From The Sunday Times October 17, 2004 Karin Goodwin
HUNDREDS of mentally ill patients who were subjected to barbaric CIA-funded brainwashing experiments by a Scottish doctor could be entitled to compensation following a landmark court ruling.
Doctor Ewan Cameron, who became one of the world’s leading psychiatrists, developed techniques used by Nazi scientists to wipe out the existing personalities of people in his care.
Cameron, who graduated from Glasgow University, was recruited by the CIA during the cold war while working at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
He carried out mind-control experiments using drugs such as LSD on hundreds of patients, but only 77 of them were awarded compensation.
Now a landmark ruling by a Federal Court judge in Montreal will allow more than 250 former patients, whose claims were rejected, to seek compensation.
Gail Kastner, who underwent electroshock treatment at a Montreal psychiatric institute in 1953, and whose claim was rejected 10 years ago, successfully appealed the judgment.
Last week, Alan Stein, of Montreal law firm Stein and Stein, which represented Kastner, confirmed he was in the process of contacting former clients who could now renew their appeal.
“There are about 200 people still due compensation,” he said. “This judgment should send out strong signals to the Canadian government. Those who have previously missed out should have a strong case for appealing.”
Using techniques similar to those portrayed in the celebrated novel the Manchurian Candidate, it was believed that people could be brainwashed and reprogrammed to carry out specific acts.
Cameron developed a range of depatterning “treatments” while director of the Allan Memorial Institute at McGill University.
Patients were woken from drug-induced stupors two or three times a day for multiple electric shocks. In a specially designed “sleep room” made famous by Anne Collins’s book of the same name, Cameron placed a speaker under the patient’s pillow and relayed negative messages for 16 hours a day.
Kastner was a 19-year-old honours student suffering from mild depression when she first underwent “treatment” in 1953. On returning home she sucked her thumb, demanded to be fed from a bottle, talked in a baby voice and urinated on the floor.
She was ostracised by her affluent family, who were unable to cope with her changed state, and her marriage in 1955 quickly broke down due to her difficulties.
Cameron, who was born in Bridge of Allan in 1901, rose to become the first president of the World Psychiatric Association.
It took two decades and the persistence of Joseph Rauh, the distinguished American civil liberties lawyer, to uncover what happened and secure compensation for some of Cameron’s victims.