Journey Into Madness
The True Story of Secret CIA
Mind Control and Medical Abuse
New York: Bantam Books, 1989
No one would remember March 18, 1957, as different than any other day at the Allan Memorial Institute. There was continued speculation at what was happening in the basement, part of it having been declared off limits by Dr. Cameron to everyone except Rubenstein and Zielinski. … [p. 164]
Something else concerned Dr. Cleghorn. Two years earlier, at the annual conference of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Cameron had promoted psychic driving through the columns of Weekend Magazine, … He had referred to the technique as “beneficial brainwashing.” Accompanying the interview was a photograph of a young woman wearing headphones and the caption described her listening to her repeated confession. Dr. Cameron was credited with inventing “a daring idea designed to help neurotic patients by using a modified form of brainwashing.” He had added he was confronted with “the same problems as professional brainwashers” because his patients, “like prisoners of the Communists, tended to resist and had to be broken down.” …
He had begun to feel equally concerned about his superior’s multiple and massive electroshocks, for which Dr. Cameron had also created a special word—depatterning. Dr. Cleghorn saw no long-term benefit for a treatment in which a patient was first put to sleep for three days and then, still comatose, given between thirty to sixty electroshocks over a short period and, in between, doses of 1,000 milligrams of Largactil, a powerful tranquilizer, to combat anxiety. What especially disturbed Dr. Cleghorn’s sense of medical propriety was that when he finally queried the total amnesia the treatment produced, Dr. Cameron had simply said the patients’ families would have to “help them build a scaffold of normal events.” … [p. 169]
But in the Sleep Room the tomorrows came and went, each day indistinguishable from the last. Some of the nurses called the place the Zombie Room. … [p. 170]
Madeleine had been kept in a chemically controlled sleep for thirty-six days and was awakened only to eat. In between her meals she received thirty more multiple shocks. … [p. 172]
Dr. Cameron intended his treatment to strip his patients of their selfhood and introduce into their minds what he wanted them to believe. … By successfully manipulating the psychological mechanisms of denial and repression in his patients, he was certain he would have solved the mystery of mind control. …
He had been encouraged by his old friend Dr. William Sargant. Many of Dr. Sargant’s own observations had been applied by English police interrogators and those employed by MI5, Britain’s counterintelligence service. Dr. Sargant had sent Dr. Cameron a proof of his forthcoming book, Battle for the Mind, urging him to read the chapters on brainwashing techniques. Dr. Cameron carefully noted that one method was, having found a sore spot, to keep touching it. Dr. Sargant wrote that it was also important … “to fatigue him further, rather than exact any new information of value. When his memory begins to fail him, the difficulty in keeping to the same story makes him more anxious than ever. Finally, … his brain will be too disorganized to respond normally, it can become transmarginally inhibited, vulnerable to suggestions, paradoxical and ultra-paradoxical phases may supervene and the fortress finally surrenders unconditionally.” … [p. 177]
Surrounded by tape recorders, editing machines, and shelves stacked with pillow speakers and football helmets, microphones, cables, and boxes of new tapes, Zielinski felt the place was “more like a Radio Shack than a science lab.” … [p. 178]
Rubenstein had told him they did not understand the wealth of important psychological data that could be spotted by repeated replaying of the tapes: the shifts in cadence, the tiny mental blocks, the change in speed and emphasis, the hesitations and silences. They were all stored on the tapes and provided Dr. Cameron with invaluable information. Rubenstein had called it “a whole universe of nonverbal communication carried on below the perceptual level.”
Descriptions like that made Zielinski believe that Rubenstein was serious when he said that Dr. Cameron and himself would one day become the world’s authorities on continuous radio telemetry of human activity. The lanky twenty-eight-year-old ex-Army signalman envisioned the time would come when “there would be no secrets of the mind that we cannot probe electrically.” Zielinski had been fascinated as Rubenstein had breezily told Dr. Cameron how this would be achieved. All the psychiatrist had to do was ensure a continuous supply of patients and the wisecracking Cockney would create the electronic equipment that “would enter the deepest corners of their minds.”
Dr. Cameron had accepted the technician’s claim without quibble. … [p. 179]
Early in March, Rubenstein had told Zielinski that Dr. Cameron had finally given the go-ahead for part of the institute’s basement to be turned into a radio telemetry laboratory. Rubenstein enthused that its purpose would be not only to measure behavioral activity of patients more closely, but would also provide the groundwork for a system that could be used to monitor human activity at a point remote from the subject under study. In other words, Rubenstein had added, “we’ll develop a system that will keep tabs on people without their knowing what we’re getting from them.” … [pp. 179-180]
The Grid Room had lines drawn across one wall and a hardbacked chair in front of them. At the opposite end of the room a carefully concealed hole had been made in the wall, only big enough for the lens of a movie camera mounted on a platform on the other side. Anyone sitting in the chair would be unaware he or she was being secretly filmed. … Each patient would be fitted with electrodes, which Rubenstein called potentiometers, and which would convert an analog signal and telemeter it to a receiving station—a cubbyhole in a corner of the basement packed with electronic equipment. Most of it was purpose-built by Rubenstein. It included a large machine with dials and switches, which he called the body movement transducer. He predicted it would provide “up to ten thousand bits of information per second” from each patient. The Grid Room had also been fitted with concealed microphones to record any verbal sounds a patient made. Zielinski had been impressed but nevertheless was still unclear how Dr. Cameron would use such a vast amount of data. … [p. 180]
Dr. Cameron had asked Rubenstein to build the Isolation Chamber because it would help his patients if they could be first isolated and then disoriented before he tried to restructure their attitudes. Even spending a short while in the chamber gave Zielinski a bad feeling. Yet Rubenstein had said that patients would remain incarcerated for weeks, months, and if need be, years—until they were ready to listen to what Dr. Cameron wanted them to hear. … [p. 181]
It was true there had been considerable discussion, largely because no one knew what was going on in the basement. Patients were brought from the Sleep Room, still heavily drugged, by nurses who were met at the door of the Radio Telemetry Laboratory by one of the technicians or Dr. Cameron himself. Dr. Cameron had posted a memo saying the laboratory was out of bounds to all unauthorized personnel. … [p. 187]
Dr. Freeman had performed over 4,000 further lobotomies, using the technique to destroy the brains of those suffering from apprehension, anxiety, depression, compulsions, obsessions, as well as drug addicts, sexual deviants, and of course schizophrenics. He was convinced the frontal lobes of the brain were somehow responsible for aggression or, ultimately, a patient’s refusal to cooperate in what he termed an acceptable way.
Dr. Freeman most probably would have found Madeleine fit that criteria. In her drugged condition she had made sounds in the isolator that the voice analyzer in the Radio Telemetry Laboratory had identified as “father,” “want baby,” and “father.” Transferred back to the Sleep Room, she had somehow found the strength to use her helmet to butt a nurse. Such behavior came well within Dr. Freeman’s guidelines for those who could benefit from psychosurgery. … [p. 218]
With CIA funding, Dr. Cameron’s isolator was rebuilt at a laboratory of the National Institutes of Health. But instead of a human, like Madeleine Smith, being incarcerated, lobotomized apes were kept for months in total isolation. Rubenstein’s radio telemetry techniques were adapted so that radio frequency energy was beamed into the brains of the already crazed animals. …
By early 1966 the lobotomized apes who had survived faced another experiment. They were bombarded with radar waves to the brain to render them unconscious. … [p. 250]
Throughout 1968 Dr. Gottlieb continued to preside over his empire of scientists who still prowled the backwaters of the world seeking new roots and leaves that could be crushed and mixed in the search for lethal ways to kill. In their behavior laboratories the psychiatrists and psychologists continued experimenting.
Once more they had turned back on an earlier line of research—implanting electrodes in the brain. They had done that with animals in the early 1960s, using radio signals to manipulate the chimpanzees into fighting and even killing each other. But no one had then been prepared to go further. Vietnam, with its almost endless supply of expendables, made it possible to see whether such control could be reproduced in humans.
An Agency team flew to Saigon in July 1968. Among them was a neurosurgeon and a neurologist. Their basic research had been conducted on animals at another CIA front organization, the Scientific Engineering Institute near Boston. It had been founded in 1956 under the presidency of Polaroid’s Dr. Edwin Land.
In a closed-off compound at Bien Hoa Hospital, the Agency team set to work with three Vietcong prisoners who had been selected by the local station. Each man was anesthetized and the neurosurgeon, after he had hinged back a flap in their skulls, implanted tiny electrodes in each brain.
When the prisoners regained consciousness, the behaviorists set to work. The prisoners were placed in a room and given knives. Pressing the control buttons on their handsets, the behaviorists tried to arouse their subjects to violence. … [pp. 264-265]
Beginning in 1969, a team of Agency scientists from the Office of Research and Development (ORD) ran a number of bizarre and potentially far-reaching experiments in mind control. … [p. 272]
Concurrent with those investigations, ORD had taken up the challenge of brain implants. … [p. 275]
Before setting up their own program, the ORD scientists evaluated the results achieved by Dr. José Delgado, a Yale psychologist. He had faced a charging bull, fitted with electrodes in its brain, and with no other protection save the small black box in his hands, Dr. Delgado had deliberately goaded the bull by activating the implant that provoked the animal to become further enraged. Then, with the bull almost upon him, the psychologist had pressed another button. The animal promptly stopped in its tracks, the result of a signal transmitted to the electrode implanted in the part of the bull’s brain that calmed it.
Dr. Delgado freely admitted that his method of remote mind control was still crude and not always predictable. But Dr. Gottlieb and the behaviorists of ORD shared the psychologist’s vision that the day must come when the technique would be perfected for making not only animals, but humans respond to electrically transmitted commands.
Dr. Robert G. Heath, a neurosurgeon at Tulane University, had brought that prospect closer through his experiments with electrical stimulation of the brain (ESB) to arouse his patients sexually. Dr. Heath had actually implanted 125 electrodes in the brain and body of a single patient—for which he claimed a world record—and had spent hours stimulating the man’s pleasure centers.
Like Dr. Delgado, the neurosurgeon concluded that ESB could control memory, impulses, feelings, and could evoke hallucinations as well as fear and pleasure. It could literally manipulate the human will—at will.
Late in June 1972, Dr. Gottlieb had jigged back and forth on the carpet of the director’s office, and his carefully controlled stammer had surfaced as he enthused that at long, long last, here was the answer to mind control, that ESB was the key to creating not only a psychocivilized person but an entire psychocivilized society—a world where every human thought, emotion, sensation, and desire could be actually controlled by electrical stimulation of the brain.
The possibilities, said Dr. Gottlieb, were far beyond the neurological masturbation of the pleasure centers. Not only could a rampaging bull be stopped in full charge, but humans could finally be programmed to attack and kill on command. Another step forward was about to be taken in the Agency’s search for the “Manchurian Candidate.”
Helms agreed that research into ESB should come under the direct control of Dr. Stephen Aldrich. A former medical director of the Agency’s Office of Scientific Intelligence, Dr. Aldrich was widely regarded among his ORD colleagues as a pathfinder. From dawn to dusk he spent his time speculating, theorizing, and experimenting with the possibilities of harnessing ESB for intelligence work. Using the latest computer technology, he developed Rubenstein’s earlier work on radio telemetry, and the unfulfilled dream the English technician had shared with Dr. Cameron of a world of electrically monitored people became that much more of a reality
In the safe house where Yuri Nosenko had been brutalized, Dr. Aldrich supervised infinitely more sophisticated research. Included in the equipment he used was a piece not even Orwell had dared invent for his 1984. Called the Schwitzgebel Machine, the boxlike construction had been developed by Ralph K. Schwitzgebel in the Laboratory of Community Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His brother, Robert, had subsequently modified the prototype so that the final product was something Rubenstein would have taken pride in; indeed, in many ways it resembled a smaller version of the cumbersome transducer the technician had built in the Montreal basement.
The Schwitzgebel Machine consisted of a Behavior Transmitter-Reinforcer (BT-R) fitted to a body belt that received from and transmitted signals to a radio module. In the official description of the machine the module was “linked to a modified missile-tracking device which graphs the wearer’s location and displays it on a screen.”
The Schwitzgebel Machine—its very name suggested something designed to make people enjoy their servitude—was able to record all physical and neurological signs in a subject from up to a quarter of a mile—an impressive improvement over the distance between the Grid Room and the cubbyhole where Dr. Cameron had monitored Madeleine Smith and other patients.
By August 1972 other proponents of the Schwitzgebel Machine were voicing their enthusiasm. They were led by Professor Barton L. Ingraham, a criminologist at the University of Maryland, and Gerald W. Smith, professor of criminal studies at the University of Utah.
In a joint paper, Ingraham and Smith painted a vivid scenario of how the machine could be used to keep track of known criminals. He or she would be fitted with a brain implant and would be tracked, with the psychological data being transmitted from the implant to the machine. The machine, using probabilities, would come to a decision and alert the police if necessary.
Adapting that frightening vision of tomorrow’s world formed part of ORD’s concept of the New Jerusalem of intelligence. … [pp. 276-278]
One of the tried, though far from proven, techniques of the CIA that Ronald Reagan was helping to investigate in Washington was, in California, being given a warm welcome by him. He eagerly shared Dr. West’s conviction that one day the behavior of all persons with violent tendencies—no one had yet decided the criteria for measuring the degree of violence—would be monitored by the staff at central control stations presiding over screens producing signals from the implants. The first indication of an abnormal impulse could indicate the onset of violence. Attendants would rush with suitable psychotropic drugs to overpower the person. The system would be expensive to operate, but Governor Reagan visualized the day when thousands of his fellow Californians would be permanently monitored in this way.
Among those who was considered to work at the Center was Leonard Rubenstein. Two South American doctors who had worked at the institute under Dr. Cameron had also been targeted, one to run the center’s shock room—which would operate on a twenty-four-hour basis, seven days a week—and the other to assist in the center’s psychosurgical operating suite, where the very latest techniques in lobotomy would be used. The doctors were currently employed in detention centers in Paraguay and Chile.
Despite his considerable persuasive techniques, Governor Reagan failed to convince the California legislature to go ahead with Dr. West’s proposal. However, when the Rockefeller Commission report was issued, the governor provided a clear dissenting voice to the damning conclusion that the CIA had conducted a highly unethical program to “study possible means for controlling human behavior by irresponsibly exploring the effects of electroshock, psychiatry, psychology, sociology, and harassment techniques.” … [pp. 284-285]
Plaintiffs’ statement of genuine issues in Civil Action No. 80-3163: detailed in following separate exhibits:
a. The M-K-Ultra Program was established to explore covert brainwashing techniques for both offensive and defensive use by the Central Intelligence Agency. (Def. No. 6-9).
b. The central activity of the M-K-Ultra program was conducting and funding brainwashing experimentation with dangerous drugs and other techniques performed on persons who were not volunteers by Central Intelligence Agency Technical Service Division Employees, Agents, and Contractors. (Def. No. 10-17). …
g. John Gittinger and former Air Force brainwashing expert Col. James Monroe recruited D. Ewen to perform experiments with potentially injurious experimental procedures similar to Communist brainwashing methods. (Def. No. 29-32). …
j. Gottlieb, Lashbrook, Gittinger, and their CIA associates failed to take any steps to ensure that only volunteers were used in M-K-Ultra subproject 68 or to protect the well-being of experimental subjects. (Def. No. 39-48). …
p. The CIA concealed M-K-Ultra subproject 68 and failed to notify plaintiffs that they had been unwitting subjects of those brainwashing experiments. (Def. No. 78-81, 106-118).
q. Defendants have admitted negligence in the CIA’s M-K-Ultra brainwashing experiments. (Def. No. 13-26, 121-29).
r. Each plaintiff was injured by exposure to one or more of these brainwashing techniques of depatterning with intensive electroshock or LSD and other drugs, psychic driving, partial sensory isolation, and continuous sleep experiments described in the application and financed by M-K-Ultra subproject 68. (Def. No. 104, 124, 128). [pp. 371-373]