I have been absent of late, despite recovering from a Chronic Fatigue relapse, which in itself is triumph enough, feeling healthy, picking up the strands of life I still want, dumping others – it’s a salutary task – highly recommended. So as a reward, the universe delivered my mother’s psychiatric records. Not all of them, but some of them, enough for me to reconstruct my childhood memories.
My mother, Virginia Elizabeth Hooker Nickson, was treated for 17 years by one of more evil psychiatrists the world has produced, and that is saying something. Ewan Cameron, the son of a Scots minister was not only ambitious but aimed his considerable talents at Great Man status. He longed for the Nobel and was head of the American Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the World Psychiatric Association and the World Psychological Association. His brutal techniques which inflicted unimaginable pain on mental patients, were instituted worldwide. He stood astride the world of psychiatry from 1946, when he evaluated whether Rudolf Hess was sane enough to stand trial at the Nuremberg Tribunal. His life ended early, thank God, in 1967 when he died mountain climbing with his son. Who knows what further damage he could have caused.
He was friends with Allan Dulles, founder of the OSS, and the CIA and with Dulles’s support and friendship bent his mind to discovering whether brainwashing was possible. The specter of American POWs coming home spouting Marx and Lenin struck fear deep into the hearts of men who run the world, and they decided to fight back.
Their reach was unlimited. They experimented on orphans, on prisoners, on the developmentally challenged and they experimented on my mother.
She miscarried her first child and was admitted to the Allan Memorial, Canada’s premier mental hospital with anxiety. She was treated through the use of insulin to produce a coma, or what they called “sleep therapy”. She was released after two weeks and had weekly psychotherapy sessions with Ewan Cameron for nine months.
There are no notes on this therapy, nor what they discussed, nor the results. It certainly wasn’t a cure. Eight years later, she was back and this time, he diagnosed her as a paranoid schizophrenic. This was a common tactic at the Allan. Diagnosing women as schizophrenic allowed the hospital staff leeway in the dozens of experimental techniques they were testing. I read her intake interview. Today she would be diagnosed as having a mild schizoaffective disorder, triggered by exhaustion.
They tried to drill holes in her skull and insert wires to manipulate the parts of her brain they felt were faulty. She managed to escape and went home. She was brought back. She tried to escape two more times and was stopped. She was given sodium amytal and speed at the same time (utterly forbidden) and interviewed under massive doses of those drugs. She was given Sparine, a drug so dangerous if you type it into google, they practically come and arrest you. Why? Because it collapses your immune system. Cameron in his notes referred to her as “this girl”, and said on July 17th after her third escape attempt, “this girl is much sicker than we thought. We are going to have to keep her for longer”.
I am going to cut this here because it actually gets worse and I am not ready to look at it. I leave you with these facts. My mother at the age of 37, had delivered three healthy children, had come first in her class in economics at McMaster University, joined the Navy, rose to Lieutenant. During her time in the Navy, she served as secretary to and courier for the Anglo-Canadian-American Atomic Bomb Project – the largest secret project in human history.
This is not a job given to unstable women. The testing was extensive. After the war, she became an editor on Montreal’s Saturday paper. She was an accomplished classical pianist and a competitive amateur golfer.
But never mind all that, “this girl” was a prime hunk of meat for the monsters at the Allan Memorial. May they rot in hell for thousands of years.