The Madness of Psychiatry

Naomi Klein the author of ‘Shock Doctrine’ speaks about Ewen Cameron (one time head of the American Psychiatric Association) on ‘Democracy Now’ (

“McGill in Montreal. At the time, the head of psychiatry was a man named Ewen Cameron. He was actually an American citizen. He was formerly head of the American Psychiatric Association, which I think is quite relevant to the debates going on right now about complicity in the psychiatric profession with current interrogation techniques. Ewen Cameron was head of the American Psychiatric Association.

He moved to McGill to be head of psychiatry and to head up a hospital called the Memorial Hospital, which was a psychiatric hospital. He got funding from the CIA, and he turned the Allan Memorial Hospital into this extraordinary laboratory for what we now understand as alternative interrogation techniques. He dosed his patients with these odd cocktails of drugs, like LSD and PCP. He put them to sleep, sort of into a comatose state for up to a month. He put some of his patients into extreme sensory deprivation, and the point was to make them lose track of time and space.

And what Ewen Cameron believed, or at least what he said he believed, was that all mental illness was taught later in life, that these were patterns that set in later in life. He was a behavioral psychologist. And so, rather than getting at the root of those problems and trying to understand them, he believed that the way to treat mental illness was to take adult patients and reduce them to a childlike state. And it’s been well known — it was well known at the time — that one of the side effects of electroshock therapy was memory loss. And this was something that was seen, actually, by most doctors as a problem, because patients were treated, they may have reported some positive results, but they forgot all kinds of things about their life.

Ewen Cameron looked at this research and thought, “Aha, this is good,” because he believed that it was the patterns that — because he believed that it was the patterns that were set in later in life, that if he could take his patients back to an infantile state, before they even had language, before they knew who they were, then he could essentially re-mother them, and he could turn them into healthy people. So this is the idea that caught the attention of the CIA, this idea of deliberately inducing extreme regression.”

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Peter on February 20, 2008 at 11:57 am

    You can read more about Dr. Ewen Cameron’s CIA-funded experiments and all the MKULTRA subprojects in the MKULTRA Briefing Book, which was prepared by the CIA in 1976. The CIA Inspector General wrote in 1958 of MKULTRA: “Precautions must be taken not only to protect operations from exposure to enemy forces but also to conceal these activities from the American public in general. The knowledge that the agency is engaging in unethical and illicit activities would have serious repercussions in political and diplomatic circles.”


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