Ripping the Band-Aid Off of Tavistock and Mind Control

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Before we get started, I just want to say Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday break. I know I did. However … my holiday break took an interesting twist, into the land of conspiracy, secrecy, and mystery. Part of the twist-turning that confronted me came from my read of a book by Erik Larson entitled Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (which I received as a very nice gift). Larson’s book deals with the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine (U-20) on May 7th, 1915, off the south coast of Ireland. The Lusitania was an ocean liner on a similar scale (i.e., four-funneled, 787-foot superliner), and of the same opulence, as the Titanic. The Lusitania sank in about eighteen minutes as the result of one torpedo hit. Almost 1,200 people including 128 American passengers lost their lives.

The speed with which the Lusitania sank caused quite a stir. The popular press reported that there were at least two torpedo hits. We know from the U-Boat captain’s log that only one torpedo was fired. Survivors reported that one minute after the torpedo hit, there was a second explosion of greater magnitude. Theories flew around that the second explosion was caused by: 1) a boiler blowing, 2) armaments (carried in secrecy, which included 6 million rounds of ammunition) blowing, or, 3) coal dust (which can be highly combustible) in empty coal bins blowing. The story of the Lusitania (as told by Larson) is shot through with code breaking, secret government departments (such as Britain’s Room 40), and prominent historical figures such as Winston Churchill, who, at the time, was First Lord of the Admiralty. Although it took an additional two years, many point to the sinking of the Lusitania as the event that pushed the US into WWI. And many suggest that the British government intentionally withheld navy protection so that Americans would be put in harms way. You see, much conspiracy, secrecy, and mystery surrounded (and still surrounds) the sinking of the Lusitania. As Jim Marrs puts it (more on Marrs later), “How this cruel act [the sinking of the Lusitania] played out is an intriguing study in behind-the-scenes manipulation.”

It was against the backdrop of Larson’s book that I read two other books: an edited volume entitled Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs (published in 2011 with the help of the Bowlby Centre) and Tavistock Institute: Social Engineering the Masses by Daniel Estulin (2015). I read these two books because a Bowlby Less Traveled (BLT) reader recommended them. In an email, this reader asked me point blank, “Was Bowlby’s theory of attachment used for mind control?” Frankly, I have no idea. The only possible example that came to mind was Lt. Col. Grossman’s account of how organizational engineering techniques used during the Vietnam War played havoc with the attachment bonds soldiers formed with each other. (See my April 7th, 2016, blog post entitled Viewing Millennials’ Embrace of Socialism as Locked Mourning for a summary of Grossman’s account.) I figured that I’d take a closer look at attachment and mind control and report back here at BLT. If what I am about to tell you is true, then this might as well be my last BLT blog post. Read more, if you dare, as I rip the Band-Aid off of Tavistock and mind control.

In my self-published book Bowlby’s Battle for Round Earth (2011), I present a model that tries to summarize the major themes of systems thinking from about 1929 (when Ludwig von Bertalanffy reports he began work on General System Theory) until the present. Leading up to the start of WWII, systems thinking was influenced by two major philosophical trends: reductionism (e.g., breaking wholes into parts and examining those parts in isolation), and humanism (e.g., investigating the relationships expressed by systems within the context of a whole, say, a biological organism). Norbert Wiener (arguably the father of cybernetics) is associated with the reductionism trend. Bertalanffy (arguably the father of organismic systems theory) is associated with the humanism trend. Neither of these systems thinking trends gained much traction until the outbreak of WWII. During WWII, both trends were called upon to help with the war effort. Wiener helped develop guided antiaircraft gun systems. Betalanffy put forward the idea that organic systems could be self-directed and goal oriented (e.g., purposeful). The WWII war effort allowed both trends to gain traction and also to mix. As I have pointed out many times before, John Bowlby was well aware of both trends. Consider this quote by Bowlby from the first volume of his trilogy on attachment:

At one time to attribute purposiveness to animals or to build a psychology of human behavior on the concept of purposefulness was to declare oneself a vitalist and to be banned from the company of respectable scientists. The development of control systems of increasing sophistication, such as those that control a homing missile, has changed that. Today [the mid-1960s] it is recognized that a machine incorporating feedback can be truly goal-directed. Thus it comes about that nowadays to attribute purposiveness to behaviour and to think, if not teleologically, at least teleonomically is not only common sense, as it always was, but also good science.

Ultimately, Bowlby would go on to use the humanist trend as a backdrop to his work. However, the reductionist trend was never far away. During what I am calling the UK Macy Conferences (which took place from 1953 until 1956 in Geneva), Bowlby came into contact with systems thinkers representing both trends. (See my August 5th, 2016, blog post entitled Where Da UK Macy Conferences?—A Brief Look at “Traditions of Systems Theory.”) Here’s a partial list of the UK participants and their area of expertise. [1] You will no doubt recognize a few of these names:

Dr. John Bowlby—psychoanalysis

Dr. Frank Fremont-Smith—director of research at the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation

Bärbel Inhelder—psychology

Dr. Konrad Lorenz—ethology (animal studies)

Dr. Margaret Mead—cultural anthropology

Professor Jean Piaget—cognitive psychology

Dr. R.R. Struthers—formerly associate director, Rockefeller Foundation, Paris

Dr. J.M. Tanner—human biology

Dr. W. Grey Walter—electrophysiology

Professor Erik Erikson—psychoanalysis

Dr. Julian Huxley—biology and evolution

Dr. Ludwig von Bertalanffy—general biology

I’d be remiss if I did not point out that a series of Macy Conferences were held in the US (again, see my August 5th, 2016, post). These conferences took place from 1943 to 1954. A few of the participants attended both the US and UK conferences, most notably Margaret Mead and Frank Fremont-Smith. In her 1999 book entitled How We Became Posthuman, Katherine Hayles has an entire chapter on the US Macy Conferences. I am by no measure an expert in systems thinking and theory. For what I consider to be a great summary of the systems story—both trends—see Debora Hammond’s 2003 book entitled The Science of Synthesis—Exploring the Social Implications of General System Theory.

In the model I present in Bowlby’s Battle, I see these two systems trends—reductionism and humanism—becoming separate once again after the close of the 1950s. In my view, the reductionist or mechanistic trend continued on unabated. This trend has given us such cybernetic feedback systems or algorithms as, Facebook, Google, Siri (and all of the current crop of “talk to” personal assistants), TiVo, Netflix, Twitter, and on the list goes. For a good book on this theme, see Andy Clark’s 2003 book entitled Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence. In contrast, the humanistic trend goes through three waves of development as outlined in Gerald Midgley’s 2000 book entitled Systemic Intervention. Biological frames characterize the first wave; sociological frames the second, and emancipatory frames the third. Again, Bowlby operated primarily out of the first wave, which was focused on biological systems (i.e., innate behavioral systems such as attachment, sex, and caregiving(receiving)). To a large degree, feminists and other social reformers brought about the second and third waves, each of which creates distance from any biological explanations. On a simple level, feminists wished to distance themselves from anything smacking of biological determinism: “biology as destiny.” By wave three, feminists (and a number of other social reformers) wished to be liberated from anything smacking of male oppression. In my model, I see the quest for wave three liberation short-circuiting against cybernetic systems and their promise of mechanically based life. I see this arcing of energy as lighting the way toward posthumanism or transhumanism: people as mechanically based entities or cyborgs.

These are not new ideas. Hayles (mentioned above) talks about them. And you can find them discussed at length in an edited volume entitled The Gendered Cyborg: A Reader (2000). Again, I was not trying to come up with new ideas: I was simply trying to track what happened to Bowlby’s theory and why. Or, on a more general level, what happened to organismic systems theory (as held by wave one systems thinking). Feminist psychoanalyst Susie Orbach says it best when she tells us, “Feminist analysts … had a difficult time with what they perceived as Bowlby’s valourisation of the maternal [and, by extension, maternal biology] at a moment when we were trying to understand the relationship of women’s oppression to the structure of the nuclear family.” [2]

So, now back to Estulin’s book Tavistock Institute: Social Engineering the Masses. [3] Simply, Estulin frames the elements contained in my model as comprising one big conspiracy. At the heart of this conspiracy we find the Tavistock Institute. In Estulin’s view, Tavistock was (and still is) hell-bent on bringing about mind control, and, by extension, world control. Estulin has an entire chapter on the US Macy Conferences. Apparently the US Macy Conferences were about turning people into machines (i.e., through transhumanism) so that they could be easily controlled. “The bizarre Macy cocktail blend of the late 1940s and the early 1950s,” writes Estulin, “became one of the primary covert funding conduits for the CIA through Macy Foundation director Frank Fremont-Smith.” Yeow! Note above that Frank Fremont-Smith helped organize the UK Macy Conferences. Frankly, this is a side of the Macy Conferences that I was not aware of. Estulin continues, “[A] significant number of the Macy Foundation conference members such as Gregory Bateson [of family systems theory fame], Margret Mead [who was once married to Bateson], and psychologist Kurt Lewin [who developed organizational engineering] worked closely with the U.S. government during the Cold War under covert MK-ULTRA drug brainwashing experiments on the one hand and psychedelic drugs as a means of social manipulation on the other.” [4]

Estulin puts forward the idea that such things as group therapy, family systems theory, and therapy in general all came out of secret meetings designed to bring about social manipulation and control. How about the feminist movement? Yup, it too came out of secret meetings. As a matter of fact, according to Estulin, Margaret Mead was the principal animator (or should I say agitator) behind the feminist movement. So, whereas I suggest that a number of chance events came together accidentally to pave the way toward our posthuman future, Estulin tries to convince us that all of this was planned well in advance, a fait accompli.

Most of you know that John Bowlby spent most of his career at the Tavistock Institute. He did participate in the UK Macy Conferences. Eric Trist was one of Bowlby’s war colleagues and, according to the research Suzan van Dijken presents in her 1998 book entitled John Bowlby—His Early Years, Bowlby knew of work by social psychologist Kurt Lewin. Suffice it to say that Estulin views Trist and Lewin as two men who regularly consorted with Satan himself. “[I]n combination with the work of Lewin, Trist and [John Rawlings] Rees at Tavistock … [psychedelic] drugs, spiritual techniques and laboratory tests opened a Pandora’s Box of suffering, violence and perhaps even redemption, through transformation: the Black Box of consciousness,” writes Estulin. He continues, “In this, Tavistock, the world’s premier brainwashing institute, was unwittingly following in the steps of magicians, sorcerers, gurus and cultists the world over.”

How much of this is true? I have no idea. How much was Bowlby caught up in this? Again, I have no idea. Estulin never mentions Bowlby directly. In the introduction to his 2000 book entitled Rule by Secrecy, journalist Jim Marrs suggests that there are two ways to view world events: as accidents, or as the product of conspiracies. “The issue of conspiracy … lies at the heart of how one views history. Here there are only two views: accidental or conspiratorial,” alerts Marrs. I guess my model takes an accidental approach. Clearly the Bowlby story, and along with it the Tavistock story, could be looked at using a conspiratorial approach. But in the final analysis, does it matter? Whether by chance or by plan, the feminist desire for emancipation—especially liberation from body and biology—is meeting up with the promises offered by cybernetics: mechanical or cyborg bodies. At this stage, railing at conspirators or the fates will not do much good. Transhumanism is here and as James Barrat suggests in the title to his 2013 book, transhumanism may well be Our Final Invention.

Are there secret groups and conspiracies? Sure. I think the story of the Lusitania points this out. Should we see conspiracies everywhere? I think there is a danger here. Conspiracy then takes on the form of a boogeyman or other to be feared without thought or reflection (like communists during the Cold War and terrorists today). And isn’t this the goal of mind control: non-reflective, knee jerk reactions. When it comes to conspiracies and mind control, the following saying comes to mind: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” [5]


[1] There were four meetings of the UK Macy Conferences. Transcripts from all four meetings were pulled together, edited by J.M. Tanner and Bärbel Inhelder (longtime collaborator of Jean Piaget), and published under the title Discussions on Child Development (1971), published by Tavistock Publications. I was able to purchase a used copy through

[2] The full reference is Why Is Attachment in the Air? (1999, Psychoanal. Dial., vol 9, p. 73–83).

[3] I will not be talking about Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs. This book contains gripping stories from survivors of mind control and ritual abuse, and the brave therapists who have spent years working with these survivors. I may talk about this book at a later date.

[4] Estulin suggests that the Woodstock Music Festival, along with a number of other such festivals during the late 1960s and into the 1970s, were testing grounds for the use of psychedelic drugs as a form of mind control. This is the era of Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey, who, according to Estulin, were both CIA operatives.

[5] As a part of writing this post, I reread the first part of Jim Marrs’ book Rule by Secrecy. Marrs starts out by talking about the Rockefeller family and all that they did to make their fortune (mainly in oil but also banking). Marrs points out that the Rockefeller story is filled with secret meetings. And, apparently, the Rockefellers were ruthless businessmen, often buying or putting out of business competitors. Maybe I’m a bit jaundiced but I found myself saying, “But isn’t this just business?” How many behind the scenes machinations took place during the recently completed presidential election? Plenty. Marrs even talks about how secret societies groomed Hillary Clinton for the presidency. How did that work out? Not so good. Sure, there are powerful movers and shakers—Rockefeller, Morgan, Rhodes, Rothchild, Carnegie, Zuckerberg, Gates—but in my mind, social control programs are incredibly hard to design, harder to implement, and near impossible to direct, right up there with herding cats. I guess this is why I’m an “accidentalist.” You cannot simply invent a bicycle. Metal, leather, rubber, and gear ratios must be invented first. Inventing a bicycle involves bringing together previously invented elements. As Marrs points out, secret groups have been around since the times of the Egyptian pyramids. Millennia later and we still don’t have world domination. What’s up with that? With each technological advance—fire, alphabet, print, gun powder, water, wind, oil, Internet—plans for world domination have to be scrapped and new ones formed or brought together. Whereas heads of state used to meet with the Rockefellers and Moragns, they now meet with Zuckerberg [6] and Gates. Writing in his 2002 book entitled Salt—A World History, Mark Kurlansky tells us that back in the 1400s, “No state had based its economy on salt to the degree Venice had or established as extensive a state salt policy except China.” Not to be glib but I doubt there are many secret meetings centered on salt anymore. Maybe the Internet—clearly another conspiracy—will get it right. Siri, are you a part of some conspiracy to take over the world?

[6] FYI – Facebook did run an experiment a few years back designed to assess whether they could affect people’s emotions by manipulating their news feed stories. The social media backlash was intense and, as a result (as far as we know), Facebook dropped plans for further emotional control experiments.