My Popular Mechanics piece on bioelectromagnetic weapon reseach is now online, and as Sharon Weinberger's intriguing Washington Post article last week made clear, there has been a great deal of military research into the area of "mind control" (though they would prefer to use the term "behavior modification.")
''In the United States, you don't see nearly as many mentally ill people anymore who have delusions and hallucinations with regard to God and the saints as you did 20 or 30 years ago, when I first doing this work. In our secular society, it's more a matter of, well, the President or the C.I.A. is affecting my behavior by radio waves or microwave receivers in my teeth.''
But the problem goes way back. One case from London was James Matthews, who said he was being influenced by an implant in his head by a gang using a weird electromagnetic device. This group, one of many, he called the Air Loom Gang, and among the tortures they inlicted on him were implanting thoughts ('kiteing'), stopping him from speaking ('fluid locking), cutting his circulation ('sudden death squeezing) and brain lengthening which would 'cause good sense to appear as insanity, and convert truth to libel'.
So far so typical, except that the case was described in 1810 by John Haslam, the apothecary at the notorious Bedlam correctly the Bethlehem Hospital , the original lunatic asylum. This was the first ever full length clinical description of a single patient, one apparently suffering from delusions of control.
So was Matthews simply a lunatic? Bedlam staff said so, but two doctors declared him completely sane. It seems that Matthews was not incarcerated on medical grounds but on the orders of Lord Liverpool, the Home Office minister, who Matthews had accused of being part of a nefarious plot.
Matthews claimed he had been negotiating a peace settlement with France and had been betrayed. Oddly enough, some of Matthew's story appears to be true; when his mission to Paris failed the French threw him into prison. He behaved quite sanely; in Bedlam Matthews learned architectural drawing, and drew up plans a new hospital building. The Governors gave him 30 for his work and some of the features of his design were incorporated into the new Bedlam. His family maintained he was eccentric but sane.
* Inside the Mind Control Conspiracy, Part I * Inside the Mind Control Conspiracy, Part II * U.S. Bioelectromagnetic Weapons Research * Air Force Plan: Hack Your Nervous System * Moscow's Remote-Controlled Heart Attacks
Haslam's account of Matthews Illustrations of Madness: Exhibiting a Singular Case of Insanity was intended to prove that Matthews really was mad. But Matthews kept his own notes on his treatment, notes which found their way to a committee investigating Bedlam some time after his death. These undoubtedly influenced the committee's decision to dismiss Haslam and order that patients should be treated more humanely in future.
Lord Liverpool went on to become Prime Minister. His approach to dealing with dissent included the Peterloo Massacre, the Cato Street Conspiracy - a plot to kill the king which was actually a set-up by a government spy - and the Derbyshire Insurrection, which was also incited by government agents provocateur.
If Matthews was the victim of a plot, what about the infernal engine which afflicted him, the mind-control machine he called the Air Loom? According to Matthews, it sent out invisible magnetic rays which influenced a magnet implanted in his head and produced many diagrams of it . We may fairly assume that this was a reflection of the fashionable interest in mesmerism and animal magnetism of this period. The alternative is that he was trying to describe advanced technology in an age before the discovery electromagnetic radiation or the electrical nature of the nervous system - and that way surely lies madness.
The case has many parallels with the modern descriptions of 'gang stalking' recounted in Sharon's article and suggests that the situation is a complex one. And if bioelectromagnetic weapons ever actually reach the stage of being fielded, then simply labeling people who claim they are being targeted as 'crazy' will no longer be an option. -- David Hambling
UPDATE 3:20 PM: These days lots of people are also worried about the effects of electromagnetic smog. Until scientists like the bioelectromagnetics researchers get to grips with this it will reamin with the fringe, like the makers of this anti-EM spray. And for an musical last word, it's hard to beat this.