The brain: a secret history. Part 1, Mind control.

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About this work

Also known as

Into the Mind


The first in a three-part series in which Michael Mosley explores the history of experimental psychology. This part focuses on mind control and Mosley looks at how science has been used to try to control our minds and what it is that gives us autonomy. Mosley takes a class A hallucinogenic drug, Psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms - his brain is scanned whilst the drug is having an effect. Archival footage of Pavlov's experiments on conditioned reflexes in both humans and dogs is shown. Other more sophisticated methods of mind manipulation were to be developed in the US - Mosley looks at the work of B.F. Skinner and meets his daughter Deborah Buzan. We also hear about the brainwashing activities of William Sargant in the UK; one of his patients, Mary, describes how his treatments affected her mind. The work of Project MKULTRA is described in detail - they used techniques of sensory deprivation and experimented on subjects with hallucinogenic drugs in a bid to affect mind control. US social psychologist Stanley Milgram wanted to work out what was in the minds of, for instance, Germans when they committed atrocities against the Jews; one of his experiments is shown in which he proved that in order to obey authority, ordinary people could be persuaded to perform acts of extreme cruelty. Robert Heath's experiments with brain electrodes to alter behaviour on animals and humans is shown and Mosley talks about how Heath encouraged a gay man to have successful sexual intercourse with a woman after having electrode stimulation. And Mosley meets Gero Miesenbock who is conducting experiments which manipulate the psychological behaviour of flies.


London : BBC4, 2010.

Physical description

1 DVD (60 min.) : sound, color, PAL

Copyright note



Broadcast on 6 January, 2011
Supporting paperwork available in the department.

Creator/production credits

Produced and directed by Alicky Sussman



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