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Jared Loughner’s Possible Mental Illness

4:07 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

As more details are revealed about the background of purported 22-year-old shooter Jared Loughner, who is in custody currently for the shooting in Tucson today of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Federal Judge John Rell and a number of others, at least five of whom have died, a number of people are speculating about his possible mental illness. One diagnosis that keeps arising is schizophrenia.  It’s worth looking into what that might mean.

Over the course of my psychology career,  I have worked with schizophrenic individuals, and most are quite afraid of the world, and are far more likely to be victims than victimizers. However, there are a small minority whose delusions have led them to commit crimes.

I am a licensed psychologist and from afar, and am not in the position to diagnose Mr. Loughner. However, one can make some initial impressionistic comments based upon the video content he posted on YouTube. The autistic, in the sense of highly encapsulated and personal, nature of his thought processes, his emphasis on coercion from without (see his discussion about being taught letters of the alphabet), the strange nature of his logic and language, the paranoid attitude toward the world in general, are consistent with known cases of schizophrenia, paranoid type.

I cannot know if he is the shooter, but his videos do display a garbled mixture of political concerns, and there is a great deal about conscience (“conscience dreams”), about not doing wrong, about the definition of “terrorist”, about “grammar” and “currency”, about “brainwashing” and “mind control”. At times, appears as if he’s grappling with something struggling inside himself.

There are also indications of a sense of multiple internal selves, or a dissociated kind of experience (“conscience dreaming”) that may also mean he had dissociated personality as well. In fact, this combination of dissociated identity and schizophrenia is much more highly associated with violence than schizophrenia alone. Then again, his comments may only appear to indicate such dissociative processes, and be better accounted for by a thought disorder.

If one researches the words “conscience dreaming” online, you will find a YouTube video with that title, not by Mr. Loughner, and no connection with the latter is inferred, except that he may have watched the video. The video concerns three characters, The Agent, The Assassin, and The Dream Maker. There is also one imprisoned anonymous character. I find it quite coincidental to say the least that a phrase the supposed shooter used a number of times links to such a video which has such characters in it.

I would caution against implying any politics to someone who appears so disturbed, as his interpretation of political symbols and phrases are interpreted in a highly idiosyncratic and irrational way. However, if he were susceptible to violence, then the targets available by the given society, i.e., the rhetoric out there in the society, would have pointed him towards liberals, leftists, Muslims, or other minorities, and that kind of rhetoric has mainly been from the right-wing, as has been copiously commented upon.

As for whether such a person could be manipulated, it’s possible, but if he is as insane as he appears, he would have been a very unstable person upon which to base any such conspiracy. I tend to think, despite his talk about mind control and brainwashing, that he was not the subject of any such conspiracy. More likely, these concerns are more about such an individuals anxieties and paranoia about being controlled from without, about things outside himself threatening to invade his personal world. Concern with brainwashing is a common thread in narratives from schizophrenic individuals.

However, this doesn’t mean that mind control conspiracies by the government don’t exist. I’ve documented government documents, including of contemporary vintage, that prove such activity by the government still occurs. If one reads the history of this kind of research, attempts to really use mind control are not applied to schizophrenic individuals, though one does look for highly suggestible individuals, and then apply drugs and hypnosis and other programming techniques. The success or failure of such enterprises is highly classified.

My condolences to all who were affected by this terrible tragedy in Tucson today.

Update:

Here’s an example taken from one of Mr. Loughner’s videos, showing the strangeness of his thinking and language, which is circular, syntactically intact, but with extremely opaque meaning, which relies on repetitiveness. The language implies something very profound, which only the thinker understands:

Firstly, the current government officials are in power for their currency, but I’m informing you for your new currency! If you’re treasurer for a new money system, then you’re responsible for the distribution of a new currency! We now know — the treasurer for a new money system, is the distributor of the new currency. As a result, the people approve a new money system which is promising new information that’s accurate, and we truly believe in a new currency. And above else, you have your new currency, listener?

Second, my hope is for you to be — literate! If you’re literate in English grammar, then you comprehend English grammar. The majority of people, who reside in District 8, are illiterate — hilarious! I don’t control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure.

This is not the ramblings of a right-wing crackpot, which some have claimed Loughner to be, but gibberish. This doesn’t take away from the possibility Loughner reacted to right-wing propaganda, but quite likely out of madness, not political motivation, such as we understand such motivation.

Obama Interrogation Official Linked to U.S. Mind Control Research

2:42 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

A new article at Truthout, by H.P. Albarelli and Jeffrey Kaye, describes how the CIA’s Artichoke Project* was the contemporaneous and operational side of the MK-ULTRA mind control research program. It was not superceded by MK-ULTRA in the 1950s, as often supposed. Even more, Artichoke-derived methods of using drugs, hypnosis, sensory deprivation and overload, behavioral modification techniques and other methods of mind control have resurfaced as a primary component of U.S. interrogation practice.

The Truthout article includes some amazing revelations, including the largest description to date of the roles of then-Ford administration officials Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in working hand-in-glove with the CIA to suppress information on Artichoke from surfacing.

The article also references the November 2006 release of an “Instruction” from the Secretary of the Navy (3900.39D) regarding its “Human Research Protection Program.” While this memo specifically prohibits the use of research upon prisoners, including so-called “unlawful enemy combatants,” waivers of informed consent for research, or suspension of the protections enumerated in the memo can be made by the Secretary of the Navy under conditions of “operational contingency or during times of national emergency.” It is likely the latter rests upon the legislative language within the September 18, 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, where terrorist acts are said to “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

The waivers allowed for normal human research testing gains further piquancy when one considers the kinds of research referenced in the Secretary of the Navy’s memo. Section 7(a)(2)(a) describes the Undersecretary of the Navy as the “approval authority” for research done upon prisoners, as well as “Severe or unusual intrusions, either physical or psychological, on human subjects (such as consciousness-altering drugs or mind-control techniques)” [emphasis added].

This referencing of “mind-control techniques” in a document specifically discussing human subjects protections by then Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, is not an anomaly, but a rare instance in which the actual activities of the government in this area are openly revealed. Some of these activities can be documented via publicly available materials. This article describes how some of the individuals involved in U.S. government mind control and torture activities can be tracked and identified.

APA, CIA: “How might we overload the system or overwhelm the senses…?”

Another instance in which the curtain was pulled back on mind control research by the U.S. government involved the online description by the American Psychological Association (APA) of a CIA and Rand Corporation workshop which it co-sponsored in July 2003 at Rand’s Arlington, Virginia headquarters. The event was attended by approximately 40 research psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, as well as “representatives from the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense with interests in intelligence operations.”

One of these workshops, ostensibly on detection of deception, specifically described how participants should consider “sensory overloads on the maintenance of deceptive behaviors,” including the use of “pharmacological agents. “How might we,” the workshop asked, “overload the system or overwhelm the senses and see how it affects deceptive behaviors?”

The man in charge of “recruiting the operational expertise” for the workshop was Kirk Hubbard, Chief of the Research & Analysis Branch, Operational Assessment Division of the CIA. It appears likely that Hubbard was responsible for the presence at the workshop of SERE psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who were instrumental in the construction of the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program. Hubbard was also reported (by Scott Shane of the New York Times) to have brought James Mitchell to an informal meeting “of professors and law enforcement and intelligence officers… to brainstorm about Muslim extremism” at the home of former APA president Martin Seligman in November 2001.

Sometime in the past six months, the APA eliminated all references to the webpage described above, even going so far as to eliminate linked references to it on other webpages on its site. While the webpage that described the workshops has been scrubbed, mirrored images of the site remain available at well-known web archive sites, as I described in a recent article on this attempt to rewrite or hide APA’s offensive history. In one sense, this attempt to hide its history is not surprising, because the kind of activities discussed in these workshops are exactly like those that involved CIA and military mind control torture programs going back fifty years or more, and evidently still operational today.

The Role of Government Psychologist Susan Brandon

In a recent article, Scott Horton at Harper’s picked up on the unique link between the APA/CIA workshop and the recent revelations about torture at a hitherto unknown black site prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. That link was an individual, Susan Brandon.

Referenced by Horton as working for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA), Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC), a recent publication identified Brandon more fully as Chief for Research in the DCHC’s Behavioral Science Program. As Horton notes, a recent column by Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic described the DCHC as providing “intelligence operatives and interrogators….. [performing] interrogations for a sub-unit of Task Force 714, an elite counter-terrorism brigade.” Interrogations at the Afghan black site reportedly have included use of sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, brutality, isolation, relying on the guidelines of the Army Field Manual, including its Appendix M. Many human rights groups have criticized Appendix M as including techniques tantamount to torture and/or cruel, inhumane and degrading and illegal by domestic and international law.

Back in 2003, according to an APA news article, Brandon “jointly conceived” the APA/CIA workshops with Rand Associate Policy Analyst, Scott Gerwehr. (Mr. Gerwehr reportedly died a few years ago.) At the time, psychologist Susan Brandon was the Program Officer for Affect and Biobehavioral Regulation at the National Institute of Mental Health, and worked on the APA/CIA program while also serving as “Senior Scientist” at the APA.

In the early 2000s, Dr. Brandon served as Behavioral and Social Science Principal at the Mitre Corporation, a company highly linked to U.S. Air Defense. Subsequent to her stint as APA’s Senior Scientist, she went on to work in for the Bush administration as Assistant Director of Social, Behavioral, and Educational Sciences for the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. In addition, she became an instrumental member of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBES) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committees on Science and Homeland and National Security.

Subsequently, as described in an important article by Stephen Soldz that extends many of the points in this essay, Brandon joined the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity group (CIFA), which was later disbanded and reformed as part of the DCHC. Soldz also reminds us that Brandon was “one of the silent observers at the [APA] PENS [Psychological Ethics and National Security] taskforce described by dissident taskforce member Jean Maria Arrigo as exerting pressure on members to adopt a likely pre-approved policy in favor of participation in Guantánamo, CIA, and other interrogations. According to a 2005 article by Geoff Mumford, APA’s Director of Science Policy, Dr. Brandon “helped steer much of the association’s scientific outreach relevant to counter-terrorism after 9/11.”

One example of such outreach would include the June 11, 2002 meeting between Brandon, and other top APA officials with “two senior staff members in the National Security Council’s (NSC’s) Office of Combating Terrorism” (OCT). Since Vice Admiral William McRaven was head of OCT at that time, perhaps Brandon’s acquaintance with the world of Special Operations dates to that time, as McRaven was to become Commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

JSOC is the other Defense Department component, besides DIA, that has been linked currently with the management of the black site prisons run by the Obama administration, subsequent to President Obama’s apparent closure of the CIA black sites. One reputable source has informed me that there are eight such black site prisons in Afghanistan alone. A recent report by the BBC corroborated earlier reports by the New York Times and the Washington Post. The article by Ambinder further elaborated upon this story.

Why is the Obama Administration Still Involved in Torture?

It is not known if Dr. Brandon has been involved in any of the reported abuses of prisoners coming out of Bagram’s Tor prison, or elsewhere. Yet one would think the Obama administration and the Pentagon has a lot to explain in utilizing as their behavioral chief of research for an agency involved in intelligence operations, including interrogation. But then, why is the Obama administration involved in torture or operating secret prisons at all? President Obama has manifestly broken his promise to the American people to end torture and close all secret prisons. Nor has Congress done their due diligence in investigating these matters. Only when the American people fully understand the extent to which these activities have occupied the government and their various collaborators, like the APA, will society be able to take the necessary steps to end these abuses, and hold those accountable for what amount to crimes against humanity.

As for psychologists, Dr. Soldz rightly notes, “Psychology as a profession is at a crossroads.” The same holds true for other professions involved with this abusive and criminal history, including the activities of anthropologists in the military’s Human Terrain System teams in Afghanistan, researchers in numerous academic departments across the country, and the many reports of doctors and other medical personnel involved in the monitoring of torture activities for the CIA and Defense Department. The use of torture has suborned U.S. civil society as a whole in activities that are dark and evil, and the society as a whole must make a tremendous effort if it is to extirpate such evil from its midst.

*For an early document referring to Artichoke’s history, see CIA, Memorandum for the Record, Subject: Project ARTICHOKE, January 31, 1975. While this MOR downplays Artichoke’s history, it represents the degree to which the CIA was willing to reveal such operations. The Truthout article discusses Operation Dormouse, where then Ford administration officials Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld worked with the CIA to limit revelations about Artichoke and other CIA torture and assassination operations.

Did Abu Zubaydah Have Dissociative Identity Disorder? And Why It Matters

5:58 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

Last week, Jason Leopold got an important scoop in his interview with former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Kiriakou first became known when he revealed the CIA had indeed used waterboarding. He was also the agent known for capturing supposed Al Qaeda mastermind, Abu Zubaydah. His interview with Leopold is fascinating and bears re-watching, as he also touches on other subjects, including his role in the Plame affair.

Marcy Wheeler has noted the inconsistency between Kiriakou’s claims in the video that Abu Zubaydah’s diaries were not, as portrayed by Ron Suskind in his book, The One Percent Doctrine, the diaries of a mentally ill individual, but simply those of a creative mind, since the government relies on these diaries as supporting material in its terrorism case against Zubaydah. (See also this earlier story by Leopold.)

According to Kiriakou (Marcy’s transcription):

Those weren’t diaries…. They were journals and doodle books. He would write these letters to himself. They weren’t really letters to himself. It was like a work of fiction.

Well, were they letters or not, John?

The quick switch (they were, they weren’t) is highly suggestive of lying and the use of a cover story. The preponderance of the reports from third parties suggest that Zubaydah has a mental disorder. The use of different personalities would suggest that disorder could be Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), one of the dissociative syndromes listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR, otherwise known as the DSM.

Could Abu Zubaydah simply have been a singularly creative fellow, a Muslim belles-lettrist? For one thing, that side of his personality never surfaced in the psychological profile written up on him in July 2002. While this psychological profile is full of lies, half-truths, and other material aimed at allowing for a decision to use advanced EITs on him (like waterboarding), there is no reason to think that it would have left out a significant aspect of his functioning regarding what was in his diaries. Instead, it likely points to the fact that the CIA cover story on Abu Zubaydah was not yet fully developed by the summer of 2002, or that is would have to change significantly in the following years.

The existence of a DID profile for Zubaydah (if that were to be true, and there is some indication that it might be) is also notable because the artificial creation of dissociated personalities was a primary aim of CIA interrogation research for decades. This article by Dr. Colin Ross, past president of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation, describes some of this history, beginning with Projects Bluebird and Artichoke, and including the "psychic driving" experiments of Ewan Cameron (as described, among other places, in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine). Over the years, the subject was relegated to conspiracy websites, haunted by a combination of schizophrenic, paranoiacs, and dedicated would-be historians, in addition to real victims of former government experiments.

I say relegated, because discussion of this topic has long not been considered respectable. (This might change now that the current Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, has stated that MKULTRA was a "true" conspiracy (PDF).) There is only one successful, mainstream book, which has been in print for 30 years or so now, that even treats the subject of government-created dissociated personalities, and that is John D. Marks’ Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control – The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences. (This is not to belittle the other excellent authors who have published on the subject.)

Marks, who was once staff assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, wrote his book utilizing 16,000 documents obtained painstakingly via FOIA, as well as interviews with psychologists and CIA officers. He blew the whistle on the mind control programs, which had been partly revealed by the Rockefeller Commission and Congressional investigation.

DID is a relatively rare psychiatric disorder. If Abu Zubaydah has this disorder, it certainly could have been developed in the course of his life. On the other hand, it would also be quite a coincidence that the man trumpeted by the government as an Al Qaeda mastermind, close to Osama bin Laden, who later turned out to be no such thing, and who was a key experimental guinea pig in the CIA’s EIT program, should also turn out to have DID.

It should be noted, too, that the study of dissociative phenomenon among SERE trainees has been a primary focus of military and CIA researchers, as evidenced by this report (PDF), and this journal article. An article at Truthout last year explored the links between one of the key researchers of these studies and the CIA.

The Man Who Was Almost There

According to an article by Ron Suskind in Time Magazine, Zubaydah’s diaries, "which the government refuses to release, is written in three voices over 10 years and is filled with page after page of quotidian nonsense about housekeeping, food and types of tea." The diaries, discovered in the safehouse where Zubaydah was captured, are thousands of pages long. In a Washington Post review of Suskind’s book, Barton Gellman went into more detail:

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" — a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI’s top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

But according to George W. Bush, in a statement made as late as September 6, 2006, Zubaydah was "a senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin Laden" (H/T Blueness at Daily Kos). Who was this man captured by Kiriakou and his associates? There are only so many scenarios here that fit the known facts.

1) Abu Zubaydah was a lower-level jihadist who was the victim of bad intel and tortured. He was also a creative individual who wrote "doodle" notebooks to himself using multiple narrators as representing himself, mostly to amuse himself. Nevertheless, some good intel came from his interrogations.(Kiriakou’s narrative)

2) Abu Zubaydah was a high-level jihadist, worked with OBL. Was captured and tortured, and the U.S. obtained valuable intel that stopped terrorist attacks. His diaries contain evidence of his crimes. While they show evidence of "cognitive impairment," such impairment, or even any possible evidence re "multiple voices" is not relevant to the case against him. (Official U.S. government narrative)

3) Abu Zubaydah was thought to be a high-level jihadist, but upon examination wasn’t really too important. In fact, he appeared mentally ill, and wrote his diaries in multiple voices (three of them). He was inadvisedly used as a subject of the CIAs EIT program. (FBI interrogators’ and Ron Suskind narrative)

4) The biography of Abu Zubaydah is only partial known. He was a jihadist in the anti-Soviet war, and was badly wounded there. At some point he developed DID, or a DID syndrome was produced within him by government action. The government had a good deal of interest in experimenting on someone with DID, as it would have been valuable to them to know if the physiological variables they were testing (e.g., cortisol, catecholamines, etc.) would vary under "uncontrollable stress" (torture); in addition, if a learned helplessness syndrome could vary under different personalities. He was a very unusual and valuable guinea pig to them. It is also not impossible that they intended at some point to use him as a double agent, testing the use of dissociated personality "Manchurian Candidates" in dangerous Muslim extremist circles. (This is my quite speculative, hypothetical narrative, but grounded in reports of his possible mental illness, and in known practices and ambitions of the U.S. defense and intelligence agencies.)

By the way, Kiriakou’s assertion that Zubaydah did not seem schizophrenic or "mentally retarded," so therefore could not have multiple personalities shows his naivete or ignorance regarding DID. Someone with multiple personalities can appear quite normal and logical in some or all of these personalities. It is the dissociated or separate nature of the different personalities, far beyond the different tendencies or ways of operating publicly vs privately that is in all of us, that makes it unique and pathological. That and the fact that some of these personalities can be unconscious of the existence of other personalities. Remember, this is a rare phenomenon.

There are surely plenty of readers who believe this kind of analysis to be "far-out" there. Yet my hypothesis is quite possible. I won’t say it is probably true, because I don’t have enough information. Those still thinking that Zubaydah as a dissociated guinea pig is some sort of science fiction hokum should read more deeply into the history of U.S. mind control programs. One could start with an article by H.P. Albarelli and myself that reviewed the "Lyle case," an example of the CIA using Artichoke techniques to "re-condition" and "re-orient" a person through the use of drugs and hypnosis.

The attempt to control and predict human behavior, which was a cardinal principle of modern behaviorist psychology, has joined up with the imperial ambitions of post-Hiroshima America, and what it has produced are outlandish schemes and programs aimed at the control of individuals through psychological and physiological techniques that can only be called torture. Whether Abu Zubaydah was a potential Manchurian Candidate or not, the experiments done upon him and others to create an all-powerful form of coercive interrogation will go down as one of the horrors of modern times.