Have you ever heard about the mystery of Le Pain Maudit? That’s French for the cursed bread. After haunting the inhabitants of Pont-Saint Espirit for over 50 years, they finally discovered the shocking truth behind one of the most horrifying mysteries…
In 1951, this quiet, picturesque village in the Gard, southeast France was suddenly struck with hallucinations and astonishing mass insanity. For a long time, it was assumed that the village’s residents have been poisoned by psychedelic mold. However, it was revealed that it was actually the CIA who contaminated the village’s food with LSD.
An investigative journalist named H.P Albarelli Jr. has made this discovery and wrote a book on it as well. According to him, this event was part of CIA’s mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War.
It all began on August 16, 1951, when the inhabitants were racked with strange and horrific hallucinations of dragons, snakes, and fire. Dozens of villagers were hospitalized and hundreds of them had symptoms of madness. One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his stomach was being eaten by snakes.
Another man, Leon Armunier, who was working that day stated: “It was terrible. I had the sensation of shrinking and shrinking, and the fire and the serpents coiling around my arms”, he remembers.
Following this hallucination, he fell off his bike and was rushed quickly to a hospital in Avignon. Shortly after he arrived, they placed him in a straitjacket and put into a room with teenagers who were chained down to their beds.
“Some of my friends tried to get out of the window. They were thrashing wildly… screaming, and the sound of the metal beds and the jumping up and down… the noise was terrible. I’d prefer to die rather than go through that again.” – he describes the sight.
A young boy tried to murder his grandmother, while another man was convinced he was a plane, so he jumped off a building, and ended up breaking his legs.
In the end, the authorities determined that a local baker had unfortunately contaminated the flour with ergot, a hallucinogenic mold that infects rye grain. On the other hand, another theory suggested that the bread had been poisoned with organic mercury.
Now, over five decades later, this incident caught the attention of H.P Albarelli Jr. who decided to look into the matter for his book. During the investigation, he found out this had little to with the poor baker’s bread and more to do with a top-secret mind control experiment conducted by the CIA. He based his findings on a CIA document entitled “Re: Pont-Saint-Esprit and F. Olson Files. So Span/France Operation file, inclusion Olson. Intel files. Hand carries to Belin-tell him to see to it that these are buried “.
According to the BBC, F. Olson was Frank Olson, a CIA scientist who led the research for the agency that was looking into LSD. On the other hand, David Bellin worked for the Rockefeller Commission that was created by the White House in 1975 to investigate these accounts carried out by the CIA.
Moreover, the CIA is known to have carried out various mind control experiments with LSD involving Britain and Korea, while the Cold War was at its peak.
As Albarelli explains in his book “A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments”, he had talked with the former coworkers of Frank Olson and they confirmed that the Pont-Saint-Espirit event was nothing but a mind control experiment led by the CIA.
However, there’s one thing he couldn’t find out during his research. Whether the French authorities were aware of the true intention behind this incident or not. According to US news reports, the French Intelligence Agencies have made various efforts to gain information from the CIA following the book’s revelation.
Nevertheless, locals in Pont-Saint-Espirit demand to know why they were hit by such apocalyptic scenes.
“At the time people brought up the theory of an experiment aimed at controlling a popular revolt,” said Charles Granjoh. He almost kicked the bucket, as he explained to a French magazine, and he’d like to know why.

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