Netflix hit series Stranger Things debuted last year and launched fans into the supernatural world of the upside down and introduced lovable characters such as Millie Bobby Brown's "Eleven." While the gripping storyline seemed to be influenced by the likes of the fictional works Steven Spielberg or Stephen King, some of the creepiest material actually comes from real world events.
Throughout the first season of the wildly popular series, there are references to government mind-control programs. As it turns out, creators Matt and Ross Duffer were inspired by actual C.I.A. covert experiments in telepathy that took place in the U.S. in the 20th century.
"We wanted the supernatural element to be grounded in science in some way," Matt Duffer said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "As ridiculous as it is, the monster [in the alternate dimension] doesn't come from a spiritual domain and it's not connected to any religion. It made it scarier. I don't believe in ghosts, but I believe in aliens and alternate dimensions."
One of the programs mentioned in the show is called "Project MKUltra." This wasn't just a ploy to add a twisted element to the series, MKUltra was a real government program funded by the CIA which operated from the 1950s to the early 1970s.
Project MKUltra was mentioned in passing in the episode titled Chapter Six: The Monster, but that was it. However, Season Two will be expanding on that mention of the CIA program.
The first line of the recently released synopsis states: “1953, date unknown — MKUltra comes to Hawkins and begins experimentation.”
Project MKUltra was the code name of the CIA's program that was created in order to attempt to weaponize mind control through various methods such as hypnosis, drugs, and other practices.
The organization came to Hawkins in 1953 and tested on over 150 known sub-projects. The most infamous test was an experiment when LSD was used on vulnerable subjects such as those in mental institutions or drug addicts without their consent. The purpose of the project was to essentially wipe the person's mind and reprogram them as a CIA agent.
In Stranger Things, Eleven was being held in a testing center run by Matthew Modine's Dr. Brenner. The organization appeared to be doing similar experiments to that of the ones performed by MKUltra. Presumably, there were ten more subjects prior to Eleven that Dr. Brenner experimented on or was in the process of experimenting on.
Photo Credit: Netflix