Igor Smirnov Continued

[Here are some press reports related to the Russian “acoustic psycho-correction” technology. They are from the web site of the Psychotechnology Research Institute, where the developer of the methods, Dr. Igor Smirnov, works. The URL is http://int.psycor.ru/.
They claim to want to use the technology for therapeutic and ethical purposes. To their credit, they are open with it and do not hide it in complete secrecy, as is too common for such technologies in the US.

On the other hand, they have secretly collaborated with US intelligence and other federal officials while citizens have been complaining of exactly the sorts of harassment that the covert use of this or similar US technology would cause. Compare also with Ewan Cameron’s CIA-sponsored medical abuses.

The first article below appeared in _Defense Electronics_ in 1993.
It concerns meetings with Smirnov and US federal officials. The FBI was considering testing the device on Koresh during the Waco standoff.

More generally, intelligence officials were concerned about US vulnerabilities to such devices. It is understated but obvious that they were also interested in US offensive use of such devices and techniques. The article also mentions possible use of the techniques in military training. Note that the American rights to the technology are owned by Psychotechnologies Corp., based in Richmond, Virginia.

In the arrangement, they get all the technology and expertise in exchange for stock. The stated plan was for them to further develop the system with US technologies and computer programmers.

The second article is from _Moscow News_ in March, 1994. It generally discusses Smirnov and the psycho-correction technology. The claims
that the Russians are ahead of the CIA in such technology based on published reports should be taken with a large grain of salt. What *both* sides have in secret is likely far beyond this particular
technology or method.

The method consists, first of all, in a subliminal send technique. Both visual subliminals flashed too quickly for conscious perception and subliminal vocals hidden in acoustic white-noise signals are discussed. The next step involves analyzing the subject’s reactions to these subliminal cues. It is essentially a subliminal interrogation of the subject (compare with “brain fingerprinting”).

Information is collected from biosensors and analyzed, to make inferences about the person’s thought process. This is often called something like creating a brain model or a cognitive model of the subject (compare with “psychological profiling”). The final step
involves sending specifically tailored subliminal “advice” (“direction,” “commands,” or “taunts”) to the subject, to “help” (“influence,” “control,” “harass,” or “harm”) him or her. The
process might consist of three distinct steps, as presented in the article, but in general it could also be a closed realtime feedback loop “locked on” to the subject like a parasite. There may well be important consensual therapeutic uses of such techniques.

But clearly serious unethical uses are also possible, as well as uses as a torture device (compare with “Manchurian Candidate” and “AutoPIG”).

The article contains some additional information about the Waco situation. It reports that Smirnov “suggested that the voices of children and relatives be coded into the noises emanating from the loudspeakers of police cars (the building was surrounded with them.)”
After he guaranteed only a 70 percent chance of success — an arbitrary estimate — the FBI reportedly decided against testing the device in that situation and broadcast the same recordings openly on the loudspeakers, without subliminal encoding.

The final article is a short _Newsweek_ article from Aug. 1994. It reports on FBI plans to send subliminal signals to Koresh over the phone lines during negotiations, rather than over loudspeakers. In particular, it mentions plans to send the fake “voice of God” to him.

(NOTE: See the Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez tag on this blog).

Presumably a device that hides subliminals in white-noise-like signals
could operate on either channel. The hidden voices could be hidden in
what seems like the hum and static of the loudspeakers or in what
appears to be hum and static on the telephone line. Certain techniques even make use of dual sends, and encode the information in the beat frequency between them.

It should be crystal clear from these reports and others, both historical and contemporary, that the technology is real and exists now. It *does* have an influence on people, though the extent to which it does and the extent to which it remains subliminal are either not known or not openly written about. Regardless of the level of effectiveness, any testing on nonconsensual subjects would still be a massive violation of their person and an extreme human rights abuse.

This is particularly true when the purpose is to covertly influence a
person’s life without his or her consent, or where outright harassment and torture are the intended aim from the beginning.

Human rights activists and workers need to wake up and smell the coffee — as do all citizens. Consider, for example, the sorts of torture that could be inflicted on prisoners confined to “special” cells (compare with “David Fratus”). It is just as bad if the person
never realizes what is happening (or falls for the cover story of mental illness or whatever else). The technology has advanced beyond just the prison walls, and now the prison can be taken to the
citizens. It can happen at levels of invasiveness far beyond just what is known as “home incarceration” — which is typically subject to due process and judicial oversight. It can become a distributed electronic concentration camp, and already has for some citizens.

There is no due process and very little recourse for the victims because of phony claims that the technology “does not exist.” That is the veneer of deniability behind which advanced human rights abuses are committed. It is that much sadder when the technologies clearly *do* exist but even those who know it tend to go along with the lie and allow torture to continue to occur with impunity.]


DOD, Intel Agencies Look at Russian Mind Control Technology, Claims
FBI Considered Testing on Koresh
By Mark Tapscott
Defense Electronics
July 1993

Federal law enforcement officials considered testing a Russian
scientist’s acoustic mind control device on cultist David Koresh a few
weeks before the fiery conflagration that killed the Branch Davidian
leader and more than 70 of his followers in Waco, Texas, Defense
Electronic has learned.

In a series of closed meeting beginning March 17 in suburban Northern
Virginia with Dr. Igor Smirnov of the Moscow Medical Academy, FBI
officials were briefed on the Russian’s decade-long research on a
computerized acoustic device allegedly capable of implanting thoughts
in a person’s mind without that person being aware of the source of
the thought.

“It was suggested to us [by other federal officials] that they bring
in the FBI, which was looking for a viable option to deal with
Koresh,” said a source who participated in the Smirnov meetings who
agreed to discussion the gathering only on condition of anonymity.

His account of the meeting was confirmed by an executive summary
memorandum prepared by official of Psychotechnologies Corp., a
Richmond, Virginia, based firm that owns the American rights to the
Russian technology. A copy of the Psychotechnologies summary, which
has been circulated among U.S. intelligence executives, was obtained
by DE.

The Psychotechnologies memo described the standoff between federal
agents and Koresh in Waco as “an ongoing domestic hostage situation.”
After several meetings with Smirnov, FBI officials, who repeatedly
expressed fear during the discussions that Koresh and his followers
were suicidal, asked for a proposal describing requirements and
procedures for using the device in Waco, he said.

“They wanted the Russians to promise zero risk” in using the device on
Koresh, but the Russians wouldn’t do that,” the participant
said. Another obstacle was the fact Smirnov had only brought
“entry-level equipment” and more sophisticated hardware would have had
to be rushed over from Russia before the device could be used in an
attempt to end the standoff in Texas.

As a result, Koresh and his band were not used as test subjects for a
demonstration of a technology developed under the former Soviet Union
and apparently used against civilians in Afghanistan, which is why the
U.S. defense and intelligence communities were well-represented in the
March meeting in Virginia.

“There was a strong interest among the intelligence agencies because
they had been tracking Smirnov for years,” the participant said, “and
because we know there is evidence the Soviet Army’s Special Forces
used the technology during the conflict in Afghanistan.”

Alcohol and drug abuse among Red Army soldiers was so pervasive during
the Afghan war that Soviet officials relied upon the technology in
preparing troops for missions involving atrocities against civilians.

Officials from the central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Advance Research Project Agency
(ARPA) were also present, according to the source. Spokesmen for those
agencies did not return a reporter’s telephone calls seeking to
confirm whether individuals from their organization attended the
Smirnov meetings.

Because the US has no known counter-measure to the technology,
intelligence community and ARPA officials are concerned that weaponize
versions of the device may still be in Russian military inventory, and
they expressed fear during the meetings that the technology could be
exported to Third World nations via growing black market in military
equipment from the former Soviet Union, he said.

The main purpose of the March meetings was described in the
Psychotechnologies memo as to “determine whether psycho-correction
technologies represent a present or future threat to the U.S. national
security in situation where inaudible command might be used to alter

The memo went on to note that meeting attendees were also interested
in whether “psycho-correction detection decoding and counter-measures
programs should be undertaken by the US.” An effective
psycho-correction device could be a military threat the memorandum
continued if it were deployed to “negatively affect morale of US
troops in combat” or to “affect judgement or opinions of decision
makers, key personnel or populaces” in a conflict.

Further, the memo said Department of Defense (DOD) official were
concerned that the technology could be used in protection of US
embassies, military training and in non-violently “clearing areas of
potential enemies, snipers, etc.”

Non-military participants were also included in the Smirnov meetings
in Virginia, as well as a series of subsequent briefing by the two
Russians at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Topeka. The
non-military attendees included Dr. Richard Nakamura of the National
Institute of Mental Health and Dr. Christopher Green, director of
General Motors Corp. (GM) biomedical research department in Detroit.

Dr. Nakamura could not be reached for comment, but he was described in
the Psychotechnologies memo as being “familiar with US patents” in the
area and that “the Russian seemed to have solved” mathematical
problems “which had prevented development of US work beyond basic

Dr. Green said through a GM spokesman that he attended the Smirnov
briefing in his capacity as a member of a National Academy of Sciences
(NAS) panel on 21st Century Army technologies. “This has no connection
to anything being done by GM,” the spokesman said.

“It looks promising but we don’t have enough details yet to really
appraise it,” Dr Fowler Jones of Univ. of Kansas Medical Center’s
psychology division told DE. “It was really more of a presentation
than an actual demonstration because, unfortunately, a lot of the
software we couldn’t get going.” Jones said he and his colleagues at
the Kansas facility are looking for funding sources before search to
determine whether the Russian psycho-correction technology can be used
in treating alcoholism and other addiction.

The Psychotechnologies memo described an agreement company official
entered into with Smirnov in March in which “the Russian side agreed
to commit the psycho-correction technologies still in Russia and all
related know-how to the US. company in exchange for stock. The Russian
side has agreed to provide all support necessary to recreate current
[psycho-correction] capability in the US and to upgrade the capability
using US components and computer programmers. All necessary
developmental and existing algorithms will be provided by the Russian


When asked noiselessly, answer silently
By Ninel Loginova
Moscow News
March 25, 1994

It is often said that we are being manipulated, that psychotronic
weapons are ready, and what remains is to drive in the last screw. It
only remains to be seen, who are these rulers of the world? And how
have they contrived to reach such heights amidst our dislocation?
Since the name of scientist Igor SMIRNOV, said to be the father of
this plague, keeps flashing in the press, I am going to take a look at
him to the laboratory of psychocorrection at the Moscow Medical

A long time ago it was hammered home that psychotronic weapons were
being created “in the basements of the CIA”. And it was clear that the
USSR would not sit idle waiting for a surprise. Medics, who dabbled in
psychodiagnostics and psychocorrection for purely scientific interest,
became objects of attention by the defence industry and the security
service. They were not apprehended, but their steps were closely
followed. The laboratory, its personnel (out of the same scientific
interest the physicians came to need physicists and programmers) and
all of its projects were classified and publications banned.

It was vexing to live in a vacuum, but Igor Smirnov recalls those
recent times as happy ones. There was as much financing as needed and
any orders are filled at once at secret plants and delivered to you
personally. I am looking at a computer plate made to order. It is used
to code the verbal command for the patient (or to decode it, i.e.,
decipher for the doctor, the psychologist). Who in this country made
such a plate? I asked Smirnov. But he ignores this question.

When the Americans published in 1987 their ideas on incomprehensible
psychodiagnostics, our people were jubilant – we are ahead. Most
importantly, there was now a crack in the wall of secrecy. Today he
has 80 scientific publications and 17 discoveries, four of which are
“pioneering”, i.e., having no analogue. For instance, the method of
semantic psychoprosthetics was invented not “in the basements of the
CIA”, as they write, but in these very basements. – (This must be
understood literally, for the temple of unique science exists on the
ground floor of a madhouse and occupies exactly three closets of 4 x
1.5 sq m each with broken tiles on the walls, leaking ceilings and
dirty little windows). And what is it – semantic psychoprosthetics?
According to Smirnov: “You take a man and obliterate the desire for
alcohol…” I am in panic: what does it mean “you take” and how is it
“you obliterate”?

How zombies are made

The patient is seated in front of a computer, with graphics flickering
on the screen and pleasant noise resounding in the earphones. The
noise is not simple: it hides the questions addressed to the very
“soul” about the most important things – the family, the job, money,
profession, study, science, sex, politics, alcohol, crime and the
like. Sensors introduce into the computer the patient’s reactions to
these silent questions. Moreover, the answers come from
subconsciousness, that is, the patient himself does not even suspect
anything about his partialities. And when he leaves, the scientists
will decipher the picture of his “soul” values: what he thinks about
the world and his place among people, what he wants, and what he is
afraid of. Diagnosis is half the job. The other half is
correction. The negative, asocial tendencies will be reduced, even
removed, whereas the positive ones will be amplified. The same
earphones, the same soft noise, but now instead of questions there are
“pieces of advice. “The patient does not hear or comprehends them. But
for some reason after the session he enters a college, stops drinking,
returns to the family, stops stealing. (This is a true story.) If he
is mentally deranged and aggressive, he quiets down. If at the
foundation of his trouble lies a family conflict or a bad childhood
experience, they will emerge from the depths of subconsciousness and
will be “forgotten”, disavowed on the doctor’s order. (It happened
that the gross psychiatric diagnosis which a person had endured for
years was cancelled after this kind of correction.) If he is
hopelessly ill and his time is running out, he will pass away without
shock-like pains and sufferings. Incidentally, it is impossible to
enumerate all the types and variants of correction. Here a free
individual program will be compiled for every patient, and free of
charge so that this work is priceless… Once two doctors requested to
be accustomed to commerce. No sooner said than done. Today both are
prospering in business having last any interest in medicine (which is
a blessing for their formed patients. “You like to call our patients
‘zombies’ – all well and good,” Smirnov smiles. “We ourselves call
them so in jest. Although we deal with ordinary psychoanalysis: –
accelerated, it is true, with the help of a computer. Don’t forget in
your slanderous article to specify our aims – to cure and teach. And
don’t ascribe us with any other, inhumane objectives.

‘Terrible’ questions

I had already understood who was in front of me. He was admired by the
population and the press, a learned fanatic for whom it makes no
difference and what exploits they expect him to commit with time. At
the crucial moment he will say “no” in his soft voice. It is
improbable that this has been understood by both defence industry
people and people from the security committee. And hardly did they
begin growing poorer themselves when the gates to paradise were shut
and the laboratory thrown out into the street. However, work in the
development of new “psychotechnologies” was not interrupted. Recently,
already from the medical department, the collective was paid (for
November, it seems): three dozen staff members (many have two
diplomas: physicist and psychiatrist, programmer and psychologist) got
from 40,000 to 60,000 rubles each. Delighted, they threw a tea party
for themselves.

Out of fear that something might be stolen during the years of
surveillance, I ask a number of terrible questions. “Can they at the
plant repeat whatever they were doing for you – this time for
different, ‘non-curative’ purposes?”. “No, they can’t. The most
important thing, after all, is not the megaphone, but what you say
into it”. “The other day you fired another four staffers who sold
themselves out to merchants, including those in the West. Will they be
able to fill an unethical order from their bosses to impress on the
crowd to buy such and such shares or to persuade a rival to take up
the job of a house manager?”. “To begin with, I didn’t say they ‘sold
themselves out’. These people are impoverished. I didn’t fire them but
let them go. If I could, I would gladly get someone back. Secondly, we
anticipated this turn of events. And I firmly say that nobody, except
myself, possesses complete information. Someone will be able to fulfil
some small and vile orders, say, from thieves, but only very small
ones. Yet you are interested in unrecognizable commands for the masses
of the population, that is, psychotronic weapons as such, aren’t
you?”. “Yes, I am. So that, say, they should vote for Rutskoi, should
quit the square or, conversely, should run to the square and get a
boulder in their hands…”. “There are no such experts among those

I take a deep breath and ask the most terrible question: “And
you… can you?” I get a classical answer (fanatics’ eyes always smile
in this case): “In principle the problem is soluble. And it is not
difficult. But neither is it interesting”. “Will you name an
interesting problem? ” Now a girl has been brought to
us… 31-year-old… Two attempts at suicide… There is a need to
convince her to live. ” Because the “girl” will not consciously hear
the persuasions, she will believe that she has made the decision on
her own.

What they dream about

Having found themselves in the lunar landscape of the unknown world of
the soul, the subconsciousness, where it is possible to “go” in any
direction and everything around is new, they naturally want to be left
alone, not to be harrassed, and permitted to take a look around. It is
obvious (to me, and to you?) that their science will become the
dominent one in the 21st century. And they have barely opened the
sacred door, so let them in. Don’t scare the population with
them. Don’t threaten them themselves – scientific interest cannot be
thwarted. Suppose we hound them to death, then others, not so naive
ones, will immediately turn up. Says Igor Smirnov: “Ethics are the
substance of our profession. ” The new ones will quickly understand
how much it costs to repair a character. Smirnov and his colleagues do
not understand the hullabaloo raised in the press: if it’s an act
planned by someone, then what are its objectives? Political ones? But
in whose favor? Who stands to gain and how? No answers are yet clear.

After a short article (e. g., in the March 6 issue of Pravda – “The
Art of Manipulating the Crowd?”) the laboratory has been assailed by
tough guys wanting its personnel go on their pay-roll. Instead of the
old computers, nearly tied together with a string, they promise 586s
and in the long term even the Crey system (for Smirnov this is like a
Stradivari violin for a musician), and higher pay. They promise to
equip as soon as possible the vacant cottage belonging to the
collective, whose repairs it cannot yet afford. They vow that they
will not interfere with scientific plans, but simply… want to be
around. “Like a flock of crows, ” says Smirnov and turns down their
request down. He is convinced that they should belong to the state, to
society as a whole, and preferebly under international control: too
dangerous is any secrecy in this sphere. But the forces for keeping
the collective intact are petering out. In a few days the group will
again go to the USA for a month, and Smirnov knows in advance that
some of the physicians and psychologists will not come back. The
Americans are ready to buy them as a group or individually. And I am
listening to them whisper among themselves: “They say, Burbulis
understands something about science… Or should we nevertheless
explain everything to Luzhkov?… ” They are looking for
60,000-100,000 dollars with which to carry out the research program
they started. We are becoming a normal country of contrasts: the
pocket money of one kiosk clerk would be enough for scientists to
ascertain whether there exists such a thing as the innate “ethical”
trait which is predominant in the character. Smirnov already knows
that, yes, there is such a luxury, there are people who in their
dreams and subconsciousness do not accept crime – the spiritual
aristoctrats. It turns out that this is not a figurative expression,
but physiology, but there is still need for experiments on himself and
on all those willing. There is also a cherished dream: to develop a
semantic resonator. What is it? Well, let’s say, a “mind-reader”.

How Smirnov ‘dodged’

It has been reported in the West that the FBI invited Igor Smirnov to
“persuade” Koresh’s sect to leave the house and give up
self-immolation, but “the Russian started hedging”, as one newspaper
put it, and the FBI gave up on him. I ask how it was in
actuality. Smirnov: “I suggested that the voices of children and
relatives be coded into the noises emanating from the loudspeakers of
police cars (the building was surrounded with them.) The FBI agreed,
but asked what percent of success I guarantee. Had I been a healer on
TV, I would say: all 100 percent (as I had thought). But I am an
ordinary and even very Soviet scientist: how can I give guarantees in
an experiment without preliminary tests? Not knowing the people I
address? What kind of boasting do they expect from me? I am, after
all, not a Chumak (a highly popular ESP expert in Russia – Ed.) The
very request to “give” a guarantee seemed tactless to me. I gave an
arbitrary figure – 70 percent.

They said “not good enough” and dismissed me. Whereupon they made a
gross mistake, switching on a loud recording of the same children and
relatives. This sparked panic and hysteria in the sect, and the end is
known to everyone”.

I want to become a zombie

My memory has stored up a heap of rubbish, it would be good to throw
off a part, my character has host of defects owing to which many years
have been wasted. I wish for my remaining years to be spent with good
sense. And if there should appear among us the gods knowing how to
obliterate something from my soul, replacing it with something else –
on order – for goodness’ sake. Kolya, our press photographer, and I
are looking at some other people’s souls projected on the display. One
looks like crystal lattice, only an asymmetrical one, where the sector
“fear” is dominated by the cube named “Roma” (someone’s juvenile son,
evidently) and there is another little brick named “Ivanov” (crearly
his boss has poisoned his life and does not even suspect this). What
is required is to climb into this substance (shaking up its content on
the display) and place the boxes and cubes in a different order. “I am
afraid, ” says Kolya and hurries to the editorial office. I also feel
a little afraid, but I stay to look at how the soul is being
“composed” anew. Gods never misfire. Whomever they conceived will
surely walk out on his two legs from this fantastic workshop. So far
they do not accept me, referring to the queue of patients. But I will
nevertheless draw up a list of what must be subtracted and what added
if they still have time for me.

You are at your wit’s end when you come to think of where the
laboratory’s staff members have invaded and what they are operating
with. But listen to their soft voices: “Ordinary
psychoanalysis. Something that has long been commonplace in the
West. It is indecent to make a serious decision without the
doctor. And so they live married to their psychoanalysts. They spend a
wild amount of money on them. But we have accelerated the processes
and found their computer algorithms. Also deepened them… “. They

Deepened – this has a soft ring. Therefore they are being dragged out
of the country. But Smirnov is too carried away with science, and the
latter, he believes, is being made here. “We are the mongrels of
humankind, ” he murmurs to himself, looking at the display, “therefore
we are more quick-witted. But over there they have a refined
breed… At the vivarium they also stage intricate experiments on
mongrel rats, they are cleverer. But the so-called ‘raised’ ones lose
half of their qualities… ”


Commerce at Smirnov’s group is at the zero mark. A bunch of giftless
people. Five times I asked them how they might pay off for society or
the city if suddenly (of all things!) Burbulis or Luzhkov get
frightened and understand who we are losing. Five times they answered
me embarrassingly: “Sleepy?” This is the kind of a cassette from which
you fall at once into so-called natural sleep, that is, for so long as
your organism needs. But the group’s commercial brains are such that
even for this (for some, much longed-for) cassette they offer to
appoint a symbolic price. I feel really annoyed. I am as good a
merchant as they are, but I ask: and could you not earn enough for
your research by doing studies of the ethical dominant on alcoholics
alone? And won’t the parents be eager to “sew in” the thirst for
studies in their lazy child? Or will not society as personified by the
Interior Ministry and the Procurator’s Office want to check an
assassin on the “truth detector” (which does not err in contrast to
the “lie detector”)? And won’t there be anyone willing to learn a
foreign language, even Chinese, in the shortest possible time? Oremove
complexes or correct a defect? “Yes, of course, we can do that,” they
reply, “but then there will be a need to open a center for the
reception of visitors, to enroll personnel, buy computers and

About fools

In reply to my question what and whom they fear, they say just one
word: “Fools.” This is the category of people, densely scattered in
society – whether in the pub or the Ministry of Public Health, in
parliament or above it – who ask about everything: “What the hell do I
need it for?” And on thinking a little, they add: “Who knows what they
will do to people?” Smirnov tells them in reply that a scalpel can
easily be used for killing, why won’t they ban it? But it is not they
who “permitted” this object, yet here they are required to scribble
something in token of approval. That’s why they swagger… They must
be spoken with in some newspeak which the laboratory does not
command. Something like: “Oh you are against the science of the 21st
century? Does it mean that you let people die when they can be
helped?” And so on. A dull talk but indispensable in our
life. Scientists try to evade it in every way, losing years in these
bare basements. That is also why they believe that science is being
made here.


A Subliminal Dr. Strangelove
Mind: Using the power of hidden suggestions, this Russian scientist
tries to rewire the brain
By Dorinda Elliott in Moscow with John Barry in Washington
Aug. 22, 1994

When branch Davidian sect members hunkered down in their Waco compound
last year and threatened to commit suicide, the FBI turned to an
unlikely source. Experts from the FBI Counter-Terrorism Center
secretly met in Arlington, Va., with a long-haired Russian
Dr. Strangelove called Igor Smirnov. His plan: piping subliminal
messages from sect members’ families through the phone lines during
negotiations. For David Koresh, the self-appointed prophet, the FBI
had a special voice in mind: God, as played by Charlton Heston.

The FBI backed out of Smirnov’s Waco Strategy, and the crisis ended in
blazing disaster. But psychological-warfare experts on all sides still
dream that they will one day control the enemy’s mind. And in a tiny,
dungeonlike lab in the basement of Moscow’s ominously named Institute
of Psycho-Correction, Smirnov and other Russian psychiatrists are
already working on schizophrenics, drug addicts and cancer patients.

You’ve heard of subliminal advertising, right? The psychiatric
community generally agrees that subliminal perception exists; a
smaller fringe group believes it can be used to change the psyche. And
that could be bad as well as good. ‘A knife can be used to cut sausage,’ Smirnov warns cryptically, ‘or cut your throat.’

Using electroencephalographs, he measures brain waves, then uses
computers to create a map of the subconscious and various human
impulses, such as anger or the sex drive. Then, through taped subliminal messages, he claims to physically alter that landscape with the power of suggestion. At the University of Michigan, Howard Shevrin has also studied the relationship between brain responses and the unconscious, but he has doubts about therapeutic applications. ‘I’m not sure this should be tampered with. The effects could be harmful.’

In Smirnov’s cluttered lab, Slava, a tattooed heroin addict, has electrodes attached to his chest and shaved head. He has just watched subliminal messages on a screen and listened through earphones to other impulses disguised as noise. Smirnov says he’s trying to stimulate the child-rearing cluster of Slava’s brain to encourage him to care more for his soon-to-be born baby and less about his next hit of heroin.

Smirnov says that in Soviet times, the government funded his lab generously. Now that Russia’s economy has collapsed, and with it funding for the security forces and military, Smirnov gets only $20,000 a year, he says. He hopes to attract Western investment. Meanwhile, Smirnov says that Russian gangsters regularly come to see him, looking, for example, for help in getting business partners to sign contracts that are against their interest. He won’t do it, he says: ‘That would be unethical.’ In any case, there is no doubt that somebody is watching him closely.

Shortly after NEWSWEEK’s reporter visited his lab, two burly toughs in suits and diamond rings showed up at NEWSWEEK’S Moscow office asking questions about Smirnov. They claimed to be in business with him, but he says he doesn’t know them. KGB? Mafia? Smirnov shrugs them off, but, whoever they are, the doctor of subliminal subversion might be wise to watch his back.


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