#10: Beneficial Brainwashing
Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
Dr. Ewen Cameron believed he had come up with a cure for schizophrenia. His theory was that the brain could be reprogrammed to think in healthy ways by forcibly imposing new thought patterns on it. His method was to make patients wear headphones and listen to audio messages looped over and over, sometimes for days or even weeks at a time. He called this method "psychic driving," because the messages were being driven into the psyche. The press hailed it as "beneficial brainwashing."
During the 1950s and early 1960s, hundreds of Cameron's patients at Montreal's Allan Memorial Clinic became his unwitting test subjects whether or not they actually had schizophrenia. Some patients checked in complaining of problems as minor as menopause-related anxiety, only to find themselves sedated with barbiturates, strapped into a bed, and forced to listen for days on end to messages such as "People like you and need you. You have confidence in yourself."
One time, to test the technique, Cameron placed patients into a drugged sleep and made them listen to the message, "When you see a piece of paper, you want to pick it up." Later he drove them to a local gymnasium. There, lying in the middle of the gym floor, was a single piece of paper. He happily reported that many of them spontaneously walked over to pick it up.
When the CIA learned of what Cameron was doing, it became interested and started surreptitiously channeling him money. But eventually the agency concluded that Cameron's technique was a failure and cut his funding, prompting Cameron himself to admit that his experiments had been "a ten year trip down the wrong road." In the late 1970s a group of Cameron's former patients filed suit against the CIA for its support of his work and reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount of money.
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Posted by feienv on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 01:27 AM
Perhaps one of the suggestions was "You will accept the first settlement offer immediately."
Posted by will on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 02:46 AM
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Posted by lee in uk on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 08:31 AM
Huard received $67,000 U.S. from the CIA in 1988 as recompense for her ordeal, but has been denied similar compensation from the Canadian government three times on the grounds that she was not fully depatterned. In 1994, the government handed out $100,000 to 77 of Cameron
Posted by Mark on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 11:24 AM
There's actually a really good book on this subject, called "In the Sleep Room", some of the experiments are especially sadistic. He ruined peoples lives, warping their minds beyond recognition.
Posted by Brendan in Canada on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 12:59 AM
A large part of his research went into ways to totally wipe somebody's mind clean. There was some success here - including a housewife who checked in for mild depression, and had to be re-taught basicly everything.
Dr. Ewen, to the best of my knowledge, never received any form of punishment for conducting these experiments. I don't know about him, but apparently At least some of his asistants still practice today...
Posted by Daemon on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 01:59 PM
"forced to listen for days on end to messages such as "People like you and need you. You have confidence in yourself."
Sounds too much like what we do to grade-school kids today, trying to fix their "self-esteem".
Posted by decrepitoldfool in Normal, IL on Sun Sep 16, 2007 at 11:39 AM
He also administered "mega-doses" of LSD (and probably other hallucinogens) and electro convulsive therapy to to his patients. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Ewen_Cameron
is the wikipedia article on Dr. Cameron
Posted by butwaittheresmore on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:06 PM
That wiki article has a few facts wrong I believe. The C.I.A. was not involved until long after these experiments were started. This doctor was funded by them and they were interested in his methods and experiments but, HE was fully responsible for the idea and initiation of these things. I believe he was Canadian and not "Scottish-American" or rather he may have been born in Scotland and lived for a time in the U.S. but, nearly ALL of his adult life and these experiments were carried out in Canada with the full awareness of the Canadian government and the hospitals approval.
I feel that wiki was history being revised to make the Canadian governments responsibility in this seem smaller than it was. I have seen the documentary about this and about the C.I.A.'s later involment but, it doesn't exactly match up with what was written there. Sometimes Wiki is not really a great reference.
The documentary about this one woman's experience is harrowing! They were monsters doing this to innocent people!
Posted by Ruth on Fri Nov 09, 2007 at 02:18 PM
Nowadays most psychologists doubt that "Brainwashing" as depicted in movies, TV, etc. is really possible. That's not to say that you can't influence people's thinking and behavior-- advertising would be pointless in that case-- but techniques like constant repetition of phrases can't make people do things against their will or without their own knowledge or control their thoughts as if they were machines. Usually when people cave in under torture or interrogation, they're just trying to do whatever they can to make the abuse stop.
Posted by Big Gary in Thalia, Texas on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 06:25 PM
can you help with learning and memory/
Posted by david fuchs in united kingdom on Sun Dec 16, 2007 at 01:25 PM
Posted by 21233sda in 43243 on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 10:31 AM
Keep up this great resource
Posted by Marko in Djibouti, Fresno on Thu Jul 03, 2008 at 05:34 AM
the cia does fucked up shit like this all the time. they receive billions of dollars annually, now what the fuck do they spend it all on? i guess they only tell the public on a need to know basis because we are just stupid sheep to be lead to the slaughter.
Posted by wtf on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:39 PM
I know better and more gentle method - it calls Sounds therapy. thanks
Posted by s in ny on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 02:04 AM
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