For a top-secret program bravely exposed by courageous whistleblowers over 30 years ago, there’s surprisingly little in the Lexis-Nexis news database about Monarch Mind Control. The earliest hit I can come up with is a story by Carol Gentry from the St. Petersburg Times, March 1994, titled “Military controls my mind, woman says.”
Frances Fox, age 45 at the time, was the owner of a bridal shop in the west Florida town. Chic Parisien, which she started with her husband Emilio, was (and still is) the premier boutique in St. Petersburg’s Miracle Mile. Fox was well-respected in the local business community. She was also in therapy — which was less common than it is now, but only relevant because of what was happening in therapeutic circles at the time.
The Courage to Heal was published by William Collins, Sons (now HarperCollins) in 1988, and it was a huge hit. It was popular among women like Frances Fox, who were unhappy but perhaps didn’t understand why. The book was written by Ellen Bass, a poet and creative writing teacher, and her student Laura Davis. It promotes a kind of folk therapy, more creative writing than science. In fact, the authors are careful to point out that they’ve had no training, outside of whatever therapy they’ve had and self-help books they’ve consumed themselves. The premise is that if you have any complaints about your life at all, any of the sorts of things that might prompt you to seek therapy, they’re probably symptoms of childhood sexual abuse that you don’t remember. Through various exercises, the book encourages you to “remember” — actually, invent — memories of abuse.
The mid-20th century was a time of innovation in the world of psychology. Both LSD and existentialism influenced R.D. Laing, while Marx and Lacan would help define the anti-psychiatry movement. A few years later, humanistic psychology was repackaged as a consumer product in Erhard Seminars Training, or est. Research-based modalities were shunted aside to make room for therapies originated by gurus, charlatans, and anybody, really, who had a little charisma and a good rap.
By the 1980s, a community of women who had been abused and ignored by mainstream psychology began to take control of their lives and their mental health. Naturally, since the system had at best ignored them, they looked to the outsiders for help. Unfortunately, a lot of the therapy happening outside of the mainstream was just as bad — and worse — than the mainstream stuff. Add to this the emerging Satanic Panic, a moral panic based on fear of roving bands of Satanists guilty of every murder and kidnapping in America, and you can begin to see what might have been going on in the mind of Frances Fox.
She began to toy with the idea that she might secretly be some sort of psychic mind control spy after an intensive four-day recovered memory therapy session in Minnesota in 1989.
This is worth unpacking for a minute: Not only was Fox in therapy, she was a comfortable (if not wealthy) individual who could fly around the country, attending seminars and workshops and days-long therapy sessions. She sought comfort in a community that specialized in tinkering with peoples’ minds (and profiting off of it). This group taught that you couldn’t heal unless you uncovered memories of abuse. In an environment like this, it’s only a matter of time before she dredged up these memories.
After the Minnesota meeting, Fox dreamed that her father was chasing her and laughing, saying “You can't get away from me.” When she woke up, she knew what the dream meant: She had been abused by her father — and the CIA. After this “breakthrough,” Fox worked with a succession of therapists to uncover memories of abuse, including a Satanic ritual in Panama where a baby was killed and eaten.
Carol Gentry, the reporter at the Times, reached out to the CIA. Unsurprisingly, the spokesman said he wasn’t familiar with any programs involving ritually killing babies.
Fox’s father passed away before Fox had these revelations, so she announced her intention to sue an uncle who was also part of the conspiracy. I haven’t found any evidence that this occurred (the suit might have come up against the statute of limitations).
The purpose of the lawsuit, she said, was to get the government to open up about something called the Monarch Mind Control project. “I’m looking for a negotiated peace settlement with the government,” Fox told Gentry. “I am looking for ... the keys to my programming so that I may complete my therapy and healing process.”
Much has been written about the CIA’s experimentation with mind control, so I feel no need to go into it here. Except that it’s obvious that Frances Fox’s story has no basis in reality.
Project Monarch, the particular conspiracy theory that Fox cited, was the brainchild of Mark Phillips and Cathy O’Brien, two professional conspiracy theorists that have been on the circuit since the late 1980s. Most people first heard about Monarch in the duo’s 1995 book, Trance Formation of America: The True Life Story of a CIA Mind Control Slave. It describes how American girls were hypnotized, given multiple personality disorder, used in occult rituals, and shown Disney films, all of which allowed CIA handlers to install mind control programming in their young minds.
O’Brien wasn’t the first to make claims like this. The Control of Candy Jones, published by Playboy Press in 1976, tells the story of former fashion model and pin-up girl Candy Jones (born Jessica Arline Wilcox in 1925). She married Long John Nebel, a late-night radio talk show host who specialized in conspiracies and the paranormal, in 1972. He didn’t like her temper apparently, so he began treating her with hypnosis. Then the repressed memories began to tumble out.
Jones would conduct operations for the CIA, after which her memory would be wiped clean using hypnosis. There is a quaint, old-timey feel to the Candy Jones book that makes it a fun read. In contrast, Trance Formation is barely passable as pornography, let alone one whistleblower’s account of a secret government operation.
And pornography it is. Here’s a passage from Trance Formation, plucked at random from the book:
“It had been eight years since I had been hunted and brutalized by [Dick] Cheney in Wyoming and apparently he wanted to see how my programming had progressed before agreeing to use me in [Ronald] Reagan's “Hands-On Mind-Control” demonstrations. He grabbed me roughly by the hair and slung me onto a black leather chair, tipping my head backwards over the high studded arm.”
Actually, modesty prevents me from continuing. I just remembered that several of my relatives subscribe to my newsletter, and they don’t want to read that crap. If you want to see how weird this stuff can get, I recommend checking out an article by Robert Sterling titled “Uncle Ronnie’s Sex Slaves.” It details some of the highlights of Trance Formation as well as the books that came after it.
Trance Formation was scoffed at by most conspiracy theorists upon its initial publication, but it would spawn a whole genre of sub-pornographic conspiracy literature that detailed the horrible things done to young women by the CIA.
Two more books came out in 1999 that were almost as influential as Trance Formation. In Thanks For The Memories: The Truth Has Set Me Free! The Memoirs of Bob Hope's and Henry Kissinger's Mind-Controlled Slave, Brice Taylor recounts how she was sold to Bob Hope for sexual slavery at the age of five.
Tastefully, Bob [Hope] holds off on sampling his prize, telling his young slave, “I’m going to be your man, but we’ll have to talk more about this later . . . when you’re a little older.” In the meantime, Brice is sexually abused by members of her family, and is groomed for high level abuse, as no less than Henry Kissinger begins to play mind control tricks on her via telephone. (Robert Sterling, “Uncle Ronnie’s Sex Slaves“)
As Brice gets older, she is abused by JFK (which she seemed to enjoy), LBJ (which she certainly didn’t), and Walt Disney, who allegedly did the deed on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Annie McKenna is the author of Paperclip Dolls, which references Operation Paperclip, the all-too-real operation that brought Nazi scientists into the United States after World War II. Her book introduces British occultist Aleister Crowley to Project Monarch, via his Masonic offshoot lodge, the Ordo Templi Orientis. And in a 2001 presentation at a mind control conference, she describes the therapeutic power of scrapbook making.
Project Monarch, created as part of Mark Phillips and Cathy O’Brien's conspiracy grift, has taken on a life of its own. It’s an open-ended mythology that anybody, con artist or merely confused, can claim for themselves.
Just like any other conspiracy theory, really.
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The genre of Monarch Mind Control literature shows no sign of slowing down. One of the latest entries is Juliette M. Engel’s Sparky: Surviving Sex Magick.
Engel is a 72-year-old physician. Originally from Seattle, she first visited Moscow in 1990. Shortly thereafter, Engel sold her radiology practice and founded MiraMed Institute, an NGO that provides medical supplies and training to orphanages in Russia. She also founded the Angel Coalition, a nonprofit network of groups fighting child trafficking, and the Trafficking Victim Assistance Center, which operates toll-free helplines.
The conspiracy community loves spreading stories about child trafficking, often involving Project Monarch or Satanists in some way. This is a problem because it draws resources away from the organizations that fight actually existing (not fantasy) child trafficking.
And Engel is a conspiracy theorist. She claims she was taken from her family at the age of five by the "MKUltra cult" to participate in its “sex magic” operation. This was done with the intention of turning her into “sort of a sexy scientist-type.” After escaping the program at the age of 17, she completely forgot about the whole experience until she had a child of her own. This prompted, in her words, “a complete breakdown,” which in turn sent her looking for help. With a lot of hard work — and years of therapy — she was able to recover the memories of her traumatic past.
Probably the most famous pusher of Monarch conspiracies is Roseanne Barr, the keynote speaker at Toronto’s Conspiracy Culture conference in 2013. Barr doesn’t have a conspiracy narrative to share, necessarily. She’s more of a stand-up philosopher. She knows the system is fucked up and abusive, she was abused herself, and the idea of Monarch Mind Control programming makes about as much sense as any other explanation of what happened to her.
Joining Barr were Mark Phillips, Cathy O’Brien, and Colin Ross, the founder of the Colin A. Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma in Richardson, Texas. He’s the author of several books, many self-published, including Human Energy Fields, which posits that the human aura has potential commercial applications in agriculture and warfare. The activist group Grey Faction sums him up:
Dr. Ross has been the subject of multiple malpractice suits alleging that he cultivated delusions of Satanic Ritual Abuse in his clients. His documented over-medication of one client was adjudged by another doctor to be the worst case of medical malpractice he had ever seen. Ross ran a Dissociative Disorders unit in Canada, since shut down, that knowingly allowed a known rapist to share the same hospital floors with women, resulting in their being sexually assaulted. Ross is an outspoken Government Mind-control conspiracy theorist who has claimed to possess the paranormal ability of being able to emit beams of energy from his eyes.
Colin Ross is sort of the Dr. Oz or Dr. Drew of the Satanic Sexual Abuse conspiracy world. When Roseanne suspected that she had repressed memories of childhood abuse, he was one of the doctors who treated her.
Ross also saw Frances Fox in the early 1990s. When speaking to the Times in 1994, he was coy: “It's a very complicated matter,” he said of her story, “difficult to figure out how much is real and how much is not real. It warrants serious study.”
In his book Military Mind Control, Ross was more forthcoming: "The CIA and United States military have been creating Manchurian candidates and using them in operations since World War II."
The Monarch Mind Control scene is an odd combination of activism and hucksterism. Many members believe this stuff because their victimhood makes them “special.” But then again, some see a business opportunity.
In 1978, the Defense Intelligence Agency and Stanford Research Institute established the Stargate Project to investigate psychic phenomenon. They would’ve loved to have discovered some sort of cutting-edge psychic technology for crushing the Soviet Union, but it just didn’t happen. After blowing through $20 million, the program was terminated and declassified in 1995.
At that point, some of the contractors working on Stargate went into the private sector. They were true believers, many of them. They were convinced they’d seen the effectiveness of psychic phenomenon. They called their trade “remote viewing,” to make it more scientific-sounding than clairvoyance or ESP.
The remote viewing craze quickly spread among conspiracy researchers and paranormal investigators. Books were sold. Consultancies were established. The leading lights of the movement were interviewed by Art Bell. Soon, it looked like remote viewing was science fact, instead of the pseudoscience that not even the CIA could be bothered to keep secret.
Frances Fox jumped on this bandwagon herself. When she started holding remote viewing workshops, the Miami Herald covered her new incarnation:
Hustled into a top secret military “mind expansion” program at the age of 2, Fox says she was trained as a “remote viewer” — someone who can see things happening half a world away — and also to read the subconscious messages she believes every person sends out.
She worked for the U.S. military as a “psychic spy” for years — she won't say how long and neither will the government — before she settled down and ended up running a Coral Gables bridal shop.
But three years ago, Fox, now 50, found out that a similar “remote viewing” spy project called “Stargate” had been declassified — and that was her cue to share her skills with people full-time. (“Former ‘Psychic Spy’ wants to free your mind,” August 2, 1998)
Her new venture was called Information Acquisition, Inc. More than just a freelance psychic spy, Fox claimed that she could use her powers to treat conditions like ADHD and pervasive developmental disorder.
“We have a mind that has been underestimated and underutilized,” Fox told the paper. “Scientists were saying that we use two to ten percent of our minds and now they're saying we use less than that. We need to develop intuitively. We have the ability to acquire a limitless amount of information. The nonphysical realm is where our intelligence resides and also is where most of the answers to our questions lie.”
The story fails to mention MK-ULTRA or Monarch Mind Control.
These days, Frances bills herself as a world-renowned shaman, alternative medicine expert, remote viewing expert, and psychic researcher who learned her trade in Tibet. She caters mostly to a Spanish-speaking audience, although some of her older, English-language material is still available.
Here’s an episode of her podcast, Noticias De Otras Dimensiones (News From Other Dimensions) titled “Spiritual Therapy For Your Pet.”
And here’s a 2003 segment from Animal Planet where she receives an end-times prophecy from a dolphin:
Fox has merch, too, and her product line is diverse. In addition to a couple of books, she sells talismans ($125), aromatherapy treatments for aligning your chakras ($95), amethyst psychic lenses ($83), aura analysis sessions ($100), and something called “portal healing,” a treatment for addiction and depression ($300).
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that “there are no second acts in American lives.” I bet he never met a business-savvy Monarch Mind Control survivor.