Author Topic: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control  (Read 56507 times)

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Offline Awake

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The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
« on: January 06, 2011, 06:20:57 PM »
The Macy Conferences: The Minds behind Mind Control and the birth of Cybernetics

Even before I begin I find I can only hope to impart upon the reader the importance of the Macy Conferences as being perhaps the most important meeting of minds for the purpose of understanding control of human behavior, mind control. The Macy Conferences were a series of conferences that originally, and with extensive effort, organized any and all great minds of the era to further the understanding control in human behavior beginning with the conference titled ‘Cerebral Inhibition’.  These meetings gave birth to Cybernetics. The people involved represent an unprecedented nexus of great minds from the time. I am beginning with a section that outlines the early history of a pivotal individual, Gregory Bateson. (Most of this will be sections quoted from other material)

Bateson, Mead and the OSS

- The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This agency was formed in order to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for the branches of the United States military. Formed 1942. Dissolved 1945 - ... c_Services

- Starting in 1950, the CIA researched and experimented with the use of possible mind-control drugs and other chemical, biological and radiological stimuli on both willing and uninformed subjects. The purpose of these programs was to "investigate whether and how it was possible to modify an individual's behavior by covert means. …. Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, is perhaps the most famous of the CIA mind-control programs.- ... ted_States

Gregory Bateson and the OSS: World War II and Bateson’s Assessment of Applied Anthropology
by Dr David H. Price, USA

This article uses documents released from the Central Intelligence Agency under the Freedom of Information Act to examine Gregory Bateson’s work for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II…

Gregory Bateson and the OSS

The OSS was created by President Roosevelt on June 13, 1942, and was the direct institutional predecessor to the CIA. Over two dozen anthropologists worked for the OSS during the War, including: E. Wyllys Andrews IV, William Bascom, Gregory Bateson, Lloyd Cabot Briggs, Carleton Coon, Cora DuBois, Anne Fuller, Nelson Glueck, Gordon Hewes, Frederick Hulse, Olov Janse, Felix Keesing, Alexander Lesser, Edwin Loeb, Leonard Mason, Mark May, Alfred Métraux, George Murdock, David Rodnick, Morris Siegel, Richard Starr, David Stout, Morris Swadesh, and T. Cuyler Young.2 There was a great variation in the type of work these individuals undertook – ranging from assignments as linguists, spies, budgetary managers, economic forecasters, and foreign news analysts. By far the most intriguing published account of any of the OSS anthropologists was that of Carleton Coon(1980) in his book “A North Africa Story: The Anthropologist as OSS Agent”, in which he describes his experiences using his pre-war geographic and cultural expertise to help develop allied intelligence and counter-intelligence networks, and insurgency squads in wartorn North Africa.

From its creation onward, the OSS was a fundamentally new type of military-intelligence agency. Its director, “Wild” Bill Donovan, saw the OSS as a new type of multidisciplinary intelligence agency which relied on a variety of creative and unconventional means of both collecting intelligence and undertaking covert actions. The OSS recruited the best and brightest from elite academic and social circles for its ranks. In many ways, Gregory Bateson was a natural candidate for the OSS. Since 1940, Bateson and his then-wife Margaret Mead had been developing and refining the methods used in their studies of “culture at a distance” (Yans-McLaughlin 1986a: 196). These were the very sorts of techniques that the OSS was interested in using to understand and subvert the enemy.

Bateson was initially reluctant to work for a military or intelligence organization. It was his view that, when working for an intelligence organization – as with most applied projects – one is far from free to choose the scope of research, or what is actually done with the fruits of one’s labors. Even before Bateson considered joining the OSS, he was troubled by the ethical questions raised by anthropologists using their knowledge as a weapon in war, or further – that social scientists could expect to have little say in what was done with their research. In 1941, he wrote that the war

“is now a life-or-death struggle over the role which the social sciences shall play in the ordering of human relationships. It is hardly an exaggeration to say (…) this war is ideologically about just this – the role of the social sciences. Are we to reserve the techniques and the right to manipulate peoples as the privilege of a few planning, goal-oriented and power hungry individuals to whom the instrumentality of science makes a natural appeal? Now that we have techniques, are we in cold blood, going to treat people as things? Or what are we going to do with these techniques? (Bateson 1942:84 – as quoted in Yans-McLaughlin 1986a:209).”

While Bateson expressed second thoughts before and again after the war, surprisingly, the picture that emerges from examining the material in his OSS files show a dedicated, even enthusiastic intelligence operative during the war.

Bateson began the war working under contract at Columbia University for the OSS and later the US Navy as a PidginEnglish instructor for troops heading to the South Pacific (Yans-McLaughlin 1986a: 197). His next post was as the “secretary of the Morale Committee” (Yans-McLaughlin 1986a:200). Finally, he served as a civilian “member of a forward intelligence u[n]it in the Arakan mountains of Burma from 1944 to 1945” (Bateson 1944).

Bateson spent much of his wartime duty designing and carrying out “black propaganda” radio broadcasts from remote, secret locations in Burma and Thailand (Lipset 1980:174), and also worked in China, India, and Ceylon (Yans-McLaughlin 1986a:202). The term “black propaganda” simply refers to a technique whereby an individual or group pretends to represent the positions of their enemy, and mixes a preponderance of facts with a careful seasoning of disinformation that will portray the enemy in a negative light. In this work Bateson applied the principles of his theory of schismogenesis to help foster disorder among the enemy.

[He] helped to operate an allied radio station that pretended to be an official Japanese station: it undermined Japanese propaganda by following the official Japanese line but exaggerating it (Mabee 1987:8).

Carleton Mabee noted that,

“Even though both Mead and Bateson were disturbed by the use of deceit in psychological warfare, Mead was not as upset by it as Bateson was. During the war and after, the naturally optimistic Mead never lost her basic faith that science, if responsibly applied, could contribute to solving the practical problems of society, whereas Bateson, more pessimistic by nature, and deeply upset by his wartime experience, emphasized that applying science to society was inherently dangerous, and that the most useful role of science was to foster understanding rather than action. These differences between them were reflected in the breakup of their marriage just after the war (Mabee 1987:8).”  ‘”…

Anthropology and counterinsurgency: the strange story of their curious relationship
Military Review, March-April, 2005 by Montgomery McFate ... ntent;col1

‘… Perhaps the most famous anthropologist who served in the OSS was Gregory Bateson. Bateson, a British citizen, spent many years conducting ethnographic research in New Guinea, the results of which were published in 1936 as Naven. At the beginning of World War II, having failed to find a position with the British War Office, Bateson returned to the United States and was recruited by the OSS, where he served as a civilian member of a forward intelligence unit in the Arakan Mountains of Burma. (29)

In addition to intelligence analysis, Bateson designed and produced "black propaganda" radio broadcasts intended to undermine Japanese propaganda in the Pacific Theater. He found the work distasteful, however, because he believed that truth, especially the unpleasant truth, was healthy. Despite his misgivings about deceitful propaganda, Bateson was a willing and competent operative. In 1945, he volunteered to penetrate deep into enemy territory to attempt the rescue of three OSS agents who had escaped from their Japanese captors. For this service, Bateson was awarded the Pacific Campaign Service Ribbon. (30)

Bateson had remarkable strategic foresight concerning the effect of new technology on warfare. While in the Pacific Theater, he wrote to the legendary director of the OSS, "Wild Bill" Donovan, that the existence of the nuclear bomb would change the nature of conflict, forcing nations to engage in indirect methods of warfare. Bateson recommended to Donovan that the United States not rely on conventional forces for defense but to establish a third agency to employ clandestine operations, economic controls, and psychological pressures in the new warfare. (31) This organization is, of course, now known as the Central Intelligence Agency.

Later in his career, Bateson was allegedly involved with a number of experimental psychological warfare initiatives, including the CIA's Operation MK-Ultra, which conducted mind-control research. It is generally accepted that Bateson "turned on" the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg to LSD at the Mental Research Institute, where Bateson was working on the causes of schizophrenia. (32).’

‘Like her husband, Mead was also involved in the war effort. In addition to producing pamphlets for the Office of War Information, she produced a study for the National Research Council on the cultural food habits of people from different national backgrounds in the United States. She also investigated food distribution as a method of maintaining morale during wartime in the United States. Along with Bateson and Geoffrey Gorer, Mead helped the OSS establish a psychological warfare training unit for the Far East. (34)

Like Bateson, Mead had reservations about the use of deceitful propaganda, believing that such methods have "terrible possibilities of backfiring." Mead's larger concern, however, was the "tremendous amount of resentment" against using anthropological insights during the war. In particular, she noted that using anthropologists to advise advisers is ineffective; to be useful, anthropologists must work directly with policymakers.’”

 ‘ Bateson had long been interested in structuralist or systems approaches, as evidenced by his ethnography Naven. But during World War II and for years afterward, he and Mead began enunciated their ideas employing a kind of discourse more familiar to engineers and computer scientists. That language was cybernetics.
-(1)- ... D_vol2.pdf)’

THE CEREBRAL INHIBITION MEETING: The Beginning of the Macy Conferences.

‘Frank Fremont-Smith (1895–1974) was an American administrator, executive with the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, president of British General Rees's World Federation of Mental Health, known together with Lawrence K. Frank as motivators of the Macy conferences[1], and as promotor for interdisciplinary conferences as platforms for advancing knowledge.

Fremont-Smith was familiar with what would become cybernetics' prehistory, because of his involvement in the 1930s in an informal conversational network around neurophysiology and the work of Walter Cannon on homeostasis.[1]

A second initiative he organized in the 1940s was a meeting about "physiological mechanisms underlying the phenomena of conditioned reflexes and hypnosis as related to the problem of cerebral inhibition." [3] This socalled "Cerebral Inhibition Meeting" was sponsored by the Josiah Macy Foundation attended by scientists like Gregory Bateson, and Margaret Mead, and five others. Together they would initiated the Cybernetics Group. Among its members this group was as called the "Man-Machine Project". Other participants were Warren McCulloch, Arturo Rosenblueth, Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead, and Lawrence K. Frank. According to Steinberg (2000) "Rosenblueth, a protégé of Norbert Wiener, set out the broad parameters of the proposed effort.

Between 1946 and 1953 Fremont-Smith worked as Medical Director in the Macy Foundation, when ten Macy Conferences were a set of meetings of scholars from various disciplines held to discuss "Circular Causal and Feedback Mechanisms in Biological and Social Systems".[4] It was one of the first organized studies of interdisciplinarity, spawning breakthroughs in systems theory and leading to the foundation of what later was to be known as cybernetics. End 1950s he was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research.

In 1959 Frank Fremont-Smith, as head of the Macy foundation, was the organizer of the first ever held conferences on LSD. ’- -

Harold Alexander Abramson (Nov 27, 1899 – September 1980) was a U.S. Allergist who played a significant role in CIA's MKULTRA program to investigate the military applications of LSD.

In 1953 Abramson proposed an $85,000 study to the CIA on the effects of LSD on unwitting hospital patients. This was the same year that the MKULTRA program was established. Funding for the project was funneled through the Macy Foundation. Abramson was notably the attending physician in connection with the notorious (and allegedly LSD-induced) supposed suicide of Frank Olson, a doctor who was being given LSD as part of the CIA's psychedelics research.

He is said to be the person who influenced many members of the Cybernetics Group to turn to LSD, including Frank Fremont-Smith, head of the Macy foundation. (The Cybernetics Group, originally named The Conference on Feedback Mechanisms in Biology and the Social Sciences, was started in 1946).
’ - -

‘The Macy Conferences were a set of meetings of scholars from various disciplines held in New York by the initiative of Warren McCulloch and the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation from 1946 to 1953. The principal purpose of these series of conferences was to set the foundations for a general science of the workings of the human mind. [1]

It was one of the first organized studies of interdisciplinarity, spawning breakthroughs in systems theory, cybernetics, and what later became known as cognitive science.

Some of the researchers present at the conferences later went on to do extensive government funded research on the psychological effects of LSD, and its potential as a tool for interrogation and psychological manipulation in such projects as the CIA's MKULTRA program. ’ - -

(below is from an interview with Mead and Bateson)

Gregory Bateson: There was this Macy meeting in what, ’42? 1

SB: Who started it, and what was it about?

Bateson: This was a meeting called ‘Cerebral Inhibition,’ which in fact was a meeting on hypnosis.* ‘Cerebral inhibition’ was a respectable word for hypnosis. Most of what was said about ‘feedback’ was said over lunch.

Mead: Well, I know that’s what you always tell people, but I didn’t sit at the same place at lunch, and I heard what was said at that conference. But at that conference, which is the one where Milton Erickson hypnotised that Yale psychologist, it was at the end of that conference that you really had the design of what needed to be done. And then you were caught up in war work and went overseas and there was that long period.

I think that you actually have to go back to that earlier meeting that was held in the basement of the old Psycho-Analytic building on the West Side the day of Pearl Harbor.’ - -

‘Though largely of interest to mathematicians, engineers, and new “scientists” in the field of computing, Mead, Bateson, and their mutual friend psychologist Larry Frank, played an integral role in the growth and direction of cybernetics in its earliest years, with Frank serving as the link to Macy Foundation funding.11  After the War, the founding group of like-minded thinkers—Frank, Bateson, Mead, Rosenblueth, Wiener, and Bigelow—continued to meet with an expanded “core” of enthusiasts including: mathematicians John von Neumann and Walter Pitts, neurobiologists Warren McCulloch and W. Ross Ashby, and Viennese engineer Heinz von Foerster. Though he was not in a settled academic position in the States, Bateson provided the impetus for the well-known series of Macy-funded cybernetics meetings that commenced in March 1946 in New York City’s Beekman Hotel.12 The commitment to broad social applications of cybernetics that he shared with Mead and Frank colored the spirit of the first few proceedings.

Deutero-learning, or learning to learn, did not originate with Bateson any more than cybernetics. If anything, he imbibed this notion of meta-learning in conversations with Larry Frank even before WWII.30 However, over the late 1940s, Bateson added deutero-learning to the psychological work of another Macy conference participant, father of social psychology Kurt Lewin, and stirred these concepts together with cybernetic tools of analysis.31 At Langley-Porter, Bateson, together with Jurgen Ruesch, crafted an elegant theory of dual-level communication.32 Bateson applied this model of communication first to a theory of play.33 Then, beginning in 1952, Bateson and his new colleagues at the Palo Alto VA Hospital began developing a cybernetic model of schizophrenia. In 1954, Bateson successfully applied to the Rockefeller Foundation for a grant to assemble a multi-disciplinary team to study schizophrenia as a mental disease arising from errors in inter-personal communication between parent and child. His collaboration with Jay Haley and John Weakland on the one hand and Don D. Jackson on the other, attacking the seemingly insuperable problems presented by schizophrenic patients, led to the kind of high-profile professional recognition for Bateson that he simultaneously cherished and loathed’… - ... D_vol2.pdf -


‘…Though citation of the Macy Foundation explains the source of werewithal for the cybernetics group's conferences, one might still wonder about the source of interest and even enthusiasm that caused this medical foundation to sponsor something not often associated with medicine per se. This motivation can be attributed to two persons - Lawrence K. Frank and Frank Fremont-Smith.

In the late 1930's Frank had been a senior executive with the Macy Foundation, where he was a friend and mentor to Fremont-Smith. Frank's longtime interests included child development, and he is often considered to be the godfather of the American child development field.
At the time the cybernetics group coalesced, he was what we'd now call a 'free-floating consultant'. Frank was no stranger to cybernetics' prehistory. He'd been intrigued by Walter Cannon's 1929 writings on 'homeostasis' and how this concept might pertain to child development. His role in the rise of American social science was significant, though perhaps his most important contributions pertained to fostering programs and careers. [/]At the time of the first cybernetics meetings, Frank and his longtime friend Margaret Mead represented a formidable social science contingent. [/b]

One of the careers Frank fostered was that of Frank Fremont-Smith, who by the 1940's was the head of the Macy Foundation's medical office. Fremont-Smith's familiarity with cybernetics' prehistory dated back to around 1930, when he helped establish an informal conversational network on subjects such a neurophysiology and Cannon's 'homeostasis'….

It is common to correlate cybernetics' origins with a series of 10 conferences sponsored by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation from 1946 through 1953. This cursory approach overlooks the fact that those conferences might never have occurred had the key participants not met in a small May 1942 meeting where they first exchanged ideas and generated the enthusiasm which would motivate those later conferences. The title of this meeting, set up by Frank Fremont-Smith, was 'Cerebral Inhibition'. Attendance was by invitation only, and the two topics on the agenda were hypnotism and conditioned reflex. Milton Erickson [( )] and Howard Liddell were the featured speakers on these topics, respectively. The planned agenda went well, but it turned out to be merely peripheral to the event's most significant outcome.  The attendees included Lawrence Frank, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, psychiatrist Warren McCulloch, Mexican physiologist Arturo Rosenblueth, and psychiatrist Lawrence Kubie. These 6 people would later become members of the persistent 'core group' for the more famous 'Macy Conferences' (1946 - 1953).

It was Arturo Rosenblueth's presentation of ideas he'd been developing with Norbert Wiener and Julian Bigelow that drew everyone's attention. Rosenblueth outlined a conceptual agenda based on similarities between behaviors of both machines and organisms that were interpretable as being 'goal-directed'. This goal-directedness (long spurned by hard science) was framed in terms of definitive and deterministic 'teleological mechanisms.' 'Teleology' was transformed from philosophical mumbo-jumbo to concrete mechanism through the invocation of 'circular causality' in a system, whereby new behaviors were influenced by 'feedback' deriving from immediately preceding behaviors. This approach allowed one to address apparent purposiveness with reference to the present and the immediate past, without having to invoke references to possible or future events.

Rosenblueth's presentaton resonated with everyone present - most particularly with Bateson and McCulloch, each of whom immediately saw linkages between these new concepts and issues in their respective fields. Mead would later claim she'd been both so excited and so absorbed in the lecture that she didn't noticed she'd broken a tooth.

However, American involvement in WWII was underway, and the various participants were scattered to their wartime duties. For example, Bateson undertook assignments in the Pacific region, while Rosenblueth and McCulloch returned to their research at MIT.

The following year the content of Rosenblueth's presentation was published as:

Rosenblueth, A., Wiener, N., and J. Bigelow, "Behavior, purpose and teleology", Philosophy of Science, Vol. 10 (1943), pp. 18 - 24. – (this most influential work can be found here )

As soon as the war ended, Bateson contacted Fremont-Smith, pushing for some sort of conference to follow up on the concepts from the 1942 meeting. As it turned out, McCulloch had already been pushing for the same thing since immediately after the 1942 event. Fremont-Smith had begun arranging a conference for March 1946 to be chaired by McCulloch. It was originally planned to include scholars from the fields closest to the topics being addressed by McCulloch and his colleague Walter Pitts (biology, neural physiology, and mathematics). However, Fremont-Smith accepted Bateson's recommendation to invite selected people from the social and behavioral sciences as well.

The legendary 'Macy Conferences' were thus set in motion. A total of 10 conferences were held from 1946 through 1953. The first nine were held at the Beekman Hotel in New York City, and the tenth was held in Princeton New Jersey. …

A core group of approximately 20 recurring participants was drawn from engineering, biology (particularly fields dealing with neural systems), medicine, and the social sciences (most particularly psychology). As time went on, some core group members left (or, in Kurt Lewin's case - died) and were replaced by others.
’ - ... tm#MacySum

Starting in 1946 the ‘core group’ was expanded to include many other prominent names


The full list of core members is available above, but I find there are quite a few who are particularly notable:

Frank Fremont-Smith – Simultaneously funded and organized the Macy Conferences and the first ‘World Health Organization (WHO) Study Group’ of whom Mead was an integral figure, Money was funneled through the Macy Foundation from the CIA program MK-Ultra to study LSD. ,

Margaret Mead- Worked for and received funding from the O.S.S., Part of the initial ‘Core Group’ of the Macy Conferences. Pivotal figure in the WHO study group.

Gregory Bateson- Worked for and received funding from the O.S.S.,  Husband of Mead , In the original Core group, formulated cybernetic theories of human behavior, figurehead in the Human Potential Movement and New Age psychologies including Hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, studied behavior in family systems and formulated communicational theories of mental illness notably the Double bind theory of Schizophrenia. , viewtopic.php?f=81&t=30423

Arturo Rosenblueth- Co-wrote the influential 1943 paper first presented at the ‘Cerebral Inhibition Meeting’ entitled ‘Behavior, purpose and teleology’, part of the core group.

Kurt Lewin- Father of social Psychology, Affiliated with Tavistock and the NTL, developer of sensitivity training, pioneer in the study of group dynamics and director at MIT, died 1947. , ,   viewtopic.php?f=81&t=31447

John von Neumann- Founder of Game Theory, frequent consultant for many large organizations including the CIA and RAND corp who first studied game theory such as ‘The Prisoners Dilemma’, involved in the Manhattan project and the development of the atomic bomb.

Norbert Weiner- Co-wrote the influential 1943 paper first presented at the ‘Cerebral Inhibition Meeting’ entitled ‘Behavior, purpose and teleology’, Along with other works like ‘1948, Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Paris, (Hermann & Cie) & Camb. Mass. (MIT Press)’, and ‘1950, The Human Use of Human Beings.

… some notable attendees that were not part of the ‘core group’ were:

Erik Erikson- Prominent psychologist who developed theories of psychosocial development and identity formation in children, attended the original WHO study group.

Leon Festinger- Social psychologist who studied under Kurt Lewin, Famous for advancing studies in Group Dynamics with his theory of Cognitive Dissonance and Social Comparison Theory, professor at group dynamic departments of MIT and University of Michigan.


The reader will notice the organization of the first meetings of the World Health Organization (WHO) coincided precisely with the Macy Conferences and were founded by the same people. Frank Fremont –Smith and Margaret Mead.

The Meetings of the World Health Organization Study Group on the Psychobiological Development of the Child began in 1953. They were chaired by Frank Fremont-Smith, based on his work as part of the Josiah Macy Junior Foundation. According the history reported on the website of the American Society for Cybernetics ( ... tm#MacySum), Freemont-Smith’s mentor at the Macy Foundation was Lawrence K. Frank, considered to be “the godfather of the American child development field.” Frank had been intrigued since the 1930s with the concept of homeostasis, based on a 1929 paper by Walter Cannon, and was close friends with Margaret Mead.

In 1942, Freemont-Smith had organized a meeting on the topic of cerebral inhibition. The invited attendees included Lawrence Frank, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, Warren McCulloch, Arturo Rosenblueth and Lawrence Kubie. These formed the core group of what became the first of the Macy Conferences.

The first Macy Foundation conference, which Fremont-Smith also organized, was called Feedback Mechanisms and Circular Causal Systems in Biological and Social Systems. Between 1946 and 1953, ten meetings were held. In addition to the participants noted above, participants included Ross Ashby, Julian Bigelow, Heinz von Foerster, Ralph Gerard, Molly Harrower, Paul Lazarsfeld, Kurt Lewin, John von Neumann, Walter Pitts, Leonard Savage and Norbert Wiener, and guests including Erik Erikson, Claude Shannon and Talcott Parsons.

These conferences are usually considered to have created the origins of cybernetics, and included a number of people who became part of the general systems theorists
(to be described later.) The influence of these meetings was not restricted to the US, though….

The WHO Study Group

When the WHO Study Group began in 1953, there was a tremendous background of knowledge and prior relations being brought in, which is not noted in the proceedings or other writings. The members for the first meeting, including areas of specialty, were:

• John Bowlby, Psychoanalysis
• Frank Fremont-Smith, Research Promotion
• G. R. Hargreaves, Psychiatry
• Bärbel Inhelder, Psychology
• Konrad Lorenz, Ethology
• Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropology
• K. A. Melin, Electrophysiology
• Marcel Monnier, Electrophysiology
• Jean Piaget, Psychology
• A. Rémond, Electrophysiology
• R. R. Struthers, Research Promotion
• J. M. Tanner, Human Biology
• William Grey Walter, Electrophysiology
• René Zazzo, Psychology

In addition, three guests were included in this first meeting: J. C. Carothers, Psychiatry; E. E. Krapf, Psychiatry; and, Charles Odier, Psychoanalysis. In the third and fourth meetings, Erik Erikson was included, and in the fourth meeting only, Ludwig von Bertalanffy (Tanner & Inhelder, 1971).

Freemont-Smith acted as the chairman for the meetings, based on his previous work with the Macy Foundation in hosting interdisciplinary conferences. Mead, Grey Walter, and Erikson had all been involved to various degrees with similar meetings and conferences before this, as noted above.

Despite the fact that Bowlby’s report, Maternal Care and Mental Health (1952), was one of two papers which helped to instigate the WHO Study Group (and the other paper, interestingly, being on psychiatric aspects of juvenile delinquency), the meetings in the end were very broadly about child development.
Each meeting was preceded by papers being sent between all participants, and each meeting begun with presentations of papers to introduce ideas for discussion. The first meeting, for instance, included presentations on physical and physiological development of children, the behavior of newborn anencephalics, electroencephalographic development of children, and cross-cultural approaches to child development.” - ... entist.pdf (interesting doc on Bowlby).........

!!!……. Due to the scope of this project I am going to have to leave this a tad open ended for the time being and finish with some general conclusions…….!!!!!


To examine The Macy Conferences without also analyzing the work done outside of it by the members of the ‘Core Group’ would be in disrespect of the enormous impact it had throughout countless discliplines.  The paper “Behavior, Purpose and Teleology” is, without a doubt, a revelation. And there are so many influential figures in their own right, such as Milton Erickson (the most famous hypnotherapist) or Leon Festinger or Von Neumann, who have produced endless volumes held in reverence. But as it concerns the original concept of control of the human mind I find there are two people whos  continued work represent the fundamental scientific core behind what has been progressively called ‘brainwashing, thought reform, and eventually mind control’ as they came from various perspectives. These people are Gregory Bateson and Kurt Lewin.

Ultimately my conclusions are contained in the following links. I hope that What has been presented here on the Macy Conferences sheds light on the importance of Kurt Lewin and Sensitivity Training and Gregory Bateson’s work on the Double Bind in understanding the progression of Mind Control, with particular focus on the Troubled Teen Industry.

Double Bind: Mind control in the TTI – viewtopic.php?f=81&t=30423

Training, Therapy, or Thought reform in the TTI? – viewtopic.php?f=81&t=31447

Thanks to the patient reader –  Awake

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Offline Ursus

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Re: The Macy Conferences: The Minds of Mind Control
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2011, 11:38:59 PM »
Quote from: "Awake"
Thanks to the patient reader
'Tis not patience, my dear, but perseverance ... that carried me through your post!  ;)  :D

Well. A whole 'nother lexicon for what I've been referring to simply as "group management" and "systems of control" all this time...

Very thought provoking.

Here's some real life cybernetics in recent news events; from the Jan. 4th article "Ex-Pentagon big found slain in Del. landfill," emphasis added:

    He was a West Point-trained Vietnam War vet who spent the last three years of the George W. Bush administration as a top Air Force official working on highly sensitive projects like cyberwarfare that could be used against adversaries like Iran.

    But that was just one résumé line in the remarkable career of John Wheeler III, 66 - a driving force behind the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, first chief executive of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and ex-secretary of the Securities and Exchange Commission.


    Since the end of his most recent stint as a special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force, Wheeler worked as a consultant for a nonprofit defense outfit, the
Mitre Corp., that develops technologies for the Defense Department...[/list][/size]
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline starry-eyed pirate

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Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2011, 05:21:13 PM »
Thankyou Awake.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
If you would have justice in this world, then begin to see that a human being is not a means to some end.  People are not commodities.  When human beings are just to one another government becomes obsolete and real freedom is born; SPIRITUAL ANARCHY.

Offline heretik

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Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2011, 06:32:49 PM »
I agree to that.
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Offline Whooter

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Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2011, 06:49:21 PM »
Awake, you put together, by far, the most interesting and informative posts here on fornits.  I also enjoy reading your post on the "double bind" from time to time to re-educate myself or get a fresh perspective.  You should put that link in your footer or post it here.  I would like to read that one again also as I am sure other readers would.

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Offline Ursus

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John von Neumann
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2011, 11:15:52 PM »
After the War, the founding group of like-minded thinkers—Frank, Bateson, Mead, Rosenblueth, Wiener, and Bigelow—continued to meet with an expanded “core” of enthusiasts including: mathematicians John von Neumann and Walter Pitts, neurobiologists Warren McCulloch and W. Ross Ashby, and Viennese engineer Heinz von Foerster.
Dr. Strangelove himself? At the very least, he was one of a small handful of candidates for the title...

Excerpt from John von Neumann's Wikipedia entry:

    Nuclear weapons

      John von Neumann's wartime Los Alamos ID badge photo.[/list]
        Beginning in the late 1930s, von Neumann began to take more of an interest in applied (as opposed to pure) mathematics. In particular, he developed an expertise in explosions—phenomena which are difficult to model mathematically. This led him to a large number of military consultancies, primarily for the Navy, which in turn led to his involvement in the Manhattan Project. The involvement included frequent trips by train to the project's secret research facilities in Los Alamos, New Mexico.[1]

        Von Neumann's principal contribution to the atomic bomb itself was in the concept and design of the explosive lenses needed to compress the plutonium core of the Trinity test device and the "Fat Man" weapon that was later dropped on Nagasaki. While von Neumann did not originate the "implosion" concept, he was one of its most persistent proponents, encouraging its continued development against the instincts of many of his colleagues, who felt such a design to be unworkable. The lens shape design work was completed by July 1944.

        In a visit to Los Alamos in September 1944, von Neumann showed that the pressure increase from explosion shock wave reflection from solid objects was greater than previously believed if the angle of incidence of the shock wave was between 90° and some limiting angle. As a result, it was determined that the effectiveness of an atomic bomb would be enhanced with detonation some kilometers above the target, rather than at ground level.[20]

        Beginning in the spring of 1945, along with four other scientists and various military personnel, von Neumann was included in the target selection committee responsible for choosing the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the first targets of the atomic bomb. Von Neumann oversaw computations related to the expected size of the bomb blasts, estimated death tolls, and the distance above the ground at which the bombs should be detonated for optimum shock wave propagation and thus maximum effect.[21] The cultural capital Kyoto, which had been spared the firebombing inflicted upon militarily significant target cities like Tokyo in World War II, was von Neumann's first choice, a selection seconded by Manhattan Project leader General Leslie Groves. However, this target was dismissed by Secretary of War Henry Stimson.[22]

        On July 16, 1945, with numerous other Los Alamos personnel, von Neumann was an eyewitness to the first atomic bomb blast, conducted as a test of the implosion method device, 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico. Based on his observation alone, von Neumann estimated the test had resulted in a blast equivalent to 5 kilotons of TNT, but Enrico Fermi produced a more accurate estimate of 10 kilotons by dropping scraps of torn-up paper as the shock wave passed his location and watching how far they scattered. The actual power of the explosion had been between 20 and 22 kilotons.[20]
        After the war, Robert Oppenheimer remarked that the physicists involved in the Manhattan project had "known sin". Von Neumann's response was that "sometimes someone confesses a sin in order to take credit for it."

        Von Neumann continued unperturbed in his work and became, along with Edward Teller, one of those who sustained the hydrogen bomb project. He then collaborated with Klaus Fuchs on further development of the bomb, and in 1946 the two filed a secret patent on "Improvement in Methods and Means for Utilizing Nuclear Energy", which outlined a scheme for using a fission bomb to compress fusion fuel to initiate a thermonuclear reaction.[23] The Fuchs-von Neumann patent used radiation implosion, but not in the same way as is used in what became the final hydrogen bomb design, the Teller-Ulam design. Their work was, however, incorporated into the "George" shot of Operation Greenhouse, which was instructive in testing out concepts that went into the final design. The Fuchs-von Neumann work was passed on, by Fuchs, to the USSR as part of his nuclear espionage, but it was not used in the Soviet's own, independent development of the Teller-Ulam design. The historian Jeremy Bernstein has pointed out that ironically, "John von Neumann and Klaus Fuchs, produced a brilliant invention in 1946 that could have changed the whole course of the development of the hydrogen bomb, but was not fully understood until after the bomb had been successfully made."[24]
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      Offline seamus

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      Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
      « Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 11:43:39 PM »
      Years ago <I wound up in New Orleans.My neighbor hood bar was in the garden district, right on St Charles. My favorite bartender,(why she was abartender,was lost on me) wrote her masters thesis on Margret Mead.We spent many rainy afternoons discussin mind control,applied anthropology,and who wes Really at the helm of that ship. She seemed to think that private industry, ie Du Pont,and some various pharma intrests were really footing the bill for much of it.
      « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
      It\'d be sad if it wernt so funny,It\'d be funny if it wernt so sad


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      Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
      « Reply #7 on: January 16, 2011, 11:53:57 AM »
      « Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 09:20:27 PM by dragonfly »


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      Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
      « Reply #8 on: January 16, 2011, 12:00:52 PM »
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      Offline Awake

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      Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
      « Reply #9 on: January 17, 2011, 01:23:51 AM »
      I think what is most significant is that cybernetics became the explanation  for an interactional, communicational  model of human behavior.  What these conferences suggest is that this was a huge revelation in many, many fields. But it also represents a new approach to human behavior, and advances a particularly behaviorist view of the human organism as being based on the transfer of information.  (ex. If you kick a rock, it moves due to the transfer of energy from your foot. If you kick a dog, and then it bites you, it is not because of the energy from your foot. It is because the dog is responding to what is perceived as a threatening message.) Game theory is quantified by the notion that humans have an inherent cybernetic quality, which is reflected in games, like chess, or nuclear war, wherein the players success depends on predicting what is going on in his opponents mind in order to come up with a strategy for himself, to be able to see himself through the eyes of another in a way. This is relatable to the human capacity for sympathy and sensitivity. The idea that people’s outputs (logic, behaviors, personalities, emotions) can be analyzed in terms of games or learned strategies for self preservation becomes popular in psychotherapy, like transactional analysis.

      Follow for a moment the behaviorist ‘black box’ concept of the human organism  (please take a brief look at the illustration on the link) . Behaviorism has taken a view of the human mind as being a black box of which the inner workings can’t be ‘opened up’ and known, one can never truly experience another’s consciousness. However this ‘black box’ can be examined as an input/ output mechanism, communication goes in, and there is a resulting communication/ behavior that comes out (all behavior can be taken as communication and vice versa).  But what Bateson  illustrates in the diagram you’ll find here  (scroll down to the related diagram) is the evolution of this black box concept to incorporate the idea of circular causality, as a principle of cybernetics. To put it plainly, what happens if you take what comes out of the output, and put it back into it? This is the notion of feedback, and the idea that humans rely on the ability to perceive feedback from our environment to orient ourselves is key to predicting how humans behave, organize and operate within a system, or environment.  ( If you consider a pyramid scheme, or multi-level marketing scheme it can be understood how a system can be designed in which human nature can be used against the individual to favor the organization, and relies on keeping people unaware of it.) Now I find I must recall that these ideas were the result of trying to understand how the phenomenon of hypnosis occurs, and how humans can manipulate each other covertly. And so as not to get too far ahead of the content of the thread, I’ll leave this that may at least contribute some historical significance pertaining to hypnosis and the Macy Conferences.

      This is by Lawrence Kubie, who was part of the core group. I didn’t find many resources on Kubie, but I found this portion of a paper he did in 1944 on his view of the process of hypnosis. I think it is interesting,   …although, Kubie is a mere grain of sand on a beach in the field of hypnosis compared to Milton Erickson, guest speaker at the 1942 Cerebral Inhibition meeting. Here is Lawrence S. Kubie’s paper : (This is offered as an abstract, but it is also the articles summary)

      1 The New York Neurological Institute of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York. - ... /100/5/611

      1. The process of inducing hypnosis and the fully developed hypnotic state are a continuum which can be studied satisfactorily only in the novice, and which under such circumstances consists of three stages which shade from one into the next.

      2. In the initiation of the process there is a progressive elimination of all channels of sensori-motor communication between the subject and the outside world, with the exception of the channels of communication between the subject and the hypnotist. As a consequence, during this phase the hypnotist becomes temporarily the sole representative of and contact with the outside world.

      3. In this essential characteristic, the induction phase parallels the sensori-motor relationships of the infant to the outside world during the earliest phase of infancy, during which the parents play in the psychology of the infant a rôle almost identical to that of the hypnotist in the mental life of the subject.

      4. The onset of the hypnotic state consists of a partial sleep in which active sensorimotor channels are restricted to those between the subject and the hypnotist.

      5. This reduction of sensori-motor channels obliterates the Ego boundaries of the subject and constricts them, which makes inevitable a psychological fusion between hypnotist and subject.

      6. This constitutes the second phase in the process, one in which a fusion of subject and hypnotist is achieved, with the result that to the subject the words of the hypnotist become indistinguishable from his own thoughts. It is this in turn which makes possible all of the phenomena of apparent passive suggestibility.

      7. At the same time, this same restriction of sensori-motor relationships induces and makes possible states of hypnagogic revery in which vivid sensory memories and images are released. These images and memories include olfactory, gustatory, tactile, and kinæsthetic modalities of sensation which are not ordinarily easily recalled or vividly imagined.

      8. The sensory vividness of these reveries in turn opens the way to buried memories, and particularly to the buried affects which are related to such sensory memories.

      9. Physiologically the hypnotic process is shown to be an extension of the processes of normal attention, the result of the creation in the central nervous system of a concentrated focus of excitation with the surrounding areas of inhibition (in the descriptive Pavlovian sense).

      10. In turn, this is dependent physiologically upon:

      (a) Relative immobilization through the immobilization of the head or eye.

      (b) The influence of monotony.

      11. Initiation of monotony depends upon sensory adaptation, which in turn is in part dependent upon rhythm.

      12. Psychologically the creation of the hypnotic state, with its focus of excitation within limited areas, depends upon a diminution of alertness through allaying anxiety and other defenses, a process which is a necessary prerequisite to the suppression of sensory warning signals.

      13. The shift to the fully developed final phase of the hypnotic state involves:

      (a) A partial re-expansion of ego boundaries.

      (b) An incorporation of a fragmentary image of the hypnotist within the expanded boundaries of the subject's Ego.

      14. In this final phase the compliance of the subject to the hypnotist's commands is again more apparent than real, in that the incorporated image of the hypnotist which echoes the hypnotist's voice has for the time being become a part of the subject's temporary Ego.

      15. It is obvious that the final phase in the hypnotic process, which occurs with the full development of the hypnotic state, parallels precisely that phase in the development of the infant's Ego in which its boundaries gradually expand, with the retention of parental images as unconscious incorporated components of the developing Ego of the infant. The incorporated image of the hypnotist plays the same rôle in the hypnotic subject as does the incorporated and unconscious image of the parental figure in the child or adult. Hypnosis thus is seen to be an experimental reproduction of a natural developmental process.

      16. The use of hypnosis in some form may conceivably be necessary, therefore, for the complete therapeutic displacement of disturbing superego figures which are retained out of childhood.

      17. In the hypnotic process mechanisms are at work identical with those seen in the dream (such as transference, displacement, condensation, etc.). Much has been made of these in the literature; but they are not the essence either of the process or of the state itself.

      « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

      Offline Froderik

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      Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
      « Reply #10 on: January 17, 2011, 09:31:59 AM »
      Quote from: "dragonfly"
      It seems like it wasn't just brainwash for the sake of control and hysteria and human concern, it was and is flat out psychopathic greed based brainwashing....

      Yeah, that assessment jibes with this speech i read a while back:
      « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »


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      Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
      « Reply #11 on: January 17, 2011, 03:51:18 PM »
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      Offline Ursus

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      20th Anniversary Review of the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation
      « Reply #12 on: January 22, 2011, 07:01:47 PM »
      Quote from: "Awake"
      ... Lawrence Kubie, who was part of the core group ...
      Here's a book review by him which was published in the September-October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine (1951):

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      Twentieth Anniversary Review of the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation (1930 to 1950)

        New York, the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation, 1950, no pp., n.p.[/list]

        The Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation has had so great an influence on American medicine that it comes as a surprise to be reminded by this little volume that the Foundation is only twenty years old. Indeed, it is hard to imagine what American medicine would be like today, without the stimulus and ferment which the Foundation has provided so generously. For many years to come, this summary of its activities will guide other foundations in their work, and I hope the federal government as well. The volume which modestly records these years of work is therefore a remarkable document, worthy of study by everyone who is interested in medical progress. Here is no mere perfunctory recital of twenty years of dry and dusty science. It is rather an exciting tribute to an inspired spirit.

        In April, 1930, when Kate Macy Ladd endowed the Foundation in honor of her father, she wrote, "Experience seems to show that in an enlightened democracy, private organized philanthropy serves the purposes of human welfare best, not by replacing functions which rightfully should be supported by our communities, but by investigating, testing, and demonstrating the value of newer organized ideas for sustained undertakings, from which may gradually emerge social functions which in turn should be taken over and maintained by the public." This policy has guided the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation ever since.

        Perhaps your reviewer is guilty of sentimentality, but he has an impression that the haunting and sensitive beauty of the portrait of Mrs. Ladd as a young woman infuses both this volume and the work of the Foundation which she launched. In both, there is a sense of dedication and a feeling of reverence for that collaboration of the spirit and the body to which Kate Macy Ladd herself was dedicated in her own life.

        Under vigorous and far-sighted leadership, the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation guided American medicine on a voyage of discovery in uncharted seas. It took both foresight and courage for the young Foundation to devote its resources to the development of the new field of psychosomatic inquiry and practice. It took further courage not to shy away from such unpopular areas of investigation as psychoanalysis and hypnosis; and it took clear heads not to be drawn into unfruitful areas of partisan controversy. Through this courage and clarity, the Macy Foundation made a field of concrete scientific research and scientific education out of the slogan of "psychobiology." Indeed, this has been its consistent central concern. Around it have clustered a wide variety of related investigations, among which, to mention a few, one finds: blood clotting and allied problems, problems of infancy and childhood, cybernetics, metabolic interrelations, problems of aging, liver injury, factors regulating blood pressure, peptic ulcer, biological antioxidants, renal function, adrenal cortex, the development of antibiotic aerosols, connective tissues, nerve impulse, problems of consciousness, hypnotism, training in clinical psychology, the development of screening and selective techniques, and the development of psychotherapeutic methods.

        One of the achievements of the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation has been its ability to span the gap between pure and applied research, and indeed between abstruse scientific research and such immediate practical problems as those which grew out of the war and the postwar struggle for lasting international peace. Thus, during the war it distributed reprints to medical officers who were scattered over the face of the earth; and since the war it has played a leading role in the effort to place the social sciences, including psychiatry, at the services of the World Health Organization (WHO) and of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

        Finally, through its unique working conferences the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation has shown that fruitful communication and collaboration are possible among representatives of disciplines which are poles apart.

        If the Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation were never to do anything more, medical education and medical research would still be in its debt beyond repayment. Happily for ourselves, however, we can look forward to many more years of leadership as productive as that which has characterized these first twenty years.

          LAWRENCE S. KUBIE[/list]
          « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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          Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
          « Reply #13 on: August 04, 2011, 06:48:15 AM »
          « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

          Offline Awake

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          Re: The Macy Conferences:The Minds behind Mind Control
          « Reply #14 on: August 07, 2011, 09:16:51 PM »
          For the most part I think the connection to synanon is the humanistic movement, but probably not the only one. There are a lot of theories and practices that developed within the humanistic movement that use cybernetics as a model for human behavior.  Gestalt therapy, transactional analysis, game theory, NLP, brief therapy, family therapy, hypnosis, all take from cybernetics. This link might be interesting viewtopic.php?f=9&t=27862&p=351344&hilit=eupsychia#p351344  . It links this stuff up rather well, specifically that Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow were the fathers of humanistic psychiatry. Rogers worked for mk-ultra, and Maslow was impressed with Synanon and likewise wanted to impress upon them his own humanistic values.

          So, I think a very influential hand in Synanon was the humanistic movement, or the human potential movement. Humanistic psychology and encounter groups were really popular, this would’ve been bigger news of the day than synanon. Encounter groups were the main setting in which many of the humanistic techniques were meant to be used.  Synanon’s game is one form of encounter. Also the roots of the encounter group concept come from sensitivity training, or human relations training, which expressly can be used to mimick the thought reform model. This is also where the roots of group dynamics and organizational development come from. Lifespring is a good example the newer humanistic techniques for manipulating people. So basically I think this stuff just naturally found it’s way into Synanon, especially after the endorsement from Maslow. I can say with certainty that the Cedu program was very obviously experimenting with the humanistic ideas, and that had a close relationship with synanon, so anyways, that’s the best connection I’ve got.
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