Is Catcher in the Rye an assassination trigger?

Mark David Chapman

After Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, he calmly opened up Catcher in the Rye and proceeded to read it — before being apprehended. John Hinckley, the man who attempted to kill Ronald Reagan, also was in possession of the book. It is also alleged Lee Harvey Oswald was quite fond of the book, though this is disputed.

Catcher in the Rye has sold 65 million copies. Of the millions who have enjoyed the book, perhaps three have become well-known assassins. Still, we should ask: is there any merit to the book being an assassination trigger?

John Hinckley

How did famous assassins perceive Catcher in the Rye?

Of the three assassins, Mark David Chapman was the only one obsessed with it. Being a Christian, Chapman took offense to Lennon’s atheism. He saw John Lennon as a phony, because he saw God as real. By killing Lennon, Chapman hoped to save children from emulating Lennon’s godless ways. Chapman saw Catcher in the Rye as his inspiration.

John Hinckley was not obsessed with Catcher in the Rye. It just so happens that when police entered Hinkley’s residence, Catcher in the Rye was sitting on his coffee table. Hinckley, while mentally unbalanced, had an altogether different obsession: Taxi Driver. Hinkley saw himself as Travis Bickle. By killing Ronald Reagan, he sought to impress Jody Foster.

As for Lee Harvey Oswald, Catcher in the Rye was just several other books he owned. He also had in his possession Animal Farm, Das Kapital, and Mein Kampf. He was also a big fan of spy novels and science fiction.

Why Catcher in the Rye?

Catcher in the Rye depicts Holden Caufield, a 17-year-old boy who narrates from a mental hospital.  The book recounts events over a two day period that happened a month earlier.

To those who do not cope with a mental illness, the plot of Catcher in the Rye seems depressing, and it is. But by the book’s end, it is apparent that events being described are actually the happiest moments in Caufield’s recent memory. What he describes is something that he remembers fondly as joyous and happy.

He chooses not to mention present day, saying simply that he feels “sick”. Seeing, his current life as inconsequential, he feels he needs to “start applying” himself. Inside the mental hospital, he find he misses everyone: his former classmates, Stradlater and Ackley, and even Maurice, the elevator operator/pimp.

What’s striking about Catcher in the Rye isn’t how weird Caufield is, but how normal he is. Rather than being unhinged and unpredictable, Caufield is simply a boy very much like other boys. In this sense, it is easy for someone dealing with depression to identify with him.

Declassified MKULTRA documents

The Grain of Truth in the Conspiracy Theory

While Catcher in the Rye may not have been designed to turn children into cold-blooded killers, it is true that the CIA conducted mind control experiments — some of them seemingly designed to trigger individuals into asssssination mode. The most well-known of these experiments was Project MKULTRA. This project lasted nearly 20 years, and is a catalogue of unethical activity:

 The published evidence indicates that Project MKULTRA involved the use of many methodologies to manipulate individual mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs and other chemicals, hypnosis,[5] sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture.

The most infamous example of Project MKULTRA’s activities is the case of Frank Olson. A United State Army biochemist, Olson was given LSD without his consent. Soon after, he fell 13 stories to his death. Officially, it was ruled a suicide, but as Olson’s family points out, Olson planned to blow the whistle on moral issues he had with his research.

When Olson’s body was exhumed in 1994, cranial injuries indicated that Olson had been knocked unconscious before he exited the window. The medical examiner termed Olson’s death a “homicide”.

Why was Olson murdered? Olson’s concerns were the development of assassination materials used by the CIA, collaboration with former Nazi scientists under Operation Paperclip, LSD mind-control research, and the use of psychoactive drugs during “terminal” interrogations under a program code-named Project ARTICHOKE.

Clearly, though Catcher in the Rye probably was not the assassination trigger, it is quite probable that the CIA often does use other means for assassination triggers.

54 responses to “Is Catcher in the Rye an assassination trigger?

  1. Sometimes you have to kill a person before you can get into a good book.

  2. YES: Chapman was a patsy set up for the hit by the CIA’s MK-Ultra program. Why? Because Lennon was due to win his U.S. citizenship a few months later, and they needed to eliminate the chance that Lennon would have joined the opposition to their murderous counterrevolutionary wars in Central America (esp. Nicaragua and El Salvador), just getting underway as Reagan’s transition team was taking power in December 1980. Think that’s nuts? Read _Who Killed John Lennon?_ by Fenton Bresler, _The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: the CIA and Mind Control_ by John Marks, and _John Lennon: Life, Times & Assassination_ by Phil Strongman. And visit

    • Nonsense. Lennon’s death was faked. Chapman never spent a day in prison. Catcher in the Rye is a signal, intelligence operatives all over the world to one another, saying “we’re here.” When news spread around the world of Lennon’s death and that the assailant was calmly sitting with Cather in his hands, they instantly knew among themselves the event was faked.

      Similarly, Oswald had Catcher checked out of eh library, and Hinckley had Catcher sitting on his coffee table, so that Intel ops everywhere instantly knew “fake event here.”

      • Jonathan Buttall

        For other readers, Mark is a member of the flat earth society. He likes to collect photos of the Loch Ness monster while looking for Osama Bin Laden and Elvis to prove they’re still alive. You can catch him as

      • Jeremy

        Why would they fake Lennon’s death? For what purpose?

      • Jeremy, if you want a short answer, not available. It’s complicated and requires that you adjust your view of the Lennon backstory. You might want to read this paper, quite good.

        It’s quite long and runs far afield of the fake assassination, but well worth the effort.

      • Notice how Buttall above attempts to link me to “flat earth.” That is the whole purpose of that little PSYOP, to blackwash honest people searching for truth by linking us with obvious nonsense. I do not follow such idiotic fake science other than to marvel at how clever Intel is in creating noise and distraction.

        Regarding Lennon, wave of the hand dismissals may be psychologically reassuring, but your readers, if serious, are tasked to do some reading and thinking on the subject. They might even, as I did, get hold of the movie Let Him Be, and study the people in it. It’s a boring movie, only valuable because the main character, Noel Snow, looks and sounds like Lennon. I took screen grabs of the singing scenes and did facial comparisons to Lennon. I satisfied myself that Noel Snow is John Lennon, Mark Staycer is not, and that Lennon was alive in 2008.

    • Curious if anyone is still paying attention, so signing up to be notified of responses via this post.

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  6. hybridrogue1

    Some things are simply simple – some things are terribly complex with a simple cover.

    All legends have some basis in fact, even urban legends.

    Perhaps Atomic Poet should look into ‘World Vision’ rather than worrying about the honor of Caufield, who is after all merely a a character of fiction.


  7. Jennifer

    So you’re saying that catcher in the rye isn’t the problem, it’s our government?

    • Yes, that’s exactly what we’re saying. Chapman’s plane tickets were doctored, a fact uncovered by the only person ever to investigate the murder, the British journalist Fenton Bresler, as detailed in his book _Who Killed John Lennon?_ Chapman was in the CIA’s neighborhood twice, in Beirut at the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975, then later that year at a “refugee resettlement camp” run by World Vision for CIA assets and their families airlifted out of Vietnam as Saigon fell to the NLF. If you don’t believe that the CIA is capable of creating a “programmed assassin”, then you should watch the film “RFK Must Die”, which includes footage of Dr Herbert Spiegel of Columbia U., author of a standard textbook of clinical hypnosis, explaining the details of exactly how this can be done (and *was* done, in his opinion, in the case of Sirhan Sirhan). _Catcher_ is not relevant here — it may or may not have served as a “trigger” for MDC. What’s important is the evidence that Chapman was hypnotically induced to kill John Lennon. Whoever was responsible for that act — for taking John Lennon away from all of us forever — is/are still on the loose.

      • Wayne

        Another good read is “The Franklin Cover-Up” by John DeCamp. Also, the 5th Estate’s “The Sleep Room” is an excellent cinematic portrayal of the MK-Ultra experiments that were being conducted at the Allen Memorial Institute in Montreal, Quebec, by Dr. Ewan Cameron under the direction of the C.I.A. in the 1950’s and 60’s.

      • togetherinparis

        George H.W. “Poppy” Bush began the Plumbers Death Squad after the Bay of Pigs (close to Bush-owned plantations in Cuba nationalized/stolen by the communists). They use enflurane which causes amnesia and hyper-suggestibility to brainwash assassins and to drug frame others (like Wilbur Mills, Teddy & Patrick Kennedy, others). They carry it in vodka bottles since the liquid is quite similar.

  8. ajg

    sirhan sirhan made an attempt on reagan’s life. hinkley shot oswald.

  9. ajg

    wait! i was wrong. nevermind.

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  17. Mr FlapJack

    Robert John Bardo also carried a copy of catcher in the rye when he murdered actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1986 . Whats odd about this murder is that he had recently been stopped from stalking peace activist Samantha Smith , who later died in a mysterious plane crash due to a radar ‘glitch’ . Bardo was seen throwing his copy of Catcher in the rye onto a rooftop as he fled the murder of Schaeffer .

  18. Good post. I learn something new and challenging
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  19. david

    WHAT? Whoever wrote this article really needs to do some research. Arnold stars in the new film, honestly this info isn’t too hard.

  20. V.E.G.

    There is once a victim named Kirsten Hinckley. Hinckley died of a gunshot wound. Ironically, there is a Mexican-American named Ronald Herrera was saved by a hero, Charles Foster, same last name as Jody’s! Ironically, there is a gunman named Jody, shot Doug Brady, the same last name as James Brady! That is prophetic and a crazy world!

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  23. I never heard of that CIA programs I looked it up on Wikipedia. This stuff reads like fiction. Good read and thanks.

  24. Yusef

    “John Hinckley was not obsessed with Catcher in the Rye. It just so happens that when police entered Hinkley’s residence, Catcher in the Rye was sitting on his coffee table. Hinckley, while mentally unbalanced, had an altogether different obsession: Taxi Driver.”

    The matter under discussion here seems to be whether the book Catcher In The Rye is a trigger. A mistake being made, in my opinion, is to think the book can only be a trigger if the target is obsessed with it. I believe you need to consider the book could be a trigger without being an obsession. It also does not follow Catcher In The Rye is not a trigger because Hinkley’s primary obsession was with Taxi Driver. Anyway, Hinkley’s obsession with Taxi Driver does not preclude an obsession with Catcher In The Rye. There’s no reason to think, based on what has been what has been presented, Hinkley could not have been obsessed with both at the same time. (Though again, Hinkley did not have to be obsessed with CITR for it to have acted as a trigger.) When you said Hinkley owned a copy of CITR but wasn’t obsessed with it, I thought you might be about to make a good point. For example, if CITR was shelved with a lot of other books Hinkley happened to own, its association with Hinkley and his attempted assassination of Reagan seems very tenuous. But when you go on to tell us police found Hinkley’s copy on his table, I was shook. Hinkley’s ownership of the book coupled with its discovery on his table, suggesting as it does Hinkley had been reading it or had looked at it recent to the shootings, is a staggering piece of information. I don’t take a stand on whether CITR is or is not a trigger. It might be sometime soon the CIA will declassify specific information on triggers and which were actually used and we’ll know precisely. (They will do that when they have moved on to much better techniques and the political importance of the disclosure is minor. Or perhaps somehow favorable to them in different political circumstances. Or it could just leak.) At that time, these loose associations will snap into place (or not) for those who have been paying attention all along. That’s the reason I continue to pay attention and am glad these speculations are being kept alive.

  25. Megan

    Errrr, you know that top picture is a picture of Jared Leto playing Mark David Chapman, and not actually Mark David Chapman, right? Seems kind of silly to use that picture.

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  27. Eric Klemm

    George Something in the movie lobby is really GHW Bush. Bush is such a nerd he was picking on Salinger with these poor brainwashed souls and wiping his political enemies, jfk, reagan and lennon out.

  28. raul

    Salinger was a cia asset who wanted out and told too much in the catcher in the rye, ie the prep schools are all cia recruitment schools.

    JFK, Robert, The Son in the plane crash… All fake. I suspect all these murders associated with the book are also fake… John Lennons still alive and living as a John Lennon impersonator in canada.

    If any of those murders associated had a strange trial, ie facts in press before trial, they are fake. Most of the murderers are probably cia assets and living freely under a different name.

    We’re talking USA here…. everything is a fake facade, disneyland las vegas hollywoood bullshit.

    Just think bay of pigs… USA couldn’t take over that piss arse island called cuba, even though it has a huge army base already there? Git Bay.

    • Anthony Forwood

      Here’s a very interesting quote from the book. Holden’s teacher had told him:

      “This fall I think you’re riding for–it’s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn’t permitted
      to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement’s designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn’t supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn’t supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started.”

      He goes on a little further:

      “I don’t want to scare you,” he said, “but I can very clearly see you dying nobly, one way or another, for some highly unworthy cause.”

  29. Its like saying that i would kill my brother over a cookie

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  31. Yep. Fenton Bresler’s book, Who Killed John Lennon is very convincing, but he’s dead now, nothing suspicious far as I know, and Chapman is still locked away and poor, quivering, vulnerable Widow Ono has the final say and so it looks like there he’ll stay. Poor fool. Where is he locked up? Not the stately lawns of Washington’s St Elizabeth’s like Hinckley was I gather? The foul language used against Yoko competes with the viciousness about Chapman online. Witch hunting is still the most popular national sport in the U S A and you don’t have to be a woman to be a Witch. (you do have to spell this crap out for morons.)

    • Chapman is, I discovered, twins. It all started looking at his mug shots, where he was two inches taller in some than others. “Nah,” people said, prisons make mistakes. But closer analysis of facial features indeed revealed two men.

      Which one is in jail? Neither. Just because we are told someone is in prison (Sirhan, Chapman, Manson, etc) does not mean they are actually in prison. It only means they are kept out of sight, showing up for staged parole hearings and the like.

      Anyway, Bresler’s book makes the classic mistake, asking at the outset “who” killed John Lennon rather than ascertaining for sure that he was even killed. LEnnon, like the rest of us, watched coverage of his death on TV that night, laughing himself silly. “If they can get you to ask the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” (Thomas Pynchon)

      • Deana

        mark chapman and john hinkley are same person and yes you are right these are hoax stories. Go look at the ridiculous movie set photos of the reagan shooting, who’s standing there with the uzi? Will Ferrell?

  32. Gabe

    I wouldn’t put my head up a butchers ass to get a good look at it, I’d rather take the cows word for it.

  33. Deana

    Mark David Chapman and John Hinkley are the same person Biometric Match, and HOAX stories.
    The Public are tormented and had but it makes Rothschilds BILLIONS per day. Big news sells.

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