Reviewed by William S. Burroughs
“The human race is being attacked by a sort of mind cancer. Something is sucking the human mind dry and has been sucking it for the past two hundred years.” That is the shattering discovery made by Professor Gilbert Austin. Who or what is responsible? Mind parasites, malignant beings who lurk in the deepest layers of the unconscious… (in precise physiological terms this would correspond to the back brain or hypothalamus) …sapping the very life force of mankind, cutting him off from his natural capacity for self renewal… It was all so unsettling that I broke the habit of a lifetime and drank a bottle of champagne at lunch time.
There is considerable inferential evidence to indicate the actual existence of such a parasitic instance as this book postulates. An Italian sociologist said if you want to get to the bottom of any situation that seems on the surface inexplicable ask yourself the simple question ‘who profits?’ Who would profit from blocking every basic discovery about the human mind? Techniques are now available to alter consciousness and effect the hypothalamus directly. In a recent Mayfair article I described the experiments of doctor Miller who has demonstrated that any mammal can learn to control such seemingly involuntary processes as brain waves, blood pressure, rate of heart beats, his whole state of mind and body. Doctor Miller had great difficulty in raising funds for his experiments. The importance of these experiments was completely missed by the press. The means are at hand to conquer inner space but they are not being used. Despite impressive technical advances the planet is still in the stone age psychologically. Who would profit from turning the clock all the way back to the stone age and keeping man out of space? A parasitic entity that lives in the human body and could not survive space. Only in the last two hundred years have technological advances made space exploration a possibility. By maintaining control of inner space the parasites can block any discovery or destroy anyone who suspects their existence. It is in fact unexplained suicides among scientists investigating inner space that leads to the discovery of the parasites by the narrator Professor Gilbert Austin. Once the presence of the parasites is inferred the means to combat them is obvious. They must be combated by the brain itself pushed up to and beyond its limits so that men can read each other’s thoughts, control their own thoughts and feelings. So they join battle with the parasites on equal terms. These are precisely the measures I have advocated in the Academy Series, measures that must be applied whether we believe in mind parasites or not if man is to expand his horizons and survive in the space age. There is no turning back to the false security of dogmatic creeds. To travel in space you must learn to leave the old verbal garbage behind: God talk, priest talk, mother talk, family talk, love talk, country talk, party talk. You must learn to exist with no religion, no country, no allies. You must learn to see what is in front of you with no preconceptions.
In Mr. Wilson’s narrative it is a space voyage that finally defeats the parasites. They cannot survive in space. As the space craft travels further and further from the earth the parasites, still lurking in the crew, are in a panic. “Now they felt their psychic links with the earth stretching and growing weaker and they were frightened. We now understood the nature of ‘space fever’ that had so far frustrated all men’s efforts to penetrate further into space.” Known, watched, the parasites became desperate. They now reveal themselves as creatures of a low intelligence floundering about like a beached squid. “It happened on the fourteenth day… Something infinitely evil and slimy was pushing its way from inside me. I realized I had been wrong to think of the parasites as separate beings. They were one, they were IT, an immense jelly like octopus whose tentacles are separate from its body and can move about like individuals.” (And this being is none other than the ancient slug Abhoth the Dark also known as Abhoth the Unclean)… “Now this infinitely vile thing was coming out of its lair and I could feel its hatred of me, a hatred so powerful and maniacal that it almost needs a new word. Then the inexpressible relief of knowing that it was gone…”
What has made this planet such a soft touch for Abhoth?… The greatest human limitation is that we are all tied to the present by an arbitrary identity, personal and national. What is identity? The identity of a shark is its teeth, its size, its ability to eat and digest almost anything. An oyster’s identity is its protective shell. Identity then is the means by which an organism protects and maintains itself in a hostile environment and all environments that contain such identities are hostile. And what is the identity of Abhoth the Dark? Its ability to remain hidden and carry on a parasitic existence that is hostile to its host by parasitic necessity. So we are all playing Abhoth’s game. And by setting one identity against another Abhoth maintains himself indefinitely.
Isolation from such an environment is the first step in the unexplored territory of inner space… As man loses touch with his inner being he finds himself trapped in the world of consciousness that is to say the world of other people. “Man is a political animal” said Aristotle telling one of the greatest lies in human history. For every man has more in common with the hills and with the stars than with other men. Other men do not supply our values. Other men do not matter in the way we have believed. Man is not alone. You could be the last man in the universe and you would not be alone.
14 thoughts on “Mind Parasites by Colin Wilson”
I read this book in 8th grade and it made such an impact that i have always remembered it. I am 46 now and this is the first mention of the book that I have found since then. I confess I haven`t really been looking allthat hard but it is gratifying to see that my feelings for it are at least somewhat mirrored by others.
mmm, I like the way this guy thinks. Theses are the thoughts that contstantly go through my head. I love to see that someone can understand it, where I thought It made no sense to anyone but me.
I read this book about 20 years ago. I took the book store 3 months or so to find and then order the book. It was first published by a little known publisher, which mad it hard to find.
This book scared me so badly, that I thought I had really been taken over (I still ain’t too sure). I tried to read it 15 years later, just to see if it was as real as I remembered. No, I found it was a very different book indeed. Don’t read it twice , I think the truth only needs to be told once SOMETIMES. Besides, THEY don’t want you to really GET IT, because even if you could wrap your mind around it, you would tell others, and then the others may come to understand that
“S–T” DOESN’T ALWAYS JUST HAPPEN. Yea, it was DEEP.
I’m almost finished reading it,and it is frightening.Well,it was at first.It’s not that I completely got sucked in to it,but I felt mentally and spiritually sucked dry afterwards.A great book,and I will definitely read it again,in some period of time.(I’m 18 now)
And this is one of the rare books that is translated in Latvian surprisingly well !
This amazing book was recommended to me strongly by Ken Kesey, who was a guest at my house in 1974. It changed my life. It registered in my mind as mythically true, if not actually true. It explained the obvious, that our reach falls far short of our grasp and, sheeplike,we meander off from our godlike potential. But why? What a mystery! Oh, and ‘they’ do watch and notice when we get too energized and hope-fulled by the genius and power in us, and they shower us with what we call depression, self-criticism, self-pity and we get back in the herd. Note what happened with the surge of optimism and vision of the 60s. Why did it crumple?
I also read this book about 20 years ago and was deeply impressed. Great book. It’s very likely seems this book is based on real events, but fictional names. Really amazing book, which fascinating me much.
A useful thought for those who have read this book and understood the underlying intent –
The Wilson hypothesis is functionally correct, albeit that a physical relocation to space by the parasite-aware combatant is neither of use nor importance.
The technique for mastery lies in the constant practice of objectivity, with the intention of bringing the practitioner into synchronisation with the present moment, where the parasites cannot survive.
I suspect Colin Wilson knew this, but it would never have made as good a read as his very clever denouement.
i agree with you, chris… no way for him to dramatize this…
Gurdjieff even gets a mention “Food for the moon” Brought to mind Carlos Castaneda “The predators mind” A good all round book that I was fortunate to pick up for a dfollar in a danish book bin sale.
Taking a break from cognitivev science books such as “redirect” “Thinking fast and slow”
Mind parasiotes do “They” exist.Well something like them does I would say.The mind is the issue in regards to who revolves and who does not.Got to clear up all the brain washing and one maybe has a chance.
They dont have to reveal themselves when they have control over the psychopathic elite amnd so on.
All in all a thought provoking book.If any one would like to continue the journery may I suggest the works of Laura Knight Jadczyk not for the timid,but for those truly on the path of truth.By the way if yu do a search for Laura Knight Jadczyk you may come across defamerts and the likes , but if you are truly in search of truth you will take a look at both sides and make your own now informed decision.My hope is you ewill recognize defamers for what thery are and what their purpose is.That be to distract one from pursuing truth.Glad I found this page on the internet,and glad I read the book.
Like , Totally. Love Burroughs work. This tells you as much about him as it does about C.W., whose fiction usually leaves me cold , except for this gem. A ripping concept.
To the comment about Laura Knighthe Jadczk; she and her work is nothing more than promotining cult ideas.
Please stay FAR AWAY from website of lies.
First read this when I was 12 – and it blew me away. Have re-read it annually for last 46 years – gets better and more meaningful with every read. Only 1st person singular story I’ve ever enjoyed. My personal all-time favorite novel. Should be required reading for all high school students.
Just read Mind Parasites. Colin Wilson comes the closest to understanding what Carlos Castaneda called our energy predator which gives us what he called the foreign installation, which is what we call our internal dialogue. The internal dialogue is what controls us and keeps us in a low state of awareness since the energy predator feeds on our emotions — favoring fear, doubt, depression, negative emotions, obsession, compulsion, and most of all self-importance (self importance and self pity are two sides of the same coin). We unfortunately consider this our mind. The energy predator consumes our outer luminous shell of awareness down to toe level. Once we become aware of this predator, we can free ourselves from it. Wilson really got this. Once we’re aware that we are being parasitized, we can free ourselves and enlarge our perception.
Don Juan told CC not to write about them in books as he would be labeled as crazy. A friend of CC’s – a Tibetan Buddhist – went to a huge Tibetan convocation at Teotihuacan and took pictures. On one of the pictures he showed CC, there was a flyer jumping over a pyramid. CC decided this was an omen that the flyers could now be talked about and the human race warned.
The thing that distinguishes us from the rest of animal kingdom is that we have a sheen of awareness covering the outside of our luminous sphere. The flyers are energetic inorganic beings who came here from some other place. They found our awareness very palatable and began to devour it. They browse our sheen of awareness right down to an inch above our toes. “All the awareness we are capable of at ‘toe level’ is self-reflection,” It keeps growing back and they keep grazing it down. They are mostly invisible to us although I’ve talked to people who have seen them and I saw one once jumping over a tree – a dense shadow. I believe the ‘bogey man’ that young children see at a certain age are the predator attaching the “foreign installation.” They give us their minds – a back and forth energy – and with it duality.
I have felt their effects many times: Sudden loss of confidence, doubt ridden, internal dialogue goes mad and won’t quit, fears, anxiety, endless judgments, worrying, depression. I believe the night fears that young children experience are sightings of the flyers. Parents: “You just imagined it.” People with paranoid delusions are probably aware of them but put them in the context of CIA probes, spy satellites and persecution.
I have read this and its more or less companion novel, Space Vampires (1976), several times. If I remember Wilson wrote an intro to one or the other where he said he wanted to write something Lovecraftian, hence the gelatinous Abhoth. I’ve reread the books several times over the decades with pleasure, but don’t think mind parasites, space vampires, or energy predators are needed to explain the horrors of human nature. It’s us, just us.
On the other hand I find Burroughs’ writings more interesting and more convincing even they too use science fictional trappings. Burroughs was absolutely sincere, and the evils that plague our minds seem plausibly, at least in some measure, to come from ‘word viruses’ which over the last century have become useful weapons in the hands of some individuals and groups who can exploit them to create needs and addictions as well as gain wealth and power. Edgar Allan Poe was the first writer to describe an earworm, or brainworm, which are early forms of word/language viruses, and can be extremely destructive. Personally though I think it is all based on the functioning of our brains and we are better off understanding the neuropsychology of it than looking for mind parasites or space vampires and so on.
Really if you are reading this, do NOT, consider or think about the mind parasites.