“Stranger” Than Fiction

Allison Contreras, Staff Writer

The hit series Stranger Things has been praised for its dark themes, many assuming that the things that happened in the show are purely fiction. The most notable of these is how the lead character Eleven is being tested on by the government. However, most will be surprised to find out that these experiments actually happened in real life, and that this part of the show is based off of a real event.

The United States has had experiments done on its fellow citizens. Most are harmless, some are done without consent, and others are what we could say painful. The government has tried its best to hide these, and they have, but one is still shrouded with mystery.

In the CIA archives located at CIA.org,  it is explained that project MKUltra, also known as the CIA mind control program, was a series of experiments done on human subjects. The program was made to test out a series of drugs, and try to weaken the brain enough, resulting in an easy confession of the subject. These projects were organized by the Office of Scientific Intelligence, and coordinated by the U.S Army Biological Warfare Laboratories.

Smithsonianmag.com explains how the program engaged in many illegal activities, including: use of U.S. and Canadian citizens as its unwitting test subjects, altering brain functions, use of LSD on subjects, use of chemicals on subjects, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse (which includes children), and other forms of torture.
Now let’s get into more depth, like the year the program started, the tortures, and how the subjects were left afterwards.

Project MKUltra began April 13, 1953. It was started by a man called Sidney Gottlieb, by order of the CIA director Allen Welsh Dulles. The purpose of the program was to develop mind-controlling drugs, for use against the Soviets. During this time, the Soviets, Chinese, and North Koreans were allegedly using U.S. prisoners as test subjects also for ¨mind control techniques.¨ However, this was never proven true, and could have been completely false.

Thinking this was true, the United States thought it would be great to make a drug that would weaken the brain, and could be used on world leaders or enemies. However, the true idea that started this project is unknown, and this is simply a theory.

Academic researchers funded the idea, not knowing that the money was being used for different purposes. Now let’s get into the experiments.

LSD was a common drug used in the project, and it was used on psychiatric patients, prisoners, drug addicts, and sex workers. An agency officer stated that they tested on “people who couldn’t fight back.” In Kentucky, they administered LSD to a patient for 174 days! Not only did they do this to normal people, but they even administered it on CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, and other government agents to study their reactions.In the end, MKUltra documents were destroyed, and only a few traces of the program can be found on paper.

In the series Stranger Things, Eleven was a non-consensual test subject that was dragged into an experiment by the government who simply used her as an object instead of a human being. While this seems like an impossible story, it ends up that real life can often be “stranger” than fiction.