The Stranger Things About LSD, Elephants And The CIA

Mind control, drugs, the sixties, and the CIA, oh my!



An elephant injected with a lethal dose of LSD, the Kennedy assassination, Charlie Manson, the Unabomber, Patty Hearst and the gruesome murder of a child: what’s the connection? Dr. Louis West! If you like our content, please become a patron to get our premium episodes, and our public episodes ad-free.

Most people know about MKULTRA since it's been bouncing around pop culture in print and film for decades now, from recent TV shows like Stranger Things and Wyrmwood to classic films like The Manchurian Candidate and the honorable mention, for trying hard but falling just a bit short, The Men Who Stare at Goats.

But MKULTRA was real, the CIA thought they could control our minds with drugs, and they used copious amounts of them to try and learn how, by trial and error. The most notorious figures were Sydney Gottlieb who headed the CIA's drug and assassination programs, and his loyal assistant Dr. Louis "Jolly" West. They were present for everything from the Manson family's beginnings in San Francisco drug clinics, to the rape and murder of a 3 year old girl by an Air Force enlisted man in Texas named Jimmy Shaver, to the psychotic break of Jack Ruby before Ruby was able to testify before the Warren Commission about his role in the assassinations of John Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald. 1

On the other side of this coin, far away in a non-descript building at Harvard in the 1950s, a psychology professor named Henry Murray was berating a 16 year old math undergrad to gauge his propensity for becoming an intelligence officer. That 16 year old didn't take very well to being abused by a CIA mind control doctor... he grew up to become the Unabomber, the most wanted domestic terrorist in the US over a span of almost 20 years. 2

All of this began with the Korean War in the post-WW2 years, when American pilots were forced under torture to confess to using biological weapons against the North Korean and Chinese armies. Little evidence of such weapons ever surfaced outside of claims by the KGB, North Korean, and Chinese governments, but more importantly the fiasco gave rise to the notion of "brainwashing" which was, ironically, dismissed by none other than Dr. Louis West.


1. Tom O'Neill. CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties. Little, Brown, and Company. June 2019. 

2. Alston Chase. Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber. The Atlantic. June 2000. 

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