal motives; but this is always ignored by our Jungian opponents. It was Otto Rank who argued in his paper on Die Symbolschichtung im Wecktraum, that many dreams, which are due to urethral stimulus are really caused by sexual stimuli, which gratify themselves by way of regression to the infantile form of urethral eroticism. The urethral stimulus leads to emptying of the bladder, whereupon the dream expresses itself in highly erotic images. Surrogates who exploit this primitive instinct will facilitate deep depatterning and subjugation. The repressed infantile sex drive, once unleashed, provides the most powerful impulse for mental dissolution. For when a subject becomes complicit in their own regression, they have no wish to resist. During this libidinous unfolding, the subject forms a deep rapport with their nurse; we have found this bond to be so strong, that it cannot be broken, even under threat of death.

‘Once regression is complete, blank slate repatterning commences—a process with which some of you are already familiar. The aim is to condition the mind so that it no longer reacts on a free will or rational basis but responds to impulses implanted from outside.[iv] Repatterning can be broken down into three phases. The first is the autistic phase, in which there is no separation of self from others or the environment; just as at the beginning of life, there is an undifferentiated ego-id. The second is the symbiotic phase, in which the patient perceives itself as part of the surrogate, just as a suckling infant perceives itself as part of the mother. The third is the individuation phase, in which the patient develops the new self. However, due the nature of de-patterning, fixations on and regression to the first two phases are very common, even in re-patterned adults. This is hardly surprising, as the phases of infantile sexuality are used in the process of psychic driving. Pathways of regression are pre-requisites to forming a new ego-id, where intrinsically adaptive fantasies can be interwoven with new personalities. Whilst regressive behaviour is usually a sign of neurosis, we do not regard it as such in re-patterned adults; it is merely a side effect of the process, and one we hope to eradicate in time. Now, are there any questions?’

A woman stands and declares:

‘Never, in all my years of service, have I been so disgusted and ashamed of my profession. This is tantamount to medical malpractice, and I cannot, with any moral conscience, become one of your sordid surrogates, or be party to such degenerate treatment of my fellow human beings, whether they be insane or not. You give it fine sounding name, but Operation Cyclops is nothing but a mask for your mindless destructive vice! My God! I will not participate in such a brutal and inhumane experiment, whose sole aim is to destroy the human soul; it is a blatant violation of human rights and the standards of medical research. I resign forthwith, and urge my colleagues to do the same…’

With that, she storms out the door.

Pontius glowers in silence as the door flaps back and forth on its hinges. An uneasy gloom settles on the auditorium. The audience murmurs and becomes restless. Pontius steps into the spotlight, throws his hands in the air and scoffs:

‘There goes another moral blockhead. I’ve been dealing with those priggish prudes my entire career. Of course, the lady is entitled to her opinion. But it was William Alanson White who said: freedom from moralities means the freedom to think and behave sensibly. If mankind is to be freed from its crippling burden of good and evil, it must be the psychiatrist who takes the original responsibility.[v] I am a firm believer in that statement.’

A man cries:

‘Bravo!’

Another cries:

‘Here! Here!’

There follows an enthusiastic round of applause as Pontius leers with relief, flashing his crooked teeth:

‘Thank you. Thank you one and all. Your support is greatly appreciated. Now, where were we? Have we finished?’ He checks his watch, then adds: ‘We’ve got fifteen minutes before lunch. Are there any questions?’

A hand goes up at the back. Pontius points and exclaims:

‘Yes! The lady on the back row. Please stand, give us your name, and say a little about yourself.’

The woman stands and blushes—a siren in her early thirties, with tresses of auburn hair that curl about the frills of a white satin blouse.

‘Oh! My name is Selena Fulbright; I’m on a post graduate internship from Division 12. Thank you Doctor Pontius. That was a fascinating lecture; and I feel both lucky and privileged to be selected for this trial. But I was just wondering, why do you call it a “terminal” experiment?’

‘Yes, sorry, that does sound rather ominous doesn’t it! Rest assured, we have no intention of killing the patients!’

Sniggers and wheezes rise from the stalls.

‘No, no, seriously,’ continues Pontius, ‘let me explain. “Terminal” in this context simply means that regression is carried out to the point where the adult personality is totally erased. It is only by regressing the subject to an age of two years that full repatterning can take effect.’

Another hand goes up:

‘Yes!’ cries Pontius again. ‘The gentleman in the third row. Please stand and introduce yourself…’

The man half rises from his seat:

‘Franz Marks, professor of clinical psychology at Lapinlahti Hospital, Helsinki… Er, doctor Pontius, over two hundred participating asylums worldwide is a big trial. There must be a large body of preliminary evidence to justify the expense. Can you cite any clinical examples where narcosynthesis with CYCLOPS has been successful?’

‘Certainly. I’m glad you asked. The pre-trials show many promising results. Once the negative aspects of the subconsc1ous mind have been totally erased, the subject is freed from the hindrances of the past; then a new state of creativity often emerges. There are even reports of synthetic savants in lifelong degenerates.’

‘Synthetic savants? What do you mean exactly?’

‘A synthetic savant is a construct, created by repattering an blanked cortex. The subject is “force-fed” information via tape-recordings that play repeatedly, day-in, day-out, throughout the deep trance state.’

‘Recordings of what, exactly?’

‘Anything you like; works of literature; mathematics; philosophy; even music. After six months of repatterning, one subject could recite the entire works of Dickens word for word. Now, that is an astounding feat of memory, I’m sure you will agree. Normally, we do not see such prodigious use of memory, except in professional musicians—like Glen Gould for example, who can recite the complete works of Bach, entirely from memory.’

‘The entire works of Dickens?’ ponders Marks. ‘That is indeed remarkable. But reciting parrot fashion is hardly the mark of a creative genius, is it?’

‘No, of course not,’ concedes Pontius. ‘But who amongst us can recite verbatim, the entire works of Dickens? And what developmental changes would occur in your language centres, if you could? You might become a literary genius. CYCLOPS has created other synthetic savants. One subject developed advanced mathematical skills where previously there were none. He was a road sweeper by trade and left school at the age of twelve. Yet another became a virtuoso on the flute. Hypnopedia, or sleep-learning has profound implications. You see, all information processing takes place at the subconscious level; transfer to the conscious mind is carried out instantaneously. The subconscious is vastly more powerful than the conscious, and is able to process innumerable parallel streams of information.[vi] This synthetic savant can compute instantaneous algebraic equations; he seems to pull the answer out of thin air without any conscious solving. Needless to say, this baffles traditionally trained mathematicians. But of course, all of these examples are exceptions to the rule. In general, patients who undergo CYCLOPS depatterning are happier, more manageable, and show a complete cessation of psychotic episodes.’

‘But what percentage are cured enough to leave custodial care?’ asks Marks.

Pontius flicks nervously through his notes then shakes his head:

‘I’m sorry, but I don’t have those particular statistics to hand… Now, shall we break for lunch? I suggest we reconvene here at 2 ‘o’ clock, when I will discuss the repattering process in detail…’

The audience rises off the sprung seats which squeak and rumble in unision. Teh sound of rustling papers, clattering heels and excited whispers. One by one the stalls empty as the audience departs and files out the door.

Pontius is left alone in the spotlight where twirls of cigarette smoke wend to the ceiling. Collecting his notes, he stuffs them in his case, cursing under his breath at the nurse who had the audacity to defy him. Then he jumps at a gruff voice that echoes from the darkness:

‘Good afternoon doctor Pontius. Pleased to meet you at last…’

Pontius turns and squints in the beam. Before him is tall man in black suit, his face obscured by a lambent halo but he wears the distinctive collar of Rome and a silver crucifix glints on his lapel.

‘Sorry, but who are you?’ asks Pontius.

‘My name is Carl Schneider of Human Potential Unlimited, Washington, D.C.’

‘Human Potential? I have not heard of that organisation. Is it on the list?’

‘No, it is not the list. Principally because our organisation does not officially exist.’

Pontius looks uneasy. The stranger is surrounded by pools of darkness that seem to ooze like ink.

‘You’re a priest?’

‘I am.’

‘Then what’s your business here?’

‘Human Potential Unlimited is interested in the frontiers of the human mind. Our organisation is the fusion of many scientific fields. We especially like to investigate areas of research ignored by academia, principally because they are considered heterodox.’

‘Such as?’

The priest grins:

‘You want a list? Psychophysics, biocybernetics, psychotronics, psycho-acoustics, cybernetics, plasma physics, biomagnetics; the electrometric quantification of ultraconscious states and the psycho-technological means of achieving those states… But principally psychokinesis and telepathy…’

‘Telepathy? Listen Mr. Schneider, I’m a clinical psychologist not a —’

‘We know who you are doctor Pontius. We have followed you career with great interest. And we are well aware that clinical psychology does not give credence to such phenomena as psychokinesis. But what if I told you that most paranormal abilities are linked to biochemical processes?’

‘I’m sorry, but what has this got to do with Operation Cyclops?’

‘Everything. The CYCLOPS program was conceived by our organisation; I myself developed the formula.’

‘You? Oh, forgive me sir, but I thought CYCLOPS was a depattering agent.’

‘Depatterning is merely a useful side effect. The real purpose of CYCLOPS is to awaken the pineal gland— the third eye—which is dormant in 99.9 percent of the population. Post mortems show that CYCLOPS enlarges the pineal by up to 600 percent. Did you know that the pineal is the organ of extra sensory perception?’

‘Mr. Schneider, I’m sorry, but I have no interest in the occult.’

‘Of course. But have you ever asked yourself why?’

‘Because it’s a load of humbug – that’s why. Psychics and fakirs have long been objects of ridicule and scorn by my profession, and for very good reason. You are a man of faith, but I am a lifelong sceptic and devout atheist.’

‘Indeed: you are a product of an orthodox education—one that refutes the existence of E.S.P. But that’s simply because you were produced by the Oxbridge sausage factory.’

‘I beg your pardon? I got a first class honours from Trinity, I’ll have you know!’

‘Trinity, yes, so you did. Pardon my humour, doctor Pontius. I didn’t mean to be impertinent. But as a materialist, you believe all psychic phenomena can be explained away as fraud, delusion or hallucination.’

‘Most certainly, I do.’

‘What if I told you that recent discoveries behind the iron curtain prove that man is a multidimensional being?’

‘Listen, I really don’t think—’

‘—By the modification of his brainwaves, Man is able to interact with subtle energies and force fields that operate independently of Time and Space. Plank’s quantum theory suggests that the entire Universe is an interrelated whole. Research undertaken in our laboratories proves that human consciousness can interact with matter in supernatural ways—ways which material reductionists would deem impossible.’

‘Mr. Schneider, I’m sorry, but I feel I have been deliberately misled. None of this material is mentioned in the literature.’

‘Of course not; if it were, no self-respecting hospital would undertake the trial.’

‘Well, I must say, as a professional clinician I am most uncomfortable with being used in this manner.’

‘Operation Cyclops will go ahead, with or without you, doctor Pontius. I need not remind you that this is multimillion dollar program involving the very best minds in psychiatric research. The question is, do you want to be part of history?’

Pontius thinks for a moment then asks:

‘What do you want from me exactly?’

‘Proceed with depatterning and personality reconstruction. But be on the look out for any unusual activity.’

‘Such as?’

‘Anomalous events that lie outside the clinical arena. Any patient who manifests psychic ability is of prime importance to our organisation.’

‘What kind of psychic ability?’

‘Telepathy, for example.’

‘CYCLOPS facilitates telepathy?’

‘Yes. But we prefer the term bio-communication. Consider it a new branch of science concerned with the human capability of obtaining information without using the standard five senses.’

Pontius looks completely exasperated; he purses his lips, shakes his head, then says:

‘Now listen to me—I’m a respected clinician. Just what do want me to do with all this information? You’re talking about supernatural phenomena.’

Schneider grins:

‘Indeed. We are interested in any phenomena that cannot be explained by conventional reductionist enquiry. For example, bi-location, prophetic visions, trance mediumship, psychokinesis, etcetera…’

‘What you are saying is literally non-sensical.’

‘Not at all. One of our subjects is noted for her psychokinetic abilities. After focusing her mind for 40 seconds, she was able to stop an isolated frog heart from a distance of three meters; when we examined the heart, we found it was torn apart, as if bombarded my microscopic lightening. An energy beam of exceptional intensity.’[vii]

‘I am sorry Mr. Schneider, but I have great difficulty in accepting these claims. Is it April Fool’s day?’

Schneider raises an eyebrow:

‘It is high time you changed your materialist paradigm. Any scepticism that you might have regarding the legitimacy of my allegations should be weighed against the evidence. Hard science no longer offers a secure rationale for denying the possibility of non-causal events. The de-materialized nature of modern physics is filled with bizarre phenomena such as advanced potential—waves of electrons perceived before they are generated; tunnelling effects, whereby electrons penetrate barriers which, by the laws of probability, should be impenetrable; tachyon particles which travel faster than light, which implies the possibility of the backward flow of time… Our associates in Japan have proved the existence of a psychodynamic field that can be manipulated by biological force potentials. Consciousness, doctor Pontius, consciousness. Our organization is intent on discovering as much about this psychodynamic field as possible. We believe consciousness is the continuum of the cosmos—and the human brain its both receiver and transmitter. The implications are truly astounding. Will you not join us? Operation Cyclops is about nothing less than the psychotronic future of Mankind.’

Pontius looks rattled and his bottom lip begins to tremble:

‘Psychotronic? What kind of poppycock is this? What are you? A physicist or a priest?’

‘Both.’

‘I’m sorry, but I’ve had enough. If this is some kind of practical joke then—’

‘I’m deadly serious doctor Pontius. My sense of humour does not extend to practical jokes. We first developed CYCLOPS to facilitate trance states for remote viewing purposes. We were especially interested in the identification of objects which were buried or otherwise concealed.’

‘What kind of objects?’

‘Any kind: covert weapons, mines, explosives, mineral ores; and the diagnostic analysis of inanimate or animate objects. But CYCLOPS unlocked other psychotronic powers—powers normally attributed to… mythical gods.’

Pontius glares gravely then says:

‘If you are indeed who claim, then you will be able to reveal the CYCLOPS formula.’

Schneider tuts and shakes his head:

‘Oh no, no doctor Pontius, I’m sorry, I can’t do that. In the wrong hands, CYCLOPS would become a weapon of unthinkable power. Imagine what would happen if it fell into the wrong hands.’

‘If the formula is so important, why initiate trails in public asylums? Surely, the military would be better equipped to manage the program.’

‘Military hospitals do not have the resources to implement a trail on this scale; the C.I.A decided that asylums would make better scientific testing grounds. After all, you have a ready source of human subjects available for experimental use; subjects that society deems inferior and expendable. You need not worry, your reputation is quite safe. There are many prominent medical doctors who work for the C.I.A. We need men like you; men who are not constrained by conscience or quasi moral codes. Work for us, and you will reap great rewards.’

‘I do not see how a paranormal study would be beneficial to my career. On the contrary, I’d become a complete pariah.’

‘We operate under an iron clad seal of secrecy. A depatterning trail is the perfect cover for our psychotronic program.’

Pontius thinks for a moment then licks his lips like lizard:

‘All right. Assuming for a moment that your claims are genuine, and CYCLOPS engorges the pineal, how shall I collate the evidence? No one here is qualified to assess these paranormal abilities. Your allegations sound like hocus pocus. Sorcery. Most clinicians would run a country mile if they witnessed such things.’

‘We have taken care of that. Only one subject per hospital will receive the genuine CYCLOPS formula. We call these subjects Butterflies. All other subjects will be counted as controls; we call them Grubs. Grubs receive a depleted version of the drug—without the psycho-active agent. Butterflies are preselected, based on their predisposition to psychic abilities. Your personal butterfly is Jack Vallis: he was committed here almost a year ago. Do you know, that at the age of eight, Vallis could make the hands of a clock turn backwards simply by looking at them?’

‘Where did you get this information?’

‘He was caned at school for constantly changing the timetable. Of course, his teachers assumed he was altering the clocks by hand. But when I questioned him about this at Borstal, he proved his gifts were genuine.’

‘You’ve met him?’

‘Many times.’

‘There’s no mention of it in his file.’

‘Such information is held strictly on a reason to know. Listen to me Doctor Pontius. You must keep Vallis isolated at all times. Should he exhibit any supernatural powers in front of others, you will maintain a sceptical front of plausible denial. His CYCLOPS phials are unique and marked with a Butterfly symbol, printed on the top left corner of the label. You will be given two hundred phials to complete the program. All phials will be logged and disposed of in accordance with the instructions. Unused phials will be returned with the seals intact. Now, are there any questions?’

‘Questions? You come here, making preposterous parapsychic claims, that are not only an affront to my intelligence but to the sanctity of clinical psychology, and ask if I have questions?’

‘Have I upset the apple-cart doctor Pontius? You disappoint me. Clearly you are not interested in the science of the super-conscious; and I fear you will never believe in the spirit world, whatever evidence is set before your eyes.’

Schneider dusts down his hat and turns to go. But he has barely taken two steps when Pontius cries:

‘Wait! … You’re right: I detest supernaturalism. I’ve been fighting against it my whole career. As a Freudian my aim is to break the spells of the superstitious mind, and free man from the shackles of religion. Personally, I cannot accept the reality of your “remote viewing” or psychokinesis for that matter. I mean, just how shall I proceed? If CYCLOPS causes phenomena that go beyond the bounds of medical materialism, how shall they be studied? I don’t believe they can be studied. At least, not here and not by me.’

‘We require nothing from you but clinical observation. Document your findings, that is all.’

‘Very well. I will proceed as instructed—but purely out of professional curiosity, you understand.’

‘Your compliance is appreciated. We always remunerate those whose loyalty and service benefits our organisation. Film and record as much you can. We look forward to assessing the data. You will not hear from me again. Goodbye doctor Pontius…’

Schneider puts on his hat and vanishes just as mysteriously as he appeared.

Pontius looks completely baffled; he stands there for a moment, as if a whirlwind has just swept through his body, the spotlight gleaming on his clammy brow. Then he sighs, sweeps his palms across his temples and strides into darkness.

[i] I borrow from Edward Bernays: ‘Propaganda’ Chapter One ‘Organising Chaos’. “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” Twitter and Facebook spring to mind.

[ii] Horsely in LeCron, ‘Experimental Hypnosis’ p. 146.

[iii] I devised this name purely for fictional purposes.

[iv] April 10, 1953: CIA Director Allen Dulles launches “Brain Warfare”. An extract from a speech at a national Princeton alumni conference.

[v] William Alanson White, Memorial Lectures, Canada 1946.

[vi] Defence Intelligence Agency, ‘Controlled Offensive Behaviour’, prepared by US Army Office Surgeon General, Medical Intelligence Office. Declassified on 31 December 1990. CIA-RDP96-00788R001300020001-6.pdf ‘Mental Suggestion and Controlled Behaviour’ p.41.

[vii] CIA-RDP96-00789R001001420001-3. ‘Psychic Warfare – Exploring The Mind Frontier’, by Dolan M. McKelvy, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S.A.F., Maxwell Airforce Base, Alabama.

Copyright (c) Nicholas Shea 2016