AMC TV’s “reimagining” of the late Patrick McGoohan’s 1960s cult TV classic “The Prisoner” is generating renewed interest in the role of the individual trapped within a mind-controlling surveillance society.
17 November 2009
(STARpod.us) — The 1960s cult TV classic “The Prisoner” mixed real psychological techniques with strange, imagined technologies. Inspired by science fiction based mind-control ideas, the intelligence community explored in real life the territory portrayed by “The Prisoner.” As is often the case where fear drives research into “the dark arts” by those tasked with protecting our liberty and freedom, the dark forces manifested inexplicably in response to the research.
The evolution of consumer technology since the first broadcast of “The Prisoner” has put many of the once-exotic surveillance systems into the hands of ‘everyman,’ but what about the bizarre sci-fi methods predicted in 1967?
For those unfamiliar with the classic series, which was imported into the United States by CBS in 1968, the basic plot was simple: A secret agent suddenly resigns his position, without explanation, and minutes later finds himself inexplicably in “The Village,” a bizarre international community for persons who know too much.
Many of the seventeen episodes of the original production were built upon science-fiction based technologies to penetrate the human mind.
The masters of The Village, exemplified by the mysterious and ever-changing parade of persons identified only as “Number Two,” wielded an impressive arsenal of exotic mind-control machinery and methods to get inside the head of the former secret agent, known only as “Number Six.”
The evolution of consumer technology since the first broadcast of “The Prisoner” has put many of the once-exotic surveillance systems into the hands of everyman, but what about the bizarre sci-fi methods predicted in 1968?
A recent threat assessment report conducted by the National Research Council on “Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies” provides unclassified insight into the white-world state-of-the-art (although we expect the real action takes place in the black-budget world of government and private research).
The chair of the committee responsible for this report is Dr. Christopher Green, a man uniquely positioned on the cutting edge of the known and unknown.
Green, a former very senior person with the CIA, who continues to act as a consultant to the government, was involved in America’s psychic-spy effort in the 1970s.
The adventures of American military units inspired by the original CIA psychic research inspired the new movie “The Men Who Stare at Goats” starring George Clooney.
Unlike the humorous portrayal in “Goats,” the real mind-reach effort would eventually mimic some of the most bizarre mental penetration elements of “The Prisoner.”
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Sorting out the fact and the fantasy is not always as clear cut as one might expect.
In “The Prisoner” we experience a mix of real known psychological techniques with strange, imagined technologies.
Some of the strange mind-twisting plot lines from the 1960s involved the use of powerful information extracting “designer drugs,” bombardment of the head with pulsing electromagnetic fields and flashing lights, a machine capable of visually displaying a person’s drug-induced dream state, projection of information into the subconscious mind for “speed learning,” using powerful supercomputers, regression of the mind, and the seemingly impossible machine-induced “telepathic” transfer of the mind of one man into the body of another.
For those accustomed to 1960s American television, this was heady stuff, suitably fitting for the post-summer-of-love psychedelic climate of that era.
Like Stanley Kubrick’s epic space adventure/psychedelic mind-expansion masterpiece “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Prisoner” had arrived at the right place and at the right time.
This subliminal pop-culture explosion was being felt within the Intelligence Community as well. A certain willingness to play with “far-out” ideas, bolstered by reports of Soviet research into “psychotronic weapons” development, spurred the CIA and other American icons of intelligence into “the mind race” to close the “psi gap” before the commies could steal not only our material values, but the very heart and soul of free society.
As is often the case where fear drives research into “the dark arts” by those tasked with protecting our liberty and freedom, the dark forces manifested inexplicably in response to the research. At one point, months before CIA’s secret abuses of mind-control were partially exposed in Washington, Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms ordered the MKULTRA mind control files to be destroyed.
A few seeds of MKULTRA remained. Sidney Gottlieb of Technical Services at CIA carefully planted them into a new research program. Gottlieb, considered to be the father of the MKULTRA mind-control effort, authorized CIA sponsorship of the Stanford Research Institute psychic research program.
Dr. Green, as representative of CIA’s aptly named LSD (Life Sciences Division), was tasked to follow up on the activities initiated by Gottlieb’s division.
And, in a twist of fate not unlike an episode of “The Prisoner,” strange and bizarre incidents were about to propel everyone into a phantasmagorical realm that defied common sense reality.
AMC TV has produced a fabulous web site for their new version of “The Prisoner” which includes video of all seventeen original episodes. Visit AMCTV.com for more information.
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