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How the CIA's LSD Mind-Control Experiments Destroyed My Healthy, High-Functioning Father's Brilliant Mind

Excerpt from Wall's new book "Healing to Hell": A Cold War scheme to find a mind-control drug for use on hostile leaders destroyed many lives.

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It might have seemed by this time that much of the world had gone mad. The poet Allen Ginsberg was urging every America over the age of 14 to drop LSD for “a mass emotional nervous breakdown.” In response to the public uproar, Sandoz called in all the LSD it had supplied to U.S. researchers. But the FDA would not back down from its involvement in LSD research. Instead, it moved to set up a joint FDA-NIMH body known as the Psychomimetic Advisory Committee and put at least one of the CIA’s grant-recipient foxes in charge of the henhouse when it named Harris Isbell to the new committee. 

By 1968, possession of LSD had become a misdemeanor and sale of the drug a felony. Two years afterward it was listed as a Schedule I drug—a drug of abuse with no medical value. A Bureau of Narcotics pamphlet issued in 1969 stated as a matter of history that the CIA’s dissemination of LSD through the scientific and intellectual community was responsible for the alarming popularity of the drug. Even though people all over the country and especially disaffected young people were resorting to it, the CIA continued to deny any suggestion that it had promoted a market for the drug. But if not the CIA or the army, then who? The late John Lennon certainly gave credit to both.

Once other entrepreneurs learned how to produce LSD and moved it onto the black market beyond the CIA’s and FDA’s control, the psychedelic era was under way. As the Grateful Dead’s tripping followers were to declare, it would be a long, strange journey indeed.


Dr. W. Henry Wall, Jr. is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and award-winning inventor with more than 19 medical patents. In  From Healing to Hell,  Dr. Wall, Jr. reveal the ​ordeals he faced as a young adult and the tragic story of his father, a victim of the C.I.A.’s unlawful MK-Ultra human experimentation program. The program, which began in the 1950s, tested the effects of LSD, hypnosis, and electroconvulsive therapy on U.S. and Canadian citizens. It is considered one of the greatest tarnishes on modern American history.