March 12, 2010
In 1951 a quiet village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations.
At least five people died, dozens were committed to asylums and hundreds afflicted.
|The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (“The Cursed Bread”) still haunts Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, south-east France.|
For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now an even more extraordinary explanation has emerged, with evidence suggesting the CIA peppered food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind-control experiment at the height of the Cold War.
The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (“The Cursed Bread”) still haunts Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, south-east France. On August 16, 1951, the inhabitants suddenly suffered frightful hallucinations of terrifying beasts and fire.
One man tried to drown himself, screaming his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted, “I am a plane,” before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 45 metres. Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to put it back. Many were taken to the asylum in straitjackets.
Time magazine wrote at the time: “Among the stricken, delirium rose: patients thrashed wildly on their beds, screaming that red flowers were blossoming from their bodies, that their heads had turned to molten lead.”
Eventually, it was determined that a baker had unwittingly contaminated his flour with ergot, a hallucinogenic mould that infects rye grain. Another theory was that the bread had been poisoned with mercury.
However, H.P. Albarelli jnr, an investigative journalist, claims the outbreak resulted from a covert experiment directed by the CIA and the U.S. army’s top-secret Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Related: Author Hank Albarelli says the CIA still conducts secret drug tests. From Russia Today: