Operators (also known as Hook Operators) are humanoid entities which are physically indistinguishable from normal humans but which have psychic capabilities which they use to control the majority of other humans who are psychically inert. While Operators outwardly behave as if they are normal human beings their psychic correspondences reveal an entirely separate culture and society fixed on extracting pain and suffering from the non-psychic humans whose lives they control, who they refer to demeaningly as ‘Things.

These entities were described at length in Operators and Things, a 1957 book  Barbara O’Brien which describes her biographical experience of a schizophrenic breakdown. As such they are generally viewed as being symbolic manifestations rather than real beings, and this was the view O’Brien herself took. Many reviewers have commented on the symbolic dimensions of O’Briens hallucinated world-order and the real oppressive experiences of her work life as an unwed woman in an cutthroat chauvinistic industry in the 1950s:  “O’Brien’s invented world of ‘Operators and Things’ evokes literary precursors like Kafka and Burroughs; her story offers a sidelong glance into the cold, alienating underbelly of office life during America’s golden age of postwar stability and conformity.


Outwardly Operators look like people and seem to exist alongside normal human societies, while covertly using their psychic powers to operate a number of humans like cattle, directing the events of their lives towards pain and misery. Whether this is negative energy is somehow harvested by the Operators like other supposed demonic presences such as Solar Plexus Clown Gliders or the fictional Black Lodge dwellers in Twin Peaks, who feed of a substance made of human suffering called ‘Garmonbozia’, or the humanoid aliens in They Live! who form a secret economic elite is left unstated. O’Brien interprets the Operators as working with an economy of human suffering and misgiving, and that it was entirely abstracted, neutral labor to them.

Most people cannot access the thought communication wavelength the operators use. O’Brien’s schizophrenic break was internally rationalized as her having accidentally switched onto the operator’s frequency like a radio.

Most of the operators O’Brien communicates with do so through hallucinatory telepathic communications and she does not see them in person, except through a mental image. Some of these appear quite normal and realistic, while other figures are physically unusual, such as ‘Sharp’, who is described as being a sort of small mouse-like creature.

The Operators seem to have a complex Kafkaesque society centered around causing humans to suffer, with labyrinthine rules of conduct and procedures. When O’Brien is switched onto their psychic wavelength by way of her schizoid break, she must go on a long-winded bureaucratic process both in the physical world and in her hallucinated inner world to apply for a “lattice scraping” which returns her to a neurotypical baseline.


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