One of the new promos for Stranger Things season 2, titled “Nosebleed,” consists mostly of cryptic repeated phrases spoken over a slideshow of the same creepy images, flashing over and over again. It’s not clear what the meaning of “450,” “rainbow,” or the directional arrows in the trailer is, but there’s little doubt that together, they make up a sample of the experimentation that Eleven’s mother, Terry Ives, is said to have gone through as a victim of Project MK-Ultra.

The CIA-sponsored program was a totally real government project that took place in the 1950s through the 1960s in the United States. In the program, psychiatrists took advantage of civilians by dosing them with psychedelic drugs, subjecting them to electroconvulsive therapy, and performing psychotherapy to explore the possibilities of mind-control — often without subjects’ consent or knowledge. The CIA Library contains a huge amount of documentation on the shameful chapter in the United States history, made available through the Freedom of Information Act.

MK-Ultra played a central role in Stranger Things’ first season, which revealed that Eleven’s mother gave birth to her daughter while she was a captive subject in the CIA experiments. This led her daughter Jane — renamed Eleven — to be born with telekinetic abilities.

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The 'Stranger Things' trailer appears to depict psychic driving experiments.

We know that Eleven’s mother, like many real-life MK-Ultra victims, was subjected to strange experiments under the influence of LSD and other mind-altering drugs as well as electroconvulsive therapy. But this trailer also appears to depict a particular type of psychotherapy known as “psychic driving,” which played a major role in MK-Ultra experiments. This technique, developed by Canadian psychiatrist D. Ewen Cameron, was initially intended to treat psychiatric disorders, including depression and anxiety. When the CIA got wind of it, though, the agency commissioned him to adapt it for brainwashing subjects. The new version involved three stages:

First, massive doses of LSD, coupled with electroconvulsive therapy, were meant to wipe a patient’s negative patterns and personality away. This was called “de-patterning.” Second, in the reprogramming phase, recorded messages were played over and over, hundreds of thousands of times, to get a subject to adopt new thought patterns. Finally, patients were put to sleep with drugs for several weeks to suppress memories of the experiment. The second stage is likely what we are seeing in the trailer.

In Stranger Things, the results of these experiments are exciting and supernatural, as Eleven gains the ability to see across dimensions. But in reality, these experiments created long-term emotional harm in patients and caused serious problems for them and their families.


If you liked this article, check out this video where the CIA illegally drugged thousands of U.S. and Canadian citizens with LSD.