P.O. Box 753
mysteries and possibilities of the hollow Earth and other strange and
MIND CONTROL FOR THE MASSES DEPARTMENT -
If Harlan Girard is crazy, he doesn't act the part. He is standing just
where he said he would be, below the Philadelphia train station's World
War II memorial -- a soaring statue of a winged angel embracing a
fallen combatant, as if lifting him to heaven. Girard is wearing
pressed khaki pants, expensive-looking leather loafers and a crisp blue
button-down. He looks like a local businessman dressed for a casual
Friday -- a local businessman with a wickedly dark sense of humor,
which had become apparent when he said to look for him beneath "the
angel sodomizing a dead soldier." At 70, he appears robust and healthy
-- not the slightest bit disheveled or unusual-looking. He is also
carrying a bag.
Girard's description of himself is matter-of-fact, until he explains
what's in the bag: documents he believes prove that the government is
attempting to control his mind. He carries that black, weathered bag
everywhere he goes. "Every time I go out, I'm prepared to come home and
find everything is stolen," he says.
The bag aside, Girard appears intelligent and coherent. At a table in
front of Dunkin' Donuts inside the train station, Girard opens the bag
and pulls out a thick stack of documents, carefully labeled and sorted
with yellow sticky notes bearing neat block print. The documents are an
authentic-looking mix of news stories, articles culled from military
journals and even some declassified national security documents that do
seem to show that the U.S. government has attempted to develop weapons
that send voices into people's heads.
"It's undeniable that the technology exists," Girard says, "but if you
go to the police and say, 'I'm hearing voices,' they're going to lock
you up for psychiatric evaluation."
The thing that's missing from his bag -- the lack of which makes it
hard to prove he isn't crazy -- is even a single document that would
buttress the implausible notion that the government is currently
targeting a large group of American citizens with mind-control
technology. The only direct evidence for that, Girard admits, lies with
alleged victims such as himself.
And of those, there are many.
It's 9:01 P.M. when the first person speaks during the Saturday
Unsure whether anyone else is on the line yet, the female caller throws
out the first question: "You got gang stalking or V2K?" she asks no one
There's a short, uncomfortable pause.
"V2K, really bad. 24-7," a man replies.
"Gang stalking," another woman says.
"Oh, yeah, join the club," yet another man replies.
The members of this confessional "club" are not your usual victims.
This isn't a group for alcoholics, drug addicts or survivors of
childhood abuse; the people connecting on the call are self-described
victims of mind control -- people who believe they have been targeted
by a secret government program that tracks them around the clock, using
technology to probe and control their minds.
The callers frequently refer to themselves as TIs, which is short for
Targeted Individuals, and talk about V2K -- the official military
abbreviation stands for "voice to skull" and denotes weapons that beam
voices or sounds into the head. In their esoteric lexicon, "gang
stalking" refers to the belief that they are being followed and
harassed: by neighbors, strangers or colleagues who are agents for the
A few more "hellos" are exchanged, interrupted by beeps signaling late
arrivals: Bill from Columbus, Barbara from Philadelphia, Jim from
California and a dozen or so others.
Derrick Robinson, the conference call moderator, calls order.
"It's five after 9," says Robinson, with the sweetly reasonable
intonation of a late-night radio host. "Maybe we should go ahead and
The idea of a group of people convinced they are targeted by weapons
that can invade their minds has become a cultural joke, shorthanded by
the image of solitary lunatics wearing tinfoil hats to deflect
invisible mind beams. "Tinfoil hat," says Wikipedia, has become "a
popular stereotype and term of derision; the phrase serves as a byword
for paranoia and is associated with conspiracy theorists."
In 2005, a group of MIT students conducted a formal study using
aluminum foil and radio signals. Their surprising finding: Tinfoil hats
may actually amplify radio frequency signals. Of course, the tech
students meant the study as a joke.
But during the Saturday conference call, the subject of aluminum foil
is deadly serious. The MIT study had prompted renewed debate; while a
few TIs realized it was a joke at their expense, some saw the findings
as an explanation for why tinfoil didn't seem to stop the voices.
Others vouched for the material.
"Tinfoil helps tremendously," reports one conference call participant,
who describes wrapping it around her body underneath her clothing.
"Where do you put the tinfoil?" a man asks.
"Anywhere, everywhere," she replies. "I even put it in a hat."
A TI in an online mind-control forum recommends a Web site called
"Block EMF" (as in electromagnetic frequencies), which advertises a
full line of clothing, including aluminum-lined boxer shorts described
as a "sheer, comfortable undergarment you can wear over your regular
one to shield yourself from power lines and computer electric fields,
and microwave, radar, and TV radiation." Similarly, a tinfoil hat
disguised as a regular baseball cap is "smart and subtle."
For all the scorn, the ranks of victims -- or people who believe they
are victims -- are speaking up. In the course of the evening, there are
as many as 40 clicks from people joining the call, and much larger
numbers participate in the online forum, which has 143 members. A note
there mentioning interest from a journalist prompted more than 200
Until recently, people who believe the government is beaming voices
into their heads would have added social isolation to their catalogue
of woes. But now, many have discovered hundreds, possibly thousands, of
others just like them all over the world. Web sites dedicated to
electronic harassment and gang stalking have popped up in India, China,
Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Russia and elsewhere. Victims
have begun to host support meetings in major cities, including
Washington. Favorite topics at the meetings include lessons on how to
build shields (the proverbial tinfoil hats), media and PR training, and
possible legal strategies for outlawing mind control.
The biggest hurdle for TIs is getting people to take their concerns
seriously. A proposal made in 2001 by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to
ban "psychotronic weapons" (another common term for mind-control
technology) was hailed by TIs as a great step forward. But the bill was
widely derided by bloggers and columnists and quickly dropped.
Doug Gordon, Kucinich's spokesman, would not discuss mind control other
than to say the proposal was part of broader legislation outlawing
weapons in space. The bill was later reintroduced, minus the mind
control. "It was not the concentration of the legislation, which is why
it was tightened up and redrafted," was all Gordon would say.
Unable to garner much support from their elected representatives, TIs
have started their own PR campaign. And so, last spring, the Saturday
conference calls centered on plans to hold a rally in Washington. A
2005 attempt at a rally drew a few dozen people and was ultimately
rained out; the TIs were determined to make another go of it.
Conversations focused around designing T-shirts, setting up
congressional appointments, fundraising, creating a new Web site and
formalizing a slogan. After some debate over whether to focus on gang
stalking or mind control, the group came up with a compromise slogan
that covered both: "Freedom From Covert Surveillance and Electronic
Conference call moderator Robinson, who says his gang stalking began
when he worked at the National Security Agency in the 1980s, offers his
assessment of the group's prospects: Maybe this rally wouldn't produce
much press, but it's a first step. "I see this as a movement," he says.
"We're picking up people all the time."
Harlan Girard says his problems begain in 1983, while he was a real
estate developer in Los Angeles. The harassment was subtle at first:
One day a woman pulled up in a car, wagged her finger at him, then sped
away; he saw people running underneath his window at night; he noticed
some of his neighbors seemed to be watching him; he heard someone
moving in the crawl space under his apartment at night.
Girard sought advice from this then-girlfriend, a practicing
psychologist, whom he declines to identify. He says she told him,
"Nobody can become psychotic in their late 40s." She said he didn't
seem to manifest other symptoms of psychotic behavior -- he dressed
well, paid his bills -- and, besides his claims of surveillance, which
sounded paranoid, he behaved normally. "People who are psychotic are
socially isolated," he recalls her saying.
After a few months, Girard says, the harassment abruptly stopped. But
the respite didn't last. In 1984, appropriately enough, things got
seriously weird. He'd left his real estate career to return to school
at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was studying for a master's
degree in landscape architecture. He harbored dreams of designing parks
and public spaces. Then, he says, he began to hear voices. Girard could
distinguish several different male voices, which came complete with a
mental image of how the voices were being generated: from a recording
studio, with "four slops sitting around a card table drinking beer," he
The voices were crass but also strangely courteous, addressing him as
They taunted him. They asked him if he thought he was normal; they
suggested he was going crazy. They insulted his classmates: When an
overweight student showed up for a field trip in a white raincoat, they
said, "Hey, Mr. Girard, doesn't she look like a refrigerator?"
Six months after the voices began, they had another question for him:
"Mr. Girard, Mr. Girard. Why aren't you dead yet?" At first, he
recalls, the voices would speak just two or three times a day, but it
escalated into a near-constant cacophony, often accompanied by severe
pain all over his body -- which Girard now attributes to
directed-energy weapons that can shoot invisible beams.
The voices even suggested how he could figure out what was happening to
him. He says they told him to go to the electrical engineering
department to "tell them you're writing science fiction and you don't
want to write anything inconsistent with physical reality. Then tell
them exactly what has happened."
Girard went and got some rudimentary explanations of how technology
could explain some of the things he was describing.
"Finally, I said: 'Look, I must come to the point, because I need
answers. This is happening to me; it's not science fiction.'" They
He got the same response from friends, he says. "They regarded me as
crazy, which is a humiliating experience."
When asked why he didn't consult a doctor about the voices and the
pain, he says, "I don't dare start talking to people because of the
potential stigma of it all. I don't want to be treated differently.
Here I was in Philadelphia. Something was going on, I don't know any
doctors . . . I know somebody's doing something to me."
It was a struggle to graduate, he says, but he was determined, and he
persevered. In 1988, the same year he finished his degree, his father
died, leaving Girard an inheritance large enough that he did not have
So, instead of becoming a landscape architect, Girard began a full-time
investigation of what was happening to him, often traveling to
Washington in pursuit of government documents relating to mind control.
He put an ad in a magazine seeking other victims. Only a few people
responded. But over the years, as he met more and more people like
himself, he grew convinced that he was part of what he calls an
"electronic concentration camp."
What he was finding on his research trips also buttressed his belief:
Girard learned that in the 1950s, the CIA had drugged unwitting victims
with LSD as part of a rogue mind-control experiment called MKULTRA. He
came across references to the CIA seeking to influence the mind with
electromagnetic fields. Then he found references in an academic
research book to work that military researchers at Walter Reed Army
Institute of Research had done in the 1970s with pulsed microwaves to
transmit words that a subject would hear in his head. Elsewhere, he
came across references to attempts to use electromagnetic energy, sound
waves or microwave beams to cause non-lethal pain to the body. For
every symptom he experienced, he believed he found references to a
weapon that could cause it.
How much of the research Girard cites checks out?
Concerns about microwaves and mind control date to the 1960s, when the
U.S. government discovered that its embassy in Moscow was being
bombarded by low-level electromagnetic radiation. In 1965, according to
declassified Defense Department documents, the Pentagon, at the behest
of the White House, launched Project Pandora, top-secret research to
explore the behavioral and biological effects of low-level microwaves.
For approximately four years, the Pentagon conducted secret research:
zapping monkeys; exposing unwitting sailors to microwave radiation; and
conducting a host of other unusual experiments (a sub-project of
Project Pandora was titled Project Bizarre). The results were mixed,
and the program was plagued by disagreements and scientific squabbles.
The "Moscow signal," as it was called, was eventually attributed to
eavesdropping, not mind control, and Pandora ended in 1970. And with
it, the military's research into so-called non-thermal microwave
effects seemed to die out, at least in the unclassified realm.
But there are hints of ongoing research: An academic paper written for
the Air Force in the mid-1990s mentions the idea of a weapon that would
use sound waves to send words into a person's head. "The signal can be
a 'message from God' that can warn the enemy of impending doom, or
encourage the enemy to surrender," the author concluded.
In 2002, the Air Force Research Laboratory patented precisely such a
technology: using microwaves to send words into someone's head. That
work is frequently cited on mind-control Web sites. Rich Garcia, a
spokesman for the research laboratory's directed energy directorate,
declined to discuss that patent or current or related research in the
field, citing the lab's policy not to comment on its microwave work.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed for this
article, the Air Force released unclassified documents surrounding that
2002 patent -- records that note that the patent was based on human
experimentation in October 1994 at the Air Force lab, where scientists
were able to transmit phrases into the heads of human subjects, albeit
with marginal intelligibility. Research appeared to continue at least
through 2002. Where this work has gone since is unclear -- the research
laboratory, citing classification, refused to discuss it or release
The official U.S. Air Force position is that there are no non-thermal
effects of microwaves. Yet Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA's
Langley Research Center, tagged microwave attacks against the human
brain as part of future warfare in a 2001 presentation to the National
Defense Industrial Association about "Future Strategic Issues."
"That work is exceedingly sensitive" and unlikely to be reported in any
unclassified documents, he says.
Meanwhile, the military's use of weapons that employ electromagnetic
radiation to create pain is well-known, as are some of the limitations
of such weapons. In 2001, the Pentagon declassified one element of this
research: the Active Denial System, a weapon that uses electromagnetic
radiation to heat skin and create an intense burning sensation. So,
yes, there is technology designed to beam painful invisible rays at
humans, but the weapon seems to fall far short of what could account
for many of the TIs' symptoms. While its exact range is classified,
Doug Beason, an expert in directed-energy weapons, puts it at about 700
meters, and the beam cannot penetrate a number of materials, such as
aluminum. Considering the size of the full-scale weapon, which
resembles a satellite dish, and its operational limitations, the
ability of the government or anyone else to shoot beams at hundreds of
people -- on city streets, into their homes and while they travel in
cars and planes -- is beyond improbable.
But, given the history of America's clandestine research, it's
reasonable to assume that if the defense establishment could develop
mind-control or long-distance ray weapons, it almost certainly would.
And, once developed, the possibility that they might be tested on
innocent civilians could not be categorically dismissed.
Girard, for his part, believes these weapons were not only developed
but were also tested on him more than 20 years ago.
What would the government gain by torturing him? Again, Girard found
what he believed to be an explanation, or at least a precedent: During
the Cold War, the government conducted radiation experiments on scores
of unwitting victims, essentially using them as human guinea pigs.
Girard came to believe that he, too, was a walking experiment.
Not that Girard thinks his selection was totally random: He believes he
was targeted because of a disparaging remark he made to a Republican
fundraiser about George H.W. Bush in the early 1980s. Later, Girard
says, the voices confirmed his suspicion.
"One night I was going to bed; the usual drivel was going on," he says.
"The constant stream of drivel. I was just about to go to bed, and a
voice says: 'Mr. Girard, do you know who was in our studio with us?
That was George Bush, vice president of the United States.'"
Girard's story, however strange, reflects what TIs around the world
report: a chance encounter with a government agency or official,
followed by surveillance and gang stalking, and then, in many cases,
voices, and pain similar to electric shocks. Some in the community have
taken it upon themselves to document as many cases as possible. One TI
from California conducted about 50 interviews, narrowing the symptoms
down to several major areas: "ringing in the ears," "manipulation of
body parts," "hearing voices," "piercing sensation on skin," "sinus
problems" and "sexual attacks." In fact, the TI continued, "many report
the sensation of having their genitalia manipulated."
Both male and female TIs report a variety of "attacks" to their sexual
organs. "My testicles became so sore I could barely walk," Girard says
of his early experiences. Others, however, report the attacks in the
form of sexual stimulation, including one TI who claims he dropped out
of the seminary after constant sexual stimulation by directed-energy
weapons. Susan Sayler, a TI in San Diego, says many women among the TIs
suffer from attacks to their sexual organs but are often embarrassed to
talk about it with outsiders.
"It's sporadic, you just never know when it will happen," she says. "A
lot of the women say it's as soon as you lay down in bed -- that's when
you would get hit the worst. It happened to me as I was driving, at odd
What made her think it was an electronic attack and not just in her
head? "There was no sexual attraction to a man when it would happen.
That's what was wrong. It did not feel like a muscle spasm or
whatever," she says. "It's so . . . electronic."
Gloria Naylor, a renowned African American writer, seems to defy many
of the stereotypes of someone who believes in mind control. A winner of
the National Book Award, Naylor is best known for her acclaimed novel,
The Women of Brewster Place, which described a group of women living in
a poor urban neighborhood and was later made into a miniseries by Oprah
But in 2005, she published a lesser-known work, 1996, a
semi-autobiographical book describing her experience as a TI. "I didn't
want to tell this story. It's going to take courage. Perhaps more
courage than I possess, but they've left me no alternatives," Naylor
writes at the beginning of her book. "I am in a battle for my mind. If
I stop now, they'll have won, and I will lose myself." The book is
coherent, if hard to believe. It's also marked by disturbing passages
describing how Jewish American agents were responsible for Naylor's
surveillance. "Of the many cars that kept coming and going down my
road, most were driven by Jews," she writes in the book. When asked
about that passage in a recent interview, she defended her logic: Being
from New York, she claimed, she can recognize Jews.
Naylor lives on a quiet street in Brooklyn in a majestic brownstone
with an interior featuring intricate woodwork and tasteful decorations
that attest to a successful literary career. She speaks about her
situation calmly, occasionally laughing at her own predicament and her
struggle with what she originally thought was mental illness. "I would
observe myself," she explains. "I would lie in bed while the
conversations were going on, and I'd ask: Maybe it is schizophrenia?"
Like Girard, Naylor describes what she calls "street theater" --
incidents that might be dismissed by others as coincidental, but which
Naylor believes were set up. She noticed suspicious cars driving by her
isolated vacation home. On an airplane, fellow passengers mimicked her
every movement -- like mimes on a street.
Voices similar to those in Girard's case followed -- taunting voices
cursing her, telling her she was stupid, that she couldn't write.
Expletive-laced language filled her head. Naylor sought help from a
psychiatrist and received a prescription for an antipsychotic drug. But
the medication failed to stop the voices, she says, which only added to
her conviction that the harassment was real.
For almost four years, Naylor says, the voices prevented her from
writing. In 2000, she says, around the time she discovered the
mind-control forums, the voices stopped and the surveillance tapered
off. It was then that she began writing 1996 as a "catharsis."
Colleagues urged Naylor not to publish the book, saying she would
destroy her reputation. But she did publish, albeit with a small
publishing house. The book was generally ignored by critics but
embraced by TIs.
Naylor is not the first writer to describe such a personal descent.
Evelyn Waugh, one of the great novelists of the 20th century, details
similar experiences in The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. Waugh's book,
published in 1957, has eerie similarities to Naylor's.
Embarking on a recuperative cruise, Pinfold begins to hear voices on
the ship that he believes are part of a wireless system capable of
broadcasting into his head; he believes the instigator recruited fellow
passengers to act as operatives; and he describes "performances" put on
by passengers directed at him yet meant to look innocuous to others.
Waugh wrote his book several years after recovering from a similar
episode and realizing that the voices and paranoia were the result of
Naylor, who hasn't written a book since 1996, is now back at work on an
historical novel she hopes will return her to the literary mainstream.
She remains convinced that she was targeted by mind control. The many
echoes of her ordeal she sees on the mind-control forums reassure her
she's not crazy, she says.
Of course, some of the things she sees on the forum do strike her as
crazy. "But who I am to say?" she says. "Maybe I sound crazy to
Some TIs, such as Ed Moore, a young medical doctor, take a slightly
more skeptical approach. He criticizes what he calls the "wacky claims"
of TIs who blame various government agencies or groups of people
without any proof. "I have yet to see a claim of who is behind this
that has any data to support it," he writes.
Nonetheless, Moore still believes the voices in his head are the result
of mind control and that the U.S. government is the most likely
culprit. Moore started hearing voices in 2003, just as he completed his
medical residency in anesthesiology; he was pulling an all-nighter
studying for board exams when he heard voices coming from a nearby
house commenting on him, on his abilities as a doctor, on his sanity.
At first, he thought he was simply overhearing conversations through
walls (much as Waugh's fictional alter ego first thought), but when no
one else could hear the voices, he realized they were in his head.
Moore went through a traumatic two years, including hospitalization for
depression with auditory hallucinations.
"One tries to convince friends and family that you are being
electronically harassed with voices that only you can hear," he writes
in an e-mail. "You learn to stop doing that. They don't believe you,
and they become sad and concerned, and it amplifies your own depression
when you have voices screaming at you and your friends and family
looking at you as a helpless, sick, mentally unbalanced wreck."
He says he grew frustrated with anti-psychotic medications meant to
stop the voices, both because the treatments didn't work and because
psychiatrists showed no interest in what the voices were telling him.
He began to look for some other way to cope.
"In March of 2005, I started looking up support groups on the
Internet," he wrote. "My wife would cry when she would see these sites,
knowing I still heard voices, but I did not know what else to do." In
2006, he says, his wife, who had stood by him for three years, filed
Moore, like other TIs, is cautious about sharing details of his life.
He worries about looking foolish to friends and colleagues -- but he
says that risk is ultimately worthwhile if he can bring attention to
With his father's financial help, Moore is now studying for an
electrical engineering degree at the University of Texas at San
Antonio, hoping to prove that V2K, the technology to send voices into
people's heads, is real. Being in school, around other people, helps
him cope, he writes, but the voices continue to taunt him.
Recently, he says, they told him: "We'll never stop [messing] with you."
A week before the TIs rally on the National Mall, John Alexander, one
of the people whom Harlan Girard holds personally responsible for the
voices in his head, is at a Chili's restaurant in Crystal City
explaining over a Philly cheese steak and fries why the United States
needs mind-control weapons.
A former Green Beret who served in Vietnam, Alexander went on to a
number of national security jobs, and rubbed shoulders with prominent
military and political leaders. Long known for taking an interest in
exotic weapons, his 1980 article, "The New Mental Battlefield,"
published in the Army journal Military Review, is cited by
self-described victims as proof of his complicity in mind control. Now
retired from the government and living in Las Vegas, Alexander
continues to advise the military. He is in the Washington area that day
for an official meeting.
Beneath a shock of white hair is the mind of a self-styled military
thinker. Alexander belongs to a particular set of Pentagon advisers who
consider themselves defense intellectuals, focusing on big-picture
issues, future threats and new capabilities. Alexander's career led him
from work on sticky foam that would stop an enemy in his or her tracks
to dalliances in paranormal studies and psychics, which he still
defends as operationally useful.
In an earlier phone conversation, Alexander said that in the 1990s,
when he took part in briefings at the CIA, there was never any talk of
"mind control, or mind-altering drugs or technologies, or anything like
According to Alexander, the military and intelligence agencies were
still scared by the excesses of MKULTRA, the infamous CIA program that
involved, in part, slipping LSD to unsuspecting victims. "Until
recently, anything that smacked of [mind control] was extremely
dangerous" because Congress would simply take the money away, he said.
Alexander acknowledged that "there were some abuses that took place,"
but added that, on the whole, "I would argue we threw the baby out with
the bath water."
But September 11, 2001, changed the mood in Washington, and some in the
national security community are again expressing interest in mind
control, particularly a younger generation of officials who weren't
around for MKULTRA. "It's interesting, that it's coming back,"
While Alexander scoffs at the notion that he is somehow part of an
elaborate plot to control people's minds, he acknowledges support for
learning how to tap into a potential enemy's brain. He gives as an
example the possible use of functional magnetic resonance imaging, or
fMRI, for lie detection. "Brain mapping" with fMRI theoretically could
allow interrogators to know when someone is lying by watching for
activity in particular parts of the brain. For interrogating
terrorists, fMRI could come in handy, Alexander suggests. But any
conceivable use of the technique would fall far short of the kind of
mind-reading TIs complain about.
Alexander also is intrigued by the possibility of using electronic
means to modify behavior. The dilemma of the war on terrorism, he
notes, is that it never ends. So what do you do with enemies, such as
those at Guantanamo: keep them there forever? That's impractical.
Behavior modification could be an alternative, he says.
"Maybe I can fix you, or electronically neuter you, so it's safe to
release you into society, so you won't come back and kill me,"
Alexander says. It's only a matter of time before technology allows
that scenario to come true, he continues. "We're now getting to where
we can do that." He pauses for a moment to take a bite of his sandwich.
"Where does that fall in the ethics spectrum? That's a really tough
When Alexander encounters a query he doesn't want to answer, such as
one about the ethics of mind control, he smiles and raises his hands
level to his chest, as if balancing two imaginary weights. In one hand
is mind control and the sanctity of free thought -- and in the other
hand, a tad higher -- is the war on terrorism.
But none of this has anything to do with the TIs, he says. "Just
because things are secret, people tend to extrapolate. Common sense
does not prevail, and even when you point out huge leaps in logic that
just cannot be true, they are not dissuaded."
What is it that brings someone, even an intelligent person, to ascribe
the experience of hearing disembodied voices to government weapons?
In her book, Abducted, Harvard psychologist Susan Clancy examines a
group that has striking parallels to the TIs: people who believe
they've been kidnapped by aliens. The similarities are often uncanny:
Would-be abductees describe strange pains, and feelings of being
watched or targeted. And although the alleged abductees don't generally
have auditory hallucinations, they do sometimes believe that their
thoughts are controlled by aliens, or that they've been implanted with
(On the online forum, some TIs posted vociferous objections to the
parallel, concerned that the public finds UFOs even weirder than mind
control. "It will keep us all marginalized and discredited," one
Clancy argues that the main reason people believe they've been abducted
by aliens is that it provides them with a compelling narrative to
explain their perception that strange things have happened to them,
such as marks on their bodies (marks others would simply dismiss as
bruises), stimulation to their sexual organs (as the TIs describe) or
feelings of paranoia. "It's not just an explanation for your problems;
it's a source of meaning for your life," Clancy says.
In the case of TIs, mind-control weapons are an explanation for the
voices they hear in their head. Socrates heard a voice and thought it
was a demon; Joan of Arc heard voices from God. As one TI noted in an
e-mail: "Each person undergoing this harassment is looking for the
solution to the problem. Each person analyzes it through his or her own
particular spectrum of beliefs. If you are a scientific-minded person,
then you will probably analyze the situation from that perspective and
conclude it must be done with some kind of electronic devices. If you
are a religious person, you will see it as a struggle between the
elements of whatever religion you believe in. If you are maybe, perhaps
more eccentric, you may think that it is alien in nature."
Or, if you happen to live in the United States in the early 21st
century, you may fear the growing power of the NSA, CIA and FBI.
Being a victim of government surveillance is also, arguably, better
than being insane. In Waugh's novella based on his own painful
experience, when Pinfold concludes that hidden technology is being used
to infiltrate his brain, he "felt nothing but gratitude in his
discovery." Why? "He might be unpopular; he might be ridiculous; but he
was not mad."
Ralph Hoffman, a professor of psychiatry at Yale who has studied
auditory hallucinations, regularly sees people who believe the voices
are a part of government harassment (others believe they are God, dead
relatives or even ex-girlfriends). Not all people who hear voices are
schizophrenic, he says, noting that people can hear voices episodically
in highly emotional states. What exactly causes these voices is still
unknown, but one thing is certain: People who think the voices are
caused by some external force are rarely dissuaded from their
delusional belief, he says. "These are highly emotional and gripping
experiences that are so compelling for them that ordinary reality seems
Perhaps because the experience is so vivid, he says, even some of those
who improve through treatment merely decide the medical regimen somehow
helped protect their brain from government weapons.
Scott Temple, a professor of psychiatry at Penn State University who
has been involved in two recent studies of auditory hallucinations,
notes that those who suffer such hallucinations frequently lack insight
into their illness. Even among those who do understand they are sick,
"that awareness comes and goes," he says. "People feel overwhelmed, and
the delusional interpretations return."
Back at the Philadelphia train station, Girard seems more agitated. In
a meeting the week before, his "handlers" had spoken to him only
briefly -- they weren't in the right position to attack him, Girard
surmises, based on the lack of voices. Today, his conversation jumps
more rapidly from one subject to the next: victims of radiation
experiments, his hatred of George H.W. Bush, MKULTRA, his personal
Asked about his studies at Penn, he replies by talking about his
problems with reading: "I told you, everything I write they dictate to
me," he says, referring again to the voices. "When I read, they're
reading to me. My eyes go across; they're moving my eyes down the line.
They're reading it to me. When I close the book, I can't remember a
thing I read. That's why they do it."
The week before, Girard had pointed to only one person who appeared
suspicious to him -- a young African American man reading a book; this
time, however, he hears more voices, which leads him to believe the
station is crawling with agents.
"Let's change our location," Girard says after a while. "I'm sure they
have 40 or 50 people in here today. I escaped their surveillance last
time -- they won't let that happen again."
Asked to explain the connection between mind control and the University
of Pennsylvania, which Girard alleges is involved in the conspiracy, he
begins to talk about defense contractors located near the Philadelphia
campus: "General Electric was right next to the parking garage; General
Electric Space Systems occupies a huge building right over there. From
that building, you could see into the studio where I was doing my work
most of the time. I asked somebody what they were doing there. You
know, it had to do with computers. GE Space Systems. They were supposed
to be tracking missile debris from this location . . . pardon me. What
was your question again?"
Yet many parts of Girard's life seem to reflect that of any affluent
70-year-old bachelor. He travels frequently to France for extended
vacations and takes part in French cultural activities in Philadelphia.
He has set up a travel scholarship at the Cleveland Institute of Art in
the name of his late mother, who attended school there (he changed his
last name 27 years ago for "personal reasons"), and he travels to meet
the students who benefit from the fund. And while the bulk of his time
is spent on his research and writing about mind control, he has other
interests. He follows politics and describes outings with friends and
family members with whom he doesn't talk about mind control, knowing
they would view it skeptically.
Girard acknowledges that some of his experiences mirror symptoms of
schizophrenia, but asked if he ever worried that the voices might in
fact be caused by mental illness, he answers sharply with one word:
How, then, does he know the voices are real?
"How do you know you know anything?" Girard replies. "How do you know I
exist? How do you know this isn't a dream you're having, from which
you'll wake up in a few minutes? I suppose that analogy is the closest
thing: You know when you have a dream. Sometimes it could be perfectly
lucid, but you know it's a dream."
The very "realness" of the voices is the issue -- how do you disbelieve
something you perceive as real? That's precisely what Hoffman, the Yale
psychiatrist, points out: So lucid are the voices that the sufferers --
regardless of their educational level or self-awareness -- are unable
to see them as anything but real. "One thing I can assure you," Hoffman
says, "is that for them, it feels real."
It looks almost like any other small political rally in Washington.
Posters adorn the gate on the southwest side of the Capitol Reflecting
Pool, as attendees set up a table with press materials, while
volunteers test a loudspeaker and set out coolers filled with bottled
water. The sun is out, the weather is perfect, and an eclectic
collection of people from across the country has gathered to protest
There is not a tinfoil hat to be seen. Only the posters and
paraphernalia hint at the unusual. "Stop USA electronic harassment,"
urges one poster. "Directed Energy Assaults," reads another. Smaller
signs in the shape of tombstones say, "RIP MKULTRA." The main display,
set in front of the speaker's lectern has a more extended message:
"HELP STOP HI-TECH ASSAULT PSYCHOTRONIC TORTURE."
About 35 TIs show up for the June rally, in addition to a few friends
and family members. Speakers alternate between giving personal
testimonials and descriptions of research into mind-control technology.
Most of the gawkers at the rally are foreign tourists. A few hecklers
snicker at the signs, but mostly people are either confused or
indifferent. The articles on mind control at the table -- from
mainstream news magazines -- go untouched.
"How can you expect people to get worked up over this if they don't
care about eavesdropping or eminent domain?" one man challenges after
stopping to flip through the literature. Mary Ann Stratton, who is
manning the table, merely shrugs and smiles sadly. There is no answer:
Everyone at the rally acknowledges it is an uphill battle.
In general, the outlook for TIs is not good; many lose their jobs,
houses and family. Depression is common. But for many at the rally,
experiencing the community of mind-control victims seems to help. One
TI, a man who had been a rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard before
voices in his head sent him on a downward spiral, expressed the solace
he found among fellow TIs in a long e-mail to another TI: "I think that
the only people that can help are people going through the same thing.
Everyone else will not believe you, or they are possibly involved."
In the end, though, nothing could help him enough. In August 2006, he
would commit suicide.
But at least for the day, the rally is boosting TI spirits. Girard, in
what for him is an ebullient mood, takes the microphone. A small crowd
of tourists gathers at the sidelines, listening with casual interest.
With the Capitol looming behind him, he reaches the crescendo of his
speech, rallying the attendees to remember an important thing: They are
part of a single community.
"I've heard it said, 'We can't get anywhere because everyone's story is
different.' We are all the same," Girard booms. "You knew someone with
the power to commit you to the electronic concentration camp system."
Several weeks after the rally, Girard shows up for a meeting with a
reporter at the stately Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where he has
stayed frequently over the two decades he has traveled to the capital
to battle mind control. He walks in with a lit cigarette, which he
apologetically puts out after a hotel employee tells him smoking isn't
allowed anymore. He is half an hour late -- delayed, he says, by a
meeting on Capitol Hill. Wearing a monogrammed dress shirt and tie, he
looks, as always, serious and professional.
Girard declines to mention whom on Capitol Hill he'd met with, other
than to say it was a congressional staffer. Embarrassment is likely a
factor: Girard readily acknowledges that most people he meets with,
ranging from scholars to politicians, ignore his entreaties or dismiss
him as a lunatic.
Lately, his focus is on his Web site, which he sees as the culmination
of nearly a quarter-century of research. When completed, it will
contain more than 300 pages of documents. What next? Maybe he'll move
to France (there are victims there, too), or maybe the U.S. government
will finally just kill him, he says.
Meanwhile, he is always searching for absolute proof that the
government has decoded the brain. His latest interest is LifeLog, a
project once funded by the Pentagon that he read about in Wired News.
The article described it this way: "The embryonic LifeLog program would
dump everything an individual does into a giant database: every e-mail
sent or received, every picture taken, every Web page surfed, every
phone call made, every TV show watched, every magazine read. All of
this -- and more -- would combine with information gleaned from a
variety of sources: a GPS transmitter to keep tabs on where that person
went, audiovisual sensors to capture what he or she sees or says, and
biomedical monitors to keep track of the individual's health."
Girard suggests that the government, using similar technology, has
"catalogued" his life over the past two years -- every sight and sound
(Evelyn Waugh, in his mind-control book, writes about his character's
similar fear that his harassers were creating a file of his entire
Girard thinks the government can control his movements, inject thoughts
into his head, cause him pain day and night. He believes that he will
die a victim of mind control.
Is there any reason for optimism?
Girard hesitates, then asks a rhetorical question.
"Why, despite all this, why am I the same person? Why am I Harlan
For all his anguish, be it the result of mental illness or, as Girard
contends, government mind control, the voices haven't managed to
conquer the thing that makes him who he is: Call it his consciousness,
his intellect or, perhaps, his soul.
"That's what they don't yet have," he says. After 22 years, "I'm still
Source: The Washington Post