A recently declassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report documents the numerous ways the US government believed the Soviet Union could attack or influence small groups of people via paranormal means.
Published in 1972, "Controlled Offensive Behavior" details apparent Soviet advances in telepathy, dream infiltration and hypnosis.
"There have been persistent reports of unusual flashing lights emanating from Soviet naval vessels and long-range aircraft. Such activities have coincided with US and NATO surveillance operations, conducted from interceptor aircraft and naval vessels. In some cases, personnel have been temporarily blinded and disorientated by various intensities of colors of continuous or intermittently flashing lights during nocturnal missions," the report stated.
The authors go on to suggest such incidents indicate the Soviets "have not overlooked the possibility of utilizing bright, flashing lights as a means of altering behavior," and it was "interesting to note" these reports coincide with an alleged period of active research into mind control in Soviet laboratories.
One such incident in 1968 involved a night watch officer aboard the HMS Valiant being temporarily blinded by a blue light shone from a Kotlin destroyer.
"When his vision recovered, he reported perceiving red lights, [which] appeared to be portable. Several pinpoint bursts of amber and amber-green light were noticed aft of the spotlight and shined in concert with it," the report added.
The use of colorful, flashing lights to distract or disorient targets has a long-established history in warfare — strobe lights were commonly employed by Axis and Allied militaries alike to blind enemy pilots.
Strange but True
However, the report connects the disorientation of targets to hypnosis and other forms of mind control, rather than conclude the events were basic surveillance disruption methods, in a subsection titled "Psycho-optics."
"The Soviets have already experimented with the use of flashing lights for the purpose of eliciting behavioral change in human targets, [and the] interactions of sound, light, and olfactory stimuli in humans. It can now be assessed that in the next 15 years, [the Soviet Union] may develop a system that alters behavior by combining two or more systems to mask the use of the principal weapon, e.g. the administration of a pheromone or psychotropic compound," the report alleged.
The authors note a 1957 symposium in the US concluded strobe lights and other flicker effects can create disruptions in humans, inducing "sleep, unconsciousness, hypnotic states, or other forms of interference with consciousness." Other possible effects of flickering lights included eyeball and headaches, and inducement of "visual illusions" including color sensations, patterns of movement and development of odd shapes."
The report moreover suggested the Soviets' primary interest was red light, a hue that would reportedly produce tension, irritability, and aggression — and presumably a greater affinity for communism.
Perhaps most notably, a separate excerpt outlines the DIA's fears of Soviet psychic abilities — in particular "telepathic hypnosis," which allegedly allowed the USSR to telepathically induce sleep in individuals and then rouse them from over 1,000 miles away. "K.O. Kotkov" — allegedly a star Soviet psychologist — was particularly intimidating to US authorities, given his apparently ability to "telepathically obliterate an experimental subject's consciousness."
Parapsychologists in Leningrad and Moscow were said to be involved in the telepathic manipulation of consciousness, and the authors ask what individuals might experience in their Soviet-induced sleep — would they "simply dream their own private dreams," or "does someone else hold sway?"
"The Soviets have not divulged details of their manipulation of consciousness. Doctor Stefan Manczarski feels telepathy can be amplified like radio waves. Telepathy could then become a subtle new modus for the 'influencers' of the world. What about telepathy someday becoming a tool for influencing people?
"This new field of telepathy will open up new avenues for spreading propaganda, and one could telepathically hypnotize an individual [to] steal classified documents or detonate important military equipment. The mission is accomplished and individual does not even know they have done anything," the report speculated.