I’ve alluded to this a few times before, so I should cover it in a little more detail.
In short, during the 1920s clinical psychologists investigating multiple personality disorder discovered that, through hypnosis, you could create it as well as cure it. They had been preceded in this discovery by a rather quieter group of folks, who’d already put it to work in WWI.
By WWII the technique was refined to the point where it was implemented on a large scale by all sides in the war: create a new “outer” personality loyal to the other side, have him join the opposition, and then occaisionally debrief the “inner” personality under hypnosis.
(Presumably the reverse situation, creating a new “inner” personality while leaving the “outer” intact, would also be possible, though there’s no reference to it in the rather scanty and often-skips-the-interesting-bits-intentionally literature.)
Unlike someone who knows they’re a spy, this is a psychologically ideal situation… for most of the time, the agent truly believes they’re a loyal Communist, Capitalist, Anarchist, Discordian, what have you.
Not only is this an ideal situation for gathering information (in his books, the author talks about telling someone to “get all the license plates of cars parked around the building,” and having them able to recall all the plates perfectly “in trace” yet having consciously noticed none of them)… it’s also an ideal situation for influence.
Since one of the goals of this sort of thing is to influence as well as gather information, the “inner personality” could presumably change the “outer personality”‘s actions in subtle ways that nevertheless supported the hidden personality’s allegiance.
On the other hand, this technique became so widely used that people started creating “bait” agents… trained to act as if they were being hypnotized, so that the other side would attempt to make them into split-personality spies, a situation which they could promptly exploit by working as double agents, etc.
There is one more aspect to all this that’s important to keep in mind. If multiple-personality espionage was that thick on the ground 70 years ago, it stands to reason that it’s by now migrated even into less exotic but equally unethical sectors of the “information operations” business.
On the exotic side, it’s also likely the techniques have evolved a great deal in the interim. Since this is something which really gets to the bedrock of consciousness, it seems likely that the “inner personality” would be able to get the equivalent of root access to the various “quantum mind” type effects which folks like Persinger have started investigating in the open literature.
One more thing I should note. The article in question has been excerpted on a number of somewhat dubious Internet sites. Despite this, Estabrooks’ academic credentials are as legit as they come — Rhodes Scholar, Harvard PhD, Colgate U psychology department chair, etc.
Also, while the excerpts cover the most salacious parts, there are other sections of interest that I’ve tried to quote below. The author’s various books cover the rest.
Estabrooks, G. H. “Hypnosis Comes of Age:” Science Digest, April 1971, p. 44-50 LIMITED EXCERPT: http://www.mindspring.com/~txporter/scidig.htm
“In the operating room, alarming comments were made deliberately after the patient was deeply anesthetized[…]
Following recovery from their operations, eight of the ten patients subjected to the test exhibited great distress while re-living their surgical experience under hypnosis. Four repeated verbatim what the anesthetist had said. Four others were greatly agitated but couldn’t vocalize. Even the remaining two, who failed to respond visibly or orally, showed a striking brain wave reaction on the EEG. […]
One of the most fascinating but dangerous applications of hypnosis is its use in military intelligence. This is a field with which I am familiar through formulating guide lines for the techniques used by the United States in two world wars. […]
I was involved in preparing many subjects for this work during World War II. […]
By the 1920s, not only had [clinical hypnotists] learned to apply post-hypnotic suggestion to deal with [multiple personality disorder], but also had learned how to split multiple personalities like Jekyll-Hydes. The potential for military intelligence has been nightmarish. […]
I split his personality into Jones A and Jones B. [… Jones A talked communist doctrine and meant it. He was welcomed enthusiastically by communist cells […] and became a card-carrying party member. […]
The joker was Jones B, the second personality, formerly apparent in the conscious Marine. […] Jones B was the deeper personality, knew all the thoughts of Jones A, was a loyal American [anti-communist] and was “imprinted” to say nothing during conscious phases.
All I had to do was hypnotize the whole man, get in touch with Jones B, the loyal American, and I had a pipeline into the Communist camp.[…]
Among the most complicated ploys used was the practice of sending a perfectly normal, wide awake agent into enemy camp, after he’d been carefully coached in waking hypnosis to act the part of a potential hypnotic subject.”