Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dr. Cameron or: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Enhanced Interrogation Part II

Welcome to the second installment in my examination of the life and times of Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron, one of the most well-known and notorious psychiatrist of the 20th century. During his lifetime he was a giant in the profession -- at various points during the 1950s he headed the American, Canadian, and World Psychiatric Associations, the American Psychopathological Association, and the Society of Biological Psychiatry in addition to his earlier participation in the Nuremberg Trials.

But since the 1970s and the revelations of the Church and Rockefeller Committees, among others, Cameron is primarily remembered in the public consciousness due to his work in the CIA's notorious MK-Ultra experiments. Cameron did not officially become involved in these experiments until 1957 and his work only lasted until 1963 when his grant from the Agency (via the Human Ecology Fund) was abruptly terminated. But Cameron had a long-standing relationship with legendary CIA director Allen Dulles that began in earnest in the mid-1940s when the latter asked the former to examine the human being British authorities were holding as Rudolf Hess in a bid to ensure that he was the genuine article.

Cameron (top) and Dulles (bottom)

Cameron theoretically failed in this assignment but Dulles was impressed nonetheless. Cameron would later begin treating Dulles's wife, Clover, in the 1950s and would remain friendly with the couple throughout this timeframe. It was also during this time that Cameron began to develop some of his most notorious techniques such as "depatterning" and "psychic driving," both of which the CIA would develop an immense interest in. By the time Cameron officially began receiving CIA funding he had also added exotic drugs such as LSD-25 and sensory deprivation to his arsenal. More details on these "techniques" and the verifiable aspects of Cameron's life can be found in the first installment of this series.

As I wrapped up the prior installment I noted that there are generally two schools of thought when it comes to the results of Cameron's experiments: mainstream historians usually depict Cameron's work as a horrific and colossal failure built upon grossly unscientific principles and only tolerated because of Cameron's immense standing within his profession; conversely conspiracy theorists have long alleged that Cameron's work was instrumental in developing an effective means of mind control that enabled the US intelligence community to program so-called "Manchurian candidates." Typically the latter school incorporates Cameron's work into broader conspiracies, typically involving the long alleged "Project Monarch."

Veteran conspiracy researchers have of course encountered the Monarch allegations time and again but for the uninitiated: Monarch is generally depicted as being a kind of trauma-based mind control, the programming of which typically being started at a very young age. Children are subjected to a wide variety of horrors including hypnosis, drugs, rape, and even occult rituals (the legendary "Satanic ritual abuse") for an extended period of time with the ultimate objective of creating alternate personalities within the child. These alternates vary depending upon the purposes to which the child will ultimately be employed, be it assassinations, prostitution, drug trafficking, etc.

Needless to say, such theories are highly controversial at best. An examination of the Monarch allegations is vastly beyond the scope of this present series. For our purposes here I'm only concerned with the allegations centering around Cameron's involvement in the program and the legitimacy of such allegations. This is not meant to be an examination of the Monarch claims themselves.

Now, with these disclaimers out of the way, let us consider said allegations concerning Cameron. In some strands Cameron is considered to be one of the two chief architects of the Monarch program, the other being Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi "Angel of Death" who performed some of the regime's grossest atrocities at Auschwitz in the name of experimentation. In these strands, Mengele was then enlisted by the US intelligence community in the midst of the Cold War to put his "talents" towards the objective of mind control.
"There is an increasing amount of evidence that Mengele himself, under the assumed name of 'Dr. Green,' participated in the formation of many Monarch and MK-ULTRA programs in the United States after World War II. Mengele came to be called the 'Angel of Death' when he conducted his infamous experiments on countless victims at Auschwitz concentration camp. While Mengele's presence could not be acknowledged by Monarch, his unprecedented research on thousands of unwilling victims provided valuable data on mental programming, mind control, and many other areas of great interest to MK-ULTRA. Mengele had likely been brought to America together with a large number of Nazi scientists and medical personnel during Operation Paperclip.
"Conspiracy researchers assert that the process of choosing the type of subjects to be used in the early Monarch experiments was reminiscent of the rationale of Dr. Mengele, who selected his victims by his determining that they possessed 'satanic bloodlines.' Many hapless individuals for the Monarch experiments were selected because they came from orphanages, foster care homes, or incestuous families and were pronounced as 'expendable,' meaning that if any one of them should die during the experiments, they would not likely be missed. 'They are fulfilling their destiny as the chosen ones.' This coldhearted dismissal of accidents that resulted from harsh experiments is said to have been coined by Mengele at Auschwitz, and it was repeated often by Monarch personnel.
"'Dr. Green' was known to work often with 'Dr. White,' the pseudonym of Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron, the former head of the Canadian, American, and World Psychiatric Associations. A personal friend of Allen Dulles, White/Cameron was given millions of dollars by MK-ULTRA to conduct a series of mind-control experiments and to serve as a resource for Monarch and many of the other 150 subprojects of the secret program. Cameron's favorite experiment seems to have been what he called 'psychic driving,' in which subjects were kept in drug-induced comas for weeks, then administered electroshocks through electronic helmet strapped to their heads. Many of these subjects were abused children who had been passed on to him through the Roman Catholic orphanage system."
(Conspiracies and Secret Societies: The Complete Dossier, Brad & Sherry Steiger, pgs. 379-380)

The are more than a few holes in the above narrative --Enough, in fact, to almost dismiss it as total nonsense. Josef Mengele's presence from 1949 until his death in 1979 can be fairly well documented in South America throughout this timeframe while Cameron was seemingly too consumed with his research at McGill and his other functions from the 1950s until the time of his death (1967) to have spent any great length of time in South America. It's entirely possible that both men were in Europe during the 1940s at some point together but there is nothing to indicate that Mengele was involved in much of anything other than survival during this period.
"Shedding his SS uniform, Mengele adopted the disguise of a regular German army doctor and joined a retreating military unit. His notes he entrusted to a nurse he struck up a relationship with. As the unit fled from the advancing Soviet troops, Mengele's name began cropping up as one of the most wanted Nazi war criminals. Its earliest recorded entry in an Allied list was in April 1945. By May the United Nation's War Crimes Commission wanted him for 'mass murder and other crimes.' Reports of the atrocities he had committed started being broadcast over Allied radio.
"Sometime around June, his unit was arrested by US troops in the German town of Weiden. The nurse caring his precious notes was also arrested but soon release. Although he was registered under his real name at the detention camp, the Americans failed to identify him as a wanted war criminal, or even as an SS man, simply because Mengele had refused to have his blood group tattooed on his arm or chest like other officers when he joined the SS in 1938. This didn't mean that he wasn't being hunted --on 11 June 1945 three American military policeman had shown up at the doorstep his wife Irene in Autenreid demanding to know his whereabouts.
"In September, Mengele was released by the US Army in his native Bavaria. While in the prison camp, he had obtained an Allied release document made out in the name of a fellow doctor, Fritz Ulman, which he altered to read Fritz Hollmann. With that he traveled back into the Russian-occupied zone of Germany, located the nurse to whom he had entrusted his notes and specimens, and then withdrew to Munich, where he hid in the home of friends.
"In October 1945 Mengele had found employment at a small farm in Mangolding, Bavaria. There he would live undisturbed as a farm hand for three years while the press published reports of his heinous crimes, and his name came up in the trials in Nuremberg. But even though Mengele was able to evade the real arm of the law, in his head a mock trial kept repeating itself over and over again. Like Pierce Daye, who sat alone in a hotel room in Madrid jotting down brilliant justifications for his collaboration with the Nazis, Mengele kept a diary in which he became his own star witness for the defense."
(The Real ODESSA, Uki Goni, pgs. 281-282)
a young Mengele

While Mengele's sudden release from the US prison camp is certainly suspicious nothing credible has yet to turn up indicating that the good doctor had any type of relationship with the US intelligence community. When Mengele was finally smuggled out of Europe in 1949, it was under the auspices of the Vatican and Argentina (which had maintained close relations with Hitler's Germany up until the final months of the war when it finally broke off diplomatic contact, a ploy many feel was a ruse to establish a [preplanned] safe haven for Nazi war criminals). During his time in South America Mengele's patron was Hans-Ulrich Rudel, a key figure in the post-WWII Fascist International. While it's all but certain that the US intelligence community kept some kind of dibs on Mengele and that he may even have worked for them indirectly via a third party, there is nothing credible to indicate any type of collaboration.

Hans-Ulrich Rudel

Nor is there any indication at all that Mengele and Cameron had any contact with one another or that the latter had any knowledge of the former's work with the Nazi regime. Mengele had a degree in anthropology while many of his experiments for the Nazi regime were very loosely based in biology. Mengele did apparently employ electroconvulsive therapy, but in what capacity I know not. Cameron had apparently become enamored with electroshock therapy as early as the late 1930s, certainly within the timeframe that Mengele conducted his infamous experiments. But again, there is nothing to indicate Cameron was aware of this work. In general, the Nazi regime seems to have been quite enamored electricity as a means of interrogation to point that former Nazis would continue to promote it during their new endeavors in the post-WWII era. Klaus Barbie, for instance, instructed Bolivian secret police in such "techniques" of interrogation:
"Barbie introduced the fully-developed concentration camp to Bolivia, and lectured on the use of electrodes applied to the human body to extract confessions, a technique first developed by Gestapo interrogators in France."
(The Nazi Legacy, Linklater, Hilton & Ascherson, pg. 17) 

As far as Cameron's patients were concerned, the literature overwhelmingly agrees that they were largely adult women (and a few men), and not children, who in many cases only suffered from minor mental issues (prior to being treated by Dr. Cameron, at least). There is absolutely nothing to indicate that Cameron's research in any way involved children.

That being said, there was a massive amount of child abuse being conducted within a Catholic institution based out of Montréal (and around Quebec) in the timeframe that Cameron was conducting his experiments.
"During the postwar years in Montréal, money was in short supply. Funding for orphanages was virtually non-existent, but funding for hospitals was available from the central government in Ottawa. The Catholic Church decided to take advantage of the disparity in funding by classifying its orphans as 'mentally deficient,' thus qualifying for the federal largesse. The government in Montréal -- specifically the administration of Premier Maurice Duplessis --was the instigating factor, since it offered the church a subsidy of $2.75 per day per 'mental deficient' as opposed to only $1.25 per day per orphan. The church immediately took advantage of this policy, and reclassified thousands --estimates range as high as 5,000 --of orphans and illegitimate children in its care as mental patients (usually without any medical or psychiatric examination whatsoever).
"If this was strictly an exercise in paperwork, with no one the wiser --a pragmatic attempt to secure funding for the support of children whose only crime in the eyes of society was that they existed --then perhaps one could turn a blind eye to the whole proceeding. However, the reclassification process prompted acts of horrific brutality against the children by nuns, the 'brides of Christ,' and in some cases monks and lay helpers. The abuse was not confined to only one order of nuns, but extended to the Grey Nuns of Montréal, the Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Charity of Québec, the Little Franciscans of Mary, and two orders of monks --the Brothers of Notre Dame de la Misericorde and the Brothers of Charity --all of whom were named in civil lawsuits by surviving members of the thousands of children who were thus abused. There were, as well, 120 individuals who were named in criminal complaints. Further, the medical profession of Montréal was also complicit in the case, as physician signed off on the thousands of examination forms stating that the orphans were mentally retarded when, in fact, they had not been examined at all.
"Once the papers have been signed and, in some cases, entire orphanages converted to mental institutions virtually overnight, the horrors began.
"Children were beaten, in some cases with chains; they were tied to iron bed frames and force-fed; put in straitjacket; subjected to ice baths; and sodomized. Some died from the abuse. Others became severely disabled, to the point that now -- over 50 years after the events --they are still taking anti-depressants and are unable to hold regular jobs. One man still surfers from testicular problems due to the beatings. Of course, as they were officially listed as 'mentally retarded' or 'mentally deficient,' they were considered marginal members of society and could not obtain decent education or the other benefits of 'normal' children and adults. In fact, once they were officially designated 'retarded,' it was felt that there was no longer any need to educate them, and in some cases schooling of these children was canceled completely. Some of these victims... still cannot read or write. In many other cases, the children were labeled retarded when they were quite young, so they had no reason to believe they were not retarded. When some of these bewildered men and women were interviewed for national television in the mid-1990s, their confusion and anger were apparent. Their lives been destroyed, if not by the physical, mental and sexual abuse, then by the label of 'mentally deficient' or 'mentally retarded' which followed them all through life."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pgs. 231-232)

Again, there is nothing to indicate that the abuse sustained by the children of Montréal under the care of the Catholic Church during the 1950s was in any way related to Cameron's experiments being conducted at McGill University. Given recent revelations concerning the international and decade-spanning instances of child abuse committed by members of the Catholic Church, the Montreal episode can hardly be considered an isolated incident. Undoubtedly other incidents of widespread abuse were occurring in other regions of the world during this period that didn't have links to MK-Ultra. Indeed, I greatly hesitated even pointing out the overlap between the Cameron experiments and the Grey Nuns scandal or even bringing up his alleged ties to Josef Mengele and Monarch and would not have done so had pedophilia and Nazism not turned up in such a striking instance of Cameron's "techniques" being put to work in the field. But more on that later.

Before going there we must first consider whether or not Cameron's "techniques" showed any indications of being an effective means of mind control.

By and large the answer is a resounding "no." Cameron's techniques were meant to first wipe the minds of his subjects clean through extensive electroshock therapy that would totally disorient them. This would in theory give Cameron a blank slate to work with, in which he could then implant a new personality free of the psychological hangups of the old. One of the primary methods in which he hoped to achieve this was by repeating a series of messages on an endless tape loop to his subjects while they were in coffin-like boxes (and usually in a drug-induced state resembling a coma), sometimes for weeks on end. While Cameron's techniques managed to effectively destroy the personalities of his subject to some degree or another it was the second phase of his official agenda in which he was such a colossal failure.
"Cameron's theories were based on the idea that shocking his patients into a chaotic regressed state would create the preconditions for him to 'rebirth' healthy model citizens. It's little comfort to Gail, with her fractured spine and shattered memories, but in his own writings Cameron envision his acts of destruction as creation, a gift to his fortunate patients who were, under his relentless repatterning, going to be born again.
"On this front Cameron was a spectacular failure. No matter how fully he regressed his patients, they never absorbed or accepted the endlessly repeated messages on his tapes. Though he was a genius at destroying people, he could not remake them. A follow-up study conducted after Cameron left the Allan Memorial Institute found that 75 percent of his former patients were worse off after treatment than before they were admitted. Of his patients who held down full-time jobs before hospitalization, more than half were no longer able to, and many, like Gail, suffered from a host of new physical and psychological ailments. 'Psychic driving' did not work, not even a little, and the Allan Memorial Institute eventually banned the practice.
"The problem, obvious in retrospect, was the premise on which his entire theory rested: the idea that before healing can happen, everything that existed before needs to be wiped out. Cameron was sure that if he blasted away at the habits, patterns and memories of his patients, he would eventually arrive at that pristine blank slate. But no matter how doggedly he shocked, drugged and disoriented, he never got there. The opposite proved true: the more he blasted, the more shattered his patients became. Their minds weren't 'clean'; rather, they were a mess, their memories fracture, their trust betrayed."
(The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein, pg. 47)
a subject in a sensory deprivation experiment conducted by one of Cameron's colleagues

All the literature I've read on Cameron confirms this observation. What's more, not only does no evidence exists of Cameron's techniques as an effective means of mind control, but it would seem all but impossible for his subjects to even function as effective agents in the field even if his techniques had succeeded. Many of Cameron subjects are described as reverting back to an almost child-like state in which they recited nursery rhymes and occasionally urinated on themselves. One woman's (the above-mentioned Gail) mind was so badly damaged that she had to constantly write notes to herself as reminders just to make it through the day.

Needless to say, such individuals would likely not be able to function in everyday society as much more than bag ladies. But even bag ladies get opportunities from time to time to assassinate prominent individuals, as in the case of Lois Lang. On the morning of November 19, 1985 Lang murdered Nicholas Deak, founder of the Wall Street firm Deak-Perera and longtime associate of various China Cowboys (a far right-wing cabal within CIA). Indeed, it was long rumored that the Hungarian-born Deak's bank laundered funds for both the US intelligence community and prominent figures in organized crime.

Lang was a 44-year-old drifter with a long history of institutionalization (and yet she was often found with ample amounts of cash on her person when she was taken off the streets by authorities from time to time) who had made a month-long trek from Seattle to encounter Deak at the New York Port  Authority on that day. Salon recently published an excellent article on the bizarre death of Deak and the belief of a former associate and several researchers that the rogue banker was murdered by some type of programed assassin (which would be consistent with how former US intelligence assets are occasionally "retired"). Indeed, the article reveals that Lang was involved with two separate facilities (the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and the University of Washington respectively) that have been linked to psychiatrists involved in work for the US intelligence community in the years leading up to her murder of Deak.

Lang, who now sports a billy-goat beard

But reportedly the methods of programming employed by both psychiatrists (believed to be Dr. Frederick Melges at the California institution and Dr. Donald Dudley in Washington state) was quite different from the techniques of Cameron. Both (or in the case of Melges, an associate) are described as initially drugging their subjects and then subjecting them to an intensive period of hypnosis.

In general, I've found hypnosis as being widely described as the most effective technique the CIA  investigated during the timeframe Cameron had contact with the Agency in their pursuit for a "Manchurian Candidate." Of course whether or not hypnosis is an effective means of "programming" is highly debatable in and of itself (indeed, the official evidence was not much more promising than other Agency pursuits in this field) but it typically appears in the more compelling accounts of "programmed" assassins such as the above-mentioned Deak killing and the RFK assassination. The allegations surrounding Candy Jones, another of the more compelling accounts of mind control (as well as alternate personalities), also deeply involved hypnosis. I've written much more on hypnosis and its relationship to the US intelligence community both here and here.

RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan (top) and former model and alleged mind control victim Candy Jones (bottom)

And yet I've found no reference to Cameron experimenting with hypnosis. I find this most striking as Cameron seemingly toyed with every en vogue technique in the mind control field that the CIA investigated with this one glaring exception. But then again, maybe that was the point --to see if electroshock, drugs, sensory deprivation and so forth could, by themselves, be an effective means of programming sans hypnosis.

Clearly this did not seem to be the case. Drugs, for instance, can be highly useful in making a subject more susceptible to hypnotic suggestion but in and of themselves their effects vary so widely person to person as to be totally unreliable. I suspect this could be said for many of the other techniques employed by Cameron though one seemingly held a special interest to the US intelligence community: Electroshock.

This is unsurprising as electrical shock as a means of purification is a notion that has been floating around for centuries. In point of fact, the first recorded notion of such a concept dates to ancient Rome.
"... Dr. Cameron. From his reading he knew that shock therapy was among the oldest psychiatric techniques in existence. An ancient Roman had tried to cure his emperor's headaches with an electric eel; in the sixteenth century a Catholic missionary reported that the Abyssinians used a similar method to expel devils out of human bodies."
(Journey Into Madness, Gordon Thomas, pgs. 138-139)
This is not the only account I've encountered describing shock therapy as means of driving out devils. In fact journalist Naomi Klein traced shock therapy back to an early eighteenth century exorcist.
"This brought electroshock therapy full circle to its earliest incarnation as an exorcism technique. The first recorded use of medical electrocution was by a Swiss doctor practicing in the 1700s. Believing that mental illness was caused by the devil, he had a patient hold onto a wire that he powered with a static electricity machine; one jolt of electricity was given for each demon. The patient was then pronounced cured."
(The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein, pg. 112n)

It was not until the post-WWII era that electroshock began to be perceived as technique that could possibly be used to program unwitting assassins, however. Whether this was due to electroshock's endorsement by the Nazi regime (as noted above, it was employed fairly widely as tool of interrogation by the Third Reich) I know not, but it was certainly en vogue immediately following the war:
"In 1949, Dr. Irving Janis of the Rand Corporation had recommended that the air force undertake a study of the 'effects of electricity on the brain.' His report said that, in research based on the literature of the 1940s, there were at least some indications that electric shocks to the brain might be conductive to mind control.
"Janis wrote: 'Many studies have shown that there is a temporary intellectual impairment, diffuse amnesia, and general "weakening of the ego" produced during the period when a series of electroshock convulsions is being administered.'
"Dr. Janis was not talking about electronic brain stimulation; he was referring to electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), a crude treatment for schizophrenia originated in Hungry in the 1930s, which consisted of passing a strong electrical current through the entire brain at once.
"Unlike ESB, ECT was not aimed at the microscopic neural centers of the brain. It was just one large jolt of electricity, which produced, rather than a specific neural event, a massive convulsion. Electrical current administered in such a way temporarily affected the electrical properties of all the neurons in the brain. It produce sharp biochemical changes in the levels of glucose, oxygen consumption, protein synthesis, and other functions. It also produced amnesia, sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent.
"As biochemist Steven Rosen said, 'The [ECT] treatment is analogous to attempting to mend a faulty radio by kicking it, or a broken computer by cutting out a few of its circuits.' Often the extreme convulsions induced by ECT produced such strong muscular contractions that the bones of the subject's body snapped like breadsticks.
"But Dr. Janis did not seem to think it too severe a treatment for use in mind control. 'From my own and others' investigations of the psychological effects of such treatments,' he wrote, 'I would suspect that they might tend to reduce resistance to hypnotic suggestions. It is conceivable, therefore, that electroshock treatment might be used to weaken difficult cases in order to produce a hypnotic trance great depth.'"
(Operation Mind Control, Walter Bowart, pgs. 251-252)

Here we see reference to hypnosis in association with electroshock treatment and yet Cameron did not seemingly pursue this course, as noted above. Still, the interest of the cryptocracy in electroshock clearly went well beyond the experiments conducted by Cameron. Naomi Klein even went so far as to speculate in her brilliant The Shock Doctrine that the state electroshock creates --one of sudden and total disorientation --has been incorporated into both economic and mass psychology as a means of creating a "blank slate" upon which a new order can be erected. As the title of her book indicates, she dubbed these tactics the "shock doctrine" and believed that it was rooted in the experiments of Cameron and other CIA doctors. When it took public form initially it appeared as Chicago School economics (a slightly watered down version of the Austrian School economics so beloved by the conspiratorial right), a philosophy most famously proclaimed by Milton Friedman.
"Friedman's mission, like Cameron, rested on a dream of reaching back to a state of 'natural' health, when all was in balance, before human interferences created distorting patterns. Where Cameron dreamed of returning the human mind to that pristine state, Friedman dreamed of the depatterning societies, of returning them to a state of pure capitalism, cleansed of all interruptions --government regulations, trade barriers and entrenched interests. Also like Cameron, Friedman believed that when the economy is highly distorted, the only way to reach that prelapsarian state was to deliberately inflict painful shocks: only 'bitter medicine' could clear those distortions and bad patterns out of the way. Cameron used electricity to inflict his shock; Friedman's tool of choice was policy -- the shock treatment approach he urged on both politicians of countries in distress."
(The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein, pg. 50) 
Milton Friedman

In the final installment of this series we shall see how Cameron's techniques, most notably his use of shock, were applied in the field and for what purpose. I shall also broadly reflect upon how such "techniques" were applied to mass society in a specific country that potentially housed several of Cameron's disciples. And of course we shall come to the Josef Mengele and several other Nazis. Stay tuned.


  1. I like your writing and you present very interesting ideas that I don't see elsewhere. I've really enjoyed your last series and this one.

    Have you ever read Ann Diamond at drivingthetrancecanada blog? She talks a lot about McGill and indentifies the subject in the sensory deprivation study, young man wearing tie, which you have posted above, as possibly Leonard Cohen. You really have to read her blog to understand why this isn't so unlikely. And she's a GREAT writer.

    Also, I wonder if you have ever connected Cameron with Harry Harlow. As you know Harlow used monkeys in horrific deprivation studies and his tenure/studies would come right after Cameron's. Just a thought. Ive never seen anyone link the two and I've read a lot on the subject.

    Thanks for a great blog.

  2. Kitty-

    Thanks so much for your response. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog.

    I'm not familiar with Diamond's work but I'll be sure to check it out. I could definitely see the individual in the photo as being Leonard Cohen nor would that be totally unsurprising --Ken Kesey and Robert Hunter (one of the main lyricists for the Grateful Dead) were involved in the MKUltra experiments, for instance.

    I'm honestly not very familiar with Harlow's work, but based upon his Wiki entry it would certainly seem that he and Cameron were at least aware of one another. Harlow was apparently the head of the American Psychiatric Association during the late 1950s and I believe Cameron was still affiliated with the group in that era as well.

    But whether they were collaborating together is difficult to say. In general it seems like the US intelligence community had various doctors experimenting with techniques similar to Cameron's during the 1950s. Another one that comes to mind is Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, who apparently performed some curious experiments in the Atlanta federal prison in the 1950s involving drugs and sensory deprivation.

    In general, the CIA seems to have gone to great lengths to compartmentalize its research, so its entirely possible these doctors were unaware of one another's dabblings. I suspect they may all have been working towards a goal of recreating and verifying methods developed by Nazi Germany, a prospect I'll consider more in the next installment.

    Again, thanks for your response and readership.:)


  3. Just for clarification, the term ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is still in use today, but the procedure that's done today is not the crude form that causes broken bones. It's generally used as a treatment for major depressive disorder that hasn't responded to other types of treatments, such as antidepressant medications.

    As someone from a mental health background, I wouldn't want anyone to read this blog post and think that they should be afraid to try to get treatment for their depression. Older adults are especially vulnerable to hard-to-treat depression, and it can leave them feeling quite hopeless. I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from considering all the possible treatment options, because there are many possible treatments for mental illnesses, and if one doesn't work the individual should still have hope that another treatment might be much more effective.

    Basically I just want to say that if this applies to you, learn much, much more about it before you come to any conclusions.

  4. Back again. You really have a wide spectrum in readers, as I couldn't disagree with Erin more. The "mental illness" people have good hearts but most of them don't understand that they are underpaid pharmaceutical reps and there philosophy has ruined many lives.
    Psychiatrist don't deal with anyone's problems, they actually deny them the ability to speak by drugging them and shocking them. I believe most "problems of living" are caused by trauma, and that's something society and the high priests of science want to deny and keep hidden. How else to sell drugs, shock people, make a profit, and feel useful while denying others their humanity. Until we bring trauma and torture out of the closet nobody's going to be feeling less "depressed".

  5. I must say, I find the view of the above poster more than a little worrying; I am a psychoanalyst and as such do not use medication to treat mental health problems. This has been a personal choice based on the belief that mental health problems are indeed over medicated. However, in my experience (which I would by no means consider all-encompassing but is certainly extensive) this is for simple financial reasons related to the relative cheapness of pharmaceutical interventions compared to the substantial cost of talking therapies and behavioral therapies, ratherthan some shady international Big Pharma cabal.

    However, despite my belief that there is an over reliance on drug therapy, this is not to say that there is no benefit to be derived from them. True, many mental health problems are firmly rooted in traumatic experiences or social issues, but there are also MANY people who suffer from chemical imbalances - clinically testable, replicable and at this point firmly within our current understanding of neurochemistry - which are ONLY susceptible to pharmaceutical treatment, as far as our current knowledge of medicine is concerned.

    I wonder if the above poster would sit down with a severe psychotic, constantly wracked by deeply traumatic hallucinations which thoroughly distort their view of reality and the people around them - and tell them that the medication which alleviates these horrifying symptoms is actually a sham engineered for profit and social control, and that they will be far better off without their medication, back to living in a world where reality is a mutable and formless place. Or indeed to tell a patient with a genetically-linked serotonin imbalance that the drug that alleviates their suicidally self-destructive mood state is actually making their life worse, not better?

    I reiterate - I am NOT a "pharmaceutical rep", underpaid or otherwise, and I agree that many of the methods now used by the psychiatric establishment will in the future be looked at with a degree of scorn at our naivete, but to extend this as a rule extending to all psychiatric medication is frankly laughable. One might just as well use the Thalidomide tragedy as a justification for banning antibiotics. They're all drugs, right?

    PLEASE try to avoid absolutist statements like this. It's the kind of fundamentalist logic that people like Dulles used to justify the atrocities outlined in the article above. And if you genuinely are concerned about these kinds of issues, there is an absolute wealth of peer-reviewed material available to actually educate yourself on the subject.

    Unless of course your distrust extends to the entire scientific establishment and the concept of the peer review system. If that is the case, then ultimately I have wasted my time in using logic to appeal for calm.

    I apologise if this response has seemed confrontational; far from my intention. But this kind of view can prevent people from accepting treatment which could very well mean the difference between a short, traumatic and troubled life and the chance to experience a full and rewarding one.

    PS Recluse, I arrived here while researching a paper on research ethics, but while I'm here, somjething that I came accross myself - have you looked into the Australian Chelmsford scandal? Closely linked to all of the above and deeply involved with a research partner of Dr. Cameron's, Harry Bailey. If you didn't come across this material it is well worth a look for anyone with an interest in the subject.

  6. "However, despite my belief that there is an over reliance on drug therapy, this is not to say that there is no benefit to be derived from them. True, many mental health problems are firmly rooted in traumatic experiences or social issues, but there are also MANY people who suffer from chemical imbalances - clinically testable, replicable and at this point firmly within our current understanding of neurochemistry - which are ONLY susceptible to pharmaceutical treatment, as far as our current knowledge of medicine is concerned."

    while much of the mental illnesses are indeed related to chemical imbalances, long term medication is never a measure for the permanent restoring of mental health. meds are undoubtedly effective at ad-hoc alleviating of the symptoms but that's about it. they never address the cause because the imbalance IS the symptom of something else going wrong.

    are you aware of possible effects of environmental factors on mental health? heavy metal intoxication, dietetary gluten, modern diary products, EM pollution etc. - these all can act as a fuel for deppresive, neurotic and psychotic states, via stimulation of autoimmune responses, para-/sympathetic imbalance, inflammatory reactions, chronic fatigue. nutritionally insuficient, ersatz diet makes it no better (what are mental patients usually given to eat?).

    personally i will never take modern psychiatry seriously until these things are openly addressed as they constitute huge gap between the psyche and the neurochemistry. mind-body-brain. not mind-brain(-body).

  7. Vincent-

    I was not aware Chelmsford scandal --Thank you for pointing it out to me. I never cease to be amazed at the sheer scope of this research. In the next installment of this series I pondered whether Chile's Colonia Dignidad may have also used a former Cameron associate (Gordon Thomas reported that a doctor who had formally worked under Cameron found employment in an unnamed Chilean detention center in "Journey Into Madness").

    BTW, you were my 300th comment. Congrats.:)