I signed onto a class-action lawsuit last week, for the first time in my life, unusual because I am fiercely independent and prefer to just out-live the slings and arrows. Proud too, I guess because there have been many insults if I think about them – which I can’t because my spiritual discipline demands that I not only forgive you, but I forget you ever existed. (This works btw). But this one, this is different, it damaged not only me but my mother, my father, my two brothers, our children, our grandchildren and proved a constantly repeated and terrifying chord, somewhat like the entrance of the villain, during that part of our childhood where you have virtually no defenses to speak of.
MKULTRA was a CIA program created after American Korean War prisoners came home praising Communism. The freaking morons at the CIA decided to create their own brainwashing programs, and lo and behold, they found a willing experimenter up in the wilds of Canada, who actually ran a massive mental hospital in an Italianate villa built to receive Kings and princes, once filled with treasure, and ballrooms and the entire panoply of Asian art, minor Old Masters, and heavy gilt-framed portraits of forgotten great men and their wives. It was a spectacular place in which to destroy minds, lending to the force of the psychiatrist, Ewan Cameron, the trappings of earthly and spiritual power. The Canadian government signed on, happily contributing far more research grant money than the Americans. No one, NOT ONE PATIENT gave consent to being an experimental subject.
This is what they did, short form. They took a patient, like my mother, who suffered from post-partum psychosis, triggered by the death of her first baby, and broke her back to infant status by administering massive amounts of shock treatments. Whereupon, she was fitted with a football helmet into which speakers had been placed, and she was played statements about herself over and over and over again, sometimes 500,000 times, stating how unworthy and useless she was. Often using her own voice taped during therapy sessions, when the psychiatrist would elicit her worst feelings about herself.
Then, they would administer LSD. How splendid would that have been? Completely broken and then LSD!!!! Again the football helmet, strapped down and this time, positive affirmations up to 500,000 times.
How likely would you have been able to manage the rest of your life? Cameron only experimented on mildly ill patients, alcoholics, those with post-partum syndrome, depression. He broke people and then returned them back to their families, whereupon we would attempt to assume care, NOT KNOWING what had happened.
In my family that meant a constant level of support and care and worry of the kind one would administer to a dying pet. If the pet was dying for fifty years. When my father died, I left the world I was working in – Paris, London and New York – and came home to take care of her. My father had told me, in no uncertain terms, that when he died, she would de-compensate unless I stood up and assumed his role.
This suit has international and historical significance because it speaks to the power of government. No government should ever experiment on its citizens. We ARE the boss. The precedent must be set and the lesson must not only be learned but seen to be learned.
If there was a way to personally ruin the people who made those decisions, I would counsel it. Regrettably, they are dead. No government official ever suffers the consequences of his decisions. They slither off into pensioned obscurity. Cameron died a few years after retiring, still grasping shreds of his former glory.
There have been modest pay-outs in the past to patients, but no apology from the University, the hospital, the Canadian government or the U.S. government. No admission of fault, despite the egregious ruination of thousands of innocent lives. No compensation even approaching real recompense. Time to move into the modern age, guys. The new populism means we win. Every single time. Or you lose.