My Personal Paranoia: The Conspiracy Theory Skeptic Wonders if, Once…

We’re always hearing this guy on Ghost Hunters and UFO documentaries–the guy who says, “Now, I’ve always been a skeptical guy, I never believed in this stuff, but when I saw this, I had to admit…” And I always think “Bullshit! You were never a skeptic, you don’t know what skepticism really means, because if you take this feeble ‘evidence’ as proof of this supposed paranormal phenomenon, then you’re a million miles from real rational skepticism…”

Now, I’ve always been a skeptical guy about most conspiracy theories, very skeptical indeed. But it’s just possible I was subjected to a secret government program, when I was a teenager. I’m not convinced of it. But…

Look, with tales of secret govt experiments, and conspiracies, the more outlandish they are, the more skeptical I am. I have checked out 9 /11 conspiracy theories–and I dismiss them. I believe they’re simply wrong. (Although it’s just possible that Cheney and friends knew the terrorist attack was coming and allowed it to happen so they’d get their “Pearl Harbor”.) I certainly don’t believe in “the international Zionist conspiracy.” I have seen no believable indication of a conspiratorial cover up of extraterrestrial visitation or alien abductions or secret bases under Dulce frequented by aliens and Nazis. I’m on the fence about the JFK assassination. Still, conspiracies exist, up to a point: Some Romans successfully conspired to kill Julius Caesar; some Germans conspired to kill Hitler (a shame that conspiracy failed). The Iran/Contra affair was a conspiracy, of sorts. Going back decades, the CIA’s overthrow of elected foreign governments was conspiratorial and was covered up…for awhile. It came out eventually.

And there were secret domestic programs, yes, carried out by government intelligence services. Eg, there were attempts at working up mind control drugs at MK Ultra. Yes, MK Ultra existed (most of what hysterical people attribute to it didn’t happen, though) and its operatives used LSD on unwitting Americans, sometimes with tragic consequences. There were rumors that hallucinogenic drugs were developed as weapons and were tested on unwitting people in secret programs…

One of those weapon-grade drugs was (by some accounts) called STP. And STP is a drug I took–at least, that’s what I was told it was called–when I was a teenager. Just once. It didn’t turn out well.

I was, perhaps, 17 years old, when I took one hit of the supposed “STP”–and went psychotic under the influence of the drug. I broke all the windows in the house, chased my mother with a knife, and was dragged off to a mental hospital by cops who cuffed my wrists to my ankles and tossed me in the back seat of their cruiser where I nearly choked to death on my own vomit. They took me to the security ward of the state hospital in Salem, Oregon, the same one Ken Kesey had worked at…the same one that inspired One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. They gave me Thorazine…and that didn’t turn out well either. I hallucinated, in restraints, for what seemed like an eternity. When I finally came to myself I woke up lying on my back, on a table, in restraints, staring at a naked light bulb on the ceiling. My head was shaved.

Ah, fond memories of youth.

When I woke up, the drug had worn off, and I was sane again. I was in the hospital for four or five days. They let me out and I muddled along, but I was a bit damaged by the experience for some considerable time. That same year I was expelled from high school for locking a teacher in a closet. (My behavior at school on that occasion wasn’t as bad as it sounds, but there’s no doubt it was an ugly screw-up on my part. My judgment was still impaired.)

I got my GED and went to Portland State University and got on with life, in fits and starts. But somewhere, in the course of time, I read that the drug STP was developed as a weapon. (There are contradictory stories about its development). And I’d read, too, that Senator Church’s congressional committee discovered that MK Ultra did in fact test drugs on unwitting citizens. (Boy, was I ever “unwitting”. Not to mention witless.) I’ve always wondered…

Recently on my trip to Oregon I saw someone I’d known in high school. This was the guy who gave me the “STP”. He recollected the incident. He said he got it from a friend of his dad’s. The friend, he remembered, was a straight guy, who had some connection with the US Government. This associate of his father gave him the drug. He didn’t sell it to him. My friend’s dad had been a “narc” of some kind–some sort of narcotics enforcement official. Now if you wanted to test the stuff “in the field” maybe you’d go to a guy like that, show him your credentials, and say, “We’re looking for people who take drugs. We want to see what this one does to them. Since they’re taking drugs anyway…”

Was I observed, when I flipped out? Was it recorded in a file, somewhere? Use the Freedom of Information Act, you say? But I’d have to know what agency to send the request to. MK Ultra, for example, no longer exists.

If you look up the drug STP, by the way, you may read that it was invented by Owsley, and the letters supposedly stand for serenity and tranquility etc. Either the single dose I took was crazily high, somehow, or this wasn’t Owsley’s STP. Maybe the guy who gave it to us just called it STP so “the hippies” would take it. Anyway, I promise you, serenity and tranquility were nowhere involved.

I am, no, not pulling a “I was always a skeptic about conspiracies but when I saw this…” Not really. I am far from convinced I was the victim of a secret government program. I do wonder about it, especially after talking to my high school friend. But my friend’s recollections, after all these years (I’m now 58) might be off; or he might have misunderstood the situation even if he is remembering rightly. And his version is mostly just hearsay.

All I know is that what happened to me was a crime of some kind. It was one I stupidly took part in, by knowingly taking a mind altering drug that came to me “on the street”. But I’m not the only criminal in the case. Someone very nearly ruined my life for me. Maybe the guy was just an ordinary drug dealer promoting a new high…

Maybe not.

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