CIA Grants Funded Hypnosis Research

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) funded a series of Medical School experiments in the early '60's on Boston-area college students to predict the "hypnotizability" of individuals, the director of the research said yesterday.

Martin T. Orne '48, now professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, said the members of his Studies in Hypnosis Project unwittingly received approximately $30,000 from the CIA, through the Human Ecology Fund, a foundation established by the CIA.

Orne said he did not know the CIA officials' reasons for funding his project, but speculated that the "research would have been disappointing if they had wanted to use hypnosis for mind-control."

The hypnosis project, based at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, indicated that hypnosis was a very poor method for mind control, Orne said.

Orne said last night that he was the "unidentified investigator" mentioned in a University statement on Tuesday outlining Harvard's involvement in CIA MK-ULTRA behavior mind-control experiments.


He said he asked to remain unidentified because he feared sensationalist stories about the CIA's involvement in hypnosis research.

Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, began a study of Orne's work in October after receiving CIA documents indicating Harvard's involvement in two MK-ULTRA projects. (Steiner said on Tuesday that the University has no record of the second project mentioned in the CIA document.)

Steiner said yesterday he talked with Orne and closely examined his research papers before drafting the University statement concluding the research was not improper. The statement alluded only to CIA funding of an unidentified investigator of an unspecified project.

Orne said last night all of his work on hypnosis is published. He added he has never conducted a classified experiment.

One of Orne's papers described research aimed at establishing a written test to determine the "hypnotizability" of individuals. The research used as subjects students from Brandeis and other Boston-area colleges.

The series of experiments at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center received funds from the Air Force and the National Institute of Mental Health, in addition to funds from the Human Ecology Fund.

Orne said the agencies funding the research placed no constraints on his research.

Steiner said in October that he would release the CIA materials to the public, but concluded in January that Orne's right to privacy "outweighs the University's interest in full disclosure and the public's right to know."

When asked whether the University will release the CIA documents now that Orne has been identified, Steiner said, "I would just like to think the situation over.