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The CIA's Control of Candy Jones - Donald Bain


The title sounds like a porn movie, and the publisher is Playboy Press, but would you believe there is no sex in this book whatsoever? None. "Candy Jones" is really the working name of Jessica Wilcox (b. 1921) who became famous as a model and "pinup girl" in the early 1940's. Apparently back then, it was common to give models pseudonyms.

Jessica Wilcox 1940
Jessica Wilcox, 1940

She looks like she's having a lot of fun in that picture, doesn't she? Don't be fooled. Candy Jones has had a very hard life. Her father abandoned her when she was very young, and her mentally ill mother abused her mercilessly for twenty years. It sounds too strange to be true, but sometimes when children are abused so badly, their personalities fracture... they develop multiple separate personalities, typically including a strong personality who can take the abuse, and sometimes containing all of the grief and anger and helplessness in another personality. It's an elaborate coping mechanism which emerges to deal with a situation no kid (or adult) should have to deal with. These days, we call the condition Multiple Personality Disorder. (MPD) Reference

Probably the most mainstream venue where MPD has been explored was the 1976 movie "Sibyl", starring Sally Field.

It's the true story of Shirley Aredell Mason -a woman who was severely abused as a child, and who developed seven distinct personalities to cope with it. Sadly, this condition isn't as rare as one would hope. There have been hundreds of recorded cases.

All of this sounds a bit fantastical, but it's been well-documented by academic psychiatry. In the 1930's and 40's, one of the experts on this subject was Dr. Gilbert Jensen, and wouldn't you know it, but Jensen just happened to work for a division of Army Intelligence which eventually became the Central Intelligence Agency; the CIA.

Now that's damn strange, isn't it? Why would the CIA be interested in this subject?

Here's why: because the way MPD seems to manifest is that memories are not shared between the different personalities. Personality "A" can meet somebody on the street and have a conversation, but when personality "B" takes over, (s)he has no recollection of that conversation... it is really as if they were two completely separate people.

By the CIA's twisted reasoning, this would make a patient with MPD an ideal spy. Personality "A" could memorize some secret information, then the patient would travel under the guise of Personality "B", and would be made (through hypnosis or pharmaceutical induction) to revert back to personality "A" to deliver the information. If the spy were intercepted en route when they were personality "B", it wouldn't matter. No amount of interrogation or torture could get them to divulge what they know, because personality "B" really wouldn't know.

When Candy Jones and some other famous pinup girls went on a USO tour to entertain American troops in World War II, she caught malaria in the Philippines. She was brought to the nearest Army hospital, where- you guessed it- the doctor on duty was Gilbert Jensen. He treated her malaria, and his close observation of her over a week raised his suspicions that she had MPD. He kept in contact with her for several years, and when she ran into financial trouble after a divorce, he recruited her very gradually into the CIA... where he further abused her in the name of refining techniques which could reliably bring out or suppress her different personalities.

She has a lot of very gruesome, unhappy adventures in this book, and because of the nature of her disease, she becomes more and more bewildered about a double life she doesn't know is going on. Her entire cover is blown and the facts of her mistreatment come out when she marries her second husband, John Nebel.

Nebel marries Candy, but soon meets her strongest alter-ego, Arlene, who gradually clarifies what is going on. It's all a bit hard to swallow when one of your wife's several personalities tells you that she works for the CIA, and that they frequently torture her. Do you believe her? How about when you find out that a mysterious benefactor traceable to Washington DC is paying her boys' expensive private school tuition? How about when she disappears for days, and you find ticket stubs to Taiwan, and when she returns she has electrical burns on her arms?

Yeah. This stuff really happened, and the CIA used your tax dollars to do it.

Worse still: the CIA wasn't content to just look for people with Multiple Personality Disorder, to see if they were interested in a government job. No, no; MPD is fairly uncommon. In the 1950s and 60s, the CIA experimented with LSD and abuse in an effort to induce the condition. Your tax dollars.

The book ends with Candy Jones in therapy, and it's ambiguous what her prospects for a normal life are, but at least she's broken away from Jensen and the CIA. There's also an alarming addendum which includes more details about the CIA's experimentation with LSD on unsuspecting and unconsenting American citizens from 1951 to 1963. Some of these experiments end with people being permanently institutionalized, and at least one case ends with the victim's suicide. These were healthy, productive members of society who had not consented to any sort of experimentation.

Don't let the psychedelic cover art and the stripper name twist your perceptions. The knee jerk response may be to say this is all tin-foil hat "conspiracy theories", but Jessica Wilcox was a real person. She died in 1990.