Last week, I came across a documentary about a rather dark episode of Montréal’s history.
In the fifties and the sixties, hundreds of patient of the Allan Memorial Institute (above picture) were used as guinea pigs for extensive experimental researches. Dr Ewen Cameron was known to be the best Canadian psychiatrist back then, and he conducted the mysterious researches with subventions from both the CIA and the Canadian government.
Ewen Cameron was well respected doctor. In 1945, he had been invited to the Nuremberg trials to perform a psychiatric evaluation of Rudolf Hess.
The selected ”patients” were suffering from conditions like severe depression or schyzophrenia, and their experimental treatments included repetitive LSD injections, intense electroshock sessions and weeks long periods of induced coma during which tapes were being played repeatedly to induce false thoughts.
During the Cold War, the US government suspected that USSR and China might have mastered some kind of brainwashing skills, after having some soldiers come back to the States with anti-American beliefs.
So the CIA created innocent looking fronts, to fund research all around the world, to achieve mind control and brainwashing. It is said that the worst experiments took place at the Allen Memorial Institute. Neither the chosen patients, nor their families were clearly informed about the treatments. Obviously, informed consent was largely ignored.
Some of the victims lost their memories on various levels… Others saw their personalities changed forever. The less lucky ones were ”depatterned”, which meant that these men and women were no more than children in an adult skin. Some of them couldn’t even control their bladder or bowl movements anymore, just like a toddler.
Many families have since tried to fight authorities to at least get the CIA and Canadian government to recogize and appologize for all the abuses their loved ones had suffered.
Why do I care about this enough to blog about it, you might wonder?
My mother’s biological father had a pretty severe schyzophreniac condition, from his early adult years, until his death in 1995. And since back then, mental illnesses weren’t well known, and well treated, I never got to see him alive.
He was hospitalized for many years. And when I watched the documentary, I just realized that he would have been the perfect guinea pig for Dr Cameron. He had a condition that required for him to be kept in a hospital, and he was a little bit of an outcast because of his schyzophrenia. He probably didn’t get much visits from his family.
I checked with Mom, who confirmed that the years fit. Just like me, she was shocked never to have heard about the CIA’s MK Ultra program before. She doesn’t know where her father has spent his hopital years, but we’re starting the research, to make sure to join our voice to the ones of all the families that got robbed of a loved one, if that’s what happened.
I really hope we’ll find out that my grand father wasn’t one of the randomly picked people who suffered for the profit of heartless scientists. But if he was one of them, I just need to know….