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Pont-Saint-Esprit is a commune in southern France where a mass outbreak of insanity occured in 1951.
In summer 1951, over 250 cases of psychosis and various physical symptoms have been registered in Pont-Saint-Esprit. This led to 7 deaths (two of them suicides) and over 50 were hospitalized.
At first, the outbreak was attributed to ergot in the bread that the Pont-Saint-Esprit residents ate. However, this was later proved wrong (as ergot cannot have that effect on humans), and the case was attributed to mercury poisoning, as the grain in the commune was treated with substances containing mercury.
The investigative journalist H.P. Albarelli Jr. in his 2010 book A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments argues, based on interviews with retired CIA operatives, that Pont-Saint-Esprit disaster was the result of a top-secret experiment conducted by the U.S. military. The goal of the experiment were to test aerosol LSD on living humans to evaluate whether it can be used as a weapon to disable entire enemy platoons without damaging them much.
In the book Mary's Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace by Peter Janney on pages 203 & 204 quote, "CIA's top secret Special Operations at the Army's Fort Detrick, Maryland, facility had, in one experiment, used a crop-duster airplane in 1951 to douse the entire town of Pont-Saint-Esprit in southern France with an aerosol of highly potent LSD. That even had caused mass hysteria, affecting close to seven hundred people for several days. With hundreds of people gripped by terror in acute psychosis, wildly hallucinating, the town became a veritable insane asylum."
- Pont-Saint-Esprit on Wikipedia
- French Government Queries USA re 1950’s Secret LSD Experiment by F. William Engdahl