Did the CIA Help Create the Unabomber?


Quick Answer

While it's impossible to say whether the CIA helped create the Unabomber, there are some intriguing historical connections between the two. It all started in 1959, during Kaczynski's sophomore year at Harvard, when he was just 17. There, he was recruited for a strenuous mental experiment, and it's speculated that he was never the same after that point.

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Did the CIA Help Create the Unabomber?
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Full Answer

Ted Kaczynski, otherwise known as the Unabomber, is most famous as a serial murderer who sent bombs to victims through the mail. The name "Unabomber" comes from the title given to him by the FBI before they knew his identity. UNABOM stands for UNiversity & Airline BOMber. While he is commonly portrayed as a loner and a psychopath, some blame his behavior on being subjected to mind experiments during his time at Harvard.

The Harvard study had one specific purpose: to interrogate and humiliate its subjects and find out how much they could mentally tolerate. It first asked participants to write journal entries detailing their beliefs and dreams. Then, an anonymous man was brought in to read these entries back to the writers - belittling and making fun of them. The entire exercise was videotaped, and those videotapes were then played back for the subjects over and over while a team of observers noted psychological and physiological changes.

As you can imagine, it was an incredibly stressful experience for the students involved. This was especially the case for Kaczynski, who was two years younger than most other students in his class (he had graduated from high school early and showed promising signs as a student).

The connection to the CIA lies in the person who ran the tests at Harvard: Henry Murray. Murray taught psychology for over 30 years at Harvard, but during WWII he left his job to work in the OSS - the precursor to the CIA. There, he helped create a grueling tests for its agents. One test, known as TAT, was eventually used to screen and study Harvard students, and it's similar to (or perhaps the same as) what Kaczynski was put through.

Harvard and the CIA certainly can't be held responsible for turning Ted Kaczynski into the Unabomber. Still, it's a curious historical connection that leaves one to wonder and many to speculate.

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