Saturday, May 10, 2008

LSD and the corruption of medicine (Part III): Naming names

This is the third in a series marking the death of Albert Hofmann, inventor of LSD. Over two decades starting in 1953 a CIA project named MK-ULTRA controlled a U.S. academic chemical interrogation research program.
For Part I see Part I: Invention and the beginnings of MK-ULTRA
For Part II see Part II: The entanglement of academia

The importance of names

Names matter and faces matter. Naming is part of the way in which we quality control any properly functioning system.

I have wondered how many executives of Eli Lilly, Schering Plough, Merck and GSK, or academics such as Martin Keller have stopped to consider what their children might think of them in years to come. Such individuals should expect to have to answer questions. They should not expect anonymity, particularly when people die or are injured as a result of their actions. They should expect to be judged by their children, communities, shareholders and religious organizations.

Ordinary people deserve some degree of anonymity. Executives of corporations and Deans of Medicine are not ordinary people. Those who place themselves in positions of moral authority as "regulators" are not ordinary people.

MK-ULTRA research was carried out with the quiet acquiescence of official medical bodies and with the active collusion of many individual academics. Many individuals were awarded high honours, and no physicians were ever punished. Despite attempts to destroy MK-ULTRA records[1-3], much documentary evidence is available and the names of many of the involved academics, universities and hospitals are now known. On my way through MK-ULTRA documents I noted many names. A majority were doctors. Most are no longer alive. Some were, to quote Lenin, simply MK-ULTRA's "useful idiots". For others, there is little doubt that the world would have been a far better place without them.

Some names

Here are some names of individuals and organizations:
  • Dr Sidney Gottlieb headed the MK-ULTRA program.
  • Charles Geschickter, a Georgetown doctor served both as researcher and funding conduit[2]. He tested drugs on mentally disturbed patients at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington[4]. For his own research he received $655,000 in CIA funds[5] (about $7 million at 2008 value). The CIA and MK-ULTRA provided secret funding for the construction of a wing of Georgetown University Hospital in the 1950s[2] to carry out clinical testing of LSD and other agents. The Geschickter Fund for Medical Research served as funding fronts for MKULTRA financing of academics.
  • Professors Harold Wolff and Lawrence Hinkle of Cornell University fronted the "The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology"[5], a C.I.A organization used to channel money for MK-ULTRA research. In 1961 The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology was reorganized as the Human Ecology Fund and operations of this front organization shifted to Cornell University’s Medical School[6]. James L. Monroe and later David Rhodes directed the fund[6]. Also on the Human Ecology board were Leonard Carmichael, head of the Smithsonian Institution, Barnaby Keeney president of Brown University, and George A. Kelly, at Ohio State University[5].
  • Many prominent names were funded through The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, including:[6] B. F. Skinner, Carl Rogers, Carolyn and Musafer Sherif, Margaret Mead, Charles Osgood, Hans Eysenck, Martin Orne and Gregory Bateson.
  • One of the first MK-ULTRA funded studies was carried out at the National Institute for Mental Health-Lexington Rehabilitation Center in Kentucky[7]. Addicts were injected with hallucinogenic drugs including LSD, and as a reward were then supplied with their drug of addiction[7]. Dr. Harris Isbell a member of the FDA's Advisory Committee on the Abuse of Depressant and Stimulant Drugs was on the CIA payroll. He carried out extensive CIA funded studies without consent on inmates at the Addiction Research Center of the US Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington[5,7]. CIA documents describe experiments conducted by Isbell in patients (nearly all black) who were given LSD for more than seventy-five consecutive days[8].
  • Dr. Paul Hoch[9,10,11] and Carney Landis at the New York State Psychiatric Institute
  • Dr. Henry Murray[12,13] at Harvard University
  • Harold Abramson at Mount Sinai Hospital[5]
  • Carl Pfeiffer at the University of Illinois Medical School[5]. An MKSEARCH project provided about $20,000 per year to Pfeiffer, an internationally renowned pharmacologist. His CIA connection started in 1951, when he headed the Pharmacology Department at the University of Illinois Medical School[5]. He then moved to Emory University and tested LSD at the Federal penitentiary in Atlanta[5]. Later he conducted experiments on prisoners at the Bordentown reformatory in New Jersey[5].
  • Henry Beecher at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital[5]
  • Charles Savage at the Naval Medical Research Institute[5]
  • Louis Jolyon West at the University of Oklahoma[5]
  • Harold Hodge at the University of Rochester[5]
  • Amedeo Marrazzi at the University of Minnesota and Missouri Institute of Psychiatry[5]. Other work at the University of Minnesota (perhaps involving hypnosis with or without drugs) was carried out by a PhD student Alden Sears. Sears later moved the CIA project to the University of Denver, and declined to do "the terminal experiments"[5]. He wrote that that the experiments that needed to be done "could not be handled in the University situation". He became a Methodist minister and refused to talk about his work[5].
  • James Dille at the University of Washington[5]
  • Gerald Klee at University of Maryland Medical School[5]. "Unwitting" drug tests appear to have been carried out at the University of Maryland[4].
  • Neil Burch at Baylor University[5]
  • Lincoln Clark tested LSD for the Army at Massachusetts General Hospital[5]
  • Letterman General Hospital San Francisco[2]
  • Medical Research Laboratory at Fort Knox[2]
  • Bob Hyde and colleagues at Boston Psychopathic Hospital[4,5]. The CIA funded the hospital's LSD program from 1952 at $40,000 a year. Hyde also advised the CIA on using LSD in covert operations[5]. Boston Psychopathic later changed its name to Massachusetts Mental Health Center.
  • Iowa State Hospital[4]
  • University of Indiana[4]
  • Wallace Chan and others at Stanford University[4]
  • Dr. L. Wilson Green[14] scientific director of the Chemical and Radiological Laboratories at the Army Chemical Center (named in public testimony)
  • Dr. Robert G. Heath[14] of Tulane Medical University (named in public testimony)
  • Dr. James Hamilton[14] (named in public testimony)
  • Dr Harold Abramson[7].
  • Albert D. Biderman of the Bureau of Social Science Research and Herbert Zimmer of University of Georgia edited a book on torture based on MK-ULTRA and related research[15,16]. The Bureau of Social Science Research was a conduit for funds from the U.S. Air Force. The authors included Robert Rogers Blake of the University of Texas, R. C. Davis of Indiana University, Louis Gottschalk of Cincinnati General Hospital, Lawrence Hinkle of Cornell Medical Center, Philip Kubzansky of Boston City Hospital, Malcolm Meltzer of the District of Columbia General Hospital, Jane Mouton of the University of Texas, and Martin Orne of Harvard University. Several of the papers in the book acknowledge the support of The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, a front organization for MK-ULTRA and the CIA.

The special case of Dr Ewen Cameron

The activities of Dr. Ewen Cameron, a psychiatrist, deserve special mention. Cameron worked at McGill University's Allen Memorial Hospital while also living in Albany, New York.

In the 1950's and '60's, Cameron experimented on his patients under the auspices of the CIA and MK-ULTRA. "Patients of Dr. Cameron were subjected to a regimen that included heavy doses of LSD and barbiturates, the application of powerful electric shocks two or three times a day, and prolonged periods of drug-induced sleep." These were not primarily therapeutic interventions, nor were they intended to be. They were experiments. Cameron's assistant, Leonard Rubenstein, was paid from CIA funds[5]. According to Government records, "the patients and their relatives were not told they were taking part in an experiment." The research and the CIA involvement was admitted, and some 20 years later. In 1998 $750,000 was paid to nine Canadians in 1988 by the U.S. government[17,18]. Other cases were settled out of court.

The attorney, who represented the nine Canadians described the experiments in a 1988 Op-Ed entitled The C.I.A and the Evil Doctor[19]. He explained that "The research project tested the theory that a person could have some of the contents of his mind obliterated and replaced by ideas of the researcher's choosing". He noted that Cameron had abused patients on behalf of the CIA leaving them "dazed, confused, incontinent and often in a state of utter panic." And yet Cameron's "work" for the C.I.A on countless non-consenting patients over 20 years was well known to his peers, and some of it had been published. "Nevertheless, until he left McGill, no one publicly criticized Dr. Cameron's theories, his methods, or the ethics of risking permanent organic damage without patients' consent".

In one of his papers[20], Cameron described his treatment of patients in one of his procedures ("psychic driving") carried out on behalf of the C.I.A: "The effect of this procedure has been studied under various conditions, among them drug disinhibition, ordinary and prolonged sleep treatment, hypnosis under stimulant drugs and after prolonged psychological isolation."

Another of his papers on psychic driving[21] acknowledged the assistance of a grant from The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology - a front organization for the CIA.

McGill has never publicly criticized the fact that his actions and "treatments" had been carried out to advance C.I.A research into torture in unwitting un-consented individuals. His studies were often carried out on patients with minor originating problems such as postpartum depression. Even today, the description of Cameron in the archives of McGill fails to mention what is now known about his activities there[22].

Cameron was however a man of power. He was president of the American Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the World Psychiatric Association and other esteemed bodies. When he died in 1967, the American Journal of Psychotherapy published an obituary, listing his many "accomplishments", but making no mention at all of his terrible crimes[23]. It stated:
"His world-wide success in his profession was, of course, due principally to his great knowledge and brilliance. But surely a great factor also was the softness — one is tempted to say loveliness — of his personality. Those who were privileged to know him, even briefly, will not soon forget the warmth and the kindliness of this understanding man"

Names compiled by Dr Aubrey Blumsohn, Sheffield 2008
For Part I see Part I: Invention and the beginnings of MK-ULTRA
For Part II see Part II: The entanglement of academia


  1. September 1975 Memorandum regarding destruction of MK-ULTRA documents in 1973 - page 1, page 2
  2. SUMMARY OF AGENCY RECORDS RETRIEVAL, Interim Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, October 21, 1994 (1994).
  3. Helms, Richard (1978-05-22). Interview with Richard Helms, CIA, by David Frost. CIA.
  4. List of MKULTRA Unclassified Documents. The National Security Archive, George Washington University (2008-05-06).
  5. Marks, John (1979). The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: CIA and Mind Control. W W Norton & Co Ltd, 264. ISBN 0393307948.
  6. Price, David (June, 2007). "Buying a Piece of Anthropology: Human Ecology and unwitting anthropological research for the CIA". Anthropology Today 23 (3): 3-13.
  7. Church Committee Report page 391-399. U.S. Congress: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, report no. 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington, D.C.) (1976).
  8. Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties and Beyond (Grove Press, 1989)
  9. Treaster, Joseph B (1975-08-13). Army Discloses Man Died in Drug Test It Sponsored Pages 1,13. New York Times.
  10. Acid Dreams: A Mad Scientist. Acid Dreams.
  11. Church Committee Report page 385-6. U.S. Congress: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, report no. 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington, D.C.) (1976). Retrieved on 2008-05-05.
  12. Wikipedia - Henry A Murray
  13. Chase, Alston (2000-06). Harvard and the making of the Unabomber. The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved on 2008-05-04.
  14. U.S. Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments Public Meeting, Washington, D.C., March 15, 1995 (1995). Retrieved on 2008-05-05.
  15. Herbert, Biderman Albert D. & Zimmer (1961). The Manipulation of Human Behavior. John Wiley & Sons.
  16. Valtin (2006-12-16). Modern Torture's Scientific Bible. The Daily Kos. Retrieved on 2008-05-04.
  17. Shenon, Philip (1988-10-06). C.I.A. Near Settlement of Lawsuit by Subjects of Mind-Control Tests Page 14. New York Times.
  18. Shenon, Philip (1988-10-12). U.S. to Pay $750,000 In Suit on LSD Testing Page 12. New York Times.
  19. Rubenstein, Leonard S. (1988-11-07). The C.I.A. and the Evil Doctor. Page A19. New York Times.
  20. Cameron, D. Ewen (1956). "Psychic Driving". American Journal of Psychiatry 112: 502-9.
  21. Cameron, D. Ewen (1959). "Repetition of Verbal Signals: Behavioral and Physiological Changes". American Journal of Psychiatry 112: 985-96.
  22. McGill Teaching and Research Dr Ewen Cameron which fails to mention his activities and research for MK-ULTRA
  23. Braceland, Francis J (1967). "In Memoriam: D. Ewen Cameron". American Journal of Psychotherapy 124: 860-1.
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1 comment:

Radagast said...

"..."The research project tested the theory that a person could have some of the contents of his mind obliterated and replaced by ideas of the researcher's choosing"..."

I think that's probably all I needed to know. Now I know that this is a legitimate rule of the game, everything becomes a great deal easier.