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Disturbing Harvard experiments on Ted Kaczynski feature on Manhunt: Unabomber

A young Ted Kaczynski at Harvard being toyed with by professor Henry Murray on Manhunt: Unabomber

On tonight’s Manhunt: Unabomber on Discovery, Brian d’Arcy James is introduced as Harvard professor Henry Murray — who conducted disturbing experiments on a young Ted Kaczynski which are now widely regarded to have been unethical.

These Clockwork Orange-type experiments, part of a covert CIA project, were unrelenting and it’s believed may have ultimately cemented Kaczynski’s hatred for academia and technology which led to his murderous crimes.

In the clip below, we see d’Arcy James as Murray as he conducts a public interview with a strapped-in Ted Kaczynski, who later went on to become the Unabomber — killing three and injuring 23 others.

He tells Kaczynski, who was at the time a student at Harvard: “Over the past year, you provided us with hundreds of pages of material, hung out your philosophy of life, your dreams for your own future, and the future of the world.

“It’s been wonderful getting to know you…getting to see inside the deepest recesses of your mind. I hope that you feel that you’ve been fully honest with me that your work truly represents who you are and what you believe.”

Murray then pummels Kaczynski with his own words and berates and shames him in front of a group of seated Harvard professors.

Scanning an alleged letter received from Kaczynski’s mother, he reads: “When I wrote your mother to get permission for this study, she didn’t just sign the permission slip, she sent a whole letter back in return. ‘I’m afraid Theodore is in desperate need of psychological intervention. Many people regularly call him a creep…”

 

Brian d'Arcy James as Henry Murray in Manhunt: Unabomber
Brian d’Arcy James as Henry Murray, shaming and attacking Kaczynski with his own words

Completely blindsided by the nature of Murray’s attack and the level of personal insult, a distraught Ted says plaintively: “Mom wouldn’t say that… she wouldn’t call me…”

Murray cuts him off.

He continues reading and says: “…That he’s a bed-wetter and he masturbates so excessively that I worry about his mental and physical ramifications.

“He harbors delusions of grandeur completely out of proportion to his mental and physical capabilities. Anything you can do to fix my boy would have my permission.”

The episode also details Kaczynski’s earlier years, with the eleven-year-old prodigy skipping forward two grades.

Ted’s one school friend is Doug Volkoff, but Doug’s attentions for a girl enrages him. Ted then uses his knowledge of chemistry to create a small bomb, which leaves him isolated and feared.

Achieving an academic scholarship, Ted attends Harvard at age sixteen. He is a bonafide math genius who crosses paths with the respected professor of psychology Henry Murray.

On the surface, it appears that Murray takes a paternal interest in Ted, but this false relationship goes south quickly.

Murray uses Ted as an experimental subject at the request of the CIA’s controversial Project MKUltra

These humiliating experiments are meant to tear apart Ted’s psyche. They work.

These exercises in deconstructing Kaczynski’s confidence and overall sense of self are believed by many to have been behind the murderous hatred of scientists and technology he harbored as the Unabomber.

Also on tonight’s episode, Kaczynski will finally see his Manifesto in print in the Washington Post.

Manhunt: Unabomber airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on Discovery.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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