Does Catcher In The Rye Brainwash People?
The Catcher in the Rye, a novel about an adolescent boy’s contempt for humanity, has been linked to assassins Mark David Chapman, John Hinckley and Lee Harvey Oswald. Conspiracy theorists suggest that the FBI or CIA used the book as a mind-control device in order to orchestrate the assassinations of John Lennon and John F. Kennedy and the attempt on Ronald Regan’s life.
Adam Gorightly writes, “When I refer to The Catcher in the Rye as a ‘mechanism of control,’ I mean in the sense of a triggering device, which sets off a post-hypnotic suggestion, much like the queen of hearts in Richard Condon’s Manchurian Candidate, unleashing within its mind-controlled subjects the command to kill.”
While there is no evidence directly linking Salinger’s novel of adolescent angst to mind-control, the CIA did conduct mind-control experiments. The most famous of these is Project MKULTRA, an illegal CIA program begun in the 1950 with the goal of controlling mental states and manipulating brain function.
While the connection between Project MKULTRA and The Catcher in the Rye is anecdotal at best, it is clear that the same book being found in the possession of three assassins is much more than mere coincidence. But what the coincidence signifies is pure speculation.
Perhaps the copies of the novel were planted on the assassins as an attempt to smear Salinger. But I’m pretty sure my crazy uncle suggested that theory to me and I can find no one else who thinks that is rational at all. Well, except my brother, but he thinks Jeff Probst the host of “Survivor” is in a plot with the government to brainwash us all. I’m sorry.
All These Phonies
First of all, I had no idea Catcher was about a teenager’s contempt for humanity. You might say I have contempt for that view and for conspiracy theories surrounding that book. Remember that crazy movie Conspiracy Theory with real-life crazy Mel Gibson as a crazy guy who carries around Catcher in the Rye. That film was about as close to nonfiction as the idea that Oswald shot JFK because he was a “phony”… or something.
”No evidence directly” linking Salinger to mind-control really means “there’s no evidence whatsoever.” Catcher is one of the most-read, bestselling books of all time – everyone has it, which means it’s just a coincidence. It’s like saying that the Bible caused every hotel room murder because it happened to be in the drawer.
Sure, the story of Chapman sifting through the novel’s pages after cold-bloodily executing John Lennon is very curious, but it can easily be explained: Chapman was insane. The book, which is about an outcast teen’s alienation from humanity, comforted him by saying: you aren’t the only one who doesn’t fit in. Unfortunately, not all outcasts do belong…
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