It sounded like a bad Hollywood horror movie. Patients at a psychiatric hospital subjected to intensive shock treatments, LSD and drug-induced comas. But for hundreds of Canadians, it was an all-too real nightmare. They were brutal experiments on human guinea pigs — funded by the Canadian government and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Concerned about the brainwashing of U.S. soldiers who had been Korean prisoners of war, the CIA funded mind-control experiments across North America. They turned to Dr. Ewen Cameron and Montreal’s famed Allen Memorial Institute.
In the 1950s and 1960s, patients committed to the hospital for something as simple as post-partum depression were subjected to chemically- induced sleep for weeks and continuous rounds of electroshocks. Many emerged broken and destroyed, their memories erased and minds permanently damaged.
The fifth estate first investigated this story in 1980. And for two decades, we kept on the story… following the victims who successfully sued the CIA. And questioning why the Canadian government was so reluctant to admit its responsibility. Never has the federal government apologized for funding those experiments.
Now as result of our reporting, more and more victims and their families are coming forward.
An estimated 90 patients were eventually compensated, but hundreds more who tried to get compensation were rejected because the Ottawa said they hadn’t been “de-patterned” enough or didn’t have the necessary documents to warrant compensation. Newly unearthed documents reveal how Ottawa kept files secret, misplaced vital documents – and forced victims to keep compensation agreements confidential.
This week on The fifth estate: the secret brainwashing experiments in Canada and the continuing battle to get the truth out.